Monday, September 26, 2016

When it comes to kids and weight, is it always best to shut your mouth?

In the time I’ve been practicing nutrition I’ve become a mother twice (three times if we count Bronco). I’ve seen clients have children and younger children grow up. I’ve had clients refer their parents to me and of course parents “urge” children, of all different ages, to start Foodtraining. The weight dynamic within families is something Carolyn and I spend a lot of time sorting out.
Last week, I read a letter a father submitted to Social Q’s in the Times. His letter opened with “my 9-year-old daughter is fat” ouch, no mincing words with that sentence. The father felt his daughter was old enough for a dialog about making good choices and indicated that his wife disagreed. “She worries about the effect on our daughter’s self-esteem.” Philip Galanes blasted the father in his response. He pointed out the father’s bluntness, lack of apparent love and interest in how his daughter’s weight reflected on him. He warned this father that he would increase the chances of developing an eating disorder. While I cannot think of many things worse than telling a child they’re “fat” I feel many parents are so scared of “creating an eating disorder” that they often say nothing.  While cruel, critical parents can fuck children up – ignoring food and weight has its own consequences. 
Some advice:
You are likely “that kind of parent”
Every parent who calls my office opens with “I’m not one of those crazy parents”. Of course they are, we all are. Most parents worry and don’t always say things in the best way, our thoughts aren’t always pure.  Do some work (perhaps with your own expert) to sort out how your “stuff” around food affects your parenting. Did you have a parent that was weight obsessed? Or critical? Have you struggled with body image and want to shield your children from the same? Are you embarrassed to have a chubby child? You must be clear on this in order to really help your children.
Cook and teach your children to cook (or assemble)
There are few things better for kids and teens than home cooking. Not only is home-cooked food overall healthier, it’s less salty and sweet and doesn’t invite overeating as takeout or restaurant food does. And whether it’s putting peanut butter on a banana or making an omelet, simple cooking skills will encourage children reaching for healthier items versus packaged snacks. And do what you can, if this can only happen on the weekends, that’s a start. If the person cooking with your child is a babysitter or grandparent- that’s totally fine.
The exact same advice will be interpreted differently depending on who it comes from. Whether it’s a nutritionist, psychologist or doctor (though I have to say many pediatricians are a bit too cut and dry when discussing weight for my taste), it’s best that someone else suggests steps to take. Parents can support the advice provided by an expert.
And finally, choose honesty over political correctness
With everything our children are exposed to do you really think you can avoid the weight/size topic?  If you’ve struggled with your weight, discuss this with your children. Ask your children how they feel about their size (height, weight etc.) and depending on their response ask if they want help making changes.
And, for the record, I have a weight issue in my midst. Bronco is overweight. And my babysitter gets upset with me with I call the Boston Terrier “fat”.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Our best Squeeze program yet and fave new ingredient

 Oh structure we missed you so. We are midway though our Foodtrainers’ September Squeeze fall reset weeks.  Week 1, led by Lauren, concluded Sunday and week 2, my week, is off and running (shout out to our Squeeze achievers doing both weeks).

We design a new program, with new recipes each time (why do less work when you can do more?) but we never really know how it will go until we have a group of all ages, living in all different places, going through it. Many of Lauren’s week 1 squeezers told us it was our best squeeze yet…nice!  We asked our week 1 Squeeze grads to tell us how they felt:
I feel back on track/more confident/able to say no/in control/clear-headed, rested and resolved to continue.

This Squeeze is NO booze, grains, sugar, cheese or scale (yup a full week no weigh ins).  While it sounds like a lot of no’s we have a lot of yes’s too. We select special ingredients and what we call “secret weapons” to spice things up. My favorite this go around is ashwaganda. Ashwagandha is tough to say and tough to drink. Sunpotion politely says it tastes a little “earthy”, we say it tastes like dirt, unless you have it in our OMG Ashwagandha recipe. Why should you “ash”? It’s an Ayurvedic herb, used for over 3000 years, that lowers cortisol, helps body handle stress, balances thyroid hormones and improves body composition and sleep.
Try Ashwaganda and our other new favorites in our Squeeze Bundle 

Squeeze Nightcap: OMG Ashwagandha
We love us some golden milk and this ashwagandha nightcap is a spin on the classic. Don’t stress out about our recipe, if you don’t have all of these it’ll be ok.
And if you are stressing out…all the more reason to try this.
·      1/4 tsp. Sun Potion Ashwagandha
·      1/2 tsp. Wakaya turmeric
·      1/2 tsp. Wakaya ginger
·      1 cup water
·      Pinch sea salt 
·      Pinch black pepper (pepper increases the effectiveness of turmeric)
·      1 cup almond or coconut milk
·      Optional drops NuStevia (optional)
·      *Add more sea salt or stevia as needed 

1.    Put ashwagandha, turmeric, ginger, pepper and water into a small saucepan, add water and simmer 8-10 minutes or until this mixture reduces and thickens.
2.    Add almond milk and stir, continue until mixture is warm (a few minutes).
3.    Add salt and stevia (if using) and stir again.
4.    Pour into a mug and sip. OMG, you’ve been ashwagandha’d.

If you want a reset, let us know and we’ll put you on the list for January “Whipping Week” info.
So what do you do when you need to reboot? Have you heard of ashwaganda? Any nighttime rituals you’d like to share?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cashew Addiction Explained

Assume there are 100 cashews here. Assume that's a portion.
 You can binge on anything. Once when I  told a client “you will not overeat on chicken” she swiftly corrected me, “I eat a whole chicken Lauren…well except for the insides and bones.” Interesting. And one night my younger son complained of a stomachache and said,  “I probably ate too many bananas after soccer.”  I asked my son how many assuming he had two or so, he said five. While these instances are rarities, cashew binging is extremely common. You are more likely to overeat (translation the whole package, regardless of its size) cashews that any other nut. You may not find that in a scientific journal but it’s the truth.
I saw 10 clients yesterday. Two reported cashew issues. Foodtrainers will turn 15 in November, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to conduct cashew research but I did and have a theory. Cashews are carby. I know that sounds as dumb as when people claim carrots are sugary. Cashews have four times the net carbs (carb grams minus fiber grams) of walnuts or pecans and more than double the carbs in almonds. Grace, our resident researcher, and I both poked around and she concluded; “only chestnuts have them beat”.  When I offered this explanation to one of my cashew challenged clients she said, “I think it’s the texture, think of how creamy cashew milk is.” She has a point. Cashews are the most widely used dairy alternative. So there are the carbs, the texture and there’s also a natural sweetness of cashews…shit.
Here’s where science tells a different story. On PubMed I read of a study finding that cashew extract improves insulin function and the “damaging effects of high blood sugar”.  So cashew extract has anti-diabetic properties whereas cashews (and cashew addiction) give you diabetes. Another interesting tidbit, you don’t see cashews in shells in stores because the shell of the cashew is poisonous. For this reason, cashews are heat treated before being shelled so; raw cashews are never really raw. And I’ll add that “raw” cashews are binged on too.
When we convened our office cashew conference, we formulated our addiction advice. We joked that we should all eat the shells as a deterrent but are not in the business of poisoning people. Carolyn voted to remove cashews from the Foodtrainers’ nutcase.
Betcha can't have 15...unless you have a nutcase
 Instead, we agreed to advocate cashews via nutcase only. That way, you avoid over-nutting (thanks Well and Good for the shout out). 

Are you a cashew addict? Or, what do you feel are the most bingeable foods?

Monday, September 12, 2016

I was a meditation faillure until this

Meditation stresses me out.  While I’m fully on board with all meditation can do for me, I couldn’t find a way to work it into my life. Some people meditate first thing in the morning. That’s great but I like to write at that time. Others suggest meditating before bed but at that point, I just want to go to bed. I’ve spent money on apps and programs and nothing stuck until my most recent discovery.
One of my favorite things in life is a sauna. I love the dry heat and the quiet. I find it to be one of the most relaxing things but I don’t have a sauna at home. I do have a steam shower, which was never my thing (more of a bath girl). Marc insisted on it when we renovated. I’ve slowly come around and find it sauna-esque, now I set the steam for 10 minutes whenever I shower.

I’ve been pretty anxious the last couple of weeks. It’s nothing major but the usual not enough hours in the day stuff that comes with the kids being back in their routines and work kicking up for me.  I’ve noticed my heart racing a bit. And so, when I found myself with five minutes left on the steam shower, I decided it was an opportunity (and all I can say to the person who thought this sentence meant something else is it's a MEDITATION post). I sat down (we have a bench in our shower, another Marc request), closed my eyes and “focused on my breath”.  If that sounds a little woo woo to you, I agree. You see I’m not someone who can focus on my breath. The only thing that works for me is counting. I count five counts to inhale and another five to exhale.  I think there’s something to be said for being locked in the shower. Even if my eyes open there’s no computer screen or phone. There’s nobody who will walk in (surprisingly this is the one safe haven in my house) or distract me. And I’m only aiming for five minutes at this point.  I’m ok with that as I read (in People which made me feel better about my People habit too) the Dalai Lama quoted saying, “there shouldn’t be any strict rules. It’s not good to push oneself too much.” So there.
Do you meditate? When and where do you do it? For how long? Do you like saunas?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I'm not a hugger (and how this can help you)

Call her my girl crush, idol or obsession; whichever word you use- I love Nora Ephron. I love her writing and movies, how much she loved NYC and, most importantly, her feelings about egg white omelets. I admire her so much I felt “bad about my neck” years before I needed to (and silently thank her when I apply night cream below my chin). So, when I read a review of Richard Cohen's new Nora Ephron biography She Made Me Laugh, I immediately headed to Barnes and Noble. Amazon prime would not do.

I've always felt some sort of connection to Nora; I'm sure many feel this way but as I read this fantastic book a few things stood out:
Nora abhorred religion
She didn’t like dancing
And she wasn’t much of a hugger
Why does this matter? It matters because you're supposed to like each of these things. And each of these things I've kind of fudged liking for a long time. And so now I feel I can be out.
I will never dance like nobody is watching and can't relate to that sentiment. I found another non-dancer (and married him) and we saunter over to the bar when the band begins. Or we watch other people dance and prove my dance theory and that is that being a good dancer isn’t a prerequisite for liking to dance. 
As for religion, I grew up Jewish-ish. There was no Hebrew school or bat mitzvah. We didn’t have seders...we had dinners.  We only had a rabbi at our wedding because I felt we had to.
And hugging, hugging confuses me. I don't mind a kiss hello but a hug is reserved for my kids…on visiting day when they’ve been away for three weeks.  I especially hate those awkward moments where you don’t know if you’re expected to hug or not.

As of today, I am going to own my feelings on these topics. My guess is that you have something you've been pretending to like too. If it's something as silly as dancing or hugging there's no reason to fake it. However, there are some areas where I’ll make effort to change such as bringing by reusable shopping bags, tracking my finances (I’d rather dance) and ending my delightful, summer fling with rosé.