Mindful Eating in Parenthood


Anyone parenting with a busy schedule will tell you that the quality of food you are feeding yourself may be lacking. It can take time, thought, and effort to feed ourselves well. On the podcast today, I'm chatting with my wellness guru, Megan Lyons. We are chatting about mindful eating, managing cravings, embracing hunger, meal prep, intermittent fasting, and much more.

Show Notes/Links:


Hi, there it's episode 191. And if you're the type of parent that eats all the leftover food off your kid's plate, wait, I think that's every parent. Then you're going to want to tune into this one because we're talking all about mindful eating. Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of Simple Families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my Ph.D. In child development. So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real life. Thanks for joining us. Hi there. Thanks so much for tuning in.

And today we're chatting about mindful eating. This is a topic that is so important for parents because often we're on autopilot and we're rushing. And when we're in a hurry and we're stressed out the quality of food that we're feeding our kids suffers, but the quality of food that we're feeding ourselves tends to suffer even more. I'm excited to share this episode with you, but before we get into that, here's a word from today's sponsor. Today's episode is sponsored by cultural care. Cultural care is an AU pair agency, which is an agency that links you with AU pairs. If you're not familiar with what an AU pair is, an AU pair is a young adult from overseas who comes to live with you and your family on a legal visa. For up to two years, they provide childcare in exchange for room and board and the opportunity to become part of an American family.

And I will say that our AU pair's have truly become part of our family. We've been participating in the AU pair program for the past two years. And this type of flexible childcare arrangement has been amazing for our family. Not only has it been such a lovely and enriching experience for our family, but having an AU pair in our area costs about half of what a nanny costs, AU pairs can provide up to 45 hours a week of flexible childcare. That means if you want to use your hours early in the morning, late at night on the weekend, there's a lot of room to change it up, to fit the needs of your family. As a host family, we pay a weekly stipend along with room and board and $500 a year towards college credits, which is required as a part of the program. If you want to learn more about the program, you can always reach out to me directly to ask any questions.

I love talking about our experience, or you can go to simple families.com/aupair. That's AU P A I R again, that's simple families.com/aupair and the code PC simple. We'll let you waive the $75 registration fee. If you're thinking ahead to summer childcare now is a great time to start looking into this. All right, let's talk, mindful eating. This is a topic that I've been becoming more interested in lately, and I've been reading more about. So I wanted to get input from my go-to health guru. Megan Lyons, Megan was on the podcast way back in episode 85. I believe she was actually my very first interview on simple Families. Megan is the founder of the lion's share wellness. Megan is a health and wellness coach. I love Megan. Not only is she brilliant and amazing at what she does. She has degrees from Harvard and Northwestern among others, but she's one of the most authentically nice people that you'll ever meet. I hope you enjoy my chat with Megan and you take away some helpful tips to make 2020 a healthier year for you and your family. If you have questions or comments, you can leave those in the show notes at simplefamilies.com/episodes191. Thanks for tuning in.

Denaye Barahona: Hi, Megan. Thanks so much for coming back to chat with me. Thank you for having me back.

Megan: I'm excited.

Denaye Barahona: It's been about two years. I actually think that you may have been my very first interview for simple feelings.

Megan: Oh my goodness, that's so exciting. I didn't realize that.

Denaye Barahona: I think so if I'm kind of rewinding my brain, cause I was doing individual question and answer style episodes for a long time, and then I decided to dive into interviews. I'm pretty sure that you were my first one.

Megan: Amazing, well, I am honored to be back.

Denaye Barahona: Well, I'm happy to have you and you still are my go-to resource for pretty much everything. Health-Related from my husband too, whenever he has a question about health or we're talking about diet stuff or that sort of thing, he's always like, well, what does Megan think? And he'll like research on your website or on your Instagram profile and look and see if you've been talking about any of these things. So I'm so happy to have your insight, of course, as always.

Megan: Thank you. Thanks a lot.

Denaye Barahona: So today I want to talk about mindful eating and I think that the term mindful eating to me, it seems a little bit intimidating because I think it's associated with mindfulness and mindfulness can seem a little bit woo woo. And for people who aren't familiar with, it, it, again, it seems intimidating, but, and I want you to define it for me, but the way that I think about it is kind of the opposite of being a garbage disposal and just eating anything and all the leftovers. And I think as moms and parents we often do is what's left on the plate. Like I'll eat those last two bites. Just kind of like throwing everything in our mouth, out of convenience without thinking about it. So being more mindful about eating. So this idea of like mindful eating versus like garbage disposal, eating, which may not be the most elegant way of saying it, but that's kind of how in my mind, how I visualize.

Megan: Yeah, I think it is the opposite of mindful eating to be that garbage disposal beyond garbage disposal mode. So it is a poignant example. I am not going to disagree with it at all. I think of mindful eating as being aware of what your body and mind needs. Cause I firmly believe that food can be pleasurable and should be pleasurable sometimes. But being aware of what your body and mind needs and doing the appropriate things for that. So like you said, it can be overwhelming and intimidating and I don't want anyone to take these words, know what my body needs and, and extrapolate into. Well, she means I need to calculate the grams of carbs or anything like that, but just kind of to be aware, am I eating out of hunger? I think we'll talk about what hunger is later on or am I eating out of habit or am I eating out of a stress or any other kind of emotion, just tap into that awareness and work to do what serving you in the moment.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And it's interesting because eating is this vital, absolutely essential part of our day, every single day. And we often don't give it that much thought and that much attention, but it has, it impacts us in so many ways.

Megan: That's absolutely right. You know, I don't like to bash Americans as a culture because obviously we're here and I am American and, and I love our country, but, and we are the country. We are the developed country that sends the smallest percent of our income on food and spends the least time preparing food out of all developed countries, which is pretty telling in terms of how much focus we have on it.

Denaye Barahona: Right. That's, that's fascinating. I had no idea. I can't say that it surprises me, but I had no idea that we actually there were rankings for that. And they, we are, you know, at the bottom I once read a study that looked at stress levels of families and or parents. I think it was the stress levels of parents and the quality of food that they were eating and the higher, the stress level, the poor quality of food that they were eating. And that I'm not sure exactly why that even needed a study, but from a practical standpoint, it makes sense. I think about when we moved two and a half years ago and how much stress we were under for several months and how much frozen pizza we ate and there was an absolute correlation.

Megan: Absolutely. And there's a huge difference between beating yourself up over one night, a frozen pizza, which I think no one should ever do. Right. It happens to all of us versus letting that two and a half months turn into two and a half years turn into, this is just your habit. This is the way you do life because you're not treating your body your best and you're not feeling your best when you let those habits bleed into too long.

Denaye Barahona: Right. So tell me about a little bit about what you do, what your practice looks like and what types of challenges you see the most with moms.

Megan: Yeah, so it is very cliche. But it's true that the challenge I see most often with moms is that they're not prioritizing themselves in any way in terms of time, in terms of food, in terms of energy, et cetera and so I do see many moms and I love working with moms about 60% of my one-to-one clients are moms and with these moms and with anyone else I see them every week or every other week, either here in my office in Dallas, or I have clients all around the country and the globe by Skype or, or phone or whatever mode of technology we prefer on that day.

Megan: So it's a coaching relationship. It's either every week or every other week, like I said, for two to six months, because these habits take a while to change. I'm going to try my absolute best to give all the value I can in the short time we have today. But for the listeners or viewers, if you hear something and you don't instantaneously change day one, that's okay, that's totally normal. This stuff is a habit change. And so give yourself some grace that it does take a little while to change as, as long as you're focusing on it. And you're gleaning some tips from today, you're doing the right thing.

Denaye Barahona: Right. So, do you feel like it's kind of two steps forward, one steps back when it comes to eating better and eating more mindfully?

Megan: Yes, but I don't like to think of it as a step back. I like to think of the times when we slip or when we do eat totally emotionally and mindlessly as a learning as an opportunity for learning, because we're getting more aware, we're becoming more aware of our tendencies and that strengthens our ability to eat more mindfully in the future.

Megan: So, it's not a step back really. I certainly I've been working on this for myself for 15 years now and I still emotionally eat sometimes. And you could think of that as, Oh my gosh, she's really slow. She doesn't get it. And she does this as a job or you could recognize that I used to emotionally eat multiple times every day. And now it's a couple of times every, or once every few months or something like that. So, I am getting much more in tune with my body, but it still happens and I don't beat myself up. I just choose to learn from it.

Denaye Barahona: Right and I notice it.

Megan: Yes.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I guess that's just part of being human, right. That we're never going to be eating perfectly. And the minute we start striving for perfection in any area of our life, we always fall short.

Megan: Absolutely agree.

Denaye Barahona: And I love that your approach, you'd never point towards perfection and or any absolutes for that matter. I really feel like you really emphasize the fact that we're human and food should be something that we enjoy. And it shouldn't be something that we have a battle with our entire lives. Yes. And so when it comes to mindful eating, I know. Okay, so full disclosure, I follow you on Instagram and I see your meal prep every week. And for years probably I saw your meal prep every week. And I was like, Ugh, I could never do that. Like just for time and energy Sundays, you usually do your meal prep on Sundays, right?

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. So I'm no, never, never, ever could I do that? Like that looks beautiful and wonderful. And I've probably is a great thing, but I just wouldn't be able to execute it. And so I never even tried because I was so intimidated by the idea. So prep dish, which sponsors the podcast periodically, they sent me a trial package. You like try out prep dish, basically what it is is it's like a program where they tell you how to prep the foods on one day so that you have a really easy just like kind of almost grab and go and, and be ready for the rest of the week. So I tried it and I was like, Oh my goodness, I can do this. And I know a lot of other people listening have tried proposition other similar programs that have helped with actual meal prep. But I'm curious about how you do it. Do you just like pick a few recipes and cook them on Sundays? Like what do you do for your meal prep that looks so beautiful and functional every week.

Megan: Well thank you for following and for the compliments. I actually hesitate to share my meal prep all the time, because this is what works for me. I have a really unique situation where my husband oftentimes cooks for himself. I eat most of my meals here in the office. I don't have kids to cook for. So all of those together just make it a really unique and I think everyone's meal prep should be unique for them. So I hate to have people look at mine and say, Oh, I can't do that. So I can't do anything. This is really just what works for me. To answer your question. What I do is choose one new recipe per week. And then I fill in the others with things that I've made many times before. So for breakfast, I'm almost always having a breakfast casserole which is just a staple.

Megan: I can make it in five minutes of active time and it's super easy, right? Those kinds of things I'm filling in and then turning my attention to one new recipe for me. I'm also totally okay, eating leftovers, which is a gift and something I've worked to do because it just makes life easier. So, I have the advantage there. Now, what I recommend for more people most people is to do something similar to what it sounds like you're doing with, or without the service prep, a couple of staples. So maybe prep, some chicken breasts or some beans, or a couple pans of roasted vegetables, or even chop up raw vegetables and have them available. And don't put so much pressure on yourself to make the whole meal in a Tupperware. Most families that I work with don't do that. They don't prepare the full meal.

Megan: But I like to think of the staples and then mix and match combinations. Here's an example. If I prepped a bunch of chicken breasts and roasted broccoli and some sweet potatoes, then one night I could turn those into chicken tacos, right? I just grabbed some ideally healthier tortillas, maybe even some lettuce wraps and we'd build our own tacos. Then the next night I might make it into a stir fry or even stuffed sweet potatoes, add some beans on there with the broccoli, and then I might make it into fajita. You know, you can just keep going and going and going with the staples in a way that your family may or may not even catch on to the fact that you're making it, but having a little bit of the work done for you and having some easy to grab options. Those are key.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. So chopping some vegetables like chopping, like my kids love to eat slices of red peppers. So sizing up peppers, I'm imagining doing this, I don't do this, but I could do this slicing up a few peppers every week. And then I could easily toss them in a skillet in the morning to eat with eggs, or we can eat them raw or we could put them in the heaters, whatever it might be. So, having some vegetables, prepped and having some proteins prepped and then figuring out ways to mix them up.

Megan: Exactly. Exactly.

Denaye Barahona: So I generally that's, I guess that's one of the ways that I've found the easiest to feed my family well for dinner is Kevin proteins, having vegetables and figuring out kind of a way to make them all come together. And that I also feel like it helps me eat more seasonally cause I just go to the grocery store and I get whatever's on sale as far as the vegetables go and it tends to be the things that are seasonal.

Megan: Absolutely. Seasonal depends on where you are in the country as well, but that's important as if you can get produce, that's closer grown to where you live. That's great and seasonal eating seasonally has tons of health benefits. So shopping what's on sale is great. And then forcing yourself to be a little creative with whatever it is that you've come up with.

Denaye Barahona: I know that a lot of people are really tied to this idea that you have to have a recipe for everything and I've let go of this. And I've found that letting go of the need for recipes has been really freeing because sometimes I do just like toss, like salt and pepper on some chicken breasts and on some vegetables, stick it in the oven and roast it and no recipe, just making sure everything's cooked and it has salt and pepper. And we're good to go. I don't know. Do you find that cooking without a recipe can be a little bit freeing too?

Megan: For me, it's totally freeing, which is funny because I'm a type a like by the books person. So you might imagine that I would love recipes but I find it much easier to just go with it. Now, I am also not a gourmet. My palette is not super duper refined. I like food to taste good, but it doesn't have to be like the best meal I've ever had in my life. And so I'm totally cool with throwing a new spice on a chicken breast and calling it a meal with some vegetables, like you said. But if you are, if you have a more particular palette then I would suggest following a recipe just at first, if you're experimenting or if you're new to this and you have a Crock-Pot or instant pot, I think a soup is the easiest way to prove to yourself that you don't need a recipe. I just go for about, I don't know, two cups of vegetables per serving that I'm putting in there and then toss in a protein beans, chicken, ground beef, whatever it is you want to use, fill it up with broth, add some seasonings in there, turn it on and you'll find that it's pretty good most of the time.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I think, and I imagine that this will resonate with some people listening, but I know that when I was newly married and it was just my husband and I, that we spent more, we had fun cooking in the kitchen and we had more time to do it. And we were cooking more elaborate gourmet things. And then after we had kids, we didn't have that time and energy anymore. And the cooking became more, a matter of function. So, it was less fancy and I really had to lower the bar in my mind, this idea that it needs to be healthy and it needs to taste okay. But it's also just fine, If I'm not cooking amazing gourmet meals every night for my family, like we're all going to be, we're all going to be okay if that happens and that's been freeing too.

Megan: Yes. So for anyone else listening, give yourself that permission as well. No one is judging your Tuesday night dinner. Anything that you don't have to post it on Instagram, it's all good. As long as they're eating something and everyone's, you know, healthy and has a roof over their head, it's all going to be fine. Some of those people, some of my clients feel pained when I say that because they take so much pride and pleasure and joy from their cooking. And so for those, I suggest choosing one night per week, if you live with a co-parent spouse partner, whatever, then hopefully one person can watch the kids or you can tag team or get some childcare, but choose one night per week and still cook together. Maybe it's a Saturday night where you are going to cook a new recipe or something. So you don't have to take all the joy away. But for many of us, like, I, I'm fine not cooking anywhere main meals except maybe on a holiday. And it makes a lot more time me.

Denaye Barahona: It does. Yes. And I think that if we can just let that go and lower the bar for most of the nights, like you said, maybe pick one night of the week. If it's something that you enjoy, it's something that your family enjoys doing together. Or maybe it's just to brings you a little bit of peace cooking in the kitchen, especially if your kids are elsewhere and occupied or maybe cooking with you, whatever, whatever your thing is, but finding space to do that, but not expecting to do it every single night. Absolutely. So would you say meal prep, prep in advance is one of the most important parts of making mindful eating actually happen?

Megan: Ooh, the most important parts is one of several most important parts. Yes. one of many, I think that having options available is critical, even if you were mindful, but there was nothing available. You might have to eat the Doritos anyway. Cause that's the only thing there. So it is a necessary precursor, but even before choosing the food, we need to work on our awareness of the tendency to mindfully.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. I think I'm looking at my schedule because I work from home. I think that I tend to mindlessly eat even more than if I was outside of the home because I have a kitchen at my disposal. If I was in an office, I don't feel like I would do that quite as much, but I definitely wander into the kitchen and like grab little things that I probably should be grabbing all the time and yeah, any tips for, for people who spend a lot of time at home and have access to all the time and getting kind of reigning in that snacking tendency.

Megan: Absolutely. The first tip is to figure out why you're doing it for most of us, it is boredom or I feel some uncomfortable emotions. Our brains are pretty like good or bad, right? And so if we're feeling guilty, lonely, stressed, tired, whatever our brain says, Oh, that needs some dopamine needs some endorphins. And the quickest way to do that is often food, right? We've told ourselves, which honestly is true that when we eat sugar or when we eat something crunchy that we do get a rush of endorphins. What we don't think about in the more in the moment is that it's short-lived and it's not solving the problem at all. So, the way we think you're out, what is going on is to put a post-it note by your pantry or refrigerator or wherever you're going to go to get the snacks and remind yourself to think of one word before you snack.

Megan: So the post-it note might just have a smiley face or something on there. It doesn't have to say anything, but that is just serving to remind you to do this. Then before you grab the food, your goal is to think of one word, to describe that emotion. For me, I'm usually reaching for the M and M's or some kind of low quality chocolate, and the emotion would probably be overwhelmed or stressed or something like that. Let's say for you, the emotion is tired. Well, what's the natural antidote to being tired, getting some sleep, right? So if it's possible, get some sleep, let's say it's guilty that you're feeling guilty. And so you're going to snack. Well, maybe you can call up someone and apologize, try to figure out something that can really alleviate that emotion. But sometimes it's just not possible. Sometimes you're stuffing something in your mouth on the way to drive out to carpool.

Megan: And you don't have time to call that person and apologize or take a nap or whatever it is still the awareness of what's going on will help you eventually stop that behavior because you realize, Oh, I'm eating. Cause I feel guilty. Well, it's not really helping here. So that's step one is the awareness and just putting a post-it note, asking yourself what's going on. The secondpractice that I would encourage people to try is before you're having a meal, ideally, or even a snack, however often you can remember to do it, rate your hunger on a scale of one to 10, because most of us don't really know what hunger feels like. Believe it or not.

Megan: We live in an area era where we're constantly eating and we forgotten what it means to feel hungry. So if our stomach actually grumbles every once in a while, we're like, Ooh, wow, what's going on? But really that's a normal feeling to have. We've just become so detached from it. So the one to 10 exercise is just encouraging us to tap into what it feels like to be hungry and be aware if I rate myself a seven, 10 is the most full. If I'm a seven, when I sit down for dinner, well, I probably don't need to eat two giant plates of food. But if I'm a two, Oh, that's interesting. Also there's no good or bad. It's just an exercise to be aware.

Denaye Barahona: So thinking about the post-it note example, I'm like running the ideas through my head. And I think that I probably snack out of avoidance. Like I'm trying to avoid doing something and I need a little break. I think that I'm using snacks as a break. Do you see that?

Megan: Oh, all the time. All the time. So I love exercise, which again is something that I feel fortunate to love. So for me, a little break could be walking around the block. If I had time to do that, it's 10 minutes or whatever a break could be walking around the block or even doing 20 jumping jacks or something like that. You're giving yourself permission to do something healthy for you. That's not food, but that will let your mind relax. We think that, and I am so guilty of this too. We think we have to go, go, go productive city, like knock the next thing off of our to-do list without taking a break. But we become really inefficient when we do that. So if you're reaching for that snack food, because you need a break, try to give yourself a break, even if it's only a few minutes.

Megan: And then have you ever heard of Mel Robbins and the five, four, three, two, one rule? No I haven't. She has a great Ted talk that maybe we can link in the show notes of the rule is whatever you're avoiding you just say five, four, three, two, one, and you do it. And it sounds so simplistic, but it actually works. I do this for getting out of a shower because I would love to just stay in the shower for 20 minutes and it feels good or whatever, but it's not useful for my time or the environment. So I just say five, four, three, two, one, boom, pull that handle. And it's done. So give yourself a break first and then five, four, three, two, one, just get it done. Whatever you're avoiding. It is going to be much easier to do it than to let it sit up here in your brain for too long.

Denaye Barahona: I'm going to try that with my kids, because for some reason there's a tendency with kids to count to three and it's like, I'm going to get to a one, two, three, and we're going to do it. But I actually think that countdown is more fun in many ways. Cause it makes me think of a rocket ship blasting off and like getting started at count down, definitely resonates with action and doing something. So I'm going to try that out, out on my kids. And I'll report back to you five, four, three, two, one, get in your car seat.

Megan: Uh and, and maybe even make it a game like five, four, three, two, one blast off, get in that car seat. Right. Make it fun and see if they'll bite

Denaye Barahona: And I'm going to try it on my myself too and see how that goes. But yeah, I think that, I, I mean, I, there are times that I feel like I do okay. At mindful eating, like at home, I struggle, but when I'm out, because I'm gluten-free so that actually makes mindful eating. I'm out of the house really easy. I think anyone that has any kind of restrictions as far as their diet, whether it's food intolerance or if you eat kosher or whatever it is, you actually have to think before you put anything into your mouth that is like mindful eating in a nutshell, right?

Megan: Yes, exactly. So are you willing to share, and if not, I can share my own example, but are you willing to share when you chose to be gluten-free and why?

Denaye Barahona: Yeah, so I went gluten-free my gosh, what was it? 2013. When I found out that I had autoimmune disease and I had some psoriasis on my neck that was sort of associated with another autoimmune disease and I gave up gluten and it went away in a week.

Denaye Barahona: And I have since found that what I eat absolutely has an impact, not only on how my whole body feels, but also on, I have this visible reminder, this psoriasis that comes up when I'm not eating well. And when I'm under too much stress, it's like a visible exterior marker of my wellbeing. And in many ways, I mean, I hate it, but I also love it because it's like, Oh, psoriasis is acting up. I need to be taking better care of myself. I have too much stress eating too much sugar or whatever it is, but there is 100% a connection between the way that I'm taking care of myself and my physical health.

Megan: Yes. Thank you for sharing that. I couldn't have said it better myself. It is such a great example because you experienced this symptom. Now, as soon as you ate a Cracker or a piece of bread, it's not like instantly the psoriasis would pop up on your neck, but you knew that if you could cut out the gluten for a week or however long that you would avoid the symptom of psoriasis and the same thing happens with all of the food, it's just about making the connection.

Megan: So, sugar for me makes me feel happy for about 10 seconds. But if I eat too much of it over time, then it makes me feel sluggish. It makes me feel bloated. It might make me break out, need more sleep, all of these kinds of things. And so I have to work to make the connection just like you did in 2013, it probably took a lot more awareness at the beginning when you were learning what things had gluten in it and what things didn't and you were reminding yourself, Oh yeah, I can't buy that bread for the CNR.

Megan: Choose not to buy that bread for the sandwich anymore because now I'm gluten free. You had to think about it a lot more than, but you practiced because you knew the outcome you were going to get. And now it's probably a lot more natural for you. You just know that you don't eat gluten when you scan the menus, et cetera, you have your habits. And the same thing applies with mindful eating. We just have to convince ourselves why we're doing this. Why we choose to eat healthily and know that at the beginning, it's a lot harder to get into the habit, but it will become more.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah, we need to have that underlying investment. Like we need to truly buy in to the fact that this is a worthy thing to pursue because it does time and it takes mental and physical energy.

Megan: Absolutely.

Denaye Barahona: So when it comes to eating more mindfully, I think about cravings because I know that since I've been eating, I mean, I feel like every year I'm doing a tiny little bit better with eating more healthy and I feel like as I've discovered the things that that actually make me feel better, like turmeric, which is something that you recommended to me. So I, interestingly crave turmeric, if I'm at the store and I skipped turmeric drink, I'm like, Oh, that sounds so good. Which is such a weird thing to crave. But I do. I mean, I definitely crave it and also tool CT, which you also introduced me to.

Megan: I love it.

Denaye Barahona: I absolutely craved that. And I didn't notice at first that I was craving it until it, so I bought like this whole case on Amazon and for anyone I've talked about this a few times before, but you had told me a couple of years ago that this was a take the edge off tea, which can replace a glass of wine. And I was like, no way, definitely not, not gonna work. So, I bought like a whole case of it on Amazon. I was like, all right. If Megan says, then I'll try it. So I had been working my way through this whole case of organic India, dual CT. And I ran out, I didn't think it was doing anything for me, but then I ran out and I was like, my goodness, I need it like that. See, because it does, it really helps and I found that I was craving it. So, it was craving these things that make me feel good. But then I also do feel like I crave things that don't make me feel good. So, I mean, how do we pay attention to cravings and know what, what to listen to and what not to listen to

Megan: Is really hard. So I'm glad we're talking about this. It's a complex challenge. There are a couple things like if we're always craving chocolate, I know to check for a magnesium deficiency or tryto supplement with magnesium and see if that helps people feel better. If you're craving salt, maybe we need to check your adrenals maybe have the salt food for a little while, actual vegetables and things like that and see if you feel better. So there are a few things that my brain automatically says, okay, we need to try this or check this with their health. But in general, everyone's cravings are different. And I really believe that cravings can be a signal or usually are a signal for something that our body needs. So if you're craving, let me think of something that might not be ideal, Kentucky fried chicken, right?

Megan: Uh if you're craving KFC, well, I'm pretty sure your body doesn't actually have a KFC deficiency, but maybe you're craving comfort. So an emotion, or maybe you're even craving healthy fat, like filling satiating, grounding food. Maybe you need a little bit more fat in your food. Cause we know KFC isfull of maybe not the optimal type of fat. But maybe you could satisfy your craving with an avocado or healthy like potato based soup, something heavy that might sit with you a little bit more if you're craving. Tell me another food craving that you might have. Do you have an example?

Denaye Barahona: Sugar.

Megan: Sugar. Okay. Most of the time when we're craving sugar and trust me, this happens to me too. Most of the time, it's one of two things. It's either that upper emotionally, because our brain is feeling our bodies feeling stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, something like that.

Megan: Or it's that exhaustion it's number two, tired. So again, we can't always take a nap in the middle of the day. I wish we could just take a nap whenever we felt a little bit tired, but if we notice that we're craving sugar more often check in with yourself, are you getting adequate sleep? Are you eating too much sugar to where your body only learns to rely on sugar? And it needs that it either needs a nap or sugar for to keep going, check to see what habits you can change, because it really is a signal that your body's asking you for more energy. You have to do that. Or it is recommended to do that in a healthier way, but it's a true signal.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. So what do you think about adaptogens? So I've been taking ashwagandha and Rhodiola for probably, I don't know, year and a half or so. And I think that they make me, they balance me out so well, and I've done so much for my overall wellbeing. And I actually read after I had been taking them for a while, that ashwagandha helps to moderate cravings. Is there some research that supports that?

Megan: Absolutely. So you're taking another adoptogen without knowing it, the tool CT is Holy basil and Holy basil is an adaptogens. So all of these adaptogens now we're getting into adaptogenic mushrooms, there's mushroom coffees, all of this kind of stuff. The layman's version of what an adaptogen is. Is it moderates any level that's out of any hormonal level that's out of balance in your body? So let's say your cortisol, your stress hormone was too high. Then it might moderate it to bring it a little lower. If it was too low, it might moderate it to bring in a little higher. And there are different adaptogens that are targeted at different functions in your body. But I really do believe in their power. I think that most of us in today's world are stressed. So Holy basil pretty easy.

Megan: One to target ashwagandha, like you said, manages cravings also helps us manage stress. So, that's another easy one to try, but if we get into the more specific ones you might want to do a little more research before just taking a bunch of blanketed adaptogens. I think they're very powerful though.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. Do you take any yourself?

Megan: I take ashwagandha as well for stress management and cravings, and I drink that Tulsi tea for sure. I also like lion's mane, which is a mushroom and I use this when I need to, or when I want to focus a little bit more. So if I want to write a long detailed blog post or something like that, I'll use lion's mane in a targeted way like that.

Denaye Barahona: Now do you have lion's mane like in a tea or a capsule?

Megan: So yes, I get it from four Sigmatic, which okay, great. They do a bunch of mushroom elixirs coffees, hot chocolate. Oh, that's another one. Sometimes I'll use the Reishi either the elixir or the reishi hot chocolate, which only has one gram of sugar. It's a healthy, hot chocolate. And that is used to wind down. But the lion's mane is either an elixir or a coffee.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. That sounds good. But in general, I just, from following your work closely, I feel like you're not one that really pushes a lot of supplements and that sort of thing. You're much more focused on eating better, real food, right.

Megan: Absolutely. Right. I always say that food is essential, right? We need to eat food. You can eat, not eat food for a day, whatever. I always have people say that to me. But in general, we need to eat food. And so that's where we need to start optimizing. Then once you've worked on your food, it's fun for me, honestly, to play with these different adaptogens or try new mushroom coffees or try a new supplement because this is my world. This is what I do for a living. And this is where my passion lies, but I certainly think you can be healthy without mushroom coffees even more. If that kind of stuff stresses you out, don't worry about it. Just work on taking one step to get your food,in a more balanced and nourishing and supportive direction. And then worry about all that other stuff.

Denaye Barahona: Right. Because no matter how many mushroom coffees you drink, it's not going to replace a poor diet. Right?

Megan: That is true. Unfortunately, it would be a lot easier, you know, everyone's already hunting for the magic, whatever pill or coffee or something, but I am confident it does not exist.

Denaye Barahona: Right. So let's talk a little bit more about hunger. I know we kind of touched on it, but it's something that I feel like I need to build more awareness about because I'm afraid of hunger. I'm afraid of hunger in myself. I'm afraid of hunger in my kids. I think that the emotional connection between hunger and getting grumpy is a real thing. It's a real, tangible force, right? There's a connection there.

Megan: Absolutely. And so it's normal. We are hardwired as humans to be a little scared of being hungry and it has biological reason. It's just that our biology doesn't always change as quick as our situation, our environment change changes, but thousands of years ago, hundreds of years ago, even if we were hungry, that meant it was time to start our search for food, right? Go get your bow and arrow or go forage some berries or something like that. That serves a to tell us to go look for food. Now, today it's really easy. Many of us are so fortunate that probably within arms reach right now, there are there's some aspect of food and certainly it's not that hard to come by in today's day and age. So that hunger, that fear of hunger is normal. The first thing to do is remind yourself of what I just said.

Megan: Okay, I'm getting a little scared of being hungry, but I know I have access to food right. First I would like to be prepared and bring some healthy food with me. But even if for some reason I forget, I can stop by the grocery store. I will have access to food. It's not as scary as my ancestors thought it was. But then after you remind yourself that kind of calm yourself down, I think what you said about the hangriness or the irritability, when we get hungry, that's a really telling signal. Hunger comes in two forms. One is my stomach is grumbling. Like my intestines are moving around and telling me that they are empty. And other one is all of that other associated stuff. So you get a headache, you get irritable, you get fatigued or foggy brain or something like that. All those second symptoms are related to your blood sugar.

Megan: And so we used to think couple of years ago, or maybe a couple decades ago, five to six small meals a day, everyone had to have that. And now the trend is intermittent fasting, right? Don't eat for breakfast and stay until lunch or maybe even dinner until you eat both of those. They seem opposite, but they're actually having the same goal, which is to keep your blood sugar stable. Because when our blood sugar is unstable, we feel all those other symptoms like the irritability, the headache, the foggy brain, the hunger, et cetera. And so what we can do is train our body to keep our blood sugar a little bit more stable that will help us eliminate all those other symptoms. Does that make any sense so far?

Denaye Barahona: It does. I've actually been dabbling in intermittent fasting for the past couple of weeks, doing the eat for eight hours. So I eat from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and then not eating the other 16 hours. And my main motivation in this is because I want to experience some hunger because I'm so mentally and emotionally uncomfortable with hunger that I feel like maybe I need some practice that experiencing it and getting comfortable with it. And maybe, and also I think the intermittent fasting, this dabbling that I've been doing in, and at least, I don't know how long it's going to last,is making me more mindful. It's stopping me before I'm eating, knowing, Oh, it's not 10 o'clock yet. I don't need to be eating from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Umt's making me think twice before putting things in my mouth, but overall, what do you, what do you see as the pros and cons of intermittent fasting?

Megan: Yes. So I'm going to back up for a second. Then I'm gonna go to the pros and the cons. If you decided to do that intermittent fasting eight hour window and your blood sugar was totally unstable, then you would not be able to do it. You would, even if you had a ton of willpower, you, your body would like force you to grab the Snickers bar or whatever it is. So the sign that you're doing that already means that your blood sugar is relatively stable. My goal for you would be to get stomach hungry, like that grumbling sense before you get hungry, once you do that, then you know, your blood sugar is super stable and that is one of the pros of intermittent fasting is that you're forcing your body to burn fat as fuel when you're not eating, when you're in that 16 hour window, and that's really good, that's called metabolic adaptability or flexibility.

Megan: Sometimes you can burn sugar. Sometimes you can burn fat like the body fat that we all have stored on us. And that's really good. That's one of the biggest benefits. There are benefits for digestive health, just letting your digestive system rest in between processing all of that. And there are a lot of benefits for longevity as well. The downsides for some people it's really hard. And certainly if you haven't trained your body by eating a little bit less sugar, fewer refined carbs, things like that, then it will be really hard for you. And also it's contra-indicated for a lot of people. If you have hormone imbalance, thyroid imbalance, history of eating disorders, there are a lot of people who I would recommend not do it because it can exacerbate those hormonal imbalances.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. And how does it go with work against or go along with this idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?

Megan: Yeah, I think it's not a contradictory. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It just doesn't really matter when you have breakfast means break the fast. And unfortunately, most typical American breakfast are pop tarts, sugary, cereal, bagels, pancakes, waffles, all the refined, carbs and sugar. And when we start our day with that, our blood sugar is rolling the rest of the day. We're not teaching our body to burn fat as fuel and to burn healthy foods as fuel we're teaching our body, Hey, you got ample supply of sugar.

Megan: So keep it coming. Now, if you have your breakfast at 6:00 AM or at noon, it doesn't matter to me. As long as you have something that's more stable. I would love it if it included vegetables. But even, well, just as importantly, I'm not going to say more importantly, it needs to have some protein and healthy fat and not just the sugar, that thing that you eat first is really setting your blood sugar stability for the whole rest of the day and so for me, I have a sugar tooth sweet tooth. If I don't manage it,I would crave sugar all during the day. One of the things I do is have a savory breakfast that makes that my sugar cravings are less later.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. You just completely blew my mind with the idea that breakfast is. It literally means break the fast because I'm 36 years old. And I hadn't that I never realized that. I mean, it's just, it's sort of obvious in many ways, but never putting that together. I mean, it's, yeah, it makes perfect sense. So the way you explained that yeah, I'm going to have to literally digest that because yeah, breaking the fast, regardless of how long the fast was, but how are you going to start the day? It doesn't matter if that's in the typical breakfast window between six and nine, or if it's at noon, it's a matter of how you're breaking the fast from the night before and setting yourself up for a successful day of eating for the day to come.

Megan: Exactly.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. That's so helpful. I'm that's I feel like that's my, my big learning experience for this week is breakfast to break the fast.

Denaye Barahona: Again, I feel super ignorant for not realizing that, but at the same time, I think it's a whole new way of looking at,the importance of it and how it really does set us up for success.

Megan: Yes.

Denaye Barahona: Well, thank you so much, Megan. This has been great. I've been so glad to have you back on the show.

Megan: I'm so glad to have been here at time always flies. I love what you're doing. So thank you for having me back.

Denaye Barahona: Thank you. Thanks again for tuning in this has been episode 191, simplefamilies.com/episode191. That's where you'll find the show notes and the links to all the things that Megan and I talked about today. If you want to learn more about Megan from the lyon's share wellness, you'll find those links in the show notes too. Thanks for tuning in and have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Dr. Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She partners with families to tackle the challenges of raising children. Denaye is a minimalist who claims to be a decluttering expert (don't let her near your closet). She loves to travel, talk health-and-wellness, and give unsolicited advice. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Minimalists, Motherly, Becoming Minimalist, and numerous other media outlets. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Clinical Social Worker with a specialty in child and family practice.