Recipes

Easy Vegan Sushi Recipe

Today I’m sharing a staple in my kitchen: veggie sushi. Summer or winter, rain or shine, sushi is always a hit with me! And, bae requests it non-stop… even before he was vegan 🙂

A key part of our sushi addiction is dipping it in teriyaki–it just takes it to the next level. It’s also really flexible in what you can add for fillings, as long as you have avocado and carrot on hand as a base. It’s both light and filling somehow, and packs in those veggies in a way that tastes totally addictive!

Makes 2 large rolls (serves 1-2)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1.2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (or use 1 tbsp rice vinegar + 2 tsp sugar + 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 2 nori sheets
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 big carrot
  • 1/2 cucumber (optional)
  • Teriyaki sauce for dipping
  • Add-in ideas: tofu, mushrooms, sweet potato

Directions

  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. Stir in seasoned rice vinegar, and set aside to cool while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. Cut avocado in half, and slice each half lengthwise into ~6-7 slices.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrot into ribbons. Or, if preferred, cut into matchsticks.
  4. Slice cucumber or other ingredients into a similar size.
  5. Get a small bowl with 2-4 tbsp of water in it, and set near your sushi-rolling area.
  6. Place a nori sheet onto a sushi mat or clean tea towel. Spread half of the rice evenly across the nori, leaving the top 1″ free. Lay half the veggies on top of the rice about 2″ from the bottom, layering them in a stack. Dip your finger in the small bowl of water and wet the top rice-free 1″ of the nori; this will make it stick to itself!
  7. Lift the bottom of the nori + rice sheet and roll it over the vegetables, and keep rolling it over itself all the way to the top. Add more water to the outside of the seam if necessary. Squeeze the roll a little bit to keep everything together. (Check out a nice sushi rolling guide here.)
  8. Repeat steps 6 & 7, but using the remaining half of the rice and veggies.
  9. Slice into 1″ rolls, or keep them as sushi burritos (my preferred way to eat them!)
  10. Dip in teriyaki, soy sauce, or spicy vegan mayo, and enjoy!

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Recipes

Easy Pumpkin Drop Biscuits [Whole Wheat, Fat Free]

I’m in denial about fall.

I’m a spring and summer person through and through. I’ve been loving doing my PhD research in my hammock, outside in 90 degree weather, sipping on cold-pressed juice I just made. (Cucumber watermelon has been my go-to lately.)

One acceptable part of fall for me, though, is the pumpkin. And the baking. (Yellow leaves and hot chocolate are nice too, I guess. 😉 )

The other day I got the idea out of the blue to make these biscuits (I guess fall is creeping into my subconscious, despite being in denial), and I’m amazed at how well they turned out given how easy and healthy they are. So in honor of this being the first week of fall, I wanted to share them with you!

They’re fluffy but not dry, and oh so versatile. You can make them sweet by adding more maple syrup or sugar, or pair them a savory dish by leaving the syrup out. My current favorite way of eating them is for breakfast with a chocolate date spread, and I’m excited to try pairing these with black bean chili.

Thankfully, it’s still 85 degrees out so I can pretend it’s summer for a few more weeks. (While sitting in my hammock, eating these biscuits. 😛 )

Makes 8 biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk (I used soy)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional, or add more for sweet biscuits)
  • Dash pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • Chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt.
  3. Add in the nondairy milk, pumpkin puree, and add-ins. Stir just until combined.
  4. Use a spoon to drop the batter into 8 even piles on a baking sheet–no need to form them into shapes.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Best eaten immediately, but they also keep well!

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Intuitive Eating, Weight loss advice

How to Avoid Weight Gain While on Vacation (Or Eating Out at Restaurants)

A few weeks ago, I was on vacation in San Diego: aka a vegan foodie’s paradise. It was a great opportunity to be challenged and grow in my intuitive eating, and more importantly, to learn some insights to share with you!

For years and years, going on vacation meant a constant cycle of binge eating at restaurants, feeling guilty about it, trying to eat less at the next meal, failing, packing in as much cardio as possible… rinse and repeat.

Followed, of course, by the post-vacation constant, failed dieting attempts.

My last few vacations since getting the hang of intuitive eating, however, have been a world of difference.

(Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out my guide on intuitive eating.)

This last vacation was an especially tricky case, because I was set on making a guide & video to the best vegan restaurants in San Diego… all over the course of a week! And I wanted to try as many dishes as humanly possible for it. (Luckily I collaborated with some of the restaurants, like Kindred in these photos, so I didn’t spend alllll the money.)

In the past, this would have spelled disaster: trying so many things would have meant cleaning my plate for every. single. dish.

But this time, I went with my gut, quite literally. And it went wonderfully. No binge eating, no guilt, no restriction… and all my clothes fit the same when I got home.

So here are 5 tips I’ve picked up along the way: how to make sure you’re eating just as much as you need (no more, no less!) while eating out at restaurants, being on vacation, or having any other big change in your usual diet!

1. Eat slower.

Your body has learned the approximate mapping between the volume of food you put in your stomach, and the amount of energy that volume usually results in. If you’re used to eating less calorie-dense food, like vegetables and grains, this is an especially important one. With salad or bread, for example, you might need to eat ~5 cups of it to get 500 calories. With the types of food you tend to get at restaurants or while on vacation, though, you could easily get 1000 or 1500 calories with 5 cups of food.

Now, I am DEFINITELY not advocating you count your calories. (Repeat: do not count your calories!) Rather, try some strategies to be more mindful of your hunger and satiety signals. Try eating slower to give your body a chance to catch up, start digesting a little bit, and realize that you gave it more calories per volume than it expected. For me, this is as simple as having appetizers first, then letting myself digest for the ~15 minutes it takes for the food to come.

Don’t think this would help? There are studies showing that eating slower actually reduces the amount of food and calories that you eat!1

2. Get appetizers.

To piggyback on the last tip, if you’re really hungry when you get to the restaurant, ordering appetizers (to share, especially!) can be surprisingly helpful for preventing overeating. Paradoxically, getting appetizers ends up making me eat LESS because I’m not ravenously hungry when it’s time to start on my entree. And not feeling as hungry to start with will help you pace yourself and be more mindful of when you’re satiated.

3. Plan to take home leftovers.

Unless you’re sure you’ll need to eat all the food to be satiated (which is totally reasonable, I usually finish a whole entree), go in with the mindset that you’ll take some food home.

This is NOT the same idea as the tip I’ve seen circulating in the dieting world, saying “put half your entree in a leftovers box when you get it to stop yourself from eating it all.” This is simply aimed at preventing you from going in with a “clean your plate” mentality… if you end up wanting to eat it all because you’re not full yet, you should absolutely go for it!

Bae sneakily pulled out the camera while I was eating 😛

4. Don’t force yourself to eat your next meal.

This is the most important tip so far, because it’s an example of how intuitive eating works beyond the level of an individual meal: your body’s ability to regulate your intake (so you eat what you need) operates over days, weeks, even months (thanks, hunger hormones!). It may sound weird, but hear me out.

Not forcing myself to eat at prescribed times has been huge for me. In the past I subscribed too heavily to society’s “3 meals a day” norm, and it got in the way of me listening to my body.

When I eat at a restaurant, I usually eat way more calories in a meal than I would at home, simply because my body is so used to eating a large volume of food. AND THAT’S OKAY! (Tip #1 can help, but probably won’t completely prevent it.)

Once you’re used to eating intuitively, you can trust your body to know what to do with those extra calories.

This tip helped me the most. My first day in San Diego, I ate a ton of incredible food at this brunch. I was still full around 5pm, 5 hours later. But my family wanted to make dinner together.

So naturally, I joined in. I was still mostly full, but I ate quite a bit anyway–because I had pretty much shut off communication with my hunger signals by choosing to eat when I wasn’t hungry in the first place. After feeling sick and overstuffed (on veggies, beans and rice, no less), I realized that eating dinner was not staying true to my body’s signals: it was telling me “I’m good, thanks”, but I ate dinner because I felt like I should.

No one can tell us when we should or shouldn’t eat. Only our bodies know that!

I redoubled my dedication to listening to my hunger, and it worked beautifully over the rest of the trip. How it usually worked was one day I’d do a big breakfast and dinner, with no lunch. (I’m like a snake when it comes to restaurant meals: I stock up, then feel full and satiated for like 8 hours. 😛 )

Then the next day, I wouldn’t feel hunger signals all morning because of the leftover energy from that big dinner. Then I’d get hungry around lunch, eat a big lunch, and feel full the rest of the day. Then repeated that two day pattern.

It was the usual 3 meal routine, just with double the meal size, spread over 2 days. And I felt great. No ravenous hunger, no feeling overstuffed, just eating when hungry & stopping when satisfied. I didn’t have to think about food at all in terms of what or when to eat, I just focused on enjoying myself. The bonus was I could spend less time finding food & more time at the beach!

Another way to think of it is naturally occurring intermittent fasting. Without the whole forcing-yourself-to-eat-in-a-prescribed-time-window part.

I don’t recommend forcing yourself to eat like this, at all. Some people do better eating more frequent meals, whereas I tend to prefer the snake-type eating style.

The main lesson from this tip is you may have to throw your usual eating routines out the window, and fly without the autopilot of habit: rely more on your hunger and fullness signals instead!

A shot from our favorite beach activity: boogie boarding!

5. Go easy on yourself.

If you do overeat til you’re sick, just dust yourself off, move on, and try again. Vacationing and eating at restaurants is about relaxing and enjoying your life (and your loved ones), not feeling bad about yourself! You may be tired of hearing it, but self compassion is an absolutely KEY part of intuitive eating.

Maybe you’re working on getting the hang of intuitive eating, maybe it’s your first time trying to do it while on vacation. Maybe you’re an old pro and it was just difficult this time. (Newsflash, no one’s perfect!)

That’s okay. If you gain weight, it’s not the end of the world. Feeling guilty can only make the situation worse, but self compassion can prevent and reverse it. Work on loving yourself where you are and the rest will follow!

* * * * *

I hope these tips can help you the next time you find yourself thrown out of your eating routine with the fun of restaurants and vacation. And most of all, I hope you enjoy yourself!

 

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References:

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrendo.2010.41
Recipes

Addictive Mexican Salad Recipe

It’s finally happening.

I’m sharing the recipe for the salad I’ve had 3 days a week for the last four months. (I almost never do that, usually I’m all about variety with lunch & dinner.) This salad is the reason I’ve had to become mindful of my chewing, because I (almost) literally inhale it.

Making it is just so intuitive to me, I’d toss in ingredients by the handful and never really measured. But I finally got myself together and did it, because “2 handful of tomatoes, 4 handfuls of romaine…” is not going to cut it here. 😛

This salad keeps popping up as my lunch because…

a) it’s DELICIOUS and so satiating, I crave it every day

b) it’s whole food plant based and packed with protein, fiber, and fresh veggies

c) it’s the perfect way to use up garden tomatoes & chiles, and is so versatile with substitutions

d) it’s cheap & easy to keep the ingredients stocked all the time

I would even go so far as to say it’s my favorite salad of all time. My holy grail kale salad used to hold that title (which I’ll share in winter), but now this guy has stolen the crown.

My personal name for this? Sexmex salad. For lack of a better name 😉

Serves 1 if you’re like me, serves 2 for most people

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown rice or quinoa, uncooked
  • 1/2 – 15oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chopped romaine hearts
  • 1 diced green onion (~1 tbsp)
  • 3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes (or chopped normal tomatoes)
  • 1/2 chopped avocado
  • 3 tbsp salsa
  • Salt to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Optional: juice of 1/2 a lime, minced hot peppers
This salad is really versatile, so change things up to suit your tastes! Add more romaine for a lighter feel, add double (or triple) the avocado if you’re an avocado lover, or swap out the pintos for black beans. The world is your oyster.

Directions

  1. Cook brown rice or quinoa according to directions.
  2. Add cooked rice to a microwave-safe bowl along with pinto beans and salsa, and microwave until warm but not hot; about 1 minute.
  3. To your salad bowl, add rice and beans, and add all the other ingredients (and lime if desired).
  4. Toss and enjoy!

PS, I wrote this post while eating this salad 😉

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Study: Lose Weight While Overeating?! Processed vs Unprocessed Foods and CICO (Calories in Calories out)

Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t posted in the last week, I was on vacation and am playing catch up 🙂

Link to video page | Subscribe to my channel!

Today I have a video for you where I go over a recent study on how eating processed versus unprocessed foods affects how much you eat, your weight gain vs loss, your hunger hormones, your satiety and satisfaction level, etc.

This study is a really nice one because they actually had people eat an unprocessed food diet for 2 weeks, then switch to a processed food diet for 2 weeks (or vice versa), so everyone tried both diets. The researchers measured exactly what they ate, and looked at how a bunch of macro and micronutrients, and other diet & eating measures, predicted differences in eating amounts & weight gain vs loss between the two diets.

The coolest part to me is that this is a particularly good example of how the typical “calories in versus calories out” view of weight loss and gain just does NOT apply a lot of the time. Specifically, the unprocessed diet led people to lose weight despite eating more calories than they burned, and there are differences between the processed and unprocessed diets’ weight loss vs gain that can’t be explained by the differences in calories.

See the video for the details and more fun & crazy findings!

Study link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413119302487

Intuitive Eating, Weight loss advice

How to Start Intuitive Eating: A Guide to Lose Weight and Heal Your Relationship with Food

Maybe you’ve been dieting, maybe you’ve been binge eating. Maybe you have uncontrollable cravings, or overeat because of emotions or boredom. Maybe you want to heal your relationship with food, or lose weight without having to diet.

If any of these sound like you, intuitive eating can help!

It may sound too good to be true, but science supports it: a big review of 20 scientific studies found that intuitive eating leads to weight loss and increases in happiness; improvements in body image, quality of life, and self-esteem; and reductions in binge eating and restricting, depression, and anxiety1. And these benefits are maintained even for years afterwards. It’s also much easier to stick to than any diet plan: 92% of people stick to it long-term.

It just works.

This guide is for those of you who want to get started with eating intuitively. I’m basing this advice off of my own experiences with breaking a cycle of bingeing, restricting and weight gain by learning to eat intuitively, plus evidence from scientific research on it and experience from my psychology/neuroscience PhD.

Read on for 11 tips to start intuitive eating!

(All the little numbers like this link to studies that are in a reference list at the end!)

1. Break the rules.

Throw out any and all diet rules that you might be consciously following, or subconsciously incorporating into your eating decisions. The only “rule” you should follow is:

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

No more rules on when you should eat, like no eating after 9pm, or always eat breakfast first thing in the morning. No more rules on how much you should eat, like eat small frequent meals or eat a big breakfast and a small dinner.

You don’t even need to follow nutrition rules on what you should eat, like having a balance of fat, carbs, and protein in a meal or eating lots of fiber. That can come later on!

Right now, the goal is just to undo the years of intuitive eating unlearning we’ve gone through, whether it’s thanks to diet culture or childhood rules. Over time, intuitive eating actually makes you crave healthier foods on its own2.

2. Eat mindfully.

Do you ever drive somewhere routine, then wonder how in the world you even got there because you were spacing out the whole time?

We tend to do that with eating all the time. And it really gets in the way of feeling satiated.

Eating in front of the TV is fun, I know. But mindful eating–paying attention to the process of eating–has been shown to be really helpful for binge eating, weight loss, and healing your relationship with food3.

You don’t have to do it forever once you get the hang of intuitive eating. But at the beginning, eliminating all distractions (this includes talking and using your phone!) and really focusing on eating is essential for learning to listen to your body’s signals. It’ll also make your meals more satisfying, and you’ll actually like them more4, because the feedback from your brain is a huge contributor to feelings of satisfaction.

3. Eat what you want to eat, not what you “should” eat.

When you’re first starting out, the most important thing is to just allow yourself to eat. Eat what you want, as much as you want of it, when you want it. Without guilt or shame.

This may involve baking and eating entire batches of cookies at a time. (It did for me, at least!)

The key here is to let yourself eat whatever super unhealthy, decadent, “bad” foods you’ve been craving and forbidding yourself from eating. Once they stop being forbidden, they lose their power over you. In fact, you may find yourself eating less overall because you’ll feel more satisfied when you eat whatever it is you’re actually craving. (If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried to eat healthy substitutes for the thing you’re craving, and end up eating more than if you’d just eaten the cookies in the first place!)

During this process, it’s important to try your best not to feel guilty. It’s easier said than done, of course, but if you ever want to beat yourself up over eating something “bad”, just remind yourself that it’s part of the process. Just about everyone who has restricted their diet in some way or another has experienced this.

For example, research shows that in people who have restrictive mindsets around eating (“restrained eaters”), being deprived of chocolate makes them overeat chocolate way more than people who don’t have restrictive mindsets5. So right now, focus on training yourself to be one of those nonrestrictive eaters. You’ll reap the benefits–like peace of mind, self love, health, and weight loss–later on.

Remember: It’s not your fault if you want to eat tons of chocolate, cookies, fast food, etc. It’s years of diet culture and labeling those as forbidden foods. All you need to do now is release yourself from guilt and trust the intuitive eating process.

Now, healthy eating is important, of course… but an important part of healthy eating is having an important mindset around eating. And you can’t do that if you’re forcing yourself to eat things you don’t enjoy, or feeling bad for eating things you enjoy.

So right now, focus on fixing your mindset. Later, it’s easy to reintroduce the healthy foods if you don’t find yourself naturally craving them. (And I’ll tell you how 🙂 )

4. Practice self-compassion.

If you’re on the more scientifically-minded side like me, you may be skeptical about this tip actually helping much. But research supports it: being kind to yourself actually stops overeating while it’s happening6. (In fact I plan to dedicate a whole post/video to these studies at some point, because it’s so cool!)

Practice compassionate self-talk. Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend or partner if they were feeling the same way.

A lot of fitness and diet culture focuses on treating yourself like a tough-love coach would: try harder, suck it up, no pain no gain. Maybe this can work for a select few people, but I think for most of us, this kind of mindset just perpetuates feelings of guilt and not being good enough.

Next time you feel like you failed, remind yourself of the struggles you’re overcoming, the ways you succeeded, and how all that really matters is that you’re trying. No one’s perfect, and the journey to healing your relationship with food is really difficult… everyone stumbles.

Love yourself just where you are, and celebrate the growth you’re experiencing (or about to experience).

5. Start learning your hunger & fullness signals.

The ultimate goal of intuitive eating is to follow your hunger and fullness signals, but for many of us, the problem is that we forgot what they feel like. I’ll do a full post on this too, but for a shorter version for now–experimenting on yourself can be a great way to figure this out.

One helpful thing is to realize that there are hunger signals besides just hunger pangs or a growling stomach. Maybe you get shaky, grumpy, suddenly tired, or a bit dizzy. For me, I get a fun cocktail of tired, grumpy, and shaky.

The goal is to learn what your signals are, and the feelings that lead up to them. (Because I certainly don’t advocate letting yourself get dizzy regularly, but rather you should learn when you’re about to start feeling that way so you can eat and prevent it!) Now, I can tell what happens before I get grumpy/tired/shaky, so I can prevent it from happening without eating sooner than necessary.

Try eating a meal later than you usually would, or skip a snack you’d usually have. What do you feel? If the beginnings of stomach growls or other hunger signals don’t start for a few hours, then you were probably eating earlier or more than you needed.

That may sound like torture because a lot of us are afraid of hunger pangs, especially if we’ve ever dieted. But no need to be scared of them anymore: they’re a useful signal, and you can eat immediately, as much as you want, once you get one!

Do the same thing with fullness: try eating a little more than usual and see what cues your body gives you that you ate too much. Besides feeling overstuffed, maybe you feel sluggish or sleepy an hour later, maybe the idea of food sounds disgusting to you.

Then, once you’ve started to identify your hunger and fullness cues from these little experiments, use those cues to guide when and how much you eat.

6. Say no to habit.

You may have longstanding habits that get in the way of you being able to learn your hunger and fullness cues. For me, that was eating first thing in the morning–I would always do it, thinking I was hungry, but I realized it was just the habit. One morning I finally decided to try not eating until I was completely sure I was feeling actual hunger signals.

Turns out, when I thought I was “starving,” I was actually just thirsty!

Running little experiments on yourself can be key for learning to eat intuitively. Practice breaking your habits, and see what you learn.

Maybe you don’t actually need an afternoon or late night snack. Maybe you actually need a bigger lunch than you can fit in your current tupperwares.

7. Quit counting calories, measuring portions, etc.

Unlearn what you think you know about food. Contrary to popular opinion, calories don’t count (much). There are a LOT of scientific studies supporting this.

You also don’t need to eat certain portions of food. Serving sizes are arbitrarily created by companies for marketing purposes.

Throw away your calorie journal. Delete Myfitnesspal. Free yourself. Use that time you would have spent counting calories to take a nap, meditate, cook something healthy or fun, or pet your dog.

I was a calorie counting addict–I counted my calories every day for over 5 years. 5 years! On Myfitnesspal, I had a recording streak of over 1200 days (the only reason it wasn’t longer is because I went on a vacation out of the country and didn’t have service!) If I can quit it, so can you.

8. Don’t clean your plate, and don’t be afraid to take seconds (or thirds).

A plate is just a thing that holds your food. Its size shouldn’t have a say in how much you eat!

Sometimes, we don’t know exactly how much food to dish ourselves: only your body can tell you how much you need, once the food’s in your mouth. (You may be skeptical, but I swear, after practicing intuitive eating my body is a finely-tuned energy-sensing machine. It knows exactly how much I need to eat, somehow.)

If you dish yourself too much, stop eating once you’re satiated. Stop once another bite doesn’t sound that exciting.

I was taught to clean my plate. That led to years of overeating, especially at restaurants.

Just breaking that simple habit made such a huge difference to me. I started breaking the habit by always leaving a bite left on my plate after eating (I give it to my fiance when I can, but don’t be afraid to throw it away or compost it)! Now I regularly have leftovers, even in teeny tiny containers if it’s only a little bit left, which makes for a nice snack the next day.

Learning not to eat everything on the plate can be really, REALLY hard to learn, but it is so rewarding once you do. Try fast-tracking the process and serve yourself way more than you know you can eat, so the serving size holds even less control over how much you eat. That way you HAVE to put some back, and can’t convince yourself you need to eat the whole plate.

On the flip side, if you finish your plate and you’re still not satiated, you should absolutely serve yourself more. If you run out of the meal you were eating, eat something else. Don’t deprive yourself–don’t let a predefined portion tell you how much to eat!

Maia getting a bit tired of my photo taking 😛

9. Trust the process.

An important part of intuitive eating is just believing it’ll work. Mindset is a huge part of the battle with everything you do, not just intuitive eating.

Placebo is one hell of a drug. Just the belief that something is working can make it work, even if it wouldn’t have otherwise7.

On the other hand, if you believe something won’t work, you reduce how effective it is even if it would have worked otherwise… or even have bad effects that wouldn’t have happened otherwise8.

Here’s a simple daily life example: if you believe someone likes you, you’ll be nicer to them and act like their friend, and they’ll grow to like you more even if they didn’t actually like you before. And the opposite is true too: if you believe someone dislikes you, you might act cold and distant, making them like you less.

Your mindset affects your world because it changes what you think and do, and even physiological processes7,8.

Because half the goal of intuitive eating is psychological, putting faith in it can really do wonders. It has worked for SO MANY people1, and it worked for just about all of us back when we were young… before rules and guilt took over our eating. Luckily, you don’t have to go just based on faith or anecdotes or placebo, because a lot of research–like all the papers I’ve been citing in this post–supports it.

If you believe it’s working, your cookie binge becomes a part of the process instead of a failing. Your current weight is just your starting weight before intuitive eating can work its magic, not something you’re stuck with. And that mindset actually makes it work faster, because the sooner you release the guilt and shame, the sooner you can eat intuitively.

10. Throw yourself into something you love.

Many of us looking to do intuitive eating are obsessed with food. Trust me, I understand, I was there for 10+ years.

A HUGE help for me was throwing myself into other passions: photography, cooking, animal activism, blogging, and writing, for example. The more excited you get about other things in your life, the more you’ll be thinking about them instead of food.

I used to always be thinking about my next meal… sometimes before I was even done with the current one. Now, eating is sometimes a bit of a chore for me because it takes time away from my passions, and I occasionally forget to until the hunger signals start getting quite strong!

11. Exercise: especially if it’s fun.

Exercise is not only great for your mental and physical health, but it can give you the reward hormones you might have been using food to get. It can help deal with overwhelming emotion, boredom, and other causes of overeating. It even suppresses your appetite, so it can help you make sure you’re eating out of actual hunger and not just mental appetite9.

A key difference from how you may have treated exercise in the past is that you should choose something that you enjoy, not something that burns a lot of calories! Exercise should be fun, not a punishment.

Maybe it’s a slow stroll in nature, maybe it’s dancing or yoga or swimming or basketball. Whatever you find the most sustainable and enjoyable.

If you don’t find any exercise particularly fun, then you could try motivating yourself by focusing on the health benefits. Or just do some stretches!

But, try not to let guilt creep in. Don’t feel bad if you miss a workout. Don’t feel like you need to push yourself to go faster or harder. If it’s fun and stress-free to keep improving your times or the amount of weight you can lift, go for it. Go at a pace that feels good, mentally and physically.


* * * * * * * * * * *

Reversing years of dieting, rules, guilt, shame, and suppressing our body’s signals takes time. But it is so worth it, for our relationship with food and our body, our physical and mental health, and our daily quality of life.

I know many of you are here looking to lose weight: if you have weight to lose, it will happen. (I even lost fat while already at the lower end of a healthy BMI, in line with my ab-related goals, just by shifting what I ate!) But take it one step at a time: you have to get your body’s trust back and heal your relationship with food first, and then losing weight without trying becomes a breeze.

Following these 11 tips should allow you to get most (if not all) of the way to intuitive eating, but there’s always more to learn and more ways we can grow. I’ll be continuing this series of blog posts to cover specific issues that might be especially difficult to deal with, how to fine-tune your intuitive eating and shift towards more weight loss if you’ve already got the hang of the basics, and more.

In the meantime, this book (and this one) also explains ways to eat intuitively, if you’d like more in-depth advice and explanation.

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References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212267213018960#bib17
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886914002396
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10865-014-9610-5, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229910001044, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1499404611002648
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-011-0048-3, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-012-0154-x
  5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/eat.20195?casa_token=1j6wE4m7gEIAAAAA:JXE12hMJz1HUi8–_zgcWuMnU1WD5IL_FXPwQV-1MUg0hqyNeqGiyYaVrRnArmD1JxJq_2tJYJx53Q
  6. https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/10.1521/jscp.2007.26.10.1120
  7. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01867.x, https://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/45/10390.short
  8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306452207001819, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3167012/
  9. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/322702
Recipes

Vegan Chickpea Shakshuka Recipe

By popular demand (according to a poll on my Instagram), I finally finalized the recipe for this shakshuka I first made a few months ago!

Or, perhaps, I should call this a shakshuka-inspired curry.

I tried shakshuka for the first time this past Christmas, because my sister-in-law made an amazing one that she kindly veganized by removing the egg and sausage!

I wanted to make one at home, and while making it, I just found myself feeling inspired to add things… chickpeas, soy curls, spinach, etc. And I loved it.

So now, I’m sharing what is essentially a hybrid between shakshuka and chana masala. It’s packed with protein, and super customizable with whatever you have on hand! I’m always throwing in different veggies at the end, depending on whatever veggies I have on hand: mushrooms and zucchini have both worked beautifully, and I imagine it would also get along very well with eggplant, green beans, and greens!

Ingredients

  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can pureed tomato sauce (or another can of diced tomatoes)
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, minced (or sub 2-3 tsp chili powder to taste)
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas
  • 2.5 cups soy curls*
  • 2 cups water, plus more as needed
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra veggies (optional)**
* If removing or substituting soy curls, omit water or add just enough to get your desired consistency. You could also use TVP, in which case you should add enough water to hydrate it.
** If adding extra veggies, make all the spice measurements heaping, or add dashes of garam masala to taste

Directions

  1. Sautee onion, bell pepper, jalapeños, and garlic in a pot over medium heat for 5 mins, until onion starts to get translucent.
  2. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. If you want a chunkier consistency, leave it as is, but otherwise, blend 1/2-3/4 of it until smooth and add it back into the pot.
  3. Add spinach and all spices. Simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Add chickpeas, soy curls, and water, and simmer on low while the soy curls absorb the extra water, stirring occasionally. Add water if necessary to keep it at a curry sauce consistency (that is, how it was before you added the soy curls and water).
  5. Serve with warmed pita or rice, and enjoy!

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