Posted in audience participation, follow-up, food, know better do better, tips

Answering follow-up—2

Question from a reader:

When I am angry or stressed, I usually give in to fast food, or chocolate. It is like a self-loathing thing. I don’t know how to explain it. I know you said to make a plan for each emotion, but what does that look like? When I feel happy, I will take the time to make a big salad. When I feel sad, I will write in my journal, rather than jump in my car and go through a drive-thru lane?

First, you don’t need to explain emotional eating. I get it. I’m not sure I can explain it, either, but I get it.

The goal, really, is to disconnect feeling from eating.

So when I’m happy, I’ll share it with friends, or do a happy dance, or write in my journal, or just go about my day feeling good.

Sad, for me, is much harder, because sad doesn’t feel good and we don’t like not feeling good, and we’re using food to try to fix it. (There are chemical reactions involved that make junk food a legitimate brain-chemical short-term fix, much the same as illicit drugs, which just complicates matters further.)

So writing in a journal is a good plan.

My go-to, if I can, is to move. Walk. Run. Lift. Climb. Whatever. Get out of the house or the office, get muscles engaged, get heart rate up, and burn it off. This also has physiological brain chemical effects that help you help yourself.

Some of my best climbing days have been when I’m angry. There have been days when I’ve run up and down bleachers in tears and just kept running until I burned it all off.

If I can’t do that, then writing works pretty well for me.

But I also know some people who do crafty things when they’re needing to work through emotions: play instruments, knit/sew/crochet, make pottery, draw.

Coloring is good sometimes. (I find a kid coloring book and crayons to be more effective in these cases than adults books and pencils. The adult books are so intricate that they require, for me, a little too much thinking for when I’m down. Good for relaxing, oddly, but not for emotional regulation.)

Meditation is good, from what I understand. I’m at the very beginning stages of learning how to do this, so I can’t speak from personal experience.

Maybe listening to music? Or reading? I don’t like to read in those times, because I can’t focus, but maybe you can. Watch TV? Or a TED talk? Or cat videos?

Laughing is good in those times, but it’s hard to come by.

Hopefully something in there resonates for you to try! Good luck!

Posted in audience participation, follow-up, food, parenting, tips

Answering follow-up—1

I had an e-conversation in response to a few ideas I’ve put out here and, with permission, am sharing bits with you. (Also, as I’m revisiting our conversation, I’m thinking of other things, so there will be a little more here than there was privately.)

Hey Heather, I’ve been enjoying your blog…Pregnancy is kind of like my time to go overboard on sweets. Now that baby is home, the donuts everyday has chilled out. I’m working on getting back on track. However, cutting sugar from my family’s life is one of my priorities this next year. I feel I have really started/developed some bad habits for my oldest daughter. I’m going to try to do one little change a month. January – no more Starbucks (this often includes chocolate milk for my kid or a cake pop). February – no more soda when we eat out (we don’t keep soda in the house), etc… However, what I am struggling with is my daughter’s breakfast and snacks. Right now she has an eggo waffle in the morning with chocolate syrup on it. She won’t eat it unless it has the chocolate syrup. Plain yogurt, she sees my husband put honey on it, and she wants honey, too. How do I “gently” change the breakfast routine so 1) we do something healthier than a processed waffle, and 2) cut the syrup off? I know you had mentioned in a previous post that The Kid does some type of frozen fruit popsicle? How do you make that, freeze a smoothie in a popsicle tray?

First, the one change a month plan is awesome! It’s long enough for each thing to be able to become part of the routine. It’s specific—there’s no ambiguity. I also think that the “no Starbucks” plan is better than “no sweets at Starbucks” which could include plain tea or coffee for Mama but is going to eliminate everything for the child. That would get a lot more pushback than just skipping that stop altogether.

Something you could do is save money in a jar (if you typically pay in cash) or keep track of it (if you pay by card) and at the end of the month, do a fun little family thing with it. Depending on how often you go and how much you usually get, this may be a little thing or a big thing. But as the year continues on and they all compound, it would be more and more (until at some point, there is no more “we avoided Starbucks today” because it’s not on your radar any more).

Or use it to buy new healthy foods that you might not otherwise try. There are all sorts of unfamiliar fruits and vegetables available.

As far as breakfast … I hate breakfast. For me. For The Kid. It’s just a pain. This might be because we’re night people living in a morning person world.

For a while, his preferred breakfast was plain yogurt with added frozen fruit, usually blueberries. As the weather got cooler, he’d ask for the blueberries to be defrosted first. And then he just didn’t want yogurt any more at all.

He’s been eating toaster waffles for the last few months. For a few weeks, it was with maple syrup, but we switched that to blueberries. I defrost them, mash them a little (we learned quickly that unmashed blueberries roll off of waffles), and spread them on his waffles, and he’s happy.

With us on break, I took the time to make steel-cut oats. The texture of steel cut is superior to rolled. (There is no nutritional difference, assuming plain in both cases.) I added frozen fruit, and he’s happy. I will see if I can remember to start the water when I wake up (instead of when I’m actually ready to go in the kitchen), and then this will be breakfast once school starts again.

Yes, you can make steel cut in the slow cooker overnight but not just one serving. And reheated oatmeal is not delicious.

I really like frozen fruit in fresh oatmeal. The hot oatmeal thaws the fruit; the cold fruit cools the hot oatmeal. It’s ready to eat right away.

As for the honey…

Monkey see, monkey do. They could try plain yogurt with fruit together…

Popsicles: I have popsicle molds. We usually use banana and one other fruit (sometimes two), make a smoothie, and freeze it in the molds. No juice. No sweeteners. Just fruit, and a little water if needed to get it to blend. When it’s warmer out, he’s amenable to smoothies for breakfast as well, but it’s really more work than I want to do in the morning. (The oatmeal is going to push my limits.) But he loves breakfast popsicles.

Snacks: he has cherry tomatoes, apples, bananas, dried mango, plantain chips, almonds, cashews, peanuts all available and within reach. He can have any of them pretty much whenever he wants. There are other things that will be his Favorite Thing for a short time and they’ll rotate in and out. Occasionally he likes Babybel cheeses, or string cheese. Every now and then, we’ll mash an avocado, add salsa to it, and eat that with chips.

If you have questions, you can always contact me. I don’t post anyone else’s story or question or whatnot here without permission.

Posted in audience participation

Community project for 2019

I’ve seen an idea several times where you write down a positive thing each day (different variations of positive, but all more or less the same) and put it in a jar, and at the end of the year, you dump and read the contents of the jar.

I’d like to do that here, with you. Here’s how it will work:

Email me (heat.weirdlastname at gmail) any day/every day with:

  • something great
  • something funny
  • something that made you smile
  • something that made you warm and fuzzy
  • something that made your day

(One of those—not one of each!)

I’ll collect them and share them back with you through the email list. (Just content—no names.) I’ll share them each week, partially so there’s not an endless list at the end of the year, and partially because I don’t want to hog all the goodness for myself.

A kind of stone soup for positivity. Because we all could use more positivity.

Cool? Join us!

How? E-mail me (heat.weirdlastname at gmail) with what address and name you want on the list, and I’ll add it. (I don’t know how to embed that here—sorry.) Emails come out once a week, currently on Wednesdays. So the next one is tomorrow.

Happy 2019!