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    Small Changes You Can Make If You Gained Weight During Quarantine

    So 2020 has been a ride, huh? Comfort food recipes are trending on Google, you haven’t worn pants without a drawstring since March, and workouts look more like laying on the living room floor and forcing ourselves to go through a yoga video on Youtube. The most thrilling part of the past six months was perfecting a banana bread recipe or when the new season of Selling Sunset came out, and you’ve totally ditched your Fitbit because it’s way too judgmental RN (the only steps we’re getting in is to and from the kitchen, so that 10,000 step goal is pretty much a distant memory). It’s no surprise that “Quarantine 15” is a trending phrase and weight loss is a trending topic these days.As a health coach, I’ve found that many clients will feel uncomfortable saying they’d like to lose weight, as if it’s materialistic or wrong. On the flip side, other women feel like they’re supposed to want to lose weight, even if they feel great as they are, because weight loss and diet culture are so normalized. So here’s my preface: instead of shaming yourself for whatever goal you do or don’t have, listen to your body, respect other women’s health goals, and know that what makes you feel good in your body is going to be different than anyone else. 
    Now that we have that out of the way, if weight loss is your goal after gaining weight in quarantine, here are 11 small changes you can make to help you feel like your best, healthiest self (yes, even after doing nothing but watching reruns of The Office on your couch for the past six months):

    Source: Chelsea Victoria | Stocksy

    1. First of all… chill out. 
    Weight gain does not mean anything besides just that: you gained weight. It doesn’t mean you’re less attractive, strong, or lovable. It simply means the entire world is going through a very scary time. Your routine and any sense of normalcy have changed, and it’s only normal for your body to change with it. Stress over weight gain is just as bad for your body as pandemic-induced anxiety, so don’t feel guilt or shame. Instead, know that your body is doing what it’s supposed to. If you want to lose weight because you feel less connected to your body and just overall less healthy, then I commend you for knowing your body well enough to identify what it needs. But prioritize losing the shame around weight gain over losing the weight. 

    Source: Daria Shevtsova | Pexels

    2. Don’t ignore cravings. Instead, find healthier alternatives.
    Cravings are not mistakes or punishments, and they’re not there to sabotage your weight loss or health goals. Cravings are actually one of the ways our bodies try to communicate with us what they need. Plus, if we have a major craving for delicious fajitas and force ourselves to eat another boring salad instead, it can lead to bingeing, restrictive eating, and an unhealthy relationship with food. Now that will sabotage your health goals. 
    Instead, find alternatives with nutritious whole foods to nourish your body. For example, if you have a sweet tooth, grab a square of dark chocolate after dinner. If you’re craving chips or fries, DIY sweet potato fries by tossing sweet potato slivers with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and baking them in the oven. If heavy comfort foods are more your medicine of choice, score a frozen cauliflower crust from Trader Joe’s to top with tomato sauce and organic cheese, or try chickpea pasta or spaghetti squash. For any other craving, check out these recipes to find a healthier alternative. 

    Source: Eli Sommer | Pexels

    3. Take a work break with movement instead of an Instagram scroll
    You know those moments when you mindlessly reach for your phone to scroll through Instagram or Tiktok after finishing a major task you’ve been working on for hours? Either your brain needs a break, or you need a few minutes “off” to transition into the next task. Instead of reaching for your phone, get up, and move. Do some stretching, go through a yoga flow, or do ten jumping jacks to get blood flowing. Not only will movement help you refocus and reenergize better than an Instagram scroll ever would, but it’s also an easy way to fit in more movement and motivate yourself to make better choices for the rest of the day. 

    4. Drink more water
    Drinking more water is a tale as old as time, but there’s a reason it’s the most basic, universal health hack in the book. For me, drinking a big glass of water first thing when waking up, sipping on a reusable straw throughout the day (I’m partial to these pretty gold ones), and having three drinks at a time to achieve optimal hydration (like lemon water and green juice with my coffee), has made a drastic difference in how my body feels. If I get hungry soon after eating, I drink a big glass of water rather than going straight to the pantry to mindlessly snack (more on that below!). Of course, if I’m still hungry afterward, I’ll eat something nourishing (the body knows what it needs), but I’ve also learned that a lot of hunger cues are actually thirst. Try drinking even more water every day and just watch how much better your body feels. 

    Source: Lauren Naefe | Stocksy

    5. Go on a walk every day
    Intense workout plans don’t always help us achieve health goals because they’re hard to keep up. You might run out of time to fit in a workout and forego exercise altogether that day, and we will all likely have days (or weeks) where we feel too tired to even start a 60-minute HIIT workout. Instead, shift your focus to living less sedentary and moving more often. Whether workouts are a part of your daily routine or you haven’t worked out since your gym was open in spring, make it a goal to go on walks every day. Take your dog for a walk in the morning, go on a walk while listening to a podcast on a work break, or grab your significant other for a stroll in the evening. 

    Source: Annie Spratt | Unsplash

    6. Every time you snack, ask yourself why
    Back to the cravings: yes, they can tell us what our bodies need, but it’s not always about food. More often than not, whenever we mindlessly snack or crave (like snacking while working or watching TV), it’s because our bodies are lacking something else, whether it’s a break, excitement, comfort, or joy. Every time you subconsciously reach for the bag of chips or Cheez-Its, ask yourself if you’re hungry or not. If you are, then great! You’re listening to your body’s cues. Proceed with the snack, or make a snack that might feel more fulfilling and satisfying.
    If you’re not hungry, ask yourself what void your body is trying to fill. Are you stressed and your body’s telling you to take a break from work, or are you looking for a way to comfort yourself because you’ve been feeling extra anxious lately? Maybe it’s the lack of anything exciting to look forward to, so you’re supplementing with cheesy, delicious snacks that don’t really fill the void. If you identify it is emotional snacking, try to feed your body in other ways: take a work break and go for a walk, plan a fun movie night with your roommate, or just give yourself a little extra love. 

    Source: Nabi Tang | Stocksy

    7. Stop weighing yourself
    You’ll see the most drastic changes when you enjoy healthy habits for both the mind and body, rather than thinking you have to do them for weight loss. You’ll stop hating yourself when the scale isn’t moving quickly enough, and will naturally look, feel, and be better. This is not woo-hoo self-help advice; being healthy for benefits like mental health and energy is what made the most drastic changes in my body (oh, and it was actually sustainable). When you’re focused on a number on the scale, you naturally feel more stressed, restricted, and disappointed. Instead, focus on how you feel to measure where you are, instead of relying on an objective number to tell you how you’re supposed to feel. 

    Source: Marc Bordons | Stocksy

    8. Turn workouts into a social activity 
    One of the most common sources of stress during this time is that we lack connection. Happy hours are restricted to Zoom, you gossip with your work wife over Slack instead of over lattes, and you run away from people at the grocery store who get too close–it’s against our nature as human beings to be so unconnected, leading to stress and anxiety. Kill two birds with one stone by turning workouts into social activities. Not only will you feel happier with more social connection, but you’re more likely to work out since you’ll have a friend to hold you accountable. Try going on socially-distanced hikes, doing group workouts with your quarantine crew, or meeting up with your sister to go through a workout series together.

    Source: @josie.santi

    9. Eat more vegetables with every meal
    In my humble opinion, one of the most effective changes you could make is learning about foods and the effects they have on the body. When you’re aware of the nutrients and benefits that come from whole foods, you start to see them as medicine and fuel, rather than in categories of “good” or “bad” foods that you’re either supposed to eat or not supposed to eat (and just like bad boys and the cookie jar, we want it more when it’s off-limits).
    Focusing on eating more vegetables can not only help you feel your best and crave fruits and vegetables, but it can also subconsciously crowd out processed and sugary foods (totally guilt-free). Do you typically have eggs for breakfast? No need to shift what you’re used to or enjoy. Instead, add some spinach to an omelet or put some avocado on top. Do you eat pasta on the regular? Throw in some kale and asparagus, and you’ll never feel deprived, while simultaneously giving your body nutrients that keep it healthy.

    Source: @barre3

    10. Invest in your health
    There’s a reason pricey programs work (if only temporarily): when people invest money into it, they’re more likely to stay motivated and on track. If you decided at the beginning of quarantine to workout with Youtube videos or some yoga flows on your own and find yourself never making time for exercise, it might be because you don’t have anything on the line. Try investing in an online subscription, a new pair of leggings, or a pretty yoga mat or pair of dumbbells. Likewise, invest in healthy produce. Because fresh produce goes bad much quicker than a box of mac n’ cheese or a frozen pizza, you’re more likely to go for a meal incorporating the fruits and veggies, if for no other reason than you don’t want your money to go to waste. There’s nothing more worthy of time and money than your most energetic, happiest, healthiest self, so start prioritizing it. 

    Source: Thais Varela | Stocksy

    11. Ask yourself the “why”
    You already know that setting goals are important when it comes to your health. Health goals are commonly to “lose weight,” “work out more,” or “eat cleaner,” and while these are all fine health goals, they don’t really mean anything. Ask yourself why you want to reach that goal. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to feel more confident, to feel less sluggish, or to heal symptoms? Not only will reflecting on the “why” behind your goals be so much more motivating to keep in mind throughout the process than weight loss could ever be, but you’ll be able to assess whether or not you actually want your goals.
    If your goal is to be more confident, will losing weight truly help? And even if you know it would, what other things can you work on while simultaneously trying to lose weight to help reach that goal? Shift your goal from feeling good about your body to feel good in your body. You’ll realize that what you actually want is a holistic process that isn’t just about your diet or how much you’re exercising, but about how much joy you’re feeling. 

    What changes have helped you with weight loss or achieving your health goals? More

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    Why Losing Weight Didn’t Make Me Love Myself More (And What Actually Did)

    Every woman has a different story about the relationship she has with her body. Many of these “body stories” are dramas full of ups and downs that could rival Game of Thrones, while others are more like a happy rom-com. But most often, our body stories are individualized, private, and can stop us from feeling true self-love and acceptance. As a health coach, I’ve had the privilege to learn about and help heal other women’s stories. While every woman’s body story is vastly different, here’s mine:I was one of the lucky ones. My mother never commented on my weight or the way I looked. She called me kind, smart, and talented, and never once referred to the size of my body. I grew up with the mentality that who I was defined me, not what I looked like. However, even my mother’s values and limitless support couldn’t totally protect me from how the rest of the world told women they were supposed to be.
    Body insecurities are normalized to the point that we bond with other women over poor relationships with food and putting ourselves down. I still try to channel Cady Heron in the Mean Girls scene where the only thing she could think of that she didn’t like about herself was bad breath in the morning, after the other Plastics picked apart their appearances (#selflovegoals). But the truth is that along with the strong, beautiful, funny, talented, smart women I’ve been friends with, I thought more like Regina George or Gretchen Wieners when looking at my reflection. 

    Each woman’s insecurities look a lot different. For me, my insecurities looked like the occasional, I wish this body part different, or I wish I looked like her, or Sure, I could probably afford to lose a few pounds. I’ve always called myself confident, but I was more confident in my personality than in my body. Bathing suits always made me a little self-conscious, and I was painfully aware of the pounds I gained from cafeteria food and slapping the bag at frat parties my freshman year of college (full disclosure: my freshman 15 was not just 15 pounds, and it lasted much longer than freshman year). 

    I’ve always called myself confident, but I was more confident in my personality than in my body.

    I spent my early 20s eating all the late-night pizzas I wanted and going to daily spin or Orange Theory classes, thinking it would counteract the over-indulgences (it didn’t). I attempted diets here and there, but enjoyed sushi takeout and Taco Bell too much to make any dramatic changes for the goal of weight loss. Instead, I felt a constant underlying pressure to eat better before every formal or felt guilty for “over-indulging,” whether it was dessert at the cafeteria or drinking too many glasses of Two-Buck Chuck.  

    Source: @josie.santi

    The year after I graduated from college, I moved home and started my career. I went to bed early to wake up with enough time to exercise before work, ate dinner with my parents instead of ordering takeout or going out with friends, and my weekend mornings looked like an omelet and coffee at home instead of my usual french toast and mimosa brunch. My clothes started fitting more loosely, and people started telling me I had lost weight. I like to say that I “accidentally” changed because I wasn’t even aware that anything looked different.
    If I had lost weight, shouldn’t I feel better about myself? I thought I shouldn’t have any more food guilt, and I should be happier about my appearance. It’s what I had thought for so long as the missing piece I never had the willpower to achieve, and yet, I didn’t feel any better. Flash forward a few years, and I’m more confident than I have ever been (while being a few–or 10–pounds heavier than that first year out of college). Here’s why I learned weight loss isn’t a prescription for self-love, and what made me love myself instead. 

    There’s always going to be another five pounds
    When I did lose weight, it was not the immediate sense of gratification I had expected it would be. I felt the same amount of self-consciousness, whether it was thinking I still looked bloated, noticing cellulite, or finding a new imperfection. We often think that as long as we hit a certain weight or pants size, then we’ll be happy. But more often than not, this isn’t true. Even if we get a six-pack, we would focus on the size of our thighs, or maybe start hating the bags under our eyes. There’s always going to be another imperfection when weight loss is the ultimate goal.

    There’s always going to be another imperfection when weight loss is the ultimate goal.

    Self-love is a skill, not a circumstance
    I always thought that once I had the perfect body (LOL as if that exists), all my problems would go away. Since I grew up from the 20-year-old girl tracking her calories on MyFitnessPal and light-heartedly laughing with friends about how weak our willpower is when it comes to cheese boards on wine night, I learned that a number on the scale is never the problem. The problem is that we don’t feel like we’re good enough, and that doesn’t change, even if the number on the scale does.
    Just like happiness, confidence is a skill, not a circumstance. It doesn’t come when you achieve a certain weight or pants size, because it’s something that has to be consistently worked, like any muscle. Thinking that you’ll feel more self-love when you lose a certain amount of weight is distracting you from the real problem of not feeling good enough as you are. Practice and prioritize self-love first in order to achieve a body you feel good in, not the other way around. 

    Practice and prioritize self-love first in order to achieve a body you feel good in, not the other way around. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    Everyone feels better in different body types
    While our culture trains us from an early age to believe there’s only one type of “attractiveness” we are supposed to strive for, this just isn’t true. It’s marketing, not biology. In reality, every woman does (and should) feel like her best, sexiest self in a variety of different body types. When I did lose those extra “college” pounds, I remember telling my therapist that I should feel better about myself, but something about the weight loss made me feel less feminine and confident.
    Yes, I desperately missed those same curves that I had wanted to get rid of for years. The point is that we all have different body types for a reason. Every woman’s “ideal” body should be totally different than anyone else’s. We’re often so distracted by achieving what society has told us is “perfection” that we don’t stop to think about what would actually make us feel our very best.

    Every woman’s ‘ideal’ body should be totally different than anyone else’s. We’re often so distracted by achieving what society has told us is ‘perfection’ that we don’t stop to think about what would actually make us feel our very best.

    “Weight loss” is not a sustainable way to live
    Although dieters might feel a sense of satisfaction in seeing the numbers on a scale go down, each pound lost likely requires sacrifice and suppressing cravings. The focus is on less, less, and less. Food becomes an enemy and a stressor, not something to nourish us. Restricting food, resisting cravings, and making life changes (like avoiding social settings that center around food, for example) takes a toll on mental and physical health. Yes, I lost weight, but I also dealt with a lot of anxiety that left me with less appetite, and I focused on my career much more than I focused on enjoying time with family and friends. Weight loss didn’t make my life better; it only happened because I wasn’t living my best life.
    Even though weight loss was the aftermath and not the cause, it was the one time I was “successful” at losing weight, and it did not make me any happier. I realized that nothing is worth the price tag of enjoying my life for the messy, happy series of moments it is. Those extra inches on the waistline is where life happens. It’s the extra glass of rosé on a summer rooftop, or a slice of your favorite chocolate cake when you go home to visit your mom. I realized that constantly hoping to lose weight demoted these moments to be worth nothing more than a pants size or number on a scale.

    Source: Felicia Lasala for The Everygirl

    …and 5 Things That Did Make Me Love Myself More

    I changed my goal to be healthy, not skinny
    I used to think of nutrition through the lens of calories, carbs, fats, and proteins. I obviously knew food was necessary for survival, but I also understood and saw food through labels like “good” and “bad,” or “healthy” versus “unhealthy,” because it was all about how it would make my body look. My entire outlook changed when I learned about using plants as medicine and how to eat to change how I feel. Now, my goal is to be healthy for optimal energy, to live a long life, to be my most vibrant self, and to feel happy. When I started eating to be healthy instead of skinny, I started loving my body for what it could do, instead of what it looked like.

    When I started eating to be healthy instead of skinny, I started loving my body for what it could do, instead of what it looked like.

    I focused on strength, not weight
    No, the transformation was not all mental. As much as I believe in screwing the man (in this case, damaging diet culture and societal pressure on women), and as much as I wish this is 100 percent about internal mindset, the truth is that’s just 90 percent of it. The other 10 percent of achieving self-love came from how I felt physically in my body. I’ve always loved exercising and knew I felt better overall when I was consistently moving, but I would also work out for calorie burn. I loved classes that tracked how many calories I burned, as if that’s what made a tough workout worth it.
    When my self-love changed, so did my workouts. I learned there are thousands of reasons to work out, but weight loss isn’t one of them. Now, I work out to make my muscles stronger and to feel more powerful in my physical self. I started eating to get more energy and as fuel for workouts. I became addicted to feeling powerful and strong, rather than hoping to feel smaller. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    Actually prioritizing self-love
    This one sounds like a no-brainer (you felt self-love by prioritizing self-love? Revolutionary!). But surprisingly, so often when we are hell-bent on losing weight, we’re promoting weight loss over self-love, thinking that the two don’t conflict. Instead of restrictive eating, calorie counting, and labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” prioritize self-love by being compassionate to what your body wants. Eat intuitively, not restrictively. Prioritizing self-love means you choose to leave behind whatever is unhealthy for you, whether it’s relationships, jobs, or your own beliefs and habits that aren’t letting you be happy.

    Prioritizing self-love means you choose to leave behind whatever is unhealthy for you, whether it’s relationships, jobs, or your own beliefs and habits that aren’t letting you be happy.

    Knowing that the way I looked was not an accomplishment
    I’ve always been a big self-improvement girl: self-help books are my guilty pleasure, and my daily affirmation is always about showing up as my highest self. But perhaps the greatest shift in my self-love came when I stopped associating being a better version of myself with having a better body. Now, when I feel insecurity come up (because it still does, I swear!), I remind myself that my best self has nothing to do with a breakout, a patch of cellulite, or gaining a few pounds.
    When I notice myself looking in the mirror and thinking something negative, it’s a sign that I’ve been too focused on myself. My fix? Call up a friend to see how they are, donate to an organization, or tell my boyfriend what I love about him (you’re welcome for my selflessness, boyfriend). Not only does it help me to get outside myself, but it reminds me that I do like the kind, compassionate person I am. Now that’s a real accomplishment. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    Focusing on what makes me “big”
    I think everything clicked for me when I realized I was constantly trying to shrink myself, rather than feeling justified for the space I take up in this world. Instead, I want to love what’s big: in body, in personality, in love, in altruism, in voice, in confidence, in aspirations. In the end, weight loss is not the secret to success, a relationship, or happiness; it’s an endless goal that keeps us from achieving everything we want in life because we don’t think we deserve it yet.
    I had been so focused on being smaller for so long that I forgot to love what’s big in me. Now, I consistently remind myself to love everything from my loud laugh to my lofty goals. My advice to you, dear readers, is to love your bigness so much, the world can no longer point at you and call you small.  More

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    8 Outdated Rules for Healthy Eating That We’re Ditching

    We grow up learning a lot of food rules that we believe as fact. Maybe you’ve experienced some form of self-prescribed dieting, or you depended on rules to make healthy decisions (I know I certainly have). You try your best to eat healthy because you know you’re supposed to. But imagine a different approach to healthy eating, one that isn’t focused on numbers, news, or the latest diet trend. Instead, imagine knowing your body so well you know what it needs and feel guilt-free eating what it wants. The truth is that a lot of those food rules we have always believed as fact are stopping us from achieving true health and food freedom. Here are eight of them that we’re completely getting rid of (and three that we’re living by instead). 

    Source: Social Squares

    1. Some foods are “good” and some foods are “bad”
    Every food is predefined into labels of “good” and “bad” by our culture. We grow up understanding that a stalk of celery is a “good” food, a slice of pizza is a “bad” food, and there is always an “evil” nutrient we turn into a public enemy (like carbs, saturated fats, or sugar). However, when we put a moral value on foods, what’s meant to nourish us becomes associated with guilt. Of course, some foods have more nutritional value than others. A plate of spinach will provide your body with more nutrients than a Twinkie, but you’re not “bad” when you do want to eat a Twinkie. Rid yourself of food guilt and listen to your body to decide what you need (not what you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat). 

    2. You should eat everything on your plate
    As children, many of us were praised for joining the clean plate club and guilted if we didn’t. We had to sit at the table until we finished eating, or we were told wasting food was wrong. As well-intentioned as our parents may have been, this mentality sticks with us as adults. We base serving sizes off of what’s in front of us, instead of what our bodies need. Rather than eating a portion that someone else recommends (whether it’s your mom, a restaurant, or the recommendations on the box), eat until you’re satisfied. Newsflash: we’re not supposed to eat until we’re full, and certainly not until we’re “stuffed” (Thanksgiving dinner is the exception, of course). Eat slowly and mindfully, so you’re aware when you’re no longer enjoying your food and just eating out of habit because it’s in front of you. 

    Source: Social Squares

    3. Avoid fruits and white potatoes (they have too many carbs)
    “Carb” is not a dirty word; it’s actually an important nutrient that the body needs for many crucial functions like energy. Even carbohydrates like potatoes and fruit are loaded with essential nutrients that will help the body to thrive. White potatoes (yes, the kind found in hash browns) are full of vitamin C, fiber, and contain more potassium than a banana. Fruits are one of the most plentiful sources of vitamins and minerals, and offer a wide range of health-boosting antioxidants. Bottom line: you should never be afraid of or avoid any whole foods from the earth. That’s what we’re meant to eat, and our bodies will respond accordingly. 

    4. Read the nutrition labels on everything you eat
    You should absolutely be informed about everything you eat. I do believe everyone should know how to read a nutrition label (and if you don’t, HMU). We shouldn’t be tricked into believing a bowl of a certain cereal is a nutritious breakfast when it has more grams of sugar and artificial ingredients than a candy bar, so that part I stand by. However, the outdated food rule I’m thinking of actually comes from Mean Girls. Regina George asks the other Plastics what percentage fat is from the calories of a food she’s thinking of eating. Even though the line, “whatever, I’m getting cheese fries,” is iconic, this is when we should stop reading nutrition labels.
    If you’re going to indulge, enjoy it without having to see how many calories or grams of fat it will cost. This just leads to more food guilt and an inability to be intuitive. Rather than reading every nutrition label to eat healthier, we should be aiming to eat more foods without a nutrition label at all. Stop worrying about the numbers, and start focusing on nutrients (but more on that below!). 

    Source: @kayla_seah

    5. You shouldn’t eat dessert every day
    Life is short, so let them eat cake! (Yes, I did just combine two well-known sayings that make perfect sense together, thank you very much.) A lot of us have a sweet tooth, or for others, eating something sweet signals that the meal is over. And guess what: both are OK. If you crave dessert but don’t let yourself eat it, or if you eat it and then feel endlessly guilty afterward, this will only lead to bingeing and a bad relationship with food. If you want dessert, eat it (yes, even if that means every single day). The trick is to find things that satisfy your sweet tooth while also giving your body added benefits and better nutrients. Try nut butter and apple slices, dark chocolate, or meal-prep one of these delicious plant-based desserts for the week. 

    6. Have five small meals a day instead of three larger meals (or that you have to have three meals a day)
    I first heard the advice to eat five small meals throughout the day when I was in high school. The suggestion came from a good place; you definitely shouldn’t wait to eat until you’re so hungry you feel weak (or worse, hangry). But thinking that multiple small meals a day would be better for me than three larger ones, I wouldn’t let myself eat as much as I wanted or wouldn’t feel hungry for my next meal if I did eat a “bigger” snack (AKA a small meal). My body was constantly confused and never really satisfied. Since then, I’ve learned that three meals work perfectly for me. I never feel the need to snack, and instead just eat enough filling, fiber-rich foods so I’m satisfied until the next meal. 
    My point is not that you should eat three meals a day. Many people don’t like to eat breakfast and prefer two meals a day. Other people feel best when they’re snacking throughout the day, and some people are more energized when eating five smaller meals. Instead of promoting one over the other, my point is that you should eat when you’re hungry. Find the amount, time, and method of eating that works best for your body and lifestyle. 

    Source: @sivanayla

    7. You should resist cravings
    I always recommend intuitive eating and listening to your body, but a lot of people will tell me that if they “listened to their body,” they would only eat boxed mac n’ cheese, pizza, Doritos, and cookies all day. Even if that’s what you think your body wants to eat, you’re listening to the ingrained food rules that have taught you certain foods are “off-limits” and, therefore, more attractive (it’s true for bad boys, and it’s true for food). But when you forget the aforementioned food rules and stop thinking cravings are the enemy, the truth is that you’ll crave a combo of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and yes, some “less nutritious” food here and there, which–believe it or not–is absolutely OK. 
    Your body is incredibly smart (I promise). Cravings are how your body is communicating with you that it needs something, not an attempt to sabotage your health goals. Whatever you’re craving, get creative and DIY an option that will be more nutritious and make your body feel better. Feeding cravings actually helps give more clarity to what our bodies need—because if we don’t feed them, they’ll only get stronger. 

    8. We need experts to tell us how to eat
    If you feel overwhelmed by which diet to try or which expert to listen to, that’s not on accident. In order to sell you on limitless products and programs, you have to feel like your health is not in your control. The truth is that bodies are not one-size-fits-all, and therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all diet. Every body is different, with individualized nutritional requirements. Just like we all have different personality traits, we all have different food needs. What works for one person (even if they are an “expert”) may not work for you. Get curious about nutrition, educate yourself on how to eat the best nourishment, and talk to your doctor about what diet and lifestyle is best for you, but listen to your body more than you listen to outside advice.

    1. Count nutrients, not calories
    When we count calories, we approach eating from a place of lack and deprivation. But when we’re aware of the nutrients that foods have and what those nutrients do for our bodies (give us energy, boost skin glow, reduce inflammation, etc.), we come from a place of abundance and nourishment. Focusing on eating more plants and whole foods filled with nutrients can also subconsciously crowd out processed and sugary foods (totally guilt-free). Think of adding more foods into your diet (like adding leafy greens to two meals a day or eating berries with breakfast), rather than subtracting foods (like no dairy, no processed foods, etc.). 

    Source: @loveandlemons

    2. Eat your colors
    My entire wardrobe may only consist of neutrals, but when it comes to what’s on my plate, I like to load up on every color of the rainbow. The colors of plants come from the different phytochemical antioxidants they contain. Eating fruits and vegetables in a wide variety of colors ensures we’re getting a wider variety of antioxidants. If your meal is looking as monochrome as your stay-at-home #OOTD, add a little color with fruits and vegetables. For example, if you’re having pasta, throw in some cherry tomatoes (red) and kale (green). If your salad is just a lot of leafy greens and avocado, good for you for getting in your veggies, but consider adding in some sweet potato and purple cabbage for a wider variety of nutrients. 

    3. Make mealtime sacred
    Many of us think we’re supposed to eat purely for health and are cursed by the pleasure aspect that comes with food (lust and gluttony, after all, are two of the seven deadly sins, and things I feel regularly when a truffle mac ‘n’ cheese is in front of me). “On-the-go” is a popular recipe trend, and a rise in fast food over the past 50 years is no coincidence: we want to eat as quickly as possible. But the truth is that we don’t just eat to survive. We eat for enjoyment, for social connection, for meaningful ritual, and these days, we often eat because we need a break (Find yourself stress snacking during work? Your body might be telling you to take a break).
    I get it: sometimes busy mornings call for tossing back a smoothie, or you need to take your lunch on-the-go. But whenever you can, make your mealtime sacred. Turn off the TV, close the laptop (yes, that means taking a real lunch break), and actually enjoy the food you get to eat. Use mealtime as a mindfulness practice, a way to reconnect with loved ones, and a much-needed break.  More

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    The Plant-Based Recipes You Need for Every Craving During Quarantine

    As a self-titled health nut and nutrition nerd, this may come as a surprise, but I’m a big fan of cravings. In my humble opinion, suppressing cravings is total BS. Not only are cravings your body’s way of communicating to you, but feeling guilt about cravings can lead to bingeing or an unhealthy relationship with food. My trick for getting the nutrients my body needs while still indulging in whatever I want? Finding plant-based alternatives.If staying at home for months on end has left you ordering pizza most nights of the week or going through chocolate chip cookies quicker than you go through a new Netflix series, not to worry. Whether you’re craving sweet, salty, heavy carbs, or all three, honor your body and most importantly, enjoy your life. Get in the kitchen and get creative with these plant-based alternatives that will nourish the body and satisfy taste buds.

    Source: Love and Lemons

    Source: The Movement Menu

    Source: Live Eat Learn

    Source: Love & Lemons

    Source: Ambitious Kitchen


    Source: Pinch of Yum

    Source: Cotter Crunch

    Source: One Lovely Life

    Source: Feasting at Home

    Source: Cotter Crunch

    Source: Love and Lemons

    Source: Abra’s Kitchen

    Source: The Movement Menu

    Source: Well and Full

    Source: Eating Bird Food

    Source: Eating Bird Food


    Source: Love and Lemons

    Source: Isabel Eats

    Source: Drizzle & Dip

    Source: Jessica in the Kitchen

    Source: Ambitious Kitchen

    Source: Downshiftology

    Source: Love and Lemons

    Source: Eating Bird Food

    Source: Cotter Crunch

    Source: Live Eat Learn

    Source: One Lovely Life

    Source: Downshiftology

    Source: Cookin Canuck

    Source: The Movement Menu

    Source: Eating Bird Food

    Source: Love and Lemons

    Source: Lively Table

    Source: Top with Cinnamon More

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    I’m a Health Coach and These Are the 15 Items I Always Buy From Trader Joe’s

    Trader Joe’s is not just a grocery store. It’s our go-to for affordable wine (that will still impress guests), a favorite food sample destination (pre-pandemic, of course), America’s sweetheart of food stores, and my favorite place to score healthy products on a budget. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had my fair share of emergency Cookie Butter runs, but I became a health coach in part because of my passion for nourishing myself with plants that make my body feel its best, in a delicious and satisfying way (because food is meant to be enjoyed). Trader Joe’s is full of hidden treasures that are as delicious as they are nutritious. Here are the 15 items I always have stocked in my kitchen that make healthy eating a breeze:
    1. Kale Gnocchi

    I’m also a huge fan of the Sweet Potato Gnocchi and the Cauliflower Gnocchi (who isn’t?), but my personal preference is the kale variety (maybe that just shows how weird I am?). The TJ’s Kale Gnocchi has a simple ingredients list of potato starch, chickpea flour, sea salt, olive oil, and, of course, kale, making it the perfect way to sneak in some extra greens. I know there’s a lot of mixed reviews on TJ’s beloved plant-based gnocchis (you either love them or you hate them), but I’ve found that sautéing them in olive oil or ghee and then putting them in the oven for a few minutes help make them crispier.  

    2. Green Goddess Salad Dressing

    I’m not usually a big fan of bottled salad dressings, and much prefer to DIY with some olive oil and apple cider vinegar. However, sometimes we need a little change, and having an already-made delicious way to dress up greens for lunch can make all the difference in a stressful workday. Many salad dressings contain sneaky processed ingredients and added sugars, so I love this list of clean ingredients (avocado, fresh herbs, apple cider vinegar, garlic, etc.). Bonus: you can also use it as a dip or pasta sauce to sneak in the extra clean ingredients for little picky eaters (and no shame if “little picky eaters” means you, and not your kids).  

    3. Coconut Aminos Seasoning Sauce

    If you’re a soy sauce lover, your life is about to change. This healthier version is free of gluten and soy, meaning it’s the perfect (more natural) option for people with any gluten and soy sensitivities or allergies. It also has one-third the sodium content of traditional soy sauce, making it the perfect guilt-free topper for all your stir-fries and sushi rolls. On top of the health benefits, it’s cheaper than other coconut aminos sauces on the market, and also happens to be certified organic (what can’t Trader Joe’s do!?). Order it online here. 

    4. Chickpea and Red Lentil Risoni

    Is it just me, or is veggie-based rice all the rage these days? I love brown or wild rice as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s nice to pack in even more legumes for extra protein and nutrients. Of all the veggie or legume-based alternatives out there, this one is my personal preference. It’s one of the cheapest options, happens to be certified organic (many aren’t!), and is made of chickpea and red lentils instead of just one, so you’re getting in a wider variety of nutrients. Make as any rice or orzo replacement, and you’ll never want to go back. 

    5. Shaved Brussels Sprouts

    I always tell clients who don’t have the time or energy to cook to find ways to streamline the cooking process, like purchasing the prepared veggies at TJ’s. I particularly love the Shaved Brussels Sprouts because Brussels sprouts are particularly a pain to prepare. This packaged version is easy to toss into salads, stir-fries, sheet meals, etc. I’m also a fan of the Cruciferous Crunch collection, which is delicious in pasta or a creamy salad (see: the Green Goddess dressing above). 

    6. Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

    OK, it’s so popular it’s basic at this point, but this EBTB Seasoning is one of the can’t-live-without products I always have stocked in my kitchen. A bagel sandwich is one of my favorite foods, so I love making some sourdough toast with vegan cream cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato, and topping it all with the seasoning to satisfy my bagel craving. I also put the blend on popcorn, avocado toast, eggs, etc., for a flavor that I truly cannot get enough of (plus, I’m a sucker for a chic black-and-white label). Order it online here.

    7. Cauliflower Thins

    These genius cauliflower thins are one of the newer products, and I could not be more thankful for the powers that be (AKA whichever TJ’s employee had the idea to turn cauliflower into bread). Made of cauliflower (over 60 percent), eggs, parmesan cheese, and deactivated yeast, they’re a delicious alternative to bread, tortillas, etc., for anyone who’s gluten-free or trying to sneak in more veggies. Full disclosure: I sometimes eat them plain because they’re just that delicious. 

    8. Juice Shots

    Being the health nut I am, I’m a major sucker for a good juice shot. I like them for easily getting in some extra nutrients and good-for-you ingredients. The problem with juice shots? They’re hella expensive for literally one sip. Luckily, the shots at Trader Joe’s are the cheapest I’ve ever found, and are still certified organic (that’s huge for me, if you couldn’t tell). I’ll stock up on a few for when I feel a cold coming on and need an extra boost. Let’s be honest: they’re also a great hangover cure. 

    9. Frozen Wild Blueberries 

    Whenever I go to Trader Joe’s, I stock up on packs of these berries (like, there’s currently seven in my freezer). I eat blueberries every day because they’re so nutritious, and I swear they’re my #1 secret to glowy skin. Since they’re frozen, I can continue adding to smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods for months. Why do I love Trader Joe’s specifically? You guessed it: they’re cheaper than other certified-organic varieties.  

    10. Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil

    Coconut oil is a serious staple in my kitchen. I use it to cook, blend in my coffee, and slather all over my skin for hydration (don’t worry, I have a separate coconut oils for cooking and for beauty purposes). I love this one from Trader Joe’s specifically because it’s certified organic (I know, I’m predictable, right?) and cold-pressed (which means it might retain more nutrients than oils treated with heat). Another bonus tip: the Coconut Oil Spray is not one of my ride-or-die products like the Cold-Pressed Oil, but when you just want a spray, it’s way better than your average Pam. 

    11. Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta

    Yes, I’m a health coach, and nutrition is ~my life,~ but I also love food. Extra emphasis on love. It’s not that any food is “off-limits” (we’re not meant to eat from a place of deprivation!), but I know I can find more nutritious and plant-based options of the foods I crave. The perfect example: Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta. I have a gluten sensitivity, so try to stay away from the white-flour version anyways, but we can all afford to opt for whole grains like quinoa and brown rice that are loaded with extra nutrients. 

    12. Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea 

    If you can’t already tell, the #1 theme here is organic. I love knowing that this tea is not only full of superfood ingredients, but TJ’s took the extra step of ensuring the superfood ingredients are organic too. I drink this tea when I’m getting sick (I swear it helps soothe any sore throat) or feeling bloated (the ginger and licorice can help soothe stomach discomfort or digestive issues). Order it online here. 

    13. Vegan Kale, Cashew, and Basil Pesto

    Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to DIY, but we can’t all be Martha Stewart 24/7. For the weeks that I have very little time to cook or prep my meals, I love this vegan-friendly version. Not only is this option dairy-free, but it’s also more plant-based than the traditional version by incorporating kale and cashews (no, you cannot taste the kale). Use the decadent sauce on top of bruschetta, with your favorite pasta, or as a dip for veggies. 

    14. Cauliflower Pizza Crust

    Perhaps one of the most beloved Trader Joe’s products of all time, the cauliflower pizza crust revolutionizes fast food (and drunk food) by replacing greasy crusts with nutrient-dense cauliflower and gluten-free cornflour. I always have a plain crust in my freezer for when I want to get creative (I make a mean Mexican pizza with smashed black beans, cheese, lettuce, and vegan ranch), but also keep one of the Cheese Cauliflower Pizza Crusts for the nights when I only have time to pop something in the oven. 

    15. Chocolate Hummus

    I know what you’re thinking: chocolate … hummus? Before you think I’ve officially lost it, hear me out. I don’t like to think of it as a hummus because the only similarity is that it’s made with chickpeas. However, it tastes much more like a delicious chocolate frosting than anything in the hummus family. With a base of cooked chickpeas and tahini (a sesame seed paste), it’s a genius way to sneak in some extra nutrients like fiber, protein, potassium, and iron.
    Just a warning, I do not eat gallons of this stuff, thinking I’m eating my veggies. It still contains some cane sugar, so use it as you would any other dessert, but knowing you’re giving your body an added dose of nutrients while satisfying your sweet tooth. I like to use it as frosting for baked goods or as a dip with apple slices when I’m craving something sweet. 

    What’s your favorite Trader Joe’s product? More

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    10 Foods That Will Boost Skin Glow

    OK, so it sounds cliché to say “beauty starts from within,” but that old-school aphorism is pretty accurate when it comes to skin health (also self-confidence and kindness, but that’s an article for another day). Just like processed foods might cause breakouts, and eating sugar might cause premature aging (haven’t you heard of “sugar face?“), certain foods can have a reverse effect on skin health. McKenzie Jones, RDN, CLT, explained, “Since we are what we eat, it’s no surprise that diet and beauty go hand-in-hand. Foods that promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle also promote youthful-looking skin and can help keep you looking radiant from the inside, out.”Beauty foods may not sound revolutionary now, but I first heard about the beauty benefits of nutrition when I read Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out in 2014, and my mind was blown (yes, I have always been a huge nerd). After all, why shell out half your paycheck on fancy serums and treatments when you can boost glow from the produce aisle of the grocery store (OK fine, I’ll still be spending $$$ on skincare products, but at least it will double the effort, right)? Add these foods to your grocery list this week and get ready for a major glow-up. 

    Source: @cynthialions

    1. Avocados
    Apparently, that viral avocado café doubles as a skincare mecca, and Instagram’s favorite toast is just as good for your complexion as it is for your feed. “Avocados contain healthy fats (like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) that work to keep skin flexible and moisturized,” Valerie Agyeman, RDN, my personal girl crush and founder of Flourish Heights, explained. “Monounsaturated fatty acids keep the surface of your skin moist, while polyunsaturated fatty acids guard the skin from sun damage. Plus, they are packed with antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids, which help protect against free radical damage.” In other words, load up on the millennial-beloved fruit (yes, it is a fruit!) for skin hydration and radiant glow. 
    Try it:

    2. Tomatoes
    Pasta lovers, rejoice! A study by researchers at Manchester and Newcastle Universities found that eating five tablespoons of tomato paste daily helped improve the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays, thanks to the antioxidant lycopene (AKA what makes the tomato its signature red shade). You know from your mom telling you to wear SPF that UV-protection does not only help prevent more serious conditions like skin cancer, but can also protect against signs of premature aging and dark spots, making anything that might protect against UV-damage officially a beauty food. Why tomato paste, you ask? Because cooking tomatoes increases their lycopene levels, so go ahead and load up on pasta sauce (but still wear your SPF!). 
    Try it:

    3. Lemon juice
    As if you needed another reason to DIY spa water, lemon juice is packed with vitamin C. Stefanie Wilkerson, RDN, explained, “Vitamin C helps produce collagen, and works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals that can damage our cells.” Hello supple, smooth skin! Bonus: while it is acidic, lemon has alkalizing effects in the body, meaning it might help balance pH levels. This is beneficial for your complexion, because when pH levels are out of whack, the skin can become sensitive, irritated, or acne-prone. Not to mention that adding lemon makes us want to drink more water (and that’s a huge skincare perk). 
    Try it:

    Source: @kayla_seah

    4. Garlic
    Not only is garlic super delicious on bread, but it can be good for your skin too. Jennifer Irvine, nutritional expert and founder of healthy food delivery service, The Pure Package, told Get the Gloss that garlic is “full of a naturally occurring chemical called allicin, which acts against harmful bacteria when digested. This includes bacteria that can cause acne and other skin infections.” If acne is holding you back from the flawless skin of your dreams, try adding a little more garlic into your diet for potential benefits (as long as it doesn’t bother your stomach, obvi). 
    Try it:

    5. Sweet Potatoes
    Sure, you could apply endless serums and face masks, or you could just nibble on some sweet potato fries. Joking aside, the orange alternative to the classic white potato is an excellent source of beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. May Zhu RDN, the founder of Nutrition Happens, explained, “If you’re a skincare junkie, you might recognize the term ‘retinol,’ which is essentially a different form of vitamin A. Vitamin A (from foods like sweet potatoes) helps with skin turnover by promoting the maturation of skin cells.” You know what that means: fewer wrinkles, clearer skin, and a glowing complexion. Good thing sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods (not to brag or anything). 
    Try it:

    Source: @flourishheights

    6. Blueberries
    You’ve probably heard about the importance of antioxidants for skin glow from skincare bottles or your dermatologist. That’s because antioxidants are one of the most important factors in protecting skin’s health, and blueberries are one of the easiest ways to get them in your diet. The sweet little berry you used to pick during childhood summers is basically the king (or queen!) of antioxidants. They’re believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables, meaning they’re not only incredibly nutritious, but pack major glow-boosting benefits as well. 
    Try it:

    7. Leafy greens
    What can’t leafy greens do? “Both kale and spinach are rich in a variety of potent antioxidants that help reduce skin inflammation,” Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told Allure. Also, greens like collard greens, spinach, and kale contain zeaxanthin, which is an antioxidant that can help even out skin tone. I know he was a cartoon, but no wonder Popeye had such good skin! (Anyone else notice his flawless complexion? Nope, just me?) Aim for adding leafy greens to at least two meals a day for optimal benefits.
    Try it:

    Source: @josie.santi

    8. Flaxseeds
    Seeds that are loaded with omega-3s and fiber (like flaxseeds) are a staple in plant-based diets, but they’re also great for healthy skin. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that participants who ate about half a teaspoon of flaxseeds experienced significantly less skin irritation and redness in six weeks, along with better-hydrated skin. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills, agreed, “Omega-3 fatty acids help to maintain cellular health, reduce inflammation, and maintain a healthy skin barrier.” Add about half a teaspoon to your smoothie or even your favorite pasta recipe to easily incorporate the superfood into your diet. 
    Try it:

    Source: rawpixel

    9. Fatty Fish
    Luckily for seafood lovers, many nutritionists (and Victoria Beckham) swear by fatty fish like salmon for skin hydration and glow. Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, founder of Dish on Fish, said, “Omega-3s and collagen help retain moisture in the skin, nourishing it from the inside out. Seafood is rich in both omega-3s and collagen. Eating oily fish like salmon and tuna at least twice a week will help lower your risk of dry, cracked skin.” FYI, The American Heart Association also recommends eating 3.5 ounces of fatty fish at least two times per week, but talk to your doctor about what’s best for your diet and lifestyle. Also, opt for wild-caught fish (instead of farm-raised) whenever possible. 
    Try it:

    10. Dark Chocolate
    Now for potentially the best news ever, dark chocolate isn’t just a dessert; it’s officially a beauty food (*buys all the dark chocolate bars at Whole Foods*). According to one study, cocoa’s antioxidants can protect the skin from oxidative stress that leads to premature skin aging. Let your mom know that the chocolate addiction you had as a kid was actually good for you (that is, if your chocolate of choice was at least 75 percent cacao). My personal advice is to opt for as “dark” as you can (like 80-90 percent cacao), to avoid added sugars. Otherwise, satisfy your sweet tooth and PMS cravings while boosting skin glow. 
    Try it:

    What’s your favorite beauty food? More