Videos, Intuitive Eating, Weight loss advice

10 Tips to Stop Overeating When You’re Bored

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Hey friends! Today I have a video (& post) for you with 10 tips on how to stop overeating or binge eating out of boredom! Boredom eating is an important habit to kick whether you’re looking to learn to eat intuitively, or looking to lose weight.

Today I’m wearing my psychologist hat: I do have my master’s degree in psychology (cognitive neuroscience emphasis) after all! Some of these tips will address the eating side of the issue, and others will focus more on solving the boredom side.

I go over all these points in detail and with concrete examples in the video, but here’s the list:

  1. Figure out if you’re eating from actual boredom, or if it’s really hunger! (Try the broccoli test)
  2. Exercise: the hormones suppress your appetite!
  3. Meditation: turn boredom into something that’s good for you physically & mentally
  4. Mindful eating
  5. Visualization
  6. Plan something exciting
  7. Find something else that’s mostly mindless to occupy yourself, especially your hands
  8. Find an activity that’s rewarding in a way that replaces the reward from food
  9. Channel your food-related thoughts into cooking something healthy!
  10. Find & solve the root cause of your boredom, like stress, depression, dissatisfaction with life circumstances, etc.

Hope some of those can help you! 🙂

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Intuitive Eating, Weight loss advice

Intuitive Eating: What is it, and Can it Help You Lose Weight?

I’ve been talking about intuitive eating for quite awhile now, and I thought it was finally time I make a post all about it. Specifically, what it is (my take on it, at least), and especially, whether it can help you.

But first, let me ask you a question. Do you find yourself having issues with…

  • Wanting to lose weight and not being able to?
  • Eating because you’re stressed, emotional, or bored?
  • Feeling hungry or craving something because you saw food on TV, social media, friends eating, etc.?
  • Overeating because you’re starting your diet tomorrow, or because you failed at following your diet that day?
  • Feeling guilty for eating?
  • Not letting yourself eat even though you were hungry?

So did I. And intuitive eating is the reason I don’t have these issues anymore.

Photo from 2017, a year after I started intuitive eating, feat. chocolate milkshake 🙂

Intuitive eating is a term coined by the authors of this book, but the idea has been around in different forms for a lot longer than that. There are scientific studies from before 1995 and in more recent years showing that following the tenets of intuitive eating lead to weight loss, treat disordered eating like binge eating, reverse obesity, heal relationships with food, reduce depression and anxiety, and improve self esteem and body image.1,2,3

The basic principle of intuitive eating (and related ideas) is simply:

Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.

That may sound too simple, too good to be true, or just something you’ve tried before that hasn’t worked. But it can be tricky to get right, especially with society’s attitudes about food these days. We start out doing it as kids, but somewhere along the way, most of us lose the ability.

Maybe because we learned to use food to deal with our emotions, maybe because of our culture’s obsession with dieting as THE way to lose weight, maybe because we’re taught that desserts, carbs, sugar, etc. are “bad”.

If you’ve tried dieting, followed meal plans with scheduled eating times and portions, overeaten or undereaten, or felt guilty for eating, chances are you’ve fallen out of tune with your ability to eat when hungry and stop when full. I know I did, completely–hunger and fullness were almost irrelevant in my eating behavior for 10 years.

The more we learn to ignore our hunger and satiety signals, the more we start to rely on cues like emotions, stress, the presence of “bad foods” in the kitchen, and other people’s diet plans to dictate when we start and stop eating. And that’s how weight gain, guilt, and constant dieting sneak in.

Intuitive eating is all about undoing this: getting back in tune with our hunger signals, and learning not to let external or psychological factors determine when and how much we eat. As a result, it involves effortlessly maintaining a healthy weight, improving your health, and healing your relationship with food and your own body.

With intuitive eating, there is no such thing as dieting, restricting, binging, “bad” foods, or guilt for eating.

No more calorie counting. No more food scales. No more portion control. Just reaching your goal body by eating as much as you want, when you want it. Channeling all that time and mental effort that you were once spending on food into the rest of your life: your relationships, your work, your hobbies.

If it sounds too good to be true, don’t worry… I thought so too. Until it worked.

It’s fun to look back at these photos and see how much fat I’ve replaced with muscle since then!

So, I’m starting a series of blog posts all about how to get started with intuitive eating, no matter how unattainable it might feel for you. I was stuck in a restricting/dieting and binge eating cycle for over 10 years, so I think I qualified as one of the more hopeless cases out there… so I’ll be sharing what worked for me, and incorporate tips from scientific research on it.

Maybe you already do intuitive eating, and still can’t lose weight. I still have advice for you coming up, and part of that involves tweaking what and how you’re eating (notice I didn’t say how much)!

So stay tuned for posts every other weekend on how to eat intuitively or troubleshoot your intuitive eating. If you’re looking to lose weight, escape disordered eating habits, or improve your physical and psychological health, this series is for you.

Some of the posts I have planned so far are:

  • My 10 year battle with “unintuitive” eating, and my journey since
  • How to get started with intuitive eating
  • How to troubleshoot your intuitive eating
  • How to stop binge eating

And more! (I’ll add a table of contents with links as the posts come out)

If you’d like to keep up, sign up below to get email notifications when I post! 🙂

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(I know I probably sound like I’m trying to sell you something, but honestly, I just want to share this because I want to help other people not have these issues anymore too. Getting rid of them seriously changed my life… not only have I finally achieved my goal appearance, but more importantly, I’m so much happier. And I want to turn my gratitude into a way of helping others. I even paid to get rid of ads on this blog because I don’t want them to get in the way!)

References (scientific studies):

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212267213018960
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/eat.22041
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1077722995800131

(There are many more studies on the benefits of intuitive eating, but this is a quick sampling of some)

Recipes

Vegan Zucchini Muffin Recipe + High Protein Option [Low Fat, Whole Wheat]

If you’re a vegetable gardener, then you know about that midsummer avalanche of zucchini & other summer squashes. A time that’s both exciting–because hey, it’s incredible getting so much food from just one squash plant–and overwhelming, because using up all the zucchini gets to be a task.

If you don’t get creative with it, you run a serious risk of getting sick of zucchini.

So I try to keep coming up with new uses and recipes for it. Last year I turned my zucchinis into lasagna, chocolate muffins (I made them every week for months), pesto noodles, kebabs, veggie roasts, and a failed attempt at oven zucchini chips. I still couldn’t use them all up, from ONE plant, even with help from my fiance!

So far this year, I’ve made squash boats, (successful!) zucchini chips, and now these protein muffins. And I have 2 plants this year… time to get serious.

I think these muffins will replace my chocolate zucchini muffin obsession from last year, because they are seriously delicious. Especially considering they’re whole wheat, low fat (in fact, fat free if you leave out the walnuts & chocolate chips), and have both protein powder and vegetables!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk (I used soy)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (or try pumpkin puree)
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup plain hemp protein powder*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional)

* If you don’t want the protein, just use 1/4c whole wheat flour instead. Or on the flip side, you can try replacing some of the flour with more protein powder! You can experiment with other protein powders too, but I find plain unsweetened hemp to be the most flour-like and I can’t even taste it in the muffins.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F, and grease a standard dozen muffin pan.
  • Combine flaxseed, sugar, milk, and applesauce in a bowl. Set aside while you grate the zucchini.
  • Add the zucchini to the bowl with the wet ingredients, then add flour, then the rest of the ingredients.
  • Stir until just combined, and pour evenly into the muffin cups.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Note, you’re only looking for batter on the toothpick–if you hit a chocolate chip, it’ll never be clean!)

Recipe inspired by Nora Cooks’ zucchini bread!

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Recipes

Creamy Raspberry Banana Smoothie Recipe

Today I wanted to share a recipe that’s so easy, a (vegan) caveman could do it: my go-to breakfast smoothie. I’ve been having this every day since the temperature hit 70 degrees out, and I haven’t looked back since.

Honestly, it tastes more like dessert than breakfast… and I’m not complaining.

In the past I’ve made it with just the fruit and soymilk for a minimalist smoothie, but this year I’ve been enjoying putting in all sorts of fun superfood add-ins: my current combo has probiotics from vegan kefir or yogurt, omega 3’s from hempseed, protein from hemp protein powder, antioxidants from beet powder, and tons of vitamins from spirulina. You can get creative with it, because the strong fruit flavor can mask a lot! And, if you like your smoothies on the sweeter side, throw in a date or two for some extra nutrients & sweetness.

The key here is the frozen bananas and raspberries. (Bonus: frozen berries are more nutritious1 and much more affordable than fresh.) To freeze bananas, I peel ripe bananas (with plenty of brown spots), break them in half, and store the halves in a gallon bag the freezer. The best part is you don’t have to worry about always having ripe bananas on hand, because you can stock up and freeze a ton at once!

Vegan banana raspberry smoothie recipe

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2-4 cups of non-dairy milk (I use vanilla soy), depending on consistency preferences
  • 1/2-1 cup vegan yogurt or kefir (optional)
  • Add-in ideas: 2 tbsp hemp protein powder, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, greens

Directions:

  1. Add everything to blender, blend, and serve! (It’s best to drink it right away while it’s still frozen and creamy)

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Reference:
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814697001659

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating: When old habits creep back in

Once you’ve done intuitive eating for awhile, your weight tends to be more of a curiosity than anything to actually care about.

Until it isn’t.

I didn’t weigh myself much at all while learning to eat intuitively, because the number on the scale used to be a bit of an obsession, and a major source of guilt and shame.

But after feeling firmly settled into my unrestricted eating and body positivity habits, I started to weigh myself again… both out of curiosity, and because my fiancé is always talking about his day-to-day weight fluctuations. We’re scientists and we love our data, for science’s sake. (Did running after that high salt meal negate the water retention? Did we actually manage to lose weight on that beach vacation from all the swimming?)

But today I realized that at some point, it stopped just being data. I’ve noticed that my weight on the scale is affecting how I see myself again, and daily fluctuations are having an influence on my mood.

I’ve been lifting weights more, so this is especially damaging because I want to gain muscle. But my lifelong conditioning is that weight going up = bad.

But either way, why should an arbitrary, irrelevant number have an effect on my mood?

It shouldn’t.

So I’ve stopped weighing myself.

Easy!

If thoughts about my weight creep in, I can just shake them off by deciding that I think I look fine. Instead of the other way around where I let the scale decide how I feel, when otherwise I would have felt happy about how I look.

And, most importantly, I remind myself that it doesn’t really matter either way if I gained a bit of weight.

Would my career suffer if I gained weight? Not at all.

Would my fiancé leave me? Nope.

Would it really affect my life in any way besides my own self-perceptions, which I can easily change? No!

(Now, I know there are some careers and circumstances where gaining a bit of weight could negatively impact your life. But still, feeling bad about yourself won’t prevent it at all. Feeling good about yourself and nourishing your body with satiating foods will prevent it1.)

I’ve found that the key to maintaining intuitive eating is to be mindful of what kinds of thought patterns and habits you might fall into. Some of us may naturally trend back towards bad habits and thought patterns if we’re not actively maintaining our new, better patterns. And that’s okay!

For some of us, thoughts are like teeth that way… without a retainer, they slowly drift back towards old, pre-braces patterns. It’s worth having to pop in a retainer occasionally to avoid being stuck with painfully crowded teeth. We don’t feel bad about ourselves because our teeth do that, it’s just how it is!

So every once in awhile, take a moment to self reflect about your feelings towards yourself and food. Check in with yourself to find any bad habits or worries that are forming, and stop them in their tracks. Better yet, replace them with something good: freedom to eat, self love, and good food.

Here’s a great book on intuitive eating for those looking to get started. I’m also starting a series of every-other-week posts on how to eat intuitively, both for beginners and for those facing issues later on the process (none of us are perfect!), so subscribe to stay tuned!

  1. See my weight loss videos for scientific research on how to lose weight without restricting.

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Recipes

Vegan Caribbean Beans Recipe

Black beans, pinto beans, brown rice, avocado recipe

Today I’m sharing my favorite bean recipe of all time. That’s a serious statement given how often I make beans.

It’s based on a recipe my mom made when I was a kid, and since then I’ve veganized & modified it, and have been making it by feel ever since. But today’s the day… after years and years, I finally wrote it down.

Cue applause. 😛  (It may come as a surprise since I often post recipes, but I usually don’t write them down otherwise!)

These are my favorite beans not only because of the taste, but because they’re easy to make, involving almost no chopping if you have a food processor. Bonus: I’ve discovered they’re the perfect way to use up hot peppers from the garden, and tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, & herbs to boot–and this recipe really makes them shine. They’re also one of my favorite bulk cooking recipes because the flavor actually gets even better over the course of a few days.

Not to mention, they’re really versatile, and can be dressed up or down depending on your mood. As a kid we had them in cheese-topped tortillas, and now my usual go-to is with brown rice and avocado. They also go great as part of a salad!

Vegan caribbean beans recipe with avocado

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 15oz cans black beans, drained and washed
  • 1 – 15oz can pinto beans, drained and washed
  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 2 cups bell peppers, any color
  • 1 cup fresh tomato
  • 3 tsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Heaping 1/4c fresh parsley
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2-3 small medium-hot peppers* (~3 tbsp worth)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/4c dry white wine
  • Topping ideas: Avocado, fresh tomato, scallions, hot sauce, vegan cheese

*Every hot pepper I’ve tried has tasted good in it, and I often mix and match: jalapeno, garden salsa, anaheim… try experimenting with your favorite peppers! Or try 1/2+ tsp dried cayenne to taste.

Directions:

  1. Chop the onions and bell peppers, either by hand or in a food processor. Add to a pot over medium heat and sauté around 5 minutes or until the onions begin to get translucent.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the vinegar, wine, oregano, parsley, garlic, and hot peppers. Blend briefly until everything looks approximately minced–do not blend until smooth. (Careful not to inhale it right after it’s done blending, the hot pepper can sting your nose!)
  3. Chop or food-process tomatoes until diced, and add them to the pot with the onions and bell peppers. Also add the blended herb mixture, and the rest of the ingredients (beans, cumin).
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes, until everything is tender and combined.
  5. Blend 1/2 to 3/4 of the pot, depending on how pureed you want your beans. If you puree them a lot they’ll be like black bean soup, and if you puree them less they’ll likely stay in tacos better–it’s up to your personal taste! I usually coarsely blend around 2/3 of it.
  6. Serve on its own, with rice, or in a burrito or taco.

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Videos

Study: Overeating sugar doesn’t make you gain weight? | How high carb vegans lose weight on 3000+ calories

Happy Saturday! Today I have a video for you where I go over a scientific study on what happens when people overeat sugar. Specifically, how much sugar you can turn into fat (through de novo lipogenesis), and whether sugar makes you fat.

Study summary

This study compares lean and obese participants in terms of their de novo lipogenesis (DNL), which is the process of converting carbohydrates into fats in the body. The researchers fed people 3 diets for 4 days each: a control diet to maintain their weight, and two overfeeding diets. The participant were in a calorimeter room during these diets to measure exactly what they burned off, and their activity and rest was controlled. The control diet was a pretty normal, Western-style diet: about 50% carbs, 40% fat, and 10% protein.

In both overfeeding diets, they were overfed by 50%, half of which was fat (butter and oil added to meals), and half of which was sugar (sugary drinks). In one overfeeding diet, they were overfed with sugar in the form of glucose, and in the other diet, they were overfed sugar in the form of sucrose. There were no differences in the outcomes by the type of sugar, so I don’t talk about that in the video.

The researchers looked at what happened to the sugar especially: how much of it they burned off, how much of it they turned into fat, and how much it contributed to body fat gain. They also looked at whether fat or sugar leads to more increases in DNL, how the overfeeding diets affected insulin and blood sugar, and more. I spend most of the video going over the results, and what they mean for you!

Here’s a link to the study: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/74/6/737/4737416

Extra science notes

Here are some notes on parts that I cut out of the video, since they’re more for people specifically interested in science!:

  • The effect of increased energy expenditure with the overfeeding diets wasn’t statistically significant, but there was a consistent increase in all 4 overfeeding groups (lean and obese, sucrose and glucose). Given the small number of subjects, it is likely this effect would be significant if more subjects were included. There are also other studies finding this increase in metabolism with increased food intake, which I plan to make another video on too! (e.g., https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2012202)
  • Fat balance and carbohydrate balance each explained 43% of the variance in DNL. Therefore, it appears that overeating generally rather than solely carbohydrate intake may be responsible for increasing DNL.
  • The numbers on the plot are in kilojoules, which is a standard scientific unit for energy. For the video, I converted it to calories to make it more applicable. If you look at the paper yourself, note that many of the numbers are in kJ (or grams, for macronutrient balances) per 96 hours.
  • The paper was funded by sugar interests, which would be a big problem if it were the only paper showing low rates of DNL like this, or if their main goal was to show how low DNL is. Luckily, there are many other studies showing similarly low rates of DNL, but I chose this one as the example for this video because it was a nice method, published in a top nutrition journal, and made the numbers available. The main goal of this study (aka what the sugar industry wanted) was actually to test the differences between sucrose and glucose in DNL–they found no effect. Also, they focused more on how DNL doubled than how low it was, suggesting their goal wasn’t to push a low-DNL sugar agenda.
  • Here is another paper reaching the same conclusions, from Berkeley and not funded by the sugar industry: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC185982/

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