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  • I'm sick of eating! Have a recipe!

    Oh you guys! I am so sick of holiday food.


    Back to basics, then.

    Okay, many of you are American, and will be incredulous when I say that every Christmas, I gorge myself on fruitcake. And I think there is simply no way for us to understand each other unless you 1. grew up in a Commonwealth country where Christmas cake is taken seriously i.e. drowned in booze and thus greeted with glad cries or 2. come over to my house next December and let me feed you something that doesn’t have green cherries in it. You will die! <- my promise.

    (Note: I myself was born and raised in America, so please know that know I am a big weirdo. Still, I will try to persuade you that you are really missing something worthwhile if you lump all fruitcake in with Classic Joke fruitcake.)

    Anyway, the point is, I look forward all year to eating fruitcake, without which Christmas tastes of drought and sadness. And that’s literal, the years I start soaking the fruits in rum months in advance, and then baking the cakes and wrapping them in cheesecloth and giving them little drinks of booze once a week as the holidays approach. See? Taking things seriously.

    Then what? Then I eat tons of fruitcake at Christmas. 

    Also maybe some mince pies and gingerbread and marzipan and toffee and chocolates that people send (thank you, friends!) and gougères and eggnog and figgy pudding (jk; haven't had that since my grandmother last made it) and all manner of system-challenging foods that I get my fill of plus some and then can’t stand the sight of. 

    Every year ends this way. Sick to death of fancy food. Goodbye to all that, I say!

    And thus every year begins this way: A return to basics. The simple meal! The simple ingredients! Bring me the whole foods and nothing but the whole foods, I say.

    I noticed something was different this year, though. There was no shame in feasting. And no shame driving me to reform my eating.

    I mean, I know I’ve written about this no-shame thing, extensively, so why shouldthere be shame in feasting? 

    And yet: shame is a habit like any other, and it lingers. “Feeling fat” is a habit, and it lingers. “Needing to go on a diet, probably,” is an idea that if not found lingering in our own brain, is loitering right outside - despite the No hang out! sign you posted - and trying to get in all day, every day, especially in January. (And May.)

    It actually requires some effort and discipline to yank our attention away from these habits. Until the day that withdrawing your attention is something that actually doesn’t require effort, and that is a Great Day. That is the day I had this year, sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when I realized I was sick of party food and tired of feasting and ready to eat differently.

    AND I DIDN’T HATE MYSELF at all.

    So without shame, punishment, or worry about what the scale said, I sat down and adopted this excellent savory breakfast, which I've eaten a lot since, and which you might like too. It comes from the recent cookbook Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes by Alison Roman. It tastes like relief, arrival and fulfillment.

    Smashed Cucumbers with Yogurt and Savory Granola
    (adapted from Dining In)
    makes one serving

    1. Squeeze a bit of lemon or lime over a serving of plain yogurt, whatever kind you like. I like Greek.
    2. Grate a bit of garlic over it - no more than a small clove for one person - add salt and pepper, and mix
    3. Smash one small Persian cucumber or 1/3 of a long English cucumber (inside a plastic bag) or just chop and add
    4. Sprinkle the top with a few slices of green onion and some Aleppo pepper (or if you have access to them, dried and crushed pulla chiles. THEY ARE THE VERY BEST.)
    5. Add some of Alison’s Savory Granola to the top (see the book for this recipe, or just combine lots of seeds and some nuts, salt, pepper, chile flakes, and a little soy sauce, an egg white or two, and bake as you would a sweet granola). Enjoy!

    Now is a good time for me to remind you that Amazon shares some money with me if you buy a book after clicking that link (aka affiliate link). I think they'll send me about 9 cents US. But I tell you what: that book is so good I would pay THEM to share it with you. I have never made so many things in the first month of owning a cookbook ever before. It is exactly as advertised: Highly cookable.

    By the way: My job is to show you how to quit bingeing, quit dieting and start losing weight immediately. Most of my clients stop bingeing permanently after one meeting, even if they've been out of control for decades. Here's a page that describes how I work: maxdaniels.com/bok.

    If this is what you've been waiting for, hit Reply to this email, and we'll set up a quick chat - no cost, no pressure - to see if we're a fit. 

    It's all so much quicker and simpler than you've ever been told. 

  • The [traditional] end-of-the-year Viking funeral

    What's on your pyre?

    As you may know, I recently had a couple years of Burn it DownEverything Must Go and Kill it! Kill it a lot! So things are pretty cleared out around here. Just about the only thing on my end-of-the-year Viking funeral ship pyre of doom and good riddance is:

    Self-improvement. I am throwing that out in exchange for self-cultivation.

    This move is going to save me a lot of money, some of which I'll spend over at masterclass.com where Alice Waters and Thomas Keller teach some cooking skills I want to acquire. For fun, an essential ingredient of self-cultivation.

    (I’ve talked about the end of self-improvement before, obviously. What can I say? It's layers. Things I didn't used to consider as self-improvement whose disguises I now see through. 

    Also, I wrote about self-cultivation this month over on Mason-Dixon Knitting. The comments have tons of smart ideas.)

    So I would love to hear what's on your bonfire this year. Here's a place where you can tell me: https://goo.gl/forms/Nkx8PvdwrvGS241r1. I'll share the results (anonymously) in January.

    If you'd like suggestions, here are some things my clients are happy to get rid of:

    1. Dieting.

    My definition of dieting: not just eating less than you need to maintain your current weight, but eating even less than you need to maintain your ideal weight. Consistently not getting enough in the way of calories, by a wide margin. Unsustainable by design. Chances of failure, as in causes weight gain, not loss: 97%. Do you want to bet on being one of the 3%? My clients don't, because there's a better way.

    2. Unrestrained, boundary-free eating.

    I have my clients eat meals instead. It’s a time-tested healthy pattern. My definition of meals: Adequate but not unlimited amounts of food at predictable times, with intervals of NOT eating in between. Works miracles to stabilize hunger and mood swings. Thus, also good for maintaining civilization.

    3. Getting in touch with their hunger.

    Intuitive eaters, yogis, mindfulness teachers and other fashionable people have the wrong end of the stick. This is not easy, it's hard - and you can stay stuck here, gaining weight, for a long time. Instead, you can make some simple habit changes, and your hunger will get in touch with YOU. Effortlessly.

    4. Fake foods. 

    My definition of food: Single-ingredient edibles with nutrients and calories. Or combinations of single ingredients. If it's packaged, are the ingredients in Latin and Greek? Like, actual literal Greek-derived* words, as in SCIENCE? That’s not food, that’s a business model. You get sick, they get rich. (*Unless you’re in a Greek deli. Then, fine.)

    5. Clothes that don't fit. 

    Nothing causes weight loss faster than clothes that fit. Nothing keeps a sister stuck longer than hanging onto shit that’s too small. I can’t explain this, but trust me anyway. Whatever your budget, get something that works for your current body, ASAP. And just give away the rest. 

    6. Waiting one more minute to live as you wish. 

    There are some things that weight loss, if you want it, will provide. (Not gonna lie.) But magic it isn't. You’re still going to be a regular human, not Beyoncé. There are never not dishes to do, cars to wreck or friends who need you to edit their resume. So really: no point waiting. Whatever it is you think weight loss will give you, go get it for yourself now. 

    Okay, that's the week! It's also the YEAR. I'll be back in 2018. In the meantime, take good care of yourself and thank you for reading! May your coming year be GLORIOUS. 

    Respect! Adore!

    👊💃

  • Accountability should work for YOU. You don't work for IT.


    Accountability can be useful. Scolding and punishment? Not so much.

    First, I made a cheat sheet for new subscribers - and for you. It's all about how to stop bingeing and overeating and mindless eating without spending one more minute than absolutely necessary. It will make your life better right away.

    If you know anyone you think would like it, please share this subscribe page with them.

    Now then. People often say they want accountability. But I'm not so sure.

    Here’s what I see a lot of: “accountability” that looks like public shaming. For example,  announcing your new diet and how much weight you plan - no, commit - to lose on social media. Once in a while we see someone do it on their own daytime show. There could be millions of witnesses. 

    Public declarations do work for some people - mostly the ones who are a little shameproof. Living with the dread of public shaming (and the rejection and the tomatoes and the onlookers making bets), well, that might be worse than actually being held accountable.

    We have long known that punishment doesn’t work. We also know that stress hormones aren’t good for weight, and threats and abuse only create fake change. (Fake change = the kind that doesn’t last. The kind we reverse at the earliest opportunity.)

    So when clients say they have to have accountability - and I hear this a lot - I don’t ever want to put deadlines or watchdogging or disapproval on them. (I barely even give “homework.”)

    I prefer to set up a safe, sane, kind and approving space for us to talk. A space where we can look together at what’s really going on, without shaming or scolding or any judgement beyond figuring out what’s not working.

    And what would actually make things better. 

  • Get support. Like, way more than you think you need.

    Last week David Leonhardt of the New York Times wrote about guilty Thanksgivings. He spoke to Aaron Carroll of Indiana University, who said this:

    “Your health doesn’t depend on what you eat this one day. It’s what you eat the other 364 days that counts.”

    We've been saying that for weeks here. So, Americans, you now have 359 days until Thanksgiving. Canadians: 314. Wherever you are in the world, let's put yesterday behind us, and carry on.

    Now then. I was talking with a prospective client a couple days ago, and she mentioned her suspicion that she could need ongoing support. 

    As in, after we worked together. As in, what if I spend all this money, and sure, things get way better, and I quit bingeing, and I start losing weight, and I’m feeling pretty good, and … I still need some kind of help? What if I’m not completely done in six weeks?

    And I think my answer would be the same for anyone who asked me that question: Of course you’re going to need more support after we’re done. (This client will be done eating compulsively, though. I feel comfortable making that guarantee for everyone I work with.) 

    It's like this: You quit bingeing but you still hate your job. Or you quit eating so much sugar and you want support with nutrition. Or you have questions about hormones. Or cooking. You might need a trainer or a therapist or a totally different coach. Or a new BFF.

    But you will for sure need support of some kind, for the rest of your life.

    Because humans need the support of other humans, in the flesh, in word, in the form of role models - all of it. As Geneen Roth once said to me - and all the other women supporting each other at this particular retreat: Get wayyyyyy more support than you think you need.

    And as I always say to my clients, get it set up well in advance.

    Needing support is not a personal failing that turns us into prey animals for expensive coaches and therapists and trainers. Neither is needing support a human design flaw. It’s how we’re built, so we should build it into our expectations, our budget and our schedule.

    And enjoy the very best support we can get our hands on.

  • How special is it really?

    The thing we tell ourselves about holiday food is that it’s special! We don’t get this stuff on a random sunny Tuesday. We wait all year for it, right?

    Well, maybe.

    Last week I visited a market on the bottom floor of the Twitter building, the kind built to serve the rich-in-money, poor-in-leisure tech employee. In other words, it’s a bougie-@** market stuffed with best-in-class items and I could have bought every single thing in there. Because it was all so very beautiful. 

    (See drinking chocolate from Hungary above. Designed to sit on your shelf forever, just looking adorable.)

    I did almost buy some chocolate caramel-covered shortbread, because like everything else in this carefully put-together store, it was designed to seduce me with its unnatural beauty. Each piece of this shortbread was a perfectly square chunk, with a thick, absolutely uniform layer of caramel on top, and on top of that, a lovely dark, thick and again amazingly even layer of chocolate ganache.

    Reader, this shortbread was extremely compelling to me. Not so long ago, I would have bought it and cheerfully paid the $10 they were asking. Because it was so, so beautiful. And rich looking. And perfectly formed. And golden with the promise of delight and deliciousness. Very, very special.

    Here’s the thing though. Although that confection was made of everything I hold most dear in a foodstuff, and the finished product looked like purest perfection, it wasn’t technically special. Maybe for the first time ever, I broke it down and saw that, yes, it was all my favorite things. Butter, flour, salt, sugar and chocolate. (Perfect really!)

    But there are many, many things in this world made of salt, butter, flour, sugar and chocolate. That’s like half my recipe collection right there. And I don’t have to eat every example of this flavor combo the world has come up with. 

    So when we say something is special, it might be useful to analyze exactly what part is special. And what made those bars special was their perfect platonic form. Which is to say they were really good to look at.

    No doubt they tasted phenomenal as well. But we are all going to have many, many opportunities in this lifetime to eat butter, flour, sugar, salt and chocolate together. I think we could say countless opportunities. 

    The point is not that you should only eat rich food if it’s something you’ll never see again. The point is that if you’re telling yourself that Aunt Esther’s cookies are really special and you have to have some of those and Aunt Jackie’s pie is really special and you have to have some of that and your Gran’s fruitcake* is really special and how could you not have that, well, you wind up having a lot of things that are nice, and delicious, and perhaps quite compelling - but not, in the end, all that special

    * Not a fruitcake joke. I never joke about fruitcake. Anyone who thinks that fruitcake = comedy has not been to my house at Christmastime and should come over this year to have their mind blown. 

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