Eat This. It's Good!
Author Archives: Eat This. It's Good!

Eat the Rainbow

I know what you are thinking. No, we are not going to talk about Skittles.

So, what does it mean to eat the rainbow?

Simply aim to eat as many “colorful foods” as you can throughout the day. Real food - think fruits and vegetables, not Skittles. Eat green, purple, red, yellow, blue.

Kind of sounds like advice for a child, right? That's good, it should be that simple!

Why is Color Important

Whenever you are about to eat a meal, look down at your plate and ask yourself, “where is the color here?”. You want to be able to easily spot 2-3 different colors every time you eat. This is an indication that you’re eating foods that contain many different nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants.

Nature has a very simple way of letting us know which foods are really healthy and full of nutrients - color.

Close your eyes for a second and try to visualize this: the strong blue/purple color of fresh blueberries, the deep red hue of tomatoes, the bright orange of carrots.

These colors indicate nutrient content and and also the presence of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other free radical fighting ninjas which are important in slowing the aging process and helping our body deal with inflammation.

Think Lots of Colors

The different colors in fruits and vegetables indicate the different types of antioxidants. There are many types of helpful antioxidants, so you want to make sure you are exposing yourself to a variety by including different colors on your plate. You don’t want to consume only orange and red fruits and veggies while ignoring the greens and yellows. You want a wide variety.

Branch out, eat the rainbow.

Avoid White-and-Beige-Only Meals

A standard unhealthy diet is going to be made up of many white, brown, and beige foods. As you can tell, this means colors (antioxidants) are lacking. If you notice that a lot of the foods on your plate are white (potatoes, rice, cereal, bread, pasta), brown (beef, pork, sausages, heavy sauces) and beige (cheese, processed carbs, low quality chicken and turkey), then it’s time to add some color to your plate in the form of fruits and vegetables.

Remember, every single meal you consume should have noticeable colors in it. Aim to get 2-3 different colors into every meal and you will be on the right track. Once you get the hang of that, think about your day/week as a whole and figure out which colors you might be ignoring (Greens? Reds? Orange? purples?), then start adding more of those kinds in too.

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy

Prepare Yourself to Fight Against Binge Eating

Northwest Indiana famously gets a lot of snow. Growing up there, though, no one really freaked out about it because we had machines to get rid of it and the attitude that it was hardly a problem worth hyperventilating over.

Most problems are like that. When we prepare for them and get used to them, they're not problems anymore. They're merely the way it is.

After my "True Admission" earlier this week, our plan to rewind your day is one way of finding the true source of our binge eating or emotional eating.

Once we find that source, look to see if it creeps into life over and over like snow does in Indiana (or New Hampshire!). Once you can see its varying forms, you don't have to hyperventilate over it anymore, and you don’t have to eat your way through it.

Remember, no one is perfect at this. Even after you realize your tendencies, we still practice over and over at getting better at overcoming it or just handling it. Take the small steps today to just find the challenge. The next step is not to overcome it all in one day, but to take small steps to prepare for it next time.

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy

True Admission Time

True admission: I am an emotional eater! When I am stressed and alone (that being key) I can binge eat with the best of them.

How do I know I am binge eating and not eating for health?

It’s not purposeful eating. It’s not a meal time (usually). I often eat quickly. I'm alone. And I sneak the food. I eat TOO much. And my choices are all in the sweets category (I don't binge on carrots. LOL).

How can you learn to fight against binge eating?

I am learning to back up time a bit. It’s hard at times to stop the mindless binge or emotional eating because you don't catch yourself until after the fact. But I can replay the day in mind. I back up the day until I find the one thing that stressed me beyond what I felt I could handle.

All kinds of things cause stress for me. It could be as easy as not sleeping well and then having it snow, heavy snow and rain and I get a bit aggravated at how exhausted it makes me feel. Sometimes it could be a bit harder to do the detective work to find the straw that broke my camel's back, so to speak.

But once I find the triggers or points of interest, I can start to look for them on different days. I know my own 'red flags' so I can spot them before they become issues. At least that is the goal.

My emotional closet eating has become less and less (not totally obsolete) because I am looking for those signals from my body. They are like caution signs on the side of the road.

Next time you have one of those moments or days, back up time. Rewind the film so you can replay the scene. Look for your triggers, that one more thing, the caution sign, and look to avoid the end result.

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy

The Clean Your Plate Club

Our natural human tendency is to fill our plate up with food and then eat all of it. We eat all of it because as a kid, our moms told us to eat every last bite (not sure the connection between people starving in Africa so that means I need to stuff my face, but my mom knew that connection or at least said that often enough that I believed she did).

The "clean your plate" behavior was instilled in me and probably in you, too. The message is ingrained. Now as an adult I still clean my plate – every last little bite. Changing that habit for a day is a no-brainer. But changing it permanently? Now that’s hard. That is why so many people who diet gain their weight back. It's why people rarely follow up on their New Year’s resolutions past January. It is also why it is so difficult to reach your goals for long.

So why change the behavior? Why not change something else?

Think about it. You’ve tried other plans but the voice inside your head still shouts that you need to ‘Clean Your Plate’. Consider changing something else to seek the results.

  1. Use a smaller plate. Smaller portions will fill a smaller plate. Eating less food while still cleaning your plate.
  2. Only fill your plate once. Many of us serve our meals family style with bowls of extra food tempting us to have seconds while we haven’t even finished our first round yet. Try either making just enough for your family to have a serving, or serve it like a restaurant. Dish out your meal and then put the rest away for another time.
  3. Change up what you put on your plate. Start planning your meal by asking, “What protein am I going to have?” and then “What vegetables am I going to have?”. Starting with protein and vegetables is going to massively increase how filling any meal is. You then add some healthy fats and if there is room you can hit it with some carbohydrates afterwards.

The “Clean Your Plate Club” is important to me. Without realizing it or actually meaning to, I’ve taught my kids the same principle. But its not entirely bad. It only becomes bad when we overstuff ourselves just because its there.

My whole point is to become more aware of what you are eating, why you are eating it, and how much you actually need.

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy

Roasted Carrots

Another super simple, yet delicious side dish to go with your choice of protein! Seriously, this can be added to any meal and you might just have have all the ingredients on hand to try it tonight.

Roasted Carrots

by Coach Nancy

  • 2 large bunches of carrots
  • ¼ cup ghee
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Dash of pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash, peel, and cut carrots into 1 inch sections. Lay flat on a baking pan or dish lined with parchment paper. Pour the ghee over the carrots. Add remaining ingredients and mix until carrots are fully coated. Bake for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Eating Just Enough

Healthy eating is all about reasonable meals that leave you comfortable and satisfied until 30-60 minutes before you eat again. Its working on the “Goldilocks Effect” (thank you Josh Hillis for teaching me about Goldilocks again). The “Goldilocks Effect” is eating until you are comfortable, until you are ‘just right’. You feel comfortable with yourself physically but your emotions as you walk away from a meal are ‘comfortable’ as well. You eat enough so you are not deprived or feeling deprived. ‘Just right’ is your frame of mind as well. It is a skill that has to be worked on because our lives are always changing.

Picture Credit: Georgie Fear

  • If you tend to eat until you are overfull every day or even a few times a week, make your first goal to practice stopping at satisfied.
  • If you never eat until overfull and are already stopping at satisfied but your weight is not decreasing, practice eating three bites less at each meal. You can accomplish that by serving yourself slightly less to start with, or leaving a few bites on the plate at the end of your meal (or slipping your dog three bites during the meal 🙂 ).

Be like Goldilocks.

Eat just enough. Goldilocks ate just enough to satisfy after a day of walking in the woods. She ate just enough to satisfy so she could fall fast asleep and not wake up when bears came home. Just enough so when she had to run, she could and did.

Bring awareness to your meals.

I believe all of us have felt that overstuffed feeling after a meal. You know when you want to rush to put on that pair of sweats so you can breathe again.

Eat slowly. Enjoy each bite. Take small bites and chew to enjoy the food and the experience (it will take practice).

Identify the feelings and sensations that happen as you eat. These will help you to recognize 'being satisfied'. Eating just enough.

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy

Super Simple Sausage Supper

Surprisingly easy, this sausage super is one of our family favorites. The variations are endless but start with veggies and a sausage combination you know, then break out from there. The possibilities are endless.

Super Simple Sausage Supper

by Coach Nancy

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds sausage (my favorites are kielbasa, Italian & chorizo)
  • 1-2 tablespoons parsley
  • Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butternut squash into wedges. Place the squash, onion, red pepper flakes ad sausage in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for an hour, stirring it halfway through. Supper is ready when everything is golden brown and tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle parsley over the top.

Why Wait Until You’re Hungry to Eat?

What does hunger feel like anyways?

Everyone describes hunger a bit differently. How do you describe that feeling?

I don't like to be hungry. Hungry means that I must not have any food in the house, the cupboards are bare, and there is no hope of eating a meal today. Hungry to me is the same as living in a 3rd world country and I’m on my way to starving (but I don’t, and I certainly am not starving).

Hunger gives me a bit of a panic attack. When I actually realize that I am still in my comfortable state of New Hampshire and life looks just like it did the day before, I know hunger is not starving but the empty feeling, maybe a bit hollow down inside of me.

To think about why I don’t like being hungry (thinking that starvation was just around the corner) was a big eye opener for me. Hunger in reality is a natural signal your body uses to let you know it needs some more fuel soon. That is it.

I know it is easy to let food do more than it is supposed to do. We have let food keep us company because we are bored. We let food be the shoulder to cry on when we are sad. We let food be the hug when we need comfort. We let food be the kicking block when we are stressed. Food is the fuel that keeps our bodies working.

Listening to your body talking to you is an effective way to reduce snacking. Like a turn signal in your car, when you see it you know soon there will be action taken on it. But like the car turning, it isn’t immediate. We don’t have to eat the first moment we notice we are hungry.

How can I start to work on this skill?

You can start with specific meals. For example, don’t have lunch until you actually are hungry. If you have the flexibility to hold off your work breaks until your body sends that hunger signal and you’ve noticed it for 30-60 minutes, then eat. It may mean you wait for hunger only for your last meal of the day. If the other two meals are scheduled by work or family needs, wait on the one meal you do have more control over.

Listen to how your body feels while you eat. Understanding the level at which you need to eat in order to remain comfortably full, not overstuffed, and yet ‘feel’ hunger before it is time to eat again sounds easy but is much more difficult to do. This cycle is one of the key skills for eating for your body's health.

Some of our bodies whisper, other shout, but they all talk to us. For each meal you will listen intently to hear it signal hunger. Hunger has some different levels. We're looking for that range of hunger where you are not emotionally irritated by the feeling or irrational in your judgement of the amount of food to satisfy your hunger.

My friend Georgie Fear puts it this way:

"Here are some tips on recognizing genuine body hunger and distinguishing it from false hunger (emotional or mental appetite):

Real hunger builds gradually, and may go through an initial phase of coming and going before becoming a steady sensation.
False hunger or a desire to eat may arise suddenly and doesn’t last for more than about 20 to 30 minutes. This is because it is generally triggered by an emotion, time of day, smelling or seeing and appetizing food or viewing an advertisement – not a genuine bodily need.
 If you aren’t sure whether you’re feeling genuine body hunger or a false hunger, simply take a 20- to 30-mintue wait-and-see period."

Practice Practice Practice.......Each meal is our chance to practice. As we experiment with nutritional skills, we'll see some mishaps as well as some successful completions. That’s okay. We need to find out what works for us in our individual life's challenges.

I know many of us want to be perfect and not let others see our mishaps. But you are human and so am I. You'll get back up and keep on practicing. It is actually freeing to stop trying to be perfect. You can learn your own resilience through struggles.

Lets stop talking and start doing. There are some crazy real life situations that are happening in my life for the next 6 weeks. Birthday parties, travel, extra work load, kids that are active outside the house, and my 31st wedding anniversary. I could let them control me or I can take charge and realize this is my life and I still want to be in a measure of control. Am I perfect through all that life seems to keep throwing at me? No, but I was better than last year. Isn’t that what it is all about? I’ll keep practicing being hungry before my meals. I know this is the natural cycle my body works best at.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Stuffed Butternut Squash for Breakfast

This recipe can make a great meal anytime, but its my favorite for breakfast. Once the squash is stuffed, I just sliced it and serve it alongside eggs. Another tip: I bake my squash whole at 350 degrees for about an hour. Just pierce the squash with a fork a few times before it goes into the oven. Its so much easier to slice in half this way!

Stuffed Butternut Squash

by Coach Nancy

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 onion
  • 1 apple
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds out. Lay cut side down in a pan filled with 1/4 inch of water. Cook until tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. (Or you can use my way of cooking the squash in the description above 🙂 ).

While the squash is baking, prepare the stuffing. Hint: You can always do this step ahead of time.

Dice the apple and onion into medium-sized pieces. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage. Add the onion and cook for 5-10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the apples and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add all spices and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

When the squash is cool to the touch, use a spoon to scoop out some of the flesh and mix into the sausage mixture. Use a spoon to fill the squash boats. Return the squash to the oven and bake another 15 minutes at 375ºF until everything is heated through.

Sweet Potato Veggie Patties

These patties are such a versatile, healthy recipe. They can be eaten for breakfast, as an appetizer or snack, or as a side dish with your lunch or dinner. So many delicious options!

Sweet Potato Veggie Patties

by Coach Nancy

  • 1 cup grated sweet potato
  • 1 cup grated squash
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons almond flour
  • Sea salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Coconut oil, for cooking

Mix grated veggies together and either pat with a paper towel, or wrap in a paper towel, and squeeze excess moisture out. Add eggs, almond flour, and spices, to taste. Mix thoroughly then form into patties. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Place patties in skillet and cook until browned on one side, then flip and cook until second side is browned.

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