The Cliff Notes of Juicing

A majorly hot topic these days is the concept of juice cleansing and juicing in general. Many people believe, thanks to the internet and the Joe Cross documentaries, that a juice cleanse is the ultimate to kick start a weight loss program, but I strongly believe that your physical and mental health should be in optimum tip-top shape before even considering a full on cleanse. They are not for the faint of heart.

Juicing is taking the entire fruit or vegetable and extracting only the vitamins and minerals aka the liquid. Unlike a smoothie, which simply blends up entire produce for easier digestion, juicing has no pulp or fibre and will not easily replace a meal in your day. However, unlike a smoothie, juicing is a great way to take in a high level of nutrients and minerals in one shot. Most people are not going to be able to consume the same amount of whole produce that they can through juicing. By most people, I mean most likely no one.

The thought process behind a juice cleanse is that your digestive system and body can be given a rest and a ‘reset’. It’s also giving your body some much needed quick shot nutrients which is thought to speed up the process in reaching your health goals – whether they be weight loss, mental clarity, sluggish digestion or just getting rid of a ‘blah’ feeling after treating too much. Juice cleansing were intended to be a mind AND body connection experience, but here in the western world we have taken it and turned it into a kickstart for weight loss.

It’s true our bodies are designed to naturally cleanse and detox themselves, however the foods are eating are often not actual food and we have developed foods and food like products at a quicker pace than our body’s can keep up with, and all of the highly processed foods, sauces, snacks, drinks, ingredients (I’m looking at you, sugar) can bog down and overload our digestive systems and hinder our body’s natural ability to detox and cleanse. Also? If what we are eating isn’t passing through us at all (because of a lack of water, lack of fibre, constipation, sluggish digestion), then it’s not detoxing or cleansing anyways. Fibre is really the kicker when it comes to detoxing and cleansing your body. Detoxing or cleansing means getting rid of things, and that requires fibre and water. Fibre+water=nice, healthy #2’s which is the main way our body detoxifies.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of juicing. We do it regularly in our home, but I’ve always taken an “in addition to” approach, and we add mainly green juices into our regular routines. I also tend to do it more so in the winter when I find I eat heavier foods, produce is harder to find and often not as delicious tasting as summertime fruits and veggies. But something I have learned both from personal experience as well as helping others, using a juice “cleanse” is not always going to benefit everyone the same. In fact, I have done exactly one and I did it more as a Juice Feast which consisted of 4-6 litres of juice a day, plus I did a salad for supper most days. For myself, the benefits did not outweigh the supposed pros. Because juice has minimal fibre, protein or pulp left in it if you are someone who has been eating a less than ideal diet, you are better off sticking to a whole, mainly plant-foods diet to really get your body into optimum health to kickstart any health or weight loss goals.

While I generally don’t write directly for weight loss, it’s also hard to overlook the weight loss topic when it comes to many trends in diet and nutrition. So listen, here’s the thing.. you are absolutely going to lose weight if you go on a juice cleanse. It would b e near impossible to not eat solid foods and not lose weight. But that weight loss is most likely going to be related to the lack of solid food in your body, lack of carbohydrates and not because you magically lost 5 pounds of fat in a week. And…drum roll…once you begin consuming you solid food again you will more than likely gain back most or all of the weight. And as a real kicker, if you are someone who feels deprived while on a juice cleanse or any kind of elimination diet, there is a high chance you will also gain back more weight.

Often when we are not in the best shape physically or mentally any sort of drastic change to our diet or lifestyle that is not sustainable long-term (think elimination diets, cleanses, strict diets), the second we are “allowed” something again we binge, even if binging is not our general attitude towards food. So a juice cleanse may be done as a means of kick-starting a healthy eating lifestyle and weight loss regimen, but instead leads to either long-term or short-term binging and consumption of foods we would not normally eat as our body’s struggle to regain the energy (and calories) it was deprived of.

So my bottom line when it comes to juicing and juice cleanses? Avoid a full-on, 100% juice cleanse. Instead try a plant-based cleanse with daily juices. Focusing on eliminating things which slow digestion: meat, dairy, highly processed foods and refined sugar.

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hurricane hormones

Years ago I wrote a (now unpublished) post about the ridiculous rollercoaster PMS I would get. It was a rather funny tale about how completely irrational I would be, tears flowing type of irrational, and yet could not control myself – even though I knew I was being ridiculous. Fast forward a couple years and after I had our now 5 year old I wrote a post about postpartum hormones and jokingly called them pregnancy hormones ‘crazy, older sister’.

As women, and as a society, we have come to accept that being hormonal disasters is normal. That having our periods and monthly cycles dominate our existence and in many cases completely debilitate us is just a part of normal, female life.

I used to be that girl. The girl who had to call in sick to work once a month because day 1 of my period was genuinely that awful. PMS (in the pre-period week of our cycles) was something I dealt with in a serious way. I was a cranky, emotional, fetal-positioned on my bed because of cramps. My legs would ache. I would get SO tired. It was not pretty, but yet somehow ‘normal’. Combine that with the actual period phase of the cycle and there went half of my month. During that 5ish days I would continue with the cramps, felt so uncomfortable, had ridiculous cravings (usually for sugar), would be a solid 3-4 pounds heavier. Basically I was a mess. And again, this is ‘normal’.

And this, my friends, is complete, fictitious bullshit.

As I became a healthier version of myself, and started reading and educating myself I read a lot about the B-vitamins for PMS and periods. After a couple months of taking them I noticed huge improvements. As the years went on and my diet changed from a mainstream ‘healthy’ (IE: diet foods, lean animal proteins, yogurts, lots of fruits and veggies), I noticed even more changes. My PMS was minor and my periods were actually getting lighter.

Fast forward to postpartum me, and I was once again back to being a disheveled mess. This time however, I knew how to balance what I needed to. By sticking to my plant-based diet, chocked full of nutrients and vitamins my body needed to function optimally, I was back to my *pre-baby self.

*I’m not talking weight, but that mental fog so many new moms are told is ‘normal’ when the truth is just because so many women experience it doesn’t make it normal. But while we are on the subject of weight, you simply cannot shed any excess pounds if your gut health or hormones are out of whack. If your body is too focused on simply trying to keep itself alive, the last thing it has energy to do is burn off fat. Despite our desires or wants, our body has one goal: provide nutrients to key organs. And our organs need hormones to work. Balance the gut and hormones, your body can run smoothly and focus on other health goals.

I often get asked why I focus on a plant-based diet when so many other sources include things like bone broth, lean meats and some dairy. My first response is, “where’s the emphasis?” I say this because based on the high number of books, studies and articles I have read on hormones and/or gut health they all focus on increasing fruits, vegetables and healthy fats with minimal animal protein and preferably no dairy. So why include animal proteins at all?

Logic also says to me, animals have hormones in them. I’m not talking about added hormones to fatten animals up but the naturally occurring hormones. I struggle to believe that we can consume animal products without ingesting these hormones also. SO if our objective is to make ourselves feel better, get our own hormones back into shape, why the hell would we put animal hormones into our bodies??

I think the hardest part of it all is that we often don’t even realize the symptoms we are experiencing are from dysfunctional hormones. We don’t connect our moodiness, brain fog, lack of weight loss/gain, fatigue, hunger etc. as a sign of something wrong – especially during postpartum, menopause or our menstrual periods. To us we think that they’re normal parts of being busy, multi-tasking women, but we need to change that. These are symptoms of a bigger issue, and once we recognize these things as not normal, we can then get our hormones back in check and regain the time and energy lost to these life interfering symptoms.

learn to begin again

Something having children has taught me is that everything can be a learning opportunity, and that we are born with this desire to soak up every.little.thing and learn EVERYTHING. They want to know why things are the colours that they are, what the order of the planets are, why soccer is played at night and this morning my 5-year-old wanted me to explain nut allergies to him. This is both the single most obnoxious and yet amazing thing about children.

As we get older though, for some reason asking for answers, saying “I don’t know” or seeking help from someone who is more educated than ourselves is often seen as a flaw. We tend to not want to admit when we are wrong or don’t know an answer. But the thing is that adults who seek to expand their knowledge base or learn more are, in my opinion, doing nothing but bettering their lives and those around them. Knowledge is a beautiful thing.

Many personal and professional based conversations have taken place around friends and clients lack of knowledge or know-how when it comes to food based decisions. OR more accurately, there is just so much information out there it can be overwhelming and they don’t even know where to begin to ensure they are building a foundation based on sound knowledge and information. This can be the tricky part.

As I sit here thinking about the foundations of health and the process of healing our bodies, I can’t help but reflect on my yoga practice. I was a very reluctant yogi. I went only because a new friend at the time really wanted to try a class at the gym I was working at but didn’t want to go alone. Y’all, it was truly magical and life changing for me. (But that’s a post for another day.)

You often hear the term yoga “practice” as opposed to class, lesson, session or workout. At first I was embarrassed to call it my yoga practice – it sounded so hippy dippy and new age (and that’s a lot coming from me!), but as my practice grew, my commitment grew and the years went on I realized it’s called a yoga practice because that’s exactly what it is. Any yoga instructor I have had puts such an emphasis on continuous growth, on connecting your mind and body, to focus on the form of your movements and the breath over the complexity of the pose. So 6 years in, it’s my yoga practice because every single time I take to my mat I’m practicing. Practicing calming my mind, practicing being in that moment, practicing while strengthening my body and working on my form. I am continuously striving to push myself and practicing.

What strikes me as odd is many people take this approach when it comes to sports (hell, even professionals practice daily!), activity and other areas of our life but when it comes to our health and what we are putting into our mouths… we expect perfection on the first try. We don’t want to ask for help, often because we don’t even understand or know exactly what the problem is or how our body function works.

We beat ourselves up when our choices and efforts don’t ‘succeed’ in the way we wanted them to the on the right try.

But here’s the thing: everyone has a first day where they feel lost, everyone has made choices they aren’t super pumped about. The real measure of success is what you do after those first moves and face-plants.

If what you are doing is not giving you the results you want (weight-loss, healthy relationships, strong body, more sleep.. whatever), stop and evaluate. Are your expectations out of whack? Is your approach not ideal for who you are and your lifestyle?

It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to ask for help, or trial and error on your own. Just keep moving forward and making better choices than the ones that came before.

an unbalanced life

I often get asked how I reached a point of plant-based eating and the person I am talking to is generally shocked to hear it did not begin as an ethical OR weight loss decision. It also came after I had lost 50+ pounds and had been maintaining that along with what I, and many others, considered a healthy weight and life. I am fortunate in that my weight does not yo-yo outside of my 5 or so pounds, I don’t struggle to eat well and exercise comes easy to me both mentally and physically (usually). Yet despite all these factors in alignment, I was not okay. Prior to my weight loss I had an unhealthy relationship with food, clinically would be diagnosed as having an eating disorder (despite being overweight), and the physical discomfort I felt was something that had simply become normal to me. I had went to the doctor numerous times over the years for my stomach issues, all of which were dismissed with a “you’re young, lose some weight”.

So. I did.

Unsurprising in hindsight, neither my relationship with food nor my physical issues changed. I still felt bloated constantly, was pretty moody, extremely emotional, was constipated non-stop, my skin was questionable, I had nasty PMS and periods, my joints literally throbbed (I was 25 at the time), heartburn… and this was AFTER “getting healthy”.

It was at this point that I decided to take control of the situation. I began to actually research what I was eating, how my body was working and how it could be better. Up until this point I had basically been following an “everything in moderation” mindset and focusing on calories in and calories out. This concept works well for weight loss (there’s no denying this) but is not optimum for health. My mental relationship with food was still … not okay. (You can read this post on my feelings about moderation and the mental toll it can take on a person.) While I would no longer be classified as bulimic, had mostly gotten my emotional eating into a healthy place, I was still scale obsessed, stressing constantly about simple things like having to eat in a restaurant, physically felt all the same pre-weight loss symptoms short of those directly related to the weight loss and introduction of regular exercise (more stamina, had slightly more energy..) and overall was just an unhealthy place.

Through my readings I had come across many articles, studies and books that resonated with me so hard. Everytime I would look into my symptoms past the usual weight loss, pill gimmicks that would pop up first in my searches, Most of what I read was connected back to a alternative health (or as I like to call it “original health). So I did my due dillgence and enrolled in a Holistic Nutrition Program.  As I worked my way through all.the.sciences classes I learned about the inner workings of the body, and what made it tick. I also began to connect the dots back to my own health and  a pattern emerged: gut and hormone health. I had always associated hormones with  post-partum or menopausal women, not ‘healthy’ 26-year-olds who was most defintely not going through menopause. And gut health? yeah, no. As soon as I heard the term ‘gut health’ I, for some reason, envisioned explosive diarrhea and stomach worms, neither of which I had! (Hey, it was a learning experience!)

I was fortunate enough at this point to find a new family doctor who had 2 children – one diagnosed with Celiac and another heavily gluten-sensitive.  This was a total game changer for me. Many people think Celiac disease is just a food allergy, but it’s actually an autoimmune disease. When someone has an autoimmune disease their body quite literally is attacking itself.  NO WONDER I FELT LIKE SOMEONE WAS EATING MY INSIDES.  The symptoms experienced by Celiacs and anyone else suffering from one of the many autoimmune diseases out there are so broad, often vague, seem to have no connection to each other  and vary from person to person.

As I researched Celiac Disease beyond the basic understanding of avoiding gluten, I began to take an extra interest in the inner workings of hormones and gut health. Our hormones and bacteria quite literally have the ability to make or break our health. They control our moods and mental health, our body’s ability to absorb nutrients, our digestive system and health of our organs.. again, seriously. NO WONDER I FELT LIKE CRAP. It didn’t matter what I was putting into my body, my body was attacking itself and making me sick.

When I switched to a gluten-free diet and lifestyle, I also took the opprtunity to switch to a plant-based diet. I still ate animal products, but 95% of my meals were completely plant-based (I allowed for a buffer, family events etc.). The key to healing your guts, supporting your adrenals (the hormone hub),  endocrine system (the carrier of the hormone ‘messages’), building up your immunity and supporting overall health was nutrients and a strong, healthy digestive system.  As I was reading and further educating myself I simply could not find a valid reason not to switch to plant-based diet. All I kept coming up with was reasons to do it, and questions to dispute an animal-based diet. If I’m supporting my digestive system to aid in it’s healing, why would I provide it with slow and hard to digest rotting animal? Why would I put dairy, which is even getting a bad rap from mainstream health advocates, into my body when it has shown to increase inflammation and be linked to so many health problems? Why would I not just give my body easy to break down and absorb plant-based foods instead?

This was 6 years ago, and to this day I still ask those same questions. As the years have went on, I have had a couple pregnancies, breastfed, had to adjust to the hormones of those events, plus normal life stresses and I still feel my healthiest self on a plant-based diet.

Anytime I feel myself becoming moody, grouchy, easy stressed out, sleepless, bloated, tempted to binge or craving junk food, fatigued  or any of those other symptoms sneaking up on me I immediately know why: I’m straying from a plant-based approach and my gut and hormones are becoming unbalanced. Sometimes this is because I just really wanted real cheese on my pizza or I simply became lazy and started to buy more and more premade vegan foods.  Within a matter of days once I switch back to fresh, whole plant-based meals I feel the return of my healthy,  normal self.

…whatever normal is…

Deliciously Light and Refreshing Apple and Fennel Salad

Repost: This was a post from a few years back, when I was transitioning to a plant-based diet. This remains of my favorite flavors to date!

I took out a book from the library called 125 Gluten Free Vegetarian Recipes and promptly began flipping through the pages sticky tabbing anything that I thought might resemble a tasty meal. Lonny did the same. One of the items he marked off was an Apple and Fennel Salad.

Fact: Most people have no idea what fennel is.

If you are one of these people, have no fear. It’s wonky looking, and can be found generally in the produce section under the little mister things – you know, where all the bok choy, beets, asparagus business is stored.  And they’re super cheap. I think the whole thing was $1.75 or something crazy.

As usual, adjust amounts accordingly..and feel free to substitute for what’s available in your kitchen!

This recipe is suppose to serve 4 as sides. I ate it alone  as 2 lunches.

What You Need:

  • 1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 unpeeled red apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 whole fennel bulb (the white bit!), sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion (omitted in my salad because I don’t like them)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped, toasted pecans (or raw!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of celery seed, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar (apple, cider,, sherry…)
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil (I subbed for a better olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard or Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

How You Do It:

  1. If you’re toasting your pecans, throw them in a hot pan for 2 – 3 minutes, if not, skip this bit!
  2. put the apples, fennel (but some of the chopped green bits if you want for flavor), onions, pecans, celery seed, tarragon and salt in a bowl
  3. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard and honey/agave. Add salt and pepper if you want them.
  4. Pour as much of the dressing over the salad as you want. I suggest starting with a smaller amount and adding as you like. It’s always easier to add more than it is to somehow magically remove it.
  5. Stick that badboy into the fridge for a couple hours… or eat right away if you’re super hungry. Whatever!
Before it got all mixed up and the dressing was added! Doesn’t it look deeeelicious?!

Please, try this. Your taste buds will thank you.

Quick fact: this dish has approximately 4 grams of fiber/serving.. if you’re like me and double up your serving that’s around 8!

a plant based kitchen

As a nutritionist and someone who eats a plant-based diet, I often get asked what exactly I eat. With the removal of the meat centred plates people become incredibly curious as to what fills my belly and stocks my fridge. I’ll admit this often gives me a little chuckle because I like to presume that the meat eaters of the world don’t just have fridges full to the brim of steaks, eggs, fish and chicken breasts.

But I thought I would do a post sharing exactly what we have in our house on any given moment. We generally do one massive haul once a week, then another produce haul mid week. Sometimes a quick pop in if the menu changes due to a request and an ingredient is needed.

As much as I love to shop local, support locally owned grocery stores and farmers market, I do have to live on a budget of some sort and unfortunately the cost comparison between those places and my local Superstore are just too large. So I tend to buy the bulk of our produce at Costco or Superstore, speciality items at a couple locally owned grocery stores here, legumes I get free from a friend who manages a lentil plant (for real!!). We hit up the farmers market weekly when in season and pick up random things – we got some great sprouts and greens a couple weeks ago. We also plant our own garden and greenhouse. By shopping at the bigger box stores for staples it allows room for us to support the farmers market vendors and smaller local stores also and allows me to buy food that is mostly organic, fresh, minimal ingredients and as close to their absolute whole state as possible. And because everyone always wants to know, we generally spend around $200 a week or so on actual food items. With that being said we rarely eat out, and I don’t exactly shop for sales. That’s a big fault of mine and one I would love to improve on. I have a secret desire to be a coupon cutter and walk into the grocery store, have them scan my stuff and bam! Lay all the coupons down and watch the number decrease.

But I digress..

Dry staples include

  • Dry Beans (black and pinto)
  • Lentils (red, green, fresh)
  • Split peas
  • Chickpeas
  • quinoa
  • Rice (basmati, jasmine, usually a wild rice or plain brown rice)
  • Steel cut oats
  • A box of Gluten free Pasta (minimal ingredients, high fibre)
  • A loaf each of a gf bread and regular (kept in the freezer because we hardly eat bread! Little Northern Bakehouse is my go-to for gf and anything from Silver Hills for non gf)
  • Popcorn (it’s a staple)
  • Rice noodles
  • Ramen noodles (lotus foods are my go-to brand

Produce bought and consumed weekly

  • 3-5 pounds of apples, mandarins, lemons, potatoes
  • 3-5 cucumbers
  • 10 tomatoes
  • 7-8 peppers
  • 2 pound bag of carrots
  • 2 large bags/containers of spinach
  • 8-10 heads of romaine
  • Kale
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • 3 jalapeños
  • Grapefruit
  • 20 bananas (minimum, seriously!!)
  • Container of grapes
  • Celery
  • Oranges
  • Dates (medjool)
  • Seasonal fruits as veggies such as berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, eggplant, corn etc.
  • Other fruits and veggies as they are available like snap peas, pears etc.

Frozen

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peas
  • Corn

Vegan Protein and dairy alternatives:

  • Almond milk
  • Organic soy milk (our preference for golden mylk)
  • Edamame
  • Tempeh
  • Usually a bag of veggie ground and veggie nuggets in the freezer for backup
  • Vegan cheese (in the freezer, we don’t eat a lot of it)
  • Can of organic coconut milk

Nuts and Seeds

  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp hearts
  • Various nuts, raw and unsalted (hint: keep in the fridge) such as cashews, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds..
  • tahini
  • Peanut butter

Other items

  • Salsa
  • Marinara sauce
  • Gf flour
  • Coconut sugar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Fermented foods like kimchi, garlic, kombucha
  • Vegan butter (used sparingly)
  • Eggs (obviously not plant based or vegan but still in our house)
  • Vegan chocolate chips
  • Granola bars of some kind (we’ve been loving the KIND bars and fig bars lately!)
  • Some kind of kids treat (right now it’s the organic fruit snack from Costco)
  • Back up can or two of Amy’s organic Lentil soup (my version of a ‘fast food’ supper when we are pressed for time)
  • Normal household condiments including: rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Tamari sauce, Franks red hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, the husband likes Renee’s Cucumber Dill dressing so we have some of that..
  • Spices: I have an incredibly well stocked spice drawer. Getting familiar with and comfortable with spices has been the true hero in my plant based journey. I keep everything from basics like basil, oregano, parsley, ginger and garlic (fresh and dry) and cinnamon to more adventurous spices like turmeric, curry powders, byrani spice, Cajun etc.
  • Various loose leaf teas and some tea bags.
  • And that’s it! As you can see there’s nothing weird or wild in our kitchen, but we continuously eat delicious food from these basic staples. We currently have a huge batch of Chana masala in the fridge that my 4 year old is loving; we just finished up a delicious lentil salad and falafels. I generally have a pot of roasted veggies in the fridge which are perfect to throw together with a salad and some tempeh which is my go-to back up lunch when I’m feeling lazy or in a rush. Sometimes I even make it for supper .

Eating plant based doesn’t mean having to be wild or crazy; you can eat the basic of the basic normal foods. It’s all in how you cook them! Investing in or checking out from the library some plant based cookbooks is the best thing you can do. Even if you don’t love the recipes themselves at the very least I find cookbooks help me to understand what flavours work well together, what I like and don’t like and overall helped to build up my confidence in the kitchen. I do plan on sharing more recipes around these parts as time goes on, but I thought sharing my kitchen was a good start!

the self loathing outcome of moderation

Every single time I hear someone say, “eat whatever you want, just in moderation” I have to fight back the urge to both simultaneously roll my eyes and blow a fuse. The understanding and mentality behind this common phrase I completely understand – that if we are not denying ourselves anything we consider to be ‘bad’ or not serving our bodies in a nutritious way that it will somehow convince us that eating all the ‘good’ food isn’t so bad after all. A little devil to encourage the angel type of a scenario.

I call bullshit though. Over the past decade I have never once had half a spoonful of ice cream, or tiny sliver of pizza and truly felt like ahhhh yes! I’m sooo satisfied and now back to my salads. I may have tried to convince myself of that, but I’m all about keepin’ it real around here and I’ll admit that’s a total bullshit facade. All those teasers did was make me feel truly deprived. A slap in the face reminder that I was somehow not quite deserving of a entire slice or even 3 slices of pizza. And well, that’s kind of the exact oppose of what it’s suppose to do.

So instead of creating a sense of satisfaction people tend to go one of two ways: either feel more deprived or feel like a failure because somehow this little taste test didn’t hit the spot (gasp! Shocker! …not). Either outcome usually results in a binge of garbage. And instead of just the couple slices of pizza you originally wanted, this binge, which may be hours or days later, turns into the hungry hungry caterpillar on day 6 when he eats all the pies and all the cakes and all the sausage and all the…everything. (What the hell is it with me and the friggin’ hungry caterpillar book??)

Also? Avoid the planned, once a week cheat days. I’ve also tried that, and when I did guess what happened? Yup. It lead to me eating junk when I didn’t even want because I could and I knew it was my only chance. Both of which are fairly ridiculous reasons for choosing to eat something with no true nutritional purpose.

As time went on my wants have actually shifted gears to become one with what my body needs (side note: that line just made me start singing 2 become 1 by the Spice Girls). This is awesome and has done so much for me in terms of my relationship with food and my health, but it’s also taken close to a decade to get to this place. So what’s a person suppose to do? how do you cultivate a much sought after healthy relationship with food that’s a balance between what your body needs and what you’re feeling you want?

Eat the pizza. Not in moderation.

Had you just had the pizza, and as many slices as you wanted, and moved on with your life making your next meal full of healthier choices you would have been much better off. Your craving was satisfied, you didn’t binge, you got to skip the beat up session, hit to the self esteem and the ability to truly feel in control of your choices.

This is where I will interject and gently remind you that part of the process towards a healthy relationship with food and yourself is being honest and real. Are you eating the pizza 3 nights a week? Because if that’s the case then moderation isn’t needed. Neither is the ‘eat the pizza’ mentality. A little good old fashioned sit down conversation with yourself is needed – this can be in your head or if you’re like me literally having an out loud conversation with yourself.

Why is the pizza happening 3 out of 7 nights? Lack of motivation to make something? Emotionally upset? Connect the dots to decide what’s going on, and move on from there. As a former emotional eater that was usually my reason: a good week meant junk food, a sad day meant junk food, good news meant celebrate. Once I realized this I had two choices when feeling the urge to go the junk food route. I could either follow through, or find a new outlet. Sometimes I gave in to the emotional eating and then truly processed how and why after. Sometimes I rolled my eyes and forced myself to do something else. Either way, the concept of moderation did not help the situation.

But as the months and years went on the pizza eating became less and less. As time has went on I’ve come to realize I don’t actually want that pizza (most of the time!). But had I kept my mentality of ‘everything in moderation’ I don’t think I’d have gotten here. I needed that freedom of removing the restrictions, and removing the rules from around what and when I could eat it gave me the sense of control I was missing. I often go weeks or longer without a treat because I simply don’t want it. I know I can have it whenever I want and because of this I’m good without it. I will say that I spent years with the understanding with myself that I could have a couple treats in a week, but they had to be mindful and they were limited in their number (ex: I found that either 1-2 meals or 3-4 small treats a week worked well for me!).

By being more mindful it encouraged me to stop and think about whether I really wanted to ‘spend’ one of my weekly treats on that particular thing. More often than not I didn’t. It’s like money, if you only have $20 are you going to want to spend it on the very first thing you see? Probably not.

Something else I cannot overlook: even if you do opt for the moderation route, some things are simply not healthy – physically or mentally. Many ‘foods’ should not be consumed ever, and quite frankly some people have trigger foods that will send them into the dark holes of their minds and spiral down an unhealthy path. So when considering whether moderation is right for you, the system which will work for you…please consider your thoughts, feelings and triggers in the process. One persons treat is another persons drug.

As is the theme not only on my blog and my nutritional philosophy but my life… be mindful, not in moderation.