Yes! You Can Survive the Holidays!

holiday emotional eating

Emotional eating is a problem for many of us, and the holidays seem to bring it out more than other times of year.

Here we are…smack dab in the middle of holiday season. I find myself reminiscing about the old days.   I grew up in Northern Maine, part of a large family, the youngest of 8. This time of year, the house was full of family, neighbors and food…lots of food.  Some of you may be able to relate.  Most everything I grew up on was homemade, fudge to eggnog, to biscuits. But the food I grew up eating is certainly not the same as the food I find myself eating today.  These days, for better or for worse, we want convenience.  Our lives are busy and we just don’t have the time or even want to cook the way our parents did.  So how do we survive this season of madness… full of sugar rushes and crashes and our associated emotional eating triggers?  We know that sugar (and processed foods) and stress are two of the most inflammatory influences on the human body.  So how do we best navigate the holidays and still feel festive and true to ourselves?

Here are my favorite strategies to overcome emotional eating:

  1. Check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?”  “How am I feeling right now?”  Are these really hunger pangs and twinges you feel or are you just a little bored or lonely?  If you’re really hungry, eat.  If you’re not, what do you really need?  Ask your body what you really need.  Your body will tell you if you just listen.
  2. Appreciate your body. Eat foods that will fuel you and nourish you.  Don’t eat just because it’s in front of you or on your plate. Treat your body and yourself like the valuable and awesome
    Make a swap for Your Emotional Eating
    X-Country Skiing Christmas 2015 with my brother and best friend.

    work of art that it is. You wouldn’t treat a Picasso like your high school required art project, would you?

  3. Conquer sugar cravings. Defeating sugar cravings can be as easy as adding more protein to you diet. Make sure you get enough, at least 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.  Is sleep deprivation causing your sugar cravings? Sugar cravings spark emotional eating and lack of sleep can make you crave processed carbs and sugar. Reducing caffeine can help you get better quality and quantity of sleep.
  4. Navigate the holiday parties like a pro. Don’t go to a party hungry.  Eat some healthy food that will keep you satisfied.  When you get to the party, eat only a couple things that you really, really want to try.  Limit your alcohol.  The more we drink, the less we can navigate our satiated feelings. Hence, we eat more than we intended.
  5. Make healthy swaps. If your friends are giving out candy canes and cookies, give homemade ornaments instead. If friends want to meet for hot chocolate or coffee, go for a walk instead.  Explore your city and all its holiday glory.
  6. Stop! When you have had enough, stop.  This goes back to #1, listening to your body.  Bodies function best when they are not-too-full and not-too-empty…when they are just right.  So stop when you are 80% full.
  7. Enjoy! Eating is supposed to be a pleasurable experience.  Give yourself permission to feel the pleasure.  The feeling will spill over into other areas of your life.

I hope this is helpful as you navigate the last few weeks of the holiday season.

Wishing you all the best love and gratitude this holiday season.

May 2017 be your healthiest ever!

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Putting on the Winter Coat

Finding body balance through the “eating season”

Fall is here in Colorado.  Woohoo! The air is crisp.  The leaves are falling.  Winter is on the way. What a wonderful time of year.  I recently spent a beautiful weekend in Silverthorne.  I was relaxed.  I used this time to take care of me and saw it as my transition weekend, a time to rejuvenate before the darker, colder months. Summer and all its hub-bub of activity is winding down.  When we spend more time huddled indoors and less time outside, we can start to lose touch with the earth’s natural rhythms. We disconnect, and tend to ignore our bodies. The slower time of winter is on its way. winter-690395_960_720


On the flip side of the beautiful, colorful, and serene fall season is the time of year when many people start worrying.  Worrying about the “eating season”.  Halloween is just around the corner.   The eating season starts when we go through the kids’ candy stash at Halloween and ends with the last touchdown of the super bowl.  We can’t seem to help ourselves.  Am I right?

Let’s look at what’s going on.  Everything has a rhythm:  The seasons.  The Earth.  The sun and moon.  Life.  Our bodies and metabolism also have rhythms, and when we go against those natural rhythms, our bodies let us know with weight gain, ill health, allergies, etc.

This time of year, autumn, in the northern hemisphere, is a time of harvest.  This is when food is most plentiful.  As it should be.  We need to store up for the lean winter months ahead…or what used to be the lean winter months ahead.  Squirrels gathering nuts is not so different than humans craving comfort food as the weather turns cold.

The way the food supply works nowadays, however, is as if we are in a perpetual summer.  Food is plentiful all year round.  Our metabolisms are still working out the kinks of a new paradigm, a new way of eating.

So what’s a human to do?  How do we reconcile a new reality, yet still honor our body’s natural rhythm? How do we continue to be social beings and not give up our new healthy habits?

Here are a few strategies that will help you find a better balance between your body’s rhythm and your ego’s need to look good naked.

Strategies for better body balance…

  1. Accept your body just as it is.  The more you can love yourself, the easier it will be to eat healthy – not a fad diet, a healthy, real food, diet.
  2. Don’t give up your exercise routine. If you’re exercising now, yay! Keep it going! Exercise helps us feel good and stay positive during the shorter days.
  3. Strength train. Fall months are awesome for building muscle. The body needs more calories to build muscle…no better time to do that than during the natural time we want to eat more.
  4. Experiment with new, healthy recipes for soups and stews that use a variety of nutritious food. Go online or treat yourself to a new cookbook. My crockpot is my favorite kitchen tool in the colder months.  Many crock-pot or stew recipes are a great way to make a big batch of something and freeze for a later, easy dinner idea.
  5. Eat more satiating fat and protein. We don’t need as many carbohydrates as we think we do.
  6. Get outside as much as possible in the sun. This will improve your mood. All you need is 10 minutes in the sun and fresh air.
  7. Be kind to yourself. Continue your healthy habits, but don’t beat yourself up if you falter. Nobody is perfect.  We are all on a journey and sometimes we get off track.  It’s ok!  Love yourself anyway.
  8. Listen, listen, listen to your body. This is one of the toughest things to do…for me too.  This is especially true in social situations when everyone is eating and drinking and having a good time. Social situations are notorious for mindless eating.  Before you reach for any 2nd helping, ask yourself “Am I really hungry?” “Am I reaching for this just to be social?”  If you get home and you realize you’ve eaten too much, see #7 above.


This is a lot of information to digest.  But the big take-aways are:

  • Love yourself
  • Accept your body’s rhythms
  • Keep up the good habits, and if you falter, be kind to yourself.
  • Listen, listen listen to your body.

Enjoy the journey.  Enjoy the season.

If you’re in the Denver, Co area, join me November 12 for a Natural Body Wisdom presentation at Joyful Ballroom. See the calendar. or rsvp at the Meetup:

Questions or comments?  See below.

Embrace the Holidays!

Ok. You got through Thanksgiving.  I know what you’re thinking…”How in the world am I going to get myself through the New Year? How will I survive until then? The food. The stress. The expectations. The holidays are supposed to be about love and giving and celebrating.  But more and more they are about stress and rushing, trying to get more and more done to keep up with Facebook friends. Continue reading Embrace the Holidays!



GOOD NUTRITION…what does that really mean? Depending on who you talk to, it could mean raw, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, organic, or grass-fed.  Or it could be all about portion size and balance. The amount of material available in books, in magazine articles, and in a variety of online sources can cause confusion and frustration for many readers as they try to determine what eating plan is best for them. Well, let me put you at ease: There is room for all types of diets. As simple as it may seem, it all depends on how you react personally to the foods you put in your body.  You are your own experiment of “one”. No matter what nutrition plan you follow, you will lose weight, at least in the beginning.  Then, once your body becomes accustomed to your eating plan, you may plateau or even gain weight.  Even if you can maintain the weight loss, will you feel deprived?  Will you keep up the diet long-term? Does the food or “diet plan” have sufficient variety and interest to keep you engaged permanently?  No matter what “diet” or nutrition plan you subscribe to, one commonality is that we need more fruits and vegetables in our plan.  Even low-carb dieters are encouraged to eat lots of vegetables.

Look up any health organization like World Health Organization, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society; any of them, all of them have one remarkable common aspect. They all agree that we need to eat more vegetables and fruits. “Why is that?” you might wonder.  As we examine the importance of “eating a rainbow”, keep this question in the back of your mind. “What is the most important part of a carrot”?

So what is it about vegetables and fruits that are so beneficial for us?  Some might say it’s the fiber.  Fiber helps us feel full or satiated and keeps us “regular”. I would say they are right. Some might also say it’s the vitamins and minerals. I concur that they would also be right.

But really, it’s the micronutrients and phytonutrients in each piece of vegetable or fruit that benefit us the most. You might be thinking “miro-what?, phyto-what?” Micronutrients are the trace vitamins and minerals in our food, and phytonutrients are plant nutrients (phyto  means plant). According to, micronutrients and phytonutrients are “any of the various bioactive chemical compounds found in plants, as antioxidants, considered to be beneficial to human health.”   Antioxidants has become a popular term in health and nutrition in the last few years; we are told to eat foods or to drink juices which contain these “all important antioxidants”.   Why are they so vital to a healthy diet? Antioxidants are those beneficial nutrients that scavenge those nasty free radicals that run through our bodies all day every day.  Free radicals are formed just by the challenges of our every-day living. If you workout on a regular basis or have a stressful job, you are creating even more free-radicals than the average person. Think of an apple.  When you cut it open and leave it out in the air for a while, it turns brown.  Those are free radicals that oxidize the apple and turn it brown. But, if you splash some lemon juice on that same apple right after you cut it open, it doesn’t turn brown.  The lemon juice has anti-oxidants.  These anti-oxidants are abundant in all fruits and vegetables.  They are also abundant in grass-fed meats…but that’s another article.

So how do you get all those wonderful antioxidants and phytonutrients in your daily eating plan?  Great question! Have you ever heard of “Eating a Rainbow of Colors”?  Easy to say, but not so easy to do every day.  When you make your food choices each day, think color. The more color you get on your plate on a regular basis, the healthier you’ll be.  How healthy?

Benefits of Eating the Rainbow:

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating as few as 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day has an inverse relationship with cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduced risk of cancer. Intake of fruits and vegetables is negatively correlated with several types of cancer. In other words, the more the merrier.
  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer disease
  • Reduced age-related functional decline
  • Reduced oxidative stress, therefore reduced chronic inflammation
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced abdominal fat mass and significant reduction in triglyceride levels- according to a recently published study in the Journal of Pediatrics.

According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the more fruits and vegetables you combine together, the more additive or synergistic the effect of the antioxidants.  This equals a bigger benefit.  Keep in mind these benefits are from whole, real food, not multi-vitamin and mineral supplements.

So let’s take a look at each color of the rainbow and what some of those foods look like.

Red: tomatoes, strawberries, red peppers, pink grapefruit, cranberries, watermelon.

Orange: oranges, carrots, pumpkin, squash, cantaloupe, kumquats, mango, peaches, sweet potatoes.

Yellow: lemon, yellow squash, pineapple, pears, white grapefruit, yellow apples, yellow onions, yellow squash. Some individuals might say corn, but remember that corn is really a grain and not a vegetable.

Green: broccoli, collard greens, cucumbers, green beans, green peppers, kale, spinach, avocados, asparagus, arugula, artichokes, bok choy, celery, endive, limes, sno peas, snap peas, zucchini, assorted green herbs…you get the picture.

Blue, indigo, violet: blueberries, eggplant, beets, acai, purple grapes, plums, boysenberries, elderberries, red onions.

White: Asian pears, cauliflower, banana, coconut, mushroom, onion, jicama, white asparagus.

Black: dates, blackberries, black currants, black olives, dates, truffles.

So what are the beneficial antioxidants in each fruit or vegetable? Honestly, I don’t know all of them, but I know some of them: lycopene in tomatoes, beta-carotene in squash and carrots, anthocyanidins in berries.  But I don’t get hung up on the individual nutrients. I love to eat the whole food and get ALL the nutrients that work so well together…just the way nature planned. Truthfully, scientists haven’t even discovered all the valuable antioxidants, yet. We are just scratching the surface.

What are some easy ways to incorporate vegetables into your meals? The number one way…pulverize and disguise. When you make any kind of sauce, pulverize and blend in some carrots, zucchini or beets. I will bet that no one will notice. When making burgers or meatloaf, grate some fresh vegetables and add them to the meat. This technique has proven especially effective when trying to get some children to “eat their veggies”. If eating eggs or egg whites, add some peppers, onions and spinach to the pan. Then, spread a little avocado and/or salsa on top.  When making a casserole or stew, add even more vegetables.  A great tip for those chilly winter months is to make a pot of vegetable soup, thick and hearty with vegetables of your choice.  Instead of cake or cookies for dessert, how about berries and real cream…yum.

Planning is also in important aspect of eating real food and being as healthy as you can be. Slice carrots and celery to have ready when you are hungry and looking for a snack. This will keep you from heading for the easy but oh-so-unhealthy snacks like chips, candy and granola bars. Celery, carrots, apples and bananas all taste great with a little nut butter spread on top. When making dinner, make extra servings of vegetables to have at breakfast or take for lunch.

The good news about adding more fruits and vegetables to your nutrition plan is that when you start adding more of these beneficial calories, they don’t leave room for the “bad” calories.  You feel full; your body begins to feel better; you start eating healthier by default.  The result…weight-loss.  Another benefit, once you start eating more fruits and vegetables, is that you start craving more fruits and vegetables.  It only takes the mind and body about four weeks to form a new pattern; try this experiment for a month. See if you don’t start to look and feel better, maybe even a few pounds lighter? And speaking of forming new patterns, wouldn’t it be great if your kids or grandkids ate fruits and vegetables without coercion and bribery?  Modeling is so important for a child’s development; an adult modeling good eating patterns and preparing interesting and tasty vegetables and fruits for children to eat could aid in a child’s development in a host of ways. And do not forget about the additional water you’ll be getting. Daily hydration is so vital, and fruits and vegetables are 80%-90% water.

So whether they are raw, steamed, sautéed, baked or roasted, you can never get enough fruits and vegetables in your diet. One caveat: some people may need to limit their fruit intake because of the high sugar content.  As I said before, we are all an experiment of “one”.

Now, let’s go back to my original question, “What is the most important part of the carrot?”  Well, that’s kind of a trick question, because the most important part of the carrot is…the carrot.

David Bjerklie, Senior Science reporter and Chief of Research of  Time Magazine wrote in October of 2003, and is still relevant today, “The news isn’t that fruits and vegetables are good for you.  It’s that they are so good for you, they could save your life.” Now isn’t that truly a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Even if you know about all the wonderful benefits of micronutrients and phytonutrients, most of us fall short when it comes to getting them in our bodies. My job is to show people an easy way to bridge that gap between what they know they should eat and what they really do eat. I would love to help you do the same. And it can be as taking your vitamins every day…really.

Phyllis Guy is a food enthusiast and mind body nutrition health coach.  She is a personal trainer certified with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). She lives in Denver with her 2 boys.  If you would like more information on how you can incorporate better nutrition into your daily plan, she can be reached at 303-358-2045 or visit her website . Do you like to grow your own food, Phyllis can help with that, as well: