the sweet seduction of half-off Valentine’s day candy

Any self-respecting sugar addict (like myself) loves the day after a major holiday. It’s not just trinkets and cards and useless gifts imprinted with holiday logos that go on sale. It’s the candy too. It’s cheap, and if you get in early, the getting is good.

I’m going to tell you a little story. I used to have the market cornered on half-off post-holiday candy. Not only do I love sugar, but I also love a sale, so I was pretty much blissed out when I’d score a bag of conversation hearts for $.50 or a box of Russel Stover chocolates for 2 bucks. Guess how long my low-cost loot usually lasted me? If you said anything over an hour or two you seriously underestimate the power of my sugar addiction!

It didn’t dawn on me that this was abnormal or even potentially harmful (to my health) behavior until 2004. I guess you could say I was growing up. On February 28th, 2004 I did something totally obscene: I vowed to give up all candy for Lent (PS: I”m not even Catholic, I just liked the idea of the challenge). Maybe I was coming down from my post V-day candy bender and realized that if I didn’t count the candy corn and tropical fruit skittles, my diet was a little shy I the veggies. Maybe I was just sick of shamelessly throwing away the empty cellophane reminants of a pound of licorice that was consumed in the time it took to watch a re-run of “Beverly Hills 90210”.

I can tell you exactly what made that day the last day I ever had a piece of candy, but it was. I entered my Lenten fast still digesting the belly full of gummy candied orange slices, mind you, and that was my proverbial last candy meal.

Whenever I see the post-holiday sales for candy, I still think about buying a bag. The lizard brain in me, still hard-wired to love, love, love all things sugary and sweet, still responds. Sometimes I even go look at it. Seriously. I know it’s lame, but there is at times a feeling of loss. Candy was my righ-hand-man for most of my life. It was the little joy that I could pop in my mouth when I was angry, bored, happy, bored, frustrated, bored, lonely, busy, bored… get the idea!

I guess I’m writing this in part to share a little more of myself with you, but also to offer hope to those of who I might have rubbed elbows with in the discount candy aisle. If you are still in the throws of the candy addiction (or whatever sugar addiction), I feel for you in a big way, and I am your compadre. I understand that sometimes you just need to eat a giant box of Mike and Ike’s to get through your afternoon. I hear you. I love you. I am you, just another version.

Maybe this year will be the year that you decide ‘enough is enough’ and you release the grip the white stuff has on you, in one way or another. I can’t say that candy was it for me. I’m still a work in progress (currently working on releasing artificially sweetened beverages like Coke Zero and sweetened bubbly water), but I keep focusing on “progress” as the operative word.

PS: for those who are wondering – dark chocolate does NOT count as candy to me. It was never my addiction. I like it, but can’t mow through a bar of dark chocolate like I can the pure sugar based candy. I was probably the only kid who eagerly traded her Halloween Snicker’s bars and Reeses for a Dum-Dum lollipop or a pack of Smarties. Oh, and no matter how many years go by, I can still recall the taste of every one of my favorite candies. Lizard brain….lizard brain

Don’t be a hater…not even to sugar and ESPECIALLY not to yourself….

Recently there has been talk of the devil.  The sugar-devil, that is.  First, Dr. Lustig out of San Francisco, created this video expounding all the evils of the white stuff (and even the not-so white stuff that is still sugar, like honey and agave).

It’s quite a long video, but worth a watch.  He’s a dynamic speaker and very passionate about his work. I’ve chatted with him at a meeting in SF once, and I have to say, I agree with a lot of what he advocates for.

In full rebuttle fashion, a recent article by Dr. David Katz, came out cautioning us to see sugar as public enemy #1.  I too agree with him.

But here’s the approachI don’ t see taken enough in the debate about food and diet: The personal experience and personal responsibility around eating.  I have worked with enough people (in addition to my own sugar journey) to know that demonizing a food, calling for taxes, policies, and political action, does not usually do a damn thing to stop individual behavior.  Think about it:  does knowing that sugar contains calories, can cause you to feel a drop in mood, can contribute to diabetes and heart disease and obesity really stop you from eating it when those strong, deep rooted cravings are activated?

I don’t think it does.  What I think stops you (if you abstain) is a  commitment to something greater and stronger than the call for the sweet stuff.  The power isn’t in the knowledge about sugar facts, it’s in your own experiential knowledge of what you want for yourself – how you want to feel, what you want to look like, what all the benefits of NOT eating sugar are.  And that power has the ability to help you navigate life in a far-greater way than just knowing a bunch of facts about foods and using black-and-white classifications of them.

And then there’s the self-esteem issue.  When we demonize a food, and then we consume it, what does that do to our sense of self? Nothing good, I can tell you that.  When I eat something that I think is ‘bad’, I feel bad.  Feeling bad does not inspire me to do good.  It motivates me to keep feeling shameful, eating in secrecy, living in denial or feeling a push-pull battle with the thing that I’m trying to resist.

This is NOT helpful.  No matter what taxes or bans we put on food, if people are compelled to eat them, they will – especially if they are in the middle- to upper-class income bracket and can afford the extra cost.  We still need to couple policy change with tools of self-awareness and self-esteem building.  We need to rally around the idea that each of us has the innate knowledge to know what is truly best for us, and to make food choices from that place.  This is NOT easy to teach, by any means.  It’s a slow process requiring patience and the undoing of a lot of really convoluted knots that come from mix-messages about food, family, culture, and self.

But, I’m up for the challenge…are you?

Can you take on the personal responsibility of your own food choices and advocating for policy that includes some attention to looking at the inner-drive to consume sugar-filled treats?  Can we promote programs that address behavior change instead of blaming sugar for being what it is?

IF you eat sugar, you are not evil.  Sugar itself is not evil.  It is only as powerful in our lives as we let it be.

Okay, off the soapbox for the day.

Are we expecting too much from our gum?

The expectations on gum to perform have really gotten out of hand.

In my opinion, it all started back in 1985 with commercials like the one below for the Doublemint Twins that were selling sexual energy….err, I mean Doublemint gum.


Really? Did any of you ever have the experience of meeting two super gorgeous, super gregarious twin and having an amazing moment of chemistry when you popped this gum in your mouth? Yeah, me either.
Things haven’t gotten any better. Today when I was buying gas, I saw a gum on the counter that I’d never seen before from Extra. It was Key Lime Gum, part of their Dessert Delights lime. Don’t like key lime? No problem, there’s an apple pie option, an orange creme option and don’t forget mint chip. Something for everybody, sugar-free of course.

While some many think of gum as a healthier alternative to actually consuming the real food you desire, I think the exact opposite. To me, chewing gum to get a dessert fix would be like going to a strip club expecting to find love. It’s going to leave you terribly unsatisfied and still wanting the real thing. Between the promise of whisking you away to a refreshing oasis, to preventing your headaches, to offering you vitality, it’s just too much for one 1/2″ of gum to do.

The other issue I have with gum is that it perpetuates the expectation that we should constantly be having complex taste experiences in our mouth at all times. As it is our culture is so biased toward flavor and sweet, we come to expect those flavors in our meals, beverages, toothpastes, breath mints and of course gum. The Trident “layers” gum is an example of that: 3 layers of flavor, all of this overtly or subtly sweet. We just don’t need it. What is it doing to our brains to know we can get a quick rush of flavor like that whenever we want? Won’t it keep us wanting for more (and possibly the really thing, like that piece of apple pie).

Maybe I’m just biased because I haven’t chewed gum since 2005. Yep, I’m “gum abstinent”. It had to happen. I was chewing gum like a fiend, hoping it would quell the craving for what I really wanted, which was an endless supply of donuts and ice cream. I kept hoping for the promise of satisfaction, but got farther and farther from it. I was up to a pack a day of sugarless gum. I chewed it pretty much non-stop and never ONCE did it stop me from eating or tasting the foods I really wanted when they were available to me. If anything, it just primed me to expect flavor and a mouthful of bliss on a constant basis.

What helped me kick the habit? Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It’s a form of energy therapy that involves using affirmation statements and tapping on various accupressure points. For me, it was amazing, but I was also really ready to change.

So maybe I’m challenging you to look at why you chew gum, especially if you are a chronic chewer. Gum chewers don’t actually consume less calories than non chewers, and some of us experienced digestive issues and jaw discomfort from the hours and hours of chew, chew, chew. What about you? Is gum a security item for you? Do you feel like you can’t go into a meeting, a long car ride, or just go through the day without your little fix? Does it perpetuate your expectation for flavor experiences during the day, especially those that involve sweet?
I think it’s time to bring a bit of this spotlight to this tiny treat. It may be playing a bigger role in your carb cravings, food addictions, and unhealthy habits that you’ve given credit to.
Don’t underestimate the power of the gum. They don’t make all those flavors and spend all that money on marketing for nothing!

A surprising lesson from goose liver

Ever heard of TED? TED is this amazing compilation of though leaders on every subject from art to food to education.
Yesterday my brother-in-law B., who is a classically trained chef, sent me this link about lessons learned about food preparation from goose liver. As a guy who was trained that all things great come from the fats of animals, I appreciate that he has a much more ecological and dare I say even spiritual approach to food than his training provided.

I think there is a lot to learn from this 20-minute video that can apply to more than just fois gras. For instance, the same laws of nature apply to us as to the geese. When we ‘force feed’ ourselves the quality of our physical and emotional bodies is nothing close to what organically happens when we allow nature to be our guide. WE are more collaborative, connected, heartfelt, healthy, dynamic, and vibrant when we follow the wisdom of our bodies and nature.

As somebody who has spend a lot of time and money studying nutrition, I’ve always been incredibly disappointed in how little attention is paid to the personal experience of eating and relating with food. So much emphasis is put on the importance of ‘experts’ to teach you and I and everybody what we should eat, when we should eat it, and why. Isn’t it a bit ironic that one of the most basic tasks of survival, like eating, is so complex and confusing for so many people? We’re really pushed the nature right out of the whole process, from production to consumption. This is why people are so confused as to what to eat for healthy living. We’re taught to get so caught up in the external fascination with calories, fiber content, vitamins, etc that we forgo the synergistic benefits of treating ourselves as though we are part of the food system and therefore eating in relationships with it.

This video was a beautiful metaphor of how simple the solutions to our food experiences can be. Each of us, like the geese in the segment, have innate wisdom, that when cultivated, can guide us to answers about our own bodies and our own food needs. How can we practice listening more to them, and less to ‘experts’? Do you trust your inner wisdom? Can you tell the difference between a food experience that is born out of innate knowing and trust and one born out of fear or stress or feeling like you ‘should’ do something because somebody told you so?

Don’t get me wrong: there is a time and a place for expert knowledge. But that time and place should be used to compliment the efforts directed to learning about our own intrinsic awareness of our needs. Your body, your DNA, and your cells are very wise. You wouldn’t be here today if your genes hadn’t give you something very powerful to help you survive generation after generation and navigate the complexities of life. It’s true that our modern world changes quickly, but perhaps the answers to the food questions which arise as a result of modernization are really quite simple, just as they were for the geese.

What do you think?

Meal memories in Iceland

By the way, this post has nothing to do with the holidays. Happy? Me too, I need a break. In fact, this post goes all the way back to March of this year when Matt and I hopped on a plane and traveled to beautiful, amazing Iceland.

Eating in foreign places (or just even new restaurants) is part of Matt and my ‘love language’ – you know, the way you show affection for one another. There is something magical about experience a new flavor or texture sensation with somebody you care about. For this reason we really enjoy staying in apartments where we can cook. Is that crazy? To want to cook on vacation? Maybe so, but it’s my favorite thing to do!

Take for instance, this lovely meal below. We perused the Sunday open air market in Reyjkavik to pick up fresh Icelandic Char (like Salmon), potatoes and green veggies. Look what we created! Icelandic food is naturally high in omega-3 fats (cold water fish), green veggies (kale, chard, collard type veggies grow really well), and their bread is dense and wheat-free. I LOVE IT!! Even their signature dessert, skyr with blueberries, is low fat, high protein and very low in sugar.

atlantic chard, kale, veggies and fingerling potatoes in Reykjavik

Cooking in another country makes me feel more connected with the culture. Sure, I like restaurants too, but I feel this bond with people when I can actually do what they do, eat what they eat, and know what is available on a day to day basis. This probably explains why I have so many pictures of grocery stores when I travel!

how nice, pictures for foreigners

PS: we passed on the horse meat, but did try plenty of other exotic foods, such as smoked whale meat. Yes, I did say whale. Sorry. They eat whale in Iceland, along with the bird Puffin like it’s chicken. I’m sure the makers of Puffin Cereal would be very disappointed, but I’m not making this up. See, here is a menu to prove it!

Something that I’ve learned about myself through the years is that the way I experience a meal has a tremendous impact on how I see the food on the plate, how it digests, and how I either support or sabotage my efforts to avoid emotional eating. I can have a smorgesbord in front of me and if I’m in a place of gratitude, love and appreciate for the opportunity to savor the food and the experience, I can eat in peace. If I’m in a bad mood, if I’m looking to eat as a way to cope with stress, or anything like that it won’t matter WHAT I eat, I will feel badly about it. Traveling and observing how I relate with food when I see it as a cultural experience was one of my first clues as to the fact that eating behavior can have very different meanings depending on what attitude I bring to the table, so to speak.

I’d love to hear from you about what you love to do when you travel and experience food and eating in different cultures. Do you also notice a difference in the way you see food (especially dessert for me!) when you travel versus when you are at home? Oh, please tell me I’m not alone in this 😉

I will leave you with a little enigma here. The flip side of food experiences in new cultures is the mystery food. For instance, what the heck is in the picture below? We never really did figure it out,but it was going like hotcakes at the Sunday market. Hmm…..some foods are better experienced through the camera than the taste buds 🙂

It's a lasagna? It's a shrimp cocktail? It's dessert...umm...what is it?

A healthy girl’s guide to over-eating this Thanksgiving holiday…….

Pop quiz: What causes people to eat more than they anticipated on Thanksgiving:
a. Boredom “hmm…..I’ve been sitting were watching football with the fam all day…so I might as well dip into these chips and salsa sitting in front of me..”
b. Stress “OMG, two full days with the in-laws AND their yappy little poodle and I have no exit strategy…..where is the Pumpkin pie???”
c. Sheer volume of food in front of you “….hmm, of the 50 platters of food on the table, which 10 am I going to eat? Is that too much??”
d. Mouth-gasms from tasty eats “…I know my stomach is about to pop but mom’s stuffing is SOOOOO good……who can stop eating when it’s this good?
e. Mindless eating “…hey, did we really eat a whole wheel of brie and a box of crackers while catching up and chatting…oops!”

But, fear not. It doesn’t have to be that way! If you really want to, you can escape this Thanksgiving day without the extra helping of guilt, regret, heartburn and having to undo the belt a knotch.

First of all: Don’t panic. I’ve noticed after coaching a lot of intelligent, motivated, confident women that there is a lot of anxiety about expecting the holiday to be a day of total gluttony. It’s as if we feel totally powerless to the onslaught of food that is about to befall us. You DO have power, you just need to realize this. Nobody is forcing you to eat and if you simply employ a few mindful strategies, you can wake up on November 25th feeling pretty good (which, by the way, sets you up for more mindful, balanced eating for the rest of the weekend!).

Here’s what I learned over the years from books, from myself, and from amazing people like YOU who have contributed to this over-eating guide for the holidays (or rather how to NOT over-eat if you don’t want to) this holiday season.

Okay, strategy #1: Don’t panic. Now I’ve said it twice. Thanksgiving is ONE Day. It’s what we do habitually that contributes to our outcome (weight, mindset, health) rather than the occasional holiday meal. So keep it in perspective. It is not a free pass to excess eating between tomorrow and Christmas unless you allow it to be. It’s one day. You can do this and it’s okay to enjoy it, by the way!

Strategy #2: Go in with a plan. I love coaching women on devising their holiday meal plan. What do you really love to eat at the holiday that is special, delicious, and you wouldn’t want to pass up? Is it stuffing? Great? Put some on your plate and don’t feel guilty. Is it pie? Fine! Save room in your belly for dessert. Look at the whole day – there is likely some foods that are no big deal to you (like, say, the chips and salsa appetizer). Skip on those foods and plan to enjoy the foods you want.

Strategy #3: use a plate. What? No, I’m not trying to insult you by implying that you eat like barbarians, but when it comes to mindless, grazing food behaviors usually plates and utensils are cast to the wayside. If you are going to ‘graze’, treat it like a meal. Small bite calories add up just as much as big bite/portion calories do too. Stop fooling yourself! Be willing to commit to the eating experience but engaging in use of flatware. You’ll potentially put less on your plate and you’ll have a visible sign (empty plate) that tells you it’s time to stop.

Strategy #4: Position yourself strategically away from the tempting foods. This may not apply so much when you sit down to eat dinner, but a lot of people eat much more before and after the formal ‘meal’ when they are just hanging out, watching football, visiting with friends, etc. Literally don’t sit next to the food you can’t stop eating. Get yourself out of arm’s reach so you don’t hear the whisper of those Swedish meatballs or cheese cubes or whatever food calls you. If you aren’t hungry, don’t even get out a plate. Sit and talk and watch and take in the day for what it is! Also, maybe even consider sitting with your back to the food or putting the food away when the meal is over so that temptations are minimized.

Strategy #5: Move yo’ body! Play Wii with your pre-teen nieces and nephews (or kids…or heck, your adult friends too). Offer to take fluffy for a walk, do a Pilates video in your room (you brought your Smartphone, right? Load one up!). There are so many ways to move without going to the gym, you don’t need to find one that works for you. As they say….Just do it! It’s not so much for the calorie burning (which is good) as it is for the mental sanity and confidence it will bring you that you uphold standards of health and wellness, even on holidays.

Strategy #6; Eat a protein-rich breakfast. Nothing too heavy here, but don’t start the day with cinnamon rolls. You’ll get plenty of sugar later, right? Eat some eggs, some turkey sausage, some yogurt, or some high protein cereal. Maybe even squeeze in a vegetable (veggie omelet?). Even cereal with fat-free milk might be too much carb, but at least there is some protein in the milk. This may help you feel fuller faster later in the day and it will help kick start your metabolism.

Strategy #7: umm…ever heard of WATER? People forget to drink water at holidays. What with all the soda, sparkling juices, beer, wine, liquor, Egg nog, hot totties….you get the idea. You need water. If you are inside a hot, stuffy kitchen wrangling a 25-lb turkey, you better darn well drink some water to avoid getting even minorly dehydrated. Water is the elixer of life!! It is also the currency of your metabolic processes, so drink up to your digestive health!

Strategy #8: For goodness sake, be GRATEFUL! Is it a cliche to be reminded of this over and over again? Maybe, but it’s true. Be grateful for your body and how it can tell you when you are doing things it likes, and doing things it doesn’t like. PS: it doesn’t like being over stuffed to the point of oblivion. It’s trying to tell you that, so maybe you can make an attempt at listening today. Partner with your body on Thanksgiving morning and make an agreement that it will give you some liberties to enjoy an indulgent meal, but you’ll do your part not to expect digestive or caloric miracles by keeping a balance to things. YOu’ll know that the agreement worked when you go to bed feeling good, nourished, content, and you didn’t even need to open the medicine cabinet for some help.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. 🙂

Energy is Everything – a post from a guest Blogger

Hi all,

this next post is a bit of a deviation from the norm here at Offwhiteliving.  Recently a writer, Melanie Bowen, contacted me about writing a blog post.  Her focus is on energy healing and cancer, but I think the concepts she discusses could really apply to healing any part of your life or any disease.  Something I don’t discuss much here is that I used to work quite a bit in the realm of energy work including mindfulness techniques, yoga, Reiki, EFT, etc.  I have found them profoundly useful in dealing with food issues, I just haven’t focused on that yet here at Off White Living…perhaps this is time to turn a new leaf and incorporate more of that!

Anyway, enjoy the post below from Melanie and you can email her at:

Energy Healing: Integrative Cancer Care For The Whole Person


Integrative cancer care is care for the whole person — body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Blending holistic medicine with standard medicine, integrative care is sometimes known as alternative medicine, complementary medicine, holistic healing, or adjunctive care.

Realizing the importance of treating the whole person, many modern cancer treatment centers provide integrative care programs for cancer patients and their families and caregivers. Integrative care teams consist of oncologists, other health professionals, and licensed holistic practitioners. Not only are they trained in safe, effective complementary care practices, but they are also experienced and knowledgeable about conventional medical treatments.

Integrative care centers, therapists, and practitioners provide a number of healing therapies during and after cancer treatment. In addition to promoting biologic therapies and natural medicine, they offer patients a range of other therapy choices, including the energy therapies.

Energy therapies focus on internal and external energy fields – bio-fields originating within the body, and outside sources like electromagnetic fields. Modern energy therapies often blend Eastern and Western concepts of energy to promote balance and healing but are used all over the world. EFT can become widely recognized as one of the leading alternative in the UK and Europe as well as having the ability to be substantially recognition in the USA. Helping patients activate the body’s own natural healing powers is the ultimate goal of energy therapy.

Yoga and acupuncture are probably the most popular energy therapies. But more and more cancer patients are turning to healing touch, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and intuitive bodywork for their cancer care plans. While these therapies are not meant to replace conventional medicine, they are good complements to standard medical practices.

Clinical research has shown EFT, intuitive bodywork, healing touch, and other energy therapies to be beneficial for cancer patients. They improve post-surgery healing and recovery, while reducing the need for pain medication. Symptoms resulting from aggressive cancer therapy, like chemotherapy and radiation treatments, generally reduce with energy therapies.

Energy healing is known to decrease stress and promote relaxation, which boosts the body’s own healing power. Therapeutic touch and EFT tapping may even improve clinical outcomes and cancer survival rates. One study, for example, showed that energy therapies like yoga improved the quality of life for breast cancer patients and increased their survival rates. But even patients whose prognoses are slim (such as those with rare aggressive disease mesothelioma) can reap the quality-of-life benefits of energy therapy.

Contemporary energy healing stems from ancient energy and spiritual concepts — concepts that go beyond the scope of clinical research and modern healing practices. Holistic treatment centers directories like the Federation of Holistic Therapies understand that cancer treatment involves more than just physical healing. As a result, they provide a useful tool to search practitioners that use integrative programs to represent a wide spectrum of contemporary traditions and well-rounded beliefs. They recognize that, for some people touched by cancer, energy healing can enhance patient health and quality of life through therapies that heal the body, mind, and spirit.

Energy therapy, and other integrative care, is primarily an outpatient program. However, it is sometimes used in inpatient cancer care. A physician or nurse referral is preferred, but typically not required, by holistic practitioners. Many practitioners provide home-based palliative care for patients struggling with end-of-life challenges, such as those facing a bleak prognosis for pancreatic cancer or a short mesothelioma life expectancy. Complementary care therapies are also helpful for family members and caregivers — people who experience cancer treatment in a unique way alongside their loved-ones. Check out the Institute for Complimentary and Natural Medicine for more information on the regulations and recognitions of holistic therapies.


Mouth Watering Madness in the Mission

Last weekend Matt took me to SF for the day to celebrate by birthday (belated).  His gift to me was a walking and tasting tour of the Mission district of SF and then a stop at La Cocina for a Latin fusion cooking class with a group called “Parties that Cook”.

First stop: Mission Minis for some itty-bitty cupcakes.  This guy is known for the “$1 mini cupcakes).  A portion controlled treat to start the tour – love it!  I had the honey lavender and Matt had coconut

Magical cupcakes from Mission Minis

The next stop was my fav: Mr. Pollos. This place has been on TV! …but that’s not why I liked it.  It was because they cook from scratch daily with whatever inspires them at the daily farmer’s market AND they are growing their own peppers and spices to become an authentic Venezuelan restaurant.  It’s a tiny eat-in restaurant but I think you can do take-out and I hear that lunch isn’t as crazy busy as dinner.

the day's bounty at farmer's market

But really why I loved it is because of the cormeal empanadas. Flour-free and FANTSTIC!!

carnitas empanada with a garilc green sauce

Next Stop: Humphry Slocombe Ice cream
Why two desserts before the main lunch?  I have no idea but I was beginning to like the way this tourguide thought.  Yes!  It was a beautiful warm October day in the city, so why not have ice cream, right?

This is me dying and going to heaven with their salted licorice flavor:

me and my new love, Salted Licorice Ice Cream

One more stop at a really famous-but the name escapes me tortilla shop and we were off to cook.

The menu:  Fish tacos with chipolte crema, smoked chicken quesadilla with tomatillo salsa, and two other things I can’t recall the names of.  One was an appetizer: pork carnitas cups with lime and avocado  and the other was this magical corn cake lightly fried and topped with jalapeno jelly.   I was so sad that I wasn’t really hungry anymore by the time we made these dishes because I would have absolutely feasted they were so good.  But don’t worry, I got my fill.

warming tortillas for fish tacos

Our feast!


Thanks to my husband for a fantastic, delicious and memorable birthday present!

Enchilada pie, oh my

Let me paint a picture for you.  Last night I was working out with the UC Davis Judo club until 10:30pm.  This was after the day that would not end, except for a 1 hour reprieve with my friend D. at the bar of Bistro 33 before Judo (yes, I think a glass of wine helped me be very limber as some 20 yr old practice chokes on me!).

So you could say that when I woke this morning I was not in a mood to whip up something for lunch.  So I marched myself to the Nugget this morning to sweet what $3 could buy me.  I wasn’t expecting much.  A Lean Cuisine maybe?  An Amy’s Frozen Entree?  No way, too pricey!

And then I saw it:  it was like the perfect fusion of a lasagna and an enchilada.  It had real food ingredients and it didn’t look fried or slathered in some kind of weird sauce.  It was Enchilada Pie from Cedar Lane.

Enchilada Pie and a bottle of Aleve on the check out counter and I was ready to begin my crazy day.  I wasn’t expecting much because, let’s face it, frozen entree’s are usually all talk and no walk.

However, at 12pm when I waited patiently at the microwave for my little enchilada to perkolate, I was happily greeted with a warm, delicious scent that actually smelled like….real food!

3.5 minutes late I was taking my first bite with my Potato ware disposable fork (high brow, yes?) and a cup of hot tea.  Boy was I hungry!  And I have to say that this little dish really did the trick.  With 210 Kcal/ serving (2 servings), I did not feel the least bit guilty eating the whole 11 oz of this dish.  It also served me with 26g of protein, 7g of fiber, and 50% of my daily calcium needs.  Fantastic!  And it was gluten-free to boot!

For those local residents, these tasty little entree’s are on sale at Nugget right now for $2.99.  Well worth it.
TO see more of what Cedar Lane has to offer, go here.  I will definitely buy these again for those crazy busy days.

Feeding the wolf

A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I first heard this  amazing legend from a dear friend and mentor, Britt Bensen-Steele.

Recently, because of some inner struggles my husband and I have (Grad school will do that to you), this story resurfaced in my life and seemed more relevant than ever.  I was particularly taken with how this story can pertain to emotional eating.

Just like in the story, my experience with emotional eating stems from something Ekhart Tolle refers to as the “pain body” (aka the negative wolf).  For some reason that wolf sometimes seems easier to feed.  Pain can be very seductive especially when it is wrapped in a package that looks like “I am a victim” or “why does this happen to me” or “I will never be good enough”.  Eating emotionally is a way that I’ve often fed that wolf.  It reinforces the pain because it gives me a momentary reprieve and a lasting shame.  It never satisfies anything but to fuel the fire of that voice saying “see, you messed up again”.

On the other hand, when I can pause, be mindful, and shift into the role of the observer I can see that there is no feeling and no situation that will be solved with food (or any other substance).  This is like feeding the positive wolf.  When I am gentle with myself, when I stay calm, when I reach out to give and receive love, I find serenity and trigger foods just don’t have the same allure.

When I am caught up and find myself longing for excess sugar I can stop myself and say ‘hey, what is going on here?”.  I don’t have to just go into the food on autopilot like I used to.  I can catch myself feeding the negative wolf earlier on than I did in the past, but it does take work.

A long time ago I heard somebody tell me that training the mind to be ‘mindful’ and shift into the observer role is a lot like training a puppy.  It constantly goes off course, wandering and searching for stimulation.  The solution is not to blame or punish the puppy (the mind).  It is just doing what it inherently does.  The solution is to kindly, patiently, gently call it back to course and let go of the attachment, knowing that it will stray again in 5 minutes.

Maybe it’s age, but more than ever I’m so curious about my own mind and where my thoughts come from.  I’m doing a lot of work on looking at the origins of my emotional eating (which is just a manifestation of deep anxiety).  It’s  fascinating, I tell you.  I had no idea how much I’ve fed the negative wolf and starved the positive wolf.  The greatest gift in this exploration has been in realizing that the deep, dark places I’ve been afraid of aren’t so dark at all.  Almost like the negative wolf’s bark has always been bigger than his bite but I was under an illusion.  So, for me, the positive wolf might have a softer voice but dang is she STRONG!!