Category: "Uncategorized"

What’s the Deal with Gluten?

May 9th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

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Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, non-gluten free oats, and processed foods containing these ingredients (i.e. bread, cereal, pasta, pancakes, pizza, bakery and other packaged foods).

Gluten causes a whole spectrum of problems for many people, ranging from non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) to celiac disease— an autoimmune condition where ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine, creating iron deficiency anemia, joint pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and migraines.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, some people experience symptoms of celiac disease, such as foggy mind, depression, ADHD-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain, and chronic fatigue, when they have gluten in their diet, but they do not test positive for celiac disease. NCGS is generally used to refer to this condition; removing gluten from the diet resolves symptoms.

 

Why does it seem like gluten intolerance is more of a recent problem?

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as gluten sensitivity. Although it can seem like a fad, I can tell you it is indeed a real thing.

Due to hybridization of wheat grown in the United States, the quality and type of proteins and starches in wheat have changed, creating a higher gluten content than ever before. The result is an overwhelming increase in the diagnosis of celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Food allergies and sensitivities create an inflammatory state in the body, leading to weight gain and insulin resistance. So if you suspect you are intolerant of gluten, it would be wise to eliminate it for a six-week trial to see if your blood glucose numbers and weight improve. This also holds true for other common food allergies and sensitivities, like dairy, soy, eggs, shellfish, and peanuts.

 

Mel’s experience with gluten

Although I never officially set out to remove gluten from my diet, it turned out that most of the food I was eating just happened to be naturally gluten-free, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lentils, seafood, and natural, unprocessed meats.

After a while, I noticed a subtle, yet significant improvement in my digestion and also quite a bit less brain fog and joint pain. If a little gluten sneaks into my diet in the form of an occasional donut, brownie or cookie, it’s not like I suffer horrible side effects or anything like that, but I also don’t feel 100%. I simply choose not to make it a habit because it’s just not worth it to me.

Some of my favorite gluten-free alternatives include:

 

Recommended gluten-free grains

If you choose to eat grains, I recommend aiming for small amounts of what I call “upgraded” grains. These include whole, minimally processed, non-GMO, gluten-free grains such as:

  •    Brown rice
  •    Wild rice (which is actually a semi-aquatic grass)
  •    Quinoa (which is actually a seed)
  •    Amaranth
  •    Buckwheat
  •    Millet
  •    Sorghum
  •    Gluten-free steel-cut oats
  •    Teff

If you happened to eat a gluten-containing grain, opt for sprouted varieties. Sprouting— which involves soaking grains, seeds, beans, legumes or nuts in water until a sprout forms— can reduce the gluten content by almost 50%. Studies also show that sprouted grains become easier to digest and breakdown for those with diabetes because of changes in the amount of enzymes available, which is needed to properly digest glucose.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Applegate Organics Sunday Bacon

You preach about Earthfoods Melanie, and I fully respect that. But what about bacon? I’m not willing to give that up…no way, no how!

Listen, I get it. I’m not asking you to give it up for a couple of reasons: First, it’s not necessary because it can absolutely fit in small amounts on occasion. Second, thanks to companies like Applegate, you can now have your bacon and eat it too!

Applegate Organics Sunday Bacon is humanely raised, USDA organic, and free of: nitrites, nitrates, preservatives, hormones, GMOs, gluten, and antibiotics. Everything you should look for when purchasing bacon.

Check out this week’s recipe pick for Purely PMS Brownie Bites. These decadent little morsels are made without flour (so they are gluten-free), and are topped with drizzled dark chocolate, cacao nibs and bacon pieces.

You’re welcome! 🙂 

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Purely PMS Brownie Bites

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Praiseworthy Earthfoods (you should be eating daily)

May 1st, 2019 | no comments

Photo by William Felker on Unsplash

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Earthfoods are the foods your body was designed to eat and truly longs for. They are powerful beyond measure and can heal your body at a cellular level.

They include whole, plant-based, nutrient-rich foods from the earth, such as: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, legumes, herbs, spices, and more. (Click HERE for a list of Earthfoods)

The payoff of eating an Earthfood-rich diet is a body that is satiated to the core.

 

These foods won’t cause you to raid the refrigerator looking for more an hour after you’ve eaten them (think potato chips and chocolate chip cookies).

 

Moreover, you aren’t likely to feel the need to overeat them because they are so nourishing. They give you energy, help your brain function at optimal levels, and provide a sense of clarity.

All Earthfoods are health-rocking, however there are a few categories that stand out as praiseworthy. Actually there are more than a few, but for the sake of keeping things simple, I will focus on the top three here: Greens, berries, and cruciferous vegetables.

 

Greens:

One of the most nutritious foods on the planet, greens offer more nutrients per pound than virtually any other Earthfood. Packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber, these powerhouses (still sadly referred to as mere “diet food” by many) offer so many health benefits, you’d be foolish not to include them in at least one of your daily meals.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Healthy aging.
  • Helps fight inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Aids in blood sugar management.
  • Improves health of skin and protects against harmful UV rays.
  • Supports a healthy immune response.
  • Improves gut health.
  • Supports your body’s detoxification system. The chlorophyll in greens binds to heavy metals and other toxins and carries them safely out of your body.
  • Decreases rates of cognitive decline as you age.

Greens include:

Arugula, bok choy, beet greens, broccoli, broccoli rabe (rapini), cabbage, collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, escarole, kale, mesclun, microgreens, mustard greens, Romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, watercress, and wild greens.

 

Berries:

Ever hear of oxidative stress? It occurs when unstable byproducts of metabolism, called free radicals, build up in the body and cause cellular damage. Alzheimer’s disease, arteriosclerosis, cancer, heart disease, rapid aging, and diabetes are just a handful of conditions linked to oxidative stress.

Although a small amount of free radicals are essential to help us fight dangerous bacteria and viruses, we must take steps to neutralize excess production if we wish to enjoy good health. One way to do this is by eating antioxidant-rich Earthfoods. Berries top the list, alongside other powerful foods like herbs, spices, cacao, green tea, and brightly colored vegetables like sweet potatoes, peppers, spinach, and kale.  

Berries include:

Acai berries, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cranberries, elderberries, goji berries, raspberries, and strawberries.

 

Cruciferous veggies:

These are the veggies I always turned my nose up as a kid, followed by a “yuck!”. But it turns out, my mom knew something I didn’t. This class of vegetables, belonging to the Brassicaceae family, is named after the “cross-bearing” (Cruciferae) shape of their flowers.

Cruciferous vegetables made the praiseworthy list because they are rich in free radical-neutralizing antioxidants and other cancer-fighting compounds (called glucosinolates). When eaten regularly as part of an Earthfood-rich diet, they can also help you: manage your weight, normalize blood sugar, reduce inflammation, support heart health, and balance estrogen levels.

Cruciferous veggies include:

Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe (rapini), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, maca, mizuna, mustard greens, radish, rutabaga, turnip, watercress.

 

What are you waiting for?

I just handed you three keys to better health, so what are you waiting for? Eat them and do so every day…with relentless consistency! Try one of these previously featured recipe picks to get you started…

 

Mel’s weekly recipe picks: 

Strawberry Banana “Surprise” Shake

 

 

 

 

 

Nourishing White Bean Chard Soup

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad

 

 

 

 

Caulimash

 

 

 

 

 

Egg Roll in a Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

Turmeric Roasted Vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

Shredded Kale & Blueberry Salad with Pecan “Cheese”

 

 

 

 

 

Celery, Date & Almond Watercress Salad

 

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The Power of Relentless Consistency

April 25th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

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Do you realize how many times you’ve been so close to experiencing a real, tangible shift in your health, but you quit just before the bloom? Maybe you didn’t see the number on the scale move fast enough so you threw in the towel (one of the many reasons why I dislike scales).

You were so close it’s scary.

When you plant a tomato seed, it doesn’t sprout the next day does it? Mother Nature decides when, not you. Your job is to water it with consistency, and within five to six days…bingo! If you expected an edible tomato on day seven, grew impatient and yanked the sprout from the ground because it wasn’t “happening fast enough”, you’d never know what it’s like to experience the divine deliciousness of a fresh tomato. It takes time.

So why should it be any different for you?  

Ever hear the story told by Napoleon Hill, of the gold-digging man who grew impatient and stopped digging…only to discover later that he was just three feet from the rich stuff? If he only hung in there long enough.

Get the point?  

 

Chocolate chip cookies are not the problem

The problem I see is not one of eating poor quality food per se, but eating poor quality food with relentless consistency. That’s what gets us into trouble. A chocolate chip cookie here or there, even every day, is not enough to drive your blood sugar through the roof and cause diabetes. It’s the cookie, the footlong sub, handful of M&Ms, and bagel the size of a small country, eaten on a relentlessly consistent basis, that eventually invites high blood sugar.

Said another way, it’s the relentless inconsistency of nourishing foods, regular exercise, and general self-care, that contributes to diabetes and other diseases.

If you want to experience tangible results, you must reverse this order.

Practicing relentless consistency sounds sort of like health food boot camp doesn’t it? Like I’m telling you to drop and give me 20! Don’t worry, it’s nothing like that!

 

The formula for relentlessly consistency (you’re going to LOVE this)

First and foremost, we are not going to complicate things with special meal plans and a long list of rules (you’ve been down that road…it’s called a diet). Second, you don’t have to purchase special food, your local grocery store or farmer’s market has everything you need to be successful. Third, you will not be given any limits.

I have only one rule for you:

Challenge yourself to eat at least ten servings of Earthfoods every day and follow through like your life depends on it!  (Click HERE for a list of Earthfoods)

 

The only actual planning you will do is to take an “Earthfood inventory” of your kitchen the night before and then write down the ten Earthfoods you will eat tomorrow. It’s really not even so much about planning as it is creativity! How will you creatively plug these foods into your meals tomorrow?

For example, it’s Tuesday evening and as I open my refrigerator and pantry to plan for the next day, I notice it’s pretty scarce. But there’s still enough to hit the ten Earthfood minimum, so I add the following to tomorrow’s plan:

  • Large apple
  • Large banana
  • Half of a small avocado
  • A couple of large carrots
  • Fresh ginger
  • Leftover roasted veggies
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Frozen cauliflower
  • Can of black beans
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cacao powder

Now of course I don’t just sit and eat black beans out of the can (that wouldn’t be very fun would it?). Instead, I find a way to plug it into a meal.

 

Here’s what this looks like in meal form…

Although it doesn’t sound like much, with a little creativity, here’s what the above inventory would look like in meal form:

Breakfast (6 Earthfood servings):

A Peace of Health Shake made with ½ cup of frozen blueberries, ½ large banana, 1 tbsp. Cacao powder, 1 tbsp. Chia seeds, 1 cup frozen cauliflower, 1 tbsp. Fresh ginger.

Lunch (4 Earthfood servings):

Egg salad made with: ½ of an avocado, mashed (used in place of mayonnaise), ½ apple, diced, ½ cup black beans; served with carrot strips.

Dinner (1 Earthfood serving):

Eat the roasted veggies as a side dish with whatever you are serving.

Snack (1 Earthfood serving):

Handful of pumpkin seeds.

Once eaten, I simply cross them off the list. I just love crossing things off of a list, don’t you? Such a feeling of accomplishment! 

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. I only listed Earthfoods in the sample meals above. Your breakfast shake would also contain a liquid base and lunch may include some sprouted chips on the side.
  2. Notice that I wound up eating 12 servings of Earthfood. Even though my kitchen wasn’t stocked full of food, I still went above and beyond!
  3. If they aren’t in your kitchen, you can’t eat them! Shopping on a weekly basis is important, and even then you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money. Notice all of the shelf-stable Earthfoods in my example above: black beans, cacao powder, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds. Stock up while you’re there and figure out what to do with them later.
  4. Please, please, please don’t get hung up on portion sizes. I only offer them as a guide to help you meet the minimum number of recommended daily Earthfood servings, not to perpetuate a scarcity mindset. Once you understand what a portion looks like, you can eyeball it from there.

 

The magic of an abundance-mindset

There is a certain level of magic built into an abundance-mindset. Because you aren’t placing limits on how much you’re allowed to eat, you are in fact putting faith and trust in your body and can more easily tap into how much it’s truly asking for. This is why I use the language of minimums: eat at least ten Earthfood servings per day. Could you eat 15 or 20 Earthfood servings per day? Even better!

Now you tell me, after a day full of 20 Earthfoods, how much room would you have left in that beautiful stomach of yours for pizza, chocolate cake and potato chips? You aren’t forbidding them, not at all! You are crowding them out with Earthfoods…and your cravings will follow suit.

How cool is that?

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Native Forest Jackfruit

Indigenous to India and Bangladesh, jackfruit is a large bulbous tree fruit (can reach 100+ pounds) with a thick green rind. It’s rich in magnesium, vitamin B6, fiber and antioxidants.

When marinated, jackfruit mimics the texture of pulled pork, which is why it’s gaining popularity as a meat replacement. Once ripe, it is often used in sweet recipes such as smoothies, cakes and other desserts.

Recipes abound for jackfruit pulled “pork” and Philly “cheesesteak” sandwiches, however my favorite is jackfruit taco “meat”. Check out this week’s recipe pick for Spicy Jackfruit Taco Salad.

Jackfruit can be purchased fresh, but it’s a pain in the rear to cut. Save yourself time and aggravation by picking up a can of Native Forest Jackfruit or a package of Upton’s Jackfruit.

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Spicy Jackfruit Taco Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The #1 Secret of Successful Healthy Eaters

April 18th, 2019 | no comments

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OK, I won’t beat around the bush. The number one secret of those “gifted” individuals who are able to begin and stick to a healthy lifestyle is this:

 

They focus on the how of eating before the what.

 

Most people shoot straight for the food rules: what should I eat? And after about a week, where do they wind up? Back at square one, a little more confused, and looking for yet another solution.

The how of eating must come before the what, otherwise the mere whiff of an airport Cinnabon will be enough to lure you away from your healthy intentions. I’ve seen it happen a million times.

Enough of this ridiculousness already!

Don’t get me wrong, the what is important, but it’s always trumped by the how. Besides, the how is a much more natural place to begin…it’s where we started out as infants.

 

The how of eating: Being with your food

In my book Missing Peace, the how of eating is answered by Missing Peace #5: Return to Your Roots. It involves being fully present with your food while you eat it, a prerequisite of what it means to be a mindful and connected eater. 

Mindful eating means:

  • Eating in pure enjoyment and gratitude.
  • Really tasting your food— appreciating the flavors, textures and aromas.
  • Feeling the sensation of your body as it gently moves from ‘hungry’ to ‘satisfied’. 
  • Eliminating distractions like phone, email, texting, television, and yes, even reading.

Sound familiar? It should. These are all natural behaviors witnessed by observing an infant as she receives a breast or bottle.

Only when you are fully present with your food are you able to uncover and tap into your innate, fine-tuned ability to sense hunger and satiety (fullness). This ability is rooted deep within; you were born with this gift, and still harness it today.

 

Being with your food: Which TV are you watching?

When you eat, there are three possible “televisions” you can have before you.

The first plays movies of your past, the second shows scenes of the anticipated future, and the third looks like a television, but the screen is actually a mirror, reflecting back to you this very moment: you sitting down with your meal. Let’s call this one TV-Me.

 

Just like you can’t watch the movie ET without a box of tissues in hand (no you can’t!), TV-past and TV-future can spark certain emotions, causing you to ignore the yellow light of satiety, blow through the red one, and get a ticket…in the form of an over-satisfied belly.

Both can also evoke feelings of anxiety, depression, restlessness, anger, guilt, and resistance— all sensations we tend to soothe with comfort food (and I’m not talking chicken soup here!).

 

Understand, I am not suggesting you push your emotions away. In fact, being present with your food involves being with your emotions too: noting and feeling them, in the present moment. It’s part of the experience!

Remember, what you resist, persists. Nowhere is this more evident than with food. Burying your emotions will only strengthen their hold on you. Only when you shine the light of presence on them can darkness dissolve, and peace be found.  

And if you’re doing this right, you may even discover that it’s not physical hunger you are trying to feed, but emotional hunger (or what I call “head-hunger”). 

 

TV-Me: The only place to be

When you tune into TV-Me, you are choosing mindfulness over unconsciousness; peace over conflict. You observe only you, with your food, experiencing all that it has to offer with complete gratitude. You pay attention to your body as it receives the food and feel the reward of nourishment and satiety. 

Watching any television other than TV-Me will pull you away from Home, into a fog and disconnected from your roots. It’s impossible to be fully present with your food.

Yes, the temptation to glance at what’s playing on the left or right will always be there, but it’s up to you to grab the remote, turn them off, and deactivate their power. And if they happened to “magically” turn on, take a breath, note the scene, and then move on to enjoy the rest of your meal in peace and presence.

 

You have what it takes to be a “gifted” eater

You have everything it takes to be one of those “gifted” and successful healthy eaters. So when you eat, just be with your food, in this moment and nowhere else! Because in this moment, with this breath, you really have no problems.

If you are tempted to challenge this statement, I invite you to think of a problem and then ask yourself if it’s tied to something in the past or future. The answer will always be yes.

Do the work and focus on the how.

The what is a piece of cake 🍰 (figuratively speaking). 😉

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Riced Cauliflower

An amazing alternative that works beautifully in virtually all recipes calling for rice. 

Riced cauliflower is just what it sounds like, cauliflower that has been chopped into itty bitty pieces using either a box grater, food processor, or blender. You can certainly make it from scratch (try this recipe), or indulge in the convenience of fresh cauliflower rice in the produce department at your local grocery store. 

Fresh cauliflower rice can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in a large skillet with a bit of olive or avocado oil and used in stir-fries or hot side dishes (see my recipe pick below for Cauliflower Fried “Rice”). 

Cauliflower (along with kale, broccoli, arugula, cabbage, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts) is a cruciferous vegetable—a super powerful class of veggies that aids in boosting immune function, reducing inflammation, and balancing blood sugar. I make it a rule to eat at least one hefty dose of cruciferous vegetables every day. Cauliflower rice can help you do the same!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Often Should You Eat?

April 10th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly food pick: Coconut Flour Tortilla Chips (grain and gluten-free)
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick: Crunchy Chickpea Snacks

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

What you feed your body most, it will crave. I mentioned this in last week’s post, and the truth is, it applies to more than just what you eat.

Your body craves the consistency of a schedule too. But make no mistake, it absolutely will adapt to prefer round-the-clock snacking if that’s what you’ve trained it to do.

If you’re nibbling all day long (even if it’s on carrot sticks), chances are you are doing it in a mindless, disconnected, foggy state. And to top it off, you’re not allowing your body the opportunity to experience hunger.

And that’s not good!

Hunger (and satiety) are natural and, dare I say, Divine sensations. They serve as a barometer, a built-in coach, gently guiding you to eat when hunger arises and stop when you are satisfied. The sheer ability to experience them is a sign that you are tuned into your body at the most primordial level. 

 

How often should you eat? Ask a baby

We can learn a lot from babies in this department. They don’t snack mindlessly on breast milk; they eat at regular intervals (meals) in direct response to their body’s hunger cues.

You’ll also never catch them with a little baby notebook, meticulously counting their calories. Because they live in a constant state of presence, tuning into and listening to what their body is trying to tell them, is effortless. There’s no in between. It’s either:

  • “I’m hungry…feed me now!” , or
  • “I’m satisfied…now get your boob out of my face!”

Ask a baby how often they eat, and if they could talk, they’d tell you:  “when my body tells me it’s time to eat…duh!”  

 

Calories tell you nothing…so please stop tracking them! (Pretty please with a cherry on top🍒)

Calorie-counting is so 1980’s. It’s also a glaring sign that you do not trust your body. No calculation in the world can tell you how much your body needs; you must feel it.

Furthermore, calories tell you absolutely nothing, and focusing on them will only lead you down a foggy, confused, and disconnected dead end road.

 

Stay with me here…

 

First, the deep stuff: What you focus on expands.

 

When you focus on calories, calories, calories, your emotional desire for more calories will expand. You’ll always want more! This makes it impossible to tap into your deep-rooted, fine-tuned ability to sense hunger and fullness.

When you focus instead on tapping into your body and listening to what it’s trying to tell you, your ability to sense hunger and fullness will expand and become super sensitive. Just like when you were a wee little baby. 

 

But wait…there’s more!

 

Did you know that your body is in search of nutrients from food, not calories? Yes, when you eat and digest food, your body begins the search for the nutrients that it knows will satisfy it. But when it can’t find those nutrients, it continues to eat more, still looking.

If you are totally obsessed with sticking to a prescribed calorie limit—choosing low-calorie, nutrient-poor foods like diet yogurt, pretzels, and God-awful Lean Cuisine frozen meals—don’t be surprised if you never feel full. 

And please don’t be surprised when you eat the entire bag of pretzels.  

On the other hand, when you eat a nutrient-rich meal (regardless of the calories) such as a big plate of salad greens mixed with a variety of raw veggies, along with a nice piece of wild salmon and good fats like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds, you feel completely fulfilled. You aren’t likely stuffed, but what I like to call satisfied to the core. Your hunger switch turns off because your body extracted everything it needed from that meal.

The message is simple: If your goal is to go mad, keep counting calories. If not, stop!

 

So, how often should you eat?

Let your body guide you. If you are really present and connected, it will tell you when it needs to be fed.

But what if you’ve trained your body to eat all day long? How do you get out of this tangled web of mindless eating?

Start by eating three times a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The length of time between each meal will depend on what you ate (how nutritionally balanced your last meal was) and how connected you are to the sensations of hunger and satiety.

When you become still, tap into the present moment and access your full power, you are in sync with your body’s needs. You eat when hungry and stop when you’ve had enough. You’ll also find that your body takes to its own schedule, because it really does crave consistency.

Yes, sometimes you will eat more than your body is asking for, but you’ll be OK with your decision…because you were conscious when you made it.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Coconut Flour Tortilla Chips

Made from organic coconut flour, cassava (a root vegetable native to South America) starch, and coconut oil, The Real Coconut Tortilla Chips are a tasty, fiber-rich alternative to potato and corn-based chips. 

Available in Original, Himalayan Pink Salt, Beach Barbecue, and Sea Salt & Vinegar (my favorite!).

Serve alongside a nice big salad with a scoop of homemade guacamole for dipping, or pick up a container of Wholly Guacamole on your next shopping trip.

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Crunchy Chickpea Snacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When All You Want to Do Is Eat Cake…Surrender

April 3rd, 2019 | no comments

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IMPORTANT REMINDER!

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CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Surrender.

Sounds like I’m giving you permission to throw in the towel and eat cake, doesn’t it?

Surrendering to food does not mean what you think. It doesn’t mean to give in; to fill your grocery cart with potato chips, ice cream, cupcakes and candy bars. Nor does it mean to give up on your health goals.

In his book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle has this to say about the meaning of surrender:

Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is. Inner resistance is to say “no” to what is, through mental judgment and emotional negativity.

 

Activate your power of nonresistant choice

When faced with a menu of options, rather than fight and say “no” to those foods you believe are “bad” (which will only give them more power over your mind), invite them in as part of the present moment and allow them to be in the running.

This simple act is enough to end your inner battle with food.  Now the power of what I call nonresistant choice can flow to you, and with that, the freedom to eat the foods that will serve your highest good.

This is exactly what I do on my weekly grocery trip.

Strolling up and down the aisles housing my previously forbidden “kryptonite” foods (i.e. cookies, donuts, cake, etc.), I lovingly invite all of them to be in the running for what goes into my cart. Sometimes one of them actually makes it to the conveyor belt, but it’s not very often. And it’s all because I am allowed to have it.

This mental clearing opens up my power of nonresistant choice, and I am free to choose what my body really wants.

Giving yourself permission is one of the most freeing things you can do.

 

Restrictions: the killer of nonresistant choice

When you are locked in food prison, with a host of food rules, lists of dos and don’ts, and restrictive calorie limits, you are living in a highly resistant state and the power of nonresistant choice is cut off.

Sure you are making choices, but with much inner-conflict. You don’t realize it, but you are actually in a fog, under the spell of the forbidden food or calorie-limit, which is quietly lurking in the background of your mind, whispering “no”.

Under these conditions, I guarantee you will end up eating the forbidden food and breaking the calorie-limit.

You’ve been there before, haven’t you? Well, now that you know this…why the hell would you choose to go back there?

Surrender my friend. Activate your power of nonresistant choice. 

 

When is it really ok to eat cake?

But wait Mel! How do I know when eating a piece of chocolate cake is really the right choice? My fear is, with this newfound freedom of surrendering, I will easily convince myself that it’s OK to eat the cake…even when it’s not.

 

First, yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life means, it’s always OK to eat cake (and pizza, ice cream, kale, and sweet potatoes). You have unbounded freedom to eat it. The question becomes, how do you feel about eating the cake at this moment?

Do you feel free, light, untethered? Which are all feelings you experience when you are Home and connected to who you really are. READ THIS POST TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HOME.

Or do you feel bound in chains, riddled with guilt, and stuck in a pool of resistance as thick as mud?

How do you know it’s the right choice? You will feel it. And your feelings never lie.

 

Second, you will never be able to escape the smell of airport Cinnabons. Cupcakes, donuts, pizza, potato chips, and apple pie will always be there. So your only hope for a way out of the madness you’ve created around food, is to commit to ending the war with it, once and for all.

Surrender my friend!

 

“But Mel, what if I CRAVE chocolate cake?”

Let me tell you something. I know it may not always feel like it, but your body really does know exactly what to do to take care of itself. It’s in direct partnership with the real you, and when you get still and listen, it will guide you to what it really needs to be in harmony (and on occasion, that may mean a small piece of chocolate cake is in order). 

In other words: the being part of you, housed in your human suit, will not call out for chocolate cake every night at 9:30. That’s your body talking. Nonetheless, it can be quite a convincing call can’t it? The feeling is super intense and you may even start salivating at the mere thought of chocolate cake.

So how do you even begin to rationalize with that human side?

Remember my famous words of wisdom: what you feed your body most, it will crave.

If you crave cake and other forms of sugar all day every day, that means you’ve trained your body to crave it. Same goes for roasted Brussels sprouts, kale smoothies, and water.

To learn how to transform those cravings into foods you actually want to crave, check out this post

 

Let me leave you with this…

You DO have control, so step out of the fog you’ve been living in! Take a long, slow, deep breath. Get intensely present, surrender to the moment, and tap into your power of untethered, nonresistant choice.

You can have whatever you want.

Now that you are truly free, what will you choose?  

 

PS: Yes, I really did eat that slice of chocolate cake last week (I begrudgingly shared it with Wayne and secretly wanted to stab his hand with my fork 😜). It was an untethered, nonresistant choice. I felt completely free with no guilt and ZERO regret.

Now that’s how you eat chocolate cake my friend. xo

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Parsley

Photo by Tomasz Olszewski on Unsplash

I was never a fan of parsley growing up. I think it was that one isolated incident at Mr. Steak, when I curiously nibbled on the wilted sprig of pitiful parsley carelessly thrown on top of my kiddie-size steak. It was supposed to be a garnish, but I tell you…it tasted like garbage!

Turns out parsley is oh so much more than a measly decoration. Yes, it doubles as a breath freshener and palate cleanser, but seriously…that’s small potatoes compared to its effects on a more cellular level.

Rich in plant compounds called flavonoids, parsley can potentially offer protection against diabetes and skin and breast cancer. Because it’s a phenomenal source of vitamin K, an important micronutrient for calcium absorption, parsley can support optimal bone health too.

Note: If you take a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin and Jantoven), you have to be careful not to drastically alter the amount of vitamin K in your diet. One of its main roles is blood clotting, and parsley contains over 500% of the Daily Value for vitamin K in just one half-cup.

It’s super easy to incorporate parsley into your favorite recipes:

  • Add it to soups and tomato sauces.
  • Chop into salads.
  • Make your own tabouli by mixing chopped parsley with olive oil, mint, quinoa and lemon. Here’s a gluten-free tabouli recipe you’ll really like!
  • Sprinkle on top of cooked vegetables and fish.
  • Blend into pesto sauce and toss with mung bean pasta. Check out this week’s recipe pick for Perfect Parsley Pesto (it’s gluten and dairy-free!).
Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Perfect Parsley Pesto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are You Eating at “Home” or in a Fog?

March 28th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by POOYAN ESHTIAGHI on Unsplash

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Most of us go through life without even the slightest recognition of the intelligence of our body. In fact we can’t even begin to comprehend how powerful and mysterious this gift of a human body really is. Understand, when you are living in a place of peace, your body knows what to do and how best to take care of itself.  

 

Home is within YOU

Within you rests a gentle, quiet space. It’s where the deeper part of you resides, and when you connect with it, you feel at Home (capitalization intentional and to be interpreted in whatever way resonates with you).

 

Here are my thoughts…

 

Home is a place. One of peace and trust, and also the source of your greatest power. When you pay a visit, you feel good, and possible…and for no reason in particular. You make better food choices with greater ease and treat yourself with gentle love and kindness. There is a sense of clarity, even if just for a split second, and a subtle knowing that you are whole, and all is well.

Although you may only visit for a moment here and there, rest assured, Home is always open and waiting for you to enter any time you choose. I am here to tell you that when you make decisions from this place, you will never feel the need to find another diet to rescue you.

Because you are already rescued…you just don’t know it yet.  

 

Babies don’t battle food

Yes, the door to your Home is always open. And no, you don’t have to be an enlightened master to enter.

Don’t believe me? Find an infant to observe for an hour or so. They live in peace quite evidently and brilliantly. Really, if they are already Home, where else is there to go? And why would they want to live anyplace else? It’s familiar; a place of knowing.

You never witness a baby at war with her body, nor does she suffer an internal battle with food. Furthermore, you won’t catch her chowing down on pureed bananas when her diaper is wet. In fact, you’ll soon be wearing those bananas if you attempt to feed her rather than change her diaper. She intuitively knows what she needs. She is born knowing.

Don’t you get it?

You were that baby…born knowing. You simply forgot. 

 

The foggy lure of diets

Far too many people are living in dysfunction with food. They see their body as enemy number one; they don’t trust it, and as a result, treat it as such. Unhappy with the current state of their health and lost with no functioning road map to get back Home, instead of tapping into their own internal GPS, the map they choose is a diet or plan created by someone else.

When it fails them (and it will!), yet another layer of fog emerges, clouding their path Home. Sure it appears to be a pretty reliable map, but in reality it is nothing more than an illusion; a distraction.

Listen, I am not suggesting that specific styles of eating don’t produce better health (i.e. Paleo, pescatarian, vegetarian, etc.), nor am I here to debate any of them.

But do you know who these plans work for long term?

Those who have faith in themselves. Those who sense on some deep level (even if they aren’t conscious of it), who they really are.  

 

Peace in 24-hours? Is it possible?

The truth is, in as little as 24-hours, anyone can achieve peace with their food, body, and health. Actually, you can go Home in a literal instant. I am living proof of this, and believe me, I am not equipped with any unique and special powers that you don’t have too.

Yes, given the proper tools, you absolutely can lift the thick layer of fog created by years of serial dieting.  

This fog I’m referring to represents a level of unconsciousness that can be summed up in one statement:

 

We have forgotten who we really are and what we are truly capable of becoming.

 

But Mel, I’m living in fog 24-7! How do I get back Home?

The only way to lift the fog and make your way back Home, is to be completely present for this moment, as it is. Do not judge it or wish it were different. Just be here…now.

Presence is everything. As it is here you are connected to your true power, to who you really are.

Let’s go back to the tiny little infant– tiny, yet a seasoned master at living in peace. How did they get so good without reading a single book, a speck of training and zero life experience? They are always living in the present moment and therefore always connected to who they really are…whether they know it or not.

 

The easiest way to practice presence (which can also be described as being still, fully aware or fully conscious) is to place your full attention on your breath.

 

Think about it, your breath is the perfect entry point into presence because you can only breathe in this moment– not in the past or future, which is where we spend the majority of our mental lives. Yes, your breath is the powerful potion that lifts the fog. It’s your roadmap Home.

 

What really happens when I’m Home?

Listen, I’m not promising 100% clear blue skies in 24-hours, but a slight lifting of the fog with every moment of presence you bring to your day. And with that comes a more peaceful existence, including:

  • A little more control over your food choices
  • Stripping of guilt as it relates to your food 
  • A taste of freedom from the food prison in which you are presently locked
  • Development of delightful cravings for food that will help you heal and thrive

Now hear me because I really need you to get this:

 

Peace in your life— in your health, with your body, and with your food— depends on one thing and one thing only:

The intensity of your connection to who you really are.

This is the source of all of your power.

 

Pizza may be the right choice

Really?

Let’s say your meals currently consist of: a default donut in the office lunch room for breakfast, vending machine chips as a midday snack, a lunch sub from the local deli, and take-out pizza for dinner.  

Now, I’m not saying for one instant that donuts, chips, sub sandwiches and pizza are something you should feel bad about. Nor am I saying that you didn’t have the best intentions for a healthy day when you woke up in the morning. What I am saying is that it all boils down to the state of consciousness with which you made those choices.

Was it a default, foggy, disconnected, ego-driven, unconscious choice? Or an intentional, full-body choice coming from a place of presence, connectedness, and inner peace? In other words, were you Home when you made the choice?

If you were Home, it was the right choice.

 

SIDE NOTE OF CAUTION: Fooling yourself into believing you are Home (when in reality you’re in the middle of London fog) is very easy to do. Don’t fall victim to this sneaky ego-driven behavior!

Home feels like harmony

The stronger your connection, the more inner harmony and ease you will feel. It’s as simple as that.

And you won’t even be able to clearly articulate at first, the effortlessness of your decision to pack a small container of raw veggies for your midday snack. It would appear as if something outside of you made the choice.

Please make no mistake, that something is alive and always burning within you. All you will be able to say is that it felt like the right choice. And you felt it because you were connected to the real you in that moment.

I promise, if you remain committed to staying as present as possible, the fog will lift a little more with each passing day. Soon you will see so clearly that you really are the answer you’ve been seeking…and you’ve been Home all along.  

 

Let me leave you with this…

You are always just one conscious breath away from activating presence.

 

If you loved this post and want to go even deeper, check out my new book:
Missing Peace: Eleven Secrets to Restore Inner Harmony with Your Food, Body, and Health. 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
GT’s Kombucha

 

It took me awhile to jump on board the kombucha wagon, but now I am hooked! Like red wine, it’s an acquired taste. 

Kombucha is a naturally effervescent, fermented tea rich in probiotics (friendly bacteria), amino acids, polyphenols, and active enzymes. Due to its fermented nature, it takes on a tangy flavor similar to apple cider vinegar (like I said, it’s an acquired taste). 

Look for varieties without the word “cane sugar” in the ingredient list. This includes GT’s entire “Enlightened” line:

  • Gingerade
  • Cayennade (my favorite)
  • Lemonade
  • Koffee
  • Trilogy
  • Original
  • And many others…

As you examine the contents of the bottle, you’ll notice the appearance of sediment/”floaties” hanging around. Don’t worry, it’s a GOOD thing! These are strands of healthy culture—an indication that the product is still living and active (therefore, it needs to be refrigerated). You’ll be tempted to shake the bottle to mix it up, but I’d advise against that…unless you want it to spray all over you upon opening. 

When I drink a bottle of kombucha, I skip my probiotic supplement for that day. Why? Because every 16-ounce bottle of GT’s Enlightened Kombucha contains two billion living probiotics (at the time of bottling). 

How much should you drink? I’d say no more than a bottle a day. If you’re a kombucha virgin, start with half a bottle. 

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Chocolate Morning Glory Muffins (flourless)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stop Stressing So Much About What You Eat!

March 22nd, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

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My friend, I feel a deep sense of obligation to you.

I’ve spent most of my adult life helping people just like you, make choices to support their health. My aim is to do this in a more relaxed style of permission-based eating. And I thought I did a pretty good job at it until about a month ago, when my confidence was shaken by a stranger at the local Panera (more on that in a minute).

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you are fully aware of one of my favorite mantras:

 

No food is forbidden

 

This means, even though you may be happily making better choices, in order to live peacefully amongst food, you must release the power of the less healthy foods. Otherwise they will hold you prisoner.

Ironically enough, the key to your food prison cell rests within those four words: no food is forbidden.

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me share what prompted me to write this post.

 

My wake-up call

Last month I was faced with a bit of a wake-up call. As I made my way to the restroom at the local Panera, a gentleman stopped me who I’ve seen here many times before (I’ll call him “Joe”). I remember him because the month prior, we had a casual conversation while standing in line, about sneaky sources of sugar in foods we eat every day.

Joe: Hi! I just have to tell you, the other day I was at home and ate a bagel for breakfast.

Mel: Oh yeah?! (wondering why the hell he’s telling me this)

Joe: Yeah! And I have to tell you, I couldn’t help but see you on my shoulder wagging your finger at me. I know it had a lot of sugar in it, but there was nothing else in the house to eat for breakfast.

Mel: Oh my goodness! That wasn’t my intention Joe. Did you at least enjoy the bagel? (I think he was waiting for me to assign him three Hail Marys or something)

Joe: Of course not! How could I? I felt so guilty.

I felt horrible…and guilty.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but poor Joe took our conversation to mean you should never, ever eat a bagel. And if you do, you’d better not enjoy it, because that would be akin to sin!   

Now obviously that wasn’t my intention. After all, that all-or-nothing line of thinking is what contributed BIG time to my eating disorder years ago.

I realize I can’t control how people interpret my message, but I’ll admit, I can do a better job at communicating how important it is to eat your food (no matter WHAT it is) in a state of full presence and enjoyment.

 

The fine line of healthy eating

Listen, there’s a microscopic, fine line between making more wholesome food choices and fearing every morsel of food you put into your mouth. The latter is no way to live. There’s a clinical term for it too, it’s called orthorexia. According to the National Eating Disorders Association website, orthorexia is defined as:

An obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being.

Remember, food is about taste and enjoyment. We mustn’t forget that!

 

Eat to live or live to eat?

“Eat to live” is a nice thought, and something we should consider when choosing what to eat. But you should also be 100% OK with those times you are point blank “living to eat”! You know, when you’re seconds away from digging into that peanut butter, hot fudge sundae with whipped cream? Spoon in hand, mouth watering like Niagara Falls.

In fact, you’d better be OK with it, otherwise don’t even bother.  

Here’s why…

Did you know that guilt and other forms of negative thinking create stress in your body? This is important to understand, because stress can disturb the precious balance of good bacteria in your gut and the overall health of your microbiome. (Click HERE to understand why you should care about the health of your microbiome…and what the heck a microbiome is 😉).

Stress can also impair your body’s ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients.

 

Just eat the damn salad (or the chocolate chip cookie!)

Whether you are eating a cookie or a kale salad, be OK with what you are eating and stop with the wishing it were different than it is!

Furthermore…

Enough with the damn judging already! By all means, eat the salad, but own it. Make a commitment to enjoy it without wishing you were eating the cheeseburger. This also applies to when you are eating that warm chocolate chip cookie. If you’re going to banter on about how bad you’re being and how you really should be eating a kale salad, don’t even bother!

Enjoy it or don’t do it.

 

Here’s what I want you to take away:

Eat in a state of 100% pure presence (or as close as possible). Be with your food, no matter what it is.

Taste it.

Don’t judge it.

Honor it.

My friend, when you can do this…everything changes.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Goodseed Burger

 

I have to be honest, most of the “plant-based” burgers on the market aren’t worth your money. Take a look at the ingredient list and you’ll likely find highly refined (inflammatory) vegetable oils like canola oil. You’d be better off eating a high-quality grass-fed, organic beef burger! 

Good Seed is the exception. They take great care in crafting their burgers by using ingredients like: hemp seeds, chia seeds, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, lentils, coconut oil, herbs, and leafy greens.

Try one on a sprouted roll or simply chop and add to a salad, like I did in this week’s recipe for Shredded Kale & Blueberry Salad w/Pecan “Cheese”

Choose from four varieties: Curried Sweet Potato (my fav!); Wild Mushroom & Cauliflower; All American; Spicy Italian (a great substitute for sausage).

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Shredded Kale & Blueberry Salad w/Pecan “Cheese”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bee Pollen: Nature’s Perfect Food

March 14th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by James Pritchett on Unsplash

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Have you ever wondered about bee pollen? Other than the so-called “health freaks”, who else is consuming this stuff? Is it something you should consider taking and if so, why? Moreover, what the heck do you even do with it? 

These are all questions I once had too and my goal is to answer them for you in this post.

Years ago I purchased a little container of bee pollen from a local farmer’s market stand. I have to be honest, I only bought it because it made me feel cool…to say that I take bee pollen stroked my little dietitian ego. But of course, it’s only cool if you actually take the bee pollen.

There is sat, staring at me on my kitchen counter (for what felt like a month), daring me to step into my awesomeness and join the other tree-hugging, bee pollen-eating health freaks.

Eventually I sprinkled a little in my smoothie, and…nothing happened.

I felt NO different.

Another month went by and I tossed it in the trash.

YIKES! Those poor little bees. All of that work for nothing! Did you know it takes a honey bee a full month, working 8 hours each day, to gather one teaspoon of bee pollen?

 

What exactly is bee pollen?

Bee pollen is made from a combination of the saliva of worker honey bees, packed with field-gathered flower pollen (the male seed of flowers required for the fertilization of the plant) and nectar. It serves as the primary food source for the hive. And talk about power…one tiny little pellet of bee pollen contains over two million flower pollen grains!

 

Bee pollen can be purchased either in the granule/pellet or ground form. Whatever you do, make sure it is 100% raw and free from pesticides and chemicals. Both Beekeeper’s Naturals and Bareorganics are trusted and reputable options. 

 

Check out this video of honey bees collecting pollen. Notice how they store the pollen in baskets (called corbiculae) situated on the tibia of their hind legs.

And you thought your job was important!

I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t watch this video without being convinced that a magnificent force beyond my comprehension is responsible for all of this. Nature is a wondrous mystery, isn’t it?

 

Bee pollen nutrition

These miraculous little pellets are one of nature’s most nourishing foods, housing nearly all nutrients required by humans to thrive.

Bee pollen is:

  • Over 35% protein, half of which is in the form of free amino acids (meaning the body can use it directly).
  • Rich in B-vitamins and folic acid, which are essential for energy.
  • Full of important minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, selenium, and zinc.
  • An abundant source of live enzymes when consumed in the raw form.

 

5 Benefits of bee pollen. But first…

You may be thinking: Big deal Mel! You still haven’t told me anything compelling enough to turn me into a tree-hugging, bee pollen-eating health freak. Can’t I just take a multivitamin and eat a piece of meat and get the same nutrition?

Sure, but you’ll be missing out on many benefits specific to bee pollen. Before I get to that, I want to share something I learned that left me in awe. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola:

One of the most interesting facts about bee pollen is that it cannot be synthesized in a laboratory. When researchers take away a bee’s pollen-filled comb and feed her man-made pollen, the bee dies even though all the known nutrients are present in the lab-produced synthesized food. Many thousands of chemical analyses of bee pollen have been made with the very latest diagnostic equipment, but there are still some elements present in bee pollen that science cannot identify. The bees add some mysterious “extra” of their own.

Again, nature is miraculous indeed!

Here are five ways bee pollen can support your health:

  1. Relief from seasonal allergies when taken six weeks before the season begins and then throughout.
  2. Decreases inflammation and boosts your immune system. This is due to its antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  3. May decrease menopausal symptoms in breast cancer patients (1).
  4. Relief from pain caused by injury (2).
  5. Reduction of stress and elevation of mood! Bee pollen improves blood supply to nervous tissue, which can improve your stress response and overall mood.

 

Bee pollen: What the heck to do with it!

I think the easiest way to include bee pollen in your diet is to add one teaspoon to foods you’re already enjoying. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Sprinkle on top of a peanut or almond butter sandwich or fruit dipped in your favorite nut butter
  • Stir in yogurt, cottage cheese, or steel cut oats
  • Add to your favorite Peace of Health shake recipe
  • Mix in no-bake energy bite/nutrition bars (see this week’s recipe for Un-bee-lievable Protein Bars)
  • Sprinkle on top of salads

Remember, just like anything that’s good for you, too much of it isn’t!

 

You should not take bee pollen if you…

Bee pollen is safe for most people, but it can be harmful for those individuals who:

  • Suffer from pollen allergies
  • Are allergic to bees
  • Are pregnant (may stimulate the uterus and threaten pregnancy)

If you are as inspired as I am by Mother Nature’s gift of honey bees, you will love this podcast episode from Revolution Health Radio. Host and functional health practitioner Chris Kresser, interviews Carly Stein—an ex-Goldman Sachs financial analyst-turned beekeeper— on the amazing products created naturally from honey bees. 

Other resources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377380/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30839214

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Un-bee-lievable Protein Bars

 

 

 

 

 

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Hack Non-Hunger Eating Now!

March 7th, 2019 | no comments

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Ever find yourself reaching for food when you aren’t even hungry? It’s like a hidden force, a compulsion of sorts. You don’t know why, nor can you pinpoint an exact emotion; you just feel driven to eat, and if food is nearby, you usually do!

Maybe it’s a piece of candy or some leftover pastry sitting on the counter. Or, it can even be a food that’s good for you, like almonds or blueberries. But I’ll tell you something: if you’re eating those almonds or blueberries out of a nameless, unconscious, non-hunger urgency, it isn’t good for you.

 

Mel’s confession: “I have episodes of non-hunger eating”

People tend to think I have no issues with food, that I have it all figured out and eat mindfully, healthfully and on purpose 24-7 (ha, ha…that’s so cute! 🙂 ).

We are all here to help one another on some level, so who would I be if I kept this confession from you out of fear that you would see me as imperfect?

 

Well guess what? I AM imperfect…perfectly imperfect, even/especially in the area where I’m supposed to be the expert.

 

Not long ago I was struck with a profound realization about myself. It was one of those a-ha, this-changes-everything moments where a hidden (yet comfortable) layer of myself was suddenly exposed…and I was forever changed. I couldn’t unlearn what I discovered at that moment, nor would I ever want to.

I believe at our core, human beings are inherently the same, especially when it comes down to certain drivers of behavior. See if you can recognize my non-hunger eating pattern in yourself:

On my way to a meeting in downtown Cleveland, I run into some unexpected traffic. My GPS now shows a delay, changing my ETA and making me late. Although not a terribly stressful situation, it was something I wasn’t happy about.

Staring at me from the passenger’s seat was my lunch bag, packed with sliced apples, a nutrition bar, and an assortment of raw vegetables. The moment I realized I wouldn’t make it to my meeting on time, I immediately reached for the apples and started eating.

Now, you may be thinking: What’s wrong with that? Apples are healthy!

Did I mention it was 8:00 am and I just ate breakfast an hour earlier? So I wasn’t the least bit hungry…at least not physically.

 

Non-hunger eating: a profound realization (this changes everything!)

As I was mindlessly munching away on those apple slices, like a ton of bricks it hit me: whether it’s a traffic jam, a moment of procrastination, feelings of anxiousness or indecisiveness:

Any time I experience that which I wish were different than it presently is, I feel an uncomfortable emptiness inside and am strongly compelled to fill this void with food—to make it comfortable again.

Even though 99% of the time I’m filling this void with Earthfood, it may as well be a chocolate chip cookie, because I’m eating it mindlessly, and for the wrong reason. I’m not even tasting the food. In fact:

Eating (and really tasting) a single chocolate chip cookie in a state of pure mindfulness, purpose, and enjoyment, would be a much healthier choice. Seriously.

 

A profound (yet simple) SOLUTION for non-hunger eating

If you use food to fill those uncomfortable “voids” in your life, first it’s important to be alert and present enough to recognize what triggers you. Be careful! It’s easy to turn a blind eye to your triggers because your response to them (food) can be quite inviting and comforting. I mean let’s face it, there’s nothing off-putting about blueberries, almonds or chocolate chip cookies. What I’m saying is, you may not even realize you are being triggered because the “reward” feels so damn good.

I’d be willing to bet my cat George (and I LOVE him with all of my heart) that if you really dig deep, you will find your root trigger boils down to: any situation you are in that you wish were different than it is. 

For example:

  • An argument with your significant other or child (“Why can’t they see it my way?”)
  • A dreaded work project with a tight deadline (“Ugh! I don’t even know where to begin with this project!”)
  • A demotion or loss of job (“What am I going to do about my bills? I can barely make ends meet as it is!”)
  • An overwhelming to-do list (“There’s no way I’m going to get all of this done!”)
  • Illness or death of a loved one (“The emotional pain is just too much for me to bear”)
  • A rainy day (“I wish the sun was out”)
  • A challenging coworker (“OMG—I’m at my wits end with this guy. Why does he have to be such a jerk?”)

Any one of these can be a trigger, causing you to reach for food. Of course the impossibility of eradicating unwanted circumstances should be obvious, for that would mean the end of life as you know it! But what if maybe, just maybe, you could fill this void with something other than food? Something pure, necessary, life-sustaining…and free?

What if you could successfully fill the void with a single breath?

 

Transcend undesirable states…without food

Although three slices of cheese pizza may offer momentary bliss, after the last bite, you will still be left facing the undesirable.

You can never outeat the undesirable. Remember, Domino’s is just a phone call away! 

As uncomfortable as it may seem, the only true way out of an undesirable experience is to go within and allow yourself to experience the moment as it is. Yes, I know pizza is a much more attractive option, but I promise this won’t kill you. 

To experience this moment as it is requires you to be fully present in your body, completely alert and aware of all the raw feelings and emotions that are bubbling up. Yet it’s impossible to be fully present when you are consumed with the past or future (which is how most of us live our lives); you can only be present when you bring your attention into the now. It is here in this very moment, in the now, where you are able to tap into your greatest power. 

 

The present moment is where all of your power lives; your life-giving breath is the key that unlocks the door to the present moment.

 

Surely you don’t have to think about breathing, but when you stop and pay attention to your breath, you automatically transport yourself into the present moment, the now. Think about it: you can only breathe in the now. Go ahead, I double dare you to breathe in the past or future.

 

Hack your non-hunger eating now (in the now)

Let’s put this into practice.

  1. Think about an undesirable situation you are faced with on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just something you wish were different than it is.
  2. Take a deep breath in and let it out. Without judgement, allow yourself to be here now, with whatever is. If your mind wanders, bring it back with another conscious breath in and out. 
  3. As you shine the light of presence on the situation, you should feel the dark energy of the unwanted begin to lift slightly. Take another breath, settle into your body and feel it breathing. Your energy should feel a bit lighter still, as the void is being filled with the power of your sweet, life-sustaining breath.

Most of us automatically try to fight the situation by complaining further about the undesirable; then we instruct ourselves not to eat the food. This not only adds fuel to the fire of the undesirable, it gives a tremendous amount of power to the food. And I’ll bet my cat George, that under these conditions, you will eat the food. 

The beauty of being human is that if you are open and willing to take a long, loving look at yourself, there’s no limit to what you can discover…and transcend.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Pederson’s Breakfast Sausage

A great on-the-go breakfast solution, Pederson’s Breakfast Sausage is free from preservatives (including nitrites and nitrates), antibiotics, hormones, added sugar and artificial ingredients.

All of their products are Certified Humane Raised & Handled®. This is the only farm animal welfare and food labeling program in the U.S. dedicated to improving the welfare of farm animals in food production and include all stages of the animal’s life.

Available in spicy or mild, Pederson’s Breakfast Sausage is fully cooked, so all you have to do is heat it up (I like to heat mine stove top versus microwave). 

Check out the full list of what’s inside:

INGREDIENTS: PORK, WATER, LESS THAN 2% OF: VINEGAR, SALT, SPICES (RED & BLACK PEPPERS, SAGE, GINGER, NUTMEG, SPICE EXTRACTIVE [CAPSICUM]).

For a tasty and nutritious breakfast, check out this week’s recipe pick below for Triple-Layer Avocado “Toast”. Pederson’s Breakfast sausage is one of the layers!

If you prefer chicken sausage, another great product is Applegate Naturals Chicken & Apple Breakfast Sausage Patties.

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Triple-Layer Avocado Toast

 

 

 

 

 

 

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