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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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?


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 ( 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.

Through the Blah!


…is how I feel right about now.  Which makes me really sad, because I almost never get sick.  Second week of classes? My head feels like it is going to explode, stupid sinus pressure.

Back to the point – I had no idea what to blog about yesterday.  I really wanted to post, but nothing came to mind! My eats have been rushed because of classes and things, so nothing interesting there.  I could have posted about my workouts, but I still didn’t have any interesting photos or tips or routines to share.  Although I created this site mainly for myself, it’s not always fun to post something I could have easily written in my little notebook and be perfectly content with.

Photo on 9 13 11 at 9 17 PM

warm bowl of yum + box of tissues, in front of the comp.

This brings me to the topic of tonight’s post – how I’m trying to keep myself as healthy as I can, to get through the ‘blah-ness’ of this silly head cold.

1. Tea. Love my steamy tea!

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organic soothing herbal teas - love them both

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check out that steamy tea, with a tall glass of water on the side

2. Water.  I’ve already lost count of how many millions of bottles and glasses I’ve had today.  It really is nature’s energy boost!

3. Super-nutrients.

I have not been hungry today – which is really weird.  Actually, let me rephrase that:  I have had no cravings today.  I’m pretty sure the hunger is still there, but I have had no idea what I wanted to eat all day.  In cases like this, I try to force myself away from comfort foods and stick to those high in nutritional value.

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i had to try these - I'd buy again if they weren't so pricey

Açai is lower in sugar, and high in vitamin C (for immunity), among other things.

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super-smoothie & yerba maté latte to start the day

In the mix: blueberries – because they taste good and are also lower in sugar and nutrient-rich, maca – hormone regulator (I’m just giving this one a try for a while to see how I feel), lucuma – extra low-sugar sweetness, coconut water – electrolytes! It was quite delicious, not too sweet but just the way I like it.

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massaged kale salad with peppers & chick peas, dressed with coconut oil, vinegar, bragg's, pepper and hemp seeds

yup, super-nutritious.  I’m trying my best to stay energized with low-sugar plant foods.

4. Hot ‘n Spicy warm meals.

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eggplant-tomato stew, with nice a cayenne kick to clear the sinuses

This is what I’m holding in that picture at the beginning of this post.  A simple stew make with farmer’s market eggplant, chickpeas, organic canned tomatoes, and some extras (oil, herbs, spices).  It somehow ended up being vegan.  I’d post a recipe, but I kind of forgot to write anything down.

5. Indulge a little.

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Mini-size! I love chocolate. Have I mentioned that before?

Caught up with being physically ill, I almost always lose track of mental health.  Positive self-talk, taking an unplanned active rest day away from the gym, and chocolate of course – to soothe the soul 😛

What are some things you do to keep your body in top shape when you’re under-the-weather?

(be back tomorrow with a WIAW post!)

The Sandwich Post

Unfortunately, not the edible kind of sandwich – the written kind.  Goals, discoveries, goals.

I’m going to kill two birds with one stone here.  I skipped my discoveries last week because of my travels and the hurricane, so I can’t put that off any longer.  It’s also a new month – 20+ posts later, and now it’s september.  I swear, time goes by faster and faster the older I get.

August goal recap:

  • Variation: I did really well with this.  I can’t even recall once that I repeated the same meals or same workouts 2 days in a row, so I’d call it a success
  • Go with the Flow: Not so great.  The second half of the month was a bit rough, but i think it was mostly due to hormone ups and downs.  And anxiety to get back to new york & school.
  • Take real rest days, and enjoy them: So done. And I loved it.  That bit of guilt / restriction is still there though, but this is a big step.
  • Get back into academia: major fail. I didn’t even start any kind of programming or other academic work.
  • Fitness goals: I’m at about 6-7 push ups in a row, more than halfway there! – no more of those silly knees, I took Zumba classes and I’m counting that as dance. (but now I’m back to my real dance class!) stretch every day – not so great. I always stretch after workouts, but otherwise I mostly forgot.
  • Water: hard to gauge, but I was definitely more conscious of it, and was probably drinking more.
  • Limit up-and-down episodes: definitely better, but the balance is not there yet.  In traveling I probably ate double what I needed to, and some days I went a little crazy with the snacking.  The cravings did not get ignored, though!


1. The wonder that is Nasoya Wonton wrappers!  I made Jenn’s mini Quiche cups, sans cheese (didn’t have any on hand) and with Trader Joe’s smoky spice blend.  Crunchyum!

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little bites of yum with cottage cheese and fresh figs

2.  Trader Joe’s does really strange things with their hummus.

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wait, what?

3. The wonder that is One Lucky Duck’s raw vegan mallomars!

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I ate this way too fast. definitely didn't savor it quite enough.

4. New afternoon pick-me-up – yerba maté latte!

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with a few unsweetened carob almonds on the side

5.  the wonder that is iHerb. Use the code COV168 for an awesome discount on your first order! Spoils below.

peanut flour, sun warrior, puffed cereal, hemp, chia, stevia, and a little tiny freebie (immunity powder?)

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but this is how my sun warrior came... yet the bag was full, and i couldn't find a hole in it

6. cheap college night dinner: kale & eggs (Ashley-style), brown rice with hummus and a spray of olive oil.

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I used extra egg whites for a protein boost, and made extra rice for the week

September goals:

  • Fitness goals: make it to 10 push ups! keep up the workout variation – it’s really easy to fall into a workout rut with the gym so convenient.
  • Positive Self Talk: I sound like psychologist here, but this helps me when I remember.  If something starts to spiral out of control, stop, step back, take a breath, tell myself to slow down.  Stress is about to be seriously re-introduced, and I want to do all that I can to not get started on a downward spiral.
  • Be Social: It’s far too easy for me to just sit back in my room and just chill on my own.  Yet I always have fun when I go out with people.  So the first step? Not turning down invitations to hang out.  I don’t want to become a school-obsessed recluse.
  • Cook food for myself: it’s cheaper than eating at restaurants and cafés, and now that I don’t have a meal plan, this will be really important.  I’m working on a meal-planning strategy, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet.  Also, always pack snacks, so I’m not tempted to buy overpriced or over-sugared ones.
  • Smile.  I have a tendency to shy away from people and invert.  It pushes people away.  Everyone likes a smiling person.  Plus, I heard that when you smile, it makes you feel happy anyway.

How was your august?

What are some things you hope to achieve this September?