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  • Gina Benson

My Relationship With Food


I’m the ultimate snack queen. In fact, if I’m being honest, I binge on snacks. This is a sensitive topic to talk about but it’s something I’d like to share as a nutritionist. So settle in as you read the abbreviated version of my relationship with food.


When I was a little girl I would eat every other day. No, I’m serious. I would eat Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and the cycle would continue. My mother tried EVERYTHING. I hated flesh foods so you couldn’t get me to eat meat. I never touched milk because it grossed me out. I literally survived off of water, pasta and broccoli. I wasn’t malnourished, like many of you are probably thinking. I was always in the average weight percentile, always below average on the height percentile (no big surprise), but overall a healthy kid. I attribute the every-other-day-eating to my slow Kapha digestion. As I grew older, I became more active and less picky, I introduced more foods into my diet and ate every day. I had a very healthy relationship with food until I went through a breakup at the end of high school. I started eating less or skipping meals all together. In my mind, I wasn’t “skinny enough” and in swept body dysmorphia. When I got to college, I started binging. I was eating complete garbage and drinking heavily 5 days a week. I gained 25lbs in the first semester. After freshman year, I tried to get a grip around my weight gain and I started eating less and skipping meals again. I survived off of iceberg lettuce and grilled chicken. Well, hardly survived. I occasionally snacked on goldfish and hot sauce. ??? Yeah, I read somewhere that hot sauce aids in weight loss. WTF?! I was working out excessively, running around campus, at the gym, or on the floor of my dorm. I remember being on the elliptical and the girl next to me asked how I got so thin. I told her diet and exercise. I really didn’t even comprehend the damage I was causing or even bother to mention that I was sometimes skipping meals. I still don’t consider my relationship with food an eating disorder but eating disorders are vast and range from acute to sever. If anything, my eating disorder was acute but regardless, it had major side effects. I got really thin. My head looked too big on my body and I found myself behaving erratically. I was emotionally unstable, inflamed, and withering away. I started getting sick, fainting, and acting out. I was 1000% malnourished and my brain and body were suffering because of it. Eventually, I gained control of this downward spiral and reintroduced a balanced diet. I included all macro (protein, carbs, fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) into my diet and slowed down with the exercise. I did put weight back on but for the better. When I found yoga, I became a vegetarian. It was most aligned with who I was. I didn’t like meat as a little girl, so it was a way to embrace my truest nature. Now, I’m vegan for spiritual reasons. (Please don’t confuse veganism with a diet style or trend. To me, it’s a lifestyle and belief.) My relationship with food became better. However, when I started working in education or if I became stressed out, I’d skip meals on accident. By the time I realized I missed breakfast and lunch, I’d start binging on snacks and by the time it was dinner, I wasn’t hungry. Again, I started noticing the toll my diet took on my physical and mental health. My relationship with food has been a rollercoaster. Now, I have a balanced diet, but there are days I fall off the wagon. I am human, after all. So instead of reaching for unhealthy options outside of my home, I make these fun, healthy, and delicious snacks! They’re packed with nutrients, some could even replace breakfast all together, and they give me the fuel I need to satiate my cravings or to snack on in between meals when stomach starts to gurgle. They’re fun, easy, and healthy. The recipes below are gluten, soy, and dairy free!



Quinoa & Such Energy Bars

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup uncooked quinoa

½ cup raw almonds

½ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

2 tbsp. raw sunflower seeds

8 pitted dates

2 tbsp. chia seeds

½ cup of water

Chocolate Chips for melting on top! (I used HU dark chocolate bar)

Instructions:

On parchment paper, roast the oats, quinoa, almonds, pepitas, and sunflower seeds on 350 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

In a blender, place dates, chia seeds and water. Blend until smooth.

In a mixing bowl, mix roasted ingredients with blended ingredients.

Place mixture in a pan or casserole dish on parchment paper and spread evenly.

Melt chocolate of your choice and top evenly on the mixture.

Chill in fridge.

Cut & enjoy!



Cinnamon Apple Energy Bites

⅓ cup grated apple

⅓ cup almond butter

¼ cup maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups rolled oats

Tbsp. cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, mix the apple, almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Add in oats, cinnamon, and salt. Form into balls and enjoy!



Peanut Butter Bites

¼ cup coconut flour

1 cup oats

½ cup peanut butter

2 tbsp. maple syrup

*You can add coconut flakes, chocolate chips, anything that makes your heart sing! I dipped some into melted HU chocolate and left some plain. Super easy and delicious!

Instructions:

Mix all together, make balls, and enjoy.



Roasted Chickpea

1 bag of dried chickpeas

1 tbsp. avocado oil

Seasoning of your choice- I used: cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, onion, salt and pepper

Instructions:

Soak in water overnight, drain the next day.

In a mixing bowl mix together oil and spices over chickpeas.

Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes

Let cool, enjoy!



Seedy Crackers

½ cup chia seeds

½ cup flax seeds

¼ cup sesame seeds

3 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 tsp Spirulina

½ tsp fine pink Himalayan salt

¾ cup water

Instructions

Preheat oven to 250 ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Mix all the ingredients together in one bowl and stir well. Let it sit for about 15 minutes or until the chia seeds start to get jelly-like.

Spoon the mixture on the parchment paper and spread as evenly and thinly as you can.

Bake for about 30 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 30 minutes (if the sheet of dough is still too wet, let it bake a little longer; the times may vary depending on your oven and the thickness of your cracker).

If they take long on the second side, I’ll take them out, break them up and then bake for the remainder of the time, until they are evenly crispy.

Let cool and enjoy!


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