Happiness doesn’t come from weight loss. Weight loss comes from happiness.

For so many of us food has developed a negative connotation. Eating out feels gluttonous and unhealthy. Having a drink with a friend feels like a diet derailment. We look at parties as calories instead of conversation.

On Friday after a long day I was on my way home and was mentally checking everything off my to-do list. I did this, I did that, ok good. And I thought, it feels like everything we do is an obligation.  We’re not present, we’re just enduring and then checking it off the list. Well that’s no way to live life I thought. And then I started of thinking of times I was very present in life. And I found myself always around the table surrounded by food. I am so present when I’m out to dinner with friends or family. Hmm I thought, all of a sudden food was morphing into a form of self care. I tested my theory and the next morning, Saturday, I asked my husband if he wanted to go out to breakfast. So him, myself and my daughter went to one of my favorite little family friendly breakfast establishments and I had the best pancake. And he had a French press coffee and our daughter put stickers all up and down our arms while we waited for the food. And I thought, this is so lovely. We didn’t have our phones. We had no where else to be. And if my daughter hadn’t already overstayed her welcome my husband and I probably would have stayed another hour talking and drinking lattes and consuming more calories. And although we may have left eating more than we planned, we were recharged and happy.

Today everyone is always talking about self care. Meditation and baths and massages and “me time” and we never think of eating as a form of self care. That’s because most of us look back on each meal with shame for overeating.

But I think back to the last 6 months and my most present times, times of peace and happiness and enjoyment were out to eat. And every single time, I had high calorie fattening food. I over indulged way more than I planned. Could I have ordered something healthier? Yup. But for some reason that’s like going to an amusement park and not riding a single ride. Maybe we all need to admit that indulging in food is how we indulge in life. When I looked at food this way, it became such a positive thing. Calories became conversations. And fat became friendship.

I went out for coffee with a friend on Sunday night and told her how I felt about this new theory. Explained to her how food can be in vehicle to bring calm into our crazy lives. She agreed that some of her best most relaxing times is out to a good meal with her husband.

And I’ll tell you this much, I wouldn’t have made a memory eating cottage cheese and egg whites alone at my kitchen table. My point is, you can be on a strict diet and eat perfect and lose weight but look at how meals become obligations and your social life feels stressful. For so many years I thought happiness would come from weight loss. But maybe weight loss comes from happiness.

Happy Monday!

Use the Marie Kondo Method on your diet!

DAY 1:

Marie Kondo and her methods for tidying up are sweeping the nation. It seems like everyone is talking about her and implementing her advice into their lives. On Saturday morning my husband and I started tidying up our bedroom. And I said, if we’re going to really do this I need coffee first. And I thought, I need a latte, because that latte sparks so much joy. A lightbulb went off in my head. What if we all used her simple principle of “does this spark joy?” to everything we eat. I began thinking of the foods that really sparked joy in my life. I made a list of four: lattes, big bakery style cookies, Australian red licorice and recess peanut butter holiday shaped cups. Nothing else made the list because even though I like it, it doesn’t spark joy. It actually sparked feelings of angst and regret and shame.

Most of the foods that spark joy in all of our lives will probably be high fat, high sugar, “non diet” foods. All foods we assume we shouldn’t eat on a diet. Wrong. Don’t think of it like that. Think, anything that’s not on this list of joy foods should be removed from my diet.

Most of the time when we fall of our diets its not even for something we love. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten 150 chips and salsa mindlessly while watching football or 6 lackluster store bought cookies at a BBQs or 9 random pieces of candy from a bowl at work. None of this food brought me joy. I eat that stuff because it was there and because I think I like it. I think I need it. But the truth is, cutting out all of these foods are going to be the key to success. Because that’s the stuff that’s around more. Those are the foods that are more detrimental because we eat more servings of them. And since we don’t enjoy them when we’re eating it’s usually mindless. And this food isn’t satisfying so we continue to eat to find the satisfaction.

It’s ok to eat what you love. But if you love pizza, make sure you eat the best piece of pizza in NYC. If you love cookies, go to the best bakery and get the best cookie. Let yourself enjoy the things you truly love. Make a list in your head of the things you truly love and those things should never be removed from your diet. And if you eat them with love and the best versions of them, you will have success.

Remember, understanding your mind will always be the key to weight loss success.

DAY 2:

Today, think about a food that pop culture has deemed unhealthy that you actually enjoy. Or a healthy food that you loathe but eat because you think you have to. For me, it’s peanut butter. I love peanut butter! I know there are healthier nut butters I can choose, I’ve tried them all because most diets call for the removal of peanut butter but you know what I love peanut butter and it can easily be part of my daily life without being detrimental. Maybe you’ve sworn off carbs but you want bread, add a slice back in. Maybe the diet your on calls for you to eat plain Greek yogurt and you just want your strawberry more sugary version back. Maybe you love pasta but are struggling to choke down zoodles each night. Portion it the same way you’d portion a healthy good. That’s right, Bring it back! All foods can be part of a healthy diet. 

What’s a health food you just can’t get on board with? And what can you replace it with that brings you more joy?

What is a calorie?

I was at a party this weekend and someone asked me this question and I thought it’s not exactly the easiest thing to define. So let me try to help you understand it a little better and maybe it will then help you understand your food label a little more.

The most commonly known definition of a calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C. Probably not what you were expecting to hear right? And a lot of science and research is involved in how this original definition became the calories that we today know on the standard US Food Labels. So how do we simply understand that connection between that definition and what we eat? Well, energy used by the body is ultimately derived from the energy contained in the fat, carbs and protein we eat. So every time you eat, imagine energy being released into your body as heat. See the connection back to the original definition kind of? It’s confusing. And I don’t think you technically need to know that to the benefit of your health. The most important calorie information to me is how calories are calculated to give you totals on your food labels.

A food label for a Frozen Pizza.

TOTAL CALORIES IN 1 SERVING (1/3 of the pizza) = 340 calories

TOTAL FAT = 13 grams

TOTAL CARBS = 39 grams

TOTAL PROTEIN = 19 grams

1 gram of fat has 9 calories. So multiply 13 grams X 9 calories = 117 calories

1 gram of carbs has 4 calories. So multiply 39 grams X 4 calories = 156 calories

1 gram of protein has 4 calories. So multiply 19 grams X 4calories =76 calories

Then add that all together. 117 calories from fat+156 calories from carbs+ 76 calories from fat = 349 total calories. Pretty close to the 340 calorie total stated on the package for 1/3 of pizza. The total when using the 4-4-9 method will always be close to the total calories the package states. It may be exact and it may be a little off because this is an overly simplified method and FDA regulations for U.S. foods say individual companies can use different approved methods for determining Calories for their food. It will always be close, but maybe a few calories different. This is another reason why it’s important not to live and die so strictly to the calories in vs. calories out philosophy.

So you see where the calories come from? And kind of how they are calculated? And of course every grams of fat, carbs and protein offer different nutrients and vitamins and act different in the body. Which we’ll talk more about in a later lesson:)!

Biotin: The Nutrient for better skin and nails?

When I think of Biotin, I usually think of an old co-worker and friend of mine who always had Biotin gummy vitamins on her desk that promoted the growth of hair, skin and nails.

So let’s start there, talking about why Biotin is often linked to hair, skin and nails. One of the symptoms of a Biotin deficiency is red, dry scaly dermatitis found around the eyes, nose and mouth. Other symptoms are alopecia (body hair loss) and brittle nails. But, with that being said, it’s important to note that a biotin deficiency is very rare. People at highest risk for deficiency are people who have an excessive consumption of raw egg whites. A protein in the raw egg white prevents the absorbing of the vitamin. Therefore, in terms of oral supplementation, and use of biotin as a hair and skin conditioning agent in cosmetic type products have been shown to be safe but studies documenting its effectiveness in treating hair and nail problems are lacking.

Biotin is important for nutrient metabolism and energy production as well as regulating gene expression.

Biotin is actually made my bacteria living in the colon as well as being widely distributed in foods. The biotin made by the bacteria is not enough needed so it’s also important to get it via foods.

The RDA for Biotin is 30 micro-grams a day and 35 micro grams a day for woman who are pregnant or lactating.

The major sources of biotin are liver, milk, soybeans, egg yolks. legumes and nuts, as well as salmon and cereals. ( Cheerios and Frosted Flakes both have Biotin)

Vitamin B3: Building a case for peanut butter.

Ah, is there anything better than peanut butter? In my mind, no. I love it and even though I feel like it’s been pushed to the side over the years as other nut butters have burst onto the scene, I have continued to stay loyal.

In class this week we were going through the B Complex Vitamins and we got to Vitamin B3 (otherwise known as Niacin). The RDA for this vitamin is, 14 mg a day for woman and 16 mg a day for men. Well guess what, in looking over the food sources of Vitamin B3 (Niacin), low and behold, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is listed as a good source containing 4.3 mg. When I fact checked that with the Extra Crunchy Skippy Jar I have at my desk, I saw that it contained 3.2 mg (so pretty close). That’s 20% of your Daily Value.

And even though it may make sense to eat a food source that’s closer to the RDA many of those sources aren’t as readily available daily and/or may not appeal to our taste buds. Tuna, Swordfish, Salmon, Halibut & Beef are among the top sources, things I don’t eat. Hence, why I focused on peanut butter.

And since we’re talking about this fun vitamin, listen to this, when you eat protein, an amino acid in the protein called tryptophan, you know the word that’s always associated with turkey and thanksgiving? that actually synthesizes to Niacin in the body. So you can eat Niacin and make Niacin. About 60 mg of tryptophan generates 1 mg of Niacin. And every 1 gram of complete protein has about 10 mg of tryptophan. So to overly simplify that, let’s just say 1 oz of chicken contains 6 grams of protein. That 1 oz will generate 1 mg of Niacin Equivalent.

So you have some peanut butter and some complete protein and you’re on your way to satisfying your bodies need for Niacin (Vitamin B3)

And why should you care about Niacin? Because it is important for energy metabolism. Yey Metabolism!