Yoga, Mindful Eating and Food Confidence

danielle canyon ranch
Mindfulness: the trait of staying aware in a careful deliberate manner.

Sounds simple enough, right?

We’ve all experienced it….trying to stay focused on something we’re doing but totally thinking about something else.

I really had a hard time with it on Monday, in a late afternoon yoga class. I had worked all day from home, I had my daughter with me most of the day (she’s 20 months), and I was really looking forward to the class to unwind. As a student of yoga for many years, you’d think I could just turn it all off with one step on the mat. I wish it were that easy. I still find it so hard to stay present, breath through my poses, and NOT think about my clients, my family, or what still needs to get done at home.

There are certainly times when this mind chatter comes in handy…like when you’re going for a long run and before you know it you’re back home. That’s actually pretty nice. But in yoga mindfulness is part of the practice. Being aware of your breath and actually using it to go farther in a pose or deeper in a stretch — the reward is great. You gain a feeling of accomplishment and a new confidence. This confidence allows you to go even farther in the pose the next time. Soon you are doing poses you never thought possible!

This same confidence can be achieved when it comes to food and eating. I work with women who live very hectic lives! Juggling career, family and kids, active social lives. Eating becomes something done without much thought to hunger cues, appetite, and awareness of how food makes them feel. However, just like with the practice of yoga, mindful eating – practiced consistently – will lend itself to confidence. Food confidence. And that’s what I’m all about.

Today’s tip to the ladies for creating food confidence in life is to be mindful of your thoughts. Banish the guilt, shame and otherwise negative thoughts you create around food. This practice does not serve you or manifest confidence. It’s actually counter-productive. Instead of punishing yourself afterwards, ask yourself BEFORE you eat: Is this food choice in line with my goals? Am I choosing to eat this and am I okay with it? If the answer is yes, well then enjoy it! If the answer is no, then maybe food is not really what you wanted.

Practice this consistently and you will find that you learn a lot about yourself.

This post is part of the Women’s Health Blogfest. Please read some other great tips from Women’s Health bloggers.

Angela White at Blisstree’s Breastfeeding 1-2-3 – Helpful Skills of Breastfeeding Counselors
Angie Tillman, RD, LDN, CDE – You Are Beautiful Today
Anthony J. Sepe – Women’s Health and Migraines
Ashley Colpaart – Women’s health through women
Charisse McElwaine – Spending too much time on the “throne?”
Danielle Omar – Yoga, Mindful Eating and Food Confidence
Diane Preves M.S.,R.D – Balance for Health
Joan Sather – A Woman’s Healthy Choices Affect More Than Herself
Laura Wittke – Fibro Study Recruits Participants
Liz Marr, MS, RD – Reflecting on Family Food Ways and Women’s Work
Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RD, NSCA-CPT – Healthy Women, Healthy Business: How Your Health Impacts a Powerful Business
Marsha Hudnall – Breakfast Protein Helps Light Eaters Feel Full
Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RD – A Nutritionista’s Super Foods for Super Skin
Monika Woolsey, MS, RD – To effectively work with PCOS is to understand a woman’s health issues throughout her life
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog – How breastfeeding helps you, too
Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD – Four Keys to Wellness, Just for Women
Renata Mangrum, MPH, RD – The busy busy woman
Robin Plotkin, RD, LD – Feeding the Appetites of the Culinary, Epicurious and Nutrition Worlds-One Bite at a Time
Sharon Solomon – Calories, longevity and do I care
Terri L Mozingo, RD, CDN & D. Milton Stokes, MPH, RD, CDN of One Source Nutrition, LLC – Crossing the Line: From Health to Hurt
Wendy Jo Peterson, RD – Watch Your Garden Grow

On Grilling: Lessons from a Chef

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday.

Inspired by his recent interest in grilling, FoodTV, and Bobby Flay, I hired a personal chef to cater a surprise birthday BBQ and give him a private, at-home grilling lesson.

Armed with a small bag of goodies from Whole Foods, Chef Oliver Friendly of Eat  and Smile foods (pictured) created a fabulous meal, made grilling appear easy and helped me host a Birthday evening to remember.

Meat was the star attraction at this BBQ and the menu did not disappoint. Hamburgers, strip steak and seared tuna were prepared rare, served alongside perfectly grilled red bliss potatoes, asparagus and zucchini.

We learned so much from Chef Oliver! Here a few tips about basic grilling technique that are worth noting:

– Don’t forget the salt! Salt is a key player in seasoning meat and veggies. When salting before you grill, the salt can create a caramelized coating over the meat (but you have to use A LOT because it will run off into the coals with the juice and fat). When you salt after, you get more flavor because the salt gets carried into the meat as the juices redistribute.

– When grilling potatoes, boil them first in salted water. Once again, don’t be afraid to use A LOT of salt (~1 Tbsp) to get maximum flavor. The salt gets into the potato as it cooks with the water. Boil until fork tender and then finish on the grill!

– When making homemade burgers, the trick is to properly mix the meat and seasonings with your hands! The reason why store bought burgers fall apart when they are flipped is because they are mechanically pressed. Gently roll into patties and place a thumb print in the center to avoid the “balloon” effect.

– The secret to perfect steak and burgers? Resist the urge to frequently flip! Sear on the hottest area of your grill until halfway cooked, and then flip over one time to finish.

– Let meat rest for half its cooking time to seal in juices and keep it from getting dry.

– Use canola oil — not olive oil — for seasoning and marinades. The oil is necessary to evenly distribute heat around the food, and olive oil can’t handle the high temps of grilling.

I hope you find these tips helpful at your next backyard barbecue. Please visit Oliver’s website to learn more about him and his catering and personal chef services!

Happy Grilling!

On Grilling: The Gadgets Issue

It’s grilling season and 4th of July is right around the corner!

My next few posts will be dedicated to fresh, healthy menu ideas for the backyard (or stove-top) grill.

Being the self-professed “Queen of the One-Line Recipe” I promise to deliver ideas you can whip up with ease while sipping a mojito or chasing your 2-year old.

However, before we get started, let’s make sure you have on-hand some basic grilling gadgets.

These include:

Tongs: 90% of grilling is done with tongs. Get a pair of heavy duty, stainless steel tongs with a scalloped or oval tip for easily flipping meaty steaks, sausages or veggies. If using a charcoal or smoker grill, you’ll also need a set of heavy iron tongs for moving coals and picking up hot grates.

Spatula: a large blade, bent handled spatula. You’ll need one that can get under food easily and lift it away from the grate without tearing. Silicone spatulas clean up easily and can be used on grills as well as sauté pans.

Skewers: get the long metal skewers with a flat blade design so food won’t turn on the skewer when you flip them over. You can also get bamboo skewers; they are a cheaper option but are not re-usable.

Brushes: you’ll want two different types of brushes; one for oiling the grate and another for basting and saucing your food with marinade. Look for a 15-inch angled handle brush; silicone are best for heat resistance and clean up.

Wire brush: you’ll need a wire brush for clean-up after grilling. Brass bristles are better than steel because they’re softer and won’t damage cooking grates. Look for a brush with a flat scraper at the top of the brush for cooked-on residue and a long handle makes for easier use. Cheap ones work just as good as expensive ones!

Instant-read Thermometer:
the difference between a delicious meal and an evening spent driving the porcelain bus can be only a few degrees. Look for the analog-type thermometer with a large and easy-to-read face. Cook meats to safe internal temperatures. Not sure? Let the USDA help.

get yourself some fireproof grilling mitts that allow you to pick up flaming hot metal cooking equipment without catching fire.

Get ready because tomorrow we start grillin’!