💀 Don’t Diet in Winter: Why

It’s been at the top New Year’s Resolutions for at least the past 50 years: “lose weight” or “improve diet.”

At first glance, these goals seem health-promoting and socially acceptable. What usually follows though is a rather rigid set of rules around eating: what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, what to avoid. This is popularly referred to as a diet and, it’s the worst. Especially during winter. Here’s why:

What’s wrong with dieting?

Anyone who has followed these rule-bound ways of eating will probably tell you two things: yes, they are losing weight and how many days left until they can come off of the diet. This points to a few problems with a restrictive diet:

1. The most popular diets are built primarily on deprivation. And absolutes. There is solemnity to the rules, as if divinely written onto tablets like the 10 Commandments rather than one person’s opinion written on paper. As long as you follow the rules of the diet, you’re a saint. Otherwise, you are one of them, the sinners and failures of the world.

2. Diets are often crazy-making in all their rules and even choosing the right diet (as many are contradictory). Is it okay to eat 1/2 cup of brown rice per day or should you be grain-free? Is the paleo diet better than a vegan one? Confusion abounds before even starting.

3. It’s not intuitive or customized at all. For example, most diet books will tell you to eat something specific, like half of grapefruit with a piece of whole-wheat toast and peanut butter for breakfast. It completely ignores the fact that you might be on a medication with which grapefruit interferes, that one of your kids is allergic to peanut butter, and that you are gluten-sensitive. So, is that a “healthy” breakfast? Maybe for someone else, but not for you. Following the diet’s recommendations might just cause more issues than it solves. Also, it usually encourages using willpower to deal with cravings rather than learning how to sate them.

4. We are often dieting for the wrong reasons. We think being thinner or leaner will automatically improve our lives, but we haven’t even addressed our thoughts or the areas of life we want to improve and how to get ourselves to step into the next version of ourselves. Confidence can, and does, come from many other aspects of life that don’t involve squeezing yourself into a smaller size.

5. Lastly, they are not sustainable. Diets don’t work. Once our days of waiting for the 3-day raw juice cleanse or 30-day paleo diet have come to an end, we often slip right back into our bad habits of late-night snacking, sweet treats, having “cheat meals”, or rationalizing stress-induced overeating.

What’s wrong with dieting during winter?

This has got to be one of the absolute worst times to introduce a cold, low-fat, crash diet.

Among the many mistakes of dieting discussed above, the added the layer of this season can cause things to go south pretty quickly.

From an Ayurvedic perspective (here’s a primer), there’s an ancient, time-tested and rather intuitive way of eating and caring for your body in each season.

If we look at what the earth produces in each season, it gives us a clue as to what we should be eating to maximize our health. Spring is a wonderful time to have salads, greens, berries and sprouts. Summer is when we can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables being offered by our gardens and farmers markets. Fall and winter is when the squashes of the season, nuts, meat or plant-based proteins, hearty grains, and root vegetables are best. Cooked, warming foods are key during this cold and dry season.

People generally, in their quest to cut calories, often decimate the fat in the diet. On the face of it, this change makes sense – fat has more than twice the amount of calories per gram of carbohydrates and protein. However, what is often not taken into account is that during the winter season, our bodies need healthy fats to help protect our skin and lubricate our joints.

This is simultaneously an old and new way of looking at how best to fuel our bodies with nutrition. Though we all often act like every day of the year is the same, especially with foods being available year-round in grocery stores and our with temperature-controlled environments, the fact is that we need to live in concert with winter.

The antidote to winter’s cold and dryness is eating warm, nourishing, oily foods. That’s why you’ll find you’ll find the recipes for meals and beverages that support your body’s detoxification processes in our Express Detox: Winter Edition masterclass.

3 Tips & The Summer Slowdown 🐌

Being more of a ‘pitta’ type, according to the ancient science of Ayurveda, our fiery, driven nature has often been amplified by the hot summer season. With the energy of a squirrel possessed, we would run around, overwork, explore and adventure, and constantly be Doing. This year has been different, even strange, in a way. We know something crucial: stacking heat – such as intense exertion in high temperatures – can lead to heat stroke or even burnout. With the latter, we’ve been there before and never want to go back. What to do? Instead of speeding up and pushing the speedometer to 120 mph without rest, we’ve challenged ourselves to exit off the highway of hustle culture and slow down.

Has it been easy? Heck no. Resisting the urge to avoid our feelings and inner lives by salsa dancing, overwork or keeping endless social commitments has had rather dire consequences for our mental and emotional health (not to mention physical). If you too have been feeling a bit burned and frayed around the edges, join us in putting the brakes on. Here’s how:

Increase Downtime & Rest

Most mornings we have an intense exercise class and, though the kinetic energy can continue for hours, we tend to get sleepy in the early afternoon. In past years, we would have dosed up on some sugar, coffee, or chocolate to keep going. Not only that, but the critical voice in our head would have shoved us back into productivity. We’d hear: “You don’t have time – there’s too much to do! Rest later!” Luckily, age has come with wisdom as well as discernment of lies and truth. Now, we give ourselves permission to rest or nap for about 20 minutes. How might want more downtime look and fit into your life? Here are some ideas:

  • Take a break in the middle of the day for ‘tea time’ – even iced tea and a few moments to connect eye-to-eye with your kids, your partner or even your dog
  • Give yourself the gift of an earlier bedtime
  • Transition yourself from work to home life by taking a short walk or a few deep breaths with your eyes closed
  • Create a bedtime routine you enjoy
  • Read a favorite, relaxing book with some hot tea in the evening
  • Give even just 5 minutes of meditation a try, any time of the day, to get re-centered

Monitor your Mental Health & Bring back Joy

If recent news about mass shootings, gun and abortion laws have you rattled, maybe don’t add to it with local, constant news about burglaries or random acts of violence. Also, good news may not make the headlines the way fear does but there are many kind & thoughtful people in this world working for positive change. Consider the thought that there is no such thing as the ‘good old days’ because every period in history has had its positive advances and its social ills. We are all here now so let’s do the best we can to improve our environment and foster community & connection while we hurl through the galaxy together on spaceship Earth.

Do you know what joy is? Where does it live in your life? So many of us are not sure how to answer that question these days. It’s worth exploring and pondering what brings you joy as it adds an element of ‘juice’ to your energy tank. Joy can put a bounce in your step as you run errands and be a buffer against the storms of life. Whether it’s playing soccer, baking, writing calligraphy, dancing, oil painting, playing with pets or children, see how it might be possible to add a little bit of joy-generating activities to your life.

Inner Healing

We saved the most challenging, and yet most rewarding, for last. It’s a fact: our past experiences can and do influence who & where we are in the present. While we needn’t spend all our time in what some would call the ‘basements of our minds’, visiting traumas and slights you’ve experienced can help explain how the old beliefs established back in the day are playing out today. Whether that’s numbing out with food or alcohol, acting out in anger or rage, distracting with ‘busy’ activities, or a myriad of other ways, we often have no clue where we picked up these deeply-embedded and unhelpful coping mechanisms. We love the title from Sarah Wilson’s book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful which comes from a Chinese proverb about conquering a beast (e.g. bad habit, anxiety, etc) by deeply engaging with it. The aphorism has been apt during the past month while we’ve been digging back into a self-healing therapy modality whose exercises have brought us into profound inner connection and understanding. Be forewarned: inner work can be mentally and emotionally exhausting & may require the assistance of a therapist.

Before we all know it, autumn will be here – not just with its pumpkin spice everything, but with harried school preparations and planning for holidays. Take a moment, a few hours, days or a month to slow down in whatever way feels best for you. We promise that ‘productive’ rest (not laziness – here’s a refresher on the difference) and recovery will allow you to speed up once again, this time with a sense of rejuvenation.

The Only Scale you’ll Ever Need

Many of us have felt tied to presence of the little square box in our bathrooms. Whether it’s with a sense of trepidation each morning, or out of habit, we step on and wait for the results. This smug, often shame-inducing bathroom scale seems to revel in a bit of schadenfreude as it spits back a number that we’ll inextricably tie in with our sense of self-worth. And the bad news often colors the rest of our day, and mood, a dark gray.

While we aren’t necessarily proposing that you throw that machine out or smash it à la Office Space, what we *do* suggest is a different ‘scale’ of sorts – one that will serve you now and well into the future. It involves way less shame and is a springboard into knowing yourself better while quite possibly helping you lose a few unwanted pounds.

What is it? The Hunger Scale.

The tool seems simple enough, but don’t let it fool you. Its power lies in helping you answer some rather complex questions about yourself.

A client recently expressed this beautifully when she mentioned, “I feel like I don’t know how to fill this out. Am I the only one who feels out of touch with her body?

Our answer was, “oh, definitely not. You’re in good company”….because it’s true. Many of us have had similar past experiences when it came to HOW we ate. Why?

Think back to elementary school. You had maybe 30 minutes to process through the line to get your lunch, eat, and talk with your friends before it was recess or back to class. This, of course, continued for many years into higher levels of education.

If you were part of the “clean plate club” at home, you were often eating out of alignment with your true fullness cues.

When it came to work, typically your first job(s) would give you a 15 minute break to maybe shove down some food.

Because of our early experiences in life, all of us have gotten used to driving and eating, eating and working, and eating just because food is around. Rarely do we know what hunger looks like until we are ravenous or light-headed…or what fullness looks like until our pants start biting into our belly skin.

We have lost a connection with our bodies over the years because of all these factors and more. Even if your stomach was growling during an early morning class, you might have told yourself, “shut up body, I can’t eat until lunch.” Perhaps being made to finish your plate involved inner dialogue like, “yeah, I know you’re uncomfortable, body, but you need to make more room and eat this because I don’t want to sit here; I want to go outside and play.”

If you want to read more about our connection, or lack thereof, with our bodies, check out Your Body: Whispers or Screams?

Understandably, this claim seems a bit brazen, but we truly believe that this Hunger Scale tool is the only ‘scale’ you’ll ever need. When you are attuned to your body’s need for fuel versus its need for comfort, you start being able to differentiate between stress or emotional cues and the body’s refueling requirements.

Since getting in touch with her hunger and satiety cues, one client remarked, “I feel like I used to always be eating. I don’t do that anymore.”

We’re gifting you our Hunger Scale template here, with some parts filled in to assist and guide you.

Every one has different signals of physical (and psychological) hunger, so fill it out according to your own unique patterns. If you’re finding it a bit harder than you thought, you’re not alone and we are here to help.

She’s a Superstar!

Have you ever felt hopeless over a health condition? Or believed that the weight gain and symptoms you were experiencing were random or just ‘a part of the aging process’? It’s time to challenge these thoughts; there is hope in exploring one of the last modalities often turned to – nutrition – and yet, as you’ll read below, it played a huge part in healing, weight loss, and improving blood sugar regulation. It has been a pleasure in helping Sherri uncover common, ‘healthy’ foods that were tied to some uncomfortable and distressing symptoms.

“The symptoms in my throat have improved, including getting rid of the globus feeling and acid reflux symptoms. I have lost 45 pounds, have more energy, and I’m having fewer neurological symptoms. I feel healthier overall and I feel like I am making better food choices and have fewer unhealthy food issues like stress-eating or over-indulging in unhealthy foods. I went from having a 7.1 A1C to a 5.6 A1C without any medications just diet and increased steps a day. 🙂

I like the fact that you truly listen and that you believe me when I describe my symptoms. I also feel like you care about me and want me to succeed. I think you are creative and empowering and I enjoy talking with you.

I feel like I have embraced trying foods I may have never considered before. Aside from arugula and kale, I didn’t eat many greens. I also would have never known about certain high-fiber foods or the importance of looking for non-GMO and organic foods. I also never considered how much better I would feel eating gluten-free.

I tell everyone I know that working with a dietician was what helped me feel better. Last time I saw my doctor he told me keep working with the dietician because it’s working. :)”

Thanks for all you do!!

– Sherri G.

Columbus, OH

———–

Superstar Sherri has met her 6 month goals and has really taken her MRT Food Sensitivity test results and LEAP protocol to heart. She expressed early on how her problems with her throat were threatening to ruin her relationship with food. Though it wasn’t easy, tracking symptoms in her food diary and following her LEAP protocol helped her figure out how to ‘reset’ when things went wrong, and to see foods that were ‘friendly’ to her. We didn’t just talk about food though – we explored personal hygiene products for damaging ingredients and even air quality in the home (radon is an issue in Ohio). As Sherri said in our most recent session, “it confirms that I didn’t need a pill, I just needed a change in my lifestyle. We are killing ourselves with the food we eat.” Luckily, we can also help our bodies heal with the foods we eat.

Ready to look at your health issues and goals with a 4-dimensional approach? Schedule your complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call.

Reward ≠ Food

rewardnotfood

Patient and client conversations can be a rich source of writing inspiration to address common concerns. As we discuss new changes, cravings, accomplishments and challenges, ideas start to percolate as we work together to find the best solution for the individual. If the same issue is mentioned by different individuals more than three times in relatively short succession, we can almost *feel* the universe tapping on our shoulder.

The latest recurrent theme among us all seems to be regarding emotional eating, over-eating, and reward-eating.

Let’s break this last one down. Why would we associate certain foods with a reward?

    • With thousands of years of evolution working for (or against) us, humans naturally crave sweet flavor. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would get a little *ping* of dopamine by eating berries and other naturally sweet substances. The brain would reward eating this food, which some argue helped our ancestors survive by promoting fat storage to see them through the leaner times. This survival mechanism is all but unnecessary during the times in which we live, with plentiful food stores and sedentary lifestyles (when was the last time we burnt 2000+ calories a day hunting down buffalo?).
    • An ostensible lack of other options or ideas for rewarding ourselves. We’ve leaned on food to give ourselves a pat on the back after a hard day in the office, for finishing a big project, or to relax after a full day with the kids finally in bed. After many years of this, we may have forgotten how to celebrate our accomplishments without cake, doughnuts, french fries, or chips.

After the sleeve of cookies is finished, there can be a poignant anxiety that settles in. Guilt and shame follow soon after and we feel terrible about ourselves. Then we say “what the Hades, I’m probably never going to lose the weight anyway” and keep going or we decide with firmness and determination, “starting tomorrow, no cookies ever again!” However, we all know how this plays out; the deprivation leads to cravings and the whole cycle begins anew.

When you eat, try eating to nourish your body and experience pleasure. Tying food to your reward-system will unravel advances in your health goals and, here’s the kicker, it doesn’t even work. By the time we are done with the chocolate chip cookie party, we only temporarily feel sated before we either look for more sugar (during the ‘down’ of our blood sugar rollercoaster) or we feel guilty…..which drowns out what ephemeral feeling of pleasure we got from the food in the first place.

By having some non-food rewards instead, or at least sprinkling them into your current routine, you can start to challenge the ‘need’ for something sweet and, instead, ‘treat’ yourself ‘sweetly’ (double puns, couldn’t resist :D). Here are a few ideas to get your started on non-food rewards:

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