Why Diets Don't Work - Even When They Do

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So that title is probably misleading and confusing so let me back up...

What is a diet?

Well, a diet is really just the combination of foods you eat on a regular basis. It has little to do with calorie counts and deprivation or specific foods. It's just an overview of what you put in your body. 

But a diet plan, or anything you sign up, pay, or participate in, is something different. But for the purposes of this just know when I say 'diet' what I'm referring to is any plan that requires you to count, restrict, weigh, balance, cut, etc. You get the idea. 

I have worked with many women who have followed various diets and had what they call 'success'. They've lost the weight, their clothes fit better, they look the part. But they still come to me for help with their nutrition and wellness. WHY?

Because despite the lower number on the scale they still don't feel worthy. They don't feel comfortable. Strong. Brave. Powerful. They're still working in this zone of fear that the diet created and they can't imagine a simple solution to health without all the counting and restriction.

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When you follow a diet and are successful in terms of weight loss it means you've figured out how to follow a plan, stick with it and make it work for you. And all of that is super important! But what a typical diet won't teach you is how to keep it going without counting, without the accountability of the plan, without the fear of failure. It won't teach you to rely on your internal hunger or satiety cues (in fact, most diet companies are most successful when they get you to completely ignore those cues) and it won't teach you to love your body.

That's what Hello Nourish is all about. We're about ditching the deprivation diets for good and getting back in touch with those innate internal cues that have been so long ignored. It's about feeling amazing in the body you were born with - accepting and working with the biology you can't change - and making the most of the pieces you can. Hello Nourish is about nourishing all parts of you - mind, body, spirit - so that you don't need a diet in the first place. You're so comfortable with your food, your body, your internal cues that a restrictive plan would be completely ridiculous to propose. 

You eat food because you're hungry and because it nourishes your body. 

You stop eating because you're full and for zero other reasons.

You silence the food police that shame you in to stuffing your face with kale salads (when you actually hate kale!).

You begin to accept and even love your body exactly how it is, even if you're working towards becoming a healthier version of yourself. 

Because at the end of the day meals should be fun and delicious and nourishing - not leaving you feeling ashamed, guilty and hungry.

If you want to get started and dig deeper in to how you can become a more intuitive eater without a diet plan I've got an amazing free download for you - simply pop your email in here and you'll receive a workbook that will help you get there!


The Complete Meal Planning Guide

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i am a HUGE planner and my meals are no exception. i love sitting down and writing out my shopping list and my menu for the week and coming back to fill up my fridge with fresh food. something about a well-stocked fridge makes me happy. maybe i'm a weirdo, but i love it! i know that meal planning isn't for everyone, and many dread that time on sunday night when they start thinking about meals for the week ahead. but it does not have to be a struggle! it can be fun and exciting and empowering to plan out your meals for the week! it is also a great way to make sure you're planning for healthy, sustainable meals instead of frantically ordering pizza on a thursday night because you ran out of food. hey, it happens! but it doesn't have to.

1. find some recipes. 
this is one of my favorite parts of meal planning and meal prep. i used to dread it. i didn't know where to start or what to make and would end up with something like 'meat, potatoes, maybe a veggie'. but that, my friends is boring and if i've learned anything as a former veggie-hater, it's way too easy to cut out that veggie if it's not incorporated in the meal. enter: PINTEREST. pinterest is not a social media outlet. it is a search engine. and it is full of healthy, delicious, easy, colorful recipes for anything you could ever imagine. just type in what you're looking for and VOILA! hundreds or thousands of recipes right there ready to go! 

another favorite resource of mine is barre3. you've heard me talk about how much i love their workouts, both online and in studio, but they also have amazingly yummy recipes! and the best part, you don't have to be an online subscriber to get access to them! just download the app and BOOM. you have tons of recipes that are so easy and colorful right at your fingertips!

2. keep a running list
this is a really important part to long-term meal planning. you need a recipe repertoire at your fingertips so you can go back to recipes that you love or swap out new ones. every month, i sit down and make a list of recipes we've tried in the past month, what we loved, what we didn't, where they came from (so i can find them again), etc. i usually end up with a couple week's worth of recipes and stick with that.

having just half a month of different recipes is a little secret of mine that works wonders. you do NOT need 31 different dinner recipes in a month. that just leads to buying a bunch of things you'll only use once and you'll end up tossing way too many leftover ingredients. for example: one of my favorite soups calls for lemongrass stalk. but just 3 stalks. so what do i do with the rest of the bunch if i only make the soup once/month?? go back and reuse your favorite recipes a few times in a month. it'll cut down on your grocery trips and your grocery bill AND you'll quickly ditch the recipe book or app or whatever because you'll know how to make it from memory in no time!

3. don't forget about lunches & snacks
for the longest time, i would only plan my dinners. which was all well and good until lunch rolls around on thursday and i'm like 'i cannot eat another turkey and swiss sandwich'. you don't have to make it fancy, you don't even have to make solid plans for each meal. but having a handful of ideas for lunches and snacks (smoothies! roasted chickpeas!) will help keep you out of that mid-week slump.

4. take stock of what you have
before you head out the door for the grocery, make sure to check your fridge and pantry against your shopping list. you may find a lonely bunch of baby spinach in the back of your fridge that would go great with the casserole you were planning for next week. bump it up to this week and you've got one less thing to buy and one less thing to toss when that spinach starts to wilt. knowing what you already have in your kitchen BEFORE you shop and before you finalize your list will save you so much time and money!

5. stock the fridge
when you've finished your shopping you'll need a place to store all of your new foods. every week when i get home from the grocery, the first thing i do is empty out the fridge of old leftovers that didn't last, empty or near-empty containers, old unused veggies. once it's cleaned up, i stock it up. i have actually gotten rid of the drawers in my fridge. it's a personal preference, but i prefer to have my veggies staring me in the face when i open the doors instead of hiding them away in a crisper where they'll be easily forgotten. this also allows easy access for the kids when they're hungry ;) 

6. prep your meals
i don't go crazy chopping & prepping at the beginning of the week but i do make sure every meal's ingredients are bundled together in a similar place. that way, it's easy to find when i get to wednesday's beet, spinach and quinoa bowl. i also spend some extra time on grocery day chopping up veggies for snacks and putting them on kid-friendly containers for easy access. bell peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes are favorites around here so i just chop 'em up, put them in a big bowl, and leave them on a lower shelf so when the kids say 'mama i'm hungry' i can say 'okay go get something from the fridge!'. when they open it up and the first thing they see is a colorful bowl of delicious veggies, they'll grab it first ;) sneaky sneaky. it works on grown-ups too. (keep a container of hummus or homemade spinach and artichoke dip on hand as well)

7. be flexible
this is probably the most important part of meal planning: the ability to make changes and/or ditch your list. we're only human. sometimes things come up, we have to adjust our schedule, or we just don't want to make dinner one night. IT'S OKAY. your meal plan is your guide, it's not a rule you have to follow. the key is to be flexible and allow yourself to go off the plan. but having the plan in the first place allows you to make that decision and adjust where necessary. i'll let you in on a secret: no one sticks to their meal plan perfectly. no one. so don't beat yourself up if one night you decide to toss it out the window and head to your favorite restaurant instead. (hint: maybe plan that in to your schedule occasionally?)

5 Ways to De-Stress

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Stress: The Silent Killer

It was the title of a documentary I watched last week and clearly it struck a chord because I'm all fired up about stress these days.

Here's the thing - there have been studies that show stress leads to more susceptibility to disease and, yes, death. Let's not freak out though, because you're actually much more well off than you think! For starters, you have the internet and are conscious about your health or you wouldn't be here reading this blog. So there's a start. But let's kick that up a notch! Here are 5 simple (PROVEN) ways to diminish stress and start healing your body and mind:

1. Therapeutic Writing

Grab a pen and paper and start writing. This can be anything. You don't have to pour out pages and pages of feelings and emotions. You can start with a few words or sentences. A list of what's going on in your day. 3 things your grateful for in your life. Just write. Putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard is an amazing way to lower your stress.

2. Breathing Exercises

This takes just a couple minutes and can change the course of your day. Lie on your back and place on hand on your belly, one on your heart. (your knees can be bent or straight). Exhale and push out every last bit of breath from your body. Inhale 1/3 of the breath in to your belly. Pause and hold it in (just for a sec). Inhale another 1/3 in to your ribs. Pause. Inhale the last 1/3 of the breath in to your chest. Pause at the top. Exhale 1/3 from the chest. Pause. 1/3 from the ribs. Pause. 1/3 from the belly. PauseRepeat until you've done 3 sets. 

3. Social Support

In the age of the internet social support can seem like it's everywhere ... but is it really? Research shows that actual physical presence of a support group can not only lower your stress, but repair the damage stress can cause on your chromosomes (yes, your DNA is affected by stress. WOAH). If you can't meet with a lovely supportive group of people, don't push it or try and fake it. Sharing in the wrong kind of social setting can have the opposite effect on your stress levels. Virtual communities can also do the trick, again, IF they're the right kind. 

4. Exercise

I cannot stress enough the importance of exercise and how AMAZING a walk is for the mind and the body. You can have your hot yoga and your HIIT and your super intense Crossfit but a nice brisk walk? That's where the real magic happens. Lace up some cute tennis shoes (I like these), and head out for a walk - go to the coffee shop around the corner, head to a park, go walk to get your groceries or just walk around the neighborhood taking Instagram pics of cute houses (not just me, right?). Walking is one of my absolute favorite exercises and ANYONE can do it.

5. Talk to an Expert

There are a lot of people out there who help with stress. A therapist, a life coach, and yes, shameless plug, a wellness coach ;) We know the research, the tools, the ways to get you to figure out for yourself how to best cope with stress. If you can't seem to figure it out for yourself, seek some help. There is no shame, and only power that can come from admitting that you need a little support (I personally have worked with a therapist, life coach, business mentor and a health coach. I'm all about the help now)! 

Plant Based Pregnancy

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One of the most frequent questions we get is "is a vegan diet safe during pregnancy?" and often coupled with "my OB told me that I need to start eating milk/meat/etc while I'm pregnant"

It's funny how everyone and their mother (especially their mother?) has an opinion about eating during pregnancy. During YOURpregnancy. Don't eat this. Eat more of that. Are you sure that's healthy for the baby? are constantly being tossed around pregnant mamas - especially if they've chosen to follow a 'non-traditionally Western' diet. AKA lots and lots of meat and potatoes.

Let's start hereThere is no "best way" to eat for a healthy pregnancy.

There are great ways, and there are not so great ways but if you're reading this you're probably not eating just red meat, black coffee and candy, right? It's safe to assume you fall somewhere in the middle: Trying to nourish your and your growing baby with the best foods possible. 

Food for thought: The recommendations for combating some of the most common fertility issues are to eat a more varied diet with vegetables taking center stage. So normal logic would suggest a plant-based pregnancy would be the healthiest choice for an expecting mama, right? 

Yes and no. If done properly - with care, getting the right nutrients and vitamins and minerals and really taking care of your body - a vegan or plant-based pregnancy is an amazing option. You're probably already eating more healthy veggies and a more balanced diet than your meat-eating counterparts and vegans are generally more conscious consumers and more aware of what they're putting in their bodies if they've been doing it for a while and know how to eat. I know from experience, I was eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted (including lots of meat and animal products) during my pregnancies and it didn't feel great in my body compared to my now plant based diet. I had was meeting most of the requirements, but not really aware of what I was putting in my body. Now that I'm plant based I really take the time and energy to prepare meals that are nourishing and cover all the bases.  A pregnant vegan diet isn't much different. 

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THERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU WANT TO LOOK OUT FOR YOUR PLANT BASED PREGNANCY:

  • Protein - this one you'll also get asked about a LOT by well-meaning friends and family. A pregnant woman should be getting about 77grams of protein daily in the second and third trimester. Most women are getting that much already without having to worry about adding more. Plant based mamas might need to be armed with a nice little list of their plant proteins to rattle off when asked though so keep track of what you're eating and be ready to answer any prying questions with confidence (but not snark).
     
  • Vitamin D & Calcium - Loads of cereals and milks (Rice Dream is an awesome choice!) are fortified with vitamin D and folate so you can usually get away with your recommended increase by adding a bowl of cereal to your day. It's also a comfort food for a lot of mamas which can be really lovely during these long 40 weeks. Also if you're getting regular sunlight, extra vitamin D shouldn't be a problem.
     
  • Iron - plant based mamas can get enough iron during their pregnancy with regular meals of tofu, dried beans, whole grains, and green leafy veggies (but you're probably already eating those, right?) Iron supplements are often recommended in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters but make sure not to take them with any calcium supplement or it won't absorb properly in the body and nullify all your hart work!
     
  • B12 - this is a big one most vegans are already taking in a supplement form. Lots of cereals, soy milks and nutritional yeast brands are fortified with B12 as well to get enough in your diet.
     
  • Folate - Folate is a tricky little guy and I could write an entire book trying to explain how it absorbs in your body and the different kinds you need and how to get it but for the sake of brevity (you're a busy mama!), most pastas, dried beans, cereals, orange juice and green leafy veggies are great sources of folate in addition to 400 micrograms from a supplement. This is one where the whole food source isn't going to cut it. You should be taking a folate supplement before you even get pregnant or start taking it the minute you see those two little pink lines and continue to take it throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
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Lastly, keep a gentle mind when questions arise about your choice to continue your plant based diet during pregnancy. Ironically, no one seems to think it's socially acceptable to question a mama living off of McDonalds, but perfectly fine to ask endless questions of plant based mamas. It's OK. Remind yourself that plant based diets make up very little of the population and many (especially older generations) just don't know what it means, really. Honestly when I first heard of 'veganism' I thought y'all were eating salads and water and it sounded awful. Now that I've joined the ranks, I'm constantly amazed at how delicious and varied and nutrient dense my vegan meals are. Even my meat and potatoes-loving husband can't get enough! So be gentle, take heart, and take a minute to educate a little when someone asks a question about your calcium intake. They might just learn something new and begin to see plant based diets in a whole new light.