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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Thank you, Flu

dietitiansorders

Wondering where we’ve been? Well, first Arizona, and then, during the week where writing a blog was at the top of the list, something happened. Whether it was a delayed on-set from exposure to recycled airplane air or just from another silently contagious human, the flu caught up with us.

An early morning of feeling super-slow, as though walking through molasses, and strange aches made us call a meeting short. Thinking we could still rally and celebrate a friend’s birthday dinner, we decided on a nap. It was only upon awaking that the sad truth set in, with its fever and chills, achy joints, headache, and congestion. The flu.

Too tired and weak to drum up a will to fight, we chose an opposite approach. Giving in. It was decided: instead of trying to force ourselves to feel better and continue working (at least from home), we would do what animals tend to do – including slowing waaaay down. The first day we didn’t eat, the second day was spent in the cave-like bedroom allowing sleep to take over whenever tiredness hit (which was basically all day). Though we couldn’t eat much at all, we took a look at our mental diet…what would we watch or read that would make us feel better? (It ended up being Netflix’s Kindness Diaries and Queer Eye, both rather inspiring and heart-warming). For someone whose stomach rules her life, it was odd not to feel hungry and day 3 brought back a little hunger and ability to enjoy a favorite Mediterranean meal. Here are some silver linings from the experience:

  1. Slowing down – the experience showed the wisdom of not running ourselves into the ground all the time
  2. All of the delicious vacation meals (including homemade Butterfingers and coconut ice cream) put some weight on, which was promptly removed by the flu.
  3. Seeing people in life care and bring wellness remedies, food, and even humor to the situation.
  4. Gratitude for health increased dramatically; how we take it for granted when we’re well!
  5. A nice surprise: sugar cravings went away! It felt like a whole-body reset after a few days of tea, remedies, lots of water, and rest.

Though it was wise to take time to heal, it was more than a bit frustrating to have to scratch all of our appointments and goals for the week. So if getting sick is something you don’t have time for, take time for keeping yourself well. Here are some tips to do just that:

1. Wash hands thoroughly; clean door handles on a regular basis
2. Get enough sleep; skimping here will lower your immune system’s ability to fight off illness
3. Healthy diet; this should go without saying. Proper nutrition is critical to protecting the body and keeping it well.
4. Stay hydrated; it is easy to over-look the benefits of getting enough water
5. Laughter: it boosts the immune system!

Stay well, friends!

In the Client Spotlight!

client spotlight of recognition

“Working with you was the first time I have ever worked with a nutritionist and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now having done so I can confidently say I’m very happy I did!

As a result of our work together I changed daily food choices in my lifestyle including but not limited to: ditching sugary creamer, consuming less coffee, drinking more water, adding in kale to my daily egg breakfast routine (which I love), lowering my overall weight average by 5 pounds (my husband lost about 10lbs), incorporating more veggies in my meals, and most importantly getting my digestion back on track. I’m proud to say I’m “regular.” 🙂 I also no longer weigh myself after ‘eating bad’ and punish myself by skipping meals. I give myself grace and let my body get back into balance.

Adrienne, you are a wealth of health knowledge! I loved listening to your ideas on how to achieve my overall best level of health—both body and mind, internal and external. I also really enjoyed the ways you help break down my calls to action after each meeting. Additionally, you are full of grace and never made me feel bad if I didn’t stick with something we agreed to. Another benefit is that I look at food and my body in a healthier way. I also think more about ways to improve my mental health on a daily basis by doing things that bring me joy and help my brain breathe.

I’m also happy I did this program as I recently found out I am pregnant with our second child! I feel like it will be easier to cut out coffee now as well as deal with the hormones and cravings for things like nachos and sweets. I know I’ll be eating healthier as a whole.

The most important thing I tell others that you will learn so much about food, your body, and yourself and you’ll be so thankful you did!”

– Christine Y., London, Ohio


You know what ‘sparks joy’ for us? Well this client was not only a lovely, bubbly person to work with but her enthusiasm and gratitude for all she had accomplished reminded us of why we do this work. It is a great honor to guide her, and all clients, from a place where they feel stuck, hurt and in pain, or feeling like something is ‘off’ to where they feel light, whole, confident, and vibrant! Our long-standing mission in life is to help others heal and reach their potential. Thank you for allowing us to work our magic :).

Stay tuned, more client spotlights to come!

Vegan Banana Pudding

veganbananapudding

In honor of National Vegan AND National Banana Pudding Month, we recently did a segment where we combined the two into a demo for Vegan Banana Pudding. Not only are you getting the benefit of the potassium, vitamin C and B6 from the banana but also the creamy texture it lends to this dessert! It’s a quick, no-added sugar dessert to eat when you have a craving and is perfect to share with others. If you are fans of chocolate like we are, you’ll notice how the cacao powder and nibs elevate this dessert to make it feel like a true treat. Top with your favorite fruit (our seasonal favorite is juicy pomegranate) and chopped nuts and enjoy!

Ingredients
1 cup cashews
2 frozen bananas
1 fresh banana
2 medjool dates
1/2 cup coconut cream
1.5 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Blend and serve chilled. Enjoy!

Sweet Success!

sweet-success-obw1

First of all, let us express our admiration and pride for every one of you who participated in the recent Sugar Detox Challenge. From the early days of listing your reasons for wanting to embark upon this journey -including weight loss, defeating your sweet tooth, better energy, and improving diabetes and hypoglycemia – you’ve worked hard for these results!

“I’ve found an increased variety in my foods, feel less bloated and have better digestion. I haven’t been putting sugar in my coffee and found that the ‘hidden sugars’ were my issue.

I’ve found substitutions that allow me to still enjoy a drink but without all the sugar usually added. I’ve consistently found myself at 25 grams or less of sugar – sometimes as low as 8g or even 3g! At work luncheons I make the best decisions I can around food and the sugar isn’t even tempting to me!

I feel energized, strong, and centered. I have more clarity and am not tempted by the dump truck of sweets coming into the office; it’s not appealing. If I want to splurge, I don’t waste my sugar allotment on crap; I want a quality treat.

For the first time since Sugar Detox Challenge started, my acupressurist was impressed and said I was not so tight, or bounded like before, with less chi blockages.

This challenge has been really impactful – I feel my body is rejecting sugar. My clothes are fitting better – (including a previously too-small flannel pullover!) Keeping track of my sugar has become a bit of a game that keeps me on track.

My significant other participated in the challenge too, and he has a sweet tooth, but he has lost 9-10lbs in 3 weeks!

I’ve really enjoyed our weekly meetings and sharing with the group, question and answers, as well as having our own time to talk about individual issues. This is a lifestyle change I plan to continue.”

Alexis P., Columbus, Ohio

“I did a lot better with eating only one junk food meal. I also learned how much sugar is in a medium hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts. Holy cow!

I swear, every week has some new experience I learn from. Not eating any junk on Wed felt much better. It was an easy change. I can definitely feel the difference in my body – detoxing from sugar.”

Jenna K., New York City

“Previously, I would white-knuckle my attempts to ‘never have sugar again’. I’d start each new year with a goal to completely wipe it out of my diet. And each year, the sweet tooth grew into ‘teeth’ and I felt like my cravings got stronger, until gave in. The Sugar Detox Challenge helped me realize that I live in an environment that makes it hard to avoid sweets, but that I can change my environment. Keeping sugar out of my diet has become a game for me and I’ve noticed that I can look at sweets and see them for what they are…and I don’t want them. I have better energy, lost weight, and feel more alive. This feels like freedom! I’m looking forward to 2017 – this time I know I can succeed in avoiding added sugar!”

-Violet R., Columbus, Ohio

“To be honest, I have beat myself up for waiting so long to contend with sugar. I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and my A1C was at 7.1 at my last check-up. All the years of soda and a generally unhealthy diet caught up with me. I was angry and ready to make a change so this challenge was perfect for me. Adrienne is a great cheerleader and she made the sessions both educational and fun. She educated me on simple substitutions that could cut out sugar but still have my food taste delicious. During a time of year when I would usually indulge more, I found this challenge kept me on track. My morning blood sugar is much better than before and I’m actually looking forward to my next doctor’s visit to see what my levels are and to hopefully reduce my insulin!”

– Neal T., Columbus, Ohio

“Looking back, I feel a bit sick. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything out of the ordinary American diet. I even thought that perhaps I was eating better than my peers. That type of thinking made it easy for me to ‘treat’ myself on a regular basis. So my previous days would start off with coffee, flavored creamer, and then either sugar or artificial sweeteners. The cereals, lunches, dinner entrees, snacks, and even low-calorie desserts I ate were not helping me achieve my goals and I was considering skipping meals to lose weight.

My turning point was adding up the sugar intake for the day. I was shocked. How did my ‘healthy’ choices add up to 87 grams of sugar or more? More than anything, I’m glad I did this because of the awareness I’ve gained in seeing what I was doing to myself on a daily basis. The tele-classes were helpful because I given help on HOW to make easy changes. The results speak for themselves- over the holiday, I was able to go on a date with my husband wearing a cute dress that didn’t fit me last year (or showed too many bulges!). I get compliments on my skin and can tell my face is thinner but also my digestion is way better than before. I’m so glad I took this step!”

-Heather B., North Carolina

Curious about results from previous challenges? Check them out here.

Are you ready to break your addiction to sugar and have more energy and vitality in 2017? Join us on March 12th and watch your life transform!