Have you heard about mindful eating?
You're in for a sweet treat today, my friend.
Today I'm talking to a woman who has an amazing story to tell, and the impacts of mindful eating for her have been huge.
She began dieting at the age of 10. She'll tell you how that impacted her, but more importantly, she shares what she can now teach you about mindful eating and the impact of how we eat our food, what we think of our food, and what we're putting into our food can impact us emotionally and physically.
- Learn more about Amber on her revamped website. That's where you can get free resources to learn more about what she has to offer about mindful eating and much more!
- Subscribe to her amazing “The No Sugar Coating Podcast” where you'll learn even more about food and how to live a healthier life
- Follow her on Instagram to get recipes and other things she shares with people there @amberromaniuk
- Listen to my interview with Caitlin Padgett, “How Healthy is Your Relationship with Alcohol” which dives into how we can mindfully sip…or choose not to.
- Ready to make a bigger change in your life? Learn more about 1:1 Coaching with me here and sign up for a Strategy Session with me.
- Questions? Comments? I'd love to chat with you on Instagram. Be sure to DM me to say hi! I'm @dina.cataldo.
SIMPLIFYING MINDFUL EATING WITH AMBER ROMANIUK
Dina Cataldo: 00:14 Hello, how are you doing today? I hope your day is fabulous. Mine is going swimmingly. Is that a word that people use swimmingly? I'm going to use it today. I'm doing swimmingly today. We have an amazing guests and I can't wait to talk to you about her. First, I want to let you know about a few things that are going on in my world so that you can be a part of them cause I really want to start fostering more of a community. I know that we interact a little bit in my Instagram DM, so thank you for those of you who are joining me @Dina.Cataldo and say hi to me in DMs. I really want to interact more with you. So I have been creating more content where hopefully I'm making that possible. One thing that I've been doing our weekly Facebook live videos, they've been little mini trainings and they've covered topics from client relationships to how to manage your mind, all kinds of things. So I want to invite you to come meet me on Facebook. The business page I go to is DinaCataldoEsq. So if you want to engage with me, that's where I will be on Facebook. If you are on Instagram, again it's @Dina.Cataldo, just DM me. I love hearing from you, especially around new topics, things that you're interested in, things you want to hear more about because really I do this because I feel like I have something to share and I want to make sure that I'm sharing those things that are most important to you.
Dina Cataldo: 02:11 Those are a couple of places where we can start connecting more. I've also created for lawyers in particular a training and that training is a pdf with the links to some of my more popular, more important trainings to really get you in the mindset of creating shifts in your life to create a bigger, better life for yourself. So if you go to www.Dinacataldo.com/transform, what I have created for you is the closest thing you will ever get to a step-by-step transformational program that's free. And it is something that I'm really like, I really creating this. I've also created some emails to go with it so you will get a little bit of support along the way. Obviously transformation is not overnight and this is not something that is supposed to be one of those catch all “here, transform your life, do it,” but it gives you a starting point and that's really what I wanted to give people.
Dina Cataldo: 03:20 I wanted to give lawyers in particular. It's just a starting point and give you a place that is filled with some resources to get you going in that direction. You don't have to do all of it. You can just pick and choose what you feel most drawn to. Really the point is not to put more things on your to do list. The point is to get you thinking about what's possible, so if you go to www.dinacataldo.com/transform that is there for you to sign up for it, so thank you so much for listening to Soul Roadmap and if you've been engaging with me. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop what you're doing and engage with me and to listen to the podcast. It really means a lot to me. Really enjoy doing this podcast and I'm looking forward to evolving the podcast as we go.
Dina Cataldo: 04:13 So thanks so much and we're just going to jump in and talk to my guest today. She has some wonderful things to say about health and how you can bring more awareness to what's going on in your body. We're just going to jump right in today. Here we go. My guest today is an emotional eating disorder and digestive expert. She is founder of AmberApproved.Ca where she supports professional women in achieving optimal health through mindful eating, self care, and overcoming self sabotage with food. She's also the host of the No Sugar Coating Podcast where she gives her top tips, everything from emotional eating to body acceptance and more! Amber Romaniuk, thank you so much for joining me today and thank you for, letting me try out this new format with you.
Amber Romaniuk: 05:04 Oh, of course. My pleasure. And thank you so much for having me. Really excited to be here with you today.
Dina Cataldo: 05:10 Yay. I'm so excited to have you on Soul Roadmap. And I was telling you earlier, this is kind of an indulgent podcast for me because it's an area that I am striving to do better in myself and be more mindful in my eating and create that energy to do more in my business and in my life. And I know that this is something you experiment with. You've been telling me about something you were experimenting recently to give you more energy. So can you tell us how you got into this whole realm of mindful eating?
Amber Romaniuk: 05:42 Yeah, so essentially it kind of all started for me when I was very young. I was five and my first experience with body image struggle and really building this emotional relationship with food, was on the bus for the first time and I was five and the older boys called me fat and ugly and I immediately shut down. I believed them and I took on this identity of being shy and I can't trust the male population. And then I really turned to food because I thought, well, food's my friend who doesn't call me names. It makes me feel good. I had a very connected relationship with food as well because my mom had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before I was born. And so food was a way for her to connect with me and compensate for other things that she wasn't able to do with me.
Amber Romaniuk: 06:23 And so I grew up that way. And I also grew up with this, want to look a certain way to be thin because I thought if you're thin then you get attention and you'll be lovable. So I probably started dieting around 10 and then when I hit my early twenties I really became aware that I was struggling with food addiction as I had lost weight and restricted myself and then couldn't maintain it. And it gained about 60 pounds in four months and was bingeing uncontrollably multiple days a week on multiple items of food. And in a five year period in my mid twenties I gained and lost over a thousand pounds. I spent over $50,000 on the food, the binge foods, the quick fixes, and I was like a broke, starving students. I don't even know how I came up with that money to buy those things.
Amber Romaniuk: 07:07 It was like get gas or go get binge food, go get binge food, like it was a serious addiction for me. It was a serious problem that I had no idea how to even overcome. And when I hit my low point, which is one night I had finished bingeing and I threw the food in the garbage and I always did that because I thought it would motivate me to not go back to the garbage and eat the food. And then I got an ounce of room in me and I went and dug through the garbage to eat the food and I laid on my kitchen floor just crying and in so much physical pain thinking, “If I don't figure out how to change this, this is going to slowly kill me or quickly kill me. One of the two. I'm so physically unwell, I'm emotionally unwell, I'm isolating, I'm in my mid twenties and I'm not living my life like this is not who I am. “
Amber Romaniuk: 07:47 And that low point really inspired me to start learning more about food and how I was addicted to sugar and how the dairy I was eating and the wheat I was eating and the products, the baked goods were like exciting the same part of my brain as a hard drug with for most people. And starting to understand those qualities of those foods and how I was reacting and responding to them chemically, physically, and emotionally and attachment I had fascinated me. And so as I read more and I became more aware, I started to understand that, wow, this is not only physical, like this isn't just, you know, these foods that I don't have control over. It's so emotional. And then I don't know how to love myself. I don't love myself. I'm punishing myself with food. So that really was an eye-opener for me because I never growing up knew what self love was.
Amber Romaniuk: 08:33 I didn't know how to manage my stress in a healthy way. I didn't know how to feel my feelings. And so it was essentially about first learning about the physical and why have these sugar cravings and why I was bloated. Well, of course I was bingeing uncontrollably on all of these foods that had made my digestion really bad. But I was also dieting a lot on the other side. So I would binge for awhile and then I would gain some form of control, or at least I thought it was, and I would diet because I thought that was gonna resolve everything and then I'd lose control and go back and forth. So this journey of really learning about food and learning about my relationship with myself and that I so badly wanted a vanity in this perfect external image, but I internally didn't realize how important that self love and that self connection was.
Amber Romaniuk: 09:13 So as I built that, people started asking you “like, what are you doing? You're eating differently, you're doing self care.” Like they started asking me questions and then I thought to myself as I was, you know, in the lot of recovery of my food addiction, I thought, “If I struggled as severely as I did, like how many other people, especially women are struggling with emotional eating, food addiction, binge eating or any kind of eating disorder for that matter and body image struggles.” Because I find they really go hand in hand for most women. And so it really inspired me to want to start my business. And so I feel like my personal experience is the most valuable teaching I have. But I also did go to school and become a certified holistic nutritionist and that as well brought more of the physical support in. And I've had my business for six years and I've helped hundreds of women overcome their unhealthy relationships with food gain, body freedom, balance those hormones and digestion and really learn how to love themselves.
Amber Romaniuk: 10:08 And that life changing path for them opens up every area of life. So their careers are blossoming and expanding, their success is exploding, their abundance, their personal relationships, their love relationships, every area of life is impacted in a positive way as they've embarked in this journey. And as did it for me, I mean my struggle created my business and I attracted a beautiful loving relationship in which we both love ourselves and so can come together and love each other and success and abundance. So even though at the time it was not fun and it was awful to go through was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. So that led me to this point.
MINDFUL EATING, NUTRITION AND WORK PERFORMANCE
Dina Cataldo: 10:44 I think that's all amazing. Thank you for sharing those stories. Yeah. We're going to dive deeper into some of those areas because I've noticed from what I have observed in the legal field that, and we're talking to you too men, I know you're out there and I know you're listening and amber just happens to focus on women, but this is definitely something that pertains to both sexes. I have seen people over a decade, I've been an attorney now fluctuate in weight and it is one of a few things that I've seen. One is just oblivious snacking because you're so stressed out, you're emotionally eating to kind of temper those emotions that come up and we're like, we're self-medicating with food as one thing I've noticed and you know, people's weight increases. Another thing I've noticed is people becoming incredibly austere with their bodies. You know, in a way it's amazing, right? Like that's how you can manage stress is if you're exercising, but to have that loving connection with your body and your life, that's incredibly important. And the other thing that I've noticed is that, and it's a couple people that I'm thinking of in particular, they gained a lot of weight in the first years of their practice and then something like a big life event hit them. They had a mini heart attack or they had a child and then they decided to go on some kind of like a purging kind of diet where they stop eating, you know, for long periods of time and they, you know, do these massive shifts in their diets. And I've noticed that sometimes it's coming back, you know, over the years I can see this coming back. What kind of things do you see with the professionals in your practice? Are there more different things for people to be on the lookout for? Because we're going to talk about the healthy way to do things, but are there some signs of this self-medication with food and then this austerity that you see?
Amber Romaniuk: 12:42 Oh, for sure. And I noticed that and I work with doctors, lawyers, nurses, like women and all sorts of profession or business owners. And I noticed definitely the stress eating, snacking, multitasking and working. They're not stopping to take a break. They're not stopping to take their lunch break, which is a huge emotional eating trigger because they're eating and working. They're not digesting properly and they're not present with food. So then what's happening is they finish their food and they're going, “What? That's it? Like I'm still hungry. I want something else.” And so that fuels that start of kind of the overeating. And then once they start, there's this all or nothing mindset that goes while I've already messed up so screwed. I'm just going to keep eating. And then they eat their way through the rest of the day. I feel awful. And that can feel the vicious cycle of more days of overeating or emotionally eating.
Amber Romaniuk: 13:27 And then of course what ends up happening is the weight gain happens and the panic and the shame and the embarrassment and the desperation really are fueled. And so then what's happening is these women are going online and googling quickest ways to lose weight, quick fixes, diets to lose weight. And they're going and reading whatever promises the fastest results and promises weight loss results, and they're pulling up their credit card and they're buying that program or that book, or they're trusting it because some influencer celebrity is endorsing it and they're doing it, and perhaps they have some short term success and perhaps they can do it for a few days or a few weeks. But then again, the vicious cycle starts all over again because they're not changing the habits. They're not stopping to eat mindfully. They're not taking the time to take care of themselves and they're not taking the time to address the emotional triggers that are fueling the cycle.
Amber Romaniuk: 14:14 So I definitely see a lot of that in. And then I see a lot of people who are using not just extreme eating styles and diets, but they're using exercise. They're, you know, have it in grand. Like I have to go to the gym seven days a week and I need to work out for at least an hour and I need to do all this cardio or HITT training or whatever. And that can actually be a huge detriment to your hormone health, your energy. And I believe exercise can easily become a form of punishment when we're doing it because, “oh my gosh, I ate all that food, now I need to lose weight so I need to go and make up for it in the gym.” Like that's punishment. That's not anything positive. That is full blown self sabotage.
Dina Cataldo: 14:51 What a great way to encourage yourself to be healthy when you're using it as punishment.
Amber Romaniuk: 14:55 Exactly. So lots of negative implications that can come just from that.
AWARENESS OF HOW FOOD AFFECTS THE BRAIN
Dina Cataldo: 15:00 One of the things that really interested me about what you do is your focus in a lot of areas of creating more energy in our lives to do what we want to do most of. I don't think that, most of us anyway, I wasn't raised to think of food as energy. I was taught food as a treat. Food as comfort. Food is fun. Food as, and usually it's sugar, right? Like candy. I remember when I was a kid, my dad, you know, loved the movies and so we would go to the seven 11 or the liquor store and we would grab a ton of candy bars. He would let me eat as much candy as I wanted when I was a kid, no holds barred. I could have coke, I could have whatever and I would just based on all of this sugar and this was like play time.
Dina Cataldo: 15:49 It was fun time but it wasn't just once in awhile. It felt like all the time, but I didn't realize “food as energy” until probably the last decade when I started looking at my habits and how I was hurting myself with eating so much and even now I look at my diet and I will look at the processed foods that I eat, like the flour, all of the sugars that are in my food that I am now watchful of but are still there and I know that I could create more energy in my life if I started being more mindful of it. Are there things that you can share with us related to this topic? Like just like bringing some awareness to how we're treating our food, like our relationship with them.
Amber Romaniuk: 16:33 Yeah. One of the hugest breakdowns with society. I think it's improving, but I think there's just such a lack of awareness and such a disconnect between how food impacts your body. And then further to that now how the emotions you have around food impact the way your body is breaking them down. So for example, you know a lot of these people who are dieting, and I have to say it right now, the unfortunately one of the big ones is Keto. And so you're have to limit or not have carbs.
Amber Romaniuk: 17:01 And so what's happening is now I'm conditioning my brain to go, “carbs are bad, carbs make me gain weight.” So even something as healthy as a bell pepper or an apple or some strawberries are labeled as really bad foods. And so this person now is fearful of these foods. So say strawberries are great for energy, like what a great energy boosting food. Hey, bell peppers are great, they're high in vitamin C, really great for the immune system, but that fear is often stronger than the benefits that I've just mentioned. So until this person shifts their perception and releases the fear on those foods, they might as well just eat the chocolate bar. Because when you are in fear mode or you're in stress mode, when you're eating those healthy, nourishing energy boosting foods, your body doesn't recognize it as food. Your body is in fight or flight, stress mode, and so you start eating and your body is going, I'm in fight or flight mode. I'm trying to protect you from this bear that's walking around you or this threat that doesn't exist. It's your digestion shuts down and it's not able to break down and absorb the nutrients properly. So say you have on one plate, you have a carrot and one plate, you have a chocolate bar. If you have that fear around that carrot, you might as well not bother to have it because you're not going to get the nutrient. Same with, if you look at the chocolate bar and you're going, you know what, I'm gonna eat this slowly, I'm going to enjoy this experience of getting mindfully indulge. Your body has a far higher likelihood of breaking it down, utilizing what it needs and letting your body eliminate the rest. So I really believe perception and our thoughts and opinions of foods, even healthy foods play a huge role in how we're going to break them down and utilize them.
Amber Romaniuk: 18:40 So it's like if you're looking to boost your energy that you have all these fears around, you know, healthy carbs or certain foods, they're going to be a detriment until you shift your mindset and build that mindful relationship with food. So I really think that mindset plays a huge role. And of course what we're putting in our body plays a huge role as well. So I believe in balance. I don't believe it's about like you should only eat healthy foods and you should only eat certain foods. I think it's about let's have you nourish your body with a lot of nutrient dense foods that feel good for you. And let's get you to the point where you can feel safe and comfortable having a mindful indulgence, which is maybe a couple meals or snacks a week or a couple of drinks depending on your preference. That to me is the ultimate healthy balance with food, with some exceptions for vacations and things like that, but that you're able to balance both and not get to the point where as soon as you have that one little indulgence, it's a gain. You're going all or nothing and it's completely throwing you way off track. So I hope that helps to answer your question, but I think the mindset is just as important or even more important than just focusing on what you're putting in your body.
Dina Cataldo: 19:48 You know, it's really interesting what you're saying because as you might already know, I'm fascinated with the brain and how things like that stress, the anxiousness, all of that feeling of overwhelmed, that really comes from that reptilian part of our brain, right? That's releasing all these chemicals in our body. Of course it makes sense that all those chemicals being released or doing things like shutting down our digestive systems so that we can actually conserve energy to bolt or fight. You know, all of that makes a lot of sense. And to, you know, kind of link that with some of the things I've learned is, you know, Yoga eating, which is eating mindfully. It's having just two fistfuls of food on your plate and taking one bite at a time and fully chewing it and fully enjoying it, which I don't do all the time, but when I do it, I recognize that it's just easy.
MINDFUL EATING: HOW TO EAT IN MODERATION
Dina Cataldo: 20:41 You know, there's no tension around the food. What would you suggest to somebody who is, you know, maybe they're just starting to recognize that they are having some issues around food. They're not really sure what it is, is they know that they have either a struggle with weight or that they notice that they're snacking a lot. You know, like maybe they're just in front of the TV snacking all the time, kind of this mindless thing or there in front of their desks, snacking. What would you kind of say to them as a good starting point? Just to kind of start getting more awareness around what's going on?
Amber Romaniuk: 21:16 Well I think the first question to ask is how much time do you spend eating and doing other things. So you're watching TV and eating, you're doing your work and eating, you're driving and eating versus just stopping to sit and be present, eating your food at the kitchen table. I think it's so important to start to build awareness around that because that is a huge eye opener. And once people start to realize, wow, I'm barely ever just sitting and eating my food and I'm not making myself a priority to stop and eat. So you know, starting with that awareness is huge. And then I think from there it's to start going, okay, how do I build mindfulness? So it is about being willing to make yourself a priority. Especially I'd go back to that lunch break, block off that 30 minutes, shut off your technology.
Amber Romaniuk: 22:00 You can still sit at your desk, but just like make some room on one side or you know, go out and engage with your coworkers or whomever. But I think it's important that we start to dedicate time to stop and mindfully eat and then we do it slowly. So start with one meal a day that you know you're always on the run or you're always multitasking with. So I think that's important. I think the other aspect is to ask yourself, before you put anything in your mouth, am I actually physically hungry? Do I need to physically nourish my body or is there something else? Is this emotional? Is this stress? Am I bored? Is it that I've just eaten in multitask so much that it's a habit that I do want to work on? Starting to break, right? Because let's face it, we have that part of our brain that as we build that habit, it will light up the same time every day even if we don't want to do it. So it's to start to recognize that emotional versus physical hunger and as well, how often are you distracted while you eat?
Dina Cataldo: 22:57 What do you kind of go through with your clients when you're talking to them about creating a plan that's right for them? I like your point of view on this, which is it's not like an US steer eating plan. I certainly want to have my delicious go-tos and you know, I'm fine with eating healthy meals. It's something that I work at and I definitely have to plan ahead and I have to, you know, either have it ordered and delivered or I have to plan and cook, which aren't always easy for people who are super busy but is something is necessary if you want to kind of create those building blocks. How do you encourage people to get started moving in that direction?
MORE MINDFUL EATING TIPS
Amber Romaniuk: 23:41 Well I think part of it is whilst it can be a challenge, people always say, I just don't have time. I kind of ask a lovingly yet challenging question, which is, well, what is your health worth to you and what does it cost you to not make your health a priority? That's so important to explore that. And if we think of all the time we spend mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and flipping through the TV channels and you just took even 30 minutes of that time to prep or to do your grocery order online and have it be delivered or whatever that looks like, you actually realize you have more time than you think to do things like that. What I always encourage is it's not about perfection. I don't expect people, and I actually don't encourage people to like plan their whole week of meals because for most of my clients that is a trigger.
Amber Romaniuk: 24:24 It is an emotional eating trigger to have it all down on paper and then have to follow it rigidly because then what happens is rebellion. What if I don't want to eat that today? What if I want this? And then all of a sudden the rebellion mindset takes over and they're like, screw this plan. I'm going to go eat that because it's not on my list and I'm not supposed to have it. So I think part of it is getting rid of that. Yes, you know, think of what you want for your meals. And snacks. Pick a few different things for your day and then make your lists, go do your shopping and dedicate an hour, hour and a half to doing some preparation for your meals and snacks. That being said, I think it's important to try different foods. I think it's important to try different recipes and I think it's important to have variety.
Amber Romaniuk: 25:04 And what I noticed is as my clients explore a variety and they try different foods and like more natural healthy food products and local companies, they are feeling so satisfied with their options that they don't feel restricted. And then when they do decide to go out and have whatever that piece of dessert at a restaurant or they're at a party and they have something that now is kind of something they rarely ever have, you're going, wow, I actually enjoyed the taste of what I'm having more, um, at home or wow, that wasn't as satisfying or wow, they gave me a stomachache. So now all of a sudden it's shifting in there. They're loving this shift with their food and it was easy and it's done over time. Like I always tell people, don't think tomorrow you have to completely change everything in your cupboard or your fridge.
Amber Romaniuk: 25:48 I don't expect people to eat all organic or anything like that. It's gotta be a decision that you want to make as far as where you want to go with making the change with food, but it's important to do it slowly and ad in variety and not restrict. So going, oh well I'm not going to have any sugar or I'm not going to have any big good swell. You could make a muffin and use natural sweeteners. You could add lots of really great nutritious ingredients and make this very satisfying what used to be labeled as a treat and it can now become a really healthy snack.
FOOD, SUGAR AND ALCOHOL
Dina Cataldo: 26:17 One of the things that I noticed when not dealing with food, but dealing with alcohol because I would drink and I learned over time that it really had an impact on my brain, on my sleep, how I felt, and I decided, you know what? This doesn't feel good. This is something I want to, I didn't even want to stop all at once. It was just I'm just going to drink a little less and then eventually I just phased it out and didn't really want it anymore. It wasn't even something that I craved, but one thing I did notice is that social aspect of drinking when you go to your friend's house and they have out a bottle of wine, I mean that's the same thing with food. If there's food around and there's lots of delicious stuff, there's cheeses and breads and desserts and all of this, and yet you're trying to stick with something like a plan where you have more energy. What do you suggest when your clients are faced with these social events?
Amber Romaniuk: 27:16 Yeah. If it's possible to find out what's going to be served, great. If not, I think it's so important to eat regularly through the day to keep your blood sugar balanced and your appetite levels stable. Same with hydration. Make sure you're drinking a lot of water. If you have to take a snack in your bag or your vehicle just in case to have at some point while you're there. And then I think go, okay, well I'm going to do the best I can while I'm there or is tonight going to be an indulgent, I am going to allow myself to enjoy some food and drink that I don't normally have. I think it's kind of important to think about that before you go because otherwise it seems like people go in and they have good intentions, but then everything goes out the window and then they leave going, oh, what did I do?
Amber Romaniuk: 27:57 I totally overdid it. I messed everything up. I feel awful. I'm in regret and I feel like I just messed up everything. Right? So I think at some point to kind of think about, okay, what does tonight feel like? And then when you get there and take a walk round, see what's around, and this is where I think we make food and drink what the event is about, but let's make the connection with other people what it's actually about. So instead of focusing on the food and drink, like go for some of it. Maybe you'd have a glass of water in your hand the whole time or you're slowly sipping on a drink, but go and connect with the people that are at the event, engage in conversation, be present with them, and really soak in whatever the experience has to offer. Aside from the food. I think if we can become present and actually enjoy what's going on around us and connect with other people, it really helps to calm down this strong pull. It can be for some people, a very strong pull to like, oh man, I really shouldn't have that cheese or that dessert. So I find the being present with the people and engaging in the actual event can really minimize the poll or that urge to go for more of the food that may not make you feel well.
Dina Cataldo: 29:00 I noticed that when I'm at an event where, let's say there's a lot of people and usually it's a lot of people, I don't know. The food is an easy way to kind of douse the emotions of feeling a little nervous or not knowing what to do or you know, not interacting with people that you don't know that could reject you because that's where our mind goes a lot of the time and it goes to the worst case scenario. So it's important to notice that you are having feelings when you're eating kind of mindlessly and just to sit with them, you know, just be there with them and be compassionate with yourself. I know you kind of mentioned that earlier about having that compassion towards yourself and is a very loving moment and if you can just sit there with the emotion, because that's what I did with the alcohol.
Dina Cataldo: 29:47 So I just sat there and I recognize that I had all these feelings and it was okay. Like they just kind of dissipate.
Amber Romaniuk: 29:54 Yeah, they do. And I think breathing and using your breath is such a powerful tool, especially if you're out in public because you can kind of like be breathing as you're thinking about, okay, what do I want to do? Or you can breathe through your feelings, go to the bathroom and take a few deep breaths. Like I think excusing yourself to go and kind of collect yourself or to feel before you make any kind of decision that you feel like is not going to be a positive one for your body. I think that's so huge and I love you talked about that like giving yourself permission to feel your feelings is so important and if you find you struggle in those scenarios because do you feel being judged or you feel like people are going to think negatively of you in some way?
Amber Romaniuk: 30:31 I also think obviously as an aside there's a huge opportunity to work on your self worth and your body and securities so that you are able to gain freedom from those things and go and enjoy those events in those social experiences and not all of a sudden feel like you have to use the food or the drink as your crutch to help you navigate through it.
HOW SUGAR AFFECTS THE BRAIN AND BODY
Dina Cataldo: 30:51 I'm actually going to link to an interview I did with Caitlin Padgett specifically on drinking. So if that's something that you're kind of thinking about struggling with, I'm going to link to that in the show notes if you, if you want to listen to that. Okay. So I want to focus on what I want to talk about, which is training my brain to have more energy using food. And this was a huge shift in my thinking when I started. Just hearing those words like what would motivate me to eat healthier has never been my weight because I've always had a high metabolism. I recognize when I didn't feel quite right in my clothes and so I would eat differently so that I could, yeah, like I wanted to in my clothes, but I never really thought about weight. So I've been very fortunate in that realm. But one thing that really got me was this idea of being more productive, having more focus, having more energy, being able to devote more of that energy into creating a plan business. I go to the office, I have a business, I have a podcast. I have family and friend commitments and I manage it fairly well. I think. I mean I think I do a good job of it, but the idea of being even better at it, bye. Shifting my thoughts and doing things differently with food really intrigued me. Can you share with us some of your best tips in that arena?
Amber Romaniuk: 32:25 Well, I think actually even more importantly, because this is the breakdown, you can eat all the energy boosting foods and like take yourself care brakes, which I think are important. But if you have certain hormone imbalances that are impacting your clarity and energy, if you have digestive imbalances that are doing those things, if there's just certain physical imbalances also going on in the body, it could hinder your actions that you're already trying to take to build that. And it may cause a lot of frustration and further drain your energy. So I actually think it's important for us to understand what's going on in the body physically. If there are any imbalances and supporting those whilst you like build the self care habits. I love encouraging people to take small five minutes. Self care breaks a few different times through the day so that you can stop and check in with yourself. Do I need water? How am I feeling emotionally? Do I need a few deep breaths? Do I need a snack? I think that's great. I think it's also important to eat regularly through the day to keep your blood sugar stable, which is important for sustained energy and mental clarity.
Amber Romaniuk: 33:26 And I think it's also important to make sure that we are eating balanced. So like we're eating enough protein, we're eating enough fat and we're eating healthy carbs because healthy carbs. So things like your fruits and vegetables, your gluten free, whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, and natural sweeteners, things like honey maple syrup. I think that these are things that help to give us energy. And again, one of the breakdowns of these new fads is cutting carbs, which are so precious for healthy cortisol levels. Then all of a sudden we've seen all these people with adrenal fatigue and their cortisol levels are completely through the roof or they're really declining and they're exhausted, their memory is shot and they cannot focus on anything. So I think it's important to first understand those physical imbalances because you may need a little bit more specific regarding what you're eating and what you're taking in and as those things balanced, then yeah, definitely making sure that you are integrating things.
Amber Romaniuk: 34:19 Like I mentioned barriers earlier, I absolutely love that. Great for the body. Things like avocados, your healthy fats are great for brain health. Walnuts, they're in the shape of a brain. So it's to look at some of our foods and go, wow, like nature is brilliant and as to how food evolves and the benefits of it for humans. The other key piece that a lot of people underrate is hydration. So a lot of people are dehydrated and a lot of people think, well, I had a coffee, I had a tea, I'm getting in my water, but no water is true hydration. If you're drinking anything other than water like tea or coffee or to me that does not count as hydration. So if you're struggling with low energy, brain fog, poor focus, and you're not getting your two liters plus of water a day where you're 16 ounces of water a day, that could be a huge reason why you're struggling with those kinds of things.
Amber Romaniuk: 35:08 And again, it's so underrated. And the other thing that's underrated is sleep. I really think sleep is so important for consistent energy, focus, mental clarity. So I always encourage people to get their eight hours and to actually be in bed asleep before 11:00 PM because when we think of hormone health and sleep, your hormones are trying to heal and balance between 11:00 PM and 1:00 AM. So if you're awake during that time and you're burning the candle at both ends, you're actually having a huge interference with that. You're interfering with your blood sugar, inflammation, your stress levels, and you're probably not necessarily going to wake up feeling rested the next day if you're staying up when you should be sleeping during that time. Sleep is so important for so many different reasons. So those are some of the things that I would definitely recommend. And if you're curious about your maybe struggling with your hormones or something like that, definitely always encouraged people to take further action and investigate things like that further and he feels like you need the help. Get the help from someone who can help you with that because it's something that is not looked at enough and that needs so much more support than it is what is being provided. I feel by a lot of western medicines and you don't have to keep stuffing with it. I think one of the biggest breakdowns is so many people accept low energy except the brain fog except feeling Kinda just eh as their normal when we shouldn't be. We should want to move above those things and have optimal health.
IS SUGAR ADDICTIVE?
Dina Cataldo: 36:27 I love the idea that you can include so many foods that you enjoy and just be mindful of what you're putting into your body. One of the things that was something that we all hear about how sugar is really like a drug and how it's really impacting our brains. Can you talk a little bit about that and what you, I have learned over the years about it and how it impacts us.
Amber Romaniuk: 36:54 Yeah, so what's so interesting is for me, definitely sugar was what seemed like my biggest demon at the time. I was so addicted to it. So sugar, refined sugar, whether it's white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and aspartame is even worse in my opinion. It excites the same part of the brain as a hard drug. You produce a lot of serotonin and dopamine when you eat it, and so essentially for people who crave sugar or use sugar to boost their mood or give them energy or whatever you're using it for, essentially you build this attachment to it or this addiction to it. I feel like when you get to this point where you start to use sugar to cope, so it's like you think of a memory, oh, I remember when I was kind of upset or tired and I ate the chocolate bar and then I felt so good and I had that energy and I pushed through or it made me feel happier.
Amber Romaniuk: 37:41 There's a part of the brain, the hippocampus that stores those pleasure memories, but there's not a part of the brain that stores how poorly you feel after you overdo it. So every time you associate or think of the certain foods or the sugar, that part of your brain lights up and goes, hey, remember when you ate that and you felt really good? You should do that again. So there's all these parts of the brain chemistry in the brain that unless you know about them, it's almost like it's working against you because it's just so easy to keep in that cycle of having those foods to fulfill a craving or to deal with an emotion. Because if you don't know why it's happening, you just think, oh yeah, I need to have that to make me feel good. And then what happens is you need to eat more to get the same kind of high or the same kind of pleasure.
Amber Romaniuk: 38:21 Then of course we have like the blood sugar spikes and drops. And so there's that whole aspect of you have that sugar high and I'm in the low, so oh, I must need more. So then I can get back up to that high. And then we need to keep eating more to keep sustaining the same level of Pi or feeling of energy. So the only thing though that is so interesting is I think everything in moderation. Because I think when we start to label even something as sugar as this bad for bitten thing that you should never eat, we start to create negative emotional attachments to the food. So even if you really minimize your refined sugar intake and you're only having it once a month or once a week, if you're having such negative associations with it, it is all of a sudden not going to be something that your body can break down at all.
Amber Romaniuk: 39:03 And your body's going to just recognize it as a foreign invader because of the stress response that you are having with it. So I think it's so important because that was for me, like I feared sugar for years after I overcame my food addiction. I was just like, can't have it, don't want to relapse. It's bad. Everything I learned about it. So I think it's important to be informed, but it's also important to release those super deep negative associations with it that we store in our brains because the end of the world didn't happen when I ate it again and I didn't lose control and eat like the whole carton of ice cream or whatever it is that I had. And what was so missing is when I had had it again after not having it for about four years, my teeth ached. I was like, this is way too sweet. I feel the jitters. Oh, there's that little like kind of dopamine, but I don't want any more because now I understood how it was impacting my body. Wow. So it was actually profound experience to have it and go. Yeah. And I don't want it. It's going to be here, but I just, I don't want it at home. I'm not going to bake with it. It's not something that I'm going to reincorporate back into my regular heating.
MINDFUL EATING TECHNIQUES
Dina Cataldo: 40:09 That's fascinating to me because that was a similar experience I had with alcohol and that was the feeling I had was, okay, well I'll, I'll have it this time. I, you know, sure I'll have a little bit of port this time. And then I had it and I'm like, I didn't need this. This wasn't even anything I really wanted. Yeah. How do you feel about sugar in that regard? You know, when I hear people talking about alcohol, I mean it's pretty obvious to me. We're poisoning our body, we're hurting ourselves. I'm not saying, hey, if you drink, hey, drink up. Like if that is what you are into. Cool. I just happened to in the last year decide that that just wasn't something I wanted to do anymore and it doesn't impact everybody the same way it impacts me. But how do you feel about sugar in that regard? Do you feel that it does have that negative influence on us? Just like alcohol might?
Amber Romaniuk: 40:53 Oh, for sure. Well, and if you think about it, like sugar and alcohol are only one molecule difference. So they're quite similar in the aspect of how the body's going to recognize them and break them down. So I think it's everything in moderation, but I think because now like there's so many alternatives. Like you can get everything from stevia to erythritol to maple syrup to monk fruit, you know, we can get natural sugars from their actual sources like fruits. I think there's so many alternatives now that there's a great opportunity for people to utilize more of that and to of course understand that the over consumption of any refined food, including sugar can have negative implications on your physical and emotional state of health. So yeah, I think it's important that, you know, we really start to understand how this could impact my body if I have too much of it, if I'm having it once in awhile when we say, hey, like if you want to indulge, like pick the highest quality ice cream or piece of chocolate or wine or whatever it is, pick the best quality and have a mindful experience.
Amber Romaniuk: 41:58 Sit Down, put on some good music, being good company, take it, put it on a plate or in a glass, sit down and eat it. Slowly enjoy the flavors. She would slowly drink it slowly, whatever it is, smell it and have a full on sensory experience with it because I guarantee you, you will be far more satisfied and you're not going to go, oh, now I need to eat the rest, or Oh, I've failed with my diet or whatever I'm doing. Like indulgence I think should be perceived just as the next, you know, part of your day. Like now I'm going to go and have a shower. We don't, you know, all of a sudden have these negative annotations to going and having a shower. Yeah. With food, it's just such a deep emotional relationship, so I think if we can get to that point where we can be like that with food, enjoy it, but then just like move on. Oh my gosh, everyone would be winning and so much happier because there's so much negative association with food, especially sugar.
Dina Cataldo: 42:47 The approach that you have to food is really great to me. I really enjoy it because it's very much observing how you interact with food, really understanding the connections that we have with it. And then this next thing that I have been doing recently, and I know that you do, which is kind of experimenting with what works and what doesn't work and there's all of these different things that you know, at one point or another I've tried, I've done these juice detoxes where you know I go a week without meat or any pasta or anything like that was just fruits and lots of vegetables and vegetable juice and that was something I did for a week and I noticed the emotions that came up for me when I started doing that. And it's not something I would suggest for just anyone starting out. You should definitely have somebody that you're doing something like that with, but if you are doing something to diet, I'm doing air quotes, maybe consider doing something that is more of an experiment of your relationship with food. Can you kind of share with us some of what you do to kind of bring that awareness to what's going on in your life and emotions surrounding food?
MINDFUL EATING BENEFITS
Amber Romaniuk: 44:03 Yeah, so I think awareness is huge and building awareness of your body is such a gift and so profound because when you learn how to listen to your body, you know your body needs. So there's times where perhaps you're going, oh my gosh, I'm totally craving. It's so funny because in the new year I started to crave like celery juice and lots of ginger and I'm like, okay, well I'm just going to start doing this. And then I found out, okay, my lymphatic system needs some love. And I'm like, well no wonder I'm craving this stuff because my body really wanting it. Versus when I had this binge eating issue, like I had no idea what I actually need to know. I was just creating all the refined foods. So I think if you're craving a lot of refined foods, that to me is a sign that the body is in a heightened state of physical stress.
Amber Romaniuk: 44:43 And probably also emotional stress because I find we crave salt because we're stressed. Mineral deficiencies, hormone imbalances, sugar. We often crave because of blood sugar imbalances, got flora imbalances and also hormone imbalances. And from an emotional standpoint, there's a sweetness missing from life. So we try to compensate with sugar, but I think it's important to look at what is it that I want to do. For a lot of people it's weight loss and so I think instead of going on an extreme diet or a fad, it's to go, why don't I just look at more mindful eating, better sleep hydration and again to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my day. I'm gonna make sure I'm having some healthy proteins of whatever that is. Whether it's like your chicken, your fish, you know, really good quality bison or maybe it's quinoa and it's beans and you're making sure that you're combining your plant proteins properly and then your fat, so your avocados, your gone nuts and seeds are fatty fishes.
Amber Romaniuk: 45:37 I think it's important to again look at incorporating more of what's coming from nature rather than just starting to take things out. Because the restriction again is what starts to fuel the rebellion of I feel restricted. I feel like I can't have these things and that's going to far more likely set you up for failure than it used to start to add and more good things and start to work on just tweaking and shifting the lifestyle slowly and then from there, as you feel better, you start to notice these foods make me feel really good right now. These ones don't, so maybe I have a bit more of this and that changes, but because you're building that awareness, you can give yourself that more. And if again, you're to the point where like, I have no idea what my body needs. Well then to me that's always a sign that perhaps it's time to take further steps to maybe get some help with that because whilst you may go, oh, I want more energy, or oh, I want to achieve a certain level of physical health.
Amber Romaniuk: 46:25 If you don't know what's going on with your hormones and you don't know what's going on with certain physical imbalances in the body or certain symptoms, certain foods or changes could have a negative implication. So I think understanding your current state of health versus also really important to know what to give your body and maybe what to kind of pull back on a bit. Oh my gosh, they've shared so much good stuff with us. Can you tell us a little bit about how you work with clients to help them get this better connection with food and themselves? Yeah, so for me the first step with a women that I connect with is understanding their current state of health. So looking at, you know, what is your relationship with food right now? Have you had a diet history? Are you struggling with body image and weight?
Amber Romaniuk: 47:11 And then from a physical standpoint, how are your energy levels? Do you have any digestive symptoms like uncomfortable, bloating, gas, your stomach, feeling like it's sticking out all the time. Have you ever had your hormones tested? And I thoroughly investigate all of those things with my clients as we get started because it's so important before I start making specific recommendations that I know those things because as an example, while Maca root is an adaptogenic herb, that is great to support your hormones if you have certain hormone imbalances and may be beneficial for your adrenal health, but it's not beneficial if you have high estrogen. So that's why it's so important to understand the current state of health first and not just go online and read, Oh this is good for this. I'm just going to start taking it cause you may actually by accidentally be hurting your body.
Amber Romaniuk: 47:53 So that's important for me. And then we just start slowly step by step every other week, connecting and having calls and making small changes. So, Hey, let's get you to take your lunch break. Hey, let's get you to bring some healthy snacks to work. Hey, let's get you to start becoming aware of your emotional eating triggers. And then I provide great tools so that they can start to walk through and understand what's triggering them to want to go into food. Or whether they're not making themselves a priority. So maybe they have a people pleasing mentality or they're, they've got that perfectionist mindset, which to me indicates kind of better, low self worth, or they're not feeling good enough because they have to prove to everyone else. So working on those mindset pieces is important because as they shift their mindset, they shift their calendar and their habits, their health improves, the relationship with food improves and their confidence skyrockets. And now I'm not saying you've got to all of a sudden take off all this time from work to work on this. I know people are busy. I know people are probably going, why you don't have time to do that. But it's small changes that evolve over time. And as you feel better, you want to take the time to honor your body because you're feeling so much better and you want that for life. So it's really, really cool to see the changes that happen when people start to feel better physically and emotionally.
Dina Cataldo: 49:00 Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. Amber. Can you tell us where our listeners can learn more about you? And I will link to what you are talking about here in the show notes.
Amber Romaniuk: 49:11 Yeah, so you can check me out on my website, my brand new website and amberapproved.ca.
Dina Cataldo: 49:17 It looks fabulous by the way.
Amber Romaniuk: 49:19 Oh, thank you and I have some great resources like an emotional eating quiz. Another great resource is my podcast called the No Sugar Coating Podcast, which is available on any podcast app or iTunes and you can follow me on Instagram at my name, which is @AmberRomaniak. This is where I share a lot of insight further on these things. I share recipes, health tips, so it's also a great resource for people as well.
Dina Cataldo: 49:43 Yes, go and follow Amber, I'm going to link to her website on the show notes, so be sure to go check that out and she has a great podcast, so if this interests you at all, you definitely want to check that out. Thank you so much for joining me today, amber. I really appreciate it.
Amber Romaniuk: 50:00 Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure to share with you.
Dina Cataldo: 50:03 Thank you for joining us today. I really appreciate it. Everything that we talked about, all the contact information for amber is in the show notes. I look forward to talking to you next week. Bye.