How to Successfully Cheat on Your Food Plan

I know, I know, I know.  How dare I even think about writing such a blasphemous article.  Honestly, this comes up in almost every single one of my nutrition consultations.  Contrary to those struggling might believe, most people are NOT 100% perfect on their food plan.  And yes, that includes me.

While this is a long and complicated issue, I thought rather than going into the “Whys” I would deal with the “Hows.”  Rather than make someone wrong for not adhering to their plan, I think you can create more success when you help support these detours and soften the reaction.  The most important thing is to make sure you get back on the plan.  If there is a harsh reaction each time you get off track, it is that much more difficult to get back on.

Life is hard enough.  No one needs more guilt and shame.  A loving and self-compassionate way to look at these events is a gentler, and I have personally witnessed, more effective way to continue to achieve your goals.

1.  Don’t Plan Cheat Days

There is a diet strategy out now that has you “plan” your cheat days.  This is when a person decides that once (or twice) a week, they can have anything they want.  The issue with that is that most transitioning to a healthier plan get derailed anyhow during the week.  So, that derailment, plus the licenses to cheat sets you up for failure. You will cheat anyhow. Why plan for an extra event?

2.  Have a Damage Control Plan

Knowing you will cheat, what is the best way for you to detox the next day?  Spend some time thinking about it, and make sure you always have this at the ready.  Is it lemon/parsley hot water in the morning?  Is it magnesium supplements the night before?  Is it hot yoga?  Is it a “watermelon” day.  Whatever “it” is, that makes you feel better, try to always have these things in your home, or at your fingertips.

3.  Create Yellow and Red Zones

Yellow Zones are food or drinks that you rarely have but will allow, once in a while, in a derailment.  They could be items such as Doritos, ice cream, pizza.  These are things you DO NOT have on a daily basis, but when you have a bad day, these are your “go to” comfort foods.

Red Zones are foods or drinks that you will never, ever eat.  These are foods that even when you are having a bad day, you avoid.  So, you have your mind set that never, ever will you eat that.  For me, that was red meat.  I drew the line and decided I would never eat that again.

THIS WILL CHANGE AS YOUR JOURNEY MOVES FORWARD.  For example, when I started my journey, my Yellow Zone foods were things like cheese, M&M’s or muffins.  In my red zone were hamburgers, hot dogs, and other red meat products.  Now, my Yellow Zone foods are more like oils, pasta or chocolate while my Red Zone has grown to include all animal products.  So, the line moved, showing a progression.  That is super important.

4.  Keep Refining

As I continue on this journey, I keep learning.  I look at people that are thriving and ask questions.  I read blogs on health.  I always have an interesting book on hand about food.  Documentaries are a staple of mine.  I kept changing and growing.  My college friends (which I met centuries ago) still tease me about how I “ate funny” back then.  I smile knowing that I have come so far from that food plan.  I am light years from those choices.  Most of those things might be able to be placed in my Yellow Zone!

5.  Pay Attention to Your Symptoms

If you have things like a bloated belly, acne, rosacea, stiff joints – these all could be food related.  If these get better or worse, you might be sitting on a gold mine.  On the days you feel better, ask yourself why?  What did I eat yesterday?  What did I drink?  What did I feel?  If you wake up and seem particularly worse, go back and ask these same questions.  What I discovered is that different symptoms led me to a different path.  Each event had interesting answers.  I discovered that my eczema didn’t need a steroid cream, I just needed to get rid of gluten in my diet.  So, no matter what people said about gluten-free being a fad, I discovered, that for me, that was not an optimum food.  This was not about weight loss, it was about seeing where the inflammation was coming from.  Make sense?  You might need even more help or an experienced eye to take a look.  For that, consult a food coach or nutritionist.  You are not alone! I do consultations like this all the time. Let’s talk –

6.  Figure Out Your Frequency

How often can you get derailed per week?  Once, twice?  If you are keeping a food diary, you will be able to figure that out.

7.  Find Safe Treats Just Outside Your Yellow Zone

These are treats that can help with a craving but not derail you.  They are in that sweet spot of neither really great or inflammatory.  So, it might not help you achieve goals but definitely won’t lead you to eat and crave more refined foods.  This can be something as simple as crackers with hummus, homemade granola, cereal with rice milk or other treats.  Try to always have these handy so you know you don’t need to eat the restaurant’s desserts as you have that yummy fruit juice sweetened cookie waiting for you at home.

8.  Recognize Your Pitfalls

We all have those places that we KNOW are pitfalls.  Whether they are family dinners with Aunt Bertha who starts talking politics, or a certain restaurant where your best friend insists on meeting, we all have those places that have hard to resist foods.  Learn what they are, be okay with it, and start learning from them.  You can create strategies from the data that will help support your efforts.  Whether it is taking a break from the meal and going to the bathroom to breathe, or pre-eating, there are different things you can try at different times and see if this affects the outcome.  We definitely know if you continue to do the same thing each time, you will reach the exact same outcome, right?

These are just a few ideas to help you get to a better place in your journey.  Knowing that we are all human, and creating a self-compassion plan around this will really, really help to keep you on track and align your actions with your goals.  As always, we are here to help!

Want some help? Let’s connect!

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Food Combinations to Combat Belly Bloat

If you have experienced belly bloat, gas, indigestion, diverticulitis or other gut and bowel discomfort, you might want to consider looking into the rules of food combing. Discovered a few decades ago, these simple guidelines are incredibly effective and easy to apply.

The concept is that different foods have different digestion transit times. For example, meat goes through the intestines quite slowly, but fruit goes through quite quickly. If you have a lot of bloating and gas, you will want to look at these “rules” and see if changing the combinations of how you eat food affects your symptoms.

Food combining is quite simple actually. You want to eat foods with faster digestion times, first.

Imagine traffic going through a tunnel. If there is a zippy little sports car and a large 18 wheeler, who could go faster? The sports car will really, really get frustrated behind the 18 wheeler. Food kind of does the same thing. If you have eaten a hamburger, and then for dessert have a bowl of cherries, you will definitely experience bloat and might become uncomfortable. While waiting for the hamburger to digest, the cherries will start breaking down and eventually start to putrefy.

Here are some general rules to follow:
1) Eat fruit alone

2) Eat melon by itself

3) Do not mix starch with protein. (i.e hamburger on a bun, steak with potatoes)

4) Combine protein with vegetables and greens.

5) Combine grains, starches or carbs with vegetables and greens.

After a little while, you will get the hang of it! This has been life changing for me. It might take a few days for it to help your gut bloat because some foods take a couple of days to completely digest. Keep us posted. Have more questions? Please visit 

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Super Easy, Protein Packed, Vegan Black Bean Salad

This is a great recipe because it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days if you leave out the avocado and then add it right before serving. You can also use the leftovers as a topping or side dish to your main meal. Add it to brown rice or a baked potato – this tasty combo packs a healthy and flavorful punch.

Organic black beans. Rinse well.
1 cup jicama – chopped (could substitute radish or apple)
2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tsp. salt
1/2 avocado chopped
2 heads romaine lettuce – chopped
3 green onions – chopped

1.  In a large bowl combine beans,  jicama, cherry tomatoes
2.  Pour in oil, vinegar, and salt
3.  Toss lightly
4.  Add avocado
5.  Serve over lettuce and top with green onions

Addition Suggestions
3 Tbsp. of salsa
Chopped basil
1 cup fresh corn

Interested in more super easy to prepare, delicious, healthy recipes? Check out Balanced Bodies: Vegan Cookbook for only $19.99 PLUS there is a 15-page FREE preview! Click here.

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Recipe: Vegan Curry Chickpea Stew

I like this recipe because of its versatility.  You can double the recipe and freeze what you don’t use.  You can also add more liquid (water and coconut cream) and make it saucier or add less liquid and make it thicker.  I realize it’s summer and some might not want to eat something hot, but after a long day at work, I needed something light and savory with broth.  This perfectly hit the spot!

Special Notes 
• In this picture, I put the stew over brown rice.  You can also put this stew over greens or a baked potato.

• I use organic short grain brown rice.  I love the texture of it and find it gives sweetness and a bit of a “bite” to my recipes.

• I used a coconut “cream” in this recipe.  Feel free to use any of the vegan products that are out there such as almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk.  The trick is to add it in at the end and to not cook it.

• I rinse the beans after I open the can to make them less “gassy.”

1 large onion chopped
2 beefsteak tomatoes chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
1 can organic chick peas rinsed (can use a can of any organic beans, just make sure to rinse them)
1 heaping tbsp. curry powder (or paste)
juice of a lime

1. Place onion in water and simmer until onions are clear.
2.  Add in tomatoes, garlic, water, salt.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
3.  Add in curry powder and stir.
4.  Add in chick peas
5.  Cook for 5 minutes and turn off heat.
6.  Stir in coconut cream and juice of a lime.

Ladle into bowls or pour over brown rice. Enjoy!

Interested in more delicious, healthy recipes that are also family-friendly? Please check out our Balanced Bodies: Vegan Cookbook HERE

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Top 5 Busy Mommy Kitchen Hacks

1.  Double Recipes
I always, always make enough for at least 2 meals or I double recipes.  I freeze or just package it up.

2.  Make Lunch After Dinner
While cleaning after dinner, I have a container out and pack my lunch as I am putting things away.

3.  Make Concentrates
I make soups, stocks, chiles, yerba mate and other things in a “concentrated” form.  Then, when I want to make one of these things, I am not starting from scratch, most of the work has been done.

4.  Create Multiple Meals at the Same Time
If I am making a salad for dinner, why not cut extra for lunch and dinner the next day?

5.  Wash ALL Those Darn Carrots!
Let’s say you are making lunch and need a carrot, instead of washing and cutting the ends off of one, I do the whole bag at once.  In other words, I dump the whole bag of carrots into a bowl of water and wash them all at once.  Then, I cut off both ends and stick in a zip lock for the refrigerator.  This is one of the biggest time savers.  I do this with a lot of produce including celery and potatoes.  Makes life so much easier.

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Recipe: Simple Summer Salad

This salad is so easy it’s like cheating!  It’s just cut veggies, some chopped fresh basil and a dash of sea salt, but it is absolutely delicious. The ripe summer tomatoes give it a tangy sweetness and the cucumbers give it a salty base.  Add in some other veggies like avocado, colored peppers, or celery.  Try dill instead of basil or maybe fresh oregano and parsley. Get creative and have fun!

1 large cucumber chopped
3 cups of cherry tomatoes cut in halves or quarters
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
5 leaves fresh basil chopped
2 scallions chopped
5 radishes sliced thin

Toss together and serve.   This is delicious after it sits and marinates for a couple of hours in the refrigerator so it can definitely be made ahead of time, too.  Be creative, try different herbs and veggies.  Serve over lettuce, brown rice or potatoes.  Such a colorful, fresh and healthy side dish!

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Top 6 Things To GET RID OF In Your Kitchen

Here are the top 6 items I would suggest to completely eliminate in your kitchen!

1.  White Salt
With so many different options for sea salt, why limit yourself to white and refined?  Plus, that stuff is so toxic!  Try some pink Himalayan, gray Celtic, black volcano… options are endless and gorgeous!

2.  White Vinegar
Power up your food by switching to Apple cider vinegar.  I love Bragg’s the best, sweeter tasting, healthier and unheated.  White vinegar is great for cleaning your toilets, apple cider is for food.

3.  Regular Soy Sauce
Have you ever looked at the labels?  Switch to Bragg’s Amino Acids.  I know, it is a weird and confusing name, but it is a great soy sauce.  Really rich tasting and not metallic.  It is the “real” soy sauce.  Fermented and aged.

4.  Vegetable Oil
No need for it ever!  When you use oil, it is best to add after cooking.  In other words, heat with water, add the oil as a flavoring.  That’s because oil breaks down quickly in the heat.  Either way, there is no need for vegetable oil, which is usually mostly corn or soy refined oil.  Use natural, unfiltered and unheated coconut, olive, sesame or other “whole” seed or nut oils.

5.  Teflon
Breaks down quickly and you get to ingest little Teflon pieces in your food after a few weeks.  Go for cast iron, Stainless Steel or clay-wear.

6.  White Sugar
Okay – you can save this for Aunt Milly when she comes for tea, but for your regular home use, sweeten foods and drinks with maple syrup, raw coconut sugar, stevia, raw honey, and other whole food sweeteners.

Would you like some help making your kitchen, pantry or refrigerator more healthful?! Let’s chat!

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