Transform Your Relationship with Food by Doing This One Simple Thing

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on October 14, 2014

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There’s a package of chocolate chip cookies sitting on the table at work. Six different people have six different thoughts about it.

Person A, who is trying to avoid gluten to lose weight, thinks of how every food on earth must have gluten.

Person B, who is watching fat, tries to guess how many grams it has.

Person C, who is trying to cut carbs, knows instantly this food doesn’t fit into his daily allotment.

Person D, who is watching sugar, is certain there are at least 3 teaspoons of the white stuff. She can feel her insulin surging just thinking about it.

Person E, who tries to eat only real food, is disgusted by the long list of unpronounceable ingredients in just a cookie.

Person F doesn’t think much about it besides “there’s cookies.”

Same cookie, negative perceptions

Each of these people, except person F, has a negative connotation about the same exact food item. So instead of just seeing a cookie, they see what they believe is bad in the food.  But the worst part is this feeling sticks.

For example, Person D is looking for a reason to start eating sugar again because the scale didn’t move that morning.  So she ends up eating a few of the packaged cookies followed by eating ice cream later, and the whole week is blown.  Person B, the low carb eater, doesn’t eat them but just seeing a forbidden food sets off a desire to eat because even though he knows he shouldn’t, he loves sweets.

But person F forgot about the cookies almost as soon as she spotted them.

Different cookie, positive perceptions

Now let’s see what would happen if we change things and the cookies had a different label to match each person’s preference.

The sugar watcher would be delighted to find the cookie has less than a teaspoon of sugar.  And the low fat guy would like that it is low fat, less than 3 grams.  And the real food gal, being told they were made with natural ingredients, likes that there are no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. Not only do they all partake, they each eat quite a bit.

But to person F, it’s still just a cookie.  She thinks of having one but really isn’t feeling it today so she passes.

What gives?

A 2012 study in Eating Behaviors looked at how different dietary approaches affect how people relate to food.  There were those that followed a restraint model of eating versus moderation.  In the study, restraint is defined as someone actively restricting foods or utilizing self control while moderation is “self-regulating eating based on responding to one’s needs and desires in a reasonable manner.” For example, a moderate eater might take small portions but feels totally comfortable going back for more if she’s still hungry.  Where a restrained eater might try to stick to certain rules of eating (low carb, low sugar, portion control etc.)

In a group of college students, restraint was linked to worry about weight, less (perceived) ability to manage weight, more emotional and binge eating and lower life satisfaction. On the other hand, those that were categorized as moderate eaters believed they could effectively manage their weight and had lower emotional and binge eating. Similar results were seen in a group of people about to go for weight loss surgery.


How you approach food, translates to how in control you feel

If you noticed, person F is this type of moderate eater.  Instead of a singular food or meal focus, she considers her diet as a whole.  That doesn’t mean she doesn’t look at fat, sugar or preservatives but her eating is a balance of listening to internal cues, experiencing food satisfaction and considering health, not a set of inflexible food rules.

It’s like the difference between someone who chooses to be happy and someone who let’s circumstances decide happiness.  The person who chooses happiness focuses on what he has control over — his attitude.  He reminds himself what really matters in life so the little stuff can’t get to him.  But the person who focuses on  circumstances ends up frustrated because of life’s inevitable ups and downs. He’s letting all the little things get in the way of the most important thing: long-term happiness.

Whether its happiness or our diet, when we take time to choose a healthy outlook, we feel more in control.  For food, this is a big-picture, balanced approach that is flexible.  And in the end eating is not only of better quality, it keeps us from using up all of our energy sweating the details.

What do you think when you see a cookie?


Monthly Meal Plan (October)

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on October 6, 2014

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It’s been really hot here and I’m hoping the temperature finally drops so it feels a little more like fall.  The mornings and evenings have been cooler though. Regardless of the weather, I love this time of year. Although it always makes me nervous to see Christmas decorations out already!!

Big A’s birthday is Friday week so no meal planning towards the end of the week. Trying to do soups/stews on Friday with soccer from 5:30-6:30.

As always, see Org Junkie for more meal planning inspiration.

What’s Cooking this Month?

Monday: Chicken Taquitos with rice and beans (Shrimp Fajitas, Chicken Enchiladas & Pork Tacos)

Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs with a salad (Chicken Alfredo, Veggie Lasagna & Shrimp Linguine)

Wednesday: Kids choice (kids have been choosing grilled cheese and avocado, toaster pizza (with flat bread) or salmon sticks)

Thursday: No Plan (Pork Tenderloin, Salmon Topped with Veggies & Chicken Tenders)

Friday: No Plan (White Bean Soup, Turkey Chili & Black Bean Soup)

More from Cooking Light…

25 Best Soups

Comforting Dinners

Best Mac-n-Cheese Recipes

How are those back to school routines going?

I’ve had both kids in school full time for over a month now.  And I wrote about my big plans for how my routine would play out.  Like any goal, it needs some refining.

First is my plan to cook on Tuesdays.  It just hasn’t worked out.  If I have work that needs to get done it’s hard to spend a whole day making food.  So I’ve decided to try and make one each day instead.  Maybe chicken in the slow cooker on Monday to make some burritos to freeze.  Another day it might be to bake something.  This seems to work much better than cramming it all in one day, where things are likely to come up.

I also forgot how big a transition school is for Big A.  So adding making lunches to her routine right now doesn’t make sense.  I’m waiting for things to calm down a bit to see how we can work that in.

My meal planning is the same but my plan was to grocery shop on Monday instead of Sunday.  But I I prefer to get it done on Sunday if I can.  That way I can get some work done before doing my favorite class at the gym at 9:30.

Lastly, I have yet to clean out areas of my home weekly but I’m going to designate Fridays as the day I clean house.  I can get up early to do work and volunteer at school if needed, and then spend the rest of the time going through stuff.  And (I think) it will feel good to clean stuff out before the weekend.

So as October gets into full swing, hopefully these changes will make me more productive while kids are at school.

How’s your routine going?


Links & Updates

Jill Castle and I are speaking at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition on October 19th in Atlanta.  The topic is Solid Start: Best Practices for Introducing Complementary Food to Infants. We also will be at the marketplace the rest of the day selling Fearless Feeding and our educational handouts.

At WebMD, I blog about why I think breakfast is still important despite what the news has been saying.  I also provide really easy ways to prepare winter squash.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending delaying school start times for middle school and high school students to 8:30 am or later. They also recommend the use of fluoridated toothpaste at the start of tooth eruption due to the problem of tooth decay as a chronic disease of childhood. And to help promote bone health in kids, the AAP recommends kids eat foods high in calcium and vitamin D and need weight bearing exercise like running and jumping.

Melanie Silverman, pediatric nutrition, explains ever so eloquently why she won’t put kids on a diet.  

There’s been a lot of talk about exercise to treat ADHD.  This article in The Atlantic discusses this research with some telling pictures.

I really love this piece over at Mealtime Hostage: Meals: It’s Not About the Food. 

I must try this recipe for Slow Cooker Pumpkin Bread over at Moms Kitchen Handbook.

Real Mom Nutrition posted this helpful Meal Planning Worksheet. 

Well that’s it for now.  Have a great week!


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This is The Feeding Diaries, an ongoing series about the feeding escapades in my house. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Lately I’ve been thinking about how the golden rule applies to feeding my family. For me it boils down to R-E-S-P-E-C-T for all.  Mom. Dad. Daughter. And son. And here’s how [...]

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Monthly Meal Plan (September)

September 2, 2014
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September is here and summer is over. A few things will change when it comes to meals.  We probably won’t grill every Thursday because that pushes dinners back because we have to wait for my husband to come home.  Eventually when it cools down we’ll start soup/stew night again on Thursday.  Little D has late [...]

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5 Back to School Routines That Make Life Easier

August 25, 2014
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The time has come. As of yesterday, both of my kids are in school full time. While many different emotions are running through me as my youngest starts kindergarten, one of them is definitely excitement.  I’m looking forward to one drop off and more time to get the important stuff done. Although work will take [...]

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Why I Will Never Lie to My Children About Food

August 19, 2014
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This is a post from 2012 (with a  change in title).  I’m taking some time off before the new school year starts.  So I may be slow to accept comments and get back to you over the next week or so. “Just tell him we aren’t selling ice cream today,” the nice lady at my [...]

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Fortified Foods: The Good, The Bad and The Useless

August 12, 2014
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You’re at the grocery store and you have the choice to buy regular orange juice or the kind with added calcium and vitamin D. Should you do it? How about that milk with DHA for your toddler? In today’s world, it seems every food item has some nutrient added to it to make us healthier. [...]

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