What’s Really Behind Your Hunger?

Weight loss and hunger are about so much more than calories consumed or “burned.” When looking to make changes to our habits, it’s important to take a deeper look into our relationship with food, body image, and ourselves.

Adrienne Youdim, MD, FACP, is an internist who specializes in medical weight loss and nutrition. Her mission is to transform the weight loss narrative to one that is both empowering and compassionate, inspiring people to live more physically and emotionally fulfilling lives.

Download this episode here or wherever you find podcasts.

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Stress and Your Immune System

I’m going to keep this short and sweet, but it needs to be said.

When you’re stressed, your body isn’t prioritizing immune health.

When you’re stressed – and this includes physical stress as well as emotional – your body’s main job is prioritizing survival of the stressor. All other functions get altered in order to survive.

Healing can only occur in a parasympathetic state. Learning to manage stress and actively rest, limiting stressful external physical triggers as well as negative self-talk, gives your body a chance to heal…which optimizes immune function.

Some of us are living as if every day we are running from a saber tooth tiger. Your body doesn’t know you’re just stressed from kids’ schedules, relationship conflicts, pandemic fear, work, sleep issues, your dietary restrictions or nutrient deficiencies, and your stressful exercise routine (yeah, that’s a stressor).

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Easy Ways to Boost Kids’ Brain Power for the Best School Year Yet

Kids are going back to school and facing loads of uncertainty and stress – more than ever before. How can we boost kids’ brain power so they can optimize their learning potential and thrive?

Patricia Wilkinson is a parent coach, mom of two, veteran teacher, and coauthor of Brain Stages: How to Raise Smart, Confident Kids and Have Fun Doing It.

In this episode, she shares many practical tools to help kids stay alert and motivated, even during the most challenging school year. Download here or listen wherever you get podcasts.

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How to Individualize Your Diet for Your Unique Body

Our bodies are so unique! The food that makes you feel amazing may make another person feel horrible.

While it is important to have freedom to enjoy the food you want to enjoy, it’s also okay to say no when your body doesn’t respond well to something.

This was hard for me to learn, and left me with “reverse food shame” for choosing the foods that are health-promoting for my body and brain.

We unpack all this on the latest episode of the podcast with guest Tracy Cromwell who recently wrote the book, Your Personal Journey with Food.

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It’s Time to Befriend Your Body

“Self-regulation depends on having a friendly relationship with your body.” 

– Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score.

You can work with your body or against it. You can force it into eating patterns that don’t work for you and your natural hunger cues, or you can ignore your body’s core needs completely and have a food free-for-all, contributing to poor sleep, mood issues, and blood sugar roller coasters.

Whether you are deep into restriction and diet culture or on the “screw-it-all, I don’t care” train, your body is still fighting for you, looking for balance.

Your body needs to feel safe in order to keep functioning in a healthy way. Chronic stress, intense exercise, yo-yo dieting, busy schedules, constant phone alerts, and an inability to deal with unpleasant emotions will take a toll on your physical well-being. The fear center in your brain, primed for your survival, doesn’t know if you’re running from an invading army in 1406, or if you’re just living the typical overstressed lifestyle of the 21st century.

When you befriend your body and learn healthy emotional regulation, and you will see your mental health improve as well. It’s allll connected.

Here are some of my favorite ways to befriend your body:

  1. Lay off the intense exercise. I know, I know. Cardio is addictive and also feels productive. Getting your heart rate up so high you can barely hear yourself think is comforting for many of us wanting to escape real life anxiety. BUT. It is still a stressor, on top of dozens of other stressors. Depending on what kinds of signals your body is sending you, it may be time to re-evaluate your chronic cardio habits.
  2. Do a body scan and check in with yourself. This is the opposite of cardio, and I promise, it’s way harder than running 6 miles. Lay in a quiet place and close your eyes. Breathe deeply, flooding your body with oxygen. Start scanning down your body, checking in with various body parts as you go. Where are you feeling tension? Where are you feeling pain or discomfort? Breathe into it, and lean into the stillness, connecting with your body. This isn’t easy, and it may be helpful to download a meditation app or try restorative yoga if you need assistance with this.
  3. Schedule intentional down time. Whether you’re taking yourself out to lunch or dinner (without being on your phone), or you’re planning a morning to be lazy and lay around the house, plan it ahead of time, proactively. I like to set aside one day on the weekend for reading time, and by reading time, I’m talking about fiction, not the usual health/educational books I devour during the week. Taking time to remove yourself from the constant GOING will help you find balance in your nervous system.
  4. Stay off social media. This really causes a flare-up of those “I’m not good enough” thoughts. It’s hard to be present and at home in your own body and life, when you’re constantly surrounded by what everyone else’s lives (and bodies) look like. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I feel so much more anxiety when I’m regularly scrolling on Facebook or Instagram. It inspires the opposite of gratitude in me, and causes me to feel unsettled and annoyed, which flows into every aspect of my relationship with myself and others I care about.
  5. Make a nourishing meal at home – and eat it slowly. Food tells your body you’re safe. Period. Rushing through the drive through or mealtime may be a survival necessity at times, but it’s sending powerful messaging to your body. Eating nutrient-poor and quickly consumed foods tells our body we are stressed and that our body isn’t safe. Depriving ourselves of calories (energy) via dieting also sends unsafe messages to the body. Planning for a meal rich with nutrients and colors, food that may take a bit of chopping and prepping, prepares your body for digestion from the moment you start. I’ve found that while I often dread getting those first veggies chopped, once I’m doing it, I find it can take on almost a meditative state for me. Signing up for a meal kit delivery is a great way to provide intentional nourishment. (Note: Green Chef is one of my favorites, and by going here and using the code spark100 you can get $100 off and enjoy free shipping.)
  6. Start re-training your brain to take the negative thoughts captive. Your negative thoughts are toxic, and they send powerful chemical messages through every cell of your body. When you talk negatively to yourself about your life situation, your body, your food choices, the state of the world, etc – you are sending a cascade of stressful messages to your body. Unfortunately, negative thoughts are addictive because they are so familiar to our brains. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome of the mind. It’s important to find tools to break away from those habitual thoughts. Having a regular practice of gratitude, journaling often, practicing mindfulness and meditation, developing mantras or reminding yourself of verses or Scriptural truths are all ways to start retraining your brain away from the the negative. My recent podcast episode with Dr. Caroline Leaf also provides some helpful tools.

Taking time to slow down and be present, in the body you’re in, with whatever state of mind you have, will make a huge impact on your body’s intuitive need to regain homeostasis. It’s okay if you have built up coping mechanisms of constant activity and commitment. Those behaviors were probably really helpful at one point. But over time, your body will likely get worn down and need some new tools for long-term support… tools that will make you more resilient to stressors in the long run.

Your body sends you signals every day. Are you listening?

I have multiple opportunities for one-on-one coaching, as well as group sessions. Message me if you’re struggling. I’m here to listen and support you on your journey to wholeness!

How to Strengthen Your Relationship by Connecting More Securely

Relationship advice that is science-based? Yes, please!

Dr. Duana Welch is the original Love Factually author and coach, known for using social science to solve real-life relationship issues.

In this episode, Dr. Welch dives into some of the top issues couples struggle with and how her science-backed research helps individuals connect more securely in their relationships, whether they are already in a relationship or looking for a healthy one.

I have often heard the request for more podcast episodes about marriage, and this episode with Dr. Duana Welch is extremely eye-opening and helpful. Download and listen here or find wherever you get podcasts.

Key Topics:

  • How family of origin impacts adult relationships
  • What attachment style is and why it’s important to understand your attachment style at birth shapes your adulthood
  • How to become more secure in your relationship
  • The 4 Cs of a secure attacher
  • How to create deeper intimacy
  • How to pick what you need for a healthy relationship

Find more information about Dr. Welch at her website lovefactually.co.

Check out the relationship app Paired, where she is an expert.

Upgrade your job post at Indeed with a $75 sponsored job credit at indeed.com/spark.

Nourishing Brain Bowls – the Non-Recipe You Need to Make Life Easier

It is hard to keep whole food nutrition in mind during stressful times. Often it seems easier to rely on takeout and pizza delivery than cooking, but I want to share my favorite method for stress-free cooking – Brain Bowls!

I could call it the “throw it in a bowl” method of cooking, but it doesn’t have quite the ring to it. I love a good acronym, so I’ve broken down the word BRAIN to help you build your own easy, nutrient-dense, brain-fueling bowl.

Easy Brain Bowls

B – base of greens or grains. I like quinoa, rice, or chickpea pasta. When I don’t want the heavier carb load, I use kale or arugula. Spinach is a great option for those who can tolerate it as well!

R – rainbow of veggies. Sauté, roast, air fry… throw on some avocado oil, your favorite seasonings, and cook them to your preferred texture. It can be a mix of raw or cooked veggies. I always aim for a minimum of three different colors or types. Frequent flyers are bell peppers, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, white potatoes and sweet potatoes.

A – add your protein. Quality is important here to maximize nutrients. I love grass-fed ground beef, organic, pasture-raised chicken or eggs, or wild caught salmon or other fish.

I – include your favorite sauces, dressing, or spices. Stay away from any sauce/dressing that is made with vegetable, canola, or soybean oil. Those oxidize under high heat temps (like your digestive system), which sends free radical damage through your body – something your brain doesn’t need. I love Primal, Siete, Tessemae’s, and New Primal brands.

N – nuts or seeds for some crunch! I love throwing on pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, slivered almonds, chia seeds, etc. Get creative!

The best part of this recipe is that you don’t need to be a chef or even follow a recipe. The more comfortable you are with throwing things together, the more you’ll sustain it – and the more you’ll get more creative as you go!

Want more food support? Registration is open for Feast 2 Fast Back-to-School Reboot, starting August 16. Feast 2 Fast is my four-week online coaching program that enables you to tune in to the needs of your body and learn to incorporate a wide variety of foods into your diet to optimize your metabolic health. No counting, tracking, or starving. Click here to learn more information and sign up.

How to Train Your Brain to Beat Depression, Anxiety, and Toxic Thoughts

The inner dialogue you engage matters for the health of your whole body. We have so much science to support that what you think affects the health of your entire body. Dr. Caroline Leaf is a pioneer in neuroscience research and she is changing the way we think about brain health.

In this episode, we explore her recent research and dig into neuroplasticity and why you aren’t stuck with the brain you have. Download here or download wherever you get podcasts.

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Tips for Kids’ Back-to-School Anxiety

It’s back to school time – which means a time of heightened anxiety for some kids.

There are so many supportive tools to help with a “brain that is always awake” (to quote one of my children, when explaining his overactive, sensitive mind).

Because our calming neurotransmitters are formed in the gut, optimizing nutrition makes a huge impact on brain health, so it’s a bottom-up approach as well as top-down. Remember – if your child isn’t getting or digesting protein well, he or she may not be making the neurotransmitters they need for calming/stress relief. So sometimes a little support can help, but nutrition is key!

There are so many safe, evidence-based tools to help our children thrive during times of anxiety.

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A Functional Medicine Approach to Making Changes that Stick, Without Dieting

Are the lights on your dashboard going off? Meaning, is your body giving you warning signals that you continue to suppress? This podcast episode is for you!

Jennifer Pickett is a Dietitian turned Functional Wellness Coach. She helps spiraling moms overcome the overwhelm through Functional Wellness coaching for the body, mind and soul so they can transform their health and live a deeply fulfilled life of freedom and harmony. She believes that to make the shift from “knowing” to “doing” you must apply mindfulness, address what is driving the behavior, be intentional and practice self compassion.

Download here or find and listen wherever you get podcasts!

Continue reading “A Functional Medicine Approach to Making Changes that Stick, Without Dieting”