Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's Alert Day! Are You At Risk? Find Out!

I'm pre-empting my usual weekly blog post in order to share the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Risk Test. Type 2 diabetes isn't just a professional interest; my husband was diagnosed with type 2 in our first year of marriage. I can assure you, reducing your risk of developing type 2 is considerably less challenging than managing diabetes!

So, I strongly encourage you to take the Diabetes Risk Test to see how you fare. Then share the link with others so they can take the Test, too. Just click here!

There's never a bad day to find out if you're at risk for type 2, but today's an especially good day: It's the 24th Annual American Diabetes Association Alert Day. For every person that takes the Risk Test, Boar's Head (R) will donate $5 to the American Diabetes Association, up to $50,000. So please, take the Risk Test today, and share it with everyone you know.

I'll be back next week, and we'll talk about how to use tangible, non-food rewards to help you reach your SMART weight management goals...and happily, those goals will also help you reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. So stay tuned!

In the meantime, please take the Diabetes Risk Test and let us know what you think of it. I tested as "lower risk," but the test didn't consider several factors that place me at higher risk. What say you?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recipe: Cinnamon-Chipotle Rub

Two summers ago, my husband found a new rub for chicken at the grocery store, and tried it out on boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I was immediately smitten with the rub's intriguing combination of sweet cinnamon and spicy chipotle, which married perfectly with the savory richness of chicken thighs.

Unfortunately, the first ingredient was salt. Just two teaspoons of the rub contained 500 milligrams (21% DV) of sodium! If you've taken "Luscious," you know I don't use salt in cooking, and I choose lower-sodium options whenever I can.

So, after a bit of experimenting, I developed my own salt-free cinnamon-chipotle rub. It offers all the flavor intrigue of the original--without providing all the sodium. (I didn't include maltodextrin, vinegar solids, or modified corn starch, either.) My taste testers unanimously preferred my version to the original, noting "I can taste the flavors instead of mostly just salt."

Spicy Cinnamon-Chipotle Rub

This recipe is on the spicy side. If you prefer your meals mild-not-wild, reduce the amount of chipotle chili pepper powder. 


6 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute, such as Splenda
6 tablespoons ground paprika
2 tablespoons chipotle chili pepper powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
5 dashes fresh-ground peppercorn mix


Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and mix well. Makes enough rub for 6 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feeling Angry? Check This Out!

“Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” – Lyman Abbott

Did the people who raised you teach you how to be angry? Are you comfortable expressing anger, and can you manage your anger appropriately? For many of us, the answers to these questions make us uncomfortable: We haven’t learned how to express anger at all, or we allow our anger to turn into rage.

Either way, that’s unfortunate, because our feelings so often dictate our behavior. When our feelings are out of control, it usually leads to out-of-control behavior—including eating behavior. For example, you might eat to smother anger “because it’s not nice to get mad.” Or, you may let anger turn to rage, then eat “because I need to calm myself down.”

Because the function of food is to nurture our bodies, not manage our feelings, eating to control emotions generally doesn’t end well. When we manage our feelings appropriately, managing our eating is considerably easier. So, it’s worthwhile to make sure we’re managing our feelings, including anger, as effectively as we can.

Many people learn, either directly or indirectly, that anger is “bad” or “wrong.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with anger, per se. That said, anger becomes unhealthy when it’s a cover for another uncomfortable feeling. When someone cuts you off in traffic, you might respond with an angry comment or gesture. Does anger really make sense in that moment, though? When someone puts you in physical danger, a more reasonable response is fear.

So, why do we see road rage, instead of road fear? The answer is simple: Anger creates distance. When we need to create distance in relationships, anger is the right response. But when the needed emotional response is sadness, fear, or guilt, responding with anger creates distance between us and the situation. But it also creates distance between us and our feelings underneath the anger.

That’s unfortunate, because the feelings from which we distance ourselves don’t go away. You can run, but you can’t hide from your feelings! Instead, it makes more sense to feel our feelings as we experience them, even when they’re not fun. Once we experience our feelings fully, they fade away.

An equally common challenge in managing anger is keeping it from turning into rage. Many of us were raised by parents who allowed themselves to get out of control when they got angry. Sometimes that creates an unconscious expectation that sounds like, “Now that I’m an adult, I can do what I want!” Unfortunately, that’s not a very healthy perspective. Most of us really want to act on the expectation, “I do the right thing, no matter what.” Getting so angry that you hurt yourself, others, or things is rarely the right thing to do, and it often leaves us feeling worse instead of better.

Are you ready to work on managing your anger more effectively? Here are a few starting points:

Be aware of your feelings. Practice identifying anger as soon as it starts, so you can connect with just how angry you are. When anger comes up, approach it with curiosity: Is there another feeling underneath? If so, what is it? How can you deal with that emotion, instead of getting angry?

Have a plan. If you’re the type to slide right from anger into rage, plan ahead. Count backward from ten in a foreign language, practice controlled breathing, or have a calming mantra handy. If you tend to let your anger simmer, make a plan to talk with others about resentments when they’re minor, rather than waiting until things are unbearable.

I’m not one to let my feelings simmer quietly, so I practice approaching my anger with curiosity, and asking myself, “Under my anger, what am I really feeling?”Sometimes I’m genuinely mad, but because feeling fear is hard for me, under my anger I often find fear. When I address my feelings of fear, it’s sometimes overwhelming how well things go for me! What about you? Where are you with managing your anger? Sound off below!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

That's Me...Who Are You?, Part II

Last week we touched on how personality can affect one's weight management journey, with a focus on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. julie h. asked how the Enneagram might play into weight management, and I must admit, I was delighted by her question. I'm partial to the Enneagram for a number of reasons, but my favorite thing about the Enneagram relates directly to weight management: The focus of the Enneagram isn’t just personality typing. It reveals one’s type and where that individual falls on a continuum of psychic health. Once you identify your type, you discover how a healthy, an average, or an unhealthy person within that type expresses themselves.

(On a side note, one of the beauties of the Enneagram is that it not only points to a level of psychic health, but predicts how a specific type will respond when under stress. For example, a Two will act, entirely out of character, like an Eight, while a Seven will seemingly morph into a One.)

Psychic health--how psychologically healthy we are--is of critical import when it comes to weight management. Many of us manage our feelings through things we do (or don’t do) to our bodies. Being able to successfully manage feelings--that is, having a high level of psychic health--makes it possible to follow through on weight management goals with ease, rather than white-knuckling our way through them. Whether your indulgence is soda, alcohol, junk TV, binge eating, mindless eating, neglecting exercise, or negative self-talk, the better your psychic health, the easier it will be to transcend your indulgent behavior. That is, as you progress through the levels of health within your own Enneagram type, you'll find it naturally easier and easier to follow through on your goals, and managing your weight will be a natural side effect.

In addition, I’ve noticed there are tendencies in each type that affect weight management. For example, Twos, Sixes, and Nines share “nice guy” tendencies that make them susceptible to the tendency to take better care of others than they do of themselves. Ones, Threes, and Sevens can be especially impulsive or flighty, which can lead them to vicious cycles of overindulgence followed by strict diets or workouts.

Riso observes in “Wisdom of the Enneagram” (p 68) that there are three “harmonic groups.” In working with clients, I’ve observed that the Positive Outlook Group (Twos, Sevens, and Nines) does indeed “tend to deny they have a problem”—which can be a serious problem when it comes to making weight management changes! The Competency Group (Ones, Threes, and Fives) prefers to deal with problems logically, rather than emotionally. They’re often excellent record-keepers, but can struggle with making connections between what they record and how it’s affecting their health. The Reactive Group (Fours, Sixes, and Eights) “need response from others,” which can mean they can be unusually susceptible to extrinsic motivators that give them a boost to begin with, but fail them in the long run—and they can really struggle to dig deep within to find those intrinsic motivators that will help them be successful for a lifetime.

I remember knowing as a teenager that I wasn’t the same person I had been when I was five years old, and feeling frustrated that I couldn't figure out how to recapture the essence of the child I remembered. While discovering through the Enneagram that I wasn’t as emotionally healthy as I thought I was didn’t sit well with me, it did give me a glimpse as to what being a healthy version of me as an adult would look like. Using the Enneagram as a pathway for psychic change has helped me reconnect with that five-year-old self I remember. In the process, I’ve been able to let go of using food, exercise, negative self-talk, and other strategies to feel safe. Instead, I’ve learned to choose healthy ways to manage my feelings and order my life.

What about you? Have you used the Enneagram, or another personality test, and found what you learned about yourself helpful in your weight management journey? Post below and tell us about it!