Digestion, Food Intolerances, Inflammation – The Missing Piece

If your digestion isn’t great and/or you’re worried about gut health or food intolerances causing “inflammation,” bring the power of eating psychology to your plate.

As a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner (NTP), I was trained back in 2012 to support clients through an elimination diet as the “gold standard” to find out what foods may be causing your digestive challenges or health conditions.

Elimination diets were preferred over the popular and common use of the IgG Food Panel (which are now sold on infomercials for $99 which should scream red flag 🚩right there my friend).

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, Immunology explains why they don’t recommend the IgG Food Panel Testing here.

So is an elimination diet the answer to improving digestion, inflammation, intolerances?

In many client cases an elimination diet isn’t necessary, could mislead you and could even be harmful. Here are a few reasons why:

  • They can leave you with very little to eat – not eating enough calories or missing key nutrients to nourish yourself properly.
  • They can harm your relationship to food, creating disordered eating and leading to an eating disorder.
  • They are hard to do because they are strict and stressful.
  • You might feel a symptom because you learned that X food can cause your symptom. Your belief can create the placebo effect.
  • And you might feel a digestive symptom that may have nothing to do with the food itself.


The Metabolic Power of Relaxation is the missing piece to your digestive and metabolic health. How you eat and who you bring to the plate could be the cause of why you’re not digesting food properly, causing discomfort, and “inflammation.”

The Stress, Digestion, Metabolism Connection

“The key to understanding the stress metabolism is the central nervous system (CNS). The portion of the CNS that exerts the greatest influence on gastrointestinal function is called the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This aspect of the nervous system is responsible for getting your stomach churning, the enzymatic secretions in the digestive process flowing, and keeping the dynamic process of nutrient absorption into the bloodstream on the move. The ANS also tells your body when not to be in digesting mode, such as when there’s no food in your belly or when you’re in fight-or-flight response.

Two subdivisions of the ANS help it accomplish its dual task of digestive arousal and digestive inhibition: the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches.

The sympathetic branch activates the stress response and suppresses digestive activity.

The parasympathetic branch relaxes the body and activates digestion.

It might be helpful to think of these two parts of the nervous system as on-and-off switches.

Simply put, the same part of our brain that turns on stress turns off digestion. And conversely, the part of the brain that turns on the relaxation response turns on full, healthy digestive power. Eating nutritious food is only half of the story of good nutrition. Being in the ideal state to digest and assimilate food is the other half.”

  • Institute for the Psychology of Eating

Ready to get started strengthening your digestive fire to metabolize any food better?

Stress, Digestion and Metabolism (FREE PRINTOUT)

Stress Digestion Metabolism

Want to print out a copy? Just shoot me an email and I’ll send it directly to your inbox!

Have a question about the Metabolic Power of Relaxation and how it can help you improve your digestion and metabolism? I’d LOVE ♡ to hear from you. Tanya

Dear diet — it’s not me, it’s you, so goodbye

Dear Diet Culture,

Things just aren’t working out between us.

You make me feel ashamed when I’ve eaten a “bad” food. You make me feel dirty if I haven’t eaten “clean.” You’ve taken away my personal autonomy to choose what to eat and enjoy eating.

I will no longer allow you to judge my self-worth by my food choices or my body size or shape. You’ve kept me from having the relationship that I truly I desire — peace with food and my body.

While I used to feel guilty for cheating on you, I’ve learned that there’s no cheating when it comes to food. I did not marry kale and go behind its back to rendezvous with chocolate chip cookies.

My self-trust and ability to sense true biological hunger and fullness has eroded. Your restriction and deprivation intensify my cravings and make me feel like I am overeating or a failure when I inevitably desire half-in-half in my morning coffee.

You’ve made me a slave to the scale and its number, deciding for me whether I am going to have a good or bad day. You’ve made me feel dissatisfied with my body unless it fits culture’s “ideal.” And I am angry with you for judging me by my body size and shape assuming that I don’t take care of myself.

I will no longer socially isolate myself in order to control my food more easily. You’ve made me preoccupied with food, especially those dang carbohydrates. I’m breaking up with you because I don’t believe that bread is inherently bad. Especially if it’s a slice of crispy, warm Persephone Bakery bread.

You’ve promised me a better life with a new and improved body, but I know that this awesome life is happening now, not if or when.

I know that you will try to seduce me into staying in this relationship by enticing me with the latest, greatest eating plan in the New Year. I know there’s a better way for me to take care of my health and make peace with food and my body.

You’re just not right for me. I am so over you.

Yet I’ll be honest. I am afraid to break up with you.

I am fearful that without you I won’t know how to control my food and my body. If diets worked, the one I started with you last January would have done the trick and I wouldn’t be thinking about the next one.

And you don’t fool me. I know that “diets” are out. In order to stay hip and relevant and market to the next wave of dieters, you, the $70-billion diet industry, have ditched the word diet and hijacked the words “wellness,” “health” and “clean eating” to focus my attention away from the negative press that diets don’t work. But the strategies remain the same — restrictive eating with short-lived results. You seduce me with quick fixes, 30-day plans, 10-day detoxes, promising it will be different this time, because it’s not a diet.

You’ve lured me into pseudo-dieting, unconscious dieting. I might not be on a eating plan but I’m still stuck in dieting mentality. I limit my carbohydrate grams. I am obsessed with eating only foods that are healthy, also known as orthorexia. I have rules about when I should eat. I pay penance for eating “bad” foods by doing extra exercise. I sometimes put on a “false food face” in public by skipping the dessert at dinner to then go home and eat my sweets in privacy, feeling guilty when I eat nutritionally deficient foods.

No matter what you call it, a diet is still a diet if you “eat sparingly or according to prescribed rules,” at least according to Merriam-Webster. The language may have changed but the diet remains.

Diet Culture, you’re the problem. It’s not me. Nor is my body the problem.

In 2019 I’m starting a new relationship. I will nourish not only my physical health, but also the health of my mind and spirit. Because what’s health if it doesn’t take into consideration stress levels and my mental health?

And nope, Diet Culture, you will no longer dictate my ideal body shape.

My ideal body shape is whatever shape my body is when I am nourishing it without restriction and participating in movement without obligation.

Diet Culture, we’re breaking up. It’s not me. It’s you.

No longer yours,

Radical Acceptance

(This article was published in the December 27, 2018 Jackson Hole News and Guide).

Weight Shame Hurts Every Body

This is a shout-out to all the women and girls working on liking their bodies. This s— is hard.

Why? Because today’s perfectionist, weight biased body culture feeds our dissatisfaction.

It fuels poor body image by spreading the conventional “wisdom” that healthy equals thin and fat is bad.

“Diet culture leads most women to see themselves as ‘too big’ and makes it difficult for people in larger bodies to feel they don’t need to shrink themselves,” says Christy Harrison author of “Anti-Diet.”

It’s become normal for women and girls to obsessively count carbohydrate grams and to anxiously pursue 10,000 steps on their Fitbits, all to manipulate what we believe are our bad bodies.

And we’re doing this to become … healthier?

We believe we must avoid weight gain or lose weight — at any and all costs — if we want to be happy, loved and have a body that’s accepted by diet culture.

“I truly believe that for the vast majority of the population, managing or losing weight is not about health but about a fear of not being accepted by others,” says body acceptance coach Kristina Bruce.

“A much bigger health concern we have on hand here is the staggering number of people who feel shame about their bodies. The only time I don’t like how my body looks is when I fear what other people will think of it. This tells me once again — my body is not the problem.”

Agreed. Your body isn’t the problem.

The problem is we view our bodies through the lens of a $72 billion diet culture that stigmatizes weight.

Harrison explains that weight stigma “frames larger bodies as a problem and tells people that they need to shrink themselves in order to be okay, which is the very definition of weight stigma.”

Virgie Tovar, an activist, author and one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image, explains how weight bias affects us all through what she describes as three levels of weight stigma: intrapersonal, interpersonal and institutional.

Intrapersonal is how much you internalize the negative stereotypes about weight.

“The fact that we pretty much all have some level of intrapersonal weight stigma in our society is one of the hallmarks of living in diet culture,” Tovar says.

Second, interpersonal weight stigma is how you are treated based solely on weight or size — such as body shaming or bullying.

Lastly, institutional fat phobia describes how larger bodies are marginalized in society. For example, if you go to buy a ski jacket and the only color in your size is black or you have to buy a men’s jacket.

Weight stigma makes it difficult to like your body unless you are “lucky” enough to be one of the 5% of women who naturally possess the “ideal” body type. And even many of those women live in fear of weight gain.

Furthermore, evidence-based research shows that not only is weight stigma harmful to our body image, but feeling bad about our bodies is affecting our health, regardless of body size.

“I Think Therefore I Am: Perceived Ideal Weight as a Determinant of Health,” a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that the larger the difference between people’s current weight and their perceived “ideal” weight, the more mental and physical health problems they’d had in the past month, regardless of their body mass index. The study included 170,000 people of a variety of races, education levels and ages.

One major reason weight stigma is so harmful is that it’s so darn stressful for everybody, but especially for those living in larger bodies.

“Stress hormones … can have damaging effects on both physical and mental if they are secreted over a longer period of time called allostatic load,” writes David Levitin in his article “The Neuroscience Behind Why We Feel Stressed — and What to Do About It.”

That leads to a dysregulation in critical body systems — including the immune, digestive, cognitive, reproductive systems — and creates cardiac and mental health problems.

A 2018 study found that “perceived weight discrimination doubles the 10-year risk of high allostatic load. Eliminating weight stigma may reduce physiological dysregulation, improving obesity-related morbidity and mortality.”

Research by Harrison — the “Anti-Diet” author — comes to the same conclusion: “Weight stigma has been linked to an increased risk of mental-health conditions such as disordered eating, emotional distress, negative body image, low self-esteem and depression.”

If you’ve felt “so much better” after weight loss — especially after living in a larger body — could it be the result of no longer experiencing weight stigma and not necessarily the weight loss itself? It’s a question Bruce has asked.

So, ladies, here’s my shout-out to help you like your body: Don’t buy into diet culture’s weight stigmatizing. I’ll stand with you.

I’d also like to leave you with words of wisdom from poet Hollie Holden:

Today I asked my body what she needed,

Which is a big deal

Considering my journey of

Not Really Asking That Much.

I thought she might need more water.

Or protein.

Or greens.

Or yoga.

Or supplements.

Or movement.

But as I stood in the shower

Reflecting on her stretch marks,

Her roundness where I would like flatness,

Her softness where I would like firmness,

All those conditioned wishes

That form a bundle of


She whispered very gently:

Could you just love me like this?

(This article was published in the Jackson Hole News and Guide, February 5, 2020 edition).

Fall In Love With Eating… Again

I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with food over my lifetime of almost 50 years. I’ve been all over the place with my eating: from dipping pizza in blue cheese at 2:00am with my sorority sisters and chasing it the next morning with a Big Gulp of Coke and bagel with cream cheese to removing all gluten, dairy, caffeine, chocolate, nightshades, processed sugar, non-organic, GMO, etc. etc. etc.

I went from eating with wild abandonment with a focus on fun to the exact opposite, eating with restriction, stress, fear and self-judgment (and with a little martyrdom thrown in for when I felt like I was “doing great.”)

Yet now, after working for years in holistic nutrition, dynamic eating psychology and body image, I’ve learned that my relationship to food and eating is one of the single most important relationships to nurture because it’s one I will have for a lifetime, and it will impact me every, single, day.

Because I am writing this post on Valentine’s Day, I want to gift you my 9 Tips to Fall in Love 💗 with Eating because eating is meant to be a pleasurable experience, not one filled with “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.” These tips are meant to help you honor your whole health, mentally, physically and emotionally.

How I Learned to Fall in Love with Eating (again)…

  1. I explore how different foods made me feel.

    Yes, you do need to learn to listen to your unique body. This one can be difficult for so many of us who are unconscious distracted eaters because we just don’t notice. For example, avocados might make you feel amaaaazing and for others, not so much. Just because avocados are considered a “health” food doesn’t mean your body loves them. I know you are disappointed that maybe those pretty little avocado toasts aren’t the best for you.

    How about dairy? Some of us do great with dairy, while for others, it makes other bodies constipated. And, if you are a junk food junkie, this is for you too, how do the foods you choose make you feel? Maybe awesome in the moment, but afterward?

  2. I don’t have strict rules about ANY food.

    Yes, I mean it, anything. Yes, even the foods that don’t make you feel good (except of course if you have a diagnosed food allergy). And yes, that goes for the fake colored, Gods know what number dye peanut butter crackers that I used to avoid purely because they were processed. I would have rather starved than eaten those delicious orange crackers. But no more, because my body was like “what the hell – I am hungry dang it, a package of processed crackers isn’t going to kill me, so get over your neurotic nutritionist nonsense.”

    This is the most important tip of all and the one that has allowed me to return to normal eating that yes indeed does honor my health (so don’t worry). It’s critical because restriction is the number one reason we crave. Restriction actually intensifies cravings for your forbidden or “bad” foods.

    Ok, so this one might make you freak out and feel like abandoning reading the rest of this email because there’s just no way you can eat without a set of rules.

    Relax. I promise you if you immerse yourself in the process of falling in love with eating again, you will be rewarded with a happy and healthy relationship with food. So no, you won’t just sit on the couch, day after day, eating bag after bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (do they even make those anymore)?

  3. I no longer make moral judgments about food (and place them on myself, the person making the choices).


  4. So this comic may seem ridiculous, but that’s the point. Diet talk is ridiculous. When you don’t eat “clean,” you are not “dirty”. You are not a bad person for eating cake. Look how ridiculous we’ve become by making certain foods morally better than others. Detach morality from food. Period.
  5. I learned to honor my hunger instead of going by food rules that tell me when I should or should not be eating.

    Somedays I am simply hungrier than others. Why? A multitude of reasons. Some days I sit at my desk for hours and don’t get a lot of movement in, and perhaps I simply want something light to eat. And the next day? Well I got up early and did a yoga class, went for a hike, and, um, yes, I ate more because I was hungrier.

    I no longer fear hunger and now my body freakin’ trusts me to feed it when it’s hungry.

    We don’t need to fear hunger anymore. If we just learn to honor it, and our body’s human need for food when it needs it, we can honor our whole health. Honor and trust.

    Which leads me to another super important tip…

  6. I honor my fullness.

    I had to practice this one because I came from a clean your plate family. I was also the youngest of three siblings and every meal time felt like a fastest eating contest to get the leftovers. I had this fear of not getting enough. I lost my fullness meter at a very young age. How did I learn to honor my fullness? Well I just noticed when I no longer felt hungry anymore. Did you get that? I wasn’t asking myself if I felt full but instead I asked myself if I was no longer hungry. Big difference. It’s been a fascinating experiment and one in which I noticed that I was consistently eating just to eat or because it tasted good (which incidentally naturally wears off as we eat).

  7. I understand the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.

    And that being said, I haven’t made eating for emotional reasons bad, because it’s not. We all do it. Humans were designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We were born, held, fed and loved; thus we naturally equate food with feeling good. I just notice if I start to seek certain foods habitually and then I ask myself, what am I actually hungering for? The food is often just a substitute for something that I am seeking to fill up with or numb out from. So I dig deeper.

  8. I value pleasure in my eating but also prioritize it in my whole life.

    I’ve stopped putting so much pressure on my food to make me feel the way I desire and instead I put it back where it belongs, on me. I am responsible for my own happiness. Not my spouse. Not my family. Not my friends. Thus I am the only one that can get in my body (known as embodiment) and know what it wants physically, mentally and emotionally, and I then I nourish those aspects of my life.

    That being said, eating is meant to be pleasurable. We must find satisfaction in our food choices or we will continue to seek it, and often continue to eat until we receive it or feel too stuffed to continue. And of course, eating healthy foods can be pleasurable. Make yourself a list right now of all the foods that you love and enjoy that you consider healthy.

  9. I make eating part of my self-care, self-nourishment.

    Instead of rushing around, ignoring my hunger, and then feeling like I want to eat my arm, which then leads me to grab whatever sounds good which is usually something carby or sugary because they boost my blood sugar levels quickly but then burn quickly. This leads me to want more and more food to satiate the hunger that I had been ignoring, which I then eat quickly and mindlessly.

    This was the old scenario. Feeding myself is no longer something to get over with or mindlessly do while I watch my favorite Netflix show and surf on my Iphone. If I tell myself I don’t have time, I remind myself this is bullsh*t and that if I don’t have time, to figure it out. And if that means reaching out for help on how to create space in my life, I do it. Because…

    We are worthy of receiving nourishment from our meals, not just nutrients or fuel. We must learn that what we eat is only part of good nutrition, so whether we are eating kale or cake, let’s take a few extra minutes to breath, sit down and enjoy it. We’re not machines, we are human beings.

  10. I practice gentle nutrition.

    I put together all of the above and I honor my whole health.

    What’s gentle nutrition? Making food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Gentle nutrition allows us to relax and make peace with nutrition and food and achieve authentic health.

    Remember healthy eating is having a healthy balance of foods while having a heathy relationship with food.

    So I am not telling you this is easy, because it’s not. But nothing worthwhile ever comes from pushing the easy button. Just think how worth it it is to nourish your relationships with people. Food and eating is no different.

Would you like to fall in love with food and eating all over again?

You can. Remember that you actually do know how to care for your own body and you can trust yourself with food. Most of us have just forgotten how due to all the outside noise from the $70 billion dollar “diet” and “wellness” industry and the zillion different nutrition philosophies that tend to confuse the heck out of us. You can regain this personal autonomy over your food preferences.The key to making this happen is that you actually have to prioritize exploring this one very important relationship…with food and eating.

What’s your relationship with food right now? What has it been like in the past? And most importantly, what would you like your relationship to food to feel like for the rest of your life and why?

Eating isn’t supposed to be that difficult or a struggle.

  • Charles Eisenstein, author, The Yoga of Eating

Have a comment, question? I would love to hear from you!

Intuitive Eating: do you need to re-learn how to eat?

When we were born, we instinctively knew how to eat. But as we move through life, we are impacted by the messages from the world around us. We’re taught over and over again about what to eat. And the “what” we should eat shifts year after year.

These lessons come from family members (more often than not with good intentions), the latest clean eating book, social media and more. And that finger wagging at us telling us we shouldn’t eat this or that, comes from our own thoughts and self-judgement about food and our bodies that we’ve learned from living in diet culture.

Intuitive Eating

Most of us need to relearn how to eat. Learning how to eat again through a self-care framework called Intuitive Eating (IE) developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. IE teaches us to let good of food rules, to develop body trust and finally have the healthy relationship with food and our bodies that we desire.

Tapping into intuitive eating practices can help us with perceived eating challenges such as:

  • over-eating, believing we need portion control
  • mindless eating, “emotional” eating, eating when not physically hungry
  • craving, sneaking or “bingeing” on “bad” or “forbidden” foods

These perceived eating challenges are often symptoms of disconnected eating and diet culture restrictions. So many of us struggle with them. I did. And that’s what led me to study and support clients through the process of Intuitive Eating.

So, what is Intuitive Eating?

First things first, Intuitive Eating isn’t another goal to accomplish. There is no success or failure. It’s a lifelong journey of reconnecting with yourself and nourishing yourself. For many of us, it’s a relearning.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating include:

Rejecting the Diet Mentality

If we don’t “diet” then what should we do? There is no “quick fix” for our underlying challenges with food. Every year there is the latest greatest eating plan. Yes, you might have “success” with one or more, but how long does it last? And at what cost – as “diets” are called the “life thief” by Christy Harrison, author, Anti-Diet.

Our challenges with food are often symptoms asking us to look deeper. And the messages will get louder and louder (over the years) until we finally listen and do the deeper work.

I can hear you now…“but I HAVE to control my eating so I must be on an eating plan or diet.” While the focus of Intuitive Eating isn’t on weight loss, it’s absolutely about honoring your whole health – physically, mentally and emotionally.

The focus of IE is on our relationship with food and body and the rewards are great.

So, what’s driving our unwanted behaviors with food? This is the bigger question. This is the question we should be asking and addressing. After the diet or eating plan is over, we are still left with our unique selves and our unique relationship with food. Some of us have been on and off eating plans for most of our lives that we don’t know how to eat without a set of rules to follow. So let’s learn to eat again. It’s a practice.

Honor Your Hunger

Your body knows when it needs food, and it will tell you so. In fact, if you’re depriving your body of certain macronutrients and/or overall calories, it will eventually drive you to “overeat” which is really just primal hunger. This drive may even feel like a “binge” when in fact it may be purely a physical need for, well, more food that you’re feeding your body.

Everyone is unique, but for some, it may be helpful to have a regular eating rhythm or feed yourself when feeling gentle hunger so that you don’t get to the breaking point of “OMG I’m so hungry I’m going to eat everything in sight.” In order to do so, we must connect with gentle hunger, by listening for our unique internal physical body cues, interoceptive awareness, which is foundational to the practice of Intuitive Eating.

Peace ☮️ Out

Make peace with food. It’s not out to get you. You may have fear of food making you “fat” or certain foods will “kill” you. But they key to developing a healthy relationship with food is to give yourself unconditional permission to eat.

WHATTTT!!!! I know this concept sounds scary but if you constantly tell yourself you can’t or shouldn’t eat certain foods, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that can lead to uncontrollable cravings and “binge” eating, which then can lead to guilt.

Intuitive eating has a strategy called habituation that is designed to help you make peace with your list of “forbidden” or “bad” foods. This practice has created powerful shifts in the eating mindset for many of my clients (and no, you won’t want to eat oreos all day, every day).

Challenge your inner Food Police

Are you “good” (follow the rules) or “bad” (breaking the rules)? Do you identify with being “bad” for eating too many cookies, or “good” for eating a salad when you really hunger for a sandwich? The Food Police have rules that have been drilled into our brains for years. Intuitive Eating works to break down the power they hold over you.

This doesn’t mean that you throw caution to the wind and let your inner rebel eat whatever you want. Instead it’s about not having to live by outside rules and having to control yourself all the time. Let’s soften. There’s a middle ground that’s more easeful.

Listen for Fullness Clues

Your body will tell you when it’s satiated. You just need to listen. Bringing awareness to the plate is essential to feel satiety. Mindless, distracted, fast eating, which is so common these days, mutes the signal for satiety. See food and the eating experience as nourishment for not just your body, but your mind and soul (not just as fuel).

Embrace Satisfaction

In our desire to fit culture’s ideals, we may stray from one important nutritional element – pleasure. Enjoyment needs to be a part of the eating process in order to feel satisfied.

The next time you eat, notice, are you satisfied with what you’re eating? I remember distinctly when I was a teenager trying to “be good” by eating fat free food after fat free food and overall eating a lot because I never received any satisfaction from my list of “good” foods. Why? Because my desire for smaller thighs spoke louder than receiving satisfaction from my food. At first. Eventually, I dove into the Alfredo pasta.

Now I eat foods that satisfy me without deprivation and it’s just no big deal (and no longer the “forbidden, guilt-ridden” pasta.

Honor Your Feelings With Kindness

We’re all emotional eaters. It’s useful to find ways to comfort yourself in difficult times that don’t involve food. For example, find an outlet to cure boredom that doesn’t involve eating. Food won’t change any of those feelings even though it might distract or soothe in the short term.

Identifying the underlying emotion is a fantastic step if feeding your emotions has become your habit. Remember eating for emotions reasons is normal. It’s not “bad”. If it becomes your “go-to,” we can help you explore new ways to feel and cope beyond food.

Respect and Accept Your Body

Learn to respect your human body. Accept your unique genetic blueprint. Consider if you were constantly trying to make your size 8 foot fit into a size 6 shoe.

Being overcritical of yourself makes it extremely challenging to reject the diet mentality. As a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador, I help clients practice body neutrality, which means that you don’t have to “love” every aspect of your body rather you practice having more compassion towards yourself as a human being.

All bodies deserve respect. Period.

I help you put your health in perspective and soften the habit of constantly comparing yourself to ideal body images that less than 5% of us naturally possess. It’s time for a reality check!

Move Your Body

Give up the rigorous weight-loss focused workout programs and, instead, move your body in ways that bring you joy and make you feel good. I love exercise, yet, I’ve shifted to movement that feels good not just physically but movement that also feeds my mind and spirit.

And remember, more isn’t necessarily better. Tune in and become more aware of the signals that your body is sending. Are you still tired and feel like you have to drag yourself to your next workout? Or do you look forward to your next yoga class because it allows you to slow down, breathe and press the pause button?

Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

Remember that you don't have to eat "perfectly" in order to be healthy. It's what you eat consistently, over long periods of time that matter. The key term is "for the most part." Honoring your health by eating healthy foods most of the time can come naturally when you reclaim intuitive eating. It's an important concept of intuitive eating.

Keep In Mind

Your diet is not only what you eat. It’s what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang around…be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, physically and spiritually.

  • Tiny Buddha

While these are the 10 principles to consider to help you reconnect to self nourishment, make sure this list doesn’t become a check-list, a “to-do” list where you accomplish it or not, succeed or fail. Because then again, intuitive eating can become another kind of “diet” or eating plan, full of “rules.”

Intuitive Eating…

  • It’s about reconnecting with yourself and nourishment.
  • It’s about tuning in to your unique body’s needs, instead of tuning out.
  • It’s about slowing down with food and with life, trying to fit it all in.
  • It’s about saying “yes” to yourself, making self-nourishment a priority…so that you can take care of others and feel and BE your best self.
  • And again, it’s not another list of rules or an item to add to your “to-do” list!

Doesn’t that sound lovely? I invite you to relearn how to eat again.

Have a question, comment or would love support and guidance through the Intuitive Eating journey? Reach out!

  • Tanya

You are more than what you eat + [what you think and feel about it matters more]

Metabolism and the Mind

The satiated man and the hungry man do not see the same thing when they look upon a loaf of bread.

  • The great poet Rumi

It’s true. We all come to the table with different perspectives and life stories. I like to think of this as a direct reflection of how everybody’s metabolism functions differently. No two people will metabolize a slice of pizza in the same way. One person may see the pizza as a delicious treat while another who struggles with how she feels about food and her body may look at it with fear and guilt. The former will metabolize the food completely while the latter’s body will struggle to process it.

The brain doesn’t distinguish between a real stressor or an imagined one…Any guilt about food, shame about the body, or judgment about health are considered stressors by the brain and are immediately transduced into their electrochemical equivalents in the body. You could eat the healthiest meal on the planet, but if you’re thinking toxic thoughts the digestion of your food goes down. Likewise, you could be eating a nutritionally challenged meal, but if your head and heart are in the right place, the nutritive power of your food will be increased.”

The Power Belongs to Our Minds

In my studies to become an Eating PsychologyCoach, I learned about a fascinating medical study that took place in 1983 to test a new chemotherapy treatment. One group of cancer patients were given the actual drug while another group was given a placebo, a standard way to test whether a drug is effective or not.

About 75% of the patients lost their hair. This wasn’t a big surprise to the researchers. What WAS a big surprise was the fact that 31% of the patients who received a placebo ALSO lost their hair. Why? Because they expected to lose their hair. Like many, they associated chemotherapy with hair loss.

So, how healthy is your mindset? Are you empowering your metabolism or putting strain on it?

The New Metabolism:

the sum total of all the chemical reactions in the body, _plus the sum total of all our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and experiences

Toss aside that old saying “you are what you eat”.

My work as an eating psychology coach emphasizes exploring your unique thoughts, feelings and beliefs about food and your body. Often we need to re-train our brains to have a happy and healthy relationship with food. And when we make a commitment to improve this relationship, we can feel relaxed around food and our bodies and re-purpose this energy to give our unique gifts to the world!

It’s liberating.

I’d love to hear about your unique beliefs about food and body and how they’ve impacted your life.

  • Tanya

Are you getting enough Vitamin P?

Vitamin P. Pleasure.

We need it. Without it our lives just aren’t complete. And neither is our metabolic potential.

Pleasure, a Study

Let me share a scientific example with you. Scientists conducted a study around the relationship of iron absorption and pleasure. Their test subjects included a group of women from Sweden and another group of women from Thailand. Each group was given a typical Thai meal.

The study showed that the Thai women absorbed more iron from the exact same meal than the Swedes did. Why? Because they actually enjoyed the meal. On the other hand, when both groups were served a typical Swedish meal containing the same amount of iron, the Thai women absorbed significantly less iron than their Swedish counterparts! Incredible, isn’t it!?

Vitamin P helps optimize your nutrition! Eating food that we don’t find pleasurable can trigger the sympathetic nervous response which decreases absorption and assimilation of nutrients.

The Nutrition of Pleasure

If you deny yourself enjoyment in eating through restrictive and pleasureless eating, your body will respond accordingly by triggering the release of a chemical called Neuropeptide Y. This chemical tells us to seek food (or more food!) when we lack satisfaction. This is why restrictive diets usually backfire. Restrictive diets can cause us to crave a “forbidden” food or they may even cause us to over consume it because we don’t know when we’ll be “allowed” to have it again.

Most people think that pleasure is completely separate from the nutritional process and serves no metabolic function.

Another way we may not be tapping into the pleasure of food and eating is when we eat fast and/or distracted. Without awareness and deriving pleasure from our nourishment, we may “over-eat.” Our brain will seek more food until it feels mentally satisfied. We must be awake at the plate and be aware of the taste, texture, aroma of food and the pleasure of eating. This is called the Cephalic Phase Digestive Response (CPDR) or the brain/digestive system connection.

Notice, is your eating experience pleasurable?

Remember, there is a place for all foods on your plate. Yes, of course we want to prioritize healthy, good quality food most of the time. But good nutrition is more than what you eat. It also includes how and why you eat.

And speaking of why you eat, notice if eating and your eating choices are based purely on pleasure. In this case, we must look deeper and explore what kind of emotional need, such as pleasure, we’re trying to fulfill through food. The solution is to find other ways to fulfill this need other than through food or drink.

Ask yourself, are you prioritizing your own pleasure?

Deriving pleasure from eating isn’t the only way to ensure your metabolic engine is revved. We can place a lot of expectations on our food to bring us pleasure. For many of us, food is our main source of daily pleasure. This is why we must pause and take a moment to think about what brings us pleasure (other than food).

So, let’s do a little exercise, shall we?

Create a list of everything – person, place, activity etc. – that brings you pleasure, past or present. Notice how often you are experiencing these pleasures on a day-to-day basis. Is there anything on this list that you haven’t done recently? I challenge you to take action by making it a priority to add one of these pleasures back into your life this week. It matters.

Allow yourself to experience pleasure from food and life. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya

Eating Psychology Coaching for Everyone Who Eats

Do you or someone you love struggle with health, self-esteem or body image?

Perhaps this has gone on for years and you (or, they) have finally had enough of feeling anything less than fantastic.

I encounter this every day! People are fed up with feeling sick and tired, and they’re ready to enjoy life to the fullest and overcome their struggles with food, health and body. They’ve tried everything – the diets, clean eating challenges, cleanses, detoxes, supplements, teas and exercise programs all promising major results.

It’s time for a new approach.

5 Reasons Dynamic Eating Psychology Coaching could be for you

  1. You’re tired of the same old same old health and wellness strategies eat better, exercise more – punishing your body at the gym or depriving yourself any longer.

The problem with all of the diet and exercise programs on the market is that the two supposed magical strategies of eating well and exercising only make up half your calorie burning potential. Yup, you heard me correctly…HALF. Metabolism is SO much more than just what you eat and the amount of calories you burn. When I learned that, my whole outlook on health and weight shifted completely! I was finally able to serve my community in effective, sustainable ways.

Dynamic Eating Psychology is the most holistic approach you can take to feeling good and reaching your goals. It brings together nutrition and mindset while taking into account your lifestyle, goals and, most importantly, YOU. No two clients are the same. You are uniquely YOU. I customize my coaching for every client based on who they are and how they live. 2. You have stubborn eating challenges that have plagued you for far too long.

You just want to be free from these challenges. They are creating a huge energy suck and they’re holding you back from being your best self. As an eating psychology coach, I know that unwanted food habits like overeating, emotional eating and binge eating are behaviors that are driven from a much bigger cause. They’re often not the problem itself. Instead, they’re symptoms asking us to look deeper. I help clients explore these challenges to find answers in a safe and supportive environment. 3. You know in your gut that your challenges stem from something deeper than surface problems like cravings.

Did you know that these gut feelings are actually coming from a second brain in your belly? The Enteric Nervous System is that internal voice that gives rise to your intuition. When you sense that something isn’t right or that you don’t have the complete story, your Enteric Nervous System is what’s sending you those signals. And it’s extremely important to listen! When your body is telling you that something is off kilter, an eating psychology coach will help you tune in to those signals to figure out how to best nourish your body and meet its needs. And this nourishment may have nothing to do with eating better or exercising more. 4. You want to improve your relationship with food, your body and yourself.

An eating psychology coach helps facilitate this more harmonious relationship by helping you learn to treat yourself with unconditional love and respect. Undoing decades of harmful thought patterns takes a trained professional with the right tools to get to the root. It’s so common for women and men to be in a battle with how their body looks for a reason. Culture and media tells us we’re not enough unless we are a certain size, shape, or weight. Your body isn’t the problem. It’s the messages from media that are the problem. It’s time to re-train your brain. 5. You’re tired of your inner voice dictating how you feel about yourself.

How you talk to yourself matters. Many of us spend years being too dang hard on ourselves and telling ourselves that we’re not good enough. I help my clients transform that inner dialogue to one that empowers and supports them. Yes, this often starts with how we feel about our appearance but you will learn that you are far more than your body and how it looks. Explore what this means for you.

QUIZ: Is Dynamic Eating Psychology for you?

  • You eat well and exercise but still don’t feel the way you desire. You’re doing everything “right” so why the heck aren’t you seeing results? You’re frustrated. You may be dealing with health concerns such as digestion, immunity, energy, mood challenges or dissatisfaction with body weight.
  • You know what you are “supposed to do” to get healthier but can’t make it happen. It’s just too dang hard. You don’t have the time or energy to make it happen.
  • You’ve had success with improving your health through eating better and/or moving more, but you haven’t been able to sustain it. You feel like you need more “willpower.”

If you answered YES to any one of these 3 questions and you’re looking for a fresh, new approach to your health and well-being, reach out.

I am going to be fully upfront with you. This isn’t “magic pill” work.

Coaching is for you if you’re ready to take your relationship to food, body and your whole self to the next level. This work is for you if you’re open to new ideas, tired of feeling stuck, and you want an approach that’s positive and up-lifting.

Dynamic Eating Psychology Coaching is valuable for anyone who eats (yes, I know that’s everyone!) who wants a more harmonious relationship with food, body and self. Why are these strategies so important? Because life is too dang short. It’s time for a new approach.

  • Tanya

Sugar Isn’t Evil

Sugar and Its Effects

So many of my clients ask me “How can I eat less sugar?”

It seems like sugar-bashing is all the rage lately. Sugar-less diets and detoxes are everywhere, but I want to tell you something: Sugar isn’t evil. And trying to quit it 100% by using willpower can be super stressful and actually…isn’t necessary.

Phew! Right?

Having said that, let’s look deeper at sugar and its effects on our bodies.

Consuming excessive sugar, natural or not, is not good for your health. Yet we have a taste bud for sweet so we were designed for sweet things. What happens, though, is that you may find yourself eating far too much sugar. So what it boils down to is: how much matters.

The American Heart Association recommends 32 g or less for men, and 24 g or less for women of added sugars. If you look at coconut water (something that depending on the brand can be quite healthy), you’ll see that one can contain 24 g of added sugar! If you were to drink that entire can, you’d have reached your daily allotment of sugar already. Sugar can be sneaky so it is best that you’re informed.

Instead of white-knuckling it to quit sugar, these are my favorite tips to answer your question “How can I eat less sugar” AND have a better relationship with sweet.

Five tips to reduce sugar intake

  1. Read food labels. How much added sugar does this product contain per a serving and how many servings are you consuming? Be aware.
  2. Build Campfire Meals to balance your blood sugar levels and help prevent physical sugar cravings.
  3. Avoid artificial sugars. Artificial sweeteners can actually cause you to crave even more sugar and cause a cascade of negative metabolic effects in your body.
  4. Look Deeper. What’s going on when you crave certain foods?
    Is there an emotional need you’re trying to fill? Notice if you crave sugar when you need more “sweetness” in your life. Next time you find yourself in the midst of a sugar craving, pause for a moment and bring more awareness to this craving. What are you feeling? What was going on in your day before this craving hit? TO DO: Practice the “pause strategy” to help you gain insight and begin to break the emotional need for sugar. My ultimate goal with clients is to find new ways to fulfill this emotion besides food, drink, excess shopping or whatever you tend to lean on. We all need a variety of coping mechanisms in our toolbox.
  5. Feeling badly about eating sugar and 100% restricting it is not the answer for 99% of us. In fact, it could be causing your cravings. Nothing intensifies a craving like restriction. When we practice the above tools, and re-learn how to Eat Intuitively, by listening to the physical sensations coming from our body instead of outside diet culture rules, we can have a healthy and happy relationship with food and our bodies.

The “How can I eat less sugar” main takeaways

  • In general, be aware of the recommended levels of sugar for adults. Eat balanced meals and snacks in which something sweet can absolutely be included!
  • It’s completely OK and natural to enjoy dessert. Remember that sometimes restriction can make us want it more. And stressing about sugar can be worse for our health than anything on our plates.
  • We were designed with a sweet taste bud and we’re meant to have sweetness in our lives. Ask yourself: Are you getting enough sweetness out of life that has nothing to do with food?
  • You’re human (and life is too dang short) to avoid sweets completely. Relax, slow down, savor your ice cream cone, your birthday cake! All foods can fit in a healthy diet. Healthy eating isn’t “perfect” eating. It’s about what you eat for the most part, over time.

The key is to be mindful of the amount and quality of of sugars you’re generally consuming and how food choices or emotions may be driving your cravings.

Have a question about sugar, need help getting to the root cause of your sugar cravings? Reach out!

  • Tanya

3 Mind Body Nutrition Tips for Fertility

3 Mind Body Nutrition strategies to help you conceive a healthy baby

When it comes to fertility, diet and how you nourish yourself matters. Eating good quality food is a part of nourishment but how you and your partner nourish your whole selves is another critical ingredient of good nutrition and the ability to conceive. I recommend couples spend three months working on their own Mind Body health before trying to conceive. Why? A healthy egg and sperm create a healthy baby.

1. Food quality matters!

Eat Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are critical to your hormonal health. They provide long-term sustainable energy throughout your day. When trying to conceive, steer away from low-fat or no fat. Add in quality fats such as avocado, raw (not roasted in oils) nuts and seeds such as chia, hemp, flax, walnuts. Cook with organic cold pressed coconut oil. Dress your salads with high quality olive oil. And if you digest dairy well, choose full fat, organic pasture-raised dairy products or raw dairy.

Avoid trans fats which are chemically created fake fats that cause damage to your body. Don’t be fooled by food labels that read 0 trans fats as manufacturers aren’t required to include this toxic fat if the product contains 0.5 or less. No amount of trans fats is healthy. To ensure there are no trans fats in your food, check the ingredient list for “partially hydrogenated oils.” They’re a hidden source of trans fats. Trans fats can be found in fried foods, baked goods, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, crackers and more.

BONUS TIP: One of my favorite recommendations to balance hormones which increases your chances of fertility is Seed Cycling

Eat Healthy Carbohydrates

Low-carb is popular these days but many of us forget that vegetables and fruits are carbs. Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient because they provide us with quick energy.

Prioritize eating lots of vegetables which are packed full of nutrients (leafy greens are my favorite), as well as whole fruit (instead of juices), beans, 100% whole grains such as quinoa and amaranth. If you have difficulty digesting beans or grains, skip them or learn how to soak them to increase digestibility.

Minimize or avoid refined carbohydrates like white flour products such as breads, pastas, crackers etc. and excess poor quality sugar. For women, keep your sugars to 24 grams or less per a day; for men, 32 grams or less.

Buy the best quality produce that you can afford. To reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides found in produce, visit Enviornmental Working Group’s Clean 15, Dirty Dozen. EWG has an app that you can download on your smartphone for easy reference while grocery shopping.

Pesticides in produce can include chemicals that are xenoestrogens which mimic the functions of natural estrogens (endocrine disruptors). As a result, both women and men are dealing with excess poor quality, estrogen like substances that can lead to estrogen dominance. According to Natural Fertility Info., “estrogen dominance is a major cause of the fertility issues women face today”. What is so bad about estrogen dominance?

It is the root cause of a myriad of illnesses. Conditions associated with this include fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, uterine fibroids, breast cancer, endometriosis, infertility problems, endometrial polyps, PCOS, auto-immune disorders, low blood sugar problems, and menstrual pain, among many others.

Xenoestrogens can also be found in commercially raised beef, chicken, pork, dairy products as well as tap water. Also be aware of toxins in your cleaning and beauty products. Environmental Working Group has excellent substitutes for these products on their website.

Eat Healthy Proteins

Quality protein is important yet many of us tend to under-eat protein in the mornings (when it’s important to begin our day with balanced blood sugar) and over-eat it at dinner.

Be sure to evenly distribute your protein throughout your day. How much protein should you get at each meal? To figure out your own needs you divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, then multiply by 0.25. This will give you an estimate of how much protein you can absorb per a meal.

If you’re a meat eater, buy organic pasture-raised meats which means that the animal was raised on grass increasing the level of healthy omega-3 fats. For fish, choose wild fish that’s low in mercury and high in selenium: http://healthybabycode.com/5-myths-about-pregnancy-nutrition-3-pregnant-women-shouldnt-eat-fish

For vegetarians/vegans, make sure you are getting complete protein by eating a variety of foods that include the 9 essential amino acids. Try quinoa, buckwheat, rice, beans, lentils and more.

Minimize or avoid conventionally raised beef, poultry and pork that contain hormones and antibiotics as well as farm-raised fish high in mercury.

Healthy Hydration

Drink filtered water as your main source of hydration. Water is critical to our health. Our bodies contain 70% water. Without proper hydration, the body can’t perform tasks correctly (such as producing energy, hormones, or repair) nor can it expel toxins trapped inside the body due to lack of water.

Practice increasing your daily water intake to drink about 12 your body weight in ounces. Try drinking 16 ounces of water to start your day, before eating breakfast. It’s a wonderful way to detox.

Minimize: Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks. According to this article in the New York Times, moderate drinking does not appear to affect fertility though alcohol is known to affect sperm quality. One morning cup of coffee does not appear to affect fertility though it’s probably a good idea to pass on seconds according to Verywellfamily.com.

Avoid: Drinking out of plastic water bottles even if they say BPA free. Plastic bottles can contain harmful chemicals such as xenoestrogens which I’ve mentioned previously. They can seep into your bottled water when they’ve been sitting around for a long time or exposed to heat (which is common). Instead choose glass or stainless steel bottles and fill your bottles with filtered water.

2. A Healthy Lifestyle Matters

Consider Your Current Lifestyle

Is it grounded, calm and relaxed? Or is it hectic, erratic and sorely lacking in Vitamin T = Time?

Of course lifestyle changes aren’t quick fixes. That’s why I recommend taking three months prior to trying to conceive to take a look at your lifestyle and learn to slow down and prioritize what matters most.

Put yourself into your future babies shoes. What kind of environment would you like to be introduced to? Is your current lifestyle nurturing? Is there space for self-care?

It can be difficult to add in self-care strategies such as eating well or exercise when there’s just not room for it, mentally or physically.

One side note on exercise: Movement is wonderful for our chi (energy) and enhances our vitality and overall health. Yet beware of too much exercise. Excessive exercise can actually increase the overall stress on your body.

What’s On Your Plate?

Here’s a journal exercise to explore to create room for a healthier lifestyle: Write out your daily/weekly schedule and take a long hard look at it. What needs to stay and what needs to go? If it’s not a heck yes it’s a no. Stop doing so you can start doing!

The key point of this exercise is to reduce excess stress. Stress is a normal part of our lives as the sympathetic nervous system was designed to produce cortisol in times of emergency. Unfortunately many of us are stuck in a chronic low (or high) level of stress day after day and the stress response never turns off.

Remember that stress is any real or perceived threat (yes thoughts are included here!) to the body. The brain can’t differentiate between the two and as a result will turn on the stress response even when we perceive life as stressful.

How does the stress response impact hormonal balance?

First things first. Your body will always prioritize protecting itself. This means that digestion, growth and yes, conception have to wait in line. Unfortunately, when we’re under constant stress, the hormone cortisol can take a hit. It can be difficult for the body to keep up with the demands for constant cortisol. As a result, according to Dr. Claudia Welch, author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, the body can borrow from our sex hormones, specifically progesterone. The body can make cortisol from progesterone. When progesterone stores take a hit, this creates an imbalance as one of progesterone’s jobs is to keep estrogen in check. “One of the main actions of progesterone with fertility is to help support a developing embryo,” says Hethir Rodriguez C.H., C.M.T. of Natural Fertility Info.

Want more information on the connection between stress and fertility? I highly recommend reading this article by Dr. Alice Domar of the Domar Center for mind/body health.

Slowly work on decreasing the major stresses in your life. Take the time as you prepare to conceive to pause and create physical and mental space to bring a new life into the world.

3. Let Go Of Control

While making a conscious effort to slow down and create space for healthy eating, movement and relaxation are important, consider allowing the universe to have your back. One of my mentors, Gabrielle Bernstein #1 New York Times Best Selling Author, International Speaker, and “Spirit Junkie,” did a wonderful talk on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday about spiritual surrender. Life doesn’t always go according to our plan, on our timeline. We can prepare and plan but it’s truly up to the universe to bring forth the miracle of life. Have faith and surrender to a power far greater than your own.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya