Conquering Cravings

First of all, I’m loving all the comments on possible posting topics.  Note that I asked simply to guide for my incredible indecisiveness.  It’s one of those times where I have too many options and not a ton of time, so nothing ends up getting done.  But hopefully that’s done with for now.

[[Keep commenting on this post if you want to make sure you’re added to my upcoming blogroll page!]]

Second order of business(?): You may have noticed that I did not do WIAW.  Why? In all honestly I just really didn’t feel like dragging my camera around and taking the extra time to take pics of everything.  Do not get me wrong, I think it’s a great way to share a day’s worth of eats, but school, midterms, and my own mental health are more important.

Which leads me to the real topic of today’s post – cravings.

[[disclaimer: I am not a health professional, all statements on this page are based on my own personal experience]]

If you say you never crave anything, you are probably lying.  It may not be food related, as I know a good deal of people who just eat when they’re hungry and could care less what they’re actually eating.  But we all crave something.  Comfort, space, warmth, release, sweets – something.

Being the crazy foodie that I am, I crave specific foods all the time. Some of these cravings are really weird – like kale… And some are quite typical, like chocolate.

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[[source]]

So here’s the big question: when is a craving really a craving, and not just a desire to eat for comfort?  Are there times when it is better not to indulge your impulses?

As someone who has a history of comfort eating, this is something I have to ask myself almost on a daily basis.  I have a huge sweet tooth.  I eat when I’m bored, and when I’m alone for long periods of time.  I could easily have chocolate and baked goods every day if I wanted.  Physically speaking, I could easily eat dessert after every meal.  I could easily eat the portion sizes of a large man.  I could easily eat decadent restaurant dishes every day.  But would I be happy with that? No.  It weighs me down, and does not feel good.

I know this is exaggerating a bit, but regardless – comfort eating is almost an addiction.  There came a time when I needed to learn to exercise some self-control.  I’ve actually heard that self-control is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  I guess that’s where restriction comes into play. Luckily I never got that extreme, but there was a brief period where eating a whole cupcake was forbidden – it was too much of an indulgence, and couldn’t be done.

I’m writing this now, because I think I’m starting to finally figure out which of my cravings to honor, and which to divert.  For example, I had ravioli for dinner the other day.  Random, right?  I have no idea why, but all day I couldn’t get ravioli out of my head.  And not whole grain or vegan or gluten-free – just goat cheese, red pepper and basil ravioli made with semolina flour.

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served on steamed kale with some goat cheese on top. Had to get my serving of leafy greens as well!

Pasta was one of those things that I stopped craving when I stopped eating so much of it – which I’m totally fine with.  But that made this random impulse so weird.  Regardless, I thought long and hard about it.  After some serious deliberation, I knew that I would kick myself if I did not allow this meal to happen.  And I am really glad I did.  In no way is this a particularly unhealthy meal.

However, there are other times when I do have to use my self-control muscle.  Almost every time I walk past a shop with pastries in the window, I start thinking about how much I want cookies or cupcakes.  Every time I walk past the chocolate aisle at a market, I have to remember that I don’t need to eat a full chocolate bar per day.  When there is one item or serving left of something, I have to convince myself that I don’t want it – because it most often appeals to me because it’s the last one.

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solution - make my own treats to control indulgence levels: homemade PB cup. see my recipe page! (this was actually AB)

Those kinds of cravings are comforts, ones that I would most likely indulge too much, and regret if afterwards.  These are the ones I am learning to control.  It’s not an exact science, but I think I’m getting better at it.  And of course, I feel better when I indulge now and then.  The more I honor the little things I truly want, the less likely I am to gorge myself with desserts at a party or impulse-buy unhealthy indulgences.

Now that I can allow myself to give in to little treats, I find myself craving healthy things more and more.

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there are times when all I want is WF salad bar, a box of veggie-goodness

If I eat a huge plate of quality, nutrient dense foods, I’m less likely to want that chocolate bar.

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...and there are times when I make random things out of flavors I can't stop thinking about, like this stuffed acorn squash with curried seitan and okra

And I’m starting to get more creative in the kitchen.  Which is fun and rewarding.  Which again, leaves me with no void to fill, no real reason to comfort eat.

Now, it is midterms week, and I have made one promise to myself.  I will not restrict, and I will not over-indulge.  I know I’m going to want chocolate, and all kinds of sweet things in the middle of the night.  So I’ll have a small taste, but try my best to leave it at that.  I will fuel myself with delicious, good nutrients, as I know I will feel better in the long run – and most likely have more energy.

I’d love to hear some thoughts on how you deal with cravings.

Do you listen to every little thing impulse you have?

Are there certain cravings that you know are only comfort related?

How do you exercise your self-control without going too far?

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Blog Lovin’

So I have had this long list of possible blog topics staring at me since Saturday.  Reviews, issues to discuss, recipes, recaps, etc.  But for some reason I have not been able to bring myself to write anything.  Even if I have a crazy amount of work to do or am really busy, I use blogging as my break as a quick chance to get away.  I use the blog as motivation to keep my eats pretty and interesting, that hasn’t happened lately either.  I’m even running low on my fresh vegetable stock!

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the last of my squash stash all cooked up 😦

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breakfast creativity - banana breakfast 'sushi' from Gena @ choosingraw.com

Lately I have not been feeling it, and it seems that I’m not alone.  For some reason, it seems that others (not only bloggers!) are going through a bit of a ‘funk’ right now.  Why? Who knows.  Anyway, I thought it would be a good time to share some blog-lovin’. I’m creating – my blogroll!

I have a long list of probably 80-100ish(?) blogs that I read regularly, and I will be adding those to the list.  So there will be some blogs on there who do not even know that my site exists, but I’m more than okay with that.  I want those who do read my blog to know who inspires me, what my interests are and whose writing I love to read.

For those of you who are reading this now and have a blog of your own: if you would like to be added to the blogroll, just leave a comment on this post and you I will add your site.  I’ll make the page live on Friday Oct. 21, but I’ll leave comments open after that.

If you have a blogroll of your own, I would love for you to add me as well – but don’t feel obligated.  Let’s spread some love!

Now I have a little question for you. Since I can’t seem to decide what to post about lately, I thought why not ask readers what you want to see in the near future.  Some choices include (but are not limited to!):

  • recipes – I have 2 dessert ones in the queue, but ideas are always welcome
  • food tutorials – possible: nut milk, oatmeal, eggs/omelets, roasting…
  • health topics – cosmetics, sleep, anxiety…
  • book reviews – fitness/health books
  • workouts & stretch routines
  • anything else?

One for October

[[just a heads up, the pictures in this post have nothing to do with the content]]

I probably say this all the time, but oh my, how time flies!  First of all let me say thank you so much for all of your fabulous comments, especially on this post about food intolerance and discomfort – I love hearing all the different perspectives.  (And also for the compliments on my new color streak!) I promise that I read them all even if I don’t reply – and each one makes me smile.

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My favorite genmaicha (brown rice green tea) - the brand is yamamotoyama

But now it’s a new month, and a new chance to re-assess and re-start.  I made a great list of september goals, and to tell the truth, I think I’ve done pretty well with all of them.  Looking back, though, I can see that I didn’t challenge myself.  I made goals that were attainable, which was exactly my intention. Give myself a boost, by showing all kinds of great things I can do – and it worked.  I feel great that I can now do 8-10 real push ups in a row, or run a sub 9-minute mile without stopping or slowing down.  Now, I need to take the next step, and challenge myself to do something that is really difficult for me.

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the best OIAJ ever - better with hot oats than overnighters - the nut butter melts 🙂

The past two classes, my dance teacher brought up something really important – weaknesses.  In brief – we all have them, know what they are, but out of vanity and insecurity we often choose to ignore them.  He challenged us to go home, take 5 minutes and write down our career-related weaknesses.  After blowing it off after thursday’s class, I took the plunge – and took it one step further.  I also wrote down my personal, everyday life weaknesses – which is what inspired this month’s goal.  Yup, just one goal.

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I made these into nut butter - it took all of two minutes, they

Believe. Never say I can’t. Breathe, and just dive in.

I often have very little self-confidence, and compare myself to the people around me.  I couldn’t tell you why.  I think too much, about every move I make.  I over-analyze, and question myself – and it’s really not worth it.

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cheap, home cooked meal - grilled fennel & tilapia (frozen) with soy-sesame sauce & lemon pepper

So my goal for this month is to tell myself yes – I can.  I aim to catch myself in a downward spiral of “I’m not good enough” and just stop everything and breathe.  And say “Rachel, just do it – there is nothing stopping you but yourself.”

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raw buckwheat bowl with banana, hemp seeds, and almond milk with 1T carob powder mixed in. and a tiny spoon.

Do I expect to be able to do this every time? Do I expect to be a perfectly productive, super self-confident person by the end of this month? No.  I want to improve, to chill out a bit, and I plan to try this one little thing as often as I can.  Slip-ups are allowed – after all, I’m only human – but I’m not going to dwell on them.

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My pumpkin-spice coffee add-ins: So delicous vanilla creamer & Angela's (ohsheglows.com) homemade pumpkin butter.

One goal for October – stop, breathe, believe.

What are your October goals? How do you motivate yourself to believe?

Why do we care?

[[disclaimer: I am not an RD or any kind of certified health professional. My writings are my thoughts and opinions based on personal observation and experience.]]

In my recent interactions with friends and family members, I have come to realize something that seems somewhat strange to me.  It is about how we view food intolerance and eating habits.  Specifically, the difference between how health-nuts/foodies view them vs. how ‘normal’ people view them.  And by ‘normal’ I mean those who don’t focus on food, but enjoy the foods they like without thinking too much about what they are eating. [[this is not meant to offend anyone, I was having trouble finding a good way to articulate this difference]]

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vanilla mint chia pudding w/ spirulina. would I have eaten this a year ago? probably not.

The majority of people I know have favorite foods, and foods they are not particularly fond of – they don’t eat their food based on which vitamins it has, or what color it is.  Some of these favorites may include large amounts of processed sugars, animal fats, and foods that many have an intolerance to such as gluten and dairy.  I’ve seen statistics that say something like 60-75% of adults cannot properly digest dairy – yet I’m sure that hardly all of those adults cut out all lactose from their diet, or are even aware that they have digestion issues.  And many don’t really notice, and don’t care – they are happy with their eating habits, and a little stomach-ache now and then isn’t a big deal.

Lately we hear more and more of people with food intolerance, sensitivities, allergies, and other special dietary restrictions.  I have heard some people say that those who claim to have intolerance and sensitivities think that “the world is out to get them” or that it’s all psychological.

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oats & chia with cinnamon & sunflower butter. complex carbs, healthy fats, protein, no processed sugar, nutrient-rich breakfast.

Sometimes I don’t know what to believe.  I hear things that lead me to think that everyone has an intolerance or sensitivity, but some are more in tune with their bodies than others.  I know that there are people with serious food intolerance issues that makes them unable to function at times.  But I also hear things that lead me to believe that such intolerance does not have a significant effect on daily life unless we play them up, and make ourselves uncomfortable.

Yes, I know that modern medicine has advanced a great deal in the past few decades, and that we are now able to test for things like sensitivities and intolerance.  But are these always serious issues? Or are they just things that will not really hurt us, and only cause mild discomfort.

So, why do some of us care so much now? And why do some not care at all?  Why do some people work out even when they’re in pain, and pay little attention to injuries?  Why do some people notice every little thing that happens with their bodies, and some are perfectly happy not to have to deal with any of it? [[yes, I know this is probably an exaggeration, I am by no means an expert on the subject]]

You may wonder why I’m writing this, and why I am writing it now.  Since I’ve started reading blogs and writing my own, I’ve become more aware of my diet and overall nutrition.  I pay more attention to getting necessary nutrients, and to the effects that certain foods have on the way I feel.  For example, I’ve always known that onions upset my stomach – but for the longest time, I just left it at that. No onions, happy body.  But now I’ve noticed other things about the way I feel after eating a variety of other foods, and how I feel without eating certain foods.

So what do I do? Do I go on, just steering clear of the few little things that make me uncomfortable and not worry about it? Or do I make it a point to figure out what causes my upset stomach, bloating, lethargy, and other emotional and physical changes.  Is it worth it to get blood work or other tests done to confirm some of my suspicions?  Is it worth it to perfectly fine tune my diet? Is it even realistic? I have no idea.

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vanilla avocado-banana pudding, hemp seeds sprinkled on top. allergen free. all natural, whole foods. protein, carbs, healthy fats.

I sometimes wish I could go back to ‘not caring’ about what I ate – even though I know I am much healthier now, and doing great things for my body.  But what about for my mind? I am not unhappy with my diet now, but am I better off just trying to stop worrying? Or will I be happier knowing what is causing my minor discomforts?

What is your take on how food affects the way we feel? — I’d love to hear your personal experiences, advice, anything you have to share on this topic.

Love and Light

I’m taking a break from writing about my usual topics (food and health) to write about something a little bigger – Love. Such a strong concept, and I still can’t define it for you.

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(source)

It makes the little things amazing, and gets us through the bad days – yet it’s so easy to forget about it.  I go through more days than I would like without stopping to smile, or think something or someone I love that makes me happy.  Of course, this is not to say i am miserable – that is far from true.

Coffee love

(source)

But sometimes I forget.  I get caught up in work, school, people, health and other stressful things that I forget to stop and think of the big picture.  I forget that one missed class or assignment won’t make me any less of a person.  I forget that eating too much or being lazy now and then will not make me a less love-able person.  Because hey, if I don’t love me, how can I convince anyone else to?

Too many people struggle with self-love, and I know that it is not something we can make happen overnight.  Some have the willpower to learn to love themselves on their own – and I highly admire that.  But there is nothing wrong with getting support from others.  Whether it’s a friend, family member, significant other, or the community, we are meant to lean on each other – nobody is meant to live alone forever.

(I’m getting to the point, I promise.)

I have never been one to get involved with community service organizations, or charity and wellness foundations.  Not because I don’t support the causes, I wholeheartedly do.  Which is why I am all for supporting those people who do take a stand and get involved.

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me (left) and my lovely sister Miriam (right)

For the past few years, my sister Miriam has gotten involved with some fantastic organizations, namely those promoting self-love.

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Mir's writing of "love" on her arms

Every year, she participates in To Write Love On Her Arms day, supporting TWLOHA, an organization to help people struggling with depression, addiction, etc. – to promote self-love, to raise awareness, and remind those in need that they are not alone.

Recently, Miriam has gotten involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, participating in their Out of the Darkness community walks. These walks are held to honor those loved ones lost to suicide, to raise awareness, and to support those struggling from a lack of self-love.  They start the walk in the early hours of the morning, and walk through the sunrise – out of the dark and into the light. She is doing her local walk this year, and is raising money for the event.

[[donation link]]

Now, I do not want to purpose of this post to be lost.  She (and I) would be touched if you wanted to give, but do not feel obligated to – that is not why I wrote this.  The purpose is to raise awareness, and in writing this, I only hope to open your thoughts to those in need of some self-love.  I do not mean to turn this blog into a means to ask for money, but this is a cause that I strongly support, that I feel often gets overlooked.

So please, donate if you feel like, or don’t.  But I ask that you leave a comment, and send your support to Miriam and all the people that she will be walking for.

What are your thoughts on self-love?

Do you regularly take part in any awareness fundraising events?

[[regular posts will be back tomorrow]]