Ditch the Dieting and Meal Planning - What to do instead

Ditch Dieting & Meal Planning - What to do instead

It’s Monday and you’ve promised yourself that you’ll do better.  After a whole week of “bad eating,” you decide that Monday is absolutely the day you’ll get back on track.  You’ve mapped it out already - you’re going to pack salads all for lunch, stop eating sweets, and finally “get clean.

The first day isn’t too bad, the second okay, but by day 4, the sight of your spinach salad makes you gag.  You also can’t tolerate another green protein smoothie, after drinking the same thing over and over again. Your coworker asks you out to lunch and you simply oblige.

Sound familiar?  Yep, while I’m not saying that meal plans aren’t necessary (they can be useful at times), like dieting, they’re temporary and just plain suck after a while.  Then pretty soon you’re off nosediving back into the afternoon sugar pick me up, the afterwork binges, feeling like you’re back to square one.

So what can you do instead?  Here are some suggestions:

TIP # 1: Upgrade 1 thing/meal at a time - The reason most diet sucks is because they do nothing for creating new habits or changing sabotaging ones.  So pretty soon, your life gets busy or throws a curveball at you and because you were using willpower, you soon are back to where you started. So instead of replacing all or nothing, try upgrading one thing at a time such as:

  • Upgrade from processed foods to whole foods

  • From whole foods conventionally grown to organically grownFrom internationally grown to local grown

    Some other ideas include:

  • Upgrade your breakfast from processed foods to whole foods (e.g. Fruit Loops to Whole Grain Cheerios, or instead of 3 lumps of sugar in your coffee upgrade to 1 and some coconut milk)

  • Upgrade your sandwich for lunch to have 1 slice of bread instead of 2

  • Upgrade your after meal dessert from chocolate to a fruit

  • Upgrade your snacks from chips to a handful of nuts

  • Add a hand-sized portion of protein to each meal

  • If you eat out, order a salad instead of the french fries

TIP # 2: Honor your need for variety - Sometimes our efforts fail because simply we are bored with the food we’re having!  All eating is emotional. Let me repeat. All eating is emotional.  So if you’re finding yourself uninspired by the food you have, it’s time to get creative and experiment a little.  There are plenty of foods that are nutritious as well as delicious. Seriously, just google “Health nutritious recipes” and you’ll be bombarded with a plethora of options! Try one new recipe a week. Think of it as a new adventure into honoring your taste buds and your health.

TIP # 3: Focus on improving how you eat, instead of what you eat - So much of dieting gets us to label foods as good or bad, then we feel guilty for eating foods that are “bad” for us, which may set us up to binge on them again.  So instead of improving what you eat, focus on how. Eat slowly and mindfully. Listen to your hunger cues. In tasting the food, you honor the food and your soul by being fully present and focused on it.

For you overachievers, remember you don’t have to go for “all-or-nothing.”  Go for “good ‘nuff” and keep adding on each week. You’ll be amazed how far you go taking it one step at a time!

A Message from your Body - Why you Should Slow Down & Savor Your Meals

Hello reader,

This is your body.  We care about you and don’t think you’ve gotten our previous messages, so we thought we’d send you a note.  Here is our request: could you please start making more time to slow down, savor and chew your meals? You see, after that first step, there are a lot of processes and complex things we need to do in order to break down, digest, and absorb the food.  When you rush your meals, we have to rush our processes which explains some of the messages we’ve been sending you through bloating and gassiness!

Posted on November 5, 2018 and filed under Mind-Body Connection, Slowing down.

Returning to Wholeness  – What your Out-of-Control Eating May Signal It’s Time to Heal

 Often times, the traits we accept and don’t accept are related to what our primary caregivers and society told us was acceptable and unacceptable. In fact, this is often what I see in my client work and with my own journey – that often times the difficulties we have in moving forward reflect some unhealed parts of us that are calling for our attention.

Common Triggers for Binging and Mindless Eating - When, Why, and What to Do about Them

When I ask my clients to food journal we often see a common pattern in non-hunger, problematic eating.  The good news with this is that because it’s often a habit, it’s predictable and therefore easier to anticipate and plan for.  While you may consciously wish you weren’t eating mindlessly in these times, a part of you is getting a need met. There is always a “gift,” a positive intention being met.  Once you know what positive intention is being met, it becomes easier to replace that routine.

Do any of these patterns describe you?  Here’s the real need and some suggestions on how to meet the need without using food.


You eat to transition between activities.  A common one is transitioning between work and being at home.

  • Real need: A clear routine that helps you wind down and relax, perhaps turn off your mind.  A sense of reward and relief.

  • How to meet it without food: Create  your own transition routine that helps you wind-down between the busy state of work/school and the relaxed state of being at home.  Some ideas include: preparing a cup of tea, meditating, and/or exercising.


You eat when you’re angry

  • Real need: The need to honor your anger and respect your boundaries.  Anger indicates a boundary or expectation of ours was not met.  For example, I once coached a woman who would get triggered to order drive thru whenever she thought about the last job that she was let go from.  It triggered her anger that she did not get a chance to defend herself before the decision. It had all to do with her feeling of being respected and heard at work.  Her anger was valid and pointed to her values - unfortunately, the way she was expressing it was costing her health and vitality.

  • How to meet it without food:  Honor your anger. In our society, women are often taught to suppress their anger and ignore their feelings.  Yet anger is an important signal that points to our sense of boundaries and values. Shout, scream, punch a pillow.   Listen to angry music. Journal. Let yourself really feel it and listen to what it has to say. If this is a recurring theme for you, it may be time to express your needs in relationships where your boundaries are challenged.


You eat when you’re bored

  • Real need: Excitement/adventure.  We all crave a certain amount of spontaneity in our lives.  If you’re feeling bored, it sounds like you need something fun and exciting to look forward to, especially after a long day of studying or working.  Trust me, if food is the only thing you have to look forward to - it would make perfect sense to reach for it after a long day.

  • How to meet it without food:  Plan some activities you can look forward to.  Seriously, take a short break from this post and write down at least 10 things you find really fun and look forward to.  Even short 5-10 minute will do as an effective break. Start building these “goodies” into your days and your weeks.


You eat in response to feeling low energy, such as daily tiredness or the afternoon slump.  In the case of long-term low energy (depression), you may use food as way to cope.

  • Real need: You're looking for a pick-me-up.  You also may need more sleep. 
    In the case of long-term low-energy, such as depression, this indicates a part of you is not looking forward to what the future holds.

  • How to meet it without food: Go for a brisk walk for 10-15 minutes.  Or do 50 jumping jacks. Getting your blood pumping will get your circulation going and wake you up more naturally

    If you’re sleep deprived, it’s also time to start making sleep more of a priority - whether that be getting to be on time or making sure your bedtime routine sets you up for success.

    If you're struggling with depression, the 2 tips suggested above are great options to begin to raise your energy.  You also may want to seek the support of a qualified coach or therapist to talk about the root causes of your low energy and depression.


You eat when you feel lonely

  • Real need: A sense of love and connection. Food is a “friend” which keeps you company.

  • How to meet it without food: Make your loneliness okay.  Everyone feels lonely from time to time. Call a friend who you want to catch up with.  Reach out to someone who’s energy you’re drawn to. Join a support group. If there’s a recurring theme that you feel this sense of loneliness, say it’s when you work or study from home, then perhaps it's time to find a group to cowork/costudy with. Or you can consider finding an environment where you are with people.  Go out there and get the love you deserve.

    It amazes we now that I do this coaching work, just how many of my peers shared that they struggled with food and were also starving for connection. Be brave and reach out - you just may be filling a need for them too!


You use food to punish yourself

  • Real need: A sense of significance.  In a strange way, beating yourself up may be the only way you pay attention to yourself.  This one may surprise you - but I have found a large number of people in our society are addicted to self-punishment.  It’s this sense of “guilt” that drives you to work harder, strive for more and more, and feel like you never have enough or are enough.  Food can become a way for you to punish yourself when you feel like you’re not measuring up but indirectly is way for you to actually pay attention to yourself.

  • How to meet it without food: Observe that voice of self-punishment as just a part of you.  Recognize the need is for you to finally pay attention to yourself. Acknowledge yourself for what you’ve done well and forgive yourself for your “shortcomings.” You’re human after all.  This is the opportune time to practice some self-love and self-care in whatever form you’d like.

You eat when you feel overwhelmed and stressed

  • Real need: A sense of groundedness, focus, and certainty

  • How to meet it without food: When we’re stressed, we are in our fight or flight responses.  Have you had any experiences where you were stressed and were able to shift to calm and centeredness?  Which techniques did you try? There are a million and one ways to center yourself but just for some ideas: meditation, EFT, going for a walk or exercise, talking to a coach, therapist, or friend.

Do you recognize any of these patterns in your life? They all are formed for a purpose. If you can learn to meet the real need that eating had been serving, you’ll be well on your way outsmarting the pattern and changing your habits for good!

Above all, love,


Perfectionism: Striving for excellence or an excuse to play small?

I remember being in a job interview when the interviewer asked me:

“What is your greatest weakness?”

I’d smile back, so pleased to answer the question I know how to answer so well:

“I’m a perfectionist….I set high standards for myself and others. I achieve a lot but then can often get frustrated if things aren’t going as planned.”

Well, the part I’d withhold is the depth of the frustration - how this inner perfectionist never ever is truly satisfied.  How even if I achieve one thing, the goal line keeps moving further and further. How sometimes this inner  perfectionist makes me take on more than I can chew or say that I don’t want to complete something or deliver because I’m/it’s “not ready yet.”  

While perfectionism can be great to help us to strive and achieve more, on the shadow side, perfectionism can be maddening.  It can cause us to hold impossible expectations for ourselves that are more about keeping us safe and protected vs. driving us to grow.  In this way, perfectionism in fact is an insidious coping mechanism that can stop us from realizing our goals and full potential.

If you relate to this at all, make this your new mantra:

“I give myself credit for my progress no matter how big or small. It’s my consistency and commitment that matters most in the long-run.”

You don’t have to be PERFECT to manifest your goals, you just have to make small incremental changes and stay committed to the process.  After all, gym-goers know that it’s showing up regularly and doing their workouts that give them the results they want - not doing each workout at 100% effort perfectly!

So what’s the first step to taming the voice of the perfectionist? Begin to recognize it when it shows up.  Perhaps you resonate with any of the following:

  • All or nothing thinking – You’re either going to stay committed to your plan and diet or NOT at all.

  • Eating ‘cuz you ate – You did well all day but then one slip up leads you to continue eating because you already messed up

  • Not starting something because your plan isn’t “perfect”

  • Not going after what you want (a career, relationship, goal, etc.) or delivering because you aren’t “ready yet”

  • Beating yourself up when you’ve slipped

It’s in these ways that “perfectionism” keeps us safe – because we don’t have to try and face the disappointments if we never get far enough to experience them.  But if you’ve read any of Brene Brown’s work, you would know that vulnerability and joy are on two sides of the same coin. You don’t have great growth, bravery, and joy without the risk of being vulnerable.

So what can you do to tame this inner perfectionist?

Recognize it’s only a part of you, not who you are

The English language sometimes does not do us great justice when we say something like, “I AM a perfectionist,” “I am lazy,”  or “I am disappointed.” Even if language set us to identify with a label or emotion, remember that you are NOT that label, it’s just an aspect of what you’re experience.  You are NOT perfectionism, it’s just an aspect of who you are. If you become aware of the voice when it comes up, you’ll be better equipped to deal with it and let it go if it’s not serving you.

Remember, you are in the driver’s seat.  Even if the inner perfectionist yells and screams from the back, it’s not the one driving the car!

Instead of “all or nothing. “  Be able to say “Good enough”

Often times people ultimately fail to change their habits because they set goals that are too overwhelming and unrealistic.  If cutting out all sugar for the week hasn’t worked in the past, why not start with replacing your after-lunch desserts with fruits?

If you like setting big goals, then go ahead and set a “CRAZY” goal.  I would also recommend setting a “lazy goal,” which is the minimum goal to get you moving forward regardless.  For example, let’s say you don’t exercise at all. If the “crazy goal” is to run every morning at 5 am, the “lazy goal” could be to do this at least 1x this week (After all, 1x per week is still > 0x per week).

Yes, you high achievers.  Consider this your permission slip to stop striving for A+’s all the time.  Do your best, even if that’s a C this week, then a B+ the next. But no matter what, stay committed to your goals.

Get back on track right away

On the shadow side of perfectionism is the act of  beating ourselves up when things are not going as planned.  I don’t know about you but I personally have never seen where using guilt and/or beating yourself up has yielded the long-term success or sustainable change.  If you slip up with your eating, acknowledge your mistake, learn from it, then use that energy to get back on track right away.

Ask yourself - “What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?”

Try asking yourself this question every day for a  year and see what it does for you. It can be incredibly healing.  You may be surprised how the response to this question can change moment to moment.

Embrace your Perfectionism.  Let go of the need to be “perfect” in taming it.

This tip is a funny one but I’ve seen myself and my clients feel ashamed and guilty when we recognize the voice of perfectionism and it’s hold on us.  It’s alright! Acknowledge it as a part of yourself (not your whole self) and say “Oh well! I’m not perfect at letting go out my perfectionism” and that’s okay.  Another good way to do this is to recognize that the perfectionist can be really helpful at times to get things done well. Perhaps it’s time to befriend it and use it as an ally.

So let me ask you….Where do you see the perfectionist show up in your life?  What is this listening to it costing you? What would life be life be like if you tamed that perfectionist and kept moving forward?

By the way, in case you didn’t know it already, you are perfect as you are.  You absolutely deserve to create the life you’ve always dreamed of. Don’t let the inner voice keep you down and small from realizing your full potential.

Stay well, eat well, and savor all that life has to offer

because Life is simply too short not to.