Cravings and emotions

If you’ve been following me on social media you may know that I’ve been eliminating foods in an effort to gain clarity on what may be irritating my gut.

In this post I’ll be sharing a bit more about the emotional side of cleansing. Maybe you’ve seen friends doing a Whole30 or maybe you’ve been inspired by my posts to try out an elimination diet, but what many people don’t share or talk about is the emotions, feelings and thoughts that come up when you start to limit the foods (drinks, experiences) you’re saying yes to.

 Hello from me and one of my favorite detox-friendly foods!

Hello from me and one of my favorite detox-friendly foods!

Cleansing and detox is not an easy topic for me to write about because I know it can trigger a lot of people who have had or have a disordered relationship with food.

Obsession, restriction and addiction are all too common in today’s society I think mainly because of media and what we portray as “successful” or “healthy” or “beautiful” but also because so many of us were raised without really being taught how to have a healthy relationship with food and our bodies, and taking it a step further, our emotions.

I want to be clear that my current elimination and desire to cleanse was not and is not about weight loss (although I’ve definitely done cleanses or clean eating programs in the past where that was one of my goals). I’ve been in a lot of pain the last year and I’m finally taking action.

I heard best selling author and coach Alex Jamieson once say “Food is sex with your pants on” and she’s totally right.

Food is love.

Food is pleasure.

Food is connection.

Food is comfort.

Food is also safer (easier, and usually more readily accessible) than having sex, or asking a friend for help or striking up a conversation with a stranger.

It’s not a bad thing that we entwine our feelings with food. The trouble begins when we avoid feeling our feelings and connecting with our selves and with others, and instead “eat over” these things.

There’s a lot to say on this, and I’m more than happy to continue this conversation (in the comments below or 1:1) but really what I want to talk about today are some specific cravings or urges you might experience while detoxing or eliminating certain food and drinks.

 Hmmm… I wonder what this craving is really about?

Hmmm… I wonder what this craving is really about?

I'm sharing what I’ve noticed through my studies and self study to be the root cause of these cravings, and what you can do instead.

CarBs > for comfort

I’m not a pasta person (I know, shocking!!) but gluten free toast and muffins are definitely my comfort foods of choice. And for a good reason: carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect.

You can totally swap your white pasta (or white bread) for an “upgraded” carb like whole grains, potatoes and sweet potatoes, but here are some non-food ways to experience that same calm:

  • Meditation (it’s helpful in ALL situations, but especially here)

  • Self massage

  • Deep belly breathing

Caffeine + sugar > to push through

One of the foods (well really “substances”) I’ve been working to eliminate is caffeine, and boy is it a tough one to let go of, mainly because we live in such a go-go-go society. It’s easy to push forward and get through your to-do list when you’re on the high of caffeine or sugar, but unfortunately coffee and sweets usually leave us feeling MORE depleted after the initial rush has worn off.

Here’s what to do instead of reaching for that second cup of joe or dipping your hand in the office candy jar:

  • Take a break or nap

  • Drink a glass of water

  • Go for a walk

  • Expect less of yourself (i.e. take your to-do list down from 5 items to 1 or 2)

 When in doubt: DRINK WATER

When in doubt: DRINK WATER

Alcohol > To relax and numb out

Ahhh alcohol - the magical liquid that makes our worries melt away and helps us be more social, even in the most awkward situations. We unwind with a glass of wine, connect over a cocktail and celebrate with champagne. Drinking is woven into our culture, even though alcohol is truly a pretty toxic (and extremely addictive) substance.

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or uncomfortable, here are some things you can do instead of reaching for the bottle:

  • Calming breath

  • Take an Epsom salt bath (or, if it’s available to you, book a session in a float tank)

  • Infrared sauna

  • And if you’re in a social situation… go to the bathroom and let yourself out of the spotlight for a bit

Note: If you are seriously worried about your drinking habits or relationship with alcohol, please contact your local AA support group or seek the help of a trained therapist.

Chocolate (also sugar) > FOR A dopamine hit

Similar to caffeine, chocolate is my go-to when I need a boost in energy or mood. Also similar to caffeine, chocolate has been one of the harder things to eliminate. Again, science explains why this is the case: Chocolate contains small amounts of a compound called phenylethylamine, which acts like an amphetamine, stimulating your brain cells to release dopamine (which is your “feel good” neurotransmitter).

While I totally believe that chocolate can be a part of a healthy diet, here are a few other ways to boost your mood:

  • Have a solo dance party (I have a specific playlist of songs that I know are good for dancing)

  • Work out! Endorphins also make you happy!

  • Add in this mood boosting adaptogenic herb: mucuna pruriens

Any food > to distract or avoid feeling

We can really use ANY food to distract or to avoid a feeling or situation. And while it may be a little “healthier” to distract ourselves with a tray of roasted sweet potatoes compared to a bag of chips, at the root there’s still an issue.

I know this all too well. During a particularly stressful time at my corporate job years and years ago, I would leave every afternoon to get a Cashew Mylk from the Organic Avenue by my office. Although this was probably one of the healthiest “treats” out there - gluten and dairy free, no refined sugars, made locally, etc etc… I felt crappy about it because I knew deep down the Cashew Mylk wasn’t going to help the real issue. Plus, I didn’t really need (or want) to spend $12 every day or have that rich drink every afternoon (too much of a good thing is still too much!). Instead of honoring that I was feeling trapped and stressed in my job, I used food to self soothe.

If you’re feeling like a certain food has control over you, there’s probably something else that needs and wants to be looked at.

Here are a few ways to get in touch with these feelings and emotions:

  • Journal

  • Call a friend and talk it out

  • Have a session with a healer or therapist

  • Work with a health coach ;)

  As one of my clients said “Journaling helps loosen things from the heart.”

I know there’s a lot to digest within this blog post, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed or not sure where to start, start with awareness. Nothing can change if you don’t first hold the space to see it for what it is. Next time you have a craving, take a moment to pause and ask yourself: Is there something else going on here? Is there another way I can support myself instead of automatically reaching for [insert your most craved food here]?

And please be compassionate with yourself during this process! No one (at least no one I know!) is completely free of using food to self soothe. It’s simply about cultivating awareness, starting that conversation with yourself and having tools you can turn in the moment.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Do you noticed yourself craving certain foods when you’re stressed or lonely? Have you done a detox or elimination diet and felt these feelings more intensely? Leave a comment below and let me know! <3

Connecting to your intuition

Some of my favorite moments are when my life asks me to apply something I've been working on with one of my coaching clients.

On Sunday I had a call with a current client and I shared with her my tips for strengthening your connection with your intuition. She's a generally healthy gal and even studying to be a coach herself, but, like so many of us, can get caught up in the "shoulds" instead of listening to her own body's wants and needs.

She's definitely not alone. SO often I hear the "s" word used, especially when it comes to our food and self care practices.

  • "I should order a salad since it's the healthiest option."

  • "I probably should be going to yoga."

  • "I should just go home and get a good night's sleep." 

  • "I should cut out dairy - my friend did and her digestive issues completely went away."

  • "I should start a meditation practice."

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It's okay to want to improve or change your habits. It's okay to seek out advice from experts (or the internet) to help you make more informed choices. What's not okay is completely ignoring your own body's wisdom in favor of what seems to work for some girl on Instagram, or your BFF, or your mom.

Our bodies are designed to heal themselves. They are more intelligent than the most complex super computer out there. And given a chance, your body will tell you what it needs - it will guide you to the best food (and LIFE!) choices for you in each and every moment.

So how do you start (or strengthen) this conversation with yourself?

Today I'm sharing 3 easy tips for connecting to your own intuition - tips that I had an opportunity to apply to myself this weekend when I felt lost with what to do with my Sunday evening (more on that below).

   Photo by Seana Pasic

Tip 1: Talk to yourself!

I talk to myself all day long. Sometimes it's just in my head, and sometimes it's out loud. If I'm having trouble making a decision (what to have for dinner, what workout to do, etc) I'll ask myself: What do I need right now? What would be most supportive?

Talking to yourself feel a little strange? You can also journal or type out your thoughts.

Tip 2: Ask your intuition everything.

Oftentimes we wait for really big or hard decisions to connect to that deeper wisdom, and then wonder why we can't seem to get an easy or clear answer. It's like not doing any cardio workouts for months and months and then suddenly expecting your body to run a 10K race.

Exercise your intuition like a muscle and it will grow stronger. Start practicing with smaller, simpler choices (what type of fruit to put in your morning smoothie, what type of tea to sip on in the afternoon, what music to listen to during your commute home, etc) and build from there.

Tip 3: Become a really great LISTENER.

Here's the part most people skip over: you have to take a moment and listen after you ask yourself a question. If an answer doesn't come up right away, sit with your question a little longer. Sometimes you may need to dig deeper and ask yourself if there's something else you need to think about or look at before resolving the issue and coming to a clear answer.

Which brings me back to my experience this weekend: On Sunday, I had a full day of coaching clients + interviewing potential new roommates. By the time I was done with everything and had fed myself, it was 7:30PM and I was beat.

I wanted to do something to relax and unwind, but wasn't sure what. So I tuned in and asked myself "What would be most supportive right now?"

A restorative yoga class at my local studio?

A session in my infrared sauna bed?

Some yoga at home?

A Netflix binge?

Reading in bed?

All great ideas, but nothing felt like a YES to me.

To be honest, I was frustrated. I just wanted to relax already!!! But instead of jumping into a choice, I took a moment and listened to my own advice.

I laid down on my floor, put one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly and just breathed. Staring up at the ceiling, I ran through my options again and then waited. And after a few minutes something new popped into my head: I had saved a longer recorded meditation and as soon as I remembered that I felt a resounding YES in my body.

I made myself some tea and settled in - the meditation was exactly what I needed.

Maybe this sounds like a lot of work for you, or maybe you're already doing this on the regular. Wherever you are with your connection to your intuition, I hope something that I shared today resonated, reminded or inspired you to strengthen and appreciate this relationship with your self.

As always, I love to hearing from you. Leave a comment below and share your intuition experience or questions!

A peek inside the Your Healthiest You office!

After 10 days away, I'm officially back in NYC and happily back working in the office that I share with Robyn.

I love that we have an official work home - working from coffee shops and your apartment sounds glamorous (and works for some!) but I enjoy a dedicated workspace with good WiFi, familiar faces and free coffee (tea for me right now).

After trying out a number of different co-working spaces, we finally found a place that felt like a good fit in May. We’ve spent the summer getting settled in and set up and so today I wanted to show you the place.

The space is nothing fancy we put intention into making it feel like home. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, mom or someone working a more traditional 9-5, I hope you’ll find inspiration in how we’ve outfitted our office with both some practical and more woo-woo touches.

Head over to Robyn's blog to check out the space: Your Healthiest You Office Reveal.

 Serene sunset over the sound this weekend in Duck, North Carolina

And then I'd love to hear from you - what's your workspace like? Do you work from an office, co-working space, home, coffee shops or elsewhere?

Leave a comment below and let me know!

It's okay to do less

The last few weeks have felt a little wonky - maybe it's the travel or the end of the vacation season, but I feel like I haven't totally found my post-summer flow.

Although I have SO much I want to share with you here, I'm struggling to find a regular time and space to write.

In addition to taking on a few more 1:1 coaching clients and working on some exciting projects with Robyn, I've been focused on my own gut stuff and making my health my #1 priority.

Despite being a health coach and virtually living in a world of wellness, this is the first time in years (or maybe ever???) I'm really, really putting myself first.

And you know what I've realized? Putting yourself first sometimes means being a little quieter and doing a little less while you go in a little more. And for right now, I am okay with that.

I'm okay with not being the first to check out the latest and greatest matcha spot in Brooklyn. I'm okay with passing on dessert during a fancy dinner and sipping hot water with lemon instead (not saying it was easy... but I'm okay with it). I'm okay with saying "no" to some networking opportunities and not immediately responding to every email that comes my way.

It's okay to do less.

It's also okay to share or give less.

If you're in a position of leadership, influence or service (which most people are to some extent), your default setting is likely giving out a lot of energy. Sharing your expertise or advice, teaching or mentoring, or mothering.

This is amazing, but not sustainable 100% of the time. As much as we give, we also need to receive. And I'll take that a step further to say it's not just about receiving support, encouragement and love... it's about digesting those energies as well [see last week's post for more on that!]

All this is to say... I'm digesting!!! ;)

I'm leaning into this space of processing and allowing myself to not juggle all the things and instead focus on fewer things, more important things.

I'm not telling you this as an excuse of any kind, but simply as a reminder that it is okay if you're feeling this way too. It's okay if you need to take a break from something to focus on you. And it's okay if you need to conserve your time and energy and do a little less than what feels normal to you.

It's all okay friends.

 Serene sunset over the sound this weekend in Duck, North Carolina

Serene sunset over the sound this weekend in Duck, North Carolina

On that note, I do want to share a few quick reads, views or listens that may provide you with a little inspiration or entertainment while I'm feeling a little more quiet on the sharing front:

  • Watch: Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace - Whether or not you work with anyone from the millennial generation, I think this 15 minute interview is a must-watch. I whole-heartedly believe that social media (and work) are the newest forms of addiction and that we're going to be hearing a LOT more on this subject in the years to come.

  • Listen: Abbie Galvin on The Lifestylist Podcast - I've been practicing a LOT of Katonah yoga the last year. A full blog post is definitely in the works, but if you're curious on learning more about this unique style of yoga and the theory behind it, listen to this episode with my teacher Abbie.

  • Read: Gabby Bernstein's Blog Post on Gut Health - Gabby is a modern spiritual leader, and she's not shy about sharing her own gut and food struggles. This blog post goes into detail about her own challenges and gut healing story. I skimmed it yesterday and look forward to diving in more fully later this week.

Hope one of these will be of interest or useful for you!

Space to reflect

I had another blog post planned for today but when I sat down to finish it, it didn't feel right. 

I was planning to write to you about sugar cravings and some tips I've been sharing with my 1:1 coaching clients the past week (which I'll likely send next week because it is really, really good info!).

But something stopped me when I went to hit publish. I make most of my business decisions from my gut and so I knew I had to heed that hesitation and listen more closely for what wanted to be shared today.

So I took a minute and tuned in. I stopped what I was doing, took a few deep breaths and I asked myself "What would feel more in alignment here?" and the answer became clear.

Nothing new.

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With everything going on this week - the Jewish New Year, remembering 9/11, the hurricane (which hits particularly close for me as my grandparents live most of the year in Duck, North Carolina and I am actually supposed to be going down there next weekend) and the back-to-school/life/work really setting in, it didn't feel like this was a week to share or start something new.

It felt like this should be a week for reflection. For honoring where we're at right in this moment, for feeling gratitude for all the good in our lives (especially the things we take for granted on a daily basis) and for acknowledging our intentions for the year to come.

Holding space for reflection is so important, yet something that we often skip over in our fast paced lives.

We jump from one thing to the next and don't always allow ourselves to "digest" our life experiences (yes, experiences and emotions need to be digested too!).

Personally, I think a lot of the gut issues I've been experiencing lately are a result of this go-go-go mentality. Even if you love your job and fill your life with all things you enjoy, you still need space to just breathe and be.

   Photo by Seana Pasic

So today (or this weekend) I encourage you to give yourself just that. Take a break and go for a walk without your phone. Sit on a park bench or your sofa without a book, cell phone or TV for distraction. Leave an hour of your day unscheduled (or if you tend to schedule EVERYTHING, block off an hour in your calendar to do nothing).

The most important part? Let go of your expectations of this time. Literally, expect nothing of yourself. Don't expect to feel amazing or rested or restored afterwards. Don't plan for revelations, insights or big emotional ahas (although those may naturally happen).

In that time, first just breathe. Let your thoughts wander. Allow your gaze to linger. Just be.

And then if there is something that you know you need to reflect on or simply be with, allow yourself to go there. Have your thoughts, feel through your feelings and let your body and your mind digest it all.

This is not a "to do" but if you do try this out or if something I shared above resonated with you, I'd love to hear from you :) Leave a comment below and let me know.