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Mindful Eating for the Holidays: A Guide to Ditching Food Shame and Elastic Waistbands (Part 2)

17 Nov

An eye-pleasing foundation to my Mexican Chicken Soup: celery, broccoli, carrots, red bell peppers and garlic. Pretty to look at, healthy for my body and tastes delicious!

You’ve just finished a fun dinner with friends and can’t possibly think about eating any more… that is, until you are presented with the dessert tray–a glorious presentation of apple crisp, pumpkin pie and brownie sundae topped with hot fudge sauce and candied walnuts. You order dessert, even though you are full, and  finish every last bite.

… And then it begins, “Why did I do that? I’m such a pig. I shouldn’t have done that. I feel horrible. I wasn’t even hungry, but it looked so good. Ugh, I’m disgusting.”

You’ve just experienced the strength of eye hunger, one of eight hungers we possess, compounded by your nagging inner critic (does that dude EVER take a break?). The typical American will gain 5-7 lbs over the holidays and eye hunger has a lot to do with that, so let’s explore why this little booger hampers our holiday bliss and what we can do to keep our eye hunger working for us and not against us.

First, let’s define it: Eye hunger is when you become hungry looking at food (via in person, on TV or in a magazine) or reading a recipe, even if you just ate. Many studies have proven that our eyes will override our mouth, stomach and body. For instance, subjects at a movie theater who were given stale popcorn ate it just because it was there and they could smell it. It didn’t even matter that it tasted awful.

So, over the holidays when you are surrounded by mounds of delicious turkey, mashed potatoes and caramel pecan pie slices, use these helpful tools to satisfy your eye hunger without eating double and feeling miserable.

1. Create beauty. Our eyes appreciate beauty, so use pretty plates, napkins and table decor.

2. Surround yourself in beauty. Get out in nature, savor your favorite piece of art, look at pictures of your beloved, listening to soothing music.

3. Cook and eat food of various colors, textures and shapes. Arrange it beautifully on plates and bowls. It takes just as much time, but with a little extra thought, it can make a huge difference in improving your food relationship (and health).

4. Use a small plate. Fill half of your plate with vegetables, a 1/4 with protein (meat or vegetarian based), an 1/8 with starch (potatoes and grains) and an 1/8 with healthy fats (you can also skip the starch if you have diabetes, Celiac disease, etc.). If it is a holiday or special occasion where dessert is served, consider sharing your dessert with one or two people. Or consider a healthier dessert such as dark chocolate dipped strawberries. Ummm… yes please!

Now it is your turn! The next time you buy groceries, practice purchasing vegetables of every color to ensure eye satiety (green, orange, red/purple and yellow/white). If you don’t eat a lot of vegetables, then do it with fruits and vegetables such as making a roasted vegetable salad with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower served with a protein and eating red grapes for dessert. Now that’s a feast to behold!

If you missed part 1 of this series, check it out here!

Mindful Eating for the Holidays: A Guide to Ditching Food Shame and Elastic Waistbands (Part 1)

10 Nov

Have you ever finished your Thanksgiving meal feeling bloated, guilty for what you “shouldn’t have eaten” and wishing you had on expandable panel pants with fart-blocking odor technology? Sucks, doesn’t it? Feeling miserable is no way to spend your holidays. So let’s cut the self-loathing and bring Holiday Cheer back with mindfulness.

Mindful eating is not some woo-woo foodie concept. All it means is to be aware of the nourishment that real food provides us without the judgment and criticism (aka enjoyment!). And it starts by paying attention to what our body is telling us (not our mind).

So let us reclaim the wisdom of our body, shall we? Rather than ignoring the signs of suffering that is evident in the farting, burping and bloating, let’s help our body ditch the Rodney Dangerfield complex and show it a little respect.

The next time you eat a meal, listen to your body and take note (buying a special journal for this works best) of how you feel. If you feel energized, satisfied and your skin is glowing–your on the right track. If you feel sluggish and your poop smells like last weeks rotting cabbage, don’t judge and berate yourself for what or how much you ate, just say, “Sorry body. What can I do differently to feel and look better next time?” And that’s when you’ll check out my handy-dandy chart below to make small changes to feel awesome!

Action Jackson: Practice listening to your body now, so when Thanksgiving rolls around, you’ll have a more attuned idea of what portions and what types of food work well for you. If you need more personalized support, shout me a holla’ down at and we can work together to help you reach food relationship bliss.

Digestive Symptoms_Page_1

Digestive Symptoms_Page_2

Homemade Produce Wash: How to Get the Funk Off Your Fruit (and Veggies)

19 May
This pear is about to get a spa treatment.

This pear is about to get a spa treatment.

Obvious statement: I dig gardening and Farmers’ Markets. Always have, always will. I remember many instances eating strawberries and chives straight from my parents’ garden as a little girl. No rinsing or checking for bugs… maybe just a little air to blow the dirt off if I noticed any. Probably not my finest moment in food hygiene, but I definitely excelled at the Farm to Table experience in my younger years.


Now that I am a gardening adult, fully aware of the amount of manure I use in my garden, I like to make sure my food is actually clean before I eat it. The secret weapon: apple cider vinegar. Not only can it make your hair shine and improve your digestion, but this little wonder can clean your produce of dirt, bugs and bacteria. Woot, woot!


Here’s how…


Mix 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar (I prefer Bragg’s) for every 1 cup of filtered water you use. Place the produce in a bowl or your kitchen sink (make sure the sink is clean) and soak it in this mixture for at least 5 minutes. Scrub (with a designated produce scrub brush or your hands), rinse with water, pat dry and savor!

Five Tips for a Fit Family Vacation

28 Apr
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Please welcome my guest blogger and travel expert Kendra Thornton…

Whether you are on vacation or at home, it is important to eat healthy and exercise. This is not always easy to do, but with some advance planning you can stay fit and healthy regardless of where you are. I have some tips I have developed over the years that help me stay healthy on vacation, and hopefully you will find these tips beneficial to you as well.

While on vacation, you will probably come across numerous buffets at hotels or restaurants. Depending on where you are staying, sometimes these buffets are available at all hours. While there is a lot of gourmet food available at buffets, you can still eat healthy. Instead of loading up your plate with desserts or carbs, balance it out with a healthy portion of vegetables. Try the higher calorie foods, but give yourself a smaller portion. There is usually fruit or lighter desserts at buffets as well. Make these your choice for dessert, or if you must indulge in the cheesecake, take a small slice and fill the rest of your dessert plate with fruit or frozen yogurt.

If you are vacationing somewhere near a body of water, take advantage of the water sports available!  Whether it is paddle boats, canoes, or rowboats, you can have a great time on the water. You will have fun while you are staying active, and most water sports burn a great deal of calories. These watersports can even be done with small children, in case you are vacationing with your family. Children will have a great time riding in the paddle boat or helping you steer the boat.

Drinking water is important for your health at all times, but especially when you are traveling. In order to keep yourself from getting dehydrated, stock your car with a cooler full of ice and bottles of water. If you are staying in a hotel, stop by a grocery store beforehand to buy a case of water to keep in the hotel room. Having ice-cold water readily available on vacation can make it easier to keep your body hydrated.

If you have some down time on vacation, why not create your own active games? If you are traveling with children, they will have a blast creating their own mini-Olympics. You could utilize the hotel pool by having splash contests, races in the pool, or relay races. Even if you do not have a pool at your hotel, there are many ways you can create fun competitions on vacation. Skipping rocks at a lake, obstacle courses, or jumping games are just a few other ideas that will help you create a silly tournament. As long as you are they are having fun, your children will hardly realize that they are getting physical activity.

While these ideas can be helpful on vacation, it is important to stick with this mindset of a healthy lifestyle at home as well. Maintaining a routine can be extremely difficult while on vacation. For our upcoming trip to Orlando we made sure to stick with our routine. To do this we ended up booking a great hotel with a great gym. With so many places to stay, sites like Gogobot are necessary to make the process a little easier. Taking time to prepare healthy snacks for home and school, fitting in extra physical activity, and drinking lots of water are good steps to take in creating a healthy lifestyle.


My name is Kendra Thornton and I am a mother of three. Before being promoted to the position of full-time mom, I was the Director of Communications at Orbitz. I now live in Chicago where my family is my number one priority in everyday life.

Q and A: Calories In Vs. Calories Out

9 Mar
My perfect portion plate.

My perfect portion plate.

“Is eating healthy truly as simple as calories in verses calories out?” No… and a smidgen yes. Sometimes as a health coach, I feel that I’m unintentionally giving a Glomar response to nutritional questions, a “we can neither confirm nor deny” answer. The simple truth is that nothing is black or white, and we tend to ask questions that lead to a response that will either 1) justify our old habits or 2) justify fad habits. However, I also think that these questions are incredibly valid. So, once per month we’re going to dive into the tasty, thick and sometimes heated guacamole waters of nutritional enigmas. Shall we?


Calories In Vs. Calories Out

The “smidgen yes” part is easy to answer. If we eat too much in relation to our body’s needs (size, metabolism, etc.) and our activity level, then of course we will gain weight. This line is different for everyone, but your body is a smarty-pants and will tell you whether you’ve eaten too much or too little (or if the ratio of protein to fat to carbohydrates isn’t right). Feel bloated, stuffed, sick or aren’t hungry for the next 5 hours? Too much. Feel hungry or light-headed 30 minutes after eating? Too little.


The reason why I like to emphasize visual portion sizes and mind-body awareness over counting calories is because I think counting calories (or measuring food) for life isn’t realistic and can make one neurotic (hmm… does my sudden switch to third person signify that I’m speaking from personal experience?), that listening to our body’s signals develops a much healthier relationship to food and that calories do not differentiate quality of food. Eating 100 calories of almonds compared to a 100-calorie snack pack of mini-chocolate chip cookies is like comparing Stevie Wonder to a beta fish trying to play the banjo. Sure, it’s great at first, but then you realize how freakishly genetically altered it is and that you have a massive headache because of how awful it sounds. Stevie Wonder on the other hand? Never awful, always makes you feel satisfied, energized and wanting the best quality of music… err, food. What are we talking about?


Since our nutritional needs are as unique as our body, it makes sense to use our body as a portion tool. A healthy plate of food, generally speaking, will contain your unique palm size portion of protein (whether vegetarian or meat options), 2 fist size portions of vegetables and a thumblength of fat (including the fat in your protein; this one is a bit trickier so to put it in perspective: ¼ to ½ avocado, 6-10 pecans on your roasted Brussels’ Sprouts or 2 tsp of olive oil based dressing on your salad).


Put It Into Action

1. Listen to your body and write notes on how you feel (bloated, still hungry, stuffed, etc.) after eating.

2. Start serving your portions in relation to your body (fist and handful). Let’s start with dinner. Include a source of protein, vegetables and fat.


3. Leave a comment and let me know how it’s going.


To develop more behaviors for the health you deserve, contact me at 402-819-8970 or

Grub Hub

25 Nov

Do you have guests in town for the holidays? Want to take them to a restaurant that satisfies all their cravings, yet have healthy selections? No worries my friend. I threw together this little guide to help you fret less during your feast. Cheers!

Even a burger can be healthy if you swap fries for a salad and skip the bun.

Even a burger can be healthy if you swap fries for a salad and skip the bun.

For the Italian Stallion. If your guest is craving cozy warm Italian comfort food or flatbread pizza, try…  Nicola’s. No-fret feast: order pollo y verduras (chicken and vegetables)

For the Fancy Pants Foodie. If your guest simply loves fine dining and creative and delicious cuisine with seasonal produce, try…

  1. V. Mertz. No-fret feast: order pan-seared diver scallops, all natural chicken breast or vegetable garden
  2. Grey Plume. No-fret feast: order squash soup, wild caught Columbia river salmon, Plum Creek Farm’s chicken or vegetarian ragout

For the Casual Conversationalist. If your guest enjoys sharing tasty food and excellent conversation, try… French Bulldog. No-fret feast: split the charcuterie plate, bulldog salad and roasted vegetables

For the Luncheon Lover. If your guest wants to grab a quick lunch between events, try…

  1. Kitchen Table. No-fret feast: order your call salad combo with soup or peanut butter apple or kale salad
  2. Greengo Coffee-Deli. No-fret feast: menu changes constantly, but you can’t go wrong with their soups and salads.

For the Indecisive Individuals. If Aunt Edna can’t make up her mind, but cousin Liam is craving steak and potatoes, these delicious and varied menus are sure to please everyone.

  1. Twisted Cork Bistro. No-fret feast: order twisted salad, tomato-red pepper soup, sockeye & greens, fisherman’s stew, seattle cioppino or Honolulu Cobb
  2. Stokes Bar and Grill. No-fret feast: order wood grilled chicken (swap the rice for extra veggies), good for you salad (no bread, please) or black bean soup
  3. Lot 2. No-fret feast: order kale salad as a side with the falafel or beef stew
  4. Mark’s Bistro. No-fret feast: order salmon salad
  5. Dario’s Brasserie. No-fret feast: order venison sausage or mussels a la provencal (swap the fries for salad)
  6. M’s Pub. No-fret feast: order lamb salad or any of the burgers off of the gluten free menu with a side salad

I haven’t eaten at every restaurant in Omaha–but I want to!–so tell me what you think. What is your favorite restaurant to take your guests?

Pre-, Intra- and Post-Exercise Nutrition

2 Sep
Post-Workout Bliss: 1/4 lb grass fed beef, sauteed green beans and sweet potato hash.

Post-Workout Bliss: 1/4 lb grass fed beef, sauteed green beans and sweet potato hash.

I love my post-workout meal. I literally dream about it the night before, finalizing every last detail until it sounds a-ma-zing. That is not an exaggeration. In fact, I’m writing this blog in a post-workout meal induced haze of satisfaction and muscle fatigue. Bliss, baby…

… and I want to share it with you! Join me on my nutrition caravan for tips on how to properly ensure you have fuel in the tank, how to refuel for long trips and how to ensure your tank is properly fueled so you can continue on your journey of energy, strength and confidence. Cue the road trippin’ music.

1. Hydrate. Drinking water is always key to great performance and recovery. Your daily goal should be to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water daily plus more when you are sweating. For example, a 150 lb individual should drink a minimum of 75 oz of water spread throughout the day.

2. Pre-Workout: Start with Fuel in Your Tank. Whether you exercise at 5am or 5pm, you need to make sure you eat a little bit of protein and carbs 30-60 minutes before your workout. This can be as simple as a banana with almond butter or a protein shake. The most important thing is that you choose foods that digest easily, settle in your stomach and give you enough energy so you don’t bonk during your 45-60 minute workout. If you’ve ever felt weak, faint, nauseous, etc. during a workout and you don’t have the flu/illness, you better get your pre-party on and investigate what you are or aren’t eating.

3. Intra-Workout: Refuel for Duration. This truly applies to those endurance athletes who are exercising for 60+ minutes. Your body can only maintain certain intensities for so long before you are completely depleted. Again, opt for foods that settle well in your stomach, but give you quick energy. Fresh fruit and GU packets work well along with energy bars and peanut butter sandwiches for longer events. Refuel every 45-50 minutes.

4. Post-Workout: Refuel for Life. Immediately to 30 minutes following your workout, refuel with a healthy mix of protein, vegetables and starches. Choose a clean protein source of poultry, fish, eggs, beef/bison or protein powder (no antibiotic or hormone treated animals please), 1-2 cups of vegetables and a nutrient packed starch like yams, quinoa, rice, etc. The protein will help repair all tissues, the vegetables will add vitamins, minerals and fiber and the starch will help transport the protein while replenishing energy stores.

5. Use the Correct Fuel. You wouldn’t refuel your car with the wrong type of fuel would you? Your body is no different. Choose real food over processed foods like pastries and instant meals. Your body’s performance, energy and aesthetics are directly related to the quality of food you are feeding it. Be good to your bod.

This is a simplified guideline for exercise nutrition. If you are experiencing issues with recovery, injuries, dehydration, performance, etc. or want to learn more, please contact me for a specific nutrition plan tailored for your unique needs.