Why I’m taking my diet back to the drawing board

Probably one of the most frustrating things for people is the confusion over dietary recommendations.   For example, first you’re told not to eat eggs, and then you’re given the green light to eat them (btw, still today, there are ongoing debates in science about this).  When we were told that eating fat would make us fat, guess what.  I stopped eating fat and gained weight, like everyone else!   Despite the confusion, we’re learning more and more everyday about nutrition, especially how individualized it can be.  And I’ve finally come to realize and accept that the right answer for you is not necessarily the right answer for me.

food test

This is why I recently began offering food sensitivity testing to my clients, so that they could quickly uncover foods to which their bodies are intolerant.  Unlike food allergies which are an IgE/histamine response that happens immediately, can often be severe, and identifies foods that must be avoided permanently, the food intolerance test measures a delayed, inflammatory reaction to each substance tested.  For many people, certain foods they’re eating may be inhibiting weight loss or causing other symptoms such as:

-          Abnormal cravings/bingeing

-          Migraines

-          Stomach pain/bloating

-          Heartburn

-          Diarrhea

-          Irritability and nervousness

-          Hyperactivity/ADD

-          Skin disorders

Imagine how surprised I was when I found out that my body had a severe reaction to carrots, oats, oregano, and goji berries.  I also had moderate reactions to stevia, turmeric, pumpkin, and red and green leaf lettuce!  And I had mild reactions to thirty-eight foods and medicinal herbs, many of which I eat all the time, including spinach, coconut, cacao, celery, ginger, sweet potato, and chlorella.  Needless to say, I was bummed out but I think my mother is more freaked out than I am.  When I told her I was removing all of these foods from my diet, her reaction was, “What are you going to eat??”

There’s actually well over one hundred foods that my body was OK with, including beets, avocados, lemons (yay!), quinoa and other gluten-free grains (I only reacted mildly to gluten and whey), meats and seafood, nuts/seeds and herbs/spices.  So now, I’m doing the experiment.  For me, I’m interested in finding out if it will alleviate my sciatica that flares up pretty frequently.  Does it mean that I have to avoid all of these foods forever?  No, but at least initially to heal whatever may be going on from them, and then there’s a way to introduce them back without a reaction.

If you’re frustrated about why you can’t lose weight, or suspect that something in your diet is initiating symptoms and you can’t put your finger on what it is, and you want more information about the test, contact me for a brief session and I can explain it in more detail.  Rather than spend weeks, months, or forever experimenting, you’ll have a good idea of where to begin in about one week.   I’m  also offering it with DNA testing to help you optimize your detoxification pathway.  Because with greater awareness, you can make better choices…

Are you ‘tuned in’ to opportunity?

Image courtesy of scottchan

Image courtesy of scottchan

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ~Milton Berle

A couple of nights ago, I was on a breakthrough session with someone over the phone and we got on the topic of commuting to work. She explained that she’s in her car about two hours per day and she’s often frustrated when she’s stuck in traffic. I think we’ve all been there, especially if we don’t see it coming. But she’s made the drive often enough to know what to expect and so the negative feelings around it are probably showing up even when she’s not making the drive.

To ease the stress that can eventually contribute to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain (she would like to lose weight), and more, my suggestion for her was to use her two hour drive to listen to something inspirational that will lift her mood, or if there was a particular topic she was interested in, why not use the time to learn about it.

A few years ago when I was getting certified as a health coach, I was commuting from CT to Boston once per week. It was a three hour drive into the city (mostly because of rush hour traffic), and about two hours home. Of course, it did have its moments, especially if I was tired. But I realized it was the perfect opportunity to listen to my class lectures. And so I listened to the majority of my schoolwork while driving! And even today, because I’m often in the car, I’ve got plenty of backup to listen to.

The bigger message here is not necessarily about the health risks related to long commutes, but that the lens you look through can have a dramatic impact on your health. When you face a problem, is it from the point of view if its limitations and do you allow it to frustrate you, or can you see an opportunity?

If the commuter gets frustrated on her way to work, how might that affect her performance on the job? If she’s in a bad mood when she gets home, how will it impact her relationship with her family? How might it impact her health? Or the likelihood that she’ll make healthy food choices rather than eat “unintentionally”. And then, what about her ability to lose weight?

Might listening to something uplifting get her to work in a more upbeat mood? Will she have more energy during the day or walk through the door with a bigger smile for her family? Will she hear a nugget of information that changes her life for the better? Would she learn something that if she shared it with someone, would ultimately help them?

I would say yes to all of the above, and more! Because the ripple effect is far more powerful than you realize. You can never fully predict the influence you’ll have on another person and sending ripples of positive energy are always better than the alternative. The key is that they begin from within and the way you choose to view whatever you’re facing makes all the difference – for everyone.

Why it’s totally sensible to indulge…

ariel and salmonHere’s yet another reason make dieting a thing of the past:  our mind-body connection.  You probably already know that dieting leads to feelings of deprivation that can eventually lead to bingeing.  What you may not be aware of is that how you react psychologically to what you’re eating may have a direct impact on your physiology.

Seems simple doesn’t it?  We eat, we get full, and the motivation to eat stops.  However, it seems it’s a little more complicated than that.

A couple of years ago, researchers at Yale University carried out a study in which they had subjects come in on two separate occasions, set one week apart, to drink and rate two drinks.   One of the drinks, called “Indulgence”, had 630 calories, 30 grams of fat, and 56 grams of sugar; and had a picture of a hot fudge sundae on the label.   The second drink was called a “Sensi-Shake”.  It had 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 20 grams of sugar; and the label said “Guilt-free Satisfaction.”   You can see the actual labels here.

What the subjects didn’t realize was that although the labels were very different, the shakes were actually both an identical 380-calorie shake.  For each test, they showed up in the morning after a night of fasting.  Then, they were shown the label of the shake they thought they were about to drink and then given ten minutes to drink the shake.  The subjects were then asked to rate the shake on taste as well as their levels of hunger at different intervals.

In addition, blood samples were taken before they began, after they read the labels, and then again after they drank the shake to measure levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin that rises when the stomach is empty to induce the sensation of hunger in the brain.  Ghrelin levels then drop when the stomach detects food and nutrients.

This is where it got interesting.  When the subjects thought they were drinking an indulgent shake, their ghrelin levels rose sharply in anticipation of the shake and then dropped significantly in response.  But when they thought they were being sensible, ghrelin remained relatively flat, suggesting that their satiety levels were at least in part, governed at the psychological level.   In their minds, they didn’t derive as much satisfaction from the drink, and their bodies metabolically followed suit.

This begs the question, if you treat each meal or eating experience as an indulgence, will you be more satisfied physiologically?  We don’t know for sure, yet, but I know that every time I’ve had an eating experience that engaged all of my senses–and in particular, my sense of sight through a beautiful presentation, I also felt more physically satisfied.  Experiencing that amount of pleasure from a meal can only be positive.

If you’ve ever had the opposite experience–“being good” with a ‘diet’ meal or a meal that simply wasn’t satisfying and felt deprived, then you can probably relate to being hungry thirty minutes later or being obsessed with food, making the temptation to eat again stronger.

The authors also brought up a good point that may be hurting those trying to be ‘good’ with their eating.  A package, for example that’s labeled, ‘low-fat’ may have you thinking you’re eating diet food – even, for example, if it’s high in sugar.  Continuously reaching for foods like these that potentially never satisfy (and are addictive and stimulate the appetite) may backfire when it comes to weight loss and lead to even bigger health problems down the road.

My takeaway from this?  Enjoy whatever it is you’re eating and as always, the best foods come without labels.

Why You May Never Arrive at Your Destination and Why That’s a Good Thing

ID-100132826“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions.  It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” ~Tony Robbins

One day many years ago, I was leaving my place of work to go home for lunch and I saw a woman running down the street.  From my best guess, she was in her late forties and had accumulated excess weight in her abdominal area­, which we all know by now is dangerous.  She was running at a slow pace and appeared to be struggling with her breath.  Except for what I saw, I knew nothing else about her.

Over the course of several months, I would continue to see her pounding the pavement on my way home for lunch and what I began to witness was astounding.  Gradually, her step got lighter and quicker and I could see that she was breathing easier.  She also lost a considerable amount of belly fat, her face got thinner and she had a glow to her skin that wasn’t there before.  And the look of struggle was eventually replaced with a look of pure joy.   It didn’t take a genius to see that this woman was transforming her health.

Fast forward two decades.  I’ve been working out at the same gym almost daily for a little over a year.  When I first started going, I noticed a woman who came in regularly too and each time I ran into her, she was focused on her workout.  The last few times I’ve been, it dawned on me that this woman had lost a significant amount of weight.  Her hips, thighs, and arms had shrunk and she now had a waist.  She’s also more energetic, her complexion is pink, and she smiles a lot.  I also spoke with her the other day and she said that after years of putting herself last and feeling the effects of that, she put her foot down and decided that her own self-care was a priority. Yay for her!!

Yes, both of these women have lost weight.  AND their improved health is showing up as increased energy, healthier skin, and better moods.  Both women are examples of what you can accomplish when you make the commitment.  It’s like anything else, right?  If you commit the time and effort to furthering your education, working on your relationships, spending quality time with your kids, packing your own lunch, or maintaining your home, it will eventually pay off.  Often times in ways that you don’t anticipate.   For both of these women, their commitment, consistency, and determination was paying off.  Not overnight, but over time. 

If you agree with the expression, it’s the journey, not the destination, then you get that the transformation that happens along the way is what gets you there.  Where it really gets interesting, though, is that you may never actually arrive ‘there’, because as you change and grow, so does the destination.

My most successful clients are the ones that make a commitment to themselves and are consistent with their actions.  That doesn’t mean that they never splurge at a birthday party or holiday, or that they never miss a workout.  It just means that their new normal is healthier and they are much quicker to get back on track and move forward than they were in the past.  And this is in part because they’ve adopted new habits.

I was talking with one of my clients recently and she agreed that with everything she’s learned, she can’t really go back because she’s inherently changed.  She’s equipped with information that has changed the way she see things and she’s tried and experienced new things that have expanded her toolbox and her habits towards better health and she now knows what it’s like to feel good!

Not long ago, I saw the same female runner again – running of course.  Still looking amazing and still on her journey, and once again inspiring me…

If you’re motivated and ready to make a commitment to yourself but unsure where to begin, I’d love to help.

How to Save Money and Your Waistline


Image courtesy of savit keawtavee

Not too long ago, I posted an article about a bottom-less bowl of soup experiment carried out by Brian Wansink and colleagues from Cornell University that demonstrated how we use our eyes to gauge our hunger and satiety levels.   Well, here’s another interesting finding about how influential size is on how much we consume from more experiments they conducted using everyday products.  Again, you may think you’re immune to this, I know for sure that I am not and I’d even go so far as to say I’m aware of when I’m doing it, and yet, I do it anyway.   What about you?

In one experiment, under the guise of a fundraising promotion, they invited parents in to cook dinner for themselves and provided the ingredients: a box of spaghetti, a jar of sauce, and a package of ground beef.  Half of the couples that participated were given medium sized packages of foods and half were given large sized packages.  What they found was interesting.  The couples that prepared dinner with the large packages of ingredients not only prepared 23% more, they ate more.

In another experiment, if they gave people one-pound bags of M&Ms to eat while watching a video, they ate almost twice as many as those that were given half-pound bags.  In fact, from all of the foods that they studied, people consistently ate 20-25% more when preparing, serving, or eating directly from larger packages.

This phenomenon wasn’t only restricted to food either.  People poured more shampoo, plant fertilizer, dog food, and laundry detergent from large versus small containers.  And out of the forty-seven products they tested, all produced the same results except one:  liquid bleach.  Evidently people are mindful enough to want to prevent ruining their clothes.  If only we practiced that much awareness with food to prevent ruining our waistlines!

Now think about how we shop these days.  For example, there are so many good reasons to shop at those big box stores, right?  They’re convenient for stocking up on groceries and can save you money on the things you’re already buying.  But if you’re consuming more than you normally would, you may not be saving money after all.

Think about every product you use.  Do you use more paper towels, napkins, or toilet paper when you know you have a plenty stashed away?  More aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or Q-tips?  Are you pouring a bigger bowl of cereal, squeezing more ketchup onto your plate, or eating larger servings of chips from the family-size bag?  Or like me in the past, after getting halfway through a giant box of something, do you throw it away because everyone’s tired of it?

It’s so tempting to think that bigger is better, but this is not always true, especially when it comes to food.  So here are some tips to get around over consuming:

If you’re buying in bulk, separate into smaller portions.  You may normally do this for foods like meats for freezing, but how about foods like nuts, chips, and cereals?  Keep smaller amounts visible for everyday and store the reserves for refilling.

Buy only what you need.  Are you tempted to buy larger quantities simply because they cost less per serving?  A smaller jar of spaghetti sauce may cost more per ounce than a larger jar, but if the smaller jar is enough to feed the family, then you’ll be saving money and calories simply by consuming less.  You’ll also be saving on space.

Serve yourself.  Are you in the habit of snacking directly from the big bag of chips or popcorn?  If so, you’re more likely to underestimate your portion size and overeat.  Instead, serve yourself a portion of food directly into a bowl or plate and walk away from the bag.  You’ll be less likely to overindulge.

In the end, it’s all about thinking about your family’s specific shopping and consuming habits and unique needs.  And without too much change to your lifestyles, you may be able to save yourself calories, money, space, and just as important, the environment!

If you’re looking for support to help you reach your health goals, contact me for a Weight Loss Breakthrough Session today.

Are you ready for a resolution?

Image courtesy of FrameAngel

Happy New Year!!! 

This morning, Marianne Williamson tweeted something that I want to share:  The universe is already programmed to give each of us a year of joy.  Our challenge lies in programming ourselves to receive it.  What’s one of the best ways to make that happen?  Showing gratitude!  For me, this is the perfect way to begin 2013.
With that said, many people believe that the way to begin the New Year is with resolutions.  And if you’re like 50% of people, you decided to make one.  The most common are to lose weight, exercise more, and quit smoking.  It seems like a perfect time, right?  New year – new you.

Clinical psychologists have actually studied the process of making New Year’s resolutions and in so many ways they’re similar to the processes I help my clients through–forming new habits over time that involve permanent behavioral changes.  For many of them, their resolution simply happens at a different time of the year.

In full disclosure, I can’t remember the last time I made a New Year’s resolution–if ever; and if I had, I’m not sure how long I kept it.  Looking back at most of the new habits I’ve formed, they usually involved something major happening in my life at the time, rather than the calendar.

One study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology that tracked 159 people who set a New Year’s resolution and 123 people who hadn’t, found that six months later, 46% of the resolvers were still keeping their resolutions while only 4% of the non-resolvers were following through with changes.   So the concept of setting a resolution suggests you’ll have more success.

Although 46% seems high, it also suggests that 54% of people gave up within six months.  If you’re part of that group and this year, are ready for success, here are some reasons why you may have given up in the past and some tips for finally making your resolutions stick, whether you begin them today, or in July:

Reason 1:  Resolutions are executed unrealistically.  For example, if you’ve never exercised before and decide it’s time to start, and then expect that you’ll work out seven days/week for two hours each day, you’ll quickly burn out, get frustrated, even risk injuring yourself, and give up.

Success tip 1:  Start from where you’re at.  Never exercised before?  Begin slowly for example, with daily walks.  About a year ago, after not exercising for decades, my parents began walking, either outdoors or at the mall.  They began slowly and have increased their time/distance gradually.  And in the last year, my dad has lost 25 pounds (more on how he did it in another post), in part because of his walking with mom.  The key is that it is doable for them (they’re both 76!) and they’ve consistently walked 3-4 times per week.

Reason 2:  You’re making them for the wrong reasons.   Your friends and family are telling you that it’s time to (fill in the blank) and so you resolve to (fill in the blank).  Or your friend has made a resolution so you decide to join in.  Even though they’re ready for you to begin, you may be at the pre-contemplation (not yet acknowledging) or contemplation stage where you’ve acknowledged a behavior that needs to be changed but you’re not sure if you’re ready.

Success tip 2:  Understand your “why” behind your resolution.  You say you want to eat healthier?  OK, why?  What will happen as a result of you choosing better foods?  How will your life look different?  How will you feel?  By getting in touch with what you’ll be creating with your resolution, at the visceral level, you’ll be more likely to follow through, even when the going gets tough.   And to keep the motivation fresh and in the front of your mind, write it down and post it somewhere you’ll see it often, like on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, or your computer screen or desk.

Reason 3:  Inspiration fades quickly and motivation diminishes.  If you’re like me right now, you’re simply a little tired of eating rich meals and desserts and you’re ready to get back to normal.  Many people use this as their motivation for a resolution.  However, have you ever stuffed yourself on Thanksgiving and said, “I’m never going to eat again,” only to wake up the next morning and ask, “What’s for breakfast?”  I think I have.   Which is why I love this quote by the late, great Zig Ziglar:  People often say motivation doesn’t last.  Neither does bathing, that’s why I recommend it daily.

Success tip 3:  Enlist support.  For years, I ran or worked out at the gym by myself, and it wasn’t until I began working with a trainer at the gym that I realized I wasn’t making the most of my exercise time.  Having a friend to walk with at lunch, a spouse that’s ready to eat healthier too, someone you can call for support when you’re ready to cave, a trainer to make your workouts more efficient, or even a health coach to hold you accountable are just a few support systems that work.

And as always, if you are ready for support from a health coach, I’d love to have a conversation with you to discuss how working together will help you achieve your goals.  A year will go by anyway.  Imagine how you could be feeling January 1st, 2014 if you do take that step!

Also, if you normally eat a healthy diet, yet indulged over the holidays, The ClearYou 14-day Detox is something to consider.  This is not a juice cleanse or fast.  It involves eating real food with additional liver support that cleans all your cells, not just your digestive tract.  For this time of year, I’ve added more cold-weather friendly recipes and it includes additional components that address the mental/emotional aspects of detoxing, making it even more effective.  Interested?  Contact me today to learn how you can get started.

As we enter 2013, my wish for you is that you allow yourself to receive peace, happiness, abundant good health, and prosperity for this year and many to come.
Warm wishes and with much gratitude,

Linda DiBella

The Bottom-less Bowl of Soup

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap

Brian Wansink is a professor in the fields of consumer behavior and nutritional science and directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.  He conducts some of the most fascinating studies around the topic of mindless eating to unearth exactly what forces are influencing us as consumers/eaters.  And despite the fact that many of the people he meets claim that they are completely in control of their eating habits, he demonstrates time and time again that this is not true.  Even with some of his own students who conduct his actual studies.

For example, when he asked a group of college students, “If you were going to have a bowl of soup for lunch, when would you decide to stop eating? “; 81% replied with a visual reference point, such as when they had eaten half, or when the bowl was empty.  Only 19% said that they would stop eating when they were no longer hungry.    And since so many people gauge their eating behavior on a visual cue, he decided to find out what would happen if the bowl never got empty.

In an experiment that played out like a scene from Candid Camera, he rigged tables that seat four with two settings that had soup bowls with holes drilled into the bottom that were connected to food-grade rubber tubing.  The tubing led, from holes drilled in the table, to hidden six quart vats of tomato soup that were positioned at just the right height that they would constantly replenish the soup in the bowls.   The other two bowls at the table were normal so that the level of soup would go down as the diners ate.

He then invited college students in for lunch.  When seated, they were asked to leave the bowls on the table (which actually worked) and then to distract them, they were asked what they were going to do during their summer vacations, which got them talking away as they ate.

After twenty minutes, they were asked to stop eating and then were asked three questions:

  1. How many calories did they think they ate?
  2. How many ounces of soup did they think they ate?
  3. How full were they on a nine-point scale?

After weighing all the soup left in the bowls, tubes, and vats of soup, they found that while the students who ate from the regular bowls estimated that they had eaten, on average, 123 calories, they in fact had eaten an average of 155 calories.   Those that had eaten from the bottomless soup bowls; however, estimated they had eaten 127 calories–not so different from the control group–yet they had actually eaten on average 268 calories.  The control subjects ate ~9 oz. of soup and the bottomless soup eaters had eaten ~15 oz and as much as a quart of soup!  ~73% more, in fact and during the 20 minutes, they simply ate, and ate, and ate.   Yet they didn’t realize they had eaten more.   And most of them rated themselves the same in terms of their hunger/full levels as the control eaters.

Out of the 62 people that took part in the experiment, remarkably only two discovered what was going on–accidently.

Think about some of the situations where you may be set up for not knowing when to stop eating because of visual cues:

  • the endless buffet where the chafing dishes are continuously replenished and you’re given a fresh plate for every trip for food
  • the holiday feast that begins with the appetizers and drinks and ends with dessert and coffee/drinks
  • the unlimited pasta or salad, soup, and bread at the restaurant and the wait staff stopping by periodically to remove the “evidence”, like the empty wine glasses, plate of chicken bones, and even your plate before they ask you if you’d like dessert

And then ask yourself, do you continue to eat because you’re hungry, or because there’s food still on your plate?  And do you stop eating because you’re full, or because the food’s gone??

Self-sabotage and the Fear of Success

Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Several weeks ago, I wrote an article that talked about a book by Gay Hendricks called the Big Leap in which the author discusses the universal “Upper Limit Problem” and how so many people, no matter how successful they are, will find a way to sabotage their world when things are going well.   Today, I want to share with you a ‘real-life’ example from one of my clients to demonstrate how easily we can fall into this trap – for any number of reasons.

Over the summer, Laura took part in a three-week detox program and got tremendous results.  She was following a healthier eating plan, was feeling and looking better, was releasing a lot of emotional baggage, and was excited to move forward with her new healthier lifestyle in her personal life and within her role as a spiritual coach.

Then something interesting happened.  Laura took part in a photo shoot that produced some stunning photos of her.  When I first saw them, I remember thinking, WOW!  She’s gorgeous, she’s glowing, she’s confident, and I could see success in her future.  Yet, rather than continue to move upwards and outwards during this growth spurt, Laura suddenly found herself–without contemplation–pulling into the drive-thru everyday for a fast food lunch.   She (unknowingly at first) was shrinking back due to a fear of success and sabotaging all the great results she was beginning to see with her health.   Luckily, she identified it very quickly and took steps to get back on track.

Isn’t it ironic that although most of us are afraid of failure, we also have a fear of success?  Whatever that success may look like–and it’s different for everyone–we begin to tell ourselves stories like: I’ll be too busy, I’ll have to give up something, I’ll lose people in my life, I’m not good enough, or things will change.  These are just a few of the many “reasons” we tell ourselves about why we can’t go for it; whatever “it” may be.  I catch myself doing it too.  It usually involves the word “but”.   As in, “I would, but…” And these types of situations are also why I work with clients over a time frame of 3-6 months, or more; because things inevitably come up and it helps to have the support and accountability from someone who’s not “in our heads” so to speak, buying into our false beliefs.

Think about where and how in your own life you may be unconsciously sabotaging your own personal growth and why.  Is it through procrastination, food, TV, toxic relationships?  What is this behavior producing in your life, and what is it ultimately costing you physically, emotionally, spiritually, or yes, even financially?  If you believe a fear of success is something you struggle with, I want to leave you with an excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles that may help release any resistance that holds you back from going for what you really want:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? 

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. 

Simple Holiday Eating Strategy and Grain-free Cookie Recipe

The holidays are just about here and we all know what that means!  You may be surprised to find out that I don’t go crazy worrying too much about what I’m eating at holiday parties.   I eat clean most of the time and over the holidays, I will prepare what I consider healthy dishes, but I do enjoy indulging a bit, because life is meant to be pleasurable!  With that said, I focus on eating what I like rather than trying to eat everything and I pay more attention to how I’m feeling so that I don’t overdo it and feel terrible later.   And I return to my typical diet afterwards without feeling like I’ve missed out on anything.

Last week, I found this cookie recipe online and simply worked with what I had to try these out.  I consider these indulgent and at the same time, on the healthier side and if you didn’t say a word to your guests, I bet they’ll love them!  What I love about the recipe is that it’s super simple to prepare.  One bowl, less utensils, and no mixer necessary; the batter is ready in a snap.

Compared to the original recipe, I used shredded coconut rather than flour, although you can also grind coconut in a high-speed blender or coffee grinder to make it fine.  I cut back on the amount of sugar because I also added raisins, which are sweet too and I found these plenty sweet for me.  I also added a little water because I used a dry sugar and I used olive oil.  You may be thinking it’s a strange choice for a sweet cookie, but I didn’t find that at all.   Hope you give them a try.

Finally, I want to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!  If you focus on what you have to be grateful for and enjoy everything the day has to offer, you may find yourself very well fed with less calories : ) 


Grain-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c almond flour

2 T unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/3 c coconut sugar

½ t sea salt

½ t baking soda

1 T vanilla extract

½ c olive or coconut oil

2-3 T water

1/3 c each dark chocolate chips and raisins

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together then add the vanilla, oil, and water.  Mix well.  The batter will be much less ‘doughy’ than traditional flour-based cookies.  After folding in the chocolate chips and raisins, use a small cookie scoop to drop 1-2 teaspoons full of batter onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Press the batter down to form round discs.  Bake at 350°F for  ~10 minutes.  Resist the urge to dig in for a few minutes while they cool.  They’ll hold together much better that way.   Makes about twelve 3” cookies.

Can You Handle Happiness?

I just finished reading a fascinating book by Gay Hendricks called The Big Leap.    The book is about how he created the life of his dreams by solving for himself what he believes is a universal challenge for most people:  The Upper Limit Problem.  He’s also gone on to coach some of the most successful people in the world to break through this barrier (which was holding them back, even in their successful lives).

Gay says that we basically live in one of four different states:  zone of incompetence, zone of competence, zone of excellence, and zone of genius.    Each one of us has an internal setting that sets how much love, success, and creativity we’ll allow ourselves to enjoy, and if we go beyond this setting in any of these life areas, we’ll find a way – usually unconsciously – to sabotage the good feeling.   Even many uber successful people are stuck in their zone of excellence because of an internal block that they’re not aware of.

What does this have to do with your health, you may ask?  Well, if you’ve been to any of my talks, you’ll remember that I talk about the concept of primary (what you do, etc.) and secondary (what you eat) foods and how feeling unfulfilled in one area of your life can impact, among other things, your food and lifestyle choices.

Here are some examples of The Upper Limit Problem:

  • You’ve been eating healthy and exercising all week, and then you go on a weekend binge that undoes all of your hard work.
  • You get a raving review and promotion at work and then you start an argument with your spouse or friend or colleague.
  • You start a new job and then you get sick and are laid up in bed, or you injure yourself.
  • You are feeling good about something going well in your life and you suddenly begin to worry about something else for no good reason.
  • You’re given a compliment and you deflect it with a self-deprecating statement.

What do all of these scenarios have in common?  They all stop or block the flow of positive energy that you’re experiencing and brings you back into your comfort zone.   Except, this is not where you’re meant to live and preventing yourself from living in your Zone of Genius is why you may turn to cookies and ice cream while watching TV at night, or drink too much, or sabotage your relationships.

The author asks probing questions in the book to help the reader identify their Upper Limit Problems and offers solutions, including an Ultimate Success Mantra that is an intention you use to center yourself in your Zone of Genius:

“I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.”

Recite this mantra anytime of the day, especially first thing in the morning to set a mood and mindset for your day.  And use it at any point throughout your day where you feel your spirit needs a lift or you want to re-center yourself.

This book forced me to take a long, hard look at many moments in my own life where my Upper Limiting beliefs have held me back and is helping me to move through those beliefs as I reach for my goals now.   I highly recommend it and hope that you too can take some jewels of wisdom and apply them in your own life.