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Most of you who know me or have been following Karma Chow for a while, know that I have been struggling with some health issues over this last year and a half. Namely, exhausted adrenals, hypothyroidism and the dreaded Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS.)
I have been on a journey for this last year to heal myself, which was part of the reason I left Los Angeles, or City of Crazy, as I call it, and moved to Santa Barbara, aka Blissville. Can you see why?
This is the view from our dog park..yes, dog park!
Over the course of this time, I have seen many different kinds of people to help me with my healing; naturopaths, hormone specialists, nutritionists of all kinds, kinesiologists, acupuncturists, massage therapists and more. I have literally spent thousands of dollars, been poked and prodded, peed in many cups, and I am still struggling in a lot of ways.
My life for the past 20 years has been built around healing naturally and healing my body through clean eating, yoga and exercise. Which is how Karma Chow and my passion to help others, came to be. This way of living is something that is NOW ingrained in me, a strong belief system, if you will, because it worked for me, up until about 2 weeks ago, when I had to seek out other help (when I refer to “other,” I mean traditional medicine.)
Now, I know some of you may be thinking, well, if this is what you do for a living, why can’t you heal yourself with all the knowledge you have? And I have, up until a certain point. Eating a clean, vegan diet has saved my life in many ways, but I hit a wall with my healing and these new “dis-eases” in my body, and I couldn’t figure out how to heal or feel better without extra support. So I had to turn to people who have way more knowledge than I do.
As a child, I suffered from asthma, migraines, allergies, IBS, TMJ and more. A lot of this was food related, and a lot of it was emotionally related too. I had a rough upbringing with a lot of emotional turmoil, and as a kid, I didn’t know what to do with my emotions. I wasn’t taught how to express them, or to know that they are just emotions and they are not good or bad, they just are (if you are a parent reading this, teaching your kids how to express their emotions, healthfully, can save them from a lifetime of health issues.)
So, in the process of not knowing how to express my emotions, or feeling the support to do so, I stuffed them all down, and kept silent, or I identified with them, which made me feel bad and broken. This resulted in ill-health.
When I began my spiritual and clean eating journey many years ago, all of these illnesses I mentioned above (IBS, migraines, etc) healed over time. Now granted, I still had emotional stuff, and always will. I am human after all, but over the years I have compiled a pretty nice size tool box full of some shiny tools to help me through the emotional storms when they happen. But sometimes, I would find myself in situations where I was sitting on the floor with all the tools strewn around me and they just didn’t work, or seemed a bit rusty, if you will.
This leads me to present day and the WHY I am now living with CFS, Adrenal Exhaustion & Hormonal imbalances. I almost said, “fighting” and not “living with,” but the way I see it, the more we fight against something, the more it will persist, so I am learning to gracefully live with these things, while taking the positive action to heal.
There are so many campaigns out there that are termed, “war on cancer, war on violence, etc”…it just seems like a going to war with something, or someone, never really fixes the problem, it just exacerbates it more, and keeps us in a negative mindset.
I’m not sure if you know about CFS, but it’s a mystery disease to many,
even doctors. It’s basically caused by the body fighting viruses that
will always exist there, once contracted. As a kid, without even knowing
it, I contracted Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), otherwise known as MONO (the
kissing disease.) I have no idea when I got it, but I suspect it was
when I had a bout with walking pneumonia in my very early twenties. I
also picked up a couple others along the way, and with my immunity not
being strong as a child, my body was throwing a welcoming party for
these immune blasters.
Little did I know, until about a year ago, after my functional nutritionist recommended I do a specific viral blood test, that I had all of these so-called dormant viruses in my system. These not-so-nice suckers will live there for my lifetime, and if I am put under a tremendous amount of emotional stress, or any kind of stress, they will reactivate and wreak havoc to my system, thus Chronic Fatigue. My body is constantly battling against itself, not to mention a low working thyroid and exhausted adrenals, which can all be a result of the CFS.
As you may imagine, these things have taken a toll on my emotional health as well. I went through 2 pretty rough years of an emotionally abusive relationship, and with my body constantly being in Fight or Flight and survival mode, all of these things were brewing under the surface. I guess I should’ve known considering I lost a tremendous amount of weight, weighing in at 124 and standing at 5’11” and couldn’t keep it on, no matter what I ate (yes, I know some of you would beg for this to happen, but not at the price I paid…although I do have to admit, my ego-driven, feel-loved-for-the way-I-look part of myself loved being that thin for a while, but that’s not real, that’s insanity! And to top it off, that’s not where my body can function. All of our bodies have a natural weight where they work best at.
Once I left the relationship, which took some time, and a long time to forgive myself for staying, my body shut down. I didn’t have to be in fight or flight anymore, and I hit a proverbial (very thick) wall and couldn’t get out of bed.
I had a constant course of
stress and cortisol running through my system for these 2 years, which
activated those little intruding, but dormant viruses. AND, to top it
off, my thyroid stopped working properly, my hair started falling out,
my digestion was a mess, I couldn’t sleep, yet I couldn’t get out of
bed. I had ZERO energy. I started to feel down, and like I was slipping
into a depression.
I was taken off of exercise because of my poor little adrenals and the fact that my blood pressure was so low, I would faint occasionally. Now exercise is the one thing that actually helps CFS (and I love it,) but because of my adrenals being so exhausted, exercise would just exacerbate things (extreme exercise puts undue stress on the body.) So all of those feel good chemicals that come from exercise were no longer available to me, including serotonin, and my body was depleted.
I began to gain weight, about 20 lbs worth in a year..and it wasn’t good old lean muscle, it was that icky, gooey stuff that most of us don’t really like. My body felt out of control, flabby and just plain bad. As clean as I ate, I just kept putting on weight.
I know I needed to put on a few, because I was tired of my friends telling me how gaunt I looked, but I couldn’t control it anymore. My body was just doing it’s own thing and I couldn’t do anything about it. Now for someone who has struggled with emotional, body image related eating issues most of her young life, this was a huge challenge for me. One more thing to add to the mix!
For a full year and a half, I felt like crap. Sure there were some good days, but mostly my days were low, I was emotionally and physically exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep. I had insomnia and my cortisol was so messed up, that in the mornings I felt like I drank a bottle of Jack the night prior (you know what I’m talking about.) This was so much of a problem that I ended up taking valerian root, and did some research on oils that could help with sleep, but despite all those I never felt rested, ever! I couldn’t stand to be around people, the things that I used to love to do, didn’t do it for me anymore. I just couldn’t find an ounce of joy anywhere. All I ached for was to feel like myself again, and I was scared I never would. I felt like my health was taken away from me and I would never get it back, and I was responsible for this!
About 2 weeks ago, I was invited back to be on LIVE TV in San Diego for the San Diego Living Show. I also received a very special invite to the book launch of my dear friend and celebrity yoga teacher, Many Ingber for her first book, Yogalosophy (which I penned the meal plans and recipes for and it’s awesome, so I suggest you pick up a copy) I was so excited for both and couldn’t wait, but my body had other ideas.
The weekend before these 2 amazing events, where I was actually going to finally meet Jennifer Aniston (yes, I think she’s super cool), my CFS came on with a vengeance. I spent 4 full days in bed, and the 6 days leading up to that, feeling like I was living with a permanent hangover that came from 3 bottles of Jack, not one! UGH!
When the days came for me to show up, I couldn’t. Not only was my body not doing what I needed it to (giving me energy, feeling alive, etc), but my spirits were in the tar pits (if you live in L.A., you know what I’m talking about.) To put it bluntly, I was EFFIN DEPRESSED.
I couldn’t take it anymore. My body was betraying me and I was missing HUGE opportunities that a lot of people live their whole lives for. Being on TV, meeting Jennifer Aniston and other awesome celebs, and seeing my dear friend launch her book. What the?? But I had to miss it. I couldn’t even pull myself up to get there, and FAKE it. I was in serious pain, sadness and desolation. I just laid in bed and cried, not knowing what to do. Now my business was suffering along with the rest of my life.
All of this brought me to feel, enough is enough, I had to do something. So, I talked to a dear friend of mine who is a psycho therapist and asked her about Anti-Depressants. WHAT??? Yes, you heard me. Now this is something I NEVER in my lifetime thought I would resort to. I am the “master” natural healer after all. But, I knew I needed something. I have friends who are on them, and knew others who received great benefit from them, so I bit the bullet and went to see a doc to get a prescription.
I cried in the doctor’s office, because I never thought I would be in this position. Now don’t get me wrong, I think drugs are great in a lot of cases, and they help a lot of people, but I have lived anti-drug for mostly all of my adult life, and for good reason. but this felt like I was battling a chemical deficiency, and it felt like I needed a little something to help me through.
So I walked out of the doc’s office with a script in hand for 50mg of The Big Z, Zoloft (the mildest, and oldest AD on the market, which means the least side effects.) BTW, I can’t tell you how easy it was to get a prescription without divulging much information, it kind of freaked me out, and now I really get why so many people have prescription drug addictions.
Anyway, I went right to the pharmacy, feeling a little shame, when the pharmacist took my prescription and looked at me funny, or so I perceived. I thought, “he’s going to know I’m screwed up.” And it was all just a huge projection of how I was feeling about myself inside.
I got the prescription and went home. That night, I took that little oblong blue pill before bed, and as I was swallowing it, I didn’t feel right. Something felt “off,” icky and bad. My strong belief system was being challenged and screaming at me, “this is not good for you, this is poison.” Now how good can it be to swallow something that is suppose to help me, but at the same time I am thinking it’s poison? Not very. I believe our thoughts are just as powerful as anything in our own healing, and these thoughts were not going to help me.
So that night, wouldn’t you know it, I had horrible nightmares, I didn’t sleep, I tossed and turned, I was nauseous, I got up 2x because I thought I was going to vomit, I felt out of control. My whole world was reeling. The next day was just as bad because I couldn’t come to terms with what my life had come to.
That next night, I did it one more time. This time, I tried to be more positive and tell myself that the Big Z was going to help me, but a very loud voice rang out as I was swallowing that little blue pill, “this is poison.” Everything I had known up until this point felt like it was disappearing. Feelings that I haven’t experienced since I was a child were coming forward. I felt completely helpless and out of control!
The second night, again, horrible nightmares, insomnia in between. I was up all night staring at the ceiling feeling scared, alone and totally screwed up. I began to pray because that is all that I could do. The thought of not living felt easier than going through all this pain, for so long. Life seemed very grim.
The next day as I got out of bed, I said to myself, “that’s it, I’m done. I can’t do this, I can’t put this “poison” in my body.” So, I made an appointment to see my acupuncturist, because my body was in so much pain. I talked to her about my experience and she pointed out that my decision to take the drugs was obviously not aligned with my deeper truth, and came from a place of desperation. At that moment, I received a wave of clarity and made a informed (by my very intuitive gut) decision to not take the Big Z, and to figure out a way to heal myself from the inside out, naturally.
That night I went to bed, Z-free, and I slept really well (first miracle,) with a little help from melatonin. I didn’t have nightmares, and for the first time in over 2 years, I woke up feeling good (2nd miracle.) I didn’t feel like I was run over by a truck, something inside me felt different. I didn’t feel a heavy fog hanging over me (wow, so many miracles.)
I got out of bed, and sat down to meditate as I often do, and right after that, something inside me told me to unroll my yoga mat on the living room floor, which I hadn’t done in over a year because of how much my body hurt. I proceeded to do 90 minutes of yoga, on my own, letting my body move how it wanted. It wasn’t easy, but it was SO powerful and freeing. I couldn’t believe the shift I was feeling. I was scared it would go away any second and I’d be back in that dark, deathening tunnel of despair. I just kept moving and breathing deeper than I ever had, and I felt my breath start to open up my body.
I can’t explain it, but all I know is that the very act of taking The Big Z, felt like the lowest, low I could ever go (side note: I do not believe this to be true for everyone, as some people need drugs to help them and I am totally in favor of that – we are all very different and that’s part of what I teach with clean eating) and it WOKE ME UP!
So today, over a week later, the fog is STILL gone. I have done yoga almost every day since that beautiful day filled with miracle after miracle, and I have been engaged in life again. I am breathing deeper, feeling my body, meditating daily and getting out again. The message that I received that first morning while I was meditating was, “get back to what really matters to you; yoga, meditation and your breath because these things have helped you so much on your journey to heal, in the past.”
It rang SO TRUE. It was like peals of church bells going off in my ears. I felt a BIG YES resounding through me, it truly felt like a miracle. And I can say that today, I am SO humbled by and grateful for my 2 days with the Big Z, because those 2 darkest days of my life opened me back up to the beauty of myself and my ability to heal. Thank God for those little, blue oblong pills.
Now this doesn’t mean that my adrenals are healed, my CFS gone and my hormones perfect, but what it does mean, is that I will continue on my healing journey, naturally with the addition of yoga & breathwork, which to me is one of the most powerful healers out there. The truth is, I was in such a low place that I couldn’t even feel the beauty of these things when I did them because of the cloud that hung around.
I’m not sure if this will stay with me, but while it’s here, I will relish in the deliciousness of it and I will always remember that morning I woke up, humbled by the presence of God in my life and the all-mighty universe supporting me when I took an intended action. It is a constant daily practice of awareness, positive intended action, and surrender. Surrender being the hardest of all.
I will also seek out natural ways to lift my mood like, St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP and serotonin producing foods. I hope that reading this has helped you in some way, and as I continue on my healing path, I will share my journey as I know that we all need the love and support.
With Love and Gratitude….
**(If you or someone you know
is suffering from depression, please seek help immediately, in whatever
realm you feel works for you!)
Cravings! Ah yes, we all have them, and most of the time they can be unhealthy. Cravings for foods that are sugary, salty, fatty, crunchy and fried are among the most common types of cravings, and as most of you know, these types of foods are usually not always the healthiest choice for us.
As a wellness coach and nutritionist, I work with people coaching them on how to get rid of bad habits and create new, healthier ones. I help them to recognize their cravings and how to work through them by using many different methods, which bring them to a new state of awareness with their eating.
The majority of the time our cravings are emotional and often times the act of eating emotionally can result in a lifetime of bad habits. Think about it. When we were kids, our parents usually fed us as a reward if we did something good, or as comfort if we were hurt or sad. Our first food came from our mother’s breast, the ONE person we equated love with. So it’s no wonder we equate eating food with receiving love.
And not only is that not enough, we have the large corporate food companies dialed in with scientists working around the clock to create the perfect combination of sugary, salty, fatty foods. These foods stimulate the feel good centers of the brain and leave us wanting more. If these foods are eaten enough, they can actually rewire the brain to crave more of the same. They alter the biological circuitry of our brain (see “The End of Overeating” by David A. Kessler). Just the right combo of these three together will spark your brain into caving for your craving. And from there, habits are built.
So not only are cravings emotional, but they are physical as well. But don’t fret, there are ways to alter your habits and control your cravings. You don’t have to be the one who “caves” every time there is a cookie in front of you, or a slice of wedding cake sitting on the buffet. You look at it, and you don’t really want it, but something in you goes for it, and before you know it, you have finished a huge hunk of cake. It’s that feel good center of your brain that remembers how it felt when you had this decadent combo before. You have rewarded that behavior. The pathway that you have created from eating so many of these types of foods in your lifetime is activated and then you want more.
But you can control your cravings, and although it may seem daunting at first, these three simple steps will change the way you relate to food and yourself.
1. Recognize your craving and what is driving it: stop yourself before going for the food; take three deep breaths and ask yourself what is driving this craving. Are you really hungry? Or are you making an emotional choice? Get quiet and listen. A lot of people will go for food when they are stressed, sad, lonely or emotional. If you feel any of these things, or you just experienced a stressful situation (a fight with your partner, unwanted news, etc.), tell yourself that food is not the answer and then reach out to a friend, write in a journal or take a walk around the block.
2. Plan your food each week so that you know what you will be eating and how much: Take time each week to make a menu of what foods you will be eating. Make healthy choices and know that eating healthy foods will bring you a sense of prolonged wellbeing versus the instant gratification you get when eating the “cave” foods. Eating healthy foods will begin to crowd out the bad foods and create newer, healthier habits.
3. Take contrary action: Do the opposite of what you’ve always done. I learned this awesome and very powerful slogan in a 12-Step program and it changed my life. Anytime you find yourself wanting to indulge in a craving, take an opposite and healthier action. Instead of eating candy, grab a piece of fruit. Instead of eating cake at a wedding, ask for a glass of sparkling water with lemon. Instead of sitting in front of the TV eating a carton of Ben & Jerry’s, pull out your yoga mat and do some stretches instead. The very act of doing these healthier and contrary behaviors will start to rewire the brain and you will find that you will start to crave the bad foods less, and crave the better actions you are engaging in. Your brain will start to connect stretching in front of the TV as a positive and from there, you will continue to build on this foundation to a healthier way of life.
I know that controlling cravings isn’t easy. Believe me, I have been on a lifelong journey learning how to give my body what it really needs, versus what I think it wants. I have found that the healthier I eat, the less and less I want these unhealthy foods that don’t serve me. It’s a process and a journey, so remember to be gentle with yourself and just take one positive step forward when you find you might Cave to what you Crave!
I know that many of you read my story about my hormonal health in my prior blog and I promised an update. If you didn’t read it, click here to get the first part of the “saga” -hehe.
Well to give you the update, I finally got all my remaining blood tests back and boy was it torture waiting. I started on some bio-identicals about 2 weeks ago after my first visit to see Prudence Hall, and I wasn’t feeling any better. Trust me, I know that this stuff takes time, and I’m willing to give it time. I had a follow up call scheduled with Cynthia, the amazing practitioner at the center who was to read me the results of my bloodwork and to check in with me to see how I was doing. I quickly told her I wasn’t feeling any different and she giggled, as I knew she would, and said, “I know honey, these things take time.” Isn’t that what I just said? Anyway, she thoroughly went over my test results with me and I was presented with the FACTS (finally) of what is happening in my body, hormonally, which ultimately leads to all balance in the body.
Now, you all know I eat healthy, I exercise, I don’t put any white sugar, animal products or other “bad” stuff down my hatch, yet I was feeling so unhealthy, tired and run down, and quite honestly, like a fraud. Well, I am happy to report that now I finally have ANSWERS to all of these symptoms and am on the road to balance and “recovery”…
Here is what my progress report showed when I had all my hormones tested:
LOW, LOW, LOW!!!
So there you have it, not only am I low in everything, as you can see, but my adrenals are completely out of whack, which happens when we are under a lot stress, but come on…really?
I cannot tell you how happy I am to have a solution to help heal what has been going on in my body. I have only been on my natural hormones to help rebuild for about 6 days and already I feel a major difference. Monday night I had so much energy I thought I was going to explode..in a good way. I recently started another round of P90X and have been working out pretty hardcore and I can’t tell you how good it feels to have the energy to do this. I was jumping through the roof during Plyo at Tony’s house and my dear friend Phil told me how strong I am looking these days..I am only on week 3! Thanks Phil!
I’ve also received a few comments about how much younger I look, and only in 6 days (and I haven’t even been wearing any makeup.) Whoa there is something to this. I will continue with my regimine and pray that each day will bring more and more balance to my life. Yes, I have to swallow some pills and dab on some creams, but I know that they are doing my life and my body a major service. I am so happy to have found my energy again, to be sleeping a little bit better than I was, and to feel more balanced emotionally. Oh yea, that’s something else that has changed; my emotional state is a lot less dramatic…when stuff comes up, I can move through it quicker withough diving into the poor me doldrums..yes, I have a tendency to go there, but who knew that it was my hormones, or lack thereof, taking me there.
So, that’s my update. I hope I didn’t bore you and I hope that maybe this will help someone out there that is having issues with tiredness, lack of energy, low libido, sallow skin, bad sleep! Please do yourself a favor and see an endocrine specialist that knows what they are doing. They will tell you all the appropriate bloodwork you need done. A regular blood test read by a doctor will not tell you anything! Hall Health & Longevity Center is my place here in LA, but there are tons of places out there, just do your research! I am so grateful that I took these positive steps for my health and vitality. There is no price that we can put on our health, ever, so it’s extremely important that we take excellent care of our bodies while we are here on this earth, and that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while doing it!
Just look at some of the delicious recipes on my site that you can make and eat that taste good and won’t leave you feeling deprived! Until next time…
Do you often find yourself eating on the run? Shoving a protein bar down your throat because you dont’ have time to get a proper meal? Drinking protein shakes instead of eating a REAL MEAL? Standing over the kitchen sink while you chew on a piece of toast for dinner? Buying processed and packaged foods for convenience?? GUILTY!!!
This is what I refer to as the FOOD DISCONNECT!! The majority of us Americans, especially those of us that live in the City of Angels, are oh-so-busy, and we don’t have time to sit and eat a proper meal or we are always eating on the go. Do you realize what this can do to your body??
First of all, FOOD, and I mean HEALTHY, WHOLE FOOD not the processed packaged junk, keeps us alive, along with water, air and sleep. Food is the fuel that makes our body go. And we don’t respect it. We plow through a meal without even coming up for air, we don’t take the time to really taste or savor our food, we treat it as an object rather than something that nourishes us and keeps us ALIVE! We count calories until we are blue in the face, deprive our bodies of real nutrients by buying “light” or “fat Free” or “natural” packaged foods. We use it as a tool to keep us fit, thin, skinny, deprived, you name it. Eating has become such a burden to so many of us, yet we don’t understand why we aren’t healthy or our digestion sucks when we eat what we think is “healthy”, or drink high nutrient shakes in place of meals. We can’t drop weight, and we feel like poo-poo all the time. We eat out 5 nights a week and make food part of a social event, we overstuff ourselves on holidays, and us Americans create every reason in the world to eat – Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Christmas, Hanukkah, Memorial Day..you name it. Did you ever notice that every holiday is centered around eating and drinking? And it’s usually not of the healthy nature
Our bodies are begging us to slow down by giving us indigestion, acid reflux, bloating/gas or constipation/diarrhea. This is the result of eating on the go, eating too fast, eating too much, combining lots of different foods together, eating processed, greasy foods and drinking liquid with our meals.
We need to connect to our food. Taste it, savor it, chew it slowly. Cut it, cook it, steam it and saute it. Find out where it comes from and how its made if not in our very own kitchens! Food is Life, Food is Vitality, Food is Health. So why do so many of us care so little about it or treat it like it’s last on our list of priorities? Why do we only care about how something will taste in the heat of the moment instead of the longterm effects it will have on us? Why don’t we see it and appreciate it for what it really is?
Connecting to your food will change your life. Listening to your body and what it wants will change your life. Your digestion will work better, you will find your natural body weight and your metabolism will normalize! Are you eating out of boredom, habit, cravings or emotions? These are the times when we are truly disconnected from our food.
When I work with my cleansers, I ask them to be very aware of What they are eating, When they are eating and Why they are eating over the course of the 30 days. This brings them in touch with their food and their habits. The majority of them realize that they have been mindlessly eating most of their life and never really connected to or tasted their food. I challenge them to use cooking as a way to really connect and see their food as the life it provides. To slow down, chew, breathe, cut out all liquids when eating and really get the full benefit of how healthy, whole food can provide us with all the nutrients and fuel we need. To invite their families to join in and rekindle the family dinners when members would gather in the kitchen and cook meals together and then sit down as a unit and enjoy the meal…slowly. I am not implying that we don’t do that now, I know that we do, but what I am hoping to inspire in you is the opportunity to look at where you can make better choices for yourself and reconnect to the one really important thing that gives you life – YOUR FOOD!
So I am offering up a challenge, and that is to take notice of every time you put something in your mouth and why you are putting it in your mouth. Is it because you are truly hungry or just eating out of habit, or cause your traininer or workout program tells you to? Really start to listen to your body and what it wants, not what your mind wants. Most of the time, your body will give you the healthy answer. Tune in, slow down and connect to your food! Become aware of all your actions around food and I guarantee your relationship to it will change, and as a result, your life will too!
Here are FIVE great tips to help you Reconnect to your Food:
1. Chew more and savor the taste of the food.
2. Cut out liquids until at least 30 minutes before or after meals
3. Learn where your food comes from
4. Sit down when you eat & put your fork down as often as possible between bites
5. Give thanks for the food that is on your plate and for all the workers who helped get it there!
I had to write this post today because this topic comes up SO often when I work with my cleansers or anyone who is on the healthy eating path and I must say that it frustrates me to no end. My clients and cleansers more often than not, tell me that their families/friends think they are freaks or show “concern” about them because they are not eating meat, giving up gluten or eating more vegetables and healthy food than not.
My clients and a lot of people I know on this path are also afraid of hurting someone’s feelings by not eating the high cholesterol, fat laden, processed food their host made for dinner, or the b-day cupcake at someone’s bday party, or the overly sweet, cardboard cake at their dear sister’s wedding. Sometimes they just eat it so someone else won’t feel bad, while they torture themselves and the result is that they feel bad physically because of the timebomb they just ingested. Or they will take a piece then only to throw it away when someone is not looking. What a waste of food! I also come across people who are afraid to be a “burden” at the dinner table when out with friends because of their special diet or when going to a friends house for dinner. When did eating healthy become “special?” Isn’t eating healthy a way to live longer, have more energy, combat disease and have a happier more vital life? I think it is..and I am living proof, as well as many others that live this way!
Well friends, I have to tell you this! STOP!!!! Yes, STOP!! STOP worrying about what others think about your “diet” or way of eating. STOP worrying about someone else’s feelings, and choking down a piece of cake so you don’t offend someone. STOP going to dinner parties without notifying the host of your healthy eating lifestyle and putting yourself in a positiion where you will lose, when it comes to finding something good to put in your mouth. STOP ordering food at a restaurant you really don’t want because you don’t want to be a “problem” at the dinner table.
Afterall, is this journey about YOU, or THEM??? Isn’t it your choice to be healthy and don’t you want to lead by example? When I go out, I don’t care about what anyone thinks about my way of eating..and I am a PICKY and sometimes High Maintenance eater. But, you know what? It’s the most important thing to me because when I eat healthy I feel good, have more energy, my skin is clear, I don’t get sick and I look younger..just to name a few of the benefits.
SO, I am going to give you some helpful tips on how to overcome these hurdles other than just telling you to STOP! although that would be a really good place to start! Remember that most people will question your way of life because either 1. they are interested in learning more or 2. they are threatened by it. Most of the time it’s #2. And the reason why, is that people are afraid to change. Yes, change is the only thing we can rely on that is constant in this world, yet we, as humans are afraid of it. Especially the change that we have no control over. We like the change that we are responsible for making happen, like reaching goals, finding a new job, making a choice to move to a different city, etc. But when we feel we are out of control, that’s when we hold on tight to the reins and fight against it. But, it will happen and most of the time we have no choice over it. But, you can make a decision to change the way you eat and change the way you think about food and what others think about what you are eating!
Everytime I would go out with friends and not drink alcohol people would question me. And my response was, “it just doesn’t make me feel good.” And that was the truth and no one could argue with that. When I don’t eat cake, it’s the same response. It’s not worth the 5 seconds of creamy goodness on my tongue for the hours of torture I will experience afterward and the food hangover I will have in the morning. People feel threatened when they witness me saying no to these things and it’s because it brings forward parts of themselves that maybe they need to take a deeper look at. Most people don’t want to give up drinking or eating cake, and that’s fine. I am not here to tell them they need to, YET I am also here to tell them they will FEEL BETTER and possibly LIVE LONGER if they do! But really it’s about leading by example, not forcing it down anyone’s throat and I know that most people who witness me take care of myself, get a chance to look within to where they can make some change. And maybe they won’t be ready, but at least I know I have planted a seed…
So, here are a few tips as promised:
You can be a leader in helping others to make healthier choices just by doing it yourself. Sometimes people can become preachy when they start eating healthy, trust me, I was one of them. But what I have learned is that people are curious about it and they DO want to know more. The soft approach of Leading By Example is what I find works best and that’s what you can do! Remember, stay true to yourself and your path and don’t let what others say or do push you off that track!
As a vegan chef and especially as the chef to P90x creator, Tony Horton, people constantly ask me for the nutritional information and calorie count of my food. Here is what I tell them; I don’t believe in calorie counting…What? You don’t believe in calorie counting? But aren’t you a nutritionist and a vegan chef? Aren’t you into health & fitness??
Yes..to all of those questions, and now I will tell you why I don’t believe. Ok, so that’s not fully the truth…I DO believe that calorie counting works for certain & specific arenas, especially for people who are grossly overweight and have just started exercising. They need a starting point and a caloric deficit, for sure. But this doesn’t mean that they get to still eat crappy food, just less of it…what they need is a plan that will work for them to help them achieve their goals, AND it needs to be a healthy plan, not one full of processed foods, and potions..as Tony himself would say…and it needs to be a plan that teaches them HOW to eat, not just what to eat.
So, if you want to know my reasoning behind my “disbelief” in calorie counting…well, there are quite a few (and of course these are my humble opinions, so you can take them or leave them, but I just know what works for people, and I have many testimonials to prove it). First, calorie counting, especially if you are fit, or even not fit, doesn’t teach you how to connect to your food. It actually disconnects you from your food. Instead of seeing your food for what it is, fuel & nutrition for the body, we start to analyze it, count every kernel and wonder how many grams of forbidden carbs are in it. We label it, measure it and scrutinize it as if it’s the enemy, when it’s just the opposite. We don’t allow ourselves to enjoy our food, to taste it, and to connect to it. We eat on the go shoving protein bars down our throats as we cart the kids off to school and we wonder why we are so dang tired at the end of the day. We drive through fast food joints and look at the calorie count of something on the menu, and think, “I can have that because it fits into my caloric intake”, when in fact the food is loaded with saturated fat and is just plain BAD for you!
Every time I host a new cleanse group, about a week after we are into it, I challenge my participants, many of who are Beachbody coaches and avid exercisers, to let go of the calorie counting just for 30 days. Most of them sneer at me and think, “This lady is crazy,” but when I explain to them why, they understand. And when they do it, they understand even more.
Yes, it’s true, as I said above…I am a chef and a nutritionist, and I am also an advocate for Intuitive Eating or Listening to Your Body. I know some of you may think, this chick is off her rocker and out in woo-woo land, but I must tell you, when you start to eat really clean and listen, really listen to what your body needs and wants, you will find a whole new relationship to the way you eat & live. Some of you may be thinking, yes, I listen to my body and it tells me I want; potato chips, or ice cream. And my response to that is, that’s not your body talking, that’s your emotions. Or your body may be so toxic that it really could be saying that. This is usually the case when people have addictions to sugar, caffeine and processed foods. But usually our bodies will want healthy, whole foods that are nutrient dense and loaded with fiber, complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins.
Another part of listening to our body, is eating until we are 80% full and then stopping. More often than not, we overeat, unless we are depriving ourselves with calorie counting, but we never really know if we’ve gotten enough food or enough nutrients. If you are truly eating clean, healthy, whole foods, you will really feel a difference and you will be fuller sooner and longer than if you eat processed foods, and you will get the extra added bonus of NUTRIENTS!!!
During my 30 day cleanses when people give up their calorie counting, what they realize is that they can eat as much as they want of all the healthy foods allowed on the cleanse, and still drop weight and have enormous amounts of energy (after they get through the god-awful caffeine withdrawls, that is). When you eat a diet that consists of mostly whole foods and minimally processed foods, your body will begin balance itself out and utilize your food for fuel instead of storing it. Now, this is only if you are eating WHOLE FOODS and not all the processed, sugary stuff. I say stick to 90% whole foods and give yourself a little window to allow for some healthy processed stuff, like brown rice crackers, sprouted grain breads or agave sweetened, whole grain chocolate chip cookies.
Calorie counting won’t teach you anything, except how many calories are in a piece of whatever. But, what intuitive eating will teach you is that you can actually listen and hear what your body wants and needs without depriving it. Calorie counting is deprivation. It’s a way to prevent ourselves from enjoying our food because we have to count it before it goes into our mouth and what fun is that? How about just chopping up some fresh, amazingly crisp veggies, and putting them together in a delightfully delicious recipe and eating until you are 80% full?? Now that sounds like a plan to me!
Lastly I want to say that part of reconnecting to our food is to cook it ourselves. And again, you think, this chick is crazy, I am too busy to cook. If you want to live a healthy, long life and have amazing energy, cooking your own food and knowing what you are eating is part of that plan! Bring it back to basics, back to the times when we used to sit with our families in the kitchen and share a meal. Involve your kids and show them how important food is to their well-being. It will help to bring you closer with your family and even your friends. I’m not saying you need to push vegan food on anyone, but what I am saying, is slow down, take some time, stop counting and reconnect to your food. Your life WILL CHANGE!!!