March is National Nutrition Month!

The theme this year focuses on the importance of personalized nutrition. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. What is effective for one person may be unsafe for another. We are all humans, yet we have vastly different nutrient needs. Research has shown that even twins metabolize foods differently!

Your eating plan MUST be individualized in order to align with your own behaviors and tendencies. The optimal timing of eating depends on several factors unique to YOU. The best eating plan is one that is sustainable (long-term), nourishing and does not cause stress to your mental wellbeing.

Creating your own personalized nutrition plan: 
Factors to consider when creating your own eating plan:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Culture
  • Budget
  • Work schedule
  • Food preferences
  • Physical activity level
  • Food availability
  • Medications
  • Sleep habits
  • Medical conditions
  • Family dynamic
  • Cooking knowledge
  • Hunger level
  • Meal satisfaction
Making a plan: 
A healthy lifestyle starts with a plan. What happens when we don’t have a plan for our food? Typically, this can lead to choosing foods you wouldn’t have chosen if there was a plan in place. Without a plan, it’s easy to wait until the point of intense hunger, which leads to consuming bigger portion sizes and a fast pace of eating.
Benefits of planning ahead:
  • Takes the guesswork out of meal time
  • Ensures healthful foods are planned 
  • Prevents choosing quick, processed convenient foods
  • Cost savings by eating out less
Start to think about what you will eat 24 hours in advance. What will it take for you to plan ahead? Our brains make decisions differently when we are calmly planning ahead vs. making impulse judgments. When you make an eating plan ahead of time you're deciding what to eat based on your best interest.
Flexible meal planning includes:
  • Having foods available that you find to be both satisfying and satiating
  • Having foods available that are versatile and vary in texture, color, aroma, and temperature
  • Prepping staples (protein, carbs and fats sources) in advance so that you can incorporate them into different meals throughout the week
  • Writing down your go-to options for snacks and meals
  • Deciding a realistic frequency for grocery store visits (e.g. once a week, once a month, etc.)
  • Considering tools to help with grocery shopping (e.g. grocery delivery or curbside pick-up)
  • Deciding how often (if at all) you want to try a brand new recipe (e.g. once a week, once a month, etc.)
Meal Ideas: 
These are my favorite recipe databases with special filters to simplify exactly what you’re looking for: 
  • Search by number of ingredients, cooking method, meal prep, recipe videos and more: Fit Foodie Finds
  • Search by meal prep, special diet, freezer friendly & cooking method: The REAL FOOD RDs
  • Search by ingredient (my favorite option!), vegan meals, gluten free, season and more: Love and Lemons
  • Search by cooking time, number of ingredients, kid-friendly and more: Eating Bird Food 
  • Search by sport-specific, holiday, 15-minute meals, cooking method and more: Fannetastic Food
  • Search by vegan meals, gluten free, snacks, cooking method and more: Delish Knowledge   

Meal Satisfaction

If you aren’t happy or satisfied with your food, overeating can easily occur. The more you practice choosing foods that will meet your level of satisfaction, the easier it is to stop eating when you are full. It is important to note that you can feel physically full, but not satisfied. Therefore, satisfaction is a better indicator than fullness for deciding when your body is ready to stop eating. 

What enhances satisfaction? 

Eating when hungry.
Pausing and asking yourself what you really want to eat, before eating.
Creating a peaceful environment. 
Slowing down your pace of eating to allow the mind and body to communicate.
Increasing the visual appeal of the meal by setting the table with the fancy dishware.
Engaging all 5 senses when eating.

Meal Planning Templates
Here are some of my favorite FREE meal planning templates! 

Overcoming Stress-Induced Eating 

It is not uncommon for people to fall into the habit of using food to cope with stress, rather than opting for alternative methods. If this habit is not addressed, years of stress eating can lead to significant unwanted weight gain. The goal is to change the automatic pattern during times of stress. The impulse can change from choosing food to choosing an activity that will still leave you feeling at ease, relaxed and less stressed. Food may provide comfort or distraction in the moment, but food likely doesn't have the ability to solve the issue. 
Stress eating is also referred to as emotional hunger, which is when there is an unmet emotional need that presents itself with a desire to eat food. 
Using food as a coping strategy can be triggered by: 
  • A sudden or chronic uncomfortable feeling, emotion or situation
  • Lack of rest 
  • Lack of comfort, warmth and nurturing  
  • Inability to express feelings
  • The feeling of not being heard, understood and accepted
  • Boredom or  the need for entertainment 
If any of these triggers are not being satisfied, food could be used to fill in the gap.  These intense cravings may feel like they come out of nowhere until we realize which basic needs are lacking.
What can you do to cope without using food?
Calming Activities:
  • Yoga/meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Take a mindful walk outside
  • Write in a journal
  • Picture your favorite place
  • Make a tight fist and then release it
  • Rip paper (I’m serious!)
  • Utilize an app such as Insight Timer, Sanvello or Calm
  • Take a hot bath or shower
Distraction Activities:
  • Call a friend
  • Read a book
  • Listen to a podcast or specific music genre
  • Watch a movie or favorite TV show
  • Play a game
  • Color, draw or paint (there are apps for this, too!)
  • Do a hobby or a craft
  • Clean your living space
  • Exercise
 Another very good idea:
  • Speak with an experienced mental health professional  
Happy Foods for Tough Times

In stressful times you can keep your spirits up and your immune system strong by choosing nutritious foods that nourish your body and mind. Here are five happy foods and tips backed by research:
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is related to greater happiness, satisfaction and a positive outlook. When stocking up, choose frozen fruits and vegetables to avoid food waste and increase shelf life, while maintaining nutritional value. If you buy canned fruit, choose the kind with water instead of syrup.  
Omega-3 fats have been shown in research to reduce anxiety. Fatty fish is an excellent dietary source of omega-3 fats, especially salmon, mackerel and sardines (which come canned or in pouches). Plant-based options include walnuts, edamame, seaweed, cooked Brussels sprouts, and seeds (flax, chia and hemp).
Probiotics promote healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, which has been shown to help manage anxiety, improve overall mood and reduce sadness and depression. This is part of the fascinating mind-gut connection. Natural probiotic food sources include pickled veggies, kefir (fermented probiotic milk drink), yogurt (watch out for added sugar), tempeh (fermented soybeans) and kombucha tea (fermented black or green tea). When choosing a probiotic supplement to help with mood, look for a brand with several types of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus strains of bacteria.
For additional mental health benefits, minimize or avoid pro-inflammatory processed foods that have added sugar and trans fats. Studies have linked excessive, chronic inflammation to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and mood-related conditions. Research suggests that a diet high in pro-inflammatory foods is linked greater risk for developing depression.

Virtual Nutrition Counseling

 Thanks to technology, I am able to give you guidance at the times that work best for you. Whether you have free time on your lunch break, after the kids are asleep, or on a Saturday morning: I am there in real-time. This takes the stress, time, & cost out of driving to and from appointments. Request more info!

We have a new member of the team! 

If you follow me on social media, you are well aware that I recently welcomed a baby girl into the world! While I take time to navigate the entirely new world of being a mom, I encourage you to check out my recently published book, The Intuitive Eating Journal. If you're looking to schedule an appointment, you are welcome to register and schedule for all of my nutrition services straight from my website.

Happiness for Breakfast:

This chia seed pudding has everything you need to start your day off with a smile: healthy omega-3 fats, natural probiotics and the option to add fresh fruit! 

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 2 additional teaspoons
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup plus additional to taste (option to use honey instead)
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or any milk you like
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
 Optional toppings: fresh fruit, granola, chopped nuts or shaved coconut 

Sift cocoa powder over a medium mixing bowl to remove any lumps. (I know–sifting is the worst, but you don’t want any lumps in your pudding.)

Add the maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and espresso powder, and whisk slowly to combine. The mixture will seem very dry at first but will come together eventually and resemble a thick, fudgy sauce.

Pour in a few splashes of the milk and stir gently to create a paste (this will help prevent lumps from forming). Then add the rest of the milk, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the Greek yogurt until smooth.

Add chia seeds and whisk to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic (or transfer into a tightly sealed container) and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours, until the mixture thickens into a pudding-like consistency.

Once set, stir the pudding once more. Scoop out your desired portion, and enjoy with any toppings. You can also portion the mix into jars and store them in the refrigerator for 4 additional days.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 servings
Amount Per Serving: 
Calories: 199; Total fat: 8g; Saturated fat: 1g; Trans fat: 0g; Healthy fat: 7g; Cholesterol: 1mg; Carbohydrates:27; Fiber: 9g; Sugar: 13g; Protein: 8g
Your body is a temple. Be kind to it! 
Nutrition Nibbles Blog
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