Where to Start When You Struggle to Eat Healthy

Being a mom can sometimes feel overwhelming. How to handle all that stress? Is there a way to feel better - to have more energy and to feel less anxious? Yes! In the next three blog posts, integrative nutritionist Andrea Archambault is going to share with us specific tips for how to reduce the feelings of "mommy overwhelm". We've loved having Andrea speak in our Nest classes and are now excited to welcome her to our blog!

By: Andrea Archambault

What if I told you it's not about the food.  I mean, it's about the food, but it isn't at the same time. 

Many of my clients come to see me because they want to get their nutrition on track.  

As you know, I believe the food we eat can either bog us down or help us thrive.  A healthy gut leads to a calm mind and an overall healthy body. And, what you put in your body makes a huge difference. So it is about the food. 

While we focus on figuring out what food works best for you in my programs, it ALWAYS goes deeper than the food.

So when it comes down to it, it isn't about the food.  What?!

I think we all intuitively know this.  Many of us say we are a "stress eater" or an "emotional eater".  We know that when we reach for food when we aren't hungry or we reach for food that we know doesn't serve us, it goes deeper.  You are absolutely right about that.

Last week I had a session with one of my amazing clients.  She is a busy mom that works full time and commutes every day with her little one.  She works hard at work and gives her son her all.  She is exhausted by the end of each work week because almost every minute of her work week is planned out. There is no time for rest.

She has been trying new foods, finding time to exercise, and focusing on getting better sleep.  All in all, she has implemented some great new habits.

BUT, she keeps going to the fried foods, sugary Starbucks drinks, and unhealthy snacks.  On top of it, when she indulges in that stuff, she beats herself up and says that she will do better next time.   

We started digging into this a bit, and we landed on the topic of self-care. 

She literally never makes time for herself.  For self-care.  (sound familiar)

On the weekend, she takes it slower, but she is always hanging with the family,  working or doing something to keep moving forward. She was ALWAYS with her son.

We started talking about taking two hours on the weekend when her husband could watch her son so she could get some self-care time. We instantly started brainstorming ideas of what she could do.  

She LIT UP! 

I could literally feel her excitement through the phone as she talked about some of the ways she was going to "indulge" and make time to take care of herself. 

As we were talking, brainstorming and talking more about the food she said, "Oh my gosh!  Wait a second!  I just realized that because I don't make time for self-care, I use food!  Instead of taking care of myself, I eat."

GAHHHHH!  You have no idea how happy I was when she said this.  I started jumping up and down inside thinking SHE GETS IT! SHE GETS IT!  

She gives herself "treats" instead of treating herself.  

So many of us do this.  We don't make time to treat ourselves.  To give our body, our mind, and our spirit what it needs to thrive.  We push through life instead, tending to our never ending to-do lists and taking care of everyone else around us.

We forget about how to take care of ourselves, and so we grab a bag of cookies or a pint of ice cream or something that will give us that bit of sweetness we are looking for.  And then we beat ourselves up for it.

The problem is, the only thing that will actually satisfy that craving is a good dose of self-care.

Something indulgent.  Something delicious to our soul.  

Now for me, that looks like a warm Epsom salt bath with a book, or a great massage, or a kundalini yoga class.

It's different for everyone, but it's important to figure out what it is for you and do it, OFTEN.

So, like I said, when you have a craving for foods that you would rather not eat, it's your body telling you that it needs something.  The hard part sometimes is listening.  

A great way to start listening to your body is to feed your soul with self-care. 

Just pick one small thing and DO THAT! 

Phonetography

I'm so excited to introduce the Nest's very first guest contributor to our blog! I always look forward to having Erin Purdy of Erin Purdy Photographer come to the Nest because any time she visits I know that I am going to get to swoon over the seriously gorgeous baby pictures she captures during our Nest Mini Sessions. Erin is an incredible photographer, a traveler, artist, wife, and mom. When she's taking pictures of our families, Erin uses her big "fancy" camera... but... she tells me that when she's capturing pictures of her own children, her phone is often her go-to piece of equipment. How does she capture beautiful images just using her phone? Today she's sharing her tricks of the trade with us.

Lighting

Photography is the study of light, so it goes without saying that lighting is the most important consideration. The most beautiful time to photograph is early or late in the day when sunlight is gentle and soft. If you’re photographing mid-day, try to find heavy shade, like on the north side of your house. Or try shooting indoors, paying attention to how the light falls across your subject or illuminates something interesting. 

As a general rule, I leave the flash off on my phone. If absolutely necessary (like taking a picture of the kids snuggled up in bed), I’ll use it, but it’s also fun to try different forms of light, like turning on a lamp or a flashlight or using another device to create the light.

Composition

Composition simply refers to how the elements in a photograph come together to create a story or visual interest. Perfectly centering your subject in the photograph makes a strong statement. I also love the rule of thirds. Imagine your screen divided 

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My 9 Favorite Products for Making Mealtime Fun... and getting kids to eat more Healthy food!

This post includes affiliate links. 

Why is at that some of the most stressful times of day for families are often meal times? I mean… shouldn’t our kids just want to eat? Should it really be this difficult?? 

Following Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding has really helped me feel less stressed during mealtime in our house. Basically, my husband and I are responsible for what, when, and where my kids eat. My kids are responsible for whether they eat and how much they eat.

This means sometimes my kids skip meals. Sometimes my kids astound me by eating their quinoa, kale, and salmon eagerly. Sometimes they eat nothing but the gobs of ketchup that they've licked off of their fingers and I don't say a word. I choke back the threats and the bribes. I smile. And I pray that they eat more tomorrow. (Which they pretty much always do...)

While I generally trust my kids to eat what their body's need, I do try to make mealtime as fun and engaging as possible. I do think that parents have the power to make healthy food appealing to kids and make them more likely to eat it! There are a few tricks I have up my sleeve, a few products I have in my kitchen cabinet, that pretty much guarantee my kids will eat more off of their plate.

So... without further adieu... my top 9 favorite products for making mealtime fun (and helping my kids eat more healthy food!)

1. ezpz Happy Mat - I LOVE this product for toddlers because these mats suction to the table, cutting down on mealtime mess and making meals less stressful for everybody! My kids love their bright colors and love that their food stays in the little divided sections.

2. Cookie Cutters - The moment I make my kids' food a fun shape they become exponentially more likely to eat it! A turkey and cheese sandwich? No thanks. Turkey and cheese sandwiches shaped like people? We'll take 5!

We like using the Funbites in our house to cut sandwiches, cheese slices, and fruit (like watermelon or cantaloupe) into fun, bite-sized shapes. We use traditional cookie cutters (any that you have around your house!) to cut sandwiches, pancakes, fruit, cheese, and meat into special shapes. 

3. Candy Googly Eyes - Okay, this may not be the most healthy choice, but it gets my kids really excited about eating. Put these cute candy eyes on your kids' sandwiches shaped like people or dinosaurs and there's no way your child will be able to resist! I also love to put these on Earth's Best fish nuggets because they are shaped like little fish and are just too adorable when you add a candy eye!

4. Learning Tower - I adore our learning tower. We use it every single day. I love that it allows my kids to be involved in cooking with me but keeps them safe! When our kids are involved in preparing their food, they're more likely to eat it!

5. Kids' Chopsticks - When we sit down at the dinner table and my kids seem reluctant to eat, taking out a pair of chopsticks is one of my first moves. Not only do chopsticks get my kids to eat more food, and healthier food, but they also allow them to practice fine motor skills and build the muscles and coordination that will help them write! We have the Chimp Sticks below which I like because they're easy to use and clean.

6. Toothpicks - I like to make "deconstructed" sandwiches or salads for my kids using toothpicks. I will stack meat and cheese on a toothpick for a different take on a sandwich. Or tomatoes, basil and mozarella cheese on a toothpick for a fun way to get my kids to eat a caprese salad. Sometimes I also just give my kids a toothpick and encourage them to use it as a utensil - stabbing their food and eating it! You can use wooden toothpicks that don't have sharp points or can try these pick-ease toothpicks that have fun animals or pictures.

7. Squeeze bottle - For this trick to engage kids in eating, you can buy squeeze bottles, or can just wash out an empty ketchup/mustard bottle and use that! I love filling squeeze bottles with pancake batter so that I can easily make pancakes of different shapes. I also love putting dressings or dips in squeeze bottles so that I can make fun designs on my kids' food or plates. A big greek yogurt letter "A" squeezed onto a slice of watermelon makes eating fun and gives my young children exposure to the alphabet!

8. Zoku Popsicle Maker - I love popsicles because, like smoothies, you can sneak lots of healthy stuff into them and your kids will still devour them! The Zoku "Quick Pop Maker" is my favorite because it makes popsicles in only 7 minutes! We use it constantly during the warm summer months.

9. The Spiralizer - My kids LOVE raw spiralized vegetables! If I put a tray of veggie spirals on the dinner table with a few colorful dips in the afternoon, I can be guaranteed my kids will get some veggies in their body that day! Add to that all of the tasty recipes that you can find online, and this is a fun and useful kitchen gadget for families.

What are your favorite products for making mealtime fun??