Category Archives: Conscious Eating & Living

Cook Outside the Box

Cook outside the box.Last week I received a petition to ask Kraft to stop using dangerous food dyes in our mac & cheese.  Apparently Kraft does not use Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 in the mac & cheese they sell in other countries, including the UK, because of consumer outcry.  I signed the petition and you can too at  There is also an interesting video you can watch by the organizers of the petition.  According to their test, the UK version and US version look and taste the same, so why do we need dyes?   You might also want to educate yourself about the reasons food dyes aren’t good for you.  Reasons like “hyperactivity in children.”  You definitely don’t need that.  And, they may be contaminated with known carcinogens (a.k.a. an agent directly involved in causing cancer).

Instead of waiting on Kraft to change their product, you can make your own mac & cheese at home.  Yes, you can cook outside the box!  I did on Sunday and thought I’d blog you my results.  As you can see from the picture, it looks great!  I served it up with a spinach salad and a grilled organic chicken sausage.

Here’s the recipe, slightly changed from the one I found on Pioneer Woman’s website called Spicy Macaroni and Cheese.  The whole meal took me 45 minutes to prepare—a little longer than my desired 30 minute meals, but worth the effort.  You can even leave out all of the extras like red onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and chilies for the kiddos if you want and it would take less time to make. Continue reading

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Use Mindfulness To Counter Cravings

If you don’t know what “bliss point,” “sensory-specific satiety,” “mouth feel,” “perfect break point,” and “vanishing caloric density”  are then you should probably read the new book entitled “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” or at least read an excerpt in the intriguing article by the author, Michael Moss, in this week’s New York Times.

These are all terms widely used in the food industry to describe how food is scientifically constructed  to bring the “greatest eating pleasure” (in other words, the strongest craving).   Mr. Moss’s interviews with food industry insiders tell a story that appalls as much as the food addicts.  Yes, the food industry spends billions of dollars developing food that addicts you, designing psychologically-appealing products, and creating advertising that catches your attention—all in the ongoing campaign to keep you coming back for more.  That “coming back for more” has resulted in the alarming rates of obesity and the associated health problems such as diabetes and hypertension.  Basically, if you are eating processed food you should take note and beware.  This is not “real food” but a “food like substance” (as Michael Pollan would say,) and it is designed to set up cravings in your body. The limbic brain loves sugar, fat, and salt and the food industry knows it.  It isn’t your fault you crave their carefully constructed food.  It’s just the way we are designed. 

In my estimation there are two solutions to this problem.  Continue reading

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Eat for Life – Mindful Eating Course starting in January

The holidays are beginning to wind down and now is the time you might start to wonder in a slightly agitated voice “how could I have eaten so much over the holidays?” or “why can’t fit into these pants anymore (did they shrink)?”   If that resonates with you or if you’re just looking to get the new year off to a good start with eating better and treating your body better,  Eat for Life might be just what you’re looking for. 

 Eat for Life is a 10 week class I developed which teaches you the skills of mindful and intuitive eating. The class is available in person (in Columbia, MO) and online (so you can take it anywhere in the world).  The online course is done from the luxury of your own home and you follow along with each week’s assignments on your own time schedule.  There is never a time you have to be “online” for a group discussion.   Plus, you’ll get little inspirational emails from me twice a week to keep you on task! 

This non-diet approach to eating uses a non-judgmental and compassionate approach to re-learning how to use your internal physical cues to guide what, when, how, and why you eat.  In other words, this is NOT an approach that shames you into losing weight fast like some reality TV shows you might have watched.  While that might work for some, it is not the recommended technique for long lasting change. 

 By the way, I’ve done some research on this program and the results indicate the class participants do learn to listen to their bodies messages about how to eat, they have a better appreciation for their bodies (which usually lends itself to treating it better), they engage in less binge eating, and they are more mindful (which is key in helping you change).    

 Here are the dates, times, and cost for the online class.  Let me know if you need any additional information or want to enroll.   If you are interested in the in-person class (in Columbia, MO) or are a faculty, staff, or retiree of the University of Missouri, please contact me for your cost information.   You get the class cheaper because it’s part of your benefit package.


Orientation – week of January 18                                                                                        10 Week Class – week of January 25 – week of April 5 (except spring break)Cost: $180 for members of the community (anywhere around the world)

Registration form must be received by January 14.   My email is



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It’s time to “Eat Real!”

Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food—sounds a lot like the Slow Food Movement to me.  Events are taking place across the nation to promote “eating real” food.  Go to the website to find out about events in your area and to take their “real food” quiz to find out how your food intake measures up in terms of your health, environment, and animal welfare.  I fared pretty well on the quiz (I got an “A”), but I’m not sure I understood all of the reasoning behind their scoring system.

What I do like is their priorities:

What’s not to like about those ideas?  With so much of our food supply being connected to the promotion of disease (e.g. obesity, heart disease, cancer), it’s no longer a good idea to be unconscious about what we’re eating and the impact it has on our own health as well as the health of the world around us.

 Among other events hosted here at the University of Missouri in Columbia is a Campus Farmers Market and Fair Food Fair on Thursday, October 25, from 10 am to 2 pm. For more events go the Environmental Leadership Office website 

How “real” can you make your food consumption?  Spend a little more time thinking about where your food comes from before you eat.  I even heard there is a month long challenge in October to eat only non-processed foods.  Since we are almost to the end of the month, maybe try it for the next week and see how you do.  Report back on what you discovered.

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Mindfulness Helps You Sit With Pain (Emotional and Physical)

It’s the second week of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program and some people are wondering why on earth I am asking them to do the body scan every day (a formal mindfulness exercise that asks people to systematically bring attention to their body from head to toe).  All kinds of comments are made after we do it at the beginning of class. On one hand, people say things like “It’s kind of boring,” “My mind wanders all over the place,” “The more I do it the less attention I pay to it (and I don’t like the recording).” On the other hand, people indicate “It’s really relaxing,” “I’ve noticed how it’s changed the way I relate to other things in my life,” “I’m able to release the tension in my body,” and “I am more able to cope with my pain.”

Our lives are filled with things that we like and things that we don’t like.  We feel pain (both emotional and physical) and we feel joy. Mindfulness teaches us to treat all our experiences with equal care and compassion and kindness.  Meeting life head-on in each moment teaches us that we can be with whatever is present without reacting. And if reacting is happening, we notice that with curiosity and openness. Continue reading

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The Value of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a great way of helping us contemplate our values.   When we’re present we can really feel the contentment and ease of our lives when we’re living in a way consistent with what we belief in and how we would like to behave.  And conversely, you can feel the discomfort of living and behaving in a way that is less than what we hope for ourselves.

Presenting a workshop recently on “Making Your Life The Best It Can Be.” I was struck by how much emphasis I was giving to the idea of knowing your values and living from them.  Two suggestions that I give people to manage their “spiritual energy” are the following:

  • Make a list of your values and evaluate your life with those in mind
  • Set intentions for yourself based on your values

These sound so obvious, but I don’t think people (myself included) put much thought doing this very often. We’re too busy. Right?!  But, what an important thing this is to do for our wellbeing.  

Personally, “physical health” is one of the most important values I hold. Of course I am a Health Psychologist, but in all my years of talking to people, I have never heard anyone say they didn’t value their health.   Without your health, the rest of your life can suffer tremendously.  Yet we often don’t think about our health until we don’t have it.  

What if you were to remember every day that you value your health?  How would you behave differently?  Would you move your body more? Would you pay more attention to what kind of food you fed your body? 

I know we can find a thousand and three excuses for not exercising and for eating too much junk food, but what values are these excuses based on?   Often times it is based on a value held by the little rebel inside who says “I don’t feel like it” or “I can do whatever I want to do.”  (Imagine yourself as a six year old when you say that!)That little rebel is reacting to some past experience of not feeling in control or having someone else control you.  However, letting the little rebel take care of your health is pretty problematic.

So harness your inner adult and ask yourself, what is one thing I could commit to on a regular basis that would honor my value of health?  Set an intention that you can live with.

I’ll give you a few ideas that I use to honor my health.  Share your ideas in the comment section below.

  • Move your body 30 minutes or more a day outside your normal routine.
  • Take a recovery break every 60 to 90 minutes during the workday to stretch or breathe.
  • Eat fresh food that doesn’t come out of a package.
  • Eat lots of greens every day
  • Drink lots of water (48 – 64 oz. a day).
  • Eat breakfast every day (it jumpstarts your metabolism).
  • Get 6 to 8 hours of sleep.
  • Do yoga on a regular basis.
  • Breathe deeply.

 May your health be strong and abundant!


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The Basics of Mindful Eating (Interview With Dr. Rossy)

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed about mindful eating and thought you might enjoy reading the article at Slimkicker. Learn how I discovered mindful eating, how you do it, how you benefit from it, how to socialize and eat mindfully at the same time, how to incorporate mindfulness into your workday and more.

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Wake Up! Be Happy!

A study by Harvard researchers indicates that the more you daydream the less likely you are to be happy.  And, it comes as no surprise that people’s minds are wandering about 47% of the time.  That’s almost half of your waking hours. 

When we’re lost in thought this means we’re lost in primarily negative and habitual thinking patterns about the past or the future.  If you’re caught in the past, it’s often depressing.  If you’re caught in the future, it’s often anxiety-provoking.  Every time I teach this in one of my classes I can see people nodding their heads in agreement. We often think we are unique, but our minds are basically alike due to having the same survival and other physiological response mechanisms.

Being engaged in any activity will result in you being happier.  Put another way, the more mindful and conscious you are as you go about your daily activities, the better you would feel.  So, being present for the world around you in “real time” instead of lost in thought would create a happier you. 

I particularly noticed this today as I was traveling across the country to visit my niece.   Sitting in the plane on the second leg of my air travel, I suddenly realized my mind had been running a scenario over and over of a situation at work that hadn’t even happened yet and trying to find a solution.   As the future drama ensued (in my mind), I felt more and more uncomfortable and anxious.   Waking up to the time warp in my mind, I re-calibrated to the present.  Sitting in the airplane.  Breathing.  Young woman watching a video in the seat next to me.  Seat belt sign on.  I felt fine.   Life was okay.   Hey, it’s pretty great.  I’m on vacation!  Oh yeah!

This is what happens.  We get caught in thought, and we lose touch with reality.   If you were able to add up whether you were okay or not in each successive moment of your life in one average day, I would venture to guess you would discover it is mostly fine.  But when you’re caught in mindless thinking you convince yourself you’re not.  Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is, says  “all stress comes from believing a thought that argues with reality.” 

Wake up to what’s really happening as much as you can and notice what happens.  Mark Twain said it best, “I have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which have never happened.”   Deal with the misfortunes when they actually do happen (and they will), but don’t waste the rest of your life on the imagined ones.  Be happy!

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Joy For No Reason

I love poetry and I find the essence of mindfulness within the words of poetry as much as in my sitting meditations or mindful yoga practices. And, although I’ve heard it many times before, the truth that I alone am responsible for how I feel has been waking up in me despite some pretty deep habitual emotional patterns that tell me differently.

So I offer you this poem by Danna Faulds in hopes that it clears out some of the places where you hold on to anything but JOY.

Joy For No Reason

I am filled with quiet joy for no reason save the fact that I’m alive.  The message I received is clear—there’s no time to lose from loving, no place but here to offer kindness, no day but this to be my true, unfettered self and pass the flame from heart to heart.  This is the only moment that exists – so simple, so exquisite, and so real. 

My latest favorite quote is “I’m always happy,  sometimes I just forget.”  (from Jennifer Egan’s book, A Visit from the Good Squad).  So I pass the flame to you and hope these writings may remind you, as they do me, that life is too short to be anything but kind.  And happiness is a choice.  Choose well, my friend!

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What’s in a name?

I love to go to the farmer’s market for a number of reasons.  I obviously like buying healthy, tasty food but I also often run into friends and get a little Vitamin D.  Strolling down the aisle on Saturday, I noticed the different names and labels people use to advertise themselves and their products.  I admit being a little confused about whether someone was selling organic or not and a little skeptical (I may be prone to this by nature).  Just because someone is selling a product at the Farmer’s Market does not necessary mean it’s organic, for instance, although I think I fool myself into thinking that sometimes.  Not that I eat everything organic, but I try to be conscious and knowledgeable about the food I put into my body and how it affects me and my environment. And when I shop the Farmer’s Market I am making an effort to do the right thing for both.  

What I discovered is this–to really know what’s in your food, even at the farmer’s market, you have to ask a lot of questions.  Not all the produce is organic and local doesn’t always mean better for you.  To help consumers better navigate local markets, Melinda Hemmelgarn, has prepared a short list of common areas of confusion, a few personal examples, and strategies to help you purchase exactly what you think you want to buy.  Read here to find out more about what the names “local, sustainable, natural, and free range” mean  By the way, Melinda is a local Columbia, MO, food guru, registered dietitian, “investigative” nutritionist, and award-winning journalist, with 30 years’ experience in clinical, academic and public health nutrition.  I trust her!

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