Don't Be Tricked By the Treats; 5 Easy Steps to Not Binge or Overeat Halloween Candy

Halloween is just a few short days away. Costumes are ready, the decorations are out and the pumpkins are carved.  Did you buy some of your favorite snack sized candy bars for the little Treaters, hoping you can just enjoy one or two pieces for yourself? Or,  does having all of that Halloween candy around the house feel so stressful, like a cruel trick?

In the past, to me Halloween candy seemed like a supernatural being that possessed multiple powers. It would act like a magnet pulling me in that I couldn’t resist no matter how hard I tried. Or, it would act like burning coals and I knew if I touched it I would get burned. Or, if somehow I forgot it was there, it disguised itself into something friendly and kind.  I would be tricked me into having just one piece, that ultimately turned into two, or five, or 10 or countless more.

Halloween candy doesn’t have to have that kind of power over you. You can breeze through this upcoming holiday without the worry that those bite sized Snickers bars may get the best of you. You don’t have to go to bed on October 31st with remorse and a bloated belly.

For starters, make the choice to eat the candy when you truly want it and are actually hungry. I realize how basic this advice sounds: eat when you are hungry and eat the food you desire. However many chronic dieters do not follow these simple guidelines. A few years ago, when I looked through my daughter’s trick or treating bag, the Peanut M&M’s jumped out at me. I was hungry and they were exactly what I wanted.

Now that you made your candy choice, give the candy your full attention. Sit down. Get away from the TV and the laptop. Shut down your Facebook and Instagram. Notice the taste and the consistency and experience the whole eating process. When I was eating the Peanut M&M’s, I did notice how much I liked the crunch but not the taste. They were too sweet to me and the peanuts were tasteless.

After you had one piece, you may want a second. Check in and ask yourself some questions. Are you still hungry? Are you still enjoying the taste? Knowing you can eat this candy without guilt, how do you want to feel after you have eaten it?

If the answer is- I’m not sure (often my answer), then make a choice to leave the candy where it is for 20 minutes and go do something else. Give yourself full permission to eat another piece in 20 minutes if you still want it. This step is not about not eating the candy but about giving yourself the space to eat with intention.

After I had the Peanut M&M’s, I noticed that my belly felt bloated. Assess how your body feels, so that next time you can make a powerful and informed choice. I can choose to eat Peanut M&M’s again, but if I do, I may be choosing to not feel my best.

Changing your relationship with food is a process and a practice. Certain foods don’t need to be bad or forbidden. You can trust yourself around all foods and build confidence in yourself that you can be in charge of your own choices. Halloween candy is a great place to start.

Now, I enjoy the little ones in their costumes that come to the front door. The Halloween candy is there if I choose to have a piece or two. I don’t give it much thought or concern. You can have that same freedom, which is one amazing treat. 

One Simple Step to Take to Stop Overeating

I sat in the sunshine on the front steps of my house. It’s finally warm enough here in New Hampshire to be outside.  It’s lunch time and I’ve left my laptop, phone, iPad and any other reading material at my desk. It’s just me and my big-ass salad. No work. No distractions.

For years, I would work through lunch. I would eat quickly at my desk, prioritizing a project deadline or catching up on emails ahead of anything else. I firmly believed that I didn’t have the time, not 5 minutes or  20 minutes, to take the time to just eat. Work was too busy and I had to keep checking things off my “to do” list.  Taking the time to eat was simply a  waste of time. I could be more efficient and effective by multi-tasking.

During that same time, my relationship with food was all about:

·       limits and restriction,

·       numbing and overeating,

·       shame and defeat, and

·       disconnection and discomfort.

I was desperate to lose that last 5,10, or 15 pounds and I was trying every diet I could to do it. What I didn't realize at the time was that my painful relationship with food was in large part due to not listening to my body. 

How can anyone tune in to hunger cues, fullness signals or how certain foods made their body feel if they don't listen?

When you don’t eat with your full attention, you are missing an opportunity to notice feedback that your body desperately wants you to have.   

Now that I eat my meals with all of my attention, I leave food on my plate. After decades of overeating and binge eating, this simple habit is a small miracle. I notice when I’m no longer hungry. I no longer rush through my meals. I enjoy the taste of what I’m eating and feel much more satisfied. Eating has become a nurturing act of connection.

If you are reading this while eating your breakfast, lunch or dinner, put your fork down and push your meal away, even for a few moments.  

Practice eating at least one meal a day without any distraction.  Start with the meal that’s the easiest to focus completely on.

When I first started not working through lunch, it only it took me 12 minutes to eat. I quickly realized that taking this small amount of time allowed me to return to work with fresh eyes and renewed energy. I increased my productivity by giving myself this break.

Whether or not you struggle with overeating and binge eating,  doing one thing at a time and being mindful is the key to fully experiencing life. Consider that taking time to simply eat a meal is a way for you to slow yourself down and enjoy a few moments in the day. Practice eating with all of your attention. It will become practice for how you want to live: fully awake, connected, and present to the warm sunshine on your face.


How to Stop Your Overeating Habit

How to Stop-1
How to Stop-1

Are you one of those people that eats everything on your plate no matter what? I’m a former member of the Clean Plate Club myself. Actually, I often had second helpings at meal time. You can say I was a member of the Two Clean Plates Club ;). It didn’t matter if I was hungry or full. I just ate what was in front of me, and then some. I started my journey to transform my relationship with food and my body because I knew I was overeating and overstuffing. Sometimes when I was hungry, I felt empty. Not just physically, but emotionally. When I was full or even very full, I felt calm and a little sedated. These emotional causes and side effects of my overeating created a very well-ingrained habit that was in place for many years. It took me a while to break this habit, but after trying and failing a few times, I found a practice that made a big difference. Try this exercise to eat just enough and leave every meal satisfied:

  • Sit down to eat your meal when you are hungry. Please notice the two important things: Sit down to eat. Eat when you are hungry.
  • Create the intention that you are going to eat mindfully. Eat your meal slowly.
  • Put your fork down occasionally to check in with your body. Drop your awareness to your belly and notice.
  • When you have come to that point when you have moved past no longer feeling hungry and begin to feel satisfied, PAUSE.  Promise yourself that you are going to temporarily set your food aside for 15 minutes. After that time, you can freely and without guilt, eat what’s left on your plate.  Wrap up any remaining food, whether it’s one bite or 10 bites, and put it away.
  • After 15 minutes, check in with your belly. Are you hungry? Does the idea of finishing or eating more of your meal appeal to you? If so, sit down and eat. If not, save your remaining food for another time.

People overeat for a lot of different reasons. You may find that overeating has become a habit you would like to break. Stopping overeating takes awareness, patience, and practice. Try this exercise when you eat your next meal, and you will be well on your way to honoring your body and yourself in a very powerful and loving way.

Create Your Focus, Create Your Life

Years ago when I was dieting and feeling desperate to shed some extra weight, unconsciously I was choosing to disconnect from my body. I chose to follow a meal plan or to eat a predetermined number of calories instead of asking my body what it needed.

For years I floated around without any intention of what I wanted my relationship with food and my body to be. Consciously or unconsciously, our focus is on something that results in us living a certain way.

When we aren’t aware of how we are living, it is as if we are a small boat in the middle of the ocean being tossed around by each smashing wave and pulled along by the current. The small boat may stay in the middle of the ocean or it may ultimately arrive on shore. Without awareness or purpose, the boat’s destination would be haphazard and accidental. The other option is creating where we want to go, how we want to be. This is like giving that same small boat a GPS and ultimately a guide to whatever destination we choose.

Now, I create guidance for myself daily. Sometimes my intention is for my whole day and sometimes just for certain areas of my life. I keep my language simple- one or two words.  I create ease and peace around food and compassion and healing around my body. If you ask me tomorrow, my intention may change. I can recreate how I want to be based on what intuitively feels right. This guidance helps me navigate through food choices and also whether I choose to go for a run, take a bath, or go to bed early. My intentions are the foundation of all my actions.

Creating an intention is the starting point for creating the life you choose. When it comes to shifting your relationship with food and your body, you are also in the driver’s seat. Changing your relationship starts with choosing what you really want and keeping that top of mind moment to moment. This isn’t hard, but it does require effort and awareness. The beautiful thing about this process is that you can create a loving relationship with your body, peace around food, and a life you love.

Right now, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Ask yourself: What kind of relationship do I want to have with food? How do I want to view and treat my body?

Chances are, you’ve been trying to restrict what and how much you eat, and you berate yourself when you fall off the wagon. You are scared you will gain weight and worry you will never lose the weight you want. When it comes to your body, the criticism doesn’t stop. It’s now time to replace the criticism, restriction, fear and worry with how you really want to live around food and your body. You get to pick. Choose what comes to mind first. And if nothing comes to mind, love and compassion are always great places to start.  Put your energy in the right place and your actions will follow. It starts with you.


How to Recover From A Food Binge

If I were the superstitious type, I would have thought I jinxed myself. I had recently told a few people: my husband, my Naturopath, my coaching group. I said out loud, “I don’t binge eat anymore.” And then Saturday afternoon after a big shopping trip, I came home, made a plate of crackers and cheese, and pretty much ate everything on the plate. As expected, I immediately felt disgusted. And because I am now coaching women on how to listen to their bodies and change their relationships with food, I also felt like a complete fraud. If I can’t stop binging myself, how do I expect to guide others? My mind raced:

I shouldn’t be coaching women in this work. I’ll just go back to what I know.

I can’t believe I ate that whole plate of cheese and crackers. I even had gluten. Why do I make choices that will make me sick?

I have tools, I should be using them! What is wrong with me?

My belly feels so bloated. I’ll need to hide that so no one suspects.

From the outside that evening, I appeared quiet, reserved, and disconnected from my family. I probably seemed a little melancholy. I went to bed early and wrote in my journal.

This is what binges do. They absorb us into a shame cycle. They have us questioning and doubting everything about ourselves. Our body feels sick; therefore, we assume everything about us is sick too. Binges make us withdraw from the world. We don’t want to show our disgusting selves to the people we love around us. After all, they must be judging us the same way we are judging ourselves, right? This episode refreshed my memory of how destructive binges are because the binge eater withdraws, hides, and feels terrible and full of shame.

We are disconnected from our bodies when we binge and overeat. I clearly felt disconnected on Saturday afternoon and resorted to an old habitual pattern. When I woke up Sunday morning, I reminded myself that I have a choice where I focus my energy. I can beat myself up about the afternoon before, like I have in the past, or I can see my experience as an opportunity to go deeper in my own healing. I’m choosing to go deeper.

As I look back to my earlier declarations of binge eating being something of my past, I realized there was a part of me that felt being binge-free was too good to be true. I secretly worried that all of this healing and new learning would disappear. I know now this process is not a delicate one. Our practice of connecting to our body grows stronger the more we listen to it. I don’t need good luck to be aware of my body. My journey to freedom around food and body struggles may have it’s share of up and down and side trips. I’m okay with that. I’m also really okay with not being perfect. I’ll take confidence and connection over luck and crossed fingers any day of the week.

How to Eat Mindfully

I’ve made this amazing shift in how I eat most of my meals. For the most part, I no longer eating frantically, standing up, on the run, and without paying any attention to what I eat or how much of it shove in my mouth. I’ve embraced a new way that has brought me so much connection and vitality. Eating for me is now like moving through a yoga class. Now, I eat with intention. I make the choice to eat. I choose what I eat based on what I want and know will serve me well.

I give eating my full attention. I sit down and take a few deep breaths. My body relaxes. I put my cell phone away and turn my laptop and IPad off. I am here to eat.

With every bite, I spend the time to notice. With all of my attention on what I am eating, the tastes and textures are sometimes big and complex and sometimes so simple.

Like a beautifully timed child’s pose, I naturally take a few breaths in between bites. These are moments I take time to check back in and notice my body.

I naturally stop eating. Sometimes there is nothing left on my plate. Sometimes a few bites remain. My body simply says “just enough”.

Sometimes, my mind wants more and my body says stop. There may be a bit of a wrestling match. I notice that too. There is no perfect answer. With awareness, I consciously make a choice; continue to eat or stop. I practice keeping it simple.

I have finished eating, but I stay seated and invite in a few deep breaths. It’s like shavasana; a time for my body to integrate with the food I just nourished it with. These are the sweetest and most tender moments.

I spent years eating too much or not eating enough. I was lost without a diet or a set of rules to offer me the answers. Thankfully, the power of my yoga practice has opened my mind and guided me to a new way that focuses around being intentional and mindful. Eating now is an opportunity for connection instead of a process filled with uncertainty and numbing. I am so grateful for my practice. Namaste.

What Happens When You Stop Following Food Rules

This just seems like another day. A day with plans to spend time with family, squeeze in a bit of work and play outside in the newly fallen snow. I couldn’t help but to notice that it wasn’t just any other day, although it felt that way. It was the day after Thanksgiving. And this year, I’m so grateful for the freedom I was able to experience preparing our feast, enjoying it and more importantly the time spent after it was all finished. Before this year, freedom was the last way I would describe my experience of Thanksgiving. It was more about struggle, worry, guilt and shame. Thankfully this year, I gave up a few old patterns and embraced new ones. This year, I didn’t break any rules. Not because I followed all of them, but because I did not have any to break. In the past and as recent as last year, I’ve made my family dizzy with which diet I was following. They had a hard time keeping track of whether I was following a vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, dairy free, sugar free, low carb, or gluten free diet. For me, I would plan well in advance and prepare special food that I would allow myself to eat. All the while, I would be noticing not what I could eat but what I couldn’t. Or, there were years that I would be following a particular diet up until Thanksgiving, and then allow myself one day to go off it. No matter what I did, I felt guilty and my mind was preoccupied with the should and shouldn’t. This year our dinner table was filled with an abundance of beautifully prepared foods that our whole family took the time to make. I didn’t see the food as either good or bad. I simply enjoyed it.

This year, I ate and lived moment to moment. I made from scratch chocolate chip scones and spinach, feta and red pepper quiche Thanksgiving morning. It felt so indulgent to have chocolate for breakfast. The kids and Mark loved them and so did I. There were many Thanksgiving mornings that I would only allow myself fruit or maybe a green juice or smoothie with the idea that I had to eat as light as possible to prepare for the huge amount of eating that would come next. For some meals, eating only fruit or green juices could be perfect, but I would make that choice based on what would serve me best in the moment. I ate the perfect amount that morning and trusted that in my next meal I would do the same.

This year, working out was something I simply made time for. But it wasn’t my main focus. In years past, I would plan for an extra long run or an extra challenging workout Thanksgiving morning. I knew I was going to be eating a lot of calories and I needed to pay my dues so I could deserve to eat the extra serving of mash potatoes and pumpkin pie. This year, I just knew I would feel better if I moved. I went down to the basement; I got some good sweat on and finished with a headstand. It took less than 30 minutes. I was completely unconcerned with how many calories I burned or how many calories I was planning on eating.

This year, I went to bed feeling great. My belly wasn’t stuffed with food. We ate a later dinner and funny enough, decided to wait until the next day to dive into the special chocolate cheesecake that Anna made. I remember past Thanksgivings where we would finish our dinner and immediately break out the pies. I did this without any regard to whether I was hungry for them or not. As our family was preparing our meal earlier in the day, we sat down for some cauliflower soup and a few fun appetizers. Afterward, we shared a slice of pumpkin pie. It was perfect to have a small dessert before our main meal.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to share and acknowledge all of the things we are grateful for. This year, I’ve let myself out of prison. A prison that I designed myself around an obsession with food and body weight. My prison robbed me of enjoying my life fully. How could I really enjoy and be thankful for my family, friends, our health, our homes and all of the wonderful things I truly have in my life when I’m mentally and emotionally consumed with what, when and how much I’m going to eat and how long I’m going to work out? It was exhausting and I did it for a long time. This year, I let go of diets, food rules and the idea that I have to struggle with my weight. This year, I’ve deepened my practice of connecting to the wisdom of my body. I’ve held the key to letting myself out of this prison the whole time. Starting this year, Thanksgiving for me is now about freedom, gratitude, connection and celebration. I am so grateful.

New Girl, New Habit

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I have a confession to make.  It may make you laugh. My family thinks it’s hysterical. Over the past 2 ½ weeks, I’ve been obsessed with the TV show “New Girl”. I sat down to watch the pilot on Netflix and after a few shorts weeks, I’m already in the middle of Season 3. I’ve been watching the show religiously every night, averaging about 2.5 shows an evening. This is a big change for me as I typically only watch TV  a few times week. But now, I sit down to watch it with a glass of red wine or a cup of tea (depending on the night), curl up on the couch and let myself be thoroughly and mindlessly entertained. A habit is supposedly formed by consistently doing the same thing every day for 28, 30, or even 40 days (depending on who you ask and where you look). So you may not call my "New Girl" routine a habit just yet, but it did get me thinking about habits and how some habits can be so easily formed and some habits can be so hard to break.

People spend a good deal of time and money trying to create positive habits and to break negative ones. They often look at the action of the habit itself, for example, smoking, running every morning, or flossing before bedtime. But there are a few other pieces to the habit puzzle that are more critical than the action itself. A habit also includes the desire we crave before we move into action and the outcome that immediately follows. Take my “New Girl” routine. It started with me looking for relaxation, which is the desire I craved. While I watched the first 4 episodes of Season 1, I laughed, gave my mind and body a break sitting on the couch and afterward felt renewed. Immediately, my mind drew the connection. Desire to relax > "New Girl"> Feel Better. It didn’t take more than a few days for me to realize that when I wanted to feel better; I sat to watch "New Girl".

One habit that I’m familiar with is around binge eating, as it started for me in my early teens. At the time, food was the only coping mechanism I knew to help me deal with overwhelming feelings.  Even though I wasn't aware of it at the time, my desire was to not feel the intensity of my sadness, frustration, anxiety or anger. When I stuffed myself with food (maybe girl-scout cookies or M&M’s) I went numb and didn’t feel anything. The outcome of my binge eating habit was to take away the immediate discomfort (even though it was fleeting and ultimately I felt worse). This habit continued over the years by eating uncontrollably in response to stress, overwhelm or anything else that I wanted an escape from. I would try desperately to change this habit by trying to stop binge eating, like it was the cause and effect of my problems. The more I fought with the binge eating, the more energy I was giving to the one thing I desperately wanted to change. I realized, with mindfulness, awareness and compassion that acknowledging and not reacting to the the emotion was at the heart of dismantling this habit. It was then that I began to replace binge eating with a more loving habit.

Here is the thing. We make our habits and then our habits make us. The action of the habit can define us if we let it. We start to smoke and we become a smoker. We train for our first 5k and we become a runner. We stop eating meat and become a vegetarian. Look at your habits carefully; are they reflecting who you want to be and how you want to live? If not, look at the desire and the outcome of the habit itself.  Is watching "New Girl" every night a reflection of how I want to live? Maybe not. But let me put it another way, is relaxing and laughing every evening how I want to live? Absolutely.