The Real Truth about Your Body

Soul-filled Guest Post by

Karen Schachter, MSW, CHHC

There’s almost nothing so complicated for a woman than her relationship to eating and to her body. From the time we are young, the messages to look a certain way  – and eat a certain way – abound.  They are relentless, harsh and compelling. We believe them to be “truth” and we live our lives accordingly. 

Yet, the truth is, nothing about these “truths” could be further from the truth!

Here’s why:

  • We don’t find joy and peace in our bodies through restrictive dieting and deprivation (and then binging, and depriving, yet again). 
  • We don’t find freedom in our relationship to food and our bodies through guilt,  judgment or shame. 
  • We don’t experience a resolution to our cravings through denying them and ignoring them.
  • Hating our bodies never ever leads to loving them (even if they temporarily please you by getting to your “ideal” weight).
  • We don’t experience the fullness of our lives when we’re spending all our time and energy trying to achieve our “goal weight.”  Instead, we miss out. A lot.

So here are some alternative “truths” that may help you shift your beliefs, your actions, and your ability to joyfully live IN this body of yours:

Your body is the most important, the most intimate, the longest-standing relationship you will ever have.  EVER.  You are born in her, and you will die in her. Yet, I am guessing that, like most women, you are treating her like sh*t. Or maybe, like others of us, you’re simply ignoring her needs?

It’s ironic: We women are SO good at intuitively recognizing – and trying to meet – the needs of others. We’re great at cultivating relationships. We’re gifted when it comes to listening, validating and empathizing with others.  Yet we generally stink at listening to, loving, and deeply caring for this very being connected to our head: Our body.   

Instead, we ignore her, deny her needs, cut her off, deprive her, overstuff her, feed her stuff that makes her feel sick, call her names, judge her relentlessly; we allow a number to determine how much she gets to eat and we allow another number (on a scale) to determine her self-worth.  

(Would you EVER say to a friend, “You GAINED 2 pounds! I am not eating with you today! I am not listening to your needs today! You are worthless with those added 2 pounds! What is WRONG with you?” No you would not. Never. You want your friend to LIKE you!)

And here’s another truth: Your body wants you to like her too. She wants you to befriend her. 

Your body doesn’t respond – and never will, at least in the long-run – to hate, criticism or being starved or overstuffed. Like any relationship, it needs to be tended to with care; to be listened to, respected, and treated with kindness.  It responds best, as friends do, to nourishment, love, and acceptance, despite its imperfections.

Once you begin to pay attention and befriend her, your body will give you important clues as to what she needs.  From this perspective, your cravings and symptoms are signs that something is not quite right. Just as a child screams when she is trying to say something and you’re not listening, your body is trying to get your attention with her cravings and her symptoms. She will keep “yelling” (“more chocolate NOW!!” or “stomach ache…again?”) until you pay attention.

Through your listening, and responding,  your body gets what she wants (you meeting her real needs so she can stop “yelling”) and you get what you want (she feels better and looks better because she is calmer and well-fed). Bodies truly respond kindly to our nourishing self-care. 

Although sometimes your cravings may be trying to get a physical or biochemical need met (More leafy greens! Less sugar! Lay off the cheese!), other times, your cravings may be trying to get you to recognize another simple truth: you’re hungry for more deliciousness, juiciness, or pleasure in your life.  Your body  (and your soul) is designed for pleasure, satisfaction, joy. Food – particularly the creamy sweet stuff or the crunchy salty stuff – may serve as a quick and easy, albeit temporary, replacement for your DESIRES. 

The only way to begin to love your body is to, well, begin to love your body. To give her pleasure, care, nourishment. To allow her to taste the deliciousness of fulfilled desires, of having her needs met, of being lovingly tended to.   Every body deserves this, not just skinny people. And although losing weight and being thin might feel great, if it’s done with punishment and shame and guilt, you’ll always be fighting. Wouldn’t it be much easier to “love” her to her happy weight and optimal health?

As the saying goes, “the truth shall set you free.”  In your search for freedom, peace and comfort in your body and in your eating, what truths will you hold as self-evident? Which truths are you willing to believe and which have you discovered are downright lies that you’re ready to let go of?

I can’t wait to have this conversation with you!

* * *

Karen Schachter is a licensed clinical social worker, certified health counselor, and founder of “Healthy Bodies, Happy Minds” and “Dishing With Your Daughter ™” which offer a variety of programs and services to help girls and women experience nourishment, good health and deliciousness in their relationship to food, eating and their bodies. 

Karen has combined her years of psychotherapy experience and her knowledge of nutrition to create a variety of holistic programs, including healthy eating classes for children, workshops, retreats and classes for girls as well as adults, mom-daughter retreats, and health counseling for adults, teens and families.  Her programs inspire and support people to value themselves, tune into their intuition, and nourish their bodies, their minds and their spirits. Karen believes that “good nutrition” is only one piece of the “health” and wellbeing puzzle. We must teach our children (and ourselves!) that good health and true nourishment come from paying attention to, and respecting, our bodies, our food and our lives. 

www.healthybodieshappyminds.com

www.dishingwithyourdaughter.com

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35 Comments

  1. Heather Gray
    June 7, 2010

    Looking forward to today's conversation Karen!
    My favorite quote from you: “our body is the most important, the most intimate, the longest-standing relationship you will ever have. EVER.” So true.

    About to feed my body some coffee. Any thoughts on the good and the bad of the caffeine habit? This has been a tough one for me. I've gone off it at various times, b/c I know it affects my adrenals and as a “Yin” type already, can get me racy if I don't eat proper breakfast, but I always come back to it with “well there's worse things I could be doing to my body.” Plus I really enjoy it. Would love your input.

    hugs, Heather

    Reply
  2. julie
    June 7, 2010

    I need more details. time, call in number, etc…

    Reply
    • Heather Gray
      June 7, 2010

      No call in number for our blog events. All you need to do is submit a question via the “comments” and Karen will answer you directly here at the blog.

      Reply
  3. karenschachter
    June 7, 2010

    Hi Heather! Thanks for having me here as your guest! I'm really excited to have this conversation. I know – I love that quote too – how easy it is to forget about our poor bodies as we rush around through our days and through our lives.

    As for the coffee…this is another great example of the benefits of being “in relationship with” (i.e. connected to) our bodies. The question is more: How does coffee work for MY BODY or what is MY BODY telling me about her need/desire for coffee; rather than: Is it good for me? Because the truth is, you will find some nutrition experts saying, “A little coffee is actually good for you” and others saying, “Avoid coffee. It affects your stress levels, your adrenals, etc.” So what's the “truth” here? There is probably science that could prove both “facts.”

    I personally LOVE coffee (the smell, the taste, how it makes me feel), yet I also know intuitively when I am “using” it too much, it does affect my stress levels, my weight, etc. When I feel like I “need” it to function, it's likely a sign that I'm not using it for health, but for a temporary replacement for something else. When we CRAVE something (like coffee, sugar, alcohol, etc) it's often a sign that our body (or life?) is out of balance. What is it we're really NEEDING?

    Coffee is a “great” quick fix for low energy, not enough sleep, poorly functioning adrenals, etc. So how can we actually give our body the long-term “fix” it needs (more sleep? less stress? More nourishment in the form of food that really wakes our “cells” up?)

    I think these are the real questions: Is this working for my body? how much can I have without taxing myself? Do I feel better with or without it?

    Since I am a huge believer in PLEASURE, it's also important to factor that in. if a cup of coffee in the morning is a ritual that FEEDS you and nourishes you, then by all means, it's good for you!!! (Sounds like you just need to make sure you have a good breakfast with it first!)

    So…how's that for not answering your question directly?

    Reply
    • Heather Gray
      June 7, 2010

      It's a GREAT answer. And matches my instincts about coffee. It is a big “Pleasure” for me, so I appreciate that you are for giving ourselves those things that make us happy. And I agree — that the conclusions about coffee from the experts often conflict. My own body seems to be telling me that what I am eating along with the coffee in the morning is key. If I go without protein then the coffee can lead to raciness. But if I take the time to have a good balanced and grounded breakfast (an egg with maybe multi grain toast or fresh fruit) …then I am starting my day off well. It's the days I rush through with a quick piece of banana bread and a big cup of coffee …I pay for that.

      Reply
      • karenschachter
        June 7, 2010

        See – it's really amazing that your own body really had the answer! I love that. Sometimes we turn to the “experts” to tell us what to do, when we “intuitively” know all along.
        I had breakfast with a woman this morning and she was talking about possibly consulting with a VERY expensive expert about some digestive and other issues she is happening. By the end of our breakfast, she had come to her own conclusion about what she “knew” she needed to do in her diet in order to feel better. She had “known” it all along, but wasn't trusting her body/mind. Once she realized what she needed to do, she saved herself $5000!
        (Not that there's anything wrong with experts! They often have great information – my point really is: SO DO YOU!!)

        Reply
        • Heather Gray
          June 7, 2010

          Wow — I hope your friend picked up the tab for breakfast..ha, ha .;^)
          but sage words — have also heard as “If you were your own guru, what would you advise yourself?” And often the right answer comes.
          G.U.R.U. = “gee you are you”

          xo

          Reply
          • karenschachter
            June 7, 2010

            ooh…i love that G.U.R.U. definition!

            ha ha- – she actually did buy me breakfast ;)

  4. Susan Lyle
    June 7, 2010

    Hi Karen,
    I need some healthy lunch and snack ideas that my children will actually eat. They are very picky!!! Also, do you have any website ideas for easy yummy family dinner recpes.

    Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      Hi Susan! Well- this could be an entire book in and of itself!
      I have one “picky-ish” eater myself, so I can relate.
      Some kids are picky because they are simply sensitive (taste buds can run in families), while I think we have a culture full of picky kids because there is so much “fake foods” that is SO enticing, over-flavored (with chemicals) and frankly, addictive.
      So if your kids are eating a lot of packaged foods, part of adding in yummy, healthy foods, may also involve gently weaning them off of that stuff:) . Many kids find the flavor of an apple or banana kind of boring compared to goldfish, for example.
      As for yummy and healthy lunch and snack ideas for kids: SMOOTHIES (coconut milk, mostly fruit, some veggies tossed in – they won't even notice; and sometimes whey protein powder. You can put a lot of goodness in a smoothie and then in the summer, freeze them for popsicles. SO much healthier than the packaged stuff!); apples and nut butter; turkey and cheese roll-ups (I just roll cheese around the turkey slices and stick with a toothpick to hold it together); seaweed (check out “sea gift” on Amazon – delicious – seriously!); home made trail mix (nuts, raisins, gogi berries and a few dark chocolate chips); mango and papaya pieces rolled in unsweetened shredded coconut; kale chips (a kid-favorite: bake kale, covered in olive oil, in oven at 300). How's this for a start?
      Other ideas from anyone else? We'd love to hear them!
      As for kid-friendly, family-friendly dinner recipes, you might want to check out http://www.thescramble.com.
      Another tip: Get the kids involved in the kitchen! I know it's a challenge, but the more involved they are, the more likely they will eat their concoctions!
      Hope this is helpful!

      Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      Hi Susan,
      Stefanie just posted a link to a website called http://www.OnceUponAChef.com. Looks delicious and full of good kid-friendly ideas!

      Reply
  5. Stefanie
    June 7, 2010

    Hi Karen! Do you have any tips or tricks on how to maintain balance or consistently reduce stress? I was doing well for a while but hit an overly busy period again, getting little sleep as a result, and noticed poor eating as a result. I know saying “no” does a lot to reduce a busy schedule, but sometime you don't want to say no–you want to do whatever it is and it coincides with other things, etc. If there is any system you use or tips or tricks, that would be great to hear about! Or, something you can do when you know you have a tough week? Or is regrouping afterward all you need to do?

    Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      Hi Stefanie,

      Wow! This IS the million dollar question for many of us, isn't it?
      First of all, what you said about how stress affects your eating habits is right on the money. Stress DOES affect our food choices (often when we're stressed, we reach for “quick fixes” like SUGAR and ALCOHOL and CAFFEINE to calm us down or keep us going; Stress also affects our metabolism. Our bodies DO NOT metabolize as efficiently when we are under stress. And stress also affects our health in a big way. Ditto for lack of sleep!
      That said, I can completely relate to the wish to “do it all.” At the same time, I think it's important to realize the toll this takes on us, and to make conscious choices about what we are willing to say “yes” to and how it affects us. I am a “recovered” (well, partially recovered) over-doer! I do a lot, yet there are also many things I've chosen to let go of, that I recognize no longer serve me.
      So, Stefanie, as you add things in, are there things you might be able to cut back on? Sometimes our immediate answer is “no way!” but if we look further and dig a little, we are able to recognize some things that no longer give us joy or peace or fulfillment.

      When there are those times, which are inevitable in our modern lives, where you just find that you're doing too much or you have “too much on your plate,” here are a few things you can do to support you physically and emotionally: 1) Breathe – seriously – you can “trick” your body into thinking it's relaxed (rather than under stress), which can help your health and metabolism, by the simple act of deep breathing. Take 3-5 deep belly breaths. 2) Get to bed early. I know, easier said than done. But sleep will help you handle the stress better; 3) Fortify your body with WHOLESOME foods: good quality protein; lots of veggies (especially those greens) and plenty of water. Try this green smoothie that I had this morning that added a little “zip” to my step: 1 green apple; a small handful of cilantro; some mint leaves; a cucumber; water and ice.

      By the way – I'm not sure that “balance” is the goal. I think it's JOY and FULFILLMENT. Are the things you're doing ADDING to your life or detracting from it? Add in more joy, take out those things that exhaust you and deplete you.

      Good luck Stefanie! Thanks for writing in!

      Reply
  6. Sue Rasmussen
    June 7, 2010

    Hi, Karen,

    I have always LOVED your approach to food, eating, and loving ourselves and our bodies!

    I'm sitting here in a coffee shop, indulging in a rare cup of wonderful coffee while I do some work today, so it cracked me up to see the first posts were about coffee. Most days I don't even think about coffee, yet today my body and soul really wanted some (and I'm smiling at every sip).

    So here's my question…in the article above, you wrote about listening to cravings. I find that I crave sweet foods more often than anything else. How can I uncover what the cravings are really about (if my body is asking me to eat more protein, or have more fun in my life, or rest more, or whatever the message really is)?

    Are there specific ways to slow down and listen for the messages?

    Thanks so much, Karen!!
    Sue

    Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      hi Sue! Too funny about the coffee while reading about coffee:) I'm so glad you're loving it!

      Ah…the SWEET cravings. Our bodies are designed to crave sweetness; our lives are designed to crave sweetness; and in fact, we have more sweet taste buds on our tongue than any other!! So no wonder we LOVE our sweets!

      There is nothing wrong with wanting sweetness – we just want to make sure that we're giving our body – and our souls -what they really WANT.

      There are several ways to decipher what our cravings are about: My favorite is to find a quiet place and begin to take a few deep breaths; connect to your body; maybe even close your eyes. Then pull out your journal and begin writing: Dear Body, What is it you're trying to tell me about your cravings for sweets? Tell me everything you can….
      And then let your body do the writing. Let “her” answer you. You may get some powerful clues. Is her craving physical? Emotional? Is there something she's really desiring?

      On a biochemical level, we often crave sweets when we're stressed (sugar actually affects serotonin, in the short-term raising serotonin, making us feel happier, while in the long-term, depleting it); when our blood sugar levels aren't balanced (perhaps we're not eating enough protein or fat); when we're tired (it gives us a quick lift); or if we have candida (this is a whole other story, which is too much to go into here, but essentially, if we have this yeast overgrowth, we are going to crave sweets because yeast loves sugar!).

      However, as you addressed, we may crave sweets because we are craving sweetness in our lives! Is there some “craving,” some desire, some deliciousness you've been thinking about, dreaming about, wishing for in your life? Is there some where you could “up” the yumminess factor?

      Thanks for writing Sue. I'd love to hear your insights!

      Reply
      • Sue Rasmussen
        June 7, 2010

        Hi, Karen,

        I love the idea of journaling to my body (especially letting 'her' answer me, as if she's a separate being with answers to share with me!)…thanks for that idea, Karen!

        And I'm definitely going to also look at where I'm craving sweetness in my life – I know that's something else for me to address.

        Karen, thank you so much for being so generous with your wisdom on Heather's blog today (and thank you, Heather, for creating this great forum!) You are both amazing women!

        Hugs,
        Sue

        Reply
        • karenschachter
          June 7, 2010

          I do think that talking to our bodies almost as if she's a separate being can be very powerful. We are responsible for these beings we are born into!

          Thanks for your kind feedback! It's been so much fun being here!

          Big hug to you!

          Reply
  7. JoAnn
    June 7, 2010

    Hi Karen:
    I crave sugar in the late afternoon and early evening. I have tried adding more protein at lunch which seems to help and I recently started having vegetable/fruit smoothies for a snack. I have gone sugarless for 6 months and found that I still craved it (and like it) and went back to have some sugar in my diet ( a glass of wine is sugar). I am concerned about my weight because I have 30% fat which is not healthy although I am not overweight by BMI standards.
    Thanks for your thoughts,

    JoAnn

    Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      Hi JoAnn,

      Thanks so much for your questions. More than any other time, late afternoon and early evening seem to “take the cake” (no pun intended:) as THE MOST COMMON time for cravings. Here's what I hear from clients frequently: “I am 'so good' all day, but then everything falls apart in the afternoon.'

      The truth is: When we don't get enough fat, calories, and nutrients during the first part of our day, our bodies will find a way to GET IT (although not always in its healthiest form) later on. Having protein at lunch is a great start, yet you may also want to include protein/fat during your afternoon snack (maybe some nuts with your smoothie, or a slice or two of turkey?). Some people are VERY sensitive to sugar of all kinds (wine included), and any imbalance can cause cravings later.

      However, I would also encourage you to think about what else might be going on for you in the afternoons/evenings. Are you more stressed then? Are you finally able to relax (i.e. “feed yourself”) and your wine and/or sugar is your way of “giving” to yourself? I find this with many women: We give so much OUT all day long, that when we finally unwind at the end of the day, our bodies SCREAM “give me the GOODS!!” Yet, what they may really want is more calm, more nourishment throughout the day…

      Also, you may find my answer to Sue (below) helpful as well.

      Sugar is addictive (Sue, I forgot to say this in your post). A little bit triggers a desire for more (and this is true for some of us more than others). Yet telling ourselves it's “bad” and feeling deprived isn't the answer either.

      Remember, you always have a choice. You can always have a glass of wine or a cookie, or whatever it is. The question is: Is this the best way to serve my body (and my life) in this moment? How will this affect me? What will best nourish me? You may sometimes choose the wine or the cookie or whatever, yet just be aware that you may need to support yourself with extra nourishment/nutrition in order to prevent the cravings from continuing.

      I hope this is helpful, JoAnn. Thanks again for your questions – I am sure so many women can relate!

      Reply
  8. Marsha Russell
    June 7, 2010

    My weakest moments are in the evening. I start to graze after a good dinner–usually as healthy as it gets!! But it all goes downhill as I go from marshmallows to Dove squares to popsicles to cookies. It is so depressing!!

    Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      Hi Marsha,
      See what I wrote to JoAnn about these evening cravings -they are THE MOST COMMON. So you are not alone.
      This may sound weird, but see if you might gently shift the way in which you are seeing these cravings – instead of depressing, perhaps recognize that your body is actually working REALLY hard to try to tell you something. Seriously. Your overeating of sweets at night is an attempt (admittedly, not the healthiest one) to get something balanced. To give you something you need and/or desire.

      The TRICK is to see these cravings as a powerful message. WHAT is it you need or desire- what's the first thing that comes to mind? TRUST THAT.

      Here are some questions you might ask yourself:
      -Am I tired?
      -Am I taking enough care of myself during the day?
      -Have I had enough to eat during the day (fat, calories, protein, REAL FOOD)
      -What do I really need at night?
      -What do I desire?
      -Am I getting enough pleasure in my life?
      -Am I getting enough calm in my life?
      -How else can I take care of myself at night?

      Truth is, one marshmallow may set you on a sugar “binge” if you are sensitive. In addition, sugar WORKS temporarily to calm us down, to numb us out, to make us feel better. The other truth is, it may not. It may be your mind that says, “oh, forget it! I had a marshmallow…I might as well just have whatever else i want.” Which is more true for you?

      Busting through this pattern is going to require that you find the right combo of foods during the day that gives your body enough; AND that you find the right combo of experiences (of pleasure, joy, sweetness) that help “feed” your cravings.

      In addition, as i mentioned in an earlier answer, it is NATURAL to crave sweets! Our bodies were designed for this, so don't beat yourself up for this! One of my favorite ways to give my sweet taste buds a little happiness is by getting 2% Faye yogurt and putting in unsweetened raw cocoa powder in it and swirling in some stevia. Creamy and delicious especially swirled with raspberries! I also love my coconut milk smoothies with some raw, unsweetened cocoa powder and a frozen banana! Mmmm…OR, rolling up chunks of papaya in unsweetened shredded coconut…a tropical treat.

      My point is: Don't hate your desire for sweetness. Find ways to “feed” it – on a body and soul level – that really WORK.
      And if you do find yourself reaching for a marshmallow or dove bar, get a plate, sit down, light a candle, and by all means, enjoy it. You will be SHOCKED at how staying present with our foods can stop a binge cold in its tracks.

      i wish you the very best. I know how hard this can be.

      -

      Reply
  9. Cherry Norris
    June 7, 2010

    Hi Karen,

    Thank you for your great responses today. You've already answered some of my questions in your responses to others.

    Twice a week I attend an acting class from 11-2. It's a 45 minute car ride each way so that's five hours without food since we can't eat in class. I've taken protein bars as a snack, but it's not enough and I end up with a headache. I'm not a big fan of fruit and I'm eating trying to be gluten free. Do you have any suggestions for quick, easy, portable snacks that are healthy and can be eaten on the go?

    Thanks! You're doing a great job! :)

    Love, Cherry

    Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      Hi Cherry! Thanks for your feedback:)

      First, I would fill up a water bottle with lots of water and maybe some squeezes of lemon.

      A protein bar is a good idea if it's really good quality, which is hard to find – most are “grown up candy bars” so they're loaded with “junk” and don't always sustain us really well. But you're on the right track with protein. I would take some nuts (almonds are great), some sliced turkey, and since you don't like fruit, maybe some cut up veggies (I was going to say an apple). You might also take an unsweetened yogurt (I like the 2% greek yogurts) and toss some nuts in there. Also, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you might make yourself a smoothie to drink in the car. To sustain you for that long, I might do: Whey protein powder (good quality – 2 I like are from mercola.com or Jay Robb), some light coconut milk and water, and maybe some frozen fruit (but not necessary if you really don't like the fruit).

      Hope that helps!
      I always keep some food in my car for “just in case moment!” Nuts are a staple for me:)

      Thanks Cherry!

      Reply
  10. Stefanie
    June 7, 2010

    Hi everyone, I saw Susan's post about wanted a website with recipes–I thought I'd throw out my friend Jenn's website, called Once Upon A Chef. Jenn is a former professional chef and now a mother of two cute kids. She uses high quality ingredients and knows that when things are too complicated, we likely won't make that recipe! She gives great how-to tips as well. I have made her pea and basil soup, among other things. Here is the web address:
    http://www.onceuponachef.com/

    Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      Thanks Stefanie! I remember this website from earlier! Thanks for the reminder! Everything looks delicious!

      Reply
  11. Stefanie
    June 7, 2010

    Hi again, I thought I'd share a quick recipe. At a Farmer's Market, I asked what to do with beautiul rainbow swiss chard. They told me to sautee it in olive oil and garlic and add in some raisins. I did so–chopt the stems like celerely and sauttee these first, as they need a little more time, then chop the leaves into more manageable sizes and add them in; I used golden raisins and the dish was great and easy. Even my dad who thought he didn't like swiss chard loved it!

    Reply
    • Heather Gray
      June 7, 2010

      Thanks for sharing the chard recipe, Stefanie. I've never tried it with raisins…look forward to testing that out.

      Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      I love rainbow chard – it is so healthy and it's so gorgeous! The raisins with the greens sound amazing. Thanks!

      Reply
  12. Miriam
    June 7, 2010

    I am really trying to help my 8 year-old daughter make good decisions and “own” what she puts into her body. I've been teaching her about proteins and fat (we eat a lot of nuts and yogurt. We are trying to cut down on cheese and have switched from non-fat milk to 1 or 2% and it is far more satiating).

    I do not want to overwhelm her with too much info (i.e., Glycemic index of foods or something), but I find she is still not making good choices. I know it's all about finding those teachable moments, but what's the best way for her to gain the knowledge/confidence so that when I'm not around, she'll make good choices?

    What do you recommend?

    Best!
    Miriam

    Reply
    • karenschachter
      June 7, 2010

      Hi Miriam,
      Wow! This is a fantastic question, and one without a simple easy answer.
      First, I want to commend you for what you are doing: teaching her and guiding her toward making healthy food choices.
      And I completely agree that she doesn't need to know about glycemic indexes or anything like that. However, educating her about sugar and how certain foods -and other things (i.e. sleep or not enough; movement; fun, etc) affect her body can be helpful. Just helping her to make connections. All in the service of reminding her she has a body, and that she can get to know “her.”

      When you say she is not making good choices, what do you mean specifically?

      What I think is true is that, like adults, kids love the taste of sweet on their mouths, as well as how it feels initially in their bodies. It's fun! It feels good! It's forbidden! So we have to honor this desire. At home we can make healthy “sweets' for them to enjoy (last night i made delicious, low-sugar, coconut-flour mini-cupcakes that my kids loved – I'll post the recipe if you'd like it), so we are essentially saying to them, “of course you like this – I like it too. Here's a way to have sweets that is loving to your body.”

      We have to recognize, too, that they may not yet be able to make “healthy choices” for themselves in the face of other kids eating junk (for example, my daughter went to the movie with a friend yesterday. When she came home, she announced that she had popcorn, m&ms and a slushee. I just smiled with a questioning eye, and asked, “so how did you feel with all of that??” Of course, inside, I cringed (the sugar! The corn syrup! The food coloring), but I didn't want to make a big deal, and it would have been beyond her capacity at this point to say no to that when her friends were getting it.

      Having the knowledge and confidence when we're not around happens over time. We teach; we guide; we role model; we honor their desires; we help them make connections with their bodies; we offer things in our house that we want them to be eating (this is a big one – don't have food in your home you don't want her to be eating, 90% of the time. That creates a battle. Give clear messages by filling your home with wholesome foods, and healthier treats). And we pray. We teach them to say “no” in other areas of their lives and honor themselves through all of their actions. And we realize that, as parents, we only have so much control…eventually, we have to recognize that they will have to make their own decisions. Sometimes I say this very thing to my children: You are going to be the one in charge of your body one day. Let's learn about her.

      I also think having other people teach your children is helpful. My son has loved the movie Food, Inc (he's 9). They've also loved the Jamie Oliver shows (you can google them). These things teach them and I don't have to be the one doing it all the time!

      And finally, if she really has powerful sugar cravings, i believe it's important to make sure there are no underlying “biochemical” issues that might be affecting her: blood sugar; candida; other digestive issues. Working with a naturapath/holistic person can be helpful. If there are other things (biochemically) going on, it really can be hard to make healthy choices.

      I hope this all made sense and was helpful!

      Reply
      • Miriam
        June 8, 2010

        Thank you!!! Great info.

        Reply
  13. karenschachter
    June 8, 2010

    I just wanted to say good-night and a huge thank you to all of you who participated – whether actively or by visiting and reading. I loved sharing this conversation with you all, and I hope you found it useful. Feel free to email me at karen@karenschachtermsw.com and share any insights or ideas you may have had. I'd love to hear!

    And a special big hug to you, Heather. Your vision to hold these virtual conversations help bring all of us closer to a “soul filled life.” You're an inspiration!

    Love, and good night,

    Karen

    Reply
  14. Nancy
    June 8, 2010

    Hi Karen,
    I've really enjoyed reading all of the posts and your responses. They, plus hearing you speak at an event a few weeks ago, have really put me in the right direction toward changing my mindset and developing a more healthy relationship with eating and my body, so thank you! One question I have is that you have mentioned a few times various recipes and snacks using different coconut products. I had stumbled upon a carton of coconut milk where the rice milk and soy milk are stocked in the supermarket and tried it. I liked that it had a thick creaminess without the runny or pasty tastes I find with most rice or soy milks. Could you elaborate on what makes coconut and coconut products a good food choice and what to look for whens shopping for it?
    Thanks!
    Nancy

    Reply
  15. Judy Ransom
    June 8, 2010

    So, so true! Thank you for the reminder!

    Reply

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