4 Steps towards Food Freedom

Finding food freedom while still trying to live a healthy lifestyle is a delicate balance of nourishing your body with whole, nutrient-rich foods, but also allowing yourself to eat treats, sweets, and other foods that may not be as nourishing to your body, but more nourishing to your mind and soul. A couple of years ago, I developed a style of eating that truly made me feel nourished AND free. I had never felt so free in my food choices, but so healthy at the same time. Unfortunately, this past year, I got sucked back into diet culture, food rules, and found myself in a whirlwind of anxiety and confusion when it came to my food choices. God shook me out of it pretty abruptly and brought me back to a place of freedom with food that I am forever grateful for. My anxiety has been at an all-time low, while feeling the healthiest I have ever felt! I want to bring this nourished and free concept to you all, which is why I started my Nourished & Free community where I counsel and educate clients in a private group and show them ways to develop health habits, not restrict, and find their sweet spot of feeling nourished and free in their own healthy living journey!

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If you have a similar story to me and you are sick of the diet, restrict, binge cycle that seems to plague most of us, read on. Here are my four basic steps to starting on your journey with food freedom. I hope they help and inspire you!

Let go of the diet rules, the good and bad foods, or any other labels you’ve put on yourself.

The best way to get started on your journey is to let go of your mental list of “good” or “bad” foods. Yes, some foods have more health benefits than others, and some foods will be more nourishing to your body, but no ONE food or one food experience is going to make or break your health. The stress caused by confusing food decisions will cause more damage to your health than the slice of pizza or side of fries! Unless you have a diagnosed allergy or celiac disease or a food that really affects your health poorly (and that’s not just in your head, more on that later), the best first step towards food freedom is to allow all foods into your lifestyle.

Find a healthy form of movement you enjoy.

The next step would be to find a form of exercise or movement you enjoy. The only way I can get up so early in the morning to workout is because I actually look forward to my morning routine. Remember, our bodies were MADE to move, so we can all find a form of movement that we enjoy. Try out your local yoga or barre studio, join a gym, get some home workouts, or start training for a race. Whatever it is, I truly believe that we can all find a form of movement that we can enjoy a few times a week. I also think it is important to note that exercise alone does not cause weight loss, so we have to find other motivations to workout and move our bodies. Use exercise as self-care, to decrease your anxiety, and to increase your energy and motivation for a day. This will help you stick to a workout routine for reasons other than to see the number on the scale go down.

Add vegetables to your meals and snacks as often as you can.

Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses because of a myriad of reasons. They are full of fiber and water, which help fill you up during your meal. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which help protect your body against disease and energize you. They also can be prepared in SO many ways that there is no excuse anymore to not eat your veggies! I love to add veggies in wherever I can. You can add them to omelets in the morning, snack on carrots or cucumbers at work, always add a side salad to your lunch, and roast up some of your favorite vegetables for dinner. This way, you still feel like you are eating a lot of food (any other volume eaters out there?) but you are also nourishing your body with whole, nutrient-rich foods.

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Learn food freedom by incorporating some of your favorite foods and evaluating how they make you FEEL.

Lastly, the best way to start living out food freedom is to start incorporating some “forbidden” foods into your day, and then evaluate how you really feel. Does dairy really cause you to breakout? Does bread really cause you to bloat? A lot of these symptoms are caused by other factors such as stress, lack of sleep, etc. Did you know stress can actually make you feel blaoted too? I started testing this out a few weeks ago and its changed my entire mindset. For example, I decided to start enjoying the free food that work offered, and I realized that I was just as sleepy in the afternoon after having my homemade, paleo free lunch vs. the pizza and salad that work provided. Maybe I was just tired in the afternoon because I am PREGNANT, and not necessarily because of gluten, sugar, etc. While I do believe there is a time and place to make nutritional recommendations and changes based on symptoms, I found that I was overanalyzing every food decision I made and thinking all of my symptoms (anxiety, sleepless nights, a breakout) had to do with the food I was eating. I reality, there is SO much more to health than just our food choices. Sleep, stress, activity levels, financial issues, a life event….ALL of these factors play a role in how you feel as well. I don’t want to undervalue your symptoms, because trust me, they feel very real, and I’ve been there not too long ago. But if you want to experience true freedom with food, know that research is very blurry when it comes to food sensitivities, and there is no real way to prove that a certain food is causing an issue for you because most of us are also under stress, feel sleep deprived, and have other factors contributing to our symptoms. Become an investigator of your own body, and evaluate non-food stressors as well that could be impacting your health.

I hope these simple tips can get you started in your own food freedom journey. Know that life is worth living, and is about so much more than your food rules or what you do or do not eat. You do not have to live in two extremes: being deprived one week and then binging the next. There can be true freedom when it comes to nourishing your body, and if you want to dive into that further, I highly recommend you joining my Nourished & Free community!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Move your body, eat some delicious food, and love on/be present with those around you!

 

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Addition Nutrition

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all had a great week, and a great summer so far. It's been a busy summer for our family, full of vacations, exciting projects, and down time with my little family. Overall though, I am so ready to be out of this crazy California heat that we have been experiencing and can't wait to get into the Fall spirit! Anyone else??

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A topic that I’ve been chatting about recently with my Nourished & Free clients is Addition Nutrition. Nowadays, with all the diets out there, the majority of these plans focus on eliminating certain foods and food groups in order to reach your weight loss or health goals. These diets recommend cutting out meat, bread, fruit, fat, and so many other foods that leave many feeling deprived and reaching for junk food on day 3.

Been there, done that.

But, what I have learned lately in my own journey, as well as what I practice with clients, is the idea of addition nutrition. What can we ADD to our plate, our pantry, and our meals to feel healthier and fuel our bodies better? Can we eat more vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, wholesome carbs, and good quality proteins? Can we drink more water, add a salad to each meal, and snack on some vegetables in the afternoon?

OF COURSE WE CAN. It's all about your mindset and how you view healthy living. If you just follow a diet or plan that is a list of "no" foods, you won't be staying on that for very long.

What I try to do to keep my mind right is focus on the abundance of nutritious and satisfying foods that make me feel my best. Then I go buy those things, prepare those meals, and look forward to all the food that I have on my meal plan. I enjoy my meals because I am not coming from a place of deprivation. Rather, I am looking at all the foods I can ADD to my day that nourish me and fill me up.

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When we focus on what we CAN have instead of what we CAN’T have, that is where the JOY and freedom lies in a healthy lifestyle. That is when you actually stick to your goals, your meal plan, and finally follow through on your decision to get healthy. What a great mindset to make changes with!

My challenge to you this week is to make a list of all the healthy and nutritious foods you want to start ADDING to your meal plan. Then go to the store and stock up on these foods. Prepare some meals in advance if you can, and approach this new week with excitement and an abundance mindset towards healthy living. I promise you, it'll make all the difference!

Gluten-free does not equal healthy

I got a wonderful and thoughtful question from a blog reader last week, and I thought I’d answer it in a post because I am sure there are a handful of people that are confused about the same thing.

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I know there has been a lot of confusion over the past couple years about gluten free diets and whether or not they are healthy. Let me start by saying I have had my own experience eating gluten free and eating normally over the past few years, and have discovered that, for me, gluten free/paleo-ish is the healthiest way for me to eat for my health, digestion, and mental wellness. BUT, that does not mean that when we eat gluten-free, our diet is automatically healthier.

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One of my blog readers sent me a message last week stating that she saw that I eat gluten free, and that she tried going gluten free herself a few years ago but found that the gluten free breads, pastas, and mixes were all high in carbohydrates from rice and potato flours, and that they weren’t actually healthier. She wanted to know if she was right in thinking this and basically, what the deal is with gluten-free!

I’ll start by saying that this reader is SO smart to pick up on the fact that gluten free products are not healthier than their wheat flour counterparts. Just because a product is labeled gluten free does not mean it is healthier or a better alternative. And frankly, most of the time, it is higher in carbohydrates and sugar than the regular products. All foods are a mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals, so whether or not it has gluten in it does not change this fact.

Gluten is simply the protein found in wheat, and when people have allergies, they are typically reacting to the protein in a certain food. Gluten free products are substituted (most of the time) with rice flour or potato starch, plus are found to have even more sugar in them to make them taste good. They are still just has high (or higher) in carbohydrates, are often times devoid of fiber, and are still a treat. Gluten free cookies are still cookies, and gluten free pancakes are still pancakes.

 

 My favorite  paleo cookie recipe  from Against all Grain! And I still treat them just like regular cookies; a TREAT to be consumed sometimes. 

My favorite paleo cookie recipe from Against all Grain! And I still treat them just like regular cookies; a TREAT to be consumed sometimes. 

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy these foods. I love gluten free toast from Trader Joe’s and Pamela’s gluten free pancake and baking mix! But these gluten free treats should still be treated as TREATS. They should be eaten just as often as you would eat a regular pancake or regular cookie. Not an everyday food, but a sometimes food.

So be a savvy shopper. Just because something is labeled gluten free doesn’t mean that we can have bowls and bowls of gluten free pasta and still think that’s a “healthy” food choice.

And if you want to go gluten free, the best thing to do is replace your usual breads, pastas, or cookies, with plants. THAT is the healthiest way to go gluten free. So instead of having a hamburger, have a lettuce wrap with an additional side salad. Instead of having a cookie with your salad, have some more vegetables on the side or some fruit.

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And most importantly, if you don’t have negative symptoms from eating gluten, there is no reason for you to go gluten free. Yes, gluten is inflammatory over all, and I don’t think there is any harm in cutting it out (if done right like I mentioned above, with the addition of plants). BUT if you don't experience any negative side effects from consuming gluten, there is no need to cut it from your diet. It won’t automatically make you healthier, especially if you are still consuming gluten free noodles, cookies, pancakes, and more.

I personally gravitate towards a gluten free diet because it helps me with my digestion issues and my anxiety. I even tried to incorporate some back into my diet as recently as last week (kodiak pancakes are a favorite of mine!) and starting feeling those similar symptoms return. For me, I have a clear reaction to consuming gluten, which is why I avoid it unless a food is absolutely worth it (and trust me, it rarely is worth it for me!) But just because I eat a gluten free diet does NOT automatically mean I am healthy. I eat a ton of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean protein, and gluten free grains from time to time, along with those occasional gluten free/paleo treats, and all of that contributes to a healthy diet.

I hope this helps you become more aware of your food choices too and learn to be a detective in the grocery store and not just fall for any marketing that is slapped on our food products nowadays. The more we know, the better we do. And if you all have any more questions, please send them in! I love answering these types of questions I get, so please don’t hesitate!

Have a great Thursday, everyone!

 

 

Friday Favorites & Updates

Hello friends! Long time no chat! It's been exactly a month since I've blogged. I've had every intention of keeping up with this place, but with being a working momma and Emma getting more mobile every day, it's been hard to carve out time to consistently blog. It's still such as passion of mine though, so I promise to be more consistent! Anything YOU all would like to see more of in this space? I'd appreciate any ideas in the comments below!

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things that have been on my heart and mind this past month...starting with the best cake smash ever!

1. Emma's cake smash.

Emma thoroughly enjoyed her cake on her first birthday! It was a simple white cake with vanilla frosting and we let her go at it for a couple minutes and then swiftly took it away.

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And yes, it was a full sugar, full flour, totally regular cake. I didn't make anything sugar-free or organic or anything like that because the truth of the matter is (from the research I've done and children I've worked with), when you restrict a child, they are even more likely to rebel and do things that you don't want them to do. She eats healthy vegetables, proteins, and whole grains 99% of the time and I want her to have a healthy relationship towards treats from the very beginning; starting with the fact that treats are "sometimes" foods, and not "everyday foods" and that it's ok to have a treat on your birthday, then move on with your life.

2. Birthday trip to Disneyland

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We took Emma to Disneyland the Monday after her birthday and we had a BLAST! She slept for the first two hours which gave my hubby and I sweet time to walk around, grab coffee, and reminisce about our days at Disneyland when we were dating and just married. Disneyland holds a special place in my heart, and now it's even more special to be able to enjoy it with my little tribe!

3. Being Brave

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I grabbed this book on a whim at Target and I am so glad I did. Almost every devotional, Bible verse, or motivational quote I've read lately has been on the concept of being brave. Think God is trying to tell me something? All that to say, I highly recommend this book!

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4. Cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe's.

This stuff has been blowing up my Instagram feed for weeks, so I finally decided to give in and try it. Oh. My. Gosh. WE LOVED IT! Even my husband who needs meat with practically every meal, thoroughly enjoyed this. We used a pesto cream sauce (literally combined a 1/2 cup lite Alfredo with 1 tsp of pesto and mixed it well). Such a good meal and I'll be definitely grabbing a few bags next time I hit up TJ's!

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5. Kodiak Cakes.

A box of these protein pancakes have been sitting in my pantry for a couple weeks. I finally made them and they were SO good! And all you do is mix the mix with water, so easy! I added a dash of cinnamon to the batter too, because cinnamon. These complemented my spinach scramble nicely and kept me full for quite a while! I highly recommend!

 

I hope you all have had a great week and can pick at least 5 things you are grateful for and are "favorites" in your life! It's always good to have a positive mindset and look for the joy and blessings in our life verses only focusing on what may be stressing us out! Have a great weekend and blessed Mother's Day to all you mommas out there! Not gonne lie, we are rockstars!

Focusing on the FEELING of Healthy Living

Many of us need to find a certain motivation to help us stick to healthy lifestyle. What helps some people is the scale, size of your jeans, an accountability buddy, or looking good for an upcoming event. But, I do believe one of the most powerful motivators is focusing on how you FEEL when you move your body and nourish yourself.

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Numbers don't always tell us the whole truth. Sure, the scale is a pretty good indicator of your relationship with gravity (insert eye roll), but it doesn't tell you anything about how much muscle you've built, how many vegetables you've eaten, or how hard you've worked to get to a place where healthy living is your default.

Lately, what has been motivating me is focusing on how I feel after I choose a nourishing food vs. a not so nourishing food. Or even how I feel just eating one cookie vs. five cookies. Healthy living doesn't have to be all or nothing, but if most of your food choices are fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and good sources of protein, the rest falls into place. The occasional treats take care of themselves, and you will FEEL healthy, strong, and energetic.

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So if you aren't seeing the progress you'd like to on the scale, or can't fit into that favorite pair of jeans quite yet, focus on how you FEEL after a day of healthy eating and moving your body. Write down what comes to your mind to remind yourself of how PROUD you are of your efforts. And let that be enough, because trust me, that feeling can carry you through the times when you want to go off the trails, and the way you feel BECAUSE of your healthy choices can help you go from one good decision to the next!

Set Goals to Grow

It's the beginning of a new month...and you know what that means. It's time to set some goals and dream big for the new month. You can really set goals any time and any day, but there is just something about the freshness of a new month that makes it seem like anything is possible.

I get asked VERY frequently about how I stay motivated, how I set goals, and how I actually achieve them. To be honest, I am a natural list and goal maker. I love making lists and dreaming big, then crossing things off. But I do believe that you can work at becoming this type of person too, even if it is not your natural inclination. You just have to find a way that works for you!

Because the reality is, if you aren't setting goals and working towards them, you aren't growing as a person, which is SO important. We should always be transforming and learning and growing into the person God has created us to be. My mom always says, "there is no destination in life when you are finally done and 'mastered' at something, it's all about the journey." She's a teacher, so it makes sense that she would instill in me that the journey is where all the learning happens. Much of the time, the goal is not as important as the person you BECOME while on the journey to achieving that goal.

If you need help getting started on goal setting, read this post I wrote at the beginning of the year. You can set goals for different areas in your life and focus down your priorities in this way. But what I'm trying to get at here is that if you want to grow as a person, goal setting is crucial, and stretching and growing yourself every day is exciting and empowering.

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I heard this quote this morning and it really fired me up: "a rubber band is useless unless it is stretched." I don't want to be useless in this life of mine. God has given me potential, just like He has given YOU all potential as well. So don't sit back on the sidelines of your life. Make things happen, go after your goals, whether they are career-focused, health-focused, financially-focused, or really anything!

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And most importantly, once you vision and dream up your goals, WRITE THEM DOWN. Writing down your goals is soooooo powerful. Research shows that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. And that means more growth, more empowerment, and more confidence being instilled in you that you actually CAN achieve what you set out to do.

What are some of your goals for this new month? In what areas do you want to grow and stretch? Start dreaming big and thinking OUTSIDE of the box, because you were made for MORE, and God has a lot in store for you! If you've wanted to get healthy, start now! (and I can help!). If you want to save money, make a budget and set goals for how much you want to save each month. If you want to get a promotion, meet with your boss and ask what you can start doing now to set yourself up for your dream job. If you want to write a book, write tpday, even if it is just ONE page...just get started! Whatever it is, set your goals and dreams, write them down, then watch the person you become while on the journey to achieving those goals. Trust me, it's SO worth it to live a life of growth and living into the person God created you to be!