Crown Point, IN

May 6, 2021

The Gluten Thing: Fad or Fact, Final Week

Today I’m going to wrap up this topic. Not because I’ve covered everything that there is to know about gluten, but because there are other topics

April 29, 2021

The Gluten Thing: Fad or Fact, Part 2

How do you know if you have a gluten issue? It’s possible that you may eat foods containing gluten and not experience any significant digestive issu

April 23, 2021

Veggie Stuffed Turkey Burgers

(The following recipe first appeared in the September 2020 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.) Ingredients: 1 tablesp

April 22, 2021

The Gluten Thing: Fad or Fact, Part 1

What are your thoughts on gluten? Do you eat it, or not? Why are so many people talking about it these days? Just this week I received a call from a f

April 15, 2021

Anchor Habits, Being Still, and My Resident Rabbit

It almost feels as though our world is sort of opening up again. For now. How very indefinite. At any rate, prior to everything shutting down, perhaps

April 8, 2021

3 Reasons Why Losing Weight is Hard

It seems like such a simple concept. Expend more calories than you eat, and BOOM. Off go the pounds. Not so fast. There are lots of reasons why it’s

April 1, 2021

He’s Here, and He’s Adorable

This is week #39 of baby, and guess what? He arrived! Little Angelos is perfect and looks like a little angel—well-dressed in monogrammed attire wit

March 26, 2021

Leek, Potato and Zucchini Hot Cakes

Ingredients: 1 medium potato 2 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)                                             

March 24, 2021

For the Love of Leeks, and Hot Cakes

It’s the week of the leek. From the looks of the leek I have in my fridge, it’s a good thing that at week #38, baby is about to make his grand wor

March 18, 2021

Swiss Chard, Your Refrigerator, and Advice from Julia

As we close in on this journey at week #37, baby is the size of a bunch of Swiss chard.  Swiss chard falls under the extremely nutrient dense umbrell

Do You Suffer from Food Trauma?

(The following article first appeared in the October 2018 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.) Online version

If you’ve ever had a disturbing experience involving food and gastric upset, then you are no stranger to food trauma. This can show up in a variety of ways and have different causes. Food trauma, in my case, involved Cream of Wheat when I was about 5 years old.

Cream of Wheat was a breakfast staple in our house, especially in winter. My mother would brown butter and pour it over the top so it fell around the sides of the bowl, enveloping the steamy farina. The idea was to swirl a bite of cereal around in the butter before eating, and have a delightful breakfast experience. I was usually fine with it, unless I came across a lump of uncooked cereal that hid beneath the surface. The taste of that made me gag. On this particular day I wasn’t feeling well and told my mother that if she made me eat the cereal I would throw up. She must have thought I was faking it, since she made me eat it anyway. Being an honest child, I kept my word. To this day, I will not eat Cream of Wheat. Interestingly, I still really like butter.  

What was not a favorite food to begin with, got the boot when it pushed me over the edge. I was already sick and that did me in. It’s not really the cereal’s fault, however, the association is one that I don’t care to try and overcome.

My husband feels the same way about chipped beef. As a youngster, he ate so much of it on an occasion of extreme hunger that it came back up. In all our years together, he has never requested chipped beef for dinner. My father felt the same way because he was served way too much of it in the Army.

In my sampling of those I surveyed about food trauma, most of the people that had this experience as a youngster had no desire to try to overcome their adversity to the food. Ever.

Some of the food trauma stories from my group: food poisoning from seafood salad; Red Hawaiian Punch thrown up in front of entire kindergarten class; too much cheesecake at a party with resulting tummy trouble and pain; chicken, after chomping on a tendon or something in a chicken breast that caused violent gagging to the point of sore abdominal muscles; those perfect little ham cubes thrown up all over the desk in fifth grade.

Other foods of trauma, with no particular story: guacamole, tomato sauce, pasta salad, spaghetti, peanut butter, coconut, kale, hard boiled eggs, fruitcake, and green peas. Oh, and tequila was mentioned numerous times, even though it’s not technically a food.  

There are also the stories resulting from pregnancy and the foods that came up, so to speak. Pregnancy presents a different category of “trauma” altogether. A few of the foods that are on the permanent unwanted list include: lamb, ice cream (bummer), and oregano.

There are some instances when after getting sick on a favorite food, the person was able to overcome adversity and return to a happy relationship. One individual had the flu and chocolate was the innocent victim. It took time, and I’m happy to report that they now get along great again.

Extinction is a process that can help those individuals who have had a negative experience with food, remove the stress it causes. By repeatedly trying the food over time, the stress associated with it will eventually diminish or become extinct. In other words, after trying the food and not getting sick, the fear of it causing gastric upset goes away. This is probably how the chocolate relationship was repaired.

It seems as though the really intense, negative reactions with food happened when these people were children. The memories associated with food involve all our senses and are the strongest of associative memories. Basic survival tactics also come into play, which is why when you get food poisoning, your body says “No,” to eating that particular food, ingredient, or visiting that particular restaurant again. This is what is known as conditioned taste aversion.   

On the flip side, these same powerful associations help us remember the good times we had at grandma’s house, enjoying her apple pie. The power of food memories, along with where we were, the people we were with, and the occasion, create nostalgia. This explains why we tend to make the same traditional foods for holidays.

If there is a food you’ve had trauma with, odds are good that you’re fine never eating it again. If there’s a food you once loved that you are struggling with, give the extinction process a try. You may fall in love all over again. As for tequila, it managed to make a successful comeback for all the folks in my survey group. Cheers.

A Little Secret

This may come as quite a shocker.

People in the health and fitness industry sometimes fall off the health and fitness wagon.

Yep, it happens.

Some “fall-offs” I’ve recently learned about:

  • Several fitness instructors found themselves overindulging in wine during the Covid lockdown.
  • Another fitness guru stopped teaching yoga and working out (Covid related) and is having a really tough time getting back in the groove.
  • And yet another trainer/coach ravenously eats whatever is in the fridge when playing video games at night.
  • Oh, and one more. You’ll love this: mindless snacking on chips and sweets.  

Can you relate with any of these? Are you surprised?

We KNOW BETTER! We help others overcome challenges, and yet…

…we all have our struggles.

I’ve admitted to occasional emotional ice cream eating.

None of us are perfect, yet we think others have it all together all the time.

They don’t. Not even the health and fitness professionals.

As you practice living your desired life, remember that one key element to creating good habits and having them stick is doing them most of the time. 100% is an ideal that will ultimately bring you down.

The 100% thinking can do you a real disservice. One missed session at the gym or overindulgence of pizza will make you feel bad. Get over it and move on. Most of the time is a winning option.

So, what are those fitness folks doing to get back on track?

One solution is to change the environmental cues that trigger a certain behavior.

The video game player is rearranging the fridge so the first thing he sees is cut up veggies or fruit. This puts distance between him and more enticing foods that are better for daytime.

The chip and sweet eater knows that having those foods in the house is a BAD idea. Replacing them with healthier options that she can grab when the munchies strike is key to creating a habit that makes her feel good.

The wine people didn’t like how they felt, so that was the impetus to discontinue the nightly habit. Also, getting out of the house was the distraction that changed the environment.

The yoga teacher has scheduled workouts in her calendar, so it looks hopeful.  

Whatever it is you’d like to work on, begin by making a plan that’s EASY so that you set yourself up for success.

Small daily wins add up to a life of a champion.

FUN OFFER: I sometimes do Zoom kitchen coaching sessions. In the past we’ve made tomato pie and baked a cake. What would YOU like to make during a future session? Send me an email with your idea and I’ll gift you with a 50-minute coaching call to help set you up for success around ONE habit you’d like to change.

Cheers to you,

“Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”—James Clear, “Atomic Habits”

Pumpkins, Apples, and Pears, Oh My

Welcome to fall and an abundance of pumpkins, apples, and pears. These are just a few favorites that enjoy a big debut this time of year.

The Great Pumpkin
Pumpkin is packed with fiber and a multitude of nutrients that benefit your health—and no, I’m not referring to the lattés that are loaded with calories and sugar. Sorry.

Pumpkin purée can obviously be made from a pumpkin; however, I prefer to buy the canned variety because it’s much easier. The only ingredient in it is PUMPKIN. Be sure to check the label if you pick the easy route too.  

Some ways to incorporate pumpkin purée into your life:

  • Add a couple tablespoons to your protein smoothie. Freeze the remainder of the canned purée in separate baggies to toss in when you have a hankering.
  • Stir a few spoonfuls into your warm oatmeal in the morning.
  • Blend it into just about any creamy vegetable soup for added fall flavor.
  • Mix with equal parts ricotta. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with pasta.
  • Bake something pumpkinny. Mix up your favorite pumpkin pie filling recipe and bake without a crust. Try pumpkin bread, muffins, cookies, anything.
  • Make pumpkin pancakes. (you can find this in my Recipe section under breakfasts)

The Incredible Apple
My favorite variety is the Honeycrisp. They taste just like their name. The best Honeycrisp apples you will eat are harvested September through November. They are typically more expensive than other varieties because they are hard to grow.

I’ve been adding these to my fall fruit salads, eating them with peanut butter or cheese, and all by themselves. The crunch is very satisfying when you get the urge to snack and have taken on the identity of a health conscious individual.

Apples are also a healthy food, so enjoy. Whenever possible, choose organic apples, as conventional apples are highly likely to be contaminated with pesticides.  

Pears: The Other Fall Fruit
While apples take center stage, don’t forget about the supporting role of the pear. This is their big season too. I believe that you can substitute pears for just about anything you can think of that calls for apples.

Allow pears to ripen at room temperature. They’re one of the few fruits that do not ripen on the tree. Therefore, they need time for the sugars to develop, which is why you may have to leave them on the counter for a few days once you get home.

A pear is ripe when the area around the stem gives a little with a gentle squeeze. Then store in the refrigerator and consume within 3-5 days for best quality.

Like the apple, organic is best. The pear is a nutritional powerhouse and excellent source of fiber.

Pears are a great addition to a mixed green salad with blue or goat cheese, and candied (or plain) pecans. Toss with a homemade balsamic dressing, or other favorite.

With options like these, it’s easy to debunk the myth that eating nutrient-dense food is boring.

Bon Appétit,

“If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry.”—Michael Pollan

Creating Space…in Your Refrigerator, Freezer, Life

Lately I’ve noticed that I have the need for more space—physically, mentally, digitally, and when it comes to my schedule.

And no, I do not want a larger house.

Recalling last week’s blog, I mentioned that our lives change when our habits change.

The simplest way to change who we are, is to change what we do. The behaviors we choose to do day in and day out, reinforce our identity.   

Rather than focusing on the habit, try focusing on the type of person you’re looking to become.

I’m taking on the identity of a space creator. As I create space, I have more free time to do what I love in surroundings that bring me peace and contentment. How lovely.

Living into this ideal is a better process than telling myself that I’ll make the time to clean out the refrigerator or figure out what “To Do’s” I must include in my day. That thinking doesn’t sit well with me, nor has it worked in the past.

I need a fresh perspective. I prefer to think of myself as a space creator.

In order to be successful, I also need a system.

My system looks like this:

I have a block of time in the morning, anywhere from 15-30 minutes, that I typically fritter away. I don’t even know what happens, except that I don’t accomplish anything measurable.

My ONE habit I’m implementing is to spend that small block of time CREATING SPACE, because that’s what space creators do. I know that I must do this in the morning, or it won’t happen. Immediately after breakfast is a good time to add it to my routine. I ALWAYS eat breakfast, so the success rate is high.

The commitment to spend 15-30 minutes feels right for this habit. The fun part is that I GET to CHOOSE where I create the space.

Yesterday I created space in the refrigerator. It was the day before garbage pickup day, so it was perfect. I spent about 30 minutes dumping out all those pesky little containers that were left from the early Covid days of carrying in some meals.

Those little containers went, along with some other ancient items that looked like a science experiment. Scary.

I have SO MUCH SPACE now, that it makes putting together my grocery list a breeze. This is one way I create mental space. Less time thinking about what I have/need.  

Today I put some books that I am not currently using, and need to keep, in a banker’s box that is labelled with the contents. More desk space, less stuff to distract me, and I know where they are when I need them. What a concept.

It’s the small things we do each day that create our identity. This small thing suits me. On my near future hit list: the freezer and pantry. Even one shelf at a time is awesome!

When I feel the need for more mental space, I may simply sit and breathe.

FUN OFFER: Take a guess at what was in any container that I tossed out and send me an email. If you’re correct, I’ll gift you with a 50-minute coaching call and help you get clear around that ONE habit you’d like to take on in order to create your new identity. Hint: we ordered Italian, salads, and even breakfast!

Spaciously yours,

“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running.”
― James Clear, “Atomic Habits”