Eat Empowered

This is the second blog in a series delving into the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life, the support system I incorporate into my nutrition coaching because good nutrition includes more than just what we eat. 

What does Empowered Eating even mean? Well, in a nutshell it means focusing on what you can eat and not on what you can’t. In other words, seeing the glass half full instead of half empty.

Eating with an empowered mindset reframes our approach and outlook on food. And it doesn’t employ willpower which data shows doesn’t help promote lifelong healthy eating behaviors. “The idea of willpower is innately negative,” says Keri Glassman MS, RD, CDN and CEO of Nutritious Life. “The scientific consensus on willpower is mixed and even though there are plenty of people still pushing the idea of willpower for behavior change, it’s clear that it just doesn’t work.” Here is an interesting article about willpower and willpower depletion for those of us who like to geek out on the science!

Focusing on the foods you can eat and their nutritional benefits, is an abundant mindset that will EMPOWER you in the short term and create lifelong supportive habits. This is a much more sustainable way of thinking because it uplifts, encourages, and replenishes your mood as opposed to the “lack of” or “glass half empty” approach. That view just plain feels bad and continued bad feelings will deplete you over time, zapping energy, and can lead to depression.

What can you look forward to eating? Nutrient dense foods, in the right portions and proportions. And FEEL GREAT about putting those foods in your body because they are making you healthy by keeping your blood sugar balanced, your gut happy, and helping your body fight disease!

Empowered Eaters support themselves by planning meals ahead of time and packing snacks, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and having conscious indulgences. Do you really love that glass of wine with popcorn? (hint, my fav) Or is it pizza night with the fam? Plan for it and eat it with joy. Planning an indulgence does not have to mean a slippery slope. Eat slowly, chew, and savor!

Focusing on what you can eat, including your conscious indulgences, may take practice. That’s ok! You can treat every meal and snack like it’s a Monday and begin again knowing the journey is as important as arriving.

Drink Up!

So I’m a Master Certified Nutrition and WELLNESS Coach. I love the addition of wellness to my certification because it captures the holistic approach I take in my practice. Meaning, good nutrition needs support from many areas in our lives in addition to mindful eating (see my last blog for more details.) These other areas are what we graduates of The Nutritious Life Studio call Pillars of a Nutritious Life. So today I’m delving into the Drink Up Pillar. 

Drinking water is really important. But why? Because our bodies are 50-75% water. We need it to live. And to break that living part down as it pertains to how our bodies function, water:

  • Keeps our cardiovascular health optimal
  • Aids digestion and helps us poop regularly and with more ease
  • Helps our muscles and joints work properly
  • Flushes toxins from our body
  • Increases energy and promotes clear thinking

It is recommended that we drink 64 ounces per day and more if you sweat a lot. Be NOT afraid of the 64 oz/day!!! I have tips below that will help you reach your hydration numbers! We are trying to avoid dehydration which causes a whole host of medical issues which most of us thankfully will never experience. The general public is more often slightly dehydrated which makes us feel sluggish, tired, and hungry (when we are not!) 

So how do you know if you’re properly hydrated? The sure fire way to know is to check your urine color. If it’s deep yellow towards brown, you are dehydrated. The lighter your pee is, the more hydrated you are. 

So besides keeping us alive, what are other benefits of staying hydrated? 

  • Our metabolism runs at its highest
  • We don’t mistake hunger for thirst
  • We are energetic + clear-headed 
    • Fun fact: The​ ​most common​ ​reason​ ​people​ ​are​ ​sluggish​ ​in​ ​the​ ​afternoon​ ​is​ ​due​ ​to​ ​dehydration.
  • Helps us feel full
  • Keeps skin clear
  • Keeps fascia plump and supple

That all sounds pretty good to me. Now some tips to help you down your daily water:

  • Herbal tea counts! So does coffee but not too much or it will have the opposite effect and dehydrate you. Stick to no more than 2 cups daily.
  • Watery vegetables and fruit count. Here are a few examples: cucumbers, lettuces, melons, green beans, grapes, stone fruits, tomatoes, and sweet peppers
  • Bone and vegetable broths count

And finally, here’s my ritual to get in my daily dose: I drink a 16 oz glass with lemon before breakfast to get my metabolism started. Lemon has antioxidant properties and studies on animals have shown it can counteract alcohol injury to the liver. Then I get in 2 more before noon which helps me feel confident I’ll get 1 more in by bedtime. Other people drink a 16 oz glass before each meal. This helps them to feel full, aids digestion, and they know they can count on 48 ounces.

Hopefully this has provided you with some major inspo to get drinking – water that is! Next up, what does Empowered Eating even mean? 

Guess What? Nutrition Support Isn’t Only About What We Eat!

So I’ve written about what it’s like to work with a nutrition coach and how I help a client reach their nutrition goals and needs. What I also introduce in my coaching sessions is the concept that good nutrition needs support from many areas in our lives in addition to mindful eating. In my training at The Nutritious Life Studio we call these areas the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life. Embracing them is the key to balanced nutrition and this is a layered, life-long process for most!

So what are these 8 Pillars? They include:

  1. Drink Up – Are we hydrated?
  2. Eat Empowered – Do we eat to feel our best and fuel our bodies?
  3. Sweat Often – Do we raise our heart rate and move so we stay strong and improve our mood? That picture is me in Oaxaca sweating and stressing less!
  4. Stress Less – Are we at ease the majority of the time?
  5. Sleep Deep – Are we rested?
  6. Live Consciously – Do we take care of our environment? Is it clean, neat, and free of toxins?
  7. Nurture Yourself – Do we self-soothe?
  8. Love More – Do we cultivate loving relationships?

I’m going to take the next few blogs to explore the importance of each of these, but in a nutshell nutrition is more than what we eat. Just like it is not enough to simply feed a baby – they must be held and cuddled, bathed and clothed, and provided a safe bed and home to rest and play in order to grow up healthy and whole – we must tend to our adult selves the same. And, if we neglect these important areas of our life, what we eat no matter how nutrient dense and lovingly prepared, it simply won’t be enough to keep us healthy.

So next up? The benefits of hydration. Grab a glass of water and stay tuned!

What It’s Like to Work with a Nutrition Coach and Specifically with Me

Think of selecting a Nutrition Coach like choosing a running buddy who’s going to help you increase your pace. You know you’re capable, you just need a little giddy up from someone who has the knowledge, experience, and a reassuring bedside manner.

A nutrition coach will show you the how’s and why’s of nutrition and guide and encourage you along the way. They will pay attention to you and your food journal (yes, you will be asked to keep one) and ask questions to help you get clear and stay clear about what you really, really, want! Cue Spice Girls  But just like you have to actually run to get faster, you will have to implement the new tools a nutrition coach provides, they will not do the work for you!

I focus on 1:1 personalized coaching, in person or via telehealth. I currently only offer a 12 week program because I really believe it takes that long to understand this foundational nutrition principle: food is fuel and feeding ourselves is an act of self care. I create a meal chart and a meal plan that meets the client’s goals that were determined in our first session. Then I show how to use the chart and provide meal ideas, planning tips, and recipes to match. Weekly sessions focus on honing meal charts to clients’ preferences and offering insights concerning any challenges that come up.

I also want my clients to have a deep understanding of what nutrition really is and especially what it means for them personally. We’ve been taught in gym or health class about the food pyramid and now the healthy eating plate, but do we really understand how these food groups nourish us? And more importantly, have we figured out or paid attention to the foods that work best with our individual bodies? When we plan our meals (do we plan?!?) do we consider the nutrients we consume at each meal and the effects they have on our health and mood?

For example, a dinner of wild-caught salmon sauteed with 1 teaspoon coconut oil, baked curry sweet potato fries (another runfasteatslow winner) and a green veg (take your pick: steamed or roasted broccoli, sauteed greens, or green salad,) will help us run better in the morning or arrive clear headed to present at our 8am business meeting more than a fried fish sandwich with a side of fries. Why? First of all, wild caught salmon provides high quality protein and is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The coconut oil is a healthy fat b/c it has antioxidants and a lot of medium chain fatty acids which research has shown do NOT raise cholesterol but do boost immunity and energy plus other benefits. Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable providing complex carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidants (more details on why these are important in an upcoming blog!) The green vegetable is loaded with vitamins and minerals that protect our brains and give us energy plus MUCH more.

Consistently eating meals like this helps us THRIVE.

I can not say much about the alternative dinner except that it has some protein. My Empowered Eating Program incorporates these concepts into every session so a client develops a deeper understanding that nutrient dense foods enable them to live healthy lives both physically and emotionally. And it’s not just what we eat, it’s how we live too! More on that in my next post.