Tag Archives: self-compassion

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

17 Nov
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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!

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We Never See Our True Beauty

29 Sep
Are you ready to feel amazing?

Are you ready to feel amazing?

I was 17, the summer before senior year, watching a PBS documentary on ballet dancers. I, a dancer myself, was in awe of their beauty and grace. About 10 minutes into the documentary, I had an awakening.  Let me back up…

Like many females, I have wrestled with body image issues since I was young. I was called a “dog” more times than I care to admit and have been ridiculed for being too skinny, too flat-chested, too dorky, too everything! Unfortunately, I chose to believe those comments and soon found myself staring at my body and face in the mirror with hatred and disgust. All I could see was a homely girl with frizzy hair, glasses, a flat chest and a big butt. I even created a mantra in high school, “I’m glad I’m not pretty, because I actually had to develop a personality.” I used that mantra a lot.

But then came that PBS documentary. As I was watching the ballerinas, I realized they were small-chested like me; had a muscular butt and thighs like me. I went numb processing that discovery. For once in my life, I felt like I belonged. I felt like it was finally okay to have the body I have, regardless of what anybody else said.

We never see our true beauty…

I’m not over my body issues. I’ve used food to cope with loneliness and to “fix” me; and I’ve believed that when I’m prettier with a better body, I will finally deserve happiness. I worry because I work in the fitness industry—an industry notorious for placing emphasis on how an individual looks, rather than how healthy and happy they feel—and who wants to train with a fitness coach who has a (gasp!) flawed body?! Through a lot of practice, I’ve become more mindful, more aware that I don’t have to wait until I’m “fixed” to live my life fully. There’s nothing to fix.

Breathe that in… there is nothing to fix.

Whether we’ve been teased for being too fat or too thin; too tall or too short; red hair or blond hair—it hurts all the same. I work with amazing people who struggle daily with losing weight, feeling energetic and healthy, knowing what to eat and thinking that their life would be better if only they looked like this month’s magazine cover girl. I can relate. So, here’s a thought, let’s work on loving ourselves, on embracing our beauty, showing compassion towards others, being mindful of our own needs and celebrating each other for our intelligence, humor and grace. Let’s encourage each other to have strong, healthy bodies; let’s compliment each other; let’s be ridiculously gorgeous without apology; let’s cook healthy amazing food and feed it to our friends and family; let’s be the person our loved ones can be proud of—that we can be proud of. Let us just BE… and embrace all that that is.

If you would like to feel truly nourished and create self-acceptance and body freedom, join me for a 6-week course beginning October 21st, 2014. Please email or call for more details. 402-819-8970 or stephsbell@yahoo.com.