Living in the Middle

Extremes can be so tempting for some of us. Extreme ways of living can make us feel secure with their rules and restrictions. And while I do believe rules and restrictions are healthy for us (my personality type is a rule-follower, type A, safe with routine type of person) I also think that living in the middle of extremes can actually be the healthiest thing for us.

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Being a dietitian that has worked with many clients, and has been on her own personal journey with food, I have found the most success with my health and my client’s health when we actually get a little LESS strict with our food rules. So instead of focusing on a 100% clean diet, which ultimately can lead to the binge-restrict extremes,  living in that 80% zone helps us stay balanced in the long term.

For example, let’s say you eat perfect meals for 3 weeks straight. You portion everything out, use your calorie counting app, and feel totally in control. You lose 10 lbs and you feel amazing, but you are missing some of your favorite foods, going out with friends, and the freedom to eat what you crave. You then decide to “give in a little” to a craving, go nuts, and binge for 5 days straight. You gain back 12 lbs, feel fluffy and bloated, and basically feel like a failure. This cycle continues, and you go up and down 10-12 lbs every couple months.

For me, this cycle had me going up and down 20-25 lbs every couple months! I had two sets of clothes depending on what weight I was at, and I was so TIRED of living such an inconsistent, extreme life between binging and restricting.

Isn’t it better to live a little less perfectly for the long term, versus living in extremes that leave our body feeling tired, going up and down in weight, and feeling like a failure time and time again?

I finally decided that I’d rather live as a healthy and balanced X lbs instead of living at either X +/- 20 lbs, forcing my body through the never ending and incredible unhealthy rollercoaster.

Let’s let go of these extreme lifestyles and focus on healthy habits that we can implement into our everyday life. For example, some healthy habits I encourage my clients to live by are working out daily, having a vegetable with each meal, and having a salad with dinner every night. These are habits we can ADD to our day, and they will not only nourish us more, but will help us establish a healthier foundation for the long term.

Extremes can be tempting because they promise results and success, but I’d personally rather live a lifestyle of health that includes salads AND pizza, kale AND cookies, and a little bit of middle ground when it comes to our food choices. I believe in living a nourishing LIFE so that you can have the freedom of sweets and treats, while trusting your body to take care of the rest BECAUSE of that heathy foundation you have set. 

This is what I teach my clients with my Nourished & Free Method.  If you want to live a life of nourishment while living in food freedom, click here to learn more about how we can start working together to make this happen.

You CAN build an incredible foundation of health that will allow you more freedom than you know! 

 

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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Weekend Eats + food experiments

Happy Monday everyone!!! Who else feels like this entire year has flown by? Emma is 18 months today and my heart just can’t take it. I feel like she was just born, and now we are expecting her baby sister in just 4 short months! Life is moving quickly, and I can’t help but appreciate each moment more and more.

This past weekend was just…so nice. We spent the weekend together as a family and enjoyed every moment of it. For our family, our weekends are typically busier than the workweek, and I often times find myself looking forward to work to rest and relax a bit. Weird, huh? Well, this is the first weekend where we had zero plans expect for church and a few errands. It was so low-key and relaxing…what weekends were meant for!

I will say that the eats I’ll be sharing are different than what you’ve seen on this blog lately. I’m experimenting with my body, but most importantly my brain and mindset. More on this later as I’m still trying to figure things out, but I thought I’d share anyway and show how “healthy choices” are not always so black and white!

But let’s backtrack to Friday! I went to work and met with one of my dear friends for lunch! Our plan was Chipotle but they were out of rice (um, what?) so we went to Blaze Pizza instead. I LOVE their green stripe pizza, so I got that with a side salad. This meal was so so good!

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Friday night was just a usual night of youth group. My husband and I are the youth leaders at our church and we so enjoy the time we spend with our church family! We got home pretty late Friday and crashed in bed.

Saturday morning, we enjoyed a family breakfast at home of waffles and eggs! I forgot to snap a good picture, but let’s just say waffles + peanut butter + syrup are the best combination! Then, we headed to a car dealership where we actually had a pretty frustrating experience. By 1pm, my husband and I were both starving and Emma was ready for her nap, so we had a quick lunch while Emma napped and vented to each other about how stressful car dealing is.

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We each got the 2-item plates at Panda Express, and had enough leftovers for Emma once she woke up, as well as some left for dinner! These plates are so massive, so we both listened to our hunger, filled up on the broccoli and the veggies, and stopped when we were full. My husband LOVES Chinese food, so it was nice to enjoy this with him and sit outside in the fresh air.

After lunch, hubby took Emma home and I hit the grocery store. We were out of so many staples, so I stocked up big time. Our Trader Joe’s is remodeling, so while it was difficult to get around, I got the job done and am so excited for our new and improved store to open soon!

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The rest of Saturday was pretty low key. I cleaned the floors at least 10 times as Emma has been throwing food all over the place. We put her down to bed early, watched the Lakers game, then I knocked out at 8:30pm. Oh how I love sleeping early even on the weekends!

Sunday morning consisted of my usual morning routine (quiet time, journaling, Bible study, and my workout!) We got ready for church and headed over for our English service and Sunday school class. I was SO hungry by 11:30 am that I was snapping at everyone (so sorry to my husband and mama!) so we had an early lunch at the local mall’s food court and walked around a bit! I had been craving a sandwich + salad combo, so I tried out Stone Oven for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised! I got the chicken pesto sandwich with with a side salad.

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We walked around the mall a bit, fed Emma once she woke up (we gave her leftover kebab + rice from my husband’s meal) then headed home. We were both in awe at how early we were getting home on a Sunday! We are usually out all day on Sundays, so it was nice to come home and relax. I got a head start on laundry and meal prep, and we enjoyed Emma’s playfulness while we got things done around the house!

For meal prep, I made pasta in the instant pot and roasted vegetables. Meal prep is continuing today, but it felt good to get a few things done and enter the week with food ready to eat in the fridge, which we also enjoyed for dinner!

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Emma went down early again, so we finished up the last 3 episodes of Man in the High Castle. This show is SO good, although I will say season 1 was my favorite. We just finished up season 3, and while it was intense, rarely is a show ever as good as its first season…ammiright?

And so far on this Monday, I have been running errands, cooking, finishing up laundry (will it ever end??) and enjoying a quiet day! Emma is at school for a few hours today, so this pregnant mama is getting all the rest she can!

I hope you all are having a relaxing and enjoyable week so far! Here’s to it being almost-November!








Nutrition can be Confusing

There is a buzz going around the internet about the documentary "What the Health." So yesterday, since my hubby and I were lazily recovering from my cousin's wedding on Saturday, and we decided to watch some of it during Emma's nap. I like keeping up to date with these types of things since I AM a dietitian, a food nerd, and like to make my own opinions based on my knowledge, research, and experience. 

And basically, what we felt about the documentary was confusion. Confusion about what to eat, what science is actually telling us about food, what really causes obesity/diabetes/heart disease, and basically what to have for dinner. 

Nutrition can be SO confusing, and if you don't have a firm grip on what works for YOU, it can be easy to be tossed around from one diet/lifestyle to another in order to find your saving grace in regards to your health, weight, and happiness. I've done this and am guilty of it. I have moments where I believe a paleo diet, a gluten free diet, a vegan diet, or some other strict way of eating will save me from my food issues, help me lose weight, and bring me happiness. And that is just not the case! 

"What the Health" is a documentary promoting a vegan lifestyle. It makes some statements that sugar is not inflammatory (false) and that fat is what is causing the obesity epidemic (false). Science shows time and time again that sugar IS inflammatory and that fats (the right kinds) are beneficial to our health.  But, many of the points that the documentary made were spot on, such as the importance of fruits and vegetables and plant based eating. 

So what are we left with? We have one end of the spectrum saying carbs are the devil and to avoid them at all costs, while eating more bacon, red meat, and eggs. And we have the other end saying animal protein is the devil and we must eat more carbs and less fat in order to be healthy. My viewpoint is to look at the common denominator for both of these philosophies: 

What all health philosophies agree on is the importance of PLANTS. Things that are grown from the earth. Things that aren't tampered with in a factory or a farm. As Michael Pollan so simply puts: "eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

This is my philophoshy as well. Instead of focusing on what we "shouldn't have" whether it is sugar, meat, eggs, or carbs, focus on what we SHOULD have more of: green leafy vegetables, carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, berries, apples, etc. Real, whole foods. Plants. They are pretty awesome for our health. 

The more we fill up on these nourishing foods, the less room we will have for the treats, whether your treat is a cheeseburger or a brownie. But, that doesn't mean you don't ever have the treat. You have the treat, and then move on back to your plants. Your plants is where the majority of your diet lies. Which is what being "plant-based" is all about. 

The documentary DID remind me of how awesome I felt eating a more plant-based diet. Being a nursing mama, lately my meals have been "what's easy to grab and eat" which makes for some healthy choices and some not so healthy choices. While I am still following my portion-control meal plan, some meals are not the healthiest. So I did appreciate that aspect of the documentary and plan on leaning more towards a plant based diet because of how awesome it made me feel mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

But, I didn't agree with the fact that the documentary made sugar out to be a friend and totally fine to consume. While I am a big fan of sugar and do consume it, I think it is important to be mindful of our sugar intake, and especially our processed sugar intake. From the research I've done and the science I've studies, sugar DOES contribute to diabetes and heart disease and IS inflammatory. So be aware of this when you are treating yourself, and treat in moderation. 

And this is even more of a reason I am so grateful for the meal plan that I follow. Being able to balance out all the food groups is key to vitality and good health. Having a balance of protein (whether plant based or animal based), vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats is important, and all in the correct portions. So my meal plan serves me in this respect. 

The bottom line is to not confuse yourself too much on what you shouldn't eat. Focus on how to nourish yourself and what you SHOULD eat more of, which is what my accountability groups focus on. Don't focus on deprivation, but more so on how you can fill your plate with as many good, wholesome, nutrient dense foods as possible.  

If you need some help learning how to eat this way, I don't blame you! It can be confusing, but my job as a dietitian and wellness coach is to guide you towards nourishing your body and your soul. If you'd like to apply for my next accountability group and start focusing on how to eat MORE of the nourishing stuff, click on the link below and apply! The deadline for my next group is July 16th, so apply fast to reserve your spot! 

Hope you all have a fabulous Monday!

Nourished Body, Nourished Soul

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There are two kinds of nourishment: nourishment for your body, and nourishment for your soul. Lately, I've been trying to balance out the two because that is where I find the most freedom with my food choices. Nourishment is important to me...after all, it is why I became a dietitian! To help people learn how to love their bodies with the food they eat, instead of hurting themselves. I've been working with a lovely life coach and jamming on what nourishment means to me, and I thought I'd write up some random thoughts here to help out anyone else who may be struggling with what it truly means to live a "healthy" lifestyle. 

For me...

Nourishment for the body: TONS of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats. Eating enough to get your metabolism going, revved up, and firing away all day. Stopping when you are full so that you are not uncomfortably stuffed for the rest of the day. Focusing on what you CAN eat instead of what you "can't" eat. Choosing to follow a plan that makes you feel your best, not only physically, but mentally. Health and nourishment start in the brain, so whatever gives you mental stress should be kicked off the island. Showing yourself love and self-worth by feeding yourself whole, natural foods that grow from the ground. 

Nourishment for the soul: enjoying the food you are eating and loving every second of your meal. Having a care free night out with friends and ordering your favorite meal at a restaurant just because you want it. Splitting a dessert with your loved one so that you can both enjoy the bakery's specialty. Scarfing down a burger but also having a huge salad because you just love the burger but know your body is craving a salad too. Having a croissant every morning because you are in freakin FRANCE and you can (yea...that would be me). Ordering a pizza at 10pm because you had such a long day and didn't have dinner, and sometimes, you just need the pizza. Going to bed with a fully belly knowing that you were blessed with deliciousness, but also trusting yourself to get right back on track tomorrow to get your body feeling good. 

For me, these two forms of eating have to be jiving in order to have a healthy lifestyle that you can sustain for days, months, and years to come. When your diet is 80-90% focused on vegetables, fruits, and whole foods, you are nourishing your body. That way, the rest of the nourishment can go straight to your soul with treats or vacations that you know are only for a limited time, and will not be a part of your regular, every day routine. I feel so much better when I indulged with others or on special occasions because I know that I am enjoying with a community of people I love, sharing good food and good times. That doesn't mean I make excuses, or a random Tuesday would be a special occasion for me! Because I love sugar and I love treats. But I know myself well enough now to know when I want to indulge, and when I'd just be happier and more at peace sticking to healthier food choices. 

The best part about all this is YOU can decide what nourishment means to you, body and soul. Or you can enlist your friendly neighborhood dietitian to help you explore what kind of eating works best for you, your lifestyle, and your goals. Eating can be so personal, so it is best to not compare yourself with other people and what they are doing. I'd love to work with you and find where your happy place is, a place where you can feel nourished and free, and not consumed by your food choices. Make sure to shoot me an email or click on the link above if you'd like to chat more about this topic! It's something I am so passionate about, so I'd absolutely love it! 

tveen.verano@gmail.com :) 

You don't have to be broken

I’ve had this post on my heart for a while, but I have just been SO scared to publish it. But it’s happening now, and all of the glory and honor goes to God. I hope that someone out there needs to hear that freedom IS possible. Because freedom in any part of our lives is where HE is.

 

Have you ever thought about whole vs. broken living? I lived as a broken person for most of my life. I played into a victim mentality that there should always be something wrong with me, always something to be afraid of, and always something to be inadequate in. I never knew how problematic that kind of thinking was until I reached adulthood, grew into my late 20’s (ahem…now) and found myself STILL struggling with the same, broken identity that I had created for myself. 

Food was always a love of mine. I would wake up asking my mom what was for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I would snack constantly, since I was a very thin child and could basically eat whatever I wanted. Those were the days…

However, when hormones arrive, so does weight gain. And I gained quite a bit of weight during my high school years. Add in there some emotional ups and downs and an insecure girl who loves food? Hello coping mechanism! I fell into a deep restrict/binge cycle in my teen years, and it lasted longer than it ever should have. 

Fast forward to this past summer. I’m a newlywed, I’m a registered dietitian, I have fallen in love with my coaching business, and I’m living in a haze. Why? Because the binging is still my companion. The days of restriction are still ever-present. Food had taken over years and years of my life, and I found myself still living into that broken life that I created. I distinctly remember one night, venting to my sweet and patient husband about my food issues. He looked right at me and bluntly said, “Well it sounds like you just don’t like yourself very much. You must not think you are worth much.” And that hit me like a ton of bricks. 

He was right. He was soooOOOoooo right. I didn’t value myself, my health, or my worth at all. I didn’t see myself the way God sees me, as His daughter and His princess. And the worst part? I was SO self-absorbed, because I was only thinking about my failures, my shortcomings, my weight, my appearance, and MY food. 

 

The icing on the cake of this transformation happened this past November, while I was reading “Women, Food, and God” by Geneen Roth. In this book, a recovering binge eater was talking about her revelation. One day, she realized that she doesn’t have to be broken. It was a rude awakening. “I don’t have to be broken!” she said this over and over again, until it really sunk in. I read that sentence over and over again, until it sunk in to my mind as well. I remembered a verse in Romans 8 where Paul states:

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37

God didn’t create me to be broken. Even after "all these things," He sent His Son to die for me so that I don’t have to be broken; so that I can be more than a conqueror. 


And with that, my whole reality shifted. I realized that I really don’t have to be broken. No one is making me live in this bondage except for me. I prayed, really REALLY hard, that God would help me trust Him with everything, even my weight and my food issues. Reading that I don’t have to be broken lit a fire under me. I repeated over and over that I am more than a conqueror, and I am made for more than this. I tucked this truth in my pocket and started on a journey I’d like to call nourished and FREE. It’s been 2 month since I started this journey, and I hardly recognize who I am anymore. I’ve never lived in this much freedom, while feeling healthy and nourished. I praise God that He opened my eyes and my heart and helped me release this struggle to Him! 

So what does life look like for me now? Well, a lot of nourishing food, I can tell you that! I have decided to eat what I feel like, and the foods that make me feel GOOD and VIBRANT. Lately, that’s been lot of plants, and not so much animal. And that’s ok. And if I want a steak, that’s ok too. Some meals are mostly carbs, and some meals are mostly vegetables. Most of the time I snack on fruits, nuts, vegetables, and hummus. And less of the time, a cookie or ice cream may be involved. 80-90% of the time, I’m eating a plant-based, healthy fat diet. And 10% of the time, I’m having sugary treats and sharing a pizza with my husband at 10pm. Life happens, and I’m rolling with it. I’ve learned a lot this past year of following portion controlled meal plan with cute colorful containers, and I really think that’s helped me let go of calorie counting, obsessing, and restricting. I learned how to balance and fuel my body, and now I can do that, live healthfully, and walk in freedom.

I finally trust myself, or rather, I trust God with ME. I know that He has my best interest at heart. I know that a healthy choice one day will be salad, and another day will be a burger, and that’s ok. I am ok. I am not broken, because I wasn’t created for brokenness. I’m a redeemed daughter of the King. I’m made for a healthy and vibrant life. I’m made to relax and have peace. I was made to be nourished and free. 

And so are you. Know that a life of bondage does not have to be your life. You can let go too, as scary as that sounds. You are worth so much more, and you are made for more than defeat. Food can be such an unspoken struggle for so many people, and especially women. There is food freedom that can be possible WHILE living a healthy life. Food freedom doesn't mean eating pounds of ice cream all day, or eating salads all day. It's learning how to nourish and fuel your body, but not let food control your every move. I am filled with hope that God will continue to redeem me, and I hope that you found some inspiration from this post to allow His presence to take over this area of your life too.

If you struggle, and this post hit a nerve, please feel free to email me at TveenRD@gmail.com! I'd love to hear your story and chat!