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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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?

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]]

Not Going Anywhere

As you may have noticed, I have not been posting as often lately. What happened?? School happened.  I’m in classes most of the day (with a workout in there somewhere), then I come home and either have homework, or just want to chill.  This is not to say that I am giving up the blog – I could not bring myself to do that.  Writing here is a release, and it makes me happy.  So I’m not gone, and I am definitely keeping up with reading blogs and commenting as much as I can.  But I probably won’t be posting two days in a row – unless I have something really pressing to share.

I wish I had more time to bring blogging into my everyday life, but I can’t let this take over and get in the way of getting my school work done.  So expect posts about every other day, and almost always on Wednesdays (WIAW) and Fridays (discoveries/favorites).

Until then, this week’s discoveries (basically my version of friday favorites)!

1. Carrot Cake Oatmeal! [[inspired by Angela’s recipe]]

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carrot, coconut cream, spices & sweetener cooked in, raisins and AB on top!

2. They sell Pulsin’ (UK) products at my whole foods!

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I was so excited I had to buy all 4 flavors to try!

I’ve tried them all except the brownie – so tasty, and filling too.  My favorite is the bliss bar, it’s got a super-rich bitter chocolate taste.  The maple peanut one is my second have, but it’s borderline addicting – probably a little too sweet.  The goji-raspberry bar is really good as well, but the whole goji berries in there throw me a bit.  Can’t wait to try the brownie!

3. The greenest smoothie ever!

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in the mix: rice milk, frozen figs, spirulina, sun warrior, chia seeds, maca

I got my hands on some spirulina powder for the first time (thanks, Nicky!) and decided to use it for a little greens boost in my after-workout smoothie.  I love it! I only used about 1 tsp, and the sweetness of the fruit masked the flavor pretty well.  Also, I like the grassy ‘green’ taste, so I didn’t really care about flavor cover that much.

4. The best way to speed up banana-ripening

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In a paper bag, sealed, with an apple.  I took this picture yesterday – banana bread will be made tonight.

5. The protein muffin/mini cake. Why didn’t I do this sooner?

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rich but light and fluffy! straight out of the microwave.

I based my measurements off of three different bloggers’ recipes: Deb, Michelle & Lori, and Alex.

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I made mine a cocoa-carob-mint, with a glob of drippy sunflower butter on top

Makes one protein-packed, huge serving.

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check out my hand in there for size comparison. note, I have really big hands.

Giant (Gluten-free) Protein Cake

As this recipe is based on several different ones, here is a template for the basic protein cake. (serves 1-2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2-3 T pumpkin
  • 1T peanut flour
  • 2T carob powder
  • 1T cocoa powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint (or vanilla) extract
  • sweetener – I used 1 stevia packet

Directions:

Lightly spray a ceramic bowl or muffin pan with cooking spray (I use coconut oil spray) Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.  Then, you have two options: 1. Microwave for 3-4 mins or 2. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

[[substitution notes: feel free to use whole eggs, but you may want to adjust the flour portions. You can use any starchy purée for the pumpkin (mashed banana, applesauce, sweet potato).  Coconut or rice flour will work well for the peanut flour, but I would not recommend oat or wheat or spelt – too thick.  Feel free to play around with the flour/powder combos – even replace the cocoa or carob completely with flour.  Use any flavored extract you like, I was craving a chocolate-mint type thing. And of course, sweeten to your liking 🙂 ]]

I was really hungry, so I stuck mine in the microwave for 4 minutes – college dorm, the nuke machine is not very powerful.

5. Burt’s bees makes all natural (read: icky chemical free) throat drops.

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keeping me semi-normal for the past few days

Yes, I did say I was feeling better, which was not a lie – but I now have no voice.  It’s quite pathetic-sounding.

6. Trader Joe’s makes non-dairy cheese sub?

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they have other 'flavors' too

I didn’t buy it this time, but if I’m in need of a high-protein, non-dairy cheese alternative, I will definitely keep this in mind.

7. The cutest tea ever.

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the tea bag is actually shaped like this. and the little stem and leaf has a wire that hooks over the side of the cup!

Given to me by a lovely friend.  I get all her flavored teas the she doesn’t drink 🙂

8. Light reading.

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blowing my mind. to pieces.

And thus begins the junior year of the physics major. Yup, that is what I have planned for the weekend.  School is definitely back in full force, and not going anywhere anytime soon.

Spirulina in smoothies, yay or nay?

Have you ever tried the protein cake or something similar?  Thoughts?

Are you back in the swing of things at school/work after summer? Updates!

Through the Blah!

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.

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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!)