Why I eat the way I eat

How do you know which diet is right for you?

I’m not using the word “diet” as it’s commonly known, in the way that means “eating less to lose weight.” I’m talking about “diet” in the traditional sense, meaning “habitual nourishment.”

Maybe you read a book or heard about the latest health & diet bestseller. Maybe you had a friend or family member who lost a ton of weight after changing her diet and she convinced you to give it a try. Maybe you watched a documentary or two or started following a few blogs that made you realize it’s time to re-think the way you view food.

Whether you follow a specific diet or not or whether you’ve even stopped to think about how you feed and nourish yourself, there’s one question we all need to ask ourselves: “Is this really the way I should be eating?”

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What do I have to offer?

I have this terrible feeling that I’m not good enough for you.

That I’m not enough of an expert. That I don’t provide enough detailed information, or that I provide information with so much detail that nobody will want to read what I write. That I don’t provide enough insight and tools to actually be helpful. That the message I spend my nights awake thinking about, pondering over, writing and re-writing and re-writing so as to uplift and inspire and change lives — that it actually doesn’t matter to anyone else but me.

Most of all I worry that I’m not thin enough. Or more to the point, I worry that the way I live my life isn’t inspirational enough to get anyone to take notice. Despite what I’ve said about being skinny, and despite really really meaning it, I worry that nobody will bother taking my advice on healthy eating if I’m not a perfectly toned size 2. Because isn’t the thin, sexy, smiling woman on the cookbook cover the reason we buy the book? Sure, we want to be healthy and eat well, but what we really want is to look like that. Because even though I’ve made great progress over the past 11 months, even to the point where I actually bought a bikini and wore it for the first time in public in years, I still am only a size 8-10 and can’t seem to get below 140 lbs.

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Left, July 2014. Right, July 2015.

I really worry about all this stuff because somewhere inside, I feel that if I look like this and not like Giada de Laurentiis — if the way I eat and live my life isn’t as enticing as that teeny little package — then that what I have to offer isn’t valuable. That I’m not good enough to do this thing that I’m so passionate about it makes me skip through the house with glee whenever my daily page views go above 100. Or even 50, if I’m being honest. Because if I can’t offer you that thing that every woman in America wants, what do I have to offer?

Well let me break through the fear and self-pity and tell you what I’m offering.

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Poor nutrition isn’t about fat — it’s about life and death

There are a lot of damaging lies about health and nutrition, but none as physically and emotionally crippling as this: the lie that being fat is the problem we need to solve.

It isn’t. In fact, fat is a sign that your body is out of balance and desperately trying to cope.

The ways and reasons that excess body fat accumulates should be paid urgent attention, much more than the “muffin top” or “saddlebags” we wear. An overloaded liver, unbalanced hormones, excessive stress levels, and nutritional deficiencies are just a few of the reasons our bodies are forced to create and store fat. And all of them have much more serious ramifications than we often believe.

But perhaps the biggest concern of all is that we believe fat is a matter of willpower, or lack thereof. We think that if we just stay off the sugar and carbs and spend our lives at the gym then everything will be in balance and we will be the picture of trim, slim, health and perfection.

This is far from the whole picture — and the whole picture is far more terrifying.

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Recipe Roundup: 3 new twists on old favorites

Whenever you change your diet, no matter how in love with your new lifestyle you may be, eventually you find yourself craving old favorites. Whether or not you decide to cut yourself some slack and indulge in a family fave (which is always my plan of action and a good way to maintain balance and not start to resent a diet), there are plenty of ways to find a substitution and turn a new dish into a new favorite.

With that in mind, here are three recipes that put a new spin on a classic dish.

Tofu Basil Ricotta

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Image courtesy LuminousVegans.com

I’ve never been a big fan of ricotta cheese; it’s way too much dairy and far too little flavor for my liking. But a homemade basil “ricotta” from tofu? Now we’re talking. Continue reading

How to know what you really want (and why it’s vitally important that you do)

What do you want?

We are confronted with this question daily. We’re asked overtly, by restaurant servers or coworkers or our spouses (if we’re lucky). But more often we’re asking ourselves this question silently, countless times a day.

What do I want? What do I really want?

Sometimes the answer is simple: I want a large French fry and a Coke. Done. But too often, the answers to the countless silent questions can sometimes evade us for a lifetime.

When you don’t know what you want, you are left with a deep longing. You go through your days unfulfilled with a vague yet persistent feeling of unfinished business, a yearning for something more, something undefinable. You know that what you seek is something real and tangible — or at least it could be if you could just figure out what’s missing.

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Whole foods, plant-based shopping for beginners

My shopping list is hilariously predictable. Every single week I get the same thing: a ton of fruits & veggies; a few cans of beans; some whole wheat tortillas; bulk items like quinoa, baking soda, and brown rice noodles; kid snacks like pretzels, crackers, and trail mix; a couple of things of almond milk, and bread. Occasionally I go nuts and buy some sparkling water and fruit juice to make my own soda, or maybe I’ll get a few non-WFPB items like butter and cage-free brown eggs for some of my more conventional comfort food recipes. But seriously, my list rarely if ever changes. (If you don’t believe me, check out this post here and this one here.)

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8 scrumptious on-the-go snacks that are ridiculously good for you

As I always say: When you’ve got kids, snack time is a way of life. But guess what: It should be that way for grown-ups, too.

As adults we’ve learned to ignore our hunger signals, either by ignoring them outright in some insane attempt at weight loss or because we’re too busy to stop and eat. Or maybe you’re the type of person who would LOVE to chow down whenever the mood strikes, but you know it’s not a good idea to just shovel in any old thing that sounds good at the moment (because for me, the answer to that question is always French fries — always).

The solution to that problem is obvious: Make snacks a part of your regular meal plan so you’ll always be prepared when hunger strikes. And when you’ve got nothing but healthy, delicious goodness on hand, there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging in a mid-afternoon crunch-fest.

If you’re a parent, the best snacks are not only ones that are healthy, but delicious for both you and your kids. That’s why I make ready-to-eat snack bags for my kids, because there’s nothing worse than being surrounded by ravenous children with their hands out the minute you sneak off to open your very own snack. (Seriously it’s the worst. I start feeling all stabby when that happens. So I try not to let it happen, ever.)

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You have the power to change

Three days ago I read something that made all my hair stand up on end. It wasn’t creepy or unsettling; it was a cosmic sign from the universe. In that very moment I knew that a major shift had occurred, and my purpose in life was suddenly vibrantly clear.

I was working on the materials for my nutrition class, which I currently teach to private groups in Utah (visit my Classes & Parties page for more info). I was searching for a little more hard science to back this claim by Dr. Mark Hyman, a specialist in functional medicine:

“Food is information carrying detailed instructions for every gene and every cell in your body, helping them to renew, repair, and heal or to be harmed and debilitated, depending on what you eat. What if you could send messages and instructions to heal your cells and turn on healing genes? And what if, by some simple changes in your diet, you could get rid of most of your chronic symptoms and diseases in just one week (or maybe two!)? That is entirely possible.”

Even though I believe this wholeheartedly and have heard this sentiment echoed in nearly all of my food and diet research (and seen it at work in my own life), I wanted to be able to share it with others in a way that would leave no doubt in their minds that food is the key to solving our health and wellness problems.

What I ended up finding astounded me.

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10 more tips for keeping your grocery budget under control

It’s been a while since I’ve done a budget-saving post, and my last one — “Tips for Keeping Your Grocery Bill Under Control” — got such a great response that I decided it was time to do a follow-up. If you haven’t already seen my “One Week of Eating the Healthy Little Changes Way” post, where I walk you through my process from meal planning to shopping to cooking to help you see my methods in action, check it out first. (And while we’re on the subject, if you have any other questions about my process, please let me know in the comments — and don’t forget to share any genius tips of your own!)

Now, I’m following up with 10 tips for keeping your grocery budget under control — all methods I use and swear by.

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Recipes: 2 no-bake oatmeal treats and 1 decadent fudge

Lately I’ve had quite a sweet tooth, and I haven’t been shy about indulging it. Which is lucky for you, my friends, because I’ve got three mouth-watering sweet treats that are not only easy to make, you won’t feel guilty about eating them. They’re all made of whole-food, plant-based ingredients and can be ready to eat in a half hour. Enjoy!

For more recipe recommendations, check out the Healthy Little Changes Recipes page.

Cinnamon caramel apple energy bites

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Image courtesy of thenymelrosefamily.com

According to Pinterest, energy bites are all the rage. In real life, I have no idea if this is true or not. But the array of oatmeal-packed goodness filling my Pinterest feed has inspired me to try more than one. One of my favorite recipes is cinnamon caramel apple energy bites from thenymelrosefamily.com. Just four ingredients — none of them sugar — and you’re on your way to tasty town.

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