Intuitive Eating

Do you spend a lot of time and effort counting calories? Do you label food as being “good” or “bad?”  Is concern about your diet causing you more harm than good?  Consider ‘intuitive eating’ to develop a more peaceful relationship with food.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is an approach to eating that relies on inner wisdom to guide food choices, rather than external cues (1).  The approach was developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the 1990s.  Those who follow a practice of intuitive eating:

  • Eat when they feel hunger and stop eating when they feel full.
  • Make food choices based on both health and enjoyment.
  • Trust, respect and nourish their bodies.
  • Reject the “diet” mentality.

What are the advantages of eating intuitively?

Research indicates that intuitive eaters:

  • Are less likely to be overweight or underweight.
  • Are less likely to suffer from eating disorders.
  • Have better self-esteem.
  • Are happier overall.

One recent study compared a traditional weight loss program to an intuitive eating program (2).  People in the intuitive eating program improved their cholesterol levels, boosted their self-esteem and increased their body satisfaction.  Participants in the traditional weight loss program experienced no such benefits.

How do I start?

Try these tips to start eating intuitively.

  1. Stop the “diet” mentality.  Recognize that quick-fix diets usually fail. Resolve to making a lasting lifestyle change instead.
  2. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness signals.  Make a plan to eat when you are hungry, and stop when you feel comfortably full.  Jotting your feelings down in a journal or notebook might be helpful to you to understand what “hungry” and “full” feel like for you. Keep your energy levels up with regular healthy meals and small snacks.
  3. Stop labeling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’  Labeling foods can make you feel guilty, and “restricted” foods often feel very tempting.   The truth is, any food in moderation can be part of a healthy eating plan.  Choose foods that honor both your health and taste preferences.  Take a sensible approach and choose a diet that contains a variety of different foods from all of the food groups.
  4. Enjoy eating.  It’s okay to relax and enjoy the experience of eating.  When you eat mindfully and savor every bite, you may find that you are satisfied with less.
  5. Learn to soothe yourself without food.  Anxiety, loneliness, boredom and anger are emotions we all experience.  For some, food may provide comfort in the short-term, but eating will never solve an underlying problem or worry.  Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract and resolve your issues without using food.
  6. Respect your body.  When you stop to think about it, you will see that the human body is amazing, and it’s the only one you will have for the rest of your life.   It’s important to understand that bodies naturally come in all shapes and sizes.  Instead of judging and criticizing, try truly caring for your body with respect. The results may surprise you.

Resources:

Book: Intuitive Eating, 3rd edition by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

Website: IntuitiveEating.com

References:

  1. Schaefer JT, Magnuson AB. A review of interventions that promote eating by internal cues. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 May;114(5):734-60.
  2. Bacon L, Stern JS, Van Loan MD, Keim NL. Size acceptance and intuitive eating improve health for obese, female chronic dieters. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Jun;105(6):929-36.

One-Pot Vegetable Quinoa

Quinoa is a whole grain that is also a complete protein– it contains all the amino acids necessary for our body. It has a fluffy texture and a nutty taste.  To this dish I’ve added a variety of vegetables to introduce more flavors and nutrients.  It all cooks in one pot for minimal clean up.

One-Pot Vegetable Quinoa
Serves 2

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 8 oz. low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot and add oil, garlic, and onions. Cook until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add mushrooms and bell peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring once in a while to prevent burning.
  3. Add quinoa, tomato sauce, and chicken stock, then stir to mix everything together and let simmer for 7-10 minutes. You know it’s done when the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid and the grain looks fluffy.
  4. Finally add the tomato, corn, peas, and soy sauce.

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Nutritional Facts (per serving):

Calories: 525 | Total Fat: 10g | Carbohydrate: 90g | Fiber: 12g | Protein: 23g

With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Chili Mac

This warm and comforting meal is easy to make and tastes great all week.  The ‘Mac’ stands for the elbow-shaped macaroni noodles I typically use, but any shape of pasta will do. You can also freeze the chili (without the pasta) for up to 3 months.

Chili Mac
Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 lbs lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 large onion, diced
2 large (28 oz cans) crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can beans (black, kidney or pinto)
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box whole wheat elbow pasta, cooked according to package directions

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Directions:

  1. Sauté onion and ground beef in a large pan with a little olive oil until meat is browned.
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and spices. Stir to combine. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes. Mix in cooked pasta.

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Yields 8 servings.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 500 | Total Fat: 14g | Carbohydrate: 58g | Fiber: 12g | Protein: 36g

Dark Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Research shows that drinking tart cherry juice can aid in muscle recovery. Cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties which prevent muscle damage. A little cocoa powder gives this delicious smoothie a touch of chocolate behind every sip. If you want to increase the protein content, try adding chocolate protein powder instead of the cocoa powder.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup tart cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen cherries or frozen mixed berries
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

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Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 160 | Total Fat: 1g | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 10g | Fiber: 3g

With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

 Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables. They are mild in flavor, and rich in vitamin C and fiber. Roasting green beans gives them a “meatier” texture. This simple preparation yields a delicious side that can be paired with any main dish.

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Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 handful of green beans, ends removed (about 5 oz)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste
2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

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Wash and cut off ends of green beans. Spread on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix the beans with your hands to evenly distribute the seasoning and oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Afterwards, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

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Nutritional Facts:


Calories: 120 | Total Fat: 6g | Carbohydrate: 10g | Protein: 4g | Fiber: 7g

With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Chicken is an excellent source of protein. Skinless chicken breast is low in saturated fat and contains 30 grams of protein in just 4 ounces of cooked meat.

Marinating chicken makes the meat more tender and flavorful. It is a good idea to pound the chicken breast until it is less than one-inch thick so the marinade can soak through.

This lemon pepper marinate gives chicken a light and vibrant flavor. You can prepare several servings to facilitate quick meals during the week.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
Serves 2

Ingredients:

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2 chicken breasts 6 oz. each
1 lemon
1 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1 inch thick. Use a meat tenderizer if you have one. If not, place the chicken on a cutting board, cover it with wax paper and pound it with a hammer.

In a plastic bag mix the juice of 1 lemon, paprika, garlic, black pepper, and olive oil. Shake to mix, then add the chicken and seal the bag. Let it marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes to overnight in the refrigerator.

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When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the chicken on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with brown rice and vegetables.

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With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Fruit Custard Oatmeal

Custard oatmeal

Recently, I’ve revised my morning breakfast routine.  Here is my upgraded oatmeal recipe.  The secret ingredient?  An egg, cooked in with the oatmeal, adds a protein boost and creates a custard-like consistency.  Delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit, chopped (such as: apples, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, or mango)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk or soymilk
  • Dash of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Microwave until the egg is cooked and the oatmeal is the desired consistency, usually 4-5 minutes on high.

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 440, Total fat: 13 g, Saturated fat: 2.5 g, Cholesterol: 210 mg, Sodium: 135 mg, Carbohydrates: 67 g, Fiber: 12 g, Protein: 18 g