Chill Out and Make the World a Better Place

 

My session began with the staff offering me tea.  I chose the mint tea.  SO GOOD.  Then I sat in the lounge while the workshop was setup.  I checked out some candles, bath products that all smelled like heaven.  I sat in a chair swing for a bit and zoned out before moving myself into the back room with lounge cushions next to a fountain where I listened to the calming sound of flowing water while sipping my mint tea.  When the workshop was ready I went in the room to discover cushions big enough to lie down on and then I had 60 minutes of pure bliss.  Half of the workshop was just the sound of crystal bowls (which if you don't know what those are, I encourage you to check it out) and half a guided meditation.  A whole hour of meditation was a gift I don't often give myself and it was SO worth it.

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This was my recent experience at Chill Chicago (check them out here), a local meditation, yoga and massage center in Chicago.  A peaceful environment, but the real reason I went was to help find the peace within.  

Ahh peace.  Something we're always seeking externally that is actually hidden within.  I've been feeling somewhat turbulent, heavy energy lately.. (since the Mercury Retrograde really, if you're into that sort of thing..) and it's been pushing me towards more grounding activities.  More yoga practice.  More meditation.  More deep breaths and slowing down... which isn't easy for me.  The slowing down.  In times of turbulence in the past I never really used to respond this way.  I responded to overwhelming energies pretty mindlessly, not even thinking about it.  Not that I've mastered the art of constantly being at peace, but I'd say this is growth.  

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So in this instance I decided to book myself a Crystal Healing Bowl Meditation workshop over at Chill Chicago and I was inspired to share my experience and journey to meditation with all of you.

 

I'll spare you the details, but have you ever been through a dark or chaotic time in your life?  OF COURSE YOU HAVE.  We all have.  That's life.  There are highs and lows.  Chaos can come from both.  And sometimes we deal with chaos in not-so-healthy ways.  My whole life I had never really thought about dealing with chaotic times in any way whatsoever.  I was kind of just floating around and dealing with things in probably not-so-healthy ways, without really intended to.  Until I discovered meditation.  And I realized I could calm myself in moments of chaos and choose what energy to take on and what to let go.  HOW. FREEING.  Not that it's that easy in a world of chaos to find the quiet... it's a practice you have to make some time and space for.

 

 

 

 

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Luckily, meditation centers, like Chill Chicago, are popping up and we need them more than ever.  Especially in America!  America is a great country, but I think we are behind in that we still "live to work" rather than "work to live."  We are stressed.  And hurried.  WE NEED TO CHILL.  And enjoy life.  Otherwise, what's the point?

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Not to mention the physical and mental effects that not chilling out are having on our health.  As a Registered Dietitian, I am passionate about holistic health and I believe healthcare should focus on mind, body and spirit and sometimes I truly believe stress effects us more than even what we eat or if we exercise.  Obviously, I'm saying that with a grain of salt... nutrition and physical activity are hugely important, but we tend to ignore the stress factor.  Physically stress manifests in increasing cortisol in the body leading to holding on to more adipose tissue along with a number of other issues.  Mentally, stress can manifest in depression, anxiety and, in extreme cases, crazy acts of violence.  

 

The thing is, when you meditate, it causes you to focus on the present moment.  When you focus on the present moment, it tends to interrupt feelings of depression over things that happened in the past and anxiety over what might happen in the future.  It quiets down that mindless chatter our brains make that cause us to be preoccupied on things that are over or things that haven't even and may never actually happen.  Mediation helps the brain quiet the chatter and feel the joy of just simply being. 

 

In my own experience, I find myself going towards breath and meditation in times of stress or if someone ticks me off.  I mean, not always.  I still swear a lot in traffic.... it's an ongoing practice... :)  But the fact that I think to do that at all is pretty impressive to me! 

 

The really cool thing is, this isn't just my opinion, but research studies are looking into the benefits of meditation and yoga on mental health issues and finding positive results!  I'm hoping to see the day where meditation becomes a regular part of the school day and becomes part of the norm. It's becoming more main stream and hell, if this is the newest "trend" so be it!  People are already out there complaining about the commercialization of yoga and I'm sure meditation to follow.  I get where they're coming from to a point, BUT if it helps a whole lot of people WHO GIVES A FLYING F.  Commercialize awayyyy as far as I'm concerned.  Again, people just need something to chatter about.  Less talky, more meditatey please.  

 

And on that note, I think I should take my own advice and wrap it up here.  But if you can find 10 minutes or more in your day to give to yourself, welcome meditation into your life.  And if you have an amazing center near you like Chill Out Chicago, take your lunch break there!  Meditate, lay back for a couple minutes or just get a chair massage!  Notice how the rest of your day after that changes.  And thank me later for your newfound zen. ;-)  

 

Wishing you all so much love and light and peace.


Stay Wild,

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Danielle

 

MS, RDN, LDN

 

 

Bedtime Snacking... Yay or Nay?

“So, you’re not supposed to eat after a certain time of night, right?” 

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I get asked this ALL. THE. TIME.  And my answer is always the same... “It depends.” 

 

First of all, if you know me and my nutrition philosophy, you know I don’t think there really is a “supposed to” when it comes to nutrition and, also, that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach.  However, the answer to this question can depend on what you’ve been eating the rest of the day. 

 

For instance, are you snacking because you’ve had balanced meals/snacks throughout the day and want something to hold you over through the night?  Do you have a health condition, such as diabetes, which would make bedtime snacking potentially very important?  Or did you skip meals all day and are now starving and just want to cram some junk food down to fill the void from the lack of nutrients all day?   Or are you emotionally eating?   Or maybe something I haven’t listed here, but the point is.. there are a lot of things that can contribute to whether snacking at bedtime is a good or not so necessary idea, but I would always redirect someone back to mindful eating.  Ask yourself if you’re eating because your body is need of some fuel or are you eating because of boredom, stress, etc.? 

 

All that being said… bedtime snacking CAN be beneficial and even lead to a better night's sleep!  HOORAY (that’s what you wanted to hear, right?)!  Let me tell you how...

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Use my code "DGW" for 20% off  Drink Sleepy Head

Use my code "DGW" for 20% off Drink Sleepy Head

The first thing is… you want to make sure your snacking is part of a balanced day.  Meaning you’ve been eating nutritious, balanced meals/snacks throughout the day and haven’t been over doing it.  The second thing is, making sure the snack is balanced and nutritious itself.  So, probably not ice cream or chips (every now and then.. yes, of course indulge because balance is important, but not on the reg).   When I say “balanced” snack I mean a snack composed of a variety of macronutrients (protein, healthy fat/complex carbs).  This is important because a balanced snack will slow digestion, keeping you satisfied longer, offer more nutrition and regulate blood sugars better throughout the night which can help you sleep better throughout the night, too... wink, wink. 

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Here are some ideas for healthy snacking:

-Apple and almond butter

-Grain free crackers or veggies and hummus

-Gran free chips and guac/salsa/bean dip

-Greek yogurt with fruit and grain-free granola

-1/2 a sandwich

-Certain health bars

-Drink Sleepyhead hot bevs along with one of these tasty snacks to help you wind down and get a good night’s rest

-Handful of mixed nuts

-Energy balls

 

 

Stay Wild,

Danielle

MS, RDN, LDN

What the Hell, "What the Health?"

So this will not be the most scientific of reviews, but more of me offering my personal, dietitian opinion (mini-rant) on this documentary since I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my thoughts on it. 

Within the first 22 minutes I wanted to pull my hair out, but nonetheless, I perservered on for review purposes.  “Documentary” is such a loose term.  The problem with “documentaries” like these, i.e., “scare tactics,” is that they can be done irresponsibly and with so much bias it makes my head spin.  I don't mean to pick on, "What's the Health?" in particular because many documentaries use this method, but this one is current so yeah.. I'm going to pick on it.

First of all, processed meat isn’t great for us… WHAT??!! This is brand new information to me!!  ::Sarcasm::

Sorry, but this should have been kind of a, “DUH,” moment for most of us. 

No, processed meat isn’t GREAT.  I think the consensus has pretty much been that nothing processed is GREAT for us.  As a whole, I agree that we could stand to limit the quantity of meat and dairy in our diets.  Should we encourage eating more vegetables and plant-based foods?  HELL YES.  However, this documentary OBVIOUSLY has an agenda to frighten people into becoming vegan.  I am NOT anti-vegan.  If you want to be vegan because of beliefs or values or the animals or you feel better eating that way… ALL FOR IT.   DO YOU, BOO. 

However, please give people accurate, unbiased information so that they can make an educated decision for themselves.  If I wanted to convince you that a specific food causes cancer, I could more than likely dig up some obscure article that backs those findings and it’s probably sponsored by that food’s competitor.  Not everyone realizes that when they watch something like this, though.  Some people take it for face value and don’t do their own research to see if what they’re being sold even makes sense.  This documentary is insinuating that other companies or organizations are biased in telling you to eat more protein and meat and yet, “What the Health?” is hypocritically doing the same thing for the exact opposite purpose.     

Pictured here: Eggs, aka, Cigarettes... SIKE.

Pictured here: Eggs, aka, Cigarettes... SIKE.

Second of all… No, I don’t always think the government recommendations are exactly “up to par” and, yes, I think conflicts of interest may exist between pharmaceuticals and the government which is why I encourage others to take a more holistic approach to their health and choose whole, REAL foods most of the time.  I’m not going to get into the statistics used in this documentary to scare people (such as, comparing eggs to cigarettes ::insert upside down smiley emoji here::) because other articles have already done a fabulous job of debunking those stats.  Hit up Google for those. 

Thirdly… Anytime in the history of diets ever that we have excluded entire food groups it realllyyyyy hasn’t gone very well for us.  Allow me to refresh your memory… The low-fat diet.  And now everyone wants to be Ketogenic and eat ALL THE FAT.  The low-carb diet which resulted in Atkins which made everyone want steak and bacon all day long.  Basically, all of these equate to us eating more of other shit we don’t need to eat more of (I disclaimered this wouldn’t be scientific so I can say, “shit”) or something that we would later say DID NOT WORK for the general population.  

BALANCE GUYS.  To insinuate that eating mass quans of sugar and carbs is all good as long as you don’t eat meat is frustrating to hear.   So, we can eat biscuits and skittles everyday and in any quantity we want and it’ll be all good?   C’mon, at least encourage healthful carbohydrate sources when you’re insinuating something like this.   You know what a good carb source to eat more of is… VEGETABLES.  What about taking an approach of encouraging people to eat more vegetables and the benefits of doing that rather than trying to create fear of meat? 

To re-emphasize, I am not saying it’s wrong to be vegan or vegetarian and exclude meat.  My philosophy is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to nutrition and I know vegans and vegetarians who do so healthfully.  I know meat eaters who are healthy, too.  There are SO MANY factors that contribute to health outcomes.   A documentary supporting veganism is cool, but do so in a credible way.  This documentary almost discredits vegans by being over the top.

All this being said, "What the Health?" has been successful in doing what it set out to do.. get people talking.  The reason documentaries like these get so much attention is the same reason fad diets get attention.  Everyone just wants to hear that there’s a quick fix.  Stop eating meat and you’ll live forever (okay, I’m being dramatic, but this documentary is dramatic so we’re even).  The thing is guys… there hasn’t ever and there isn’t ever going to be a “quick fix.”  Eat whole, REAL foods MOST OF THE TIME.  Live an active lifestyle.  Take time to de-stress.  Work on building a healthy, long-term relationship with food through mindfulness. 

And most importantly… take information like this with a grain of salt (oooh… pun intended. I’m sorry, guys.  Lame joke.).  Do your own research.  Don’t jump on all the bandwagons.  And most importantly…

 

Stay Wild,

Danielle

MS, RD, LDN

Hello Wonderful, Wild World...

Okay, here goes…  HI GUYS!!  I know what you’re thinking.. ANOTHER girl with a blog.  I know.  In my defense, since I’m constantly sharing nutrition, yoga and other wellness-related info, I’ve been playing around with the idea of starting a blog for a while and finally decided to just go for it.  I mean, why the heck not?  “YOLO,” as the kids say…   Joking aside, I feel like I have things to share with the world that other like-minded folks out there would dig and we could share ideas back and forth and be inspired by one another.  So I’m going with my gut on this one.

A lot of what held me back from starting this adventure sooner was simply not knowing where to begin.  How do you start something like this?   So I decided to just start at the beginning with the “why” of this Dietitian Gone Wild blog and where I hope to take it.  If you wait for everything to be perfect before you begin, you’ll never begin and, to be honest, I’m kind of a spontaneous, risk-taker type anyhow.  I take pride in that.  That’s why it’s Dietitian Gone WILD and not Dietitian Gone Timid.   


So, that’s where I want to go first with you...  The name.  Why “Dietitian Gone Wild?”  Well.. a lot of reasons actually:

The first reason is related to "wild" foods.  By this I mean whole and natural foods.  If you read the Nutrition Philosophy on my site, you’ll know I believe in Holistic Nutrition and, for me, that means replacing the processed, hormone and pesticide containing foods in our diets with more whole, clean, REAL food because that is what leads to a more optimally functioning body.  I mean, why would we assume we could feed ourselves crap and expect our bods to function optimally?  Seems kind of like a "duh," right?  Still.. easier said than done and that's where I want to be available to help.  If you’re looking for a calorie count, I’m probably not your girl.  I’m all for listening to our bodies and healing our bodies and then seeing the positive rewards.

The second way “wild” resonates with me piggybacks on the holistic nutrition philosophy I mentioned above.  To achieve positive health outcomes, I believe we need to look at the entire picture.  Not just our diets or our exercise routines, but mind, body and soul.  In today’s society we are STRESSED O U T.  Like, really stressed out.  And workaholics.  And over-stimulated by the increase in communication thanks to technology.  We do NOT stop and just… chill.  We don't get out into nature enough.  We don't PLAY enough.  And unfortunately,  our bodies respond to this in a big way.  More research is beginning to look at the benefits of mindfulness and mediation on reducing stress and improving our physical health outcomes and I strongly believe incorporating these into our lives can help our bodies function optimally.  We need to find what it is that lights up our soul and fires up passion within us and do more of those things!  I WON'T believe we’re on this earth to work hard and die.  I believe we need to find that wild within us (which is unique for all of us) and embrace it fully!

And the final way “wild” speaks to me has to do with my personality, which you'll get to know a lot better if you (hopefully) continue to check out Dietitian Gone Wild.  Most Registered Dietitian’s are very strong Type A’s.  And in a lot of ways, I am.  I've always been a good student/dedicated employee, picked things up quickly and paid attention to details.  However, in a lot of ways, I am NOT Type A.  I am very go-with-the-flow and adventurous and spontaneous and all that good stuff.  Blame it on the Gemini, if you're into that sort of thing.  I believe in being healthy and that it’s hugely important, but I acknowledge that we’re human and sometimes you may just need a pizza and a beer and that THAT’S OKAY.  That’s part of the “feeding our souls.”  We need to have FUN and let loose every now and then.  Letting loose and having fun looks different to everyone, so I’m not suggesting everyone needs pizza and beer sometimes (even if I want to), but I’m just saying we need to find the balance.  Embrace your wild and learn how to balance it out.  And if you need help with that, well… I know a dietitian who's up to the task (wink, wink). 


So hopefully by now you’ve caught on that sarcasm is one of my favorite pastimes, but in all sincerity, I am VERY passionate about health and wellness.  I believe my calling is to share this passion and help others via this route.  I created Dietitian Gone Wild for that purpose and with it I hope to share recipes, health tid-bits, holistic concepts, yoga talk, travel and how that can feed our souls and lots, lots more!  I want to use this as an outlet to inspire and get inspiration back, because generally what we put out into the Universe, we get back.  So feel free to chat me up!  Leave comments, follow on social media, email me.. WHATEVER!  Looking forward to beginning this adventure and hope to have you along for the ride.

 

Stay wild,

Danielle

MS, RD, LDN