Mind/Body Nutrition Coaching by Aline Vann


Seasonal Eating

  Recently, I’ve woken up to the fact that I have been eating like it’s fall or winter instead of what it really is…the middle of summer.   I’ve also noticed it having an impact on how I am feeling. I realized I’d never left […]

Ditch the Diet Wagon

  When you think of your diet and exercise habits, do you find yourself taking an all-or-nothing approach? Depending on how well we are living up to the diet and exercise standards we set for ourselves, we often feel like we are either “on the wagon” or “off the wagon.” We can […]

Becoming a Queen

Why is it that movies often portray princesses to be kind hearted, and compassionate, while queens, on the other hand, are cast as evil and controlling.  Do we women really get bitter and selfish as we get older?


I actually disagree with that tired, inaccurate portrayal of aging women.


In reality, stepping into “Queendom” is a beautiful thing. It’s reminiscent of the ever-changing caterpillar, repeatedly outgrowing and shedding her skin, until she eventually transforms into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, the caterpillar is truly lovely in her own right, but as a butterfly, she finally fulfills her purpose, and becomes the creature she was put on this Earth to be.


What does this transformation really mean for us? Let’s assume that our “Princess” phase lasts sometime from birth through our mid thirties. During this time of our lives, we go through periods of uncertainty, questioning who we really are. This is a beautiful time of discovery.  I see it in my teenaged daughter and her friends every day. In fact, I saw it when my daughter was a toddler, and I witnessed her tireless attempts to figure out how to climb a flight of stairs, or to master the skill required to solve a favorite puzzle.  I DEFINITELY remember going through it myself.


You may be thinking, “If princesses are associated with youth and beauty, then why can’t we just stay princesses forever?” It sounds good for a second or two, but then we quickly reconsider. Why? Well, for one, it’s exhausting!  Princesses frequently rely on confirmation from the outside world for validation. Unfortunately, society often tells princesses that they are not enough. This stress of wanting and/or needing constant approval from others encourages these vulnerable girls and women to fall into a comparison trap which often leaves them feeling that they must look and act a certain way to be accepted and loved. (As a parent, I think that social media has only worsened the problem.) Sadly, these messages can leave our society with wounded princesses, and disrupt the natural transformation into Queendom.

As we enter our 30s, we begin (hopefully) getting in touch with the blossoming Queen that resides in each of us. This metamorphic journey isn’t always smooth, and occasionally requires going backwards in order to move forwards. Nevertheless, it is a journey we must take to truly step into the women we are meant to be.  


Here are three signs that you are releasing your princess, and rightfully finding your place in the sisterhood of Queendom. 

  • You still try to eat healthy (most of the time), and incorporate exercise and movement into your life, but now it’s for different reasons. You realize that you are done with eliminating entire food groups and spending extra time on the treadmill afterwards just because you want a Hot Body. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you are throwing in the towel and simply giving up on good nutrition and exercise. It’s about realizing that these things are important, not because of the way they make you look in a bikini, but because they allow you to fulfill your purpose by enjoying your life, and sharing your gifts with the world.
  • You realize that energy spent on your relationships gives a better return on your investment than energy spent on counting fat grams, points or calories.  Again, not to say that you shouldn’t continue maintaining your healthy eating habits, but now you understand that you only have so much energy, and by focusing too much energy on weight, you have less energy to spend on your spiritual growth, and your relationships with other people. Stepping into your Queendom means that you are stepping into a deeper WHY for the choices you make regarding your health.
  • You learn that it’s more important to LIVE like a Warrior, than to have a Warrior’s Body. You have realized that those five vanity pounds won’t impact your ability to step into your higher purpose. So while you enjoy the full benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, you know that the people you spend time serving really don’t care if you are a size 6 or a size 8. They care much more about the fact that by being there for them, you are showing them that you value them as human beings.


So, while both the Princess and Queen archetypes serve a purpose in our lives, being stuck in our Princess longer than we should be, and failing to take our rightful place in Queendom, can cause us to feel unbalanced and unfulfilled.


As Queens, we not only get to tap into our full potential as spiritual beings, we also get the joy of helping the Princesses in our lives begin to do the same. We can help them with their transformation by teaching them that they are lovable no matter where they are on their journey, and that their personal transformation into Queendom lies within.


Take a Seat to Lose the Weight

  Sitting down for a nice, relaxing dinner.  Sound unrealistic? Too good to be true? Well, if weight loss is your goal, you should try it. Okay, even if weight loss ISN’T your goal, you should try it.  It sounds so contrary to what we’ve […]

Busyness and the Last Ten Pounds

    Is Busyness Keeping You from Losing those Last Ten Pounds?   We live in a culture that prides itself on busyness. In fact, you probably have at least one conversation a week with someone who’s complaining about how EXHAUSTED they are!   Moms […]

Artificial Sweeteners and the Weight Connection


Artificial Sweeteners –

They May Be the Reason You Aren’t Losing Weight.

Do you use artificial sweeteners to “save” calories in an effort to lose weight?  

Maybe you simply use these sweeteners because you like the taste. Many of us have been using them for years.  I had my first Diet Coke in college. I did drink regular Coke on occasion before that, but Mom didn’t buy them at home, so I didn’t drink them very often, and didn’t really think much about them.


Diet Coke was different.  I REALLY liked it. As I progressed through my 20s and 30s, I began to crave it more and more. Sometimes I would go through months of abstinence, but other times, I would drink as many as three or four cans per day.


Do you ever pop a piece of gum in your mouth?  I liked gum too. Gum contains aspartame – the same artificial sweetener in Diet Coke.  You will find it in almost all of the sugar free gum available in traditional stores.


For me, the aspartame in the gum had the same effect as the diet coke. I went through a lot of it.  I would crave that initial burst of sweetness, but as soon as it was gone, I would want a fresh piece.


Do you like starting off your day with a cup of Joe? Do you prefer Splenda or Equal in your morning coffee instead of real sugar.? Again, to save calories. It sounds good, because we are already adding calories with our cream. It’s a way of keeping that coffee from being a high calorie indulgence!


If it’s calorie free, we can add all we want!


Perhaps you use Stevia because it is “natural.”  Remember the Splenda in my coffee? Later, I switched to Stevia because it was supposedly healthier.  However, I felt the same way.  I just seemed to need to add more and more to my coffee to get the same level of sweetness…and the same level of satisfaction.  


If this sounds familiar, the experts say we are not alone.  There is a lot of research that shows that this is one of the big problems with artificial sweeteners.  


Studies have found that artificial sweeteners affect the body in several ways.  When your body tastes the sweetness, it expects calories, and initiates hormonal and metabolic reactions. When those calories (energy) don’t come, your body is confused, and things are thrown out of whack.


These artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than natural sugar, which explains why things that are naturally sweet no longer taste sweet enough.


I didn’t like the way these artificial sweeteners made me “crave” sweetness.  


Of course, there are many people that cite studies showing that artificial sweeteners cause side effects that are much more detrimental than weight gain.  There is plenty of information online if you want to read more about this.


If you are consuming a lot of artificial sweeteners, I would definitely recommend you find out more.


Some people will tell you that you should never, ever consume any of these sweeteners, and while I am not here to tell you what to do, I will say that you should be very careful if you are using them.    


Listen to your body. Trust your intuition.


One more thing…If weight loss is your goal, then know this. There is a great deal of research out there that has shown that artificial sweeteners DO NOT help people lose weight.


So what should you do instead?


That’s up to you, but here is what I did.  I switched to real sugar.


I actually prefer to use sucanat, which is a less processed form of sucrose, commonly known as table sugar.  Because I am aware of the impact of too much sugar, I find myself being more careful about how much I use than I was with artificial sweeteners.  


So, I am not saying you should add heaping spoonfuls of sugar to everything you eat and drink.  


Here’s what I DO mean.


I drink two cups of coffee each day, and put a teaspoon of sucanat in each. Occasionally, I will drink a cup of tea in the afternoon, with one more teaspoon.


Will it make a difference?  Try it for two weeks and see how you feel.


I have noticed that since I quit using artificial sweeteners, I don’t have the cravings that I had before. It’s a really good feeling. When I was using artificial sweeteners, including Stevia, my body got to where it expected a sweetness that was unnaturally sweet.


It wasn’t a sweetness found in nature. It was a sweetness that could only be made in a lab.


If you prefer to avoid Sucrose, but still want a natural sweetener for your smoothies, coffee, tea, etc., try pure maple syrup, honey or dates.


Worried about your sweet tooth? One of the BEST ways to satisfy your body’s craving for sweets is to get it the way nature intended…by eating plant based foods like fruits and root vegetables.  Once your body resets its “sweet meter”, these will begin to again taste delicious, and plenty sweet.  


And of course, you’ll always have dark chocolate. 


If you do choose to use Stevia, try to eat it in its natural form…a leaf!  Read more about Stevia here.



This is a great article about weight and artificial sweeteners: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/06/19/artificial-sweeteners-could-be-sabotaging-your-diet/


Gaining Energy

    Its 3:00 pm in the afternoon. You can’t leave work for another two hours. Child #1 has to be at soccer practice by 6:00. You are trying to secure a ride for Child #2 who has dance at 4:00. Your husband is out […]

Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

    You may be skeptical about meditation. I say this from personal experience. It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t have time to meditate, but when you do it consistently, you will start to notice feeling calmer and more grounded. You really will! […]

Slow Eating and Weight Loss


Always the first one finished at the table?


Do you ever get to the end of the meal and realize you don’t remember eating most of it?
Would you consider yourself a fast, moderate, or slow eater?

Many of us eat the way we live…fast!

As a mom, I have often found myself feeding the family in the car, as we dashed between math tutoring and soccer practice, or trumpet lessons and tennis.

At home, moms are often the last ones to eat.  We make sure that everyone else is taken care of first, and then we mindlessly multitask, filling our bellies, loading the dishwasher, and folding laundry…all at the same time.

Oh,and how we eat at the office isn’t usually much better. We often find ourselves eating and working simultaneously.

Don’t even get me started on school lunches!

You may find yourself wondering, Is this really a big deal?


Consider this; it takes the brain about 20 minutes to recognize that the body is full. Mind-Body Nutrition, a concept coined by Institute for the Psychology of Eating founder, Marc David, explains that stress physiology, the relaxation response, breathing, awareness, pleasure, and meal timing profoundly influence digestion and calorie burning.

Simply speaking, have you ever experienced digestive upset and bloating after eating a rushed meal because it was already 8:30 pm on a school night, the kids were arguing, and complaining about the dinner you made, and you were just ready to be done already???  (I threaten my teens with dining etiquette classes at least three times a week!)


So what can we do about it, if anything?
First, and most importantly, SLOW DOWN. Eating slowly, by the way, is a natural appetite regulator, and an important practice if weight loss is a goal.  Even so, it applies to everyone, regardless of whether or not you have a few pounds or more to lose.

I am not saying it is easy, and it is something you will likely need to be purposeful about for months, or maybe years to come.  It is still one of my biggest challenges, but something I work on ONE MEAL AT A TIME.

So, let’s talk about how slowing down with meals might look.

  • Next time you are ready to eat a meal, sit down, take a few deep breaths, and really TASTE your food.
  • Chew each bite thoroughly, setting your utensils down between bites.
  • Enjoy the conversation if you are eating with others, and if you are alone, enjoy the solitude.
  • Several times throughout the meal, take a deep breath or two, and ask yourself if you are still hungry.
  • When the answer is no, stop eating, and release the meal. (Not literally.  It just means get up, clean up if no one else will, and get on with life!)

Remember how I mentioned that they way we eat often mirrors the way we live?  In today’s society, we have to be able to keep ourselves and families from succumbing to the world’s message that if you aren’t living in the fast lane, then you are somehow losing the race, and setting yourself, and your kids up for failure.

The world tells us that if we don’t keep going at a neck-breaking pace, we and our families will be left eating the dust of the strong ones. (Haven’t we all heard of the saying, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?”)  I get the point of the motto, but it’s a little twisted!

Finally, in the words of Eddie Cantor, famous Broadway and radio star from the 1920s to 1940s…

Slow down and enjoy LIFE. 
It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast;  you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.

Take Action!  What’s your biggest obstacle to a slow, relaxed meal?  Leave your comments below.

The Stress Response and Weight Loss

    When we are faced with a fight or flight situation, our bodies respond by releasing hormones that allow us to flee or kick some serious butt. These hormones, including Cortisol, do amazing stuff when we need them to, like bringing more oxygen to our […]