Be empowered to shift your perspective around food and your body!

woman cooking in the kitchenAs the summer months quickly approach, the buzz around diets and weight loss become more and more prevalent. This summer, try shifting your focus from deprivation and that elusive “bikini body,” which you already possess, and take the opportunity to slow down. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “shoulds” and “wants” that you may forget to glorify the little things that make your life rich on a day-to-day basis. Be empowered to shift your perspective around food and your body! When you breathe, slow down and harness food gratitude, you’ll be pleased to learn that eating can be an extraordinarily joyful experience.

Eating requires that you engage all your senses, which cause your brain to release feel-good chemicals, elevating your mood and evoking feelings of trust, enjoyment and relaxation. Let’s try it!

Take in and embrace what you see. From vibrantly colorful produce stacked at the market to a beautifully plated meal, our eyes act as a gateway to appreciating the food we eat. This is a great time to consider where your food came from and how it was grown, and if you’re eating a meal, you can reflect on the work that went into preparing it.

Try this: Hold a pear or two in your hands. Note the differences that are present between one pear and another from shape and texture to size and color variations. Currently in season are the Red Anjou and Green Anjou, which have been taking a nice long rest in cold storage since late last fall (they don’t ripen on the tree) and are now ripening perfectly!

Savor each bite. We often choose our foods based on the way they taste and the flavors we enjoy, but we rarely take the time to truly savor each bite. Chew mindfully and pay attention to the experience and the way the flavor and texture of your food changes. By savoring each bite, you can enjoy less quantities of food – and still feel satisfied.

Try this: Take a bite of a ripe pear. Note the texture, level of sweetness and juiciness this particular pear possesses. There are ten varieties of USA Pears, each with its own distinctive features – from taste to texture to color – so have fun to trying the different qualities that each variety embodies.

Inhale. Scent evokes memories and emotions, which you can use to enhance the enjoyment of a meal. How a food smells is directly related to your perception of how that food tastes.

Try this: Cut into a juicy pear and take a moment to embrace the sweet aroma. Does this evoke any emotions or excitement? Take note of your thoughts.

You may give this a go once in a while or incorporate a few of these tips on a daily basis, but either way, the act of engaging yourself in all that your food is offering will allow you to celebrate your plate in a way that takes the emphasis off dieting and deprivation. Happy Summer!

The Skinny on Weight Loss

Swimsuit season is fast approaching, and many of my students have come to me for help with weight loss. Unfortunately, overweight and obesity continue to be problems across America. The most prevalent setback I see in clients’ diet recalls and food journals is that they eat too many processed foods. Many of them have even tried fad diets, fasting, and pills. These approaches don’t work! The only weight loss method that truly works is to adopt a healthful lifestyle change.

So how do you change your lifestyle? First, you have to want to change your lifestyle, not just for a quick weight loss, but for good. Secondly, you have to be patient; healthful fat loss takes time! Finally, you have to eat well and exercise. As it turns out, most people I’ve counseled are willing to do anything to lose weight except eat well and exercise… And this leads to a vicious cycle ending in weight gain! It’s simple to start a lifestyle change: Cut the junk. Switch your processed snacks to fresh fruit with a protein, think a pear with a little cheese or nut butter. Substitute processed foods for fresh vegetables at each meal, but only use a little fat for flavor. Once you’ve cleaned up your plate, kick up your workout routine, even if it’s by 5 minutes. Now you’re on the road to a healthier life!

Merry and Light?

I have been counseling one of my culinary students for weight loss; she has been successful and is very determined to lose weight through the holidays. Although I know she can, it’s important for each of us to relax and take care of ourselves in every way at this time of year. Generally I suggest that the holidays are a good time to maintain weight, rather than lose. Many of us experience increased stress, more social events, limited exercise schedules, and an abundance of treat foods! Although weight loss is possible, why not focus on exercise, eating well, and allowing some holiday enjoyment?  After the New Year, set healthy goals and go for it!

Having a healthy relationship with food and outlook on the holidays is important, as is enjoying yourself and your social calendar. Here are some tips for a healthy holiday season. Start each day with a balanced breakfast that includes some fat, fiber, and protein. Snack on fresh fruits and veggies throughout the day. Make half your plate fruits and veggies at each meal. Drink plenty of water. Exercise when you can fit it in, perhaps with a focus on three times per week. And finally, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as planned! The holidays are over in a week, and there is a whole new year ahead. Happy holidays!