We have become a society that loves an easy “quick fix.” Who doesn’t welcome a quick fix when it comes to food and eating? There are so many to choose from, but they really don’t fix anything, and they definitely don’t teach you how to create healthy habits. In many ways, going on a diet is easier than actually making lasting changes to your lifestyle. The phrase “going on a diet” implies that you go off the diet, too. What happens when the diet is over? Necessary and positive lifestyle changes, however, are never over. They are some of the most important foundations for your life, which you are lucky to be living every single day. They may seem harder than a quick fix, but you can do hard things (🚲Jess Simms)!
Let’s start by extinguishing that self-blame. The fact that diets do not work is not your fault! Removing foods without changing behaviors can lead to feelings of deprivation and eventually uncontrolled eating. There are hormones in our bodies working against us, as they sense “starvation” when you go on a diet. Bodies exist with hunger and satiety hormones, known as leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is our satiety hormone, letting us know when we are full. Think of leptin as the moderator of your body’s own TedTalk titled “Energy Balance”. This TedTalk unfortunately, has no start and finish time, so leptin is always on the job. Leptin’s true desire is to help you feel satisfied with the foods you have consumed. When dieting, our levels of leptin decrease (or take a bit of a break), which decreases feelings of satiety. Now that you are trying to eat less, your body is shouting “more, more, more!” That’s not the TedTalk you signed up for, but it is in motion. Then we have the hormone ghrelin, famously known as your “hunger hormone,” yet it has a full resume of other crucial roles it plays in your body. When we go on a diet, ghrelin receives this as a signal of starvation. While leptin is on a break, ghrelin decides to take advantage of its moment in the spotlight, actually increasing your appetite. Now, you have leptin no longer letting you know when you are satisfied with your meal or snack, and ghrelin exaggerating your hunger level. It is like purgatory going on inside your body and brain and you are too caught up in it all to make it stop.
Leptin and ghrelin have moments where they can be much in sync with your true appetite and hunger, but when you diet, they are not your friends. Instead, they leave you feeling disappointed in yourself, and sometimes this translates into decreased self-esteem and self-trust. Believe me when I tell you: It is not your fault. You just went for the quick fix and stimulated your own body to start working against you. Eating healthfully until you are satisfied with well-behaving ghrelin and leptin, your body (YOU) can live a healthier and happily ever after.
How do you determine if your mindset is aligned with a diet mentality or if you’re in it for the long haul and ready to make significant and long-lasting changes? When you are making any changes to eating habits (or exercise habits), always ask yourself if you are making a change for your lifestyle, or just for the now (the “quick fix”). For example, if a bowl of ice cream is your wind down after dinner, and you decide to eliminate it without finding a replacement, you could be left feeling deprived and unsatisfied. Consider cutting the portion in half and adding some fresh fruit on top. Or find a frozen yogurt bar that you enjoy. The idea is to pick an option that helps you feel satisfied, and is on your chosen path to a healthier lifestyle. Be curious, kind and patient with yourself, and learn what works best for you over time. It’s about moderation, balance, and enjoyment; never deprivation extinction or perfection.
Brussel sprouts never get old in my world😊. And when grilling season begins, we tend to use the oven a lot less. Use a grill pan to keep it simple, or wrap them in thick foil and flip for even cooking. Just peek to be sure they are crispy before you remove from the grill.
1 pound fresh Brussel sprouts, washed and halved
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chili oil
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Nonstick cooking spray
Optional: balsamic glaze to garnish
Preheat the grill to medium-high for about 10 minutes.
While preheating, in a small bowl whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chili oil, ginger, a dash of salt and pepper. Place prepared Brussel sprouts in your serving bowl, and pour mixture on top. Mix well, making sure all are soaking up the marinade.
Spray grill pan or heavy foil with nonstick cooking spray. Add sprouts, leaving the extra liquid in the serving bowl. Place on preheated grill. Grill for 20–25 minutes, stirring or flipping have way through. Feel free to taste one to test for doneness.
Remove from the grill and place back into serving dish, mixing with remaining liquid. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with balsamic glaze, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
TORTELLINI TANTALIZING SOUP
Simple and flavorful soup with tortellini, turkey sausage and spinach, creating a balanced meal in a bowl! The adobe pepper adds tasty kick that all comes together in about 30 minutes.
1 pound turkey sausage, casings removed, chopped (substitute veggie sausage or a lean meat-based one, if desired)
1/4 cup chopped onion
3–4 garlic cloves, minced (or 3 tablespoons if using pre-minced)
1 Tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (save the rest of the can in a container in the fridge — always a yummy, kickin’ addition)
48 ounces chicken broth (or 1 1/2 boxes), low sodium
3/4 cup evaporated nonfat milk (substitute non-dairy, if desired)
1 teaspoon of dried basil + 3 Tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
1 10-oz package fresh tortellini
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
Optional topping: Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Place a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook about 8 minutes, or until browned. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until onion is slightly browned.
Add chipotle pepper to mixture, incorporating into the sausage, onion and garlic.
Add chicken stock, evaporated milk and dried basil. Bring to a simmer and add tortellini. Cook for 5–10 minutes or until tortellini is tender and floats to the top.
Remove from heat and stir in the spinach. Let spinach wilt. Ladle into 4 soup bowls. Top with a sprinkle of fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 4 servings. Serve with a side salad or other non-starchy veggies, like the BBQ Brussels.
TURKEY LONDON BROIL
This could be made on the grill (suggested method) or roasted in the oven. The key is to let it marinate overnight if possible. Either way, baste frequently to maximize flavor while cooking. If roasting, place oven on 375˚F.
2–3 pound turkey London broil
1/2 cup soy sauce, low sodium
2 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves or 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Optional garnish: scallions, chopped
Whisk together soy sauce, ginger, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place turkey into a large resealable bag. Pour 1/4 cup marinade and set aside, to save for basting. Pour the rest of the marinade into bag, seal and lightly shake. Place bag in the refrigerator overnight or at least one hour, lightly shaking to spread marinade often.
When ready to cook, preheat grill (or oven) to medium high. Place turkey on grill and cook for about 40–50 minutes, basting often with saved marinade.
Remove from the turkey from the grill when cooked through (at 165˚F, if using meat thermometer), and keep lightly covered to rest for about 15 minutes. Slice across the grain and place on a platter. Garnish with scallions, if desired. Makes 8–10 servings.
🍏🍏Tips to finding YOUR healthy eating path🍏🍏
- Be realistic with your goals by setting mini-goals. Start with one small change. When you feel you are there, add more to that specific goal or another altogether.
- Logging your food and your feelings helps you become more aware of your choices, your whys, whens, etc.
- Find the right support for you. It might be letting family and friends know of your adventure to healthier living, or maybe seek professional support - you should feel that you are not alone.
☮️Peace out!! Happy Spring!! Happy New Beginnings!!!
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