Tag Archives: eating in real life

What to Expect When You Stop Dieting

When nothing is off limits to your diet anymore, sometimes you don’t have a clue what you want to eat anymore!

What can I expect when I stop dieting once and for all? How is life different when you don’t diet?

Humans love to collect evidence and data to help influence their decisions, it helps us to feel confident that we’re making the right decision. We read reviews before making a big purchase, we research a company before accepting a new job offer from them, we ask friends for recommendations when planning a vacation somewhere we’ve never been. Sure, some of us like to jump off willy nilly and be spontaneous when trying new things, but for sure, more of us, like to have as much info a possible! So, for you, my friend, who is currently googling how to stop dieting or what to expect when you go off a diet, this post is for you.

There are a lot of things that happen when you stop dieting and these are just a few of the things you can expect:

  • Expect people to ask you lots of questions about what you are eating or not eating.

    When you’ve been dieting for years or eating a certain “way” (i.e. dairy free, vegan, paleo, “clean” etc) people come to expect certain behaviors of you. Especially if you were someone who was very vocal about what you were or weren’t eating, or even if you weren’t vocal,  if you were someone who ate very differently from everyone around you, people noticed. People are going to notice changes from what you do normally, even if you don’t want them to. A lot of folks think when they make an eating change it’s something that they will do forever and is permanent, but people change their minds and what foods work best for our bodies change over time too. It’s okay to do things differently. Be prepared for lots of questions and decide ahead of time if you are interested in sharing about your journey.  If you aren’t comfortable discussing the reasons you are eating the way that you are (there are many reasons people don’t want to discuss their eating habits), all you have to do is say “I don’t feel like discussing my eating choices. Thanks for respecting that.” or something like it!  You are not obligated to talk about this stuff to anyone you don’t want to, but just know that if you were chatty about it before, people may not “get” that it’s not something you want to discuss now and you may have to repeat yourself a couple of times before people “hear” you.

  • Know that these questions aren’t usually a judgement about you or your choices,

    people are just very curious about how others eat. They’re often looking to understand the reasons behind a change. Frequently we think that other people must have more information or knowledge about something than we do, especially in this day and age of health information overload so to see someone who others assume is very knowledgeable about food and health eat foods that may have been off limits for years is a big surprise and they’re just trying to make sense of it.

  • Know that you might gain weight. Or you might lose weight. Or your weight may stay the exact same.

    I think this is the thing that freaks people out the most when they stop counting calories or start eating foods that they haven’t allowed themselves to have for a decade. If they had to do x, y and z to maintain or lose weight before, won’t not doing those things automatically lead to weight gain? That’s not something anyone can have the answer for ahead of time. Everyone is different. Most often I see people gain weight initially as they start allowing themselves to explore foods they haven’t had in years and as they try to understand their own hunger and fullness signals. Some of those folks do lose that weight naturally over time, but there is no guarantee and it’s not helpful for us to hold onto that goal as we try to get back to eating the way our bodies would prefer us to eat. The best thing you can do when you decide to stop dieting is to allow your body to do what it needs to do as you start to experience food in a more intuitive way (letting go of the desire to lose weight or control your weight is too big a topic for me to cover in this post). Listen to your body and see what you can learn from it (and try not to judge the changes that may happen during this time period).

  • You may realize you don’t even like some of the foods you thought you liked.

    How many of us convince ourselves that we like rice cakes instead of bread or crackers? How many of us still buy rice cakes after we stop dieting? A lot! Rice cakes are such a common “diet” food that entire generations of women buy them even when they’re not dieting just because we’re so used to that kind of food. But when no food is off limits and there aren’t strict rules to follow around food, you start to notice some of the weird diet habits you have and will have to decide if that’s something you want to keep. Rice cakes are just one example but there are tons of other foods that we start eating because of a belief that they are “healthier” or because they are low calorie, but when it comes down to it, we really don’t enjoy eating them and they’re not adding anything nutritionally to our diet. On the other end of the spectrum, last weekend, I ordered a jelly donut for the first time in years while grabbing a coffee at a drive thru. I was really excited to eat that donut as I thought about what it was going to taste like but in reality, the texture was denser than I was expecting and the filling and dough itself tasted almost salty to me. It was not good and I didn’t even finish it. I make a lot of food from scratch and have for many years (including my desserts) so when I eat something heavily and cheaply processed (like from a donut chain) my taste buds say “NO F-ing WAY”. Not dieting means every food will feel and taste differently than you remember it!

  • You’re going to unfollow and unfriend lots of people on social media.

    The “hide” button on facebook has become my favorite thing these days. The amount of people trying to sell weight loss as the cure for all your problems seems enormous when you stop dieting. And suddenly your whole social media newsfeed is full of smoothie bowls, juice cleanses and powdered shake before and after photos and ug, I just don’t care anymore – it’s all so stupid.  You start to notice how often people say terrible things about their bodies (I’ve been no stranger to this myself – always working on it), how often they say terrible things about other people’s bodies and how much energy, effort and money goes into attempting to achieve a particular body type. It’s all you can see sometimes. Use that unfollow or hide button and start clicking away more on the profiles and people who post the things that matter to you more. Cultivate a social media feed that is more of what you want to see.

  • You may feel like you have a never ending hunger and want to eat all the things.

    Relax! This usually goes away as your brain starts to get the message that there isn’t a famine going on anymore. Allow yourself to eat as much as you need and want. I know that feels terrifying after coming off of a diet but it’s also what your body has been programmed to do. It wants to make sure you get what you need so it will increase the hormone ghrelin so that you feel hungry. Eat. Let your body know that you will satisfy your hunger. Don’t restrict. Don’t try to go hungry (you’ll just keep your body in a bit of panic about getting enough food). Trust your body, fuel it, feed it and listen to what it tells you.

  • You may experience some digestive discomfort (like bloating and gas)

    as you introduce foods you haven’t had in years or eat a larger quantity than you are used to. Drink extra water, make sure you get some physical activity (walking is great for digestion) and chew well. Some of this is just your body trying to break down different or a higher quantity of food which can be a little taxing on your system (taking a digestive enzyme at mealtimes can help temporarily). It’s no big deal. If it keeps up over time, pay it a little more attention. Is it a particular food or food group that is causing you trouble? Is it when you eat it a certain way (for example, raw vs cooked vegetables or fried vs. baked chicken)? Note what might be causing it and decide if the discomfort you feel is worth the enjoyment and experience of eating the food. For some of us, if we feel terrible after eating something it’s enough to say, ug, I don’t want that anymore. For others it’s not enough, and it’s up to you to decide what you are willing to deal with. Here’s an example from my own life:  Eating dairy daily triggers my asthma really badly. I no longer eat it daily . . .but eating ice cream once in awhile is totally ok . . .I have weighed the repercussions of eating it and I’m willing to live with the discomfort that comes with occasional enjoyment because butter crunch and black raspberry are worth it.

  • You’ll start to feel like you don’t know what you want to eat.

    Previously, in a lifetime of dieting, there were always foods that you wished you could have or were waiting for a “cheat meal” to enjoy your favorite foods. But now that you will allow yourself whatever you truly want, when you want, after you’ve satisfied that for a while, you’ll find that meal time comes and you often have no clue what you feel like eating. Haha! Nothing will really appeal and ordering off a menu or making a meal plan for home will feel extra arduous. Just go with it, it will pass, like everything else!

  • You may feel a little bit alone.

    When you aren’t dieting, you start to notice that every woman around you at any given time is doing at least one of the following:  A) Dieting, B) Doing a LIfestyle Change (like Whole30), C) On a Cleanse/Detox, D) is eating “Clean” or E) Doing some sort of 30 day fitness challenge. No judgements from me on what other people decide to do (I’ve been everywhere in my eating journey over the years), but when you’ve decide to try to find freedom with food and for you that means no more diets or rules, then all of a sudden having lunch with your coworkers who want to spend the whole time discussing what they AREN’T eating anymore can feel a bit distressing. When you get together with your girlfriends, it can feel like they’re bonding over something they all have in common while you sit there in silence, no longer willing to participate in that kind of conversation. It’s challenging. You’ll feel like you’re sticking out like a sore thumb, because everyone else is doing it but you. But that’s ok! Find a way to change the conversation to something more helpful, interesting and positive if you can. Ask people about their families, about the music they like to listen to, if they’ve got any fun upcoming travel plans, or if they believe in past lives. Ask questions that have nothing to do with health, food or fitness (even though we all currently LOVE to talk about that stuff). A year from now no one will remember what diet details someone shared at lunch but they will remember the engaging and interesting person who asked them lots of questions about their life. You’ll make new relationships and find people who also are on the same path with you this way.

Okay, there are certainly way more things that will happen when you stop dieting than just these but for the sake of brevity I’m going to stop it there today! Some of these things may sound like negatives at first, but I think if you stay firm in your desire not to diet anymore and really tune in to trusting yourself and your body to lead you, you will find that it’s actually a much better place to be. You’ll start to see that not focusing on how food affects your weight so much actually allows you to experience and enjoy life more fully, and isn’t that what it’s really about anyhow?? I think so!

I’d love to hear from you. Is there anything on this list that you’ve experienced since you stopped dieting? And is there anything about quitting dieting that I haven’t mentioned here that was surprising for you? Share below or contact me directly!

Advertisements

How to Go on Vacation without Gaining 10 lbs (but still be able to enjoy vacation foods)

Finding a way to get some form of daily movement each day is one way to prevent vacation weight gain.

Finding a way to get some form of daily movement each day is one way to prevent vacation weight gain.

Years ago, when I would go on any type of vacation or “girls trip”, I would find myself scrambling in the weeks leading up to the trip to lose a few pounds, regardless of where my weight currently was. I’d get ready by trying to eat as little as I could “safely” get away with before a trip. I even did this in 2011 when John and I eloped in California, though since we hadn’t planned on getting married on vacation until just a couple of weeks before, I only had time to drop a few pounds.

You may be thinking that the reason for the last minute weight loss before a trip was so that I would look my best during it. Well, sure, who doesn’t want to look their best on vacation? But that wasn’t really the reason. The reason I always had to work off a few pounds before vacations was really to balance out the weight gain that would definitely come during a trip!

I always saw vacations and nights out a nice restaurants as a reason to go crazy and eat and drink whatever and how ever much I wanted (probably because of my constant yo yo-ing between dieting and gaining weight). The problem with that was that a 10 day vacation became more about the food I would get to eat than about getting to experience a new place or doing fun things with my man or my friends. Inevitably, I would eat terribly all vacation long – eating foods that make me feel bloated and sluggish and eating far too much of them at every meal.

Vacation would start off fun, but by the last few days, I’d be feeling so uncomfortable in my body, that the clothes I brought with me would feel too tight and I’d be looking forward to going home just so I could have relief by “working it all off”. But not before I ate another ice cream sundae, plate of fried clams, some pastries and lots of beer. “Gotta enjoy myself, you know! Because after this trip, I won’t be allowed to eat these things again for a long time”.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve learned that letting myself go crazy and eat everything under the sun when I’m on vacation is the perfect recipe for me to A) feel horrible all vacation long, B) gain 10 lbs in a short period of time and C) set me up for messed up eating and restriction when I get back.

None of that sounds like fun or even remotely vacation-like or relaxing to me!! Yet I did it over and over. I finally realized that I don’t have to do that.

Vacation should be awesome and it shouldn’t be a free for all and it also shouldn’t mean automatic weight gain. Ok, but that brings up a lot of questions, like:  To avoiding feeling terrible on vacation and after, does that mean I have to eat super cleanly all of vacation? Isn’t life for “living”? And doesn’t that include delicious indulgent food sometimes? How can I enjoy food on vacation without causing myself discomfort, pain and emotional ups and downs but still enjoying myself? I’m a foodie, how can I go to fun places and not eat the local foods they are known for?

I’ve been doing things differently when we go away the last couple of years and I feel like I can now enjoy going to new places which includes eating delicious food, without feeling compelled to eat everything in excess and without feeling deprived and without gaining a ton of weight. In fact, when we went to Martha’s Vineyard two summers ago, I actually came home 1 lb lighter than when we left (without trying to). Not saying any of us should try to lose weight on vacation but I know it’s possible to enjoy amazing food and relaxation while on vacation without coming home 10 lbs heavier.

How do we do that?

How to Go on Vacation without Gaining 10 lbs


Start your day off with something really nutritious.

High protein breakfast in Kapaa, HI means I'm nourished and able to enjoy the whole day.

High protein breakfast in Kapaa, HI means I’m nourished and able to enjoy the whole day.

The first meal of the day sets the tone for the rest of the day. For me personally, if I start the day off with a bagel or a pastry, I will be hungry again in 2 hours and I will crave sugar and other carbs all day long. This makes it really tough for me to make choices that make my body feel good and by the end of the day I will probably have eaten enough food for two days and yet still be itching for more. On the other hand, if I start my day with high protein foods that I digest well, I have energy for hours and cravings don’t control me, which makes it a lot easier to enjoy myself. I love to start vacation days with eggs and sauteed veggies or fresh fruit. If that’s not an option, a protein bar and some fruit works great (and travels well). For you it might mean cottage cheese and some bacon or Ezekiel avocado toast. And don’t tell me you can’t get something nutritious for breakfast at restaurants. Even the greasiest diner in the world will make you scrambled eggs with vegetables or a side of oatmeal.

Make the best choice you can make at every meal.

Eating Whole Fried Trout at The Loon Lodge in Rangeley, Maine. Don't worry, I didn't eat the head.

Eating Whole Fried Trout at The Loon Lodge in Rangeley, Maine. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat the head.

Sometimes that means I have lots of really healthy options and sometimes that means the healthiest option isn’t so healthy. Let’s say I’m at the airport and food options are severely lacking (and I didn’t pack anything). Even at Starbucks, I can grab a piece of fruit and their protein sampler (or something like it). Just because they mostly serve pastries, doesn’t mean I have to choose a pastry. Use your common sense. I try to find whatever option seems to resemble “whole” foods the most (less ingredients is usually a better choice). And if the best option isn’t that great, don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s just one meal.

Eat food that you actually like.

Your nutritious choices can also be foods you like!

Your nutritious choices can also be foods you like!

It has to be said that just because you are starting your day off with something nutritious and making the best choices you can at each meal does not mean that you need to eat food you don’t like. You may have read the two above and said “but I don’t like eggs (or can’t eat them)” or “I don’t like cottage cheese”. That’s fine. You don’t have to eat the things that I personally choose! You can make great choices and start your day on the right foot by eating foods that work well in your body AND that you also like. Part of our problem in this society is that we think healthy food = bland / gross food and that’s not the case. If you go into your trip trying to gag down egg whites and kale juice and you hate those things, you are going to be be miserable. Nutritious doesn’t mean going without good stuff!

Eat whatever the heck you want a few times during the trip.

You can bet I am eating baguette's and local cheeses in Paris.

You can bet I am eating baguettes and local cheeses in Paris.

I am a foodie and half the reason I like to visit new places is to try new restaurants and eat amazing delicious creations. This may seem to be diametrically opposed to being a health coach but I swear it’s not!  One of the core teachings of the school I trained to be a coach at is that real health comes from making sure we are nourished in several areas of our life. Eating well won’t do much for our health if we are also not well fed spiritually, emotionally, creatively etc. and for me, enjoying indulgent creative food on occasion feeds my spirit. On vacation, I allow myself a few meals where I can eat as indulgent as I crave with no regard for the health or nutritive purposes of the meal.  I am not going to go to New Orleans without eating a beignet. I am not going to visit Paris without enjoying a baguette and local cheeses. You probably want to know how many times during a trip I let myself eat like this and to be honest, I don’t have a set number or restriction on it. I have to go by how I’m feeling on that particular trip. It might be 3 times on a 7 day trip or it might be 5 times. It depends on where we are and what sorts of things have me salivating and how much joy I get out of it. Sometimes the “healthy” food in a location is just as amazing as the unhealthy stuff. Kauai, Hawaii was like that – fresh mangos, coconuts, avocados and the most amazing fish I’ve ever had and available at every meal. And they tasted nothing like it does when I’m at home. I aim for a balance of feeling amazing and satisfying cravings during an entire trip. I want both, so that means listening in to my body and seeing what makes the most sense. Trust yourself (the only way to grow trust in yourself is by using it sometimes).

Get some exercise or movement daily.

Going on a biking winery tour in Calistoga, CA was a blast and a beautiful way to see the area.

Going on a biking winery tour in Calistoga, CA was a blast and a beautiful way to see the area.

I have learned that I feel best during and after a trip, regardless of what I’m eating, when I get some activity every day. This doesn’t mean we need to focus on burning off the calories in the beignet or those cocktails, calorie for calorie. It’s more about keeping digestion running smoothly (which often slows on vacation) and finding ways to enjoy life that is a change from our American couch and screen lifestyle (here’s to hoping you can bring home new active pursuits you love!). Some days that might mean just walking around local shops and parks while sight seeing, or renting bikes and ditching the car (we had no car in MV only bikes!). I might spend 30 minutes in a hotel gym or do some bodyweight exercises in my room if the weather is bad or if John isn’t feeling up for exercise. I’ve dragged John out for a sunset walk on the beach. We’ve rented kayaks and spent several hours paddling and exploring lakes. I’ve spent hours swimming and lounging in a salt water pool. We did a winery tour in Napa on bikes. We hiked to a waterfall in Rangeley.  The beautiful thing about making daily movement a goal while you’re on vacation is yes, you’ll burn some calories sure, but you will also be doing things that “feed” your soul. These new experiences, with people you love are sometimes the most memorable of a trip and will last so much longer than that so-so fish and chips you thought you wanted. The key to getting activity on a trip is to think how it can add to you enjoying your day and not how it can help you eat more or burn off more. You will not enjoy your vacation if the entire thing is a mathematical exchange of calories and time.

Relax. Really

Relax and make food less of a big deal and it will be less of a big deal.

Relax and make food less of a big deal and it will be less of a big deal.

Let’s say you go overboard and do gain a few pounds on your trip. That’s ok. It happens. But there’s a limit to the amount of real weight gain that can happen in a week or two and freaking out about it is going to do you more harm than good. If you do gain weight or if you are worried about gaining weight on a trip, the best thing you can do is to not make a big deal about it and focus on eating in a way that makes your body feel good and doesn’t make you feel deprived or crazy when you get back. The more we fight with ourselves and view our bodies as a battle to be won, the more casualties there will be. Practice putting down your need to control this stuff to a T and you’ll find that weight ups and downs are actually reduced. Try to view mealtimes as a time to refuel and not as something to fear and you’ll gain trust in your body.


That’s really it. I focus on taking pretty good care of myself but also leave room for some extras while on vacation. This way, I enjoy myself and my body feels good, instead of weighed down, bloated and uncomfortable. I can have both! An awesome and unexpected side effect is that now that I have done this a few times successfully, I have less stress as a vacation approaches and during it. I am able to focus on life more before I leave (rather than how much weight I can lose first) and enjoy it more during. I’m more present. I’m more me. And the food I do eat tastes even better because I’m not ruining it with calorie calculations before the first bite even goes in my mouth.

The key to not gaining a ton of weight on vacation is to go into it trusting yourself and choosing to eat and do things that will make your body and your soul feel amazing, the whole trip. You have to decide what those things are and how much feels like enough and not too much. You are in charge of you and you fully have it in you to enjoy your vacation and all the food that comes with it in a reasonable and enjoyable way.


Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

10 Days, 10 Dinners

Of all the things I get asked, “What do you eat?” or “What do you make for dinner?” is probably what I get asked the most. Last year I did a blog post that was an entire week’s worth of food in pictures.  It went over well – people loved to see what my meals / snacks consisted of.  I’ve been meaning to do one of those again but for some reason only seem to remember to take pictures at dinnertime!! So I thought I’d post a week and a half worth of our dinners so that you can see how I’m eating lately. So this is what I really ate for dinner from 4/28 – 5/7 (yes, it took me almost 2 weeks to get it into a blog post but when you see the LENGTH of this post you’ll see why!). I’ve included a loose version of a recipe for each meal (but I made most of these up on the fly with the exception of any linked recipes so it’s possible I’m forgetting an ingredient!) in case something interests you.

My hope is that these types of posts inspire you to get creative in your kitchen and see how easy and delicious more whole foods in your diet can be! And while I don’t want anyone to think that they need to eat exactly how I eat to lose weight or be their healthiest – eating the way I’m eating these days makes me feel my best. It keeps my cravings to a minimum, gives me tons of energy and it keeps the binge monster at bay. I want to encourage you to pay attention to how the foods that you eat make your body feel (and how the way your body feels affect your brain/emotions). It’s different for everyone and I encourage you to experiment to find what feels good to you.

My only gripe with our meals lately is that I feel like I need to make more of an attempt to eat  a couple vegetarian meals, at least for me. This is hard to do in our house as we don’t eat soy protein and John hates/can’t tolerate beans/legumes (and it’s rare for me to cook 2 different entrees). It’s something I struggle with. The meat / fish we do eat is always the highest quality I can get my hands on. I do not buy feedlot meats. I can’t support that and I cut back in other areas of spending so that we can afford healthier and more humane options.

Anyhow, enough blah blah blah here are 10 Days, 10 Dinners

1. Tues – 4/28
Wild Salmon and Oat Cakes with Salad and homemade tartar sauce

(and Tessemae’s Green Goddess Dressing). I totally went back for a second helping of salad and an extra “cake”.

These came out super good which I was sort of surprised by! I bought a 14.75 oz can of Wild Alaskan Canned Salmon – the kind that has bones and skin in it – and the only way I could think of making it that would disguise bones/skin (gag!) was by making salmon cakes. I’ve always avoided these types of cans because the idea of the extra bits grossed me out but since my dairy consumption consists mostly of butter, I need to make extra effort to get calcium from other foods and guess what salmon bones have?? Yup, calcium (and vitamin D too).  And eating the skin increases the amount of healthy omega 3 fats by more than double per serving and since those are essential for reducing inflammation we need to eat them where we can! I’m over my fear of skin and bones in canned salmon and will definitely buy it again – it’s quite a bit cheaper than fresh and it’s already cooked so it’s a great way to save time and money.

How long this took to make: 20 – 25 minutes total (includes Cakes, tartar sauce and veggies for salad)

Wild Salmon and Oat Cakes with Salad and homemade tartar sauce

How to make this:

I just drained the liquid from the 14.75 oz can of wild salmon, poured the contents into a bowl and literally crushed the crap out of bones and meat up with my hands. The bones are super crumbly and the skin was rather soft so it all blended up in small bits very quickly. When it was the right consistency for cakes, I stirred in 1 whole egg, an egg white (leftover from making mayo so I thought why not?), roughly 1/4 cup of rolled oats (processed in the food processor to a breadcrumb consistency), a few tbsp of chopped onion, 1 stalk of chopped celery, a little dijon mustard, garlic powder, parsley and a dash of tamari.  Mixed it together with a spoon and heated up my favorite cast iron skillet on medium high heat.  I added about a half tbsp of both butter and olive oil to the hot skillet and when hot, scooped about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the pan (per cake) pressed it down with a spatula so it formed a patty shape, cooked for about 3 minutes, flipped and cooked for about 3 minutes more. I cooked 3 at a time (and I think this made 7 or 8 total). They got an awesome brown crust and stayed together well.

TIP: I think the reason they worked out so well was that I let the mixture sit for a few minutes while I cut up salad veggies and the skillet heated up so the oats had time to absorb some of the moisture.  For the tartar sauce, I just made my homemade olive oil mayo and added some diced bubbies pickles to it, and a little of the pickle juice.

The best part was this meal came together in just a few minutes – I think start to finish was 20 minutes. It helped that I didn’t make the salad dressing – Tessemae’s makes ones with really simple ingredients so I buy it occasionally to save myself some time (not that dressing takes more than a minute – but I get tired of whisking!).

2. Wed – 4/29
Whole Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower and green beans
.

I know, who the heck makes a whole roasted chicken on a weeknight? This girl does. We eat pretty late so even if I don’t get home until 7 I can still stick a chicken in the oven for dinner. I will roast a chicken with just about any vegetable combination – it’s an amazing way to have a delicious dinner that looks and tastes like you slaved forever! The juices from the chicken flavor the vegetables and the natural sugars in your starches caramelize – you can’t replicate this stuff on the stovetop (well you can but it’s a lot of work)!  After you’re done with the chicken, save the carcass for making broth (I put them in the freezer until I’m ready).

How long this took to make:  Active time, 5 minutes Inactive time, 90 minutes

Desktop Pictures2

Whole Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower and green beans.

How to make this:

Prep for this took 4 minutes!! Chopped up a head of cauliflower into big florets, sliced two sweet potatoes into thick circles (skin left on but scrubbed well), rinsed a bag of fresh green beans, chopped an onion into a few chunks and then placed all of that in a big roasting pan. Drizzled with a little olive oil and tossed the veggies with my hands. Sprinkled with a little sea salt and black pepper, made a well in the center and stuck in a 5 lb organic chicken. The only thing I do to prep the chicken is open the bag it came in, remove any neck/giblets or whatever, stick it in the pan and sprinkle it with salt. That’s it (no rinsing, no trussing, no butter, no fuss!!).  Bake a 4-5lb bird with lots of veggies/root veg of your choice at 425 for 80 – 90 minutes. It’s perfectly done every time!  You don’t have that much time? You can cook just the bird by itself at 450 degrees for 50-60 minutes (and cook your veggies another way). This is the type of stuff we should all learn I was talking about here – techniques for cooking instead of specific recipes.

3. Thurs – 4/30
Got take out from You You in Nashua

I ate my weight in sushi and spicy mayo (though the spicy mayo was homemade and I used low sodium tamari instead of the soy sauce they gave us). Sorry no pic! Just picture me eating a massive plate of various sushi and smiling the whole time. I swear, I would eat it every day if I didn’t think it would give me mercury poisoning.

4. Fri – 5/1
Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg.

I was feeling a little breakfast for dinner ish but had some turkey I wanted to use up so a hash it was! I added some weird spices because that’s how I roll. Meals like this are a great way to work vegetables in and not even feel like you’re eating them. You’ll laugh but I cooked kabocha squash for me and potatoes for John. He can’t do squash but I would cut off my arm to eat it more often! I could have eaten potatoes too, but I just really wanted to eat my squash, so I made two things out of selfishness really. To be honest, the way I cook, it didn’t make extra work for me. I literally roasted the squash and his potatoes on the same cookie sheet in the oven for the same amount of time. This time, I went back for seconds of just the squash. I love me kabocha.  You should try it if you haven’t before – it’s drier and nuttier than butternut squash.

How long this took to make:  About 30 minutes for the hash and eggs, 60 min for my potatoes / squash (but you can microwave so that it can all be done in 30).

Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg

Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg

How to make this:

Cook your starch however you want (I baked potatoes and kabocha squash whole in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour or so. You’re welcome to microwave yours to save time). While your starch is cooking, saute a big bunch of chopped kale (I used lacinato – it’s my favorite), 1 chopped zucchini, half a chopped onion, and 8oz of sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil, coconut oil or butter. When they’re mostly cooked, remove from the pan and cook 1 to 1 1/4 lbs of ground turkey in the same pan until cooked through.  Add the cooked veggies back to the pan, plus some paprika, garlic powder, turmeric and (weird I know) ground allspice, plus some sea salt and pepper and stir / cook until most of the liquid released from the veggies are gone. While you’re cooking in the spices, heat a skillet up over medium low heat, add some fat and fry up a few eggs to your desired doneness. Serve the hash on top of your starch and an egg or two on top of that.  It’s super awesome with salsa on top.

5. Sat – 5/2
Went out to dinner at Copper Door with the hubs and his dad

I had Wood Roasted Haddock with corn-crab hash, fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, bell peppers and sweet compound butter. Also had 2 chicken rangoon appetizers (yup, I ate wheat) and a Manhattan the size of my whole fist. (sorry no pic!). I could totally replicate the haddock dish at home, no problem. Those rangoons though . . .

6. Sun – 5/3
Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

Made homemade Chicken broth (using the saved carcass from Wednesday’s dinner) while we were home this weekend and turned it into a delicious and easy to digest soup (was having stomach pains after my wheat indulgence the night before).  If you have a high quality, rich tasting broth, you can make delicious soups with just a few ingredients since the broth is already so flavorful. Try it, I swear you will wonder why you ever bought store broth!

How long this took to make: Since I had homemade broth already, soup took about 30 – 35 minutes total.

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

How to make this:

Place 1 to 1.5 lbs organic boneless chicken breasts or thighs in a 4 quart dutch oven or stock pot. Add enough broth to cover the chicken plus 2 inches (they should be completely submerged and covered by 2 inches of liquid) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, I added a 1/2 cup of arborio rice, a two inch piece of peeled fresh ginger and about a tsp of anise seed (which I immersed in the broth tied into a piece of cheesecloth). You can also use 3 or 4 whole star anise.  I brought it back to a boil, then reduced to a simmer and let the chicken cook 15 -20 minutes (or until cooked through). I removed the chicken from the pan and let cool for a few minutes. Keep the rice cooking at a medium low temp and add more broth if needed. While the chicken is cooking, heat up a saute pan with a little fat of your choice and saute a chopped onion and 4 sliced stalks of celery until softened, about 6 or 7 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, chop up into bite sized pieces. Remove anise seed and ginger from the rice/broth, add chopped chicken, sauteed celery and onion and your raw but sliced head of bok choy to the pot. Add 1 tbsp low sodium tamari, a dash of rice vinegar and 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (or 1 tbsp fresh grated). Heat everything through and season with pepper.

7. Mon – 5/4
Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

This was the result of one of those nights when I came home and stared into the fridge several times and didn’t know what to make. Nothing was appealing to me, I was tired and really didn’t want anything that we had. Took a chance in throwing this all together and it worked out well!

How long this took to make: About 45 minutes.

Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

How to make this:

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut two big zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon then lightly rub with olive or melted coconut oil. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. While zucchini is cooking, heat fat of your choice in a medium sized saute pan and cook 1 diced onion and a roughly chopped fennel bulb (freeze the fronds for the next time you make broth – adds a delicious flavor and it’s good for the belly) until softened (about 6 or 7 minutes). Add 1 lb grassfed ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Add 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp ground allspice and stir until ground beef is cooked through. Season with sea salt and black pepper.  While the meat and zucchini are cooking, make a quick marinara sauce. I take a whole onion, cut in half and remove the skin and place the two onion halves in a hot sauce pan with a little olive oil or butter and then I add some dried oregano, either fresh or dried basil and 1 clove minced garlic and stir until fragrant (a minute or two). Then I add a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and generous sea salt and black pepper and I let it simmer for a good 25 -40 minutes (depending on how hungry I am!). When your meat and veggie mixture is cooked through, fill up your zucchini boats with the mixture and place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with marinara sauce (feel free to add grated parm or gruyere if you eat dairy). Serve with steamed green beans and (frozen) organic corn.

8. Tues – 5/5
Spiced Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with pineapple avocado salsa, quinoa and roasted brussels sprouts

This is really easy to make and John liked it despite not liking fish.

How long this took to make: About 30 minutes (Mahi Mahi takes about 10 minutes but brussels take a bit longer)

mahimahi

Spiced Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with pineapple avocado salsa, quinoa and roasted brussels sprouts

How to make this:

I totally cheated with my salsa. I had some Salsa Fresca from whole foods in the fridge. To that, I added some chopped fresh pineapple, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a diced avocado. Voila, Pineapple Avocado salsa bitches. I do make my own salsa sometimes but I’m also a fan of improvising with what I have available at any given moment. Put your salsa aside and make a spice rub for your mahi mahi. Use this as a rough guide and adjust to your needs: 1.5 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp sea salt. If you like spicy you’ll probably want to add some cayenne to that but I leave it out for John. Put it all in a bowl and mix together and then rub it all over (front and back) of 1 – 1.5 lbs Wild Mahi Mahi fillets. Let your Mahi Mahi sit for a few minutes, make some quinoa and prep your brussels sprouts. I roughly follow this recipe. Though I use less olive oil, less salt and cook at a slightly higher temp for less time (say 425 for 25 minutes – it really depends on how big your sprouts are). When your quinoa and sprout are almost done, heat a cast iron skillet or good saute pan over medium high heat, add about 1/2 tbsp of both butter and olive oil and when hot add your Mahi Mahi fillets. Cook for about 4-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through (will depend on thickness of your fillets – fish cooks pretty fast!). You should get a good sear if the pan is hot enough. Serve the Mahi Mahi with the salsa on top or on the side.

9. Wed – 5/6
Wild ramps, swiss chard and organic pork sausage risotto.

My risottos are really more like a bowl of vegetables that have some slow cooked rice mixed in, instead of the other way around. I used more of the chicken broth I made on Sunday instead of store bought – it’s way more nutritious and tastes so much better too.

How do we make risotto? I promise, it’s not as hard as people make it out to be but you do need to be present and available to stir regularly. Once you see that risotto is a cooking technique – and you just need to learn the formula you realize you can add anything to it – there are endless delicious variations. One word of advice, you probably don’t want to make it for the first time on a weeknight if you have hungry little ones waiting on you (try it on a weekend when you have some extra wiggle room).

How long this took to make: About 40 minutes.

risottoramps

Wild ramp, swiss chard and organic pork sausage risotto

How to make this:


You can follow this recipe here. To this, I added a whole bunch of chopped rainbow swiss chard in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. I also use more than 3 cups of broth (probably closer to 5 cups) and have my broth warm before adding it to the rice. I used DuBreton Organic Mild Italian Pork Sausages. If you can’t find Ramps (not exactly in every grocery store are they!), try using scallions, leeks or egyptian onions for a similar light onion flavor (though you won’t want to use the tough green tops of leeks – again save those for broth making!).  If you don’t have vermouth, try white wine – and if you don’t use alcohol, skip it and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a little acid kick. Lastly, the parmesan in risotto is totally optional – it’s still creamy and delicious without.

10. Thurs – 5/7
Paleo Pad Thai

This is super delicious.

Paleo Pad Thai (from The Clothes Make The Girl)

Paleo Pad Thai (from The Clothes Make The Girl)

How to make this:

Use this recipe for Paleo Pad Thai by Melissa Joulwan. It’s basically spaghetti squash with grilled chicken thighs, sugar snap peas, scrambled egg and a delicious sunbutter sauce. We’re not paleo but searching for paleo recipes is an easy way to find recipes that only contain whole foods / real foods and you can adjust them as you see fit. This recipe can take a bit to make so I usually try to make the sauce and cook the whole spaghetti squash the day before (both of which only take a few minutes of active time – but having some steps done saves time when I’m actually cooking).  This is definitely quite different from traditional pad thai but that creaminess and crunch we’ve come to expect from pad thai makes this total healthy comfort food.

There you have it. 10 consecutive days of dinners at my house. What have you been eating lately?

7 Days in the Diet of This Health Coach

One week's worth of food for this girl!

One week’s worth of food for this girl!

I’ve been getting a lot of emails from people asking what I eat so I thought it might be helpful to create a blog post out of it.  I don’t eat perfectly so I’m feeling a little shy about putting this out there (but really, who does??) but what’s pictured here is huge improvement from what I’ve eaten in the past.

To be honest, what I eat changes constantly.  It depends on what mood I’m in, what’s on sale, what’s on season or sometimes, what’s convenient!  In an effort to inspire some ideas in others and to showcase my real person’s diet, flaws and all, I thought it would be fun to take a picture of everything I ate for a week.  This is how a health coach eats.   At least this one, on one particular week (two weeks ago actually – July 7 – 13 – it’s taken me that long to get all the pics off my phone and organized by day!).  I aim for eating 90% whole foods but give myself a little wiggle room for treats and convenience because I’ve learned that being too strict can set me up to fail.  I’ve gotten really good at listening to what my body is asking for and the result is that I’ve lost weight, have better digestion and my asthma is well controlled now.  All really good stuff.

Some things you may find amusing – we eat a lot of leftovers in an effort to not waste. Whatever comes in the CSA or I buy at the store – that stuff costs a lot of money.  So you’ll see that the same veggies might appear throughout the week.  Gotta use it all!  You’ll also notice I eat a lot of one-pot meals.  It’s sometimes easier for me just to throw a bunch of stuff together if i don’t know what I’m making!  As much as I love to cook, sometimes I don’t feel that creative and just toss things in and keep my fingers crossed that it turns out ok.  Most of the time it does and I’m grateful that I have a husband who thinks everything I cook is delicious.

I’d love to hear if you see anything here that surprises you.  What does a typical week of food look like in your household?  Are there foods you just have to eat everyday? Anything off limits?

 

Monday's eats!

Monday’s eats!

Monday
Breakfast – Black coffee (not pictured, apologies!) and a 20oz Beet, Watermelon, Celery & Hemp seed smoothie (with a bit of baby spinach).  Delicious and way sweeter than you’d expect.

Snack – Cashew Cookie Larabar (so tasty I ate it before I could snap a pic!)

Lunch – Leftover broccoli salad with a few brazil nuts (the salad had broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, raisins/cranberries, hazelnuts and a rice vinegar, homemade mayo, lemon juice dressing with honey.

Dinner – Wild Rice & Brown Rice mix, grilled chicken topped with an apple butter / mustard sauce (homemade apple butter i had in fridge + yellow mustard, onion powder, tarragon), grilled asparagus, grilled eggplant (nothing but olive oil, salt/pepper) and some kohlrabi greens & red onion sauteed in pasture butter.  All super yummy!

Tuesday's spread!

Tuesday’s spread!

Tuesday
Breakfast – same smoothie as monday plus black coffee + 1 tbsp coconut oil

Lunch – leftover grilled eggplant, kohlrabi greens, red onions,  with a dollop of the leftover apple butter mustard, 1 tbsp chia seeds and 1tbsp pumpkin seeds.

Snack – unsulphured 4 prunes

Dinner – Pan seared wild sea scallops with red potatoes, rapini (broccoli rabe) and garlic scapes.  lemon aioli on the side (basically just homemade olive oil mayo w/ lemon juice & zest & chives).  Raw kohlrabi sliced thin with extra virgin olive oil and hawaiian red sea salt

Wednesday

Wednesday

Wednesday
Breakfast – smoothie with watermelon, cucumber, celery, zucchini and sunflower seeds after barre.  Not as filling as the beet one (and it looked disgusting) but it wasn’t bad! Black coffee too, apologies I forgot to take a pic of the coffee again!

Lunch – leftovers from dinner on tuesday, 1 scallop, red potatoes, garlic scapes, broccoli rabe and kohlrabi with some lemon aioli.  I tossed the raw kohlrabi in when I heated it up and added a small handful of raw kale after (because my bowl looked too white!).

Snacks – Kind bar – almond/apricot in yogurt (this one basically is a candy bar. I’m not lying to myself.  But it’s so tasty!)

Dinner– big salad with romaine, arugula, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, steamed beets, balsamic vinaigrette (homemade) and tuna salad (tuna, celery, spices and homemade olive oil mayo).

Thursday

Thursday

Thursday
Breakfast – same smoothie as Wed, black coffee and some beet water (the leftover water from steaming beets – it was too pretty to toss out!).  I drank about 3/4 of what is in the picture.

Snack – banana

Lunch – salad with romaine, arugula, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, beets, balsamic vin and a big old dollop of cashew butter.  I only ate half of what is in this pic because I was running late for an appointment.

Dinner – sushi take out from You You in Nashua – seaweed salad, half a salmon pop roll (pan seared salmon, cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo, tempura crunches), 1/2 cucumber roll (just cucumber inside), 3/4 rainbow roll (tuna, salmon & whitefish) and low sodium tamari.

Friday

Friday

Friday
Breakfast – Apple Pie Larabar and I treated myself to an ice coffee with cream and sugar after barre class.

Lunch – finished the salad I didn’t finish on wed (see Wed pic for the salad), also added a half cup of black beluga lentils (cooked with a bay leaf and a little hawaiian red sea salt).

Snack – 1/2 cup of bubbies raw sauerkraut, 4 brazil nuts and 3 prunes.

Dinner – random “shepherd’s pie” concoction – sweet potatoes/cauliflower topping with butter, chives & salt/pepper, filling was grass fed beef, collards, zucchini, peas and onions from our CSA share (with some tomato paste, worcestershire, tamari, oregano, sage, salt/pepper).

After dinner snack – 6 pieces of 85% dark chocolate from Green & Blacks

Saturday

Saturday

Saturday
Breakfast – 2 fried eggs cooked in pasture butter with zucchini, kohlrabi, onions and beluga lentils (cooked the day before). A little garlic, smoked paprika, ras al hanout (a moroccan spice blend) & sea salt. I’m a big believer in that almost any dinner can be fried up with some eggs for breakfast! I also had 25-30 green grapes and 2 cups of coffee with cream and sugar (only one pictured). Also pictured – a jar of homemade sriracha sauce.  I used to be addicted to the store bought stuff and then I felt bad about all the preservatives it was putting in my body (considering how cautious i am about other foods with preservatives, why the heck would i douse food with it almost daily??).  Here’s the recipe I used.  Came out very good and because it’s fermented it will last forever! I think I made this batch 6 months ago and it’s still delicious.  It goes on almost every egg breakfast concoction I make.

Dinner – chicken breast baked with dijon & herbs, organic cornmeal polenta w/ pasture butter, collard greens & onions with uncured ham steak (and a little maple syrup/cider vinegar/chicken broth – that’s what I cooked the collards in).

Yup, that’s right, I only ate two meals on Saturday. That’s pretty typical for me.  John and I both tend to eat two big meals on the weekends, occasionally with a snack.  We stay up late & sleep late and this works for us. This saturday I was home working on my laptop most of the day and the only movement I got was some restorative yoga so two meals of this size was more than enough food.  But it’s definitely not for everyone.

Sunday

Sunday

Sunday
BreakfastChocolate Oat Smoothie (with cucumber/celery, was running low on greens!) & Black coffee after barre class.

Snack – kind bar – caramel sea salt (like these ones too – only a few grams of sugar)

Lunch – leftover shepherd’s pie.

Dinner – Green bean, carrot, zucchini and tomato salad with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, onion powder, lemon juice, chickpeas, green olives and salt/pepper and some of the polenta from Saturday night.

After dinner snack – 6 pieces of Green & Blacks milk chocolate almond bar.