mindful eating

lessons learned: no added sugar

Hey friends!

How was your February? Two weeks ago me and my friend, and fellow RD, Becky went one week without added sugar. Did you join us? If you missed the challenge, you can find the details here.

Today I am sharing some of the lessons learned during our brief seven days without added sugar. Don’t worry, I am back on the donuts, but it was a great, eye opening challenge.

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lessons learned: added sugar

  1. Too much sugar can make you feel crappy and can aggravate IBS.

  2. Added sugar is in SO many foods. Truthfully, I tend to think my added sugar intake is fairly low day-to-day (unless I bake cookies or am PMSing) but, getting reacquainted with the food label on staple foods in my diet made me realize that I likely come very close to the ‘recommended’ added sugar limit of 25 g/d. Between sausage or bacon, a granola bar, bread, sauces, and so much more, sugar is literally everywhere, and often in places it really doesn’t need to be.

  3. Eating sweets can quickly become a habit. We found that nighttime snacks and post dinner treats weren’t really something that was needed or even really wanted.

  4. Sweets are often used to comfort when stressed, or occupy when bored. Yikes!!! I am all about mindful eating, I really try to think before I eat and this challenge helped me identify the moments when I normally would reach for some m&ms or chocolate in the cabinet. This challenge forced me to check-in. EVERY SINGLE TIME I had that urge it was due to looking for a distraction from something I didn’t want to do, or feeling stressed / overwhelmed and wanting a moment of comfort. I prefer intentional treat selection for enjoyment, but I am not immune to the comfort of my favorite chocolate to escape my stress. I definitely do this way more often than I realized and I am glad for my better awareness. Now I am more apt to stop and ask ‘what am I really feeling right now?’ It is challenging, but powerful.

  5. A savory breakfast can be just as satisfying as a sweet breakfast. PS Becky has some amazing recipes and breakfast shares on her IG so make sure you’re following her.

  6. Fruit makes a great dessert! We both really enjoyed adding more fruit to our day, either at breakfast, as a snack, or as dessert after a meal. Clementines and grapes are extra tasty this time of year and are certainly sweet!

  7. Carbohydrate intake didn’t decrease. This eye opening experience showed us that we do love carbs and can eat carbs and will eat carbs for fuel and satisfaction but perhaps the countless sources of added hidden sugars in our diet don’t all need to be there too. I rely on bread a lot more than I ever have (due to my schedule) and I recognized there were higher quality breads I could invest in for more nutrition and less / no added sugar.

  8. Not drinking alcohol is tough. We had an alcohol goal, I did not succeed. Some weeks I drink 3-4 days, some weeks 1 day, some weeks 2 days. I wasn’t going to give up on a social outing and seeing friends because of this challenge. If I am out and socializing I prefer to drink. If I didn’t want to drink I would stay home and read. Worth highlighting two big points here: 1) Your alcohol intake isn’t benign, I know about my relationship with it, what’s yours? and 2) Your diet choices should not limit your social life and enjoyment of life.

  9. And of course, as I always say, it is important to be able to enjoy a treat when you want it and when it is special. Sweets are for enjoyment, not just because you realized your taxes are almost due and your anxiety is thru the roof. My biggest take away, was to remind myself of this exact thing that I know and teach but can sometimes lose sight of. Choose the treats that matter, that are chosen for the sake of truly tasting and enjoying, not the treats that are used to numb.


Well guys, there you have it. We survived, we learned a lot, we have new ideas for snacks, and a greater appreciation for why we make certain choices. Are we both back to eating sugar? You bet, however I always appreciate a learning moment and ideas about how to be more mindful and I look forward to using these lessons moving forward.

no added sugar week

taking a break from sugar

Hi there friends!

Tomorrow, February 18 thru February 24 I am doing a no added sugar week. My kitchen is full of sugar too, rough.

why

But WHY?! You might be asking. And before you shun sugar as the devil, or get on your intuitive eating high horse, hear me out.

This came about via my usual text thread with my good friend and fellow dietitian Becky (follow her on IG here). We were both complaining about sugar. Some of our common complaints include: eating more sugar than feels comfortable; post-sugar intake digestive distress; feeling trapped in a sugar habit; finding comfort in sugar.

It seems like since the new year started it has been worse. We both have a lot going on personally and professionally, but just like turning to alcohol won’t solve your problems, neither will turning to sweets. Talk about a reality check. We both know these things. We are both active, we eat well, prep food for the week, and take care to get as much sleep as we can. We treat ourselves well, yet we were letting sugar run the show more often than we cared to admit. We decided we would hold each other accountable to a little break.

intention

The intention of our added sugar break is this: to stop using sugar in ways it shouldn’t be used. When we’re upset or stressed, instead of reaching for that sweet, we will be literally forced to try another avenue. We will stop, think (this is huge), and make an intentional choice. Instead of reaching for whatever chocolate is in the cabinet, we will choose from more intentional, and honestly more helpful habits like calling a friend, going for a walk, meditating, doing a face mask, or taking a bath. We don’t think sugar is the devil. But, we prefer to have the ability to make the choice to eat sugar out of mindfulness and choice, not stress.

guidelines

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Once our followers expressed interest in joining us we knew we had to write a post in case more people wanted to join. If you feel like you turn to sweets for any reason other than pure enjoyment I hope you will join us this week. See our guidelines below.

  1. No added sugar for 7 days. We are doing Feb 18- Feb 24 but feel free to pick seven days that work better for you. No added sugar includes things like maple syrup and honey.

  2. Fruit is okay. Fruit has natural sugar, use it for dessert, post workout refuel, or a more natural way to settle a true sweet craving. Dates are an unsweetened fruit, so use these as you wish!

  3. Carbs are okay. Just need to remind everyone of this tidbit. We aren’t doing a Whole 30 or anything dramatic. Literally, just tuning in before we use sugary sweet treats to tune out. Basic components of a nourishing diet should stay put.

  4. Alcohol is okay - in moderation. We decided on no more than 2 drinks at a time and no more than 2 days this week. Cutting out alcohol didn’t make sense to us because we enjoy our social life and seeing friends. If you prefer to cut it out totally, you do you.

  5. Get a friend to join you, an accountability partner, and someone to call when you’re having a freakout stressful day, is super helpful.

  6. No artificial sweeteners. I won’t get into why I despise artificial sweeteners here. Just know that they are definitely out.

  7. Be mindful. Thats the point of this challenge after all. To think before you eat. See what comes up for you. Is your trip to the cookies after work truly a desire for cookies? Or maybe it has become a way to decompress after a hard day? Are the never ending sweets at work really impossible for you to say no to? Or do you use that as an excuse to eat things you don’t even really like that much?

If you are ready to join us on this challenge and take control of your cravings then comment below and share this post with your friends. Remember, enjoying sweets isn’t a bad thing, but most of us use sweets outside of pure enjoyment and instead to play some role or manage some emotion that could be better filled and managed elsewhere. Lets reconnect to what is really going on in our mind, and to what our body truly needs.

Can’t wait to see your journey!! You can tag us on social media @realfoodcourt @becka_rd on Instagram to share how your week is going.

Post-Workout Nutrition: Refueling with Beef (sponsored)

It’s that time of year where new workout routines and gym memberships are motivating us to get moving. Remember, building a new lifestyle requires consistent commitment to habit changes. While small changes are key, it is important that as we succeed, we build on the habit. For instance, maybe you are really loving your fitness goals, but haven’t quite figured out the food piece. I often hear clients express their frustration at increased hunger related to their workouts and frequently the sub par eating habits that persist. Unfortunately, working out on its own isn’t enough to change your body and health. What we eat, particularly after we exercise, matters.

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post-workout

Post-workout we want complex carbs which will help to refill our energy stores, and preserve muscle from being broken down. Complex carbs might include whole grains, or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, or fruit. Of course, protein is key for building strong bodies. Protein helps us maintain muscle we have and build new muscle. Quality protein also helps with meal satisfaction, which can help limit nighttime snack cravings.

When it comes to eating post-workout, I love refueling with beef. Beef is a nutrient-dense food that provides 10 essential nutrients including iron and about 25 grams of quality protein to help us recover.

Important note: Beef can only be claimed as “LEAN” if the cut of beef is less than 8.5 grams (g) total fat, 3.8g or less saturated fat, and less than 80 milligrams of cholesterol per 85g serving (about 3 ounces by weight).
Find out more about beefs nutrient profile here.



refuel

With your new workouts taking up more of your time, you want meals that are simple and easy to make ahead. Here are some ideas to keep you fueled and strong.

Lightened up spaghetti and meatballs

Protein: Use a lean ground beef (at least 95% lean ground beef) mixed with defrosted frozen spinach and italian spices to form simple meatballs that you can bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Carbohydrate: Balance a serving of whole grain or legume based pasta (~1c cooked) with plenty of vegetables. I like to add spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles to keep my carbohydrate portion moderate.

Top with your favorite marinara sauce and cheese for a satisfying meal.

Pair lean beef meatballs with veggie noodles mixed with whole grain noodles

Pair lean beef meatballs with veggie noodles mixed with whole grain noodles

Taco salad

Protein: Use a lean ground beef with your favorite taco seasoning! Talk about satisfying!

Carbohydrate: Add brown rice (~½ c) to the salad for your carbohydrates.

Add plenty of veggies including leafy green lettuce, corn, peppers, and avocado! This satisfying meal is the perfect refueling meal you will actually look forward to eating!

Here are some great snack ideas

Beef jerky + mixed nuts. This is my favorite daytime snack, especially after a morning workout. I know my body is constantly rebuilding all day long, and even more so after a tough workout. Including some protein from beef jerky into my snacks helps me support that process.

Fruit and cheese. A cheddar cheese stick provides about 8 grams of protein. Pair that with fruit can serve as a great post workout snack to tie you over until your next meal, or a great midday snack after a tough morning workout.


So let me know, how do you prefer to refuel after a tough workout?


Post content is sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. All opinions and meal ideas are my own.