overcoming fear without food

“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?”  Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask my permission.”  Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In this way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.”

Pema Chodron in “When Things Fall Apart”

This short parable sums up a lot for me about fear and how I’ve been dragged into battle with it and used food to overcome that battle.  Sometimes this is so subtle, and I  think it stared so very long ago that I can’t even remember the first time I ate to soothe an internal fear.

This also reminds me that I need to share with you what I learned at the food addiction syposium.  I’m going to post several times about what I learned because it touched me at many levels.

First, there is STRONG evidence that certain food substances (ie palatable foods, like sweets and high fat/high sugar foods) are addictive in certain individuals.  More on that later.

Philosophically this whole symposium really got down to the essence of addiction to me, which is fear.  Fear usually means a concern that something is going to be taken away, or taken out of our control.  We learn at a young age sometimes that food will soothe this very base emotion.  I’ve often heard that the opposite of love is fear.  Love is harminious and self-love is usually associated with good boundary setting, self-care, self respect and awareness.  It’s hard to feel a deep/strong self love and give into fear at the same time (in my experience).

I think culturally we too use food to mask our fears.  Commercials tell us to savor the flavor of some product and we’ll be sexy, wealthy, our celebrating with friends.  So we keep buying in (literally) and replacing our intrinsic coping mechanisms with this false promise.  They play to our fear of being alone or unwanted in a subtle way.  We feel food insecurities even when there are none, and we feel culturally entitled to having the same freedomes with food that we have with life – we should be able to have access to what we want, when we want.  But, what does that do to us?  It makes me personally reliant on that external substance (sugar) as my coping tool, as my reassurance that life is okay.   It means the voice of fear is larger than the voice of inner trust.  I can recall a moment of awareness when I moved to San Diego and, having  taken a job that paid 50% less than my previous job, I was obsessed with grocery shopping.  Groceries were my new form of abundance because I needed to feel that I was okay and life was okay even with less income.  It go worse when I started my own business (very shaky ground, in my mind) and my sugar addiction EXPLODED!

During the symposium, what was interesting is that the most successful “treatments” for food compuslions, binge eating or chronic overeating revolve around mindfulness, spirituality and attitude changes.  Not once did we talk about nutritional changes to get people to kick the habit.  Sure, nutrition is really important and cravings can be instigated by chemical imbalances perpetuated by poor nutrition.  I think that is 50% of the story, but not necessarily the most powerful, or the origin of the problem.

But I thought the juciest messages were in the power of our minds, or spirits and our need for community support to get us beyond the fear of letting go.  What would happen if you didn’t say ‘yes’ to that piece of cake, extra handful of chips, or large coffee drink?  I’ve seriously felt physical fear when imagining never having a certain food again (hot chocolate for me – that is my big attachment).  Physical fear, people.  Crazy.  It’s just a substance but I’ve projected onto it a false sense of security that I think gives me extra ‘power’ to deal with life’s demands.  But it doesn’t.  It creates more demands instead of less.  It distracts me but I’m caught up with the distraction because it’s familiar.

I was very excited and reaffirmed by the symposium because there are people in this world other than me who want to understand food behaviors and want to help others and themselves change for the better.  It’s certainly new frontier in the science world and that is exciting.  It’s also a new frontier when for most of us when we, for the very first time, dive into our inner landscape and have to tell that fear, to it’s face that we don’t have to listen to it.  Can you do it?

Would love to hear your ideas about fear and food.  Agree? Disagree?  Somewhere in the middle?  Do tell!!

the sweet truth

a really cool article I found that lays it out about sugar:

Click HERE to read on.

I have to say, the more I’m learning about fructose metabolism, the more I’m really questioning my consumption of honey and agave as substitutions for table sugar.  The fructose is really the culprit, which is HIGH is honey and agave.  More research is needed, I think, as there are isomers of fructose (isomer = same basic structure with different specific configurations), and that may impact digestion.

Naturally as I know more, you’ll know more gang.

Good note: if you use unrefined sweeteners, such as honey and agave, you need LESS overall and LESS calories from sugar is a good thing in general!

even better than the real thing

Sometimes Matt and I really strike gold in the kitchen.  We’ve been toying with some new ideas for holiday treats, and have wanted to experiment with a new pumpkin pie recipe.   Not that last year’s recipe with coconut milk was a problem, but I’ve made it so many times I’m kind of over it…. plus, I don’t think it had enough density for Matt.

Last Saturday night we really hit the jackpot.  I must give credit where credit is due…it was pretty much Matt’s concoction, which impressed me because he normally doesn’t like sweet potatoes, so his eagerness to use them instead of pumpkin puree was pretty cool. ……ahh, it’s the little things in a relationship, isn’t it?!

Here is the recipe:

Sweet Potato Almond butter pie

Low Sugar, high fiber, wheat free, milk optional:

Crust (adopted from Bob’s Redmill baking book):

1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
3 tbsp fine sugar (we used an evaporated cane juice)
1/4 tsp: salt, baking soda
4 tbsp butter, chilled and chopped into pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup almond or rice milk

Place all dry ingredients in food processor and pulse to blend.  Sprinkle butter over mixture.  Pulse until just mix. Stir and pulse until it looks like crumbs.  Pour into a bowl and add almond milk and mix until it just begins to clump together.  Roll the dough into a ball, flatten the ball, and cover with plastic.  Refrigerate for 30 min or so.

Meanwhile, the filling:

1 large sweet potato, baked and peeled
1 cup almond/rice/cow milk
1 egg + 2 yolks
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup unrefined sugar or molasses
1 tsp each: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger
1/8 tsp salt

Blend the pumpkin and milk in a blender or food processor.  Whisk eggs and add to pumpkin/milk combo.   Add almond butter and whisk.  Add sugar and spices and salt.  Whisk until smooth (it’s a lot of whisking, really).  Set aside

Once chilled, pull out dough and roll so that it makes a square or circle (we used a square dish) large enough to be a pie crust.  It ends up being kind of thick and dense once cooked, just so you know.  Grease a pie tin, and add the rolled dough.

Pour filling and pinch edges of dough.

Bake uncovered for 40-50 min at 350.   SOOO good!





A juice story

Summer is just perfect for making juices of all shapes, sizes and varieties.  True, you need a juicer (or a friend with a juicer who is willing to share their time and appliance), but the investment is worth it.

My trusty juicer is simply a Jack LaLaine juicer, circa 1995.  Lucky for us, a client gifted this apparatus because they didn’t use it and we got it just in the nick of time before it mades it’s way to the goodwill.  I bet that a little time on Ebay, Craigslist or even Freecycle (www.freecycle.com – look for your town) will give you some low cost options for juicers.

Once you have a juicer, there is no stopping you.  Juicing can add the vitamins and ‘phytonutritents (translatet = plant chemical that are so vital for our health and can’t be duplicated in a lab, despite tremendous efforts), and help build your taste buds for the bitter greens, like kale.

Also, like we demo in this video, juicing those excess veggies and fruits from the garden helps you minimize waste.   Juices in grocery stores are spendy, and you can easily pay $3-$4/12 oz juice whereas the yield in this video was OVER 32 OUNCES of juice!!  That’s like having $8-$12 right in your pocket!

Aside from the juice demoed, which is a great beginner juice or a way  to ween off of pure fruit juice, here is another option:

Rebecca’s off-white juice of the week:

Green based juices help curb sugar cravings, ehnance skin health, and contribute to optimal digestion.  I’m interested in thiem this week because of all the not-so-ideal eating I’ve done inthe past two weeks: tortilla chips 3 days last week, a sandwich on wheat yesterday (with cheese, gulp), and even a diet soda.  Not like these foods are criminal, but if you have a wheat and dairy sensitivity and are an O blood-type (shouldn’t eat toto much corn, if that is even possible in our modern food culture), then your body needs a break.

You can think of this juice recipe like the V-8 commercials in the 90’s: the guy walks into the office sideways because he’s off balance, and all he needs is his v-8 to get back to health.

Move over V-8, there’s a new recipe in town:

1/2 bunch parsley
5 carrots
1 bunch kale
2 green apples
2 large cucumbers

This juice yieled about 48 oz because the cucumbers were HUGE and naturally very watery.

I’ll drink 6 oz 2-3x/day until it is gone, keeping the juice for no more than 2 days.  If my stove worked (replaced on Friday, thank GOODNESS), I’d make pulp muffins but since it’s not that pulp is headed to my AM frittatas or to my AM smoothie, which ever i choose.

Finding your personal balance

Between all the books I read about healthy eating and the work I do with my clients, it’s no wonder that we, as a culture, are really confused about what to eat and when.

The biggest shifts and insights began for me when I slowly realized that even all the research in the world couldn’t really tell me what to eat. In fact, so much new research indicates that because our physiology an genetic make up is so unique, it would be darn hard to say what the exact perfect diet is.

For me, lately, I’ve been doing great by eating 3 full meals a day, with no snacks in between. My trick is making certain those meals really count and are very nutritious. I must have at least 1 full serving of protein per meal, and do best when I eat 2-3 grains/day MAX and 2-3 fruits/day as well.
This approach is different than the advice I might give a client or a friend, because to eat 3 meals or 5 meals/day is a truly individualized decision based on what your needs and energy levels are.

My motivations for 3 meals? Basically I learned about myself that snacking is where I get into trouble with portions and unhealthy choices. My taste buds might begin with a craving for fruit and a few almonds or a hard boiled egg, but then I start grazing and pretty soon I’ve basically had a meal. So for me, the idea of 3 meals and 2 snacks was really translating as having 5 meals!! Hmm…. not so good for the waistline or for the mental wellbeing, especiallly when I didn’t really need all those calories.

Do I make exceptions? You bet! If I’m hiking, didn’t get a solid meal for whatever reason (travel, with others, out and about and didn’t have time…), I will have a snack, but my snacks are pretty consistently the same: veggies/hummus, a protein shake, a piece of fruit, a small portioned bag of trail mix or an energy bar, and I really watch how I’m feeling before I make my choice.

This is where the coaching concepts can come in handy to determine your personal balance. Ask yourself the questions:
1. Why am I eating in the pattern that I’m currently in?
2. Do I like the results I’m getting from this patten? IF no, what don’t I like? If yes, do I need to tweak further?
3. How does my current meal plan support the need for fruits/veggies/whole grains/lean proteins?
4. What am I willing to change today and give a try?

#4 was a big eye opener for me personally. I used to be very afraid of eating only 3 meals, as if I would starve in between! Well the reason I felt this way was because I hadn’t been planning nutritionally for those 3 meals, so I was eating too little to sustain me until the next meal. If I’m eating 3 meals a day, my meals must be about 500-600 Kcal/meal at least to get me to my baseline (according to my latest dip into the BodPod at UC Davis to measure my caloric needs and body composition). That amount seemed too high, but yet it is what I need to be satisfied until the next meal time.

So many women I know under eat when it counts (like at mealtimes) and over eat to compensate for hunger, emotions, etc. They are afraid of 100 Kcal of high quality Salad dressing, but will binge of junk or eat 100 Kcal snack bags, which are only going to make them hungrier. There is just WAY too much evidence that refined foods mess with our metabolism and our blood sugar (and hence our cravings and weight) to go that route and expect a health outcome.

So gang, if you want a different result from your nutrition program, I recommend asking yourself those 4 questions and really being honest about what you need for a balance in your life. It’s about progress and not perfection. What can you sanely sustain for the LONG HAUL….which sometimes means making one tiny but surmountable change at a time.

PS: I still have my guilty pleasures and I do drink a rice/almond based drink MOST days, between meals. Sometimes I splurge and drink a coffee drink w/decaf coffee. For me this is part of my mental balance and keeps me away from the other sweets that I simply CAN’T control 🙂

music to my ears

(BTW: this pic has nothing to do with my post, but I just loved the colors- music to my eyes, perhaps)

Hey all,

Sometimes the sound of my own voice in my head is the music I need to hear.  Man, is that self-talk powerful stuff!!  Its been an amazing (read: hard as hell) week, with so much insight, cooking, and personal growth.  I’ve been looking at the power of my inner voice, especially as it plays into food and my relationship to choosing foods and why i choose them.  Matt’s transition to Davis really pulled the carpet out from underneath me.  My M.O. is totally to go into a  victim mentality, or a fear of “what is next”, and then put my self-care on hold.  Because I am prone to anxiety, I find myself wanting to back to my reliable tool of food (read: sugar) to calm the anxiety and mask  the feelings.  
This time around I’m a little more aware of that and have had lots of growth opportunities and ways to express myself instead of  going into the food, or staying in the food when I dabble in the white stuff (because I do – hey, I’m human)

One of the growth opportunities comes in the form of learning how to podcast.  I’m so excited to play with media sources for sharing Off-White Living.  Its really healing to me to express myself verbally, and hear others express themselves too.  I also attended an awesome yoga workshop at Flow yoga in Hood River, OR, which serendipitously gave me fabulous insight.

So, today I present to you my first podcast, which is a 5 minute insight on my relationship with my body and how yoga principles awakened in me a deeper love of self. Enjoy.



Off White goes to youTube!!

Hey there everybody,

just wanted to share my exciting news.  Just recently I purchased what might be the greatest gadget since the KitchenAid: a flip camera from Flip Video.

So, what a better way to debut, than to discuss Olive Oil…right???  Yeah, random topic but I was at Pike’s Place market in Seattle recently and decided to take the camera on its maiden Off-White voyage.  It was a mix of what was available to me and what wouldn’t get me kicked out of any shops or harrassed by other tourists.

So, with pleasure, I give you Olive Oil 101.  enjoy!

Life, on 60g of sugar per day

The World Health World health organization suggests a diet of less than 60 g of sugar per day or less.    Generally speaking, us humans can consume approx 200g of total carbs per day, so about 25% of them could be sugars, according to this model.

Some folks, especially sugar junkies trying to recover, ought to consider 100 – 150g of carbs per day or less, and make sure those carbs are from fiber containing sources.

So, how can we do it?  I ask myself this question everyday.  While I don’t go about my day counting carbs or sugar, I certainly keep these numbers in mind, mainly in the form of the concept of low sugar eating.

Through the years, here is what I have learned.  I have to make my sugar grams count, otherwise I’m going to be upset that I have nothing sweet and special to look forward to.  Here’s how I live on 60g of sugar per day (including the sugars in fruits):

  • Focus on lower sugar fruits like green apples, berries, cantaloupe, plums, peaches.
  • Avoid juice, flavored water or using sweetener in my tea at home.
  • Have Stevia in my purse to use for sweetening beverages when I go out.
  • Use unsweetened applesauce.  The difference here is 5g sugar/serving
  • Mix oats with fruit and spices, like cinnamon, for flavor.  I typically don’t add sweetener.
  • Use only plain yogurt.   I don’t do much yogurt, due to the dairy thing, but I will go plain when I do!
  • Watch the sugar in pasta sauces.  On average, a serving of jarred sauce has 10-12g of sugar.  I look for something with about 8g.
  • I avoid boxed cereals altogether.  They are high in total carbs, usually wheat or corn based, and don’t do a good job of watching portions.  For me, its just best NOT to go there.
  • Unsweetened almond milk ROCKS!  We are talking 3-5g of sugar as compared with 12-15g for even rice milk.  Add some stevia if you need more sweet.
  • Skip the ketchup and bbq sauce, unless it “really” goes with the meal (like a BBQ house, which I do like once every 3 yrs)
  • Tell the important people in my life I’m not eating a lot of sugar.  It helps keep me accountable.  I’m a sugar junkie, always looking for her fix, so I’m gonna take a mile when I’m presented with an inch!
  • Lay off of the dried fruit.  I found myself over-indulging in raisins, dates, and dried apples a lot when I started to avoid traditional sugar.  The challenge for me is that 1/4 cup of raisins is about 25g of sugar, and I can shovel in 2-3 handfuls mighty fast…..  I still eat dried fruit, but I try and add them to salads or eat them in front of someone where I’m less likely to pig out.
  • Be very, very humble.  My sugar desires are monsterous at times.  I must be honest with myself about them, and respect the food I am eating as having an effect on me.    Every time I make a good choice for my body, I feel sooooo grateful.

These same guidelines apply to white flour, which is not too much different from white sugar.  I tend to avoid wheat in general, which makes that one an easy choice.  I always skip the crackers, cereals, muffins (unless I know they are wheat-free, but even then quite often I just pass – they set me up for cravings), pastas, and a lot of breads.  Ezekiel bread is a treat in our house, and I choose to enjoy 1 slice per day when its around.  I use a lot of lettuce leaves as bread and whole grains in place of pastas, which helps avoid the interference of white or wheat flour.

Sometimes it gets me down to have to think so much about sugar….and then sometimes I just don’t think about it.  Unforutunately for me, however, not being conscious of it typically makes me end up eating a lot more of it that I’d prefer, as the sugar addict in me will always find a way to get her fix unless she’s kept in check.


Food, frugality and fortitude

So, I’m kind of a cheapskate.  In general I hate paying for things.    I especially hate it when things I used to pay X for now cost X + 1 (or whatever)…..Its a joke amongst friends/family that my purse squeaks a bit when I open it.  Yes, you self-helpers out there, I AM working on it.

Lately the cost of food has increased dramatically.  Let’s take a look at some common examples

Just last week I stood in the grocery store, making some choices about what to put in, based on price. The items in question were:

Good Earth tea ($3.99/box of 18 bags
Beef (grass fed, $5.99/lb)
Avocados ($1.25/each)
Brown Rice Tortillas ($3.50/pack)

There were a few others, but these stood out in my mind.    I felt these items were rather expensive for what I could get from them, when considering volume and serving size.  I aim to spend $100/week on groceries for my husband and I to eat together.  We eat out approximately 1x/week WHEN WE HAVE THE FOOD WE LIKE IN THE HOUSE!  When we don’t have easy to prepare, wholesome and tasty food, we eat out.  A typical eating out experiences is $10-$15/person, depending upon where we go.  If I purchase a hot tea away from home, it is minimum $1.50 per serving whereas my Good Earth tea was only about $.25/tea bag.

Therefore, my question became clear: Would purchasing the whole food based items at the grocery, for more $$ per item than in the past, save me money at the end of the week based on frequency of eating out, etc.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!  Despite the fact that groceries are more expensive than before, if we can limit out dining out by even once per week, we are still saving money.  Even purchasing all those items on the list, which yield more than 1 serving, would save over 1 meal out.  Factor in the nutritional benefits of eating in, and its a slam dunk deal.

Now, I do believe we need to have some fortitude during these economic times.  It makes sense to use the grocery $$ we have sensible.  It also means schlepping home when my tired body wants to simply find a cozy spot to sit and have somebody else make the meal.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for ideas on how to save some $$ at the store and still eat well, the off-white way.

  • Puchase whole fryer chickens and carve them yourself.  You can get nitrate-free lunchmeats this way too!
  • Purchase only what you will eat that week in fruits/veggies.  Uneaten produce that goes bad is simply a was to $$.  If you can only cook 2-3x in  week, it doesn’t make sense to buy elaborate veggies that would need to be used everday.
  • Bring groceries to work as a way to avoid buying snacks or eating out at work.  Baby carrots, bags of spinach, a bottle of salad dressing, a supply of teas and beverages…all ways to make eating well convenient and cheap.
  • Buy raw ingredients and make your own…whatever.  Instead of pre-made trail mixes (spendy and full of sugar), buy bulk items and make your own.  Use whole oats instead of quick and buy them in the bulk section.  No need to pay Mr. Quaker for his fancy can.  You can even find agave nectar, flax meal, most grains/rices, and dried fruits in bulk these days.
  • Buy enough for at least 4-5 days so you don’t go to the store daily.  This is a total waste of time, gas, money and energy.
  • Make your own soups, deli salads and pasta dishes for work.  Spending $7 on ingredients for a nice home-made dish that you can eat for 3 days will save $$, as these things typically run $3-7/lb at the deli or grocery.
  • make your own cookies, breads, etc.  Don’t give Starbuck’s $2 for a muffin you can make for $.50 that has better nutrition.  Bob’s Redmill flax meal has an awesome recipe.
  • Buy a water filter and stop buying water bottles.
  • The more packaging, the more it costs.  Buy in large quantity and make up your own mini-bags of ‘whatever’. The whole snackpack thing is a gimmick – you can do it at home.
  • Purchase yogurts, applesauce, cottage cheese, etc in larger containers and take a smaller container with you to work each day.  Reuse the smaller container
  • Give the generics another chance. Some generic stuff actually has better nutrition than the “fancy” stuff.  Example: WinCo’s Cascade Pride english muffins. They cost $1 less than Thomas and have no HFCS, more fiber, and I hear they taste pretty good.

Okay folks, off to bed for me.  I like this topic, but I need some sleep :0

Wishing you all an off-white day tomorrow!

PS: The cost of corn, wheat, and sugar are also on the rise – even better reason to stop eating these things!

Self love

When I awoke this morning I had an amazing sensation: the feeling of gratitude and love for my body and being…what a concept!  I can certainly say that a major reason why I can connect with these feelings is because I am continuing to create distance between me and those toxic foods that skew my mind (the white stuff).

I actually enjoyed breakfast so much that I took a little picture.  This sort of creativity is always a sign in me that I am healing, feeling good, and going with the “flow” of life.

This pic also denotes something more left-brained than just a reflection of self love thru food: it represents 1 standard serving of Almonds.  For me, part of self-care is staying conscious of how much of a food I am eating, even if it is healthy.

Just 2 days ago I was chatting with a gal who struggled with kidney stones due to too much protein.  She had switched to a ‘healthy’ diet, which included 2 CUPS of nuts, day….yowza…..and got kidney stones as a result.  Perfect example of good intentions gone awry or the law of diminishing return.

Slowly my stubborn mind is seeing the grace and benefit of being moderate, gentle and peaceful in my approach.  How nice to have space left in my belly after a meal because I’m not as attached to eating the fullest servings I can.  There is much power in declining the need for “more”.

So much of what I see happens in myself and others when our body-minds are skewed with junk food is the inability to listen to the subtleties of life and our physical/emotional/spiritual needs.  The white stuff puts the sensory system on over-drive and whammy!  All intuitive responses are gone….at least for me because I have a serious inability to handle the white stuff.  Its all or nothing, so I’ll choose nothing – there is more freedom in every other aspect of my life without it 🙂

Oh, for those who are curious, here is what I did with the almonds:

“Fill you for a few hours” oatmeal:

1 oz whole oats

1/2 – 3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla + cinnamon
1 banana
1 serving almonds (about 22)
2 tsp dried cranberries

Cook oats on med heat.  Half-way through add the fruit, vanilla and cinnamon.  When fully cooked, add the nuts (I like the crunch of keeping the nuts raw).  This meal packs about 15g protein, 8-10 g of fiber, 15g of fat and approx 25 g of carbs…and about 320 kcal.    A great way to to add a little TLC to your morning.  Can’t do gluten?  NO problem: use Bob Red Mill’s Gluten free cereal or rice cereal instead.  Can’t do nuts?  No problem.  Bob’s flaxmeal adds the fat/fiber of the nuts, and a little pat of butter would do the same.