Food for Thought

Nutrition, Fitness, and Wellness articles for busy women who want to lead a healthy, fulfilled life they love.

Are You Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde With Your Food?

Are You Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde With Your Food?

Halloween may be behind us now, but one of the scariest parts of the year might still be to come. We spend months working towards a healthier lifestyle, and things are going great all year long—that is, until the holidays hit. When we’re surrounded by food for an entire season, you might feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde trying to hold back on overindulging. 

Halloween is classic for bringing out our darker, munchy side. Those fun sized candies make it easy to justify just one, and then just two, and then just one more after that until you’ve eaten half the bag without even realizing it. This pattern makes it easy to feel icky and guilty about taking a detour from all the progress you’ve worked towards all these months. 

Thankfully, the holiday season doesn’t have to mean impersonating Dr. Jekyll by eating nothing but kale salads, or acting like Mr. Hyde and going overboard on the sweets. 

Here are a few of my best tips for enjoying the holidays with a little bit of balance between the two. 

 

  1. Be Intentional About What Treats Are Entering Your Home—and Your Mouth.

 

You might feel like it’s important to have Christmas cookies or hot cocoa on call at all times during the winter months, but having these in your home all the time can make for a lot of unnecessary temptation. You know better than anyone else what you can and can’t handle, so if you know that having them around will make resisting unbearable, don’t do it. Be intentional about deciding when you’ll splurge on a holiday treat, how much you’ll be having, how much you want your kids to have, and then make a conscious decision about how much of that treat you’ll keep in the house so that you don’t have too many leftovers tempting you. 

 

  1. Have a Special Treat of Your Own That Isn’t Going to Lead to a Lot of Guilt.

 

Think about what your favorite treats are and what it is you love about them, and then find a healthier alternative that you can keep around. For example, I love peanut butter cups, so around Halloween, I tried alternative peanut butter snacks to curb my cravings. I snacked on delicious apples with peanut butter, toast with peanut butter and banana, and even a powdered peanut butter and chocolate shake, and these were all tasty treats that satisfied my peanut butter craving. 

 

  1. Enjoy in Moderation. 

If your Thanksgiving just isn’t complete without a slice of pumpkin pie, or you can’t enjoy decorating your tree without a Christmas cookie in hand, that’s okay, too. The important thing to remember is that life is all about moderation. You can absolutely indulge in treats, but the trick is to plan ahead, have really high quality treats, and decide how much you’re going to have so that you don’t end up going overboard.

 

What’s your favorite treat for the holiday season? Let me know in the comments!

Posted - 11/17/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

Have More Fun With Your Food

Have More Fun With Your Food

Are you the type to put up your Christmas decorations the second Halloween ends, or do you wait until the turkey has its time to shine before a single light comes up? Either way, ready or not, the holidays are approaching fast.

Our holiday season might look a lot different in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but even if you’re doing a lot less socializing than usual, I would be willing to bet that your holiday season is still going to be filled with food. Between huge dinners and endless amounts of Christmas cookies, food is always a constant in the holiday season, and this year will be no different. 

While every bite of your food should be enjoyed, the yummy treats that come with the holiday season can lead many women to begin to stress. If you’ve been working hard to reach your goals, it’s understandable that the idea of so much food surrounding you can make you worry about losing your progress. This can make it easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to diet in preparation for or during the holidays. 

Personally, I think it’s way more beneficial to have fun with your food, and that’s what I’ll be doing this holiday season. 

Recently, I’ve really been focusing on my macro balance (your macros are protein, fat, and carbs). I’ve been working on rebalancing how much of each I’m consuming, and I am so excited about the results I’ve seen. While I don’t love the idea of tracking what I’m eating, I’ve found that tracking my meals in this season has helped to keep me within the balance of where I want to be. 

I'm feeling better, with healthier digestion and more energy. Because I’m really focusing on the tracking part of nutrition, I’m finding that I have a lot more variety in my diet than just sticking with my usual go-to favorites. 

I'm being really intentional right now about incorporating new foods into my diet to keep things fun. One snack that I’ve been loving is natural roasted garlic hummus with mini rice cakes. It’s a great snack to have before going to bed, and it satisfies my craving for something savory in the evenings. I’ve also reverted back to one of my childhood favorites: apples or bananas with peanut butter. This snack almost feels like a comfort food because I loved it as a kid! Keeping track of my meals gives me the freedom to introduce more variety and have more fun with my food. 

Introducing more variety into your food choices helps to keep things fun and prevents your food from feeling boring. 

Tracking what you eat as you introduce new and fun snacks allows you to ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet and getting in all the nutrition you need and the deliciousness you want. 

As a key component of introducing some of that fun and variety to the world, we recently had our first Perfect Pairings event, and it was *so* much fun! We cooked up a delicious meal, enjoyed perfectly paired wine, and had a great night of community. If you’re looking for more variety in your own meals, I would love for you to join us for our next Perfect Pairings event happening December 4th at 6:30pm eastern time! Grab your spot now for a night of delicious food, drink, and company here! 

Have questions about reducing stress or introducing more fun foods to your diet? Hit reply and let me know what’s on your mind!

Posted - 11/10/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

Bite-Sized Goals to Reach Elephant-Sized Dreams

Bite-Sized Goals to Reach Elephant-Sized Dreams

Think back for a moment: what were your aspirations for 2020 back in January? The beginning of the year is a time when people across the world traditionally kick off new goals, but very often, those goals are forgotten by the time February rolls around. 

I was in Newport, RI recently, and while I was there, I kept being pulled back to the idea of goals. So many people had goals planned for 2020, and one of two things happened. For some, COVID hit, and that sent all goals out the window, and for others, the long break from their regular routine meant being able to double down and work extra hard to achieve those goals. 

2020 looks different for everyone, and the way you achieve your goals does, too. 

How do you achieve your goals? There’s an old saying - “Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.”  Personally, I like to approach goal achievement just like I’d approach eating an elephant: one bite at a time. 

Breaking your big goal into small, achievable goals that you can work on week to week makes it so much easier to actually reach that spot you were aiming for. 

I mentioned being in Newport, and you might be wondering why. I was there to take pictures for my website and social media so that I have some fun moments to share. But honestly, when it comes to being in the spotlight or being behind the scenes, I would much prefer to stay behind the camera and help someone else be the star. 

However, one of my biggest goals is to help other people get healthy, and that means being visible on social media so that I can meet and help more people. My big goal is always to help others lead a healthy lifestyle, so that means that one of my bite-sized goals has to be creating content that allows me to be visible. 

My experience in Newport reminded me that achieving those big goals and dreams is going to mean stepping outside of our comfort zones. For me, that meant being in front of the camera.  For your health goals, that can look like a lot of different things. It may mean you branch out and try a new food that you can’t be sure you’ll like, or it might mean trying out a form of exercise that you haven’t done before to see how your body responds. It may mean looking for new ways to recharge so that you can keep going until you meet your goals. 

My challenge for you today is to consider how you will be stepping out of your comfort zone so that you can reach your goals. What small steps can you take to achieve the big dream?

It might not be comfortable, but it will be so worth it!

For now, let me know in the comments: what’s that big goal you’re trying to reach, and what bite-size goals are you working on to achieve it? 

Posted - 11/03/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

Food, Fun, and Regret: Indulging in Deliciousness Without the Added Layer of Guilt

Food, Fun, and Regret: Indulging in Deliciousness Without the Added Layer of Guilt

It happens to us all: we go out or serve up a delicious meal, complete with fun flavors, yummy drinks, and the perfect company to tie it all together. You laugh and talk all evening, but once you get home, that sinking feeling hits you. You’ve just gone off your meal plan for the week, and you’re now starting to have some food regret.

When that feeling of, “I really shouldn’t have done that” hits, the best thing to do is to remind yourself that it happens. All of us are prone to going a little overboard sometimes when we’re in the moment, and that can lead to feeling guilty for our choices. 

While this is completely normal, the truth is that this food guilt is really just self sabotaging. You’ve just had a great meal, delicious wine, and new memories of the enjoyment you felt during it all, and then we allow ourselves to take it all away by tainting the memory with a thick layer of guilt. 

My suggestion when you’re feeling food guilt is to admit it to yourself that you maybe didn’t make the best of choices this time, but instead of dwelling on it, give yourself some grace. The best thing you can do is to pick back up where you left off and jump right back into healthy habits. 

We all go a little crazy every now and then, and you can either let yourself dwell on your choice or you can move on, decide to do better next time, and get back on the wagon. 

The truth of the matter is that while making healthy choices is essential for a long and happy life, life just isn’t about eating grilled chicken salads for every meal of every day. It’s about enjoying amazing foods and drinks when they make their way to the table, and making memories of the fun and the company that comes with it. 

Everyone should be able to enjoy dinner with their loved ones without dealing with a guilty conscience. Life is all about moderation, and you should absolutely allow yourself to indulge every now and then.

At the end of the day, that one meal that doesn’t exactly fit in with your plans isn’t going to keep you from reaching your goals. 

Of course, everything in life must be done in a balance… You can occasionally enjoy that night out with your friends and family without feeling like you’re setting yourself back, but it shouldn’t be an everyday thing. With balance and moderation, we can enjoy those nights out with great food and a drink or two without sacrificing our health goals. 

So the next time a friend invites you for dinner or someone shows up to work with a yummy treat that you hadn’t planned on, let yourself enjoy that experience without guilting yourself about it later. Life is too short. Make healthy decisions, but don’t deprive yourself of delicious moments. 

Interested in learning more about food guilt and how to create more healthy meals that feel like cheating?  Join me over in my Never Diet Again group, where you’ll find even more helpful info and a whole community of like-minded women who want to make healthy choices for a lifetime, not just a moment in time.

 

 

Posted - 10/27/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

Balancing Health, Wellness, and Routine in a Year Where Normalcy Just Doesn’t Exist

Balancing Health, Wellness, and Routine in a Year Where Normalcy Just Doesn’t Exist

Everywhere I turn, I keep hearing about how overwhelming this year has been. Between kids at home doing remote learning, trying to work or even run a business, maintaining a healthy household, and having to worry about the health and safety of our families, it can seem impossible to maintain our sanity. A lot of people have had it with 2020. 

These feelings are completely fair and understandable. This year crashed down on us all in a way that no-one could have expected, and that leaves even the most prepared of us feeling blindsided and overwhelmed. Now more than ever, it is so important to give yourself those little breaks and cut yourself some slack to maintain your mental and physical health and keep yourself from breaking down.

Here Are a Few Quick & Simple Ways You Can Work Towards Creating More Balance During This Stressful Season

1. Take a Deep Breath to Recenter Yourself. 

Right now, none of us are immune to that feeling that anything can change at any time. Any time things start to feel too tough to handle, take a few deep breaths so that you can reset your mind and get yourself in a better place. 
Lately, I’ve had to do a lot of this in my own life. I have a 16 year old son who is, thankfully, pretty self sufficient, but that doesn’t mean that everything goes smoothly all the time. Just recently, his in-school learning came to a halt as his school developed a possible case of COVID, bringing us back to remote learning for a few days. Of course, this threw off our routines, and I had to remind myself to take that deep breath and complete my workout in order to be a patient person that day.

2. Give Yourself Space for Breaks.

I'm a firm believer in taking breaks—and that goes for our children, as well. On days that just seem truly overwhelming, there’s no harm in taking them for a little drive with the music on just to clear everyone’s heads. Or get outside for a walk or jumping in a pile of leaves. (Sometimes a 5 minutes dance break in the house will do the trick!)

If everyone needs a break from each other, don’t feel guilty for giving them some headphones and extra screentime while you take some reset time for yourself. Everyone will recover from having skipped out on whatever you skipped out on, and you’ll all feel refreshed from having taken that time to reset.

3. Make Fresh Air and Movement a Priority at the End of Every Day.

My son and I usually go out around 5:30 for a daily walk, which allows us to take a physical break from the rest of our day. For me, this is a great way to ensure that I’m stepping away from my screen and not keeping myself in work mode once the work day is done. It also helps me to shift my mindset so I can focus on the environment around me, the fresh air in my lungs, and time spent with my family instead of in my office. 

Of course, there may be days when a long break isn’t an option, but even then, find a way to prioritize your wellness with a quick step outside, a few deep breaths, or even a moment spent ‘hiding’ in the bathroom to help you clear your headspace.

4. Ask For Help

This year has been full of overwhelming and unexpected moments. No one saw the remote learning, social distancing, work from home season coming, and that element of surprise left so many of us feeling unprepared. 

Now more than ever, those of us who like to be self sufficient and are used to things running smoothly all the time might need to do the one thing that can be the most difficult for us: ask for help. 

When you’re the one planning the workouts, weekly meals, and playdates, it feels nice to know that you have it all under control. And it is also important to remember that you don’t have to be alone in that. Get comfortable with the idea of phoning a friend, a mentor, or a fellow parent, to help you brainstorm ideas and maybe share some of the responsibilities during a time that is a learning curve for us all.

When everything is so wildly unexpected, the days can feel overwhelming, and it might feel natural to put your health on the backburner, but what I know is that - now more than ever, you have to prioritize yourself and your health, both body AND mind. 

During those moments when you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself again and again that this is just a moment in time, and it will soon pass. Tomorrow is another day and opportunity to refresh and try again. 

Have questions about maintaining sanity when normalcy doesn’t really exist anymore? Pop any questions in the comment section! And as always, if you want to connect with other like-minded ladies as we navigate this challenging season, please join me over in my Never Diet Again group.

Posted - 10/20/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

Why It’s Important to Make Time For Joy (Yes, Even Right Now)

Why It’s Important to Make Time For Joy (Yes, Even Right Now)

As we head into the last quarter of 2020, I’m hearing the same complaints from the women in my coaching programs and online groups over and over again. Everyone is stressed out. Life feels really heavy at the moment, and despite the fact that we’re staring down the barrel of the holiday season, there’s just not much joy going around.

Fair enough! Life IS really heavy right now. Especially for women with kids, juggling work, family life, and homeschooling/virtual school has proven to be an immense challenge this school year. If you don’t feel like you have time leftover for “me time,” you’re far from alone.

Here’s the thing: Right now and always, it’s absolutely crucial to “put your mask on first,” as I like to say. 

Women have a tendency to want to take care of all the people in our lives … But the fact of the matter is, we can’t take care of our families, our businesses, or our friendships effectively if we aren’t taking care of ourselves.

So what does taking care of yourself look like given our current circumstances?

If you ask me, it means finding opportunities to create more joy in our daily lives. That will look different for everyone depending on what your interests are.

For me, it means keeping up with my morning workouts no matter what, going on lots of walks, and treating myself to amazing food and fine wine on a regular basis. For you, it might mean cuddling with your dog, reading a great book, getting a massage, or going for a run.

However you do it, I challenge you to create time in your week for something that makes you feel genuinely joyful. Even if it’s only five or ten minutes, the mental break will leave you feeling far more equipped to deal with the everyday challenges you’re facing right now. 

For now, let me know in the comments—what’s your favorite way to decompress when life is stressful? Answer below!

Posted - 10/13/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

The Missing PEACE in Our Lives

The Missing PEACE in Our Lives

The Missing PEACE in Our Lives

An Interview With Mind/Body Coach, Jennifer Jackson

 

Making healthy choices is important for a lot of different reasons, but perhaps one of the BIGGEST reasons is that poor health robs us of our peace and joy in life. Perhaps no one understands that better than Mind/Body Practitioner Jennifer Jackson.

 

Jennifer is a Mind/Body Practitioner who helps women over 40 end the struggle with food cravings, emotional eating, self-sabotage, and yoyo dieting. In her business, The Missing Peace, Jennifer works with women (both as individuals and groups) to move through her signature PEACE process:

 

P - Prepare Your Personal Plan.

E - End Emotional Eating.

A - Accept Your Awesome Self.

C - Cede Self-Sabotage

E - Evolve Your Habits

 

As you can see, a few of the core components that Jennifer teaches align beautifully with my philosophies around health and nutrition.

 

… So of course I had to set up a time to chat with her! I deeply respect Jennifer’s approach to health and wellness, and I was eager to gain a more in-depth understanding of her PEACE philosophy as it applies to the healthy living strategies we already have in place.

 

Per usual, Jennifer didn’t disappoint! Our interview was chock full of incredible tips, inspiration, and guidance to help women like you and me stay in control of our health and maintain our sense of inner peace and self-worth as we work to create healthier, stronger bodies.

 

You can check out my full conversation with Jennifer in the video below. Then, click here and get all the details on her upcoming workshop!

 

As always, I hope you stay well in the week ahead and that you’re making good choices to create a life you love. If you have any questions about Jennifer, our conversation, or anything else, be sure to drop them in the comments!

 

Posted - 10/06/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

Eat More Amazing Food, Drink More Fabulous Wine, & Live a Healthy Lifestyle. Here’s How.

Eat More Amazing Food, Drink More Fabulous Wine, & Live a Healthy Lifestyle. Here’s How.

If someone had told me in my early-20s that I’d someday become a Nutrition Evangelist, past-me probably would have had a LOT of questions. After all … I LOVE good food. While my palate wasn’t super refined in my early 20s, my adoration for great meals and good wine/beer were solidly in place. And as I’ve grown older and traveled the world, that love has only intensified.

So when someone says something to me along the lines of, “I wish I could have X, but I’m trying to make healthier choices,” my heart breaks for them a little. Because as a Foodie AND someone who struggled to make healthy choices for many, many years, I know how hard it is to feel like you have to choose between your favorite foods/experiences and trying to make healthy choices.

In my years of working with women to make more sustainable choices around health and nutrition, it’s come to my attention that most women don’t understand how to comfortably allow for indulgent food and wine in a healthy lifestyle. We’re taught that maintaining our weight and making healthy choices are pretty all-or-nothing—we treat dieting as if it's a way of life and refer to our favorite foods as “splurges” that we later have to atone for at the gym. Yikes!

I once shared that attitude, but thankfully, through YEARS of education, trial and error, and learning more about the cuisines I love most, I’ve realized: We DON’T have to choose between food/wine or being healthy. Enjoying incredible meals and fitting comfortably into our clothing are NOT mutually exclusive. 

Which is why I’m so excited to introduce you to …

 

PERFECT PAIRINGS: Serving Up Healthy Food & Wine With Wisdom

A Virtual Cooking & Wine-Tasting Event

Co-Hosted by Dawn McGee, Debbie Brosnan, & Lisa Greig

During this event, my co-hosts and I will be sharing …
 

  • A delicious, healthy recipe created by Personal Chef Debbie Brosnan (of The Effortless Kitchen)

  • Two carefully curated wines (one red and one white), hand-selected by Wine Consultant Lisa Greig

  • Some insights around incorporating more surprisingly indulgent yet healthy foods and wines into a healthy lifestyle (from Yours Truly!)

Grab Your Tickets Right Here!
 

If you’re interested in learning more about the relationship between food, wine, and your health—or if you’re just interested in a virtual social hour where you can meet more like-minded women in our community!—then I hope you’ll join us for this night of flavor and fun. 

Email me at dawn@dawnmcgee.guru if you have any questions! Otherwise, I’ll see ya at Perfect Pairings. :)

 

Posted - 9/29/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

How to Create the Healthy Life You Want—And Still Have the Time & Energy Left to Actually Enjoy It

How to Create the Healthy Life You Want—And Still Have the Time & Energy Left to Actually Enjoy It

You want to eat better, move more, make time to recharge, and live an all-around healthier lifestyle … But some days, our crazy long to-do lists make this feel absolutely impossible.

The result? Wellness becomes a chore. When this happens, we either cave in and disregard our healthy choices—or we force ourselves to keep up our good habits, but we resent them a little bit.

Have you ever felt like that?

As a Nutrition Evangelist, it would be easy for me to sit here and say, “Just make better choices! Just get off the sidelines of your life, eat healthier, and go live a life you love!” But without explaining HOW to actually do that in a practical, sustainable way, that advice falls flat.

So today, I’m going to share just a few really simple tips that I hope will help you go from wishing you could live a healthy life you love, to taking actionable daily steps to finally make it happen. Because little changes can make a huge difference!

A Few Easy, Healthy Fixes That Have Made a Huge Difference For Me

  1. Cook Once, Eat Many Times.

Health and wellness are my passion. Cooking? Not so much. If you’re anything like me, you want to eat delicious, healthy food, but you don’t want to spend a ton of time and energy in the kitchen every evening. The trick here is to make simple, large meals that you can eat for several days at a time.
Personally, my Instapot was the best gift I never wanted—it helps me make large, hands-free batches of food that I can use for 3-4 days worth of meals, easily. Roasting a chicken is also a great way to feed my family for several days. Get creative or check out Google for tons of quick, large-batch recipe ideas.

 

  1. Eating Al Fresco

Sometimes, my clients tell me that they have a hard time finding time to eat well AND move AND recharge every single day. But who ever said your healthy activities couldn’t do double duty? For me, eating and recharging go hand in hand. I love to eat outside because I get to fuel my body with whatever yummy, healthy meal I’m having, while getting some fresh air and a change in scenery.
This may not be for everyone, but even if eating outside isn’t your thing, you can find enjoyable ways to group your Triangle of Health activities together.         

 

  1. Walk this Way

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but that’s because it works! An easy way to get more movement on days where you feel like you don’t have time for a full workout is to simply incorporate more walking into your regular tasks. Park a little further away from wherever you’re going. Take the stairs when you can. Put a little sprig in your step and walk a little faster between activities to get your heartrate up. It’s a small thing, but it will burn your calories, strengthen your muscles, and maybe even perk up your mood.

 

If you enjoyed these tips—or if you have some tips of your own to share!—I would love to see you in my program,  Reclaim Your Life, One Bite At a TimeⓇ. It’s for women just like you, who want to get off the sidelines and get back to living a life they love. Check it out right here.

 

Posted - 9/22/20 (Tue) Read more...

 

Can Food Be Both Healthy and Fun?

Can Food Be Both Healthy and Fun?

Can Food Be Both Healthy & Fun?

How to Eat Well, Mind Your Nutrition, & Love Your Food All at the Same Time

Recently, I feel like I’ve been having the same conversation over and over again. For some reason, a lot of people seem to be under the impression that they either have to choose between enjoying their food OR being healthy. Diet culture has deluded us into believing that “eating healthy” is synonymous with foregoing  most of our favorites in favor of grilled salads ad nauseum.

 

Do you feel that way, too? If so, I’ve got great news for you: Eating well, minding your nutrition, and loving your food are NOT mutually exclusive!

 

In fact, as a Nutrition Evangelist, I eat healthy foods that taste amazing and leave me feeling satisfied every single day. My passion in life is showing people that taking care of our bodies doesn’t have to come at the expense of eating boring, tasteless, or redundant meals.

 

How I Create a Variety of Healthy, Interesting Meals

For me, having a wide variety of delicious flavors to choose from in my life is absolutely essential … But it’s not enough for a meal to only be delicious. It also has to be nutritious, PFC balanced, and on most evenings, relatively simple/quick to put together.

 

So how do I accomplish this? It’s actually pretty simple! It just involves a little bit of planning. Every week, we stock our refrigerator with a variety of lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. In my pantry, I keep a fairly impressive collection of spices, oils, and vinegar. And we keep our wine rack stocked with a range of delicious fine wines, including both interesting new bottles and old favorites. 

 

The result? Easy access to pretty much all the ingredients I could possibly need to whip up a yummy, healthy meal in no time. Most recently, we had sauteed scallops on a bed of spinach, seasoned with dill and garlic, paired with some fresh strawberries and fresh peppers … and accompanied, of course, by a glass of my favorite tempranillo wine. YUM!

 

How Can You Start Creating More Interest in Your Healthy Meals?

It all starts with changing up your flavors and getting adventurous with new seasonings and spices! You don’t have to overhaul your whole menu at once, but if you take intentional steps towards incorporating more healthy foods you love a little at a time, you’ll have a kitchen full of exciting staples in no time.

 

My challenge to you for this week is to incorporate just ONE new flavor that you’re not accustomed to. If you need inspiration, drop me a line over in my free Facebook Community, Never Diet Again! I’ll be happy to help you come up with some simple, tasty, and healthy meal ideas.

 

Posted - 9/15/20 (Tue) Read more...