Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Fat Doesn't Make You Fat--So Eat It


  When I struggled with an eating disorder in high school, the first thing I eliminated was any food with fat in it.

I went right for the fat-free yogurt, stopped eating ice cream, told my (poor, confused) mother to buy skim milk (we had been a 2% household) and ate Lean Cuisine meals with 5 grams of fat or less.


Why? Why did I do this? Why did I never stop to think how much sugar or carbs or sodium was in the foods I ate and only focused on the fat content?

Why? Because that was all over the media. It was in every magazine, commercial and on the lips of my friends. Fat-free this and fat-free that.

It continued for years until I became a certified health coach in 2009 and learned that fat is actually essential for healthy brains, skin, hair and bodies. I learned that they replace the fat with more sugar to make it taste better.

And I thought that was just plain silly.

So, I stopped eating frozen yogurt and low-fat cheese and yogurt. I started reading food labels more clearly and saw the high amounts of sugar and/or sodium on low-fat foods. I started eating fat again. I started eating FULL FAT ice cream, yogurt, cheese and sour cream. I started eating more avocados, more butter, more nuts and healthy oils like olive, coconut and sesame.

And I noticed my hair looked better. My skin glowed. My nails grew like weeds. My brain functioned more efficiently -- and does even better the less sugar I eat.

I didn't gain weight from eating fat. In fact, eating full-fat foods was so filling and satisfying I ate smaller portions and really savored the flavor. I didn't eat as much because the quality of what I was eating was so much better.

And that's what I do now. And why I do it. Otherwise, I don't think I would be enjoying those mochas from Diesel cafe that I adore so very much. ;)

Have you tried this? Are you curious about making the shift from fat-free to full-fat foods? Drop a line and share your thoughts.



"Please" and "Thank You" From a Whole New Place



I don't think I was actually raised to say please and thank you. I know I picked it up along the way, and I was probably taught it as basic good manners as a kid. But I can't say for sure that I remember being taught to say it. Is that weird?

I realized this recently when I started really paying attention to those exchanges that so many of us take for granted. "Please" and "thank-you". We can just say it as robots or we can really mean it. You know? I didn't feel the difference before. But I've paid closer attention since I've started to really lean into my own gratitude and relish in it. And I've only been more aware of my gratitude since I stopped lying to myself and hiding in my life.

I don't think I was taught "please" and "thank-you" because I think it takes a lot of self-awareness and introspection and humility to say it from a deep, real place. I don't know that my parents "went there", really. I don't know that many people do. I can say that the gratitude I know lately is deeper than any I've ever known and I thought I was digging deep before.

Before I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2009, I wasn't really awake so I wasn't aware of this kind of gratitude. I also didn't know what it felt like to know myself and my needs so well that I could ask to have them met and be humbled and grateful to the point where words failed me when they were. I was on my spiritual path, but still asleep at the wheel, so to speak. Not at all in the driver's seat of my life. There were some important changes I needed to make and the IIN program and community were really effective in helping me to see that. I saw the ways I was hiding. The ways I kept myself stuck in wrong situations: jobs, friendships, relationships, etc. And especially eating habits and patterns.

My work hasn't stopped, because my life is always changing (if I'm doing it right). IIN taught me to better assess when something needed to change and how to summon the courage to make it happen.

What I've found as a result of my life changing, or rather--me changing my life for the better-- is that I have more gratitude on a daily basis. It's easy to feel unhappy, negative and hopeless when your life isn't shaping up the way you'd like it to. I never realized how much of this was my responsibility and how much control I had over this. When I felt stuck (or stayed stuck), I felt angry. When I was angry, I didn't attract people or situations that improved my situation--in fact, I drove opportunities like that away. And I suffered a lot as a result. Perhaps the biggest sadness is that I didn't even realize that. I was causing my own suffering by making specific choices and avoiding certain necessary changes. That suffering felt bottomless at times but it taught me so much that I even find myself grateful for all that pain. How else could I have learned, right?

But I am probably more grateful for the wisdom that came not like a bolt of lightning but more like a steady hum in the background of everything I did, said and thought. That steady hum came from some very basic Buddhist philosophy and practices. I chose Buddhism as a spiritual practice because it was so effective in helping me cut through my own bullshit--the thought patterns and habits that weren't bringing me more peace and happiness, you know? I needed something to move me away from that paradigm.

Buddhism and healthy living are a perfect combination for me.

Now, because my life is full of things that I have intentionally chosen and opted for (anywhere from friends to jobs to food), I have a lot more peace and gratitude on a daily basis. The deep knowing that came from a lot of trial and error ends up being this toolbox that I carry around. When something comes into my path, I draw from my experience and say, "yes or no?" and it's awesome.

And then I can say, from a place of deep confidence and balance, "please" and "thank you".

I sit in total awe and gratitude these days, over the simplest things, because I am so present with how they came into being because I chose them.

Even when things don't turn out as I'd thought I still was the one who brought it into existence and it taught me something, and I have gratitude for that. There is no longer a feeling of something being a mistake. Like when I go into a restaurant and order something that sounds great. It can arrive and I can taste it and it's not a win, but I can send it back and try again with something else. And be grateful for limitless opportunities and options.

I see life as a big restaurant these days. So I order up, give shit a try and I'm not afraid to send it back and try again.

And always, on the tip of my tongue, is "please" and "thank you".

Predict Your Own Future, Manifest Your Dreams

We all have dreams. We also have a lot of fear about whether or not those dreams will ever come true.

A few years ago, Joshua Rosenthal, the director and founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, shared this wisdom in something close to these words:

"you have the same ability to see into the future as you do into the past. That clarity you have of memories and past experiences--you can have also have that clarity for your future. We just don't exercise those muscles enough."

And then, he had us exercise those muscles. He had us envision our lives in the future--where we were living, what we were doing, who we were with, etc. We did it incrementally, first a few weeks, then a few months, then YEARS into the future.

As someone who detested lists and organization, I found this exercise frustrating. I didn't like it. I didn't believe in it. I went along with it, however, as I did each and every aspect of my health coach training program, because I trusted Joshua. I trusted that he had tools that I needed to experience a better quality of life and support others in that search.

And I was smart to trust him. And I'm very grateful for all I learned.

About three years later, I exercised that muscle of seeing into the future. It isn't a special power I possess. We all have this power. We can actually see what we want and then watch as it unfolds before us. 

Back in January of this year, I decided that I was exhausted of life without a car. I had owned a car. I really cool one--a Volvo S40. When I moved to Boston in 2006, I sold that beloved vehicle to free myself from the financial responsibility. Because I didn't have a good sense of money and spending, I was really afraid I wouldn't be able to handle the cost of owning a car in Boston. I also wanted to soak up the life of a city-dweller---using only my legs and my bike to get me around.

Six years later, that lifestyle was becoming a major source of stress. The farther outside the city we moved, the harder it became to get anywhere without a hassle. It began to tax my relationship because I frequently asked for rides from my partner in bad weather or simply to spend an extra twenty more minutes together. My daily commute sucked another 10 hours a week (sometimes more!) from my life that I wanted to use for other things. My desire to live simply wasn't resulting in more peace and happiness. It was making me feel stuck, frustrated and tired.

Last week, when I found myself a mere 8 miles from home for jury duty, it took me almost two hours to get back home. It was pouring rain in the morning, so biking wasn't an option and if a stranger hadn't given me an unexpected lift, it would have taken longer. That was it. That was my limit. I decided I wasn't savoring my existence living from such scarcity. I had things to do, people to see, a great life to live. And I was tired of waiting--for the bus and for me to stop being a victim of circumstance.

I decided it was time to manifest my vision. To make that future I saw so clearly become my reality.

We hopped into my partner's new car (we are both living from abundance these days) and took a drive down to the smartcar dealership. Within two hours the papers were signed and I was all set. I didn't even hear all the details of things. I just knew I was getting my independence back. My freedom of movement. More time freed up to live my life the way I want to.

Most of all, I wanted to show myself that suffering in scarcity is a choice. Embracing abundance and happiness is a choice, too. No one could make my situation better but me. 

Here's two gems I have learned from being carless for 6 years:

1) I appreciate time more. I know how long it will take me to get somewhere on foot, bike, train, bus or car so now I can make informed decisions about which mode of transportation I will choose every single day. This was an appreciation and skillset I never had in the past.

2) I value my money so much now, I am able to have everything I want and need--including a car for more reliable and faster transportation. Since I spend more consciously, more is available to me. When I moved to the city, I deprived myself of something because I was afraid. Now, I manage my resources to live the life I choose, as defined by me.

No one can make these things happen FOR us. We are the ones who make our lives happen. For better or for worse.

Cheers to choosing BETTER!