Nourishing Yourself

By Barbara L. Holtzman, MSW, LICSW

Now that spring is finally here, many of you may be thinking about summer with mixed feelings – pleasure at the joys of summer but anxiety about the loss of winter’s cover-up clothes, revealing more of your body. For many, this will bring up thoughts of the next diet.

Most of you have been on a diet – many diets, many times – and yet you hope this time will be different. And it can be – if you do it differently. Studies show that for many people, making small changes is more effective and long-lasting than making big ones.

In today’s newsletter, I will begin a series on nourishing ourselves and highlight some simple, effective ways you can fuel yourself with both food and non-food sustenance, including rest, fun, deep breathing and connection. I think of nourishment as energy and if we use or give out more energy than we take in, we will feel depleted. Among the many advantages of feeling nourished is that you will feel more energetic, satisfied, have more mental clarity and emotional resilience and you will be less likely to need treats to fill and fulfill you.

Upcoming newsletters, after this series, will focus on mindful vs. mindless eating, changing habits, body image and more. If there are particular subjects you would like me to address in the newsletter, please email me at

And if you would like further guidance on the path, please consider my upcoming workshops, book & guided-imagery CD, psychotherapy in Providence or Wakefield RI or lifestyle coaching via phone and email. You can also download my articles and tips from my website-

Nourishing Ourselves

Do you eat haphazardly or do you fuel yourself throughout the day?

You wouldn’t drive your car without gas or send your kids to school without breakfast, would you? Yet many of us skip breakfast, eat skimpy lunches – and then beat ourselves up for getting an afternoon candy bar!

There are many good reasons for nourishing yourself throughout the day, including:

-Increased energy

-Mental clarity

-Emotional resilience

-Weight loss

When you nourish yourself throughout the day, you are less vulnerable to physiological cravings (although you may still use treats to cope with uncomfortable feelings or simply because they look good.) Low blood sugar can make us irritable and impulsive, lowering our resistance to whatever catches our eye.

As counter intuitive as it sounds, fueling yourself through the day is one of the easiest ways to lose weight. If you eat when you can use the calories, they will not get stored as fat. (Remember the adage- breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper).

Experiment with eating “to the point of energy”.

(a phrase from nutritionist Marc David) Of course, it is easier to know when you’ve had enough when you’re paying attention to the signals of satiety. Eating “just enough” food gives us energy; eating too much food depletes our energy. It is much easier to stop when we are physically satisfied if we weren’t famished when we started. And since undereating sets us up to overeat at night, most people find that they cannot lose weight if they don’t eat breakfast. Picture sumo wrestlers who eat most of their food at night…

Choose foods that nourish you

This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat treats, comfort foods or just plain junk food. But try thinking of them as the side dish and the nourishing foods as the main course. Some tools I find helpful are:

Adding nourishing foods to everything -fruits, vegetables, a few walnuts…

Switch to whole grains whenever you can. I used to hate whole wheat bread so I did it gradually, starting with a bread that was 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white (Read the label – enriched wheat means white bread; it needs to say “whole” wheat)

Eat a small amount of protein with every meal and snack to help keep your blood sugar even

Switch to healthy fats when possible, like olive oil and avocado

Start with where you are and make small changes. If, currently, you are eating 50% play food and 50% nourishment, try shifting the ratio to 60/40…
When deciding what to eat, consider how the food (and the quantity) will make you feel – physically, emotionally and mentally. Ask yourself what you really want. If you let yourself eat what you really want, and you allow yourself to eat it slowly and really enjoy it, it won’t take as much food to satisfy you. (Think of all the times when you didn’t let yourself eat what you really wanted and you ate huge quantities of what you considered more so-called acceptable foods).

Check in with your taste buds and belly and ask yourself:

What kind of taste do I want? -Sweet, salty, spicy, bland…

How do I want it to feel in my belly?

Do I want something light like soup, salad or eggs or heavy like pasta, meatloaf or a sandwich?

What kind of texture would feel right? – chewy, soft, crunchy…?

Do I want something hot or cold?

Am I hungry or am I actually thirsty?

Learning to nourish ourselves is new for many of us, especially if we have been focused for many years on calories, fats etc. This is a process so don’t overwhelm yourself with too many changes at once. Choose a couple of ideas that appeal to you and try them out. Think in small, doable steps.

Conscious Eating, Conscious Living;

A Practical Guide to Making Peace with Food & Your Body

Workbook with Guided-imagery CD

*Find Your Body’s Natural Body Weight –

without Dieting!

*Learn to Manage Uncomfortable Feelings

without Using Food!

*Discover the Messages underlying your

Emotional Eating!

*Develop a New and Caring Relationship

with Food, your Body and Yourself!

How to Order Book & Guided-Imagery CD:
Available for $24.95 from:

Book & CD

This article is from the April 2009 Ezine…if you would like to receive this free Ezine, please signup below.

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