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Ask the Wellness Coach

Several times a year, we host a Lunch & Learn at the Strafford office, where I (Kristen) give a 15-minute talk about a nutrition or other health-related topic, then we all have lunch together. In the past, I’ve talked about eating the rainbow, as well as the benefits of eating seasonal produce. We just wrapped up the summer Lunch & Learn, and the topic was “Ask the Wellness Coach”. I asked people to submit questions (anonymously) ahead of time, and I received a bunch of great questions. They were so good and so relevant that I wanted to share them on the blog so that everyone can benefit from the discussion. It was impossible to give them all the answers they deserved in such a short amount of time, so I plan to dedicate future blog posts to some of them so that they really get the attention they need. 

The Lunch part of the Lunch & Learn consisted of grilled chicken, grilled sausage skillet, cherry tomato bruschetta with grilled bread, Mexican street corn slaw, and watermelon with mint and lime.

Here are a few of the questions and their brief answers:

What’s the deal with belly bulge, and how can I reduce it?

The truth is that there is only so much of this that we can expect to control. Genetics are real, and some people just have more abdominal fat–just like some people are much shorter than average, and some have much wider shoulders than average. Also, spot reduction–the idea that we can reduce fat in a particular area is a myth. We can’t expect to do a bunch of sit-ups and have abdominal fat melt away. Bodies just don’t work like that. Engaging in positive lifestyle changes may reduce overall body fat, which may in turn lead to decreased belly fat, but this is up to individual bodies. Lastly, stress can be a very real contributor to abdominal fat due to hormones that result from stress, and that’s definitely a topic that deserves its own blog post. 

What are some quick and easy substitutes for carb cravings?

If you’re craving carbs, you might really need carbs! It could be that you’re experiencing a drop in your blood sugar, in which case it’s important to get something to eat. I recommend eating some carbs paired with protein and/or fat to help stabilize your blood sugar, e.g. fruit + peanut butter, crackers + cheese, dark chocolate + almonds.  All of that said, prevention is key here. Eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day is the best way to make sure that your blood sugar is staying balanced, which helps prevent carb cravings. In general, a balanced meal includes protein, fat, and carbs, and you may also find that you need some nourishing snacks throughout the day too, as it’s normal to feel hungry every 3-5 hours. If you think that your hunger is more emotional, i.e. more related to stress, boredom, anxiety, etc. than it is to physical hunger, check out the previous blog post on emotional eating HERE.

How can I break bad eating habits?

Small changes are more likely to be sustainable than big ones. For example, a goal to walk for 10 minutes 3x/week is more likely to stick than a goal to start walking and using weights for an hour a day, every day. Another tip I give people on this topic is to shift the focus away from weight loss as the desired result of the goal. Contrary to popular belief, weight loss is not a motivating goal for sustainable change, and things like the desire for better sleep, better mood, and more energy are more likely to influence change that sticks over time rather than for a short period of time. It’s also important to practice self-compassion any time you set out to change a behavior. The truth is that behavior change is difficult, and viewing it as all-or-nothing sets us up for disappointment and feeling like we’re a failure. 

…and a note on weight loss:

There were a few questions about weight loss, but I think it’s important to answer those on an individual basis. Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs and preference. A magic pill doesn’t doesn’t exist, and  one-size-fits-all approaches are potentially harmful. An individual assessment is really important, and the good news is that I’m always available for individual consults! Don’t hesitate to reach out; we can chat via phone, email, video call, or in person.

And for dessert we had zucchini bread two ways: Zesty Lemon, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip. Yum!

Stay tuned for future blog posts where we dive into more detail about some of these!

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