The big problem I have with extreme diets and detoxes is the purposeful calorie restriction.
Here’s my stake in the sand, my rage against what I call the Diet Industrial Complex:
Calories. Don’t. Matter.
When you’re trying to cleanse your body of built up toxins and inflammation, and to really heal your digestion, hormones, and mood, counting calories is a false promise.
It’s all about the types of food you put in your body, avoiding foods like gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, and caffeine for a while, and adding foods and supplements to heal your body.
Counting calories makes you crazy and fills your head with useless numbers.
Counting calories (or points for the “weight watchers rejects” who have finally escaped) focuses on the wrong thing:
Counting calories makes you stop listening to your body, and that keeps the horrible cycle of dieting and body-shame in place. CLICK TO TWEET THIS
What you see here is a sample of the snacks that I enjoy, and that are Cravings Cleanse approved. My rules for snacks while on the cleanse are:
- Toxic 6 free (gluten, dairy, corn, soy, sugar, and caffeine)
- I eat when I’m truly hungry
- I eat slowly, with love, appreciation, and away from my computer
- Snacks have to be yummy!
Whether hard boiled eggs, avocados filled with extra virgin olive oil, fruit, chopped veggies, or coconut wraps filled with apple slices and almond butter, my snacks are healthy, yummy, and cleanse approved.
I will not choose a snack based on how many calories are on the label.
And that’s how I’ve been coaching my clients to eat for over 13 years.
Because counting calories will not tell you how a food makes you feel, and that’s the most important thing you can learn now.
Counting calories will not help you heal your body, or fix your relationship with your body.
Choosing wholesome foods, and listening to how your body feels when you eat them, while removing the ingredients that cause us to feel sluggish, bloated, foggy, and in pain, is the only way to really create a new way of eating and living.
And helping you feel well in your body is my main mission.
Chocolate is Love.
At least that’s what our brains think.
See, when we eat chocolate, a whole cascade of happy chemicals and hormones get triggered, making us feel a bit high, happy, relaxed and excited all at the same time.
Kinda like love.
Cacao contains a delicious mix of natural chemicals that make us feel darned close to giddy in love:
Phenylethylamine is often called the “love drug,” that has heightening physiological effects… fatty acids called cannabinoids (yes, relatives of those found in pot), make you feel relaxed and intoxicated, and all of this leads to a release of the pleasure-producing hormones dopamine and serotonin.
Top it all off with a dose of sugar normally found in our cocoa treats, and you’ve got a world-class super drug.
With all of these happy high chemicals coming in legal, cheap, bite-sized nuggets, it’s amazing we aren’t all on the streets collecting pop bottles and turning tricks to get another fix! (Too much? Ok, maybe just collecting pop bottles…)
Luckily, the amounts of these mind-altering chemicals found in chocolate are relatively small compared with other drugs like marijuana, ecstasy, and morphine.
Our modern brains are used to the amounts and effects of the pleasure-inducing chemicals released by our coffee, tea, cocoa, and energy drinks, and we can only produce so much dopamine.
When we eat a ton of chocolate and release a bunch of dopamine, our bodies immediately seek balance by shutting down the hormone production. This leads to desensitization to both dopamine and chocolate’s effects over time.
Which makes me think we should all be living slightly cleaner lives with less caffeine, sugar and other “happy drugs” so that we can really enjoy the effects of chocolate more!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CACAO
Humans weren’t the first culinary smarties to figure out that cacao seeds were edible.
We learned it from watching monkeys.
Found in pods growing in South American rain forests, cacao seeds are covered with a slimy, slightly-sweet gel, sort of like leechee fruit.
Monkeys and people cracked open the pods, sucked on the fruit and spat out the seeds.
The raw seeds inside were bitter and pretty gross, so few animals or humans ate them, even though they were high in fat.
Carrying these seeds along their migrations caused the cacao trees to spread throughout South America and Central America.
But what happened next in chocolate’s history took a stroke of luck: someone realized that when you fermented and then roasted those seeds before eating them, the bitter flavor diminished and the ambrosia-like aroma of chocolate began to tickle their noses.
Once fermented and roasted, those bitter cacao beans begin to smell like melting chocolate. Grind the seeds, add some sugar, cinnamon, and chili pepper, and you’ve got a Water of the Gods, or cacao agua.
I’ve visited a rainforest cacao plantation in Costa Rica and watched the traditional methods for making cacao agua, as well as tasting the fruits, and learning about the lifecycle of this magical food.
Until you can get yourself down to Central America to experience this for yourself, I’ve created a few healthy, delicious cacao (raw cocoa bean) recipes to enjoy with your Valentine, or any time!
Date Night: Cacao Nibs in Dates
4 Medjool dates, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1 tablespoon almond butter
Scoop ½ teaspoon into each half of the pitted dates. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and gently press in with your finger so the nibs stick. Serve to your loved one on Date Night!
Whether you’re serving them to a Goddess, or you ARE a goddess, these raw cacao truffles are super easy, delicious, and won’t tax your culinary skills. In short, you can show off in the kitchen without trying too hard.
Raw Cacao Goddess Truffles: Raw Cacao Truffles Recipes
2 cups raw nuts (I used 1 cup each almonds and cashews)
½ cup pitted Medjool dates
pinch sea salt
4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
optional: coconut flour, cacao powder, cinnamon for rolling truffles
Combine all (except optional coconut flour, etc) in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are well ground and mixed with the dates.
Using a tablespoon or a small ice cream scooper, scoop the mixture into your hand and form into truffle balls.
You can now roll in coconut flour or other decorations, or eat raw.
Serve as is, or crumbled on banana slices.
WHY I USE RAW CACAO
As you may have noticed, these recipes call for raw cacao, which is different from baking chocolate, chocolate chips, and all products made with dutched or processed chocolate. The health benefits of raw cacao are pretty awesome, and you can make a lot of easy treats with it.
And for me, healthy + delicious = perfect.
BUT, you have to buy the right kind of cacao to get the most benefits and avoid the toxins found in conventional cacao production. Certified Organic Raw Cacao is an excellent source of antioxidants. It it’s NOT Certified Organic Raw Cacao, then you are also eating a lot of chemicals from irradiation and spraying of chemicals which are standard practice in growing cacao beans.
If you’re wondering, here are some health benefits of raw cacao:
Magnesium: Cacao beans are a great source of this mineral (270 milligrams per 100 grams), which is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies, including muscle and nerve function, and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness.
Sulphur: Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps grow strong nails and hair.
Fiber: A chocolate bar doesn’t offer any fiber, but if you eat raw cacao, you’ll get 9 grams per ounce!
Iron: An ounce of the raw cacao beans or nibs (crushed beans) contains six per cent of your recommended daily iron intake.
Antioxidants: Raw cocoa powder tops the antioxidant list with almost four times the amount of antioxidants as Goji Berries. But be careful! You may be sensitive to the caffeine effects on your nervous system, so take it easy on this stimulant.
Here are 2 compounds in cacao that you might want to be careful of:
Theobromine: which makes up 1-2% of the cacao bean and, like caffeine, is a nervous system stimulant that dilates the blood vessels — much like caffeine. This is what makes chocolate unsafe for dogs, and causes uncomfortable sensations for sensitive humans.
Phenylethylamine (PEA): While our bodies also produce PEA (an adrenal-related chemical) when we’re excited, it causes our pulse to quicken. While this makes some of us feel alert and excited, it can have an uncomfortable effect on people who are sensitive and wanting to lower their heart rate.
With all this in mind, choose the healthiest chocolate for you and your loved ones, and enjoy the natural high of the food of the gods.
These and other Toxic 6-Free chocolate delights are all Cravings Cleanse approved!
Join me for an 8-week exploration & healing journey to get your cravings, taste-buds, hormones, and waistline back in alignment.
Talking with Kathie Lee + Hoda on the Today Show about Women, Food, And Desire and the Cravings Cleanse was a blast!
These ladies were really interested in the book – even if they kept talking about shrimp scampi!
Watch the full interview here:
Come join me as I coach women (and a few awesome dudes) who want to put the message of Women, Food, And Desire into action, with the new 8-week Cravings Cleanse.
The new course starts 2/12 – learn more and register here:
I couldn’t budge my muffin top…
My belly would bloat up all the time…
I was addicted to sugar and caffeine…
I was too tired to fight for what I wanted in life…
…and what I wanted was hidden by clouds, kind of indistinct and hard to define.
(new career – but what? new relationship – but who with, and was I worthy? creative time for me – what medium?)
When I heal my body, (again + again)
I still find that my belly’s health is a big part of the process.
I talk a lot about the four root causes of cravings, and that the first place to look at any craving,
at any health issue, is in our guts.
Your gut is the seat of your health + your intuition:
* it’s where your immune system is either built healthfully, or falling apart
* how well you digest your food impacts your energy, mood, nutritional cravings, and “elimination” (aka pooping)
* 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is in your gut – that’s one of your feel good, relaxed hormone
* neurons in the gut generate as much dopamine as those in the head (for help with sleep, mood, pleasure + attention)
* we store emotional trauma, sexual fears + hurts, and injuries to our childhood safety in our gut
Your gut is your second brain.
It’s also your intuitive, feeling brain.
It’s where we make a lot of our life decisions from,
because we need to feel good + strong in this part of our body to go after the things we desire.
(ever make a gut decision, feel nervous knots or have butterflies in your stomach before a big event?)
But when it’s bloated, covered in layers of extra stress-induced fat,
in pain, or just uncomfortable all the time…
you just can’t connect to your intuition, or feel strong about your decisions.
You will be tired, want to hide, or cover the pain with emotionally craved foods.
That’s why one of the first areas we heal in the Cravings Cleanse is the gut.
To feel and see a real shift in your body, energy, and mindset (and life!)
we need to heal our guts and take out the foods (I call them the Toxic 6)
that hurt our digestion and cause a real disconnect between the brain in your head
and the brain in your belly.
Foods that help the belly heal are:
1. easy to digest – Toxic 6-free, fiber rich, but not hard on an impaired digestive system
2. nutrient + enzyme rich – contain healing ingredients like L-glutamine, Omega-3s, probiotics, and enzymes
3. tasty – if they don’t taste good, we won’t eat them, will we?
4. and non-inflammatory – foods that won’t cause damage, leaky holes in your gut, or poor digestion
They are also free of gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, and caffeine…AKA the Toxic 6,
which cause leaky gut, bloating, fatigue, bacterial overgrowth, and brain fog.
And as I have seen over the years in person experience and working with thousands of clients,
when your gut is sick, your brain, intuition, confidence, and energy all take a hit.
That’s why I include so much information on gut health in
my programs like the Cravings Cleanse & Mindset Makeover.
Past members have totally changed their gut health with the Cravings Cleanse:
“This is the easiest Cleanse I’ve ever done! I’ve tried to get off sugar, caffeine and alcohol before, but this time I’ve been successful! I’m feeling energized, less joint pain, and my gut is happy and thinner – finally. The weight is dropping off, and I’m feeling a lot better. My husband isn’t officially doing the cleanse, and he’s feeling really good! He wants to do this every 6 months.” Aliza from NYC
“I have more energy! My digestion is way better, and I’m not constipated anymore. I’m noticing smoother skin. I have my family eating with me! that is huge…” Serena, Grapevine, CA
Your experience of yourself and the world will be strained and
based on old fears when your gut is in knots, constipated, impaired, or uncomfortable all the time.
It’s time to heal your gut, and feel the energy, strength, and intuitive knowing that your body is capable of:
* remove the Toxic 6, one of the cornerstones of my upcoming Cravings Cleanse 8-week program
* add the foods and supplements that will begin to heal the matrix of your intestines + improve your digestion
* get clear on how past events + traumas have been stuck in your body and how processing them, seeing them, and loving yourself are an important part of your healing journey
We can’t just look at food or emotion as we create the body and life we crave.
Foods and emotions can be either toxic or healing.
Are you ready to find out which foods and emotions have been keeping your belly stuck?
Cravings Cleanse + Mindset Makeover — What if you could spend 8 weeks supported by a beautiful circle of health seekers who are creating their best health + best lives with Alex? What would your life, body, and days feel like if you had the health, confidence, and energy you truly crave? Enrollment is now open, spots are limited. Learn more here.
I’m on the verge of tears…
Women, Food, And Desire was just named 1 of 12 books to read that’ll help your divorce be a little easier.
I had to write this book.
When I was divorcing my ex, I became totally disconnected from my body. I allowed the shame and hurt of the infidelity to separate me from my own self-worth, even though I hadn’t done anything wrong.
I had to write this book – because this culture, our shame, and the Diet Industrial Complex, are keeping us from having the love, worth, and health that we deserve.
If you have a friend going through a divorce or break up right now, and you think Women, Food, And Desire would help, please send them a copy.
And give them hugs. Lots of hugs:
Here’s a link to the original article:
P.S. It is an incredible honor to be featured alongside one of my favorite books of all time, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Jaw. Dropped.
It’s the final day of the #MindsetMakeover + I’m sharing my favorite tool from Positive Psychology.
The power of touch.
Touch is our 1st sense, and a HUGE ally in creating a healthy, flourishing life + strong relationships.
In our modern culture we are TOUCH STARVED and often get very little physical interaction or affection. But we need it to feel well, whole, and connected.
Baby animals that are removed from their mama or siblings don’t thrive + develop emotional trouble later. It’s the same for people. “Kangaroo care” is now used for preemie babies – skin to skin contact on an adult chest for hours a day helps tiny babies thrive + put on weight.
We give lots of love and hugs, pats, and hand holding affection to our kids, because we know they need it to feel loved. But for adults it’s harder to ask for touch, massage, hugs, or physical intimacy.
But we think as adults we don’t need as much love + touch. WE DO!
When we get enough touch, hugs + physical intimacy in our day, we are healthier, happy, and less likely to emotionally binge. Hug someone today! CLICK TO TWEET THIS!
Today I’m going to challenge you to get 8 hugs of at least 5 seconds each. A hug has the power to calm your nervous system, reduce blood pressure, and reduce emotional food cravings!
Thank you for taking part in this peek into 7-days of #positivepsychology with me. I’ll be using MORE tools from this science based approach in my next 8-Week Cravings Cleanse, which opens for registration Friday!
#healthyeah #mindset #positivepsychology #fun #friends #hugs #health #inspiration #instagram #instagood #healing #touch #love #cravings #cravecast #crave #desire
My marriage didn’t support me in being healthy or feeling safe. The people in my “dietary community” weren’t thrilled when my diet changed – and I lost a few good friends when I was honest with them that I was no longer vegan.
When you’re trying to transform your lifestyle or diet, or doing your best to avoid certain foods that you have a complicated relationship with, there is one thing that can help you get through to your goal of health and well-being.
Not just any old acquaintance will do:
we need FLOURISHING relationships where we can share our wins + celebrations as well as our troubles.
There’s a popular theory that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.
If we’re the average of the 5 people we hang with most, how are your relationships supporting your health goals? CLICK TO TWEET!
Positive Psychology backs this up by explaining our “mirror neurons,” or neurons that fire when we witness behavior in other animals, as though the observer itself was acting.
We are programed to act like the people around us, which helps us stay connected to them.
This idea is a bit scary when you think about the family you grew up with who you may not feel good around…
Or the partner who has sabotaged your health and wellness goals in the past, either knowingly, or subconsciously…
Or the co-workers who are obsessed with birthday cake, after-work drinks, and gossip parties.
What makes a relationship really healthy?
FLOURISHING RELATIONSHIPS HAVE/ARE:
* EMPATHY – you feel each other
* BELONGING – you feel like family
* ATTUNEMENT – to be on the same wavelength
* VULNERABILITY – you can be yourself
* TRUST – you’re each reliable + honest
* APPRECIATION – you enjoy good qualities of each other
* AUTHENTICITY – faithful + genuine
* LOVE – a deep love is shared
In the past I had people in my life who didn’t help me flourish, weren’t honest with me, or I didn’t feel like I could really be myself around them. Today, my close circle of friends feels much different. And I’m more honest with my family about what I need and who I am.
So even if you feel like you don’t have these flourishing traits in the 5 people closest to you, don’t give up – there are loads of awesome folks around who are looking for someone like you:
curious about real connection…
looking for fun, true, authentic friends…
empathic, thrill-seeking, life-loving pals.
I want to hear from you in the comments below:
What relationships in your life are “flourishing” or help you with your goals? What else do you see about your relationships in this context?
I used to use food as an escape from boredom, stress + life.
Who hasn’t? Instead of falling into those thinking traps, I now look for ways to step into “AWE” more often.
From Positive Psychology, I’ve learned that we crave meaning, connection, and purpose as much as food. AWE brings us into those powerful, inspirational moments.
AWE is a feeling of reverential respect + wonder, and is similar to transcendence.
Here are 3 ways to bring more AWE into your life, which bring up your energy, mood + make food not so important - #MindsetMakeover:
1. Take the scenic route: nature, new cities, let the scenery take your breath away
2. Immerse yourself in a crowd: concerts, political rally, running a marathon, outdoor movies
3. Go outside: being in nature helps us stop trying to control things, we are more accepting in that moment.
Share this with a friend who could use some more AWE-someness in their life!
3 ways to bring more AWE into your life – bring up your energy, mood + make food cravings loosen their hold on you! Click To Tweet!