Answers to "Nourishing" Questions

Recently I had the honor of teaching a "Simple Food Tools and Strategies" course at the Older Adult Institute in Albuquerque.  The 90-minute workshop covered the scientific tools to easily measure and monitor your intake (total, portions, quality, etc) followed by activities on how nourishing the other aspects of your life impacts your relationship with food.

In special thanks to the audience, 
here are some of the inquiries.

1. I fear my daughter is drinking way too much water.  She has developed a slight but frequent cough which has her drinking more water as well.  Can you tell me more about measuring water?

Answer: "Thank you for asking!  Refer your daughter to the "total intake" resource called Interactive DRI; it would be helpful for her to have a total drinking amount of water per day to aim for.  Once she has this in mind, she can carry water in measurable reusable bottles.  Secondly she can monitor her output by watching the color of her urine which should be light lemonade tones.

"If her urine is very frequent and very clear, this is a sign she may be drinking too much; dark urine may be a sign she is not drinking enough.  Many people experience dry mouth here in the dry New Mexico climate.  She can purchase a little spritzer bottle or ask a pharmacist for mouth-hydrating sprays to try.

"Most importantly, if she has frequent thirst or continued cough, she should speak with her physician."

2. I don't cook for myself so for every meal I eat out.  Sometimes I pay attention to where and what I eat, but many times I simply go and eat and I have gained 35-45 extra pounds.  I think if I started a home food system I would be better about portions and self control.  Do you have any thoughts on this or recommend any home programs?

Answer: "You know yourself so well!  I hear that you love to eat out and you have a budget for these meals, transportation and price don't seem to be barriers.  Trying a home food system based on whole foods and easy delivery would be easy to try (as you can cancel or switch if it doesn't work out).

"Since you know you prefer eating out to cooking in, consider building fun out of searching for local yet healthy places and meals that meet your needs and the create your own list of favorites for easy reference.  On days when you are tired and may make a poor choice, you have this guide at your fingertips.

"An important concern with either is your level of physical activity.  To stabilize or decrease weight, what do you do to be active?  This will be the next step to consider."

3. I have a question about dance!  I would love to take your Line Dance class but I have scoliosis.  I am not really sure how much mobility I have or what mobility is safe.  What do you suggest?

Answer: "I so admire that you share your concerns.  I highly recommend having an updated evaluation by a physical therapist who is proficient in varies modes of exercise.  George Fraser and his staff at Fifty N Fit in Albuquerque, NM, might be a wonderful fit for you.  He is easy to talk to and his staff are extremely friendly and professional and they can tell you what you can and can't do.  Based on their guidance, we can work together to build your strength and mobility.

"Once you see someone who will let you know what you can do and where you need to be carefully, pick and choose activities you think would be safe yet fun for you.  When you begin any group fitness class. share with the instructor any modifications you need so we can help facilitate your success."

4. My daughter's wedding is soon and you mentioned buying and wearing clothes that make you feel nice and comfortable.  Especially when I go to this event, I really want to look and feel great!  Where do you buy your clothes?

Answer: "Congratulations on your daughter's wedding, how fantastic!  I buy super soft and inexpensive tank tops often at Target, then I buy mix and match sweaters and jackets at outlet stores like Marshalls or Burkes so you have pieces that dress up your more comfortable clothes.  I found three pairs of Vera Wang pants that look like jeans (with no belts or buttons!) at Kohls three years ago.  Please call me if you ever see more of these; I want to buy more!" :D

THREE CHEERS to comfy clothes every day: WOO-HOO!

5.  You've mentioned to use your thumb as a visual aid for single serving added calories like solid and liquid fats, dips, dressings, candies, rich cheeses...  I look at my thumb and have no idea it equates to that serving.  What is that actual measurement?

Answer: "It sounds like scientific measurements and tools will serve you well so seek resources on exact portion sizes beyond this tip.  Generally a thumb is between 1-2 teaspoons if you are a kid and 1-2 tablespoons if you are an adult.  If this visual comparison doesn't work for you, I highly recommend true measurements, like an actual tablespoon or measuring cup until you feel comfortable using a visual comparison.  Not only your hand but maybe a key chain or a thumb drive you might have in your purse can help guide your portion sizes... something you have "on hand" when you get ready to eat.

"What is most important in assessing the size of these pleasurable but high calorie foods is that they aren't a huge size that consumes your total calorie intake.  Overly large portions like hand-sized candy bar, an entire cup of nuts, or a palm-full of salad dressing can sabotage healthy eating, yet smaller thumb-size quantities can make eating very pleasurable.  This trick all about finding your own ideal calorie balance per serving for dense or additional foods."

6. You mentioned you have a lot of food and wellness resources online at Pinterest.  What is Pinterest and how do I access that?

Answer: "Pinterest is a picture board social sites.  You have a profile that allows you to create "Boards" or folders that organize your "Pins" or web links, all leading with a picture from that site or topic.  Topics can be anything you like (crafting, recipes, home ideas, etc.).

"So on my Pinterest account,, you will see a "Board" or file for ACE Fitness Nutrition.  When you click on this board, it will open all the images and links I have saved related to this topic.  Simply read through the options and when you choose a resource, clicking on that picture will allow you to go to that website.

"To start on Pinterest, enter your name, email, and create a password to view other accounts.  If you enjoy using the site you may want a free account to save the great resources you find.  If you prefer not to use this platform, the top resources from today's class are on the handout I provided to you or you can always email me for more links,"

7.  My FAVORITE past food memory is fried chicken, dripping gravy over potatoes, and buttery biscuits.  I can't eat like that anymore!  What do you suggest?

Answer: "The sensory part of food memories is often more intense than the cognitive (thoughts) and affective (emotional) parts of the memory.  What else was going on during those meals?"

Response: It was a tiny table in a little kitchen with eleven people all gathered around to eat. (Her eyes light up).

Answer: "It sounds like a very happy and well time in your life; many of those aspects you can refresh or recreate in your present life.  Just for fun, try to slightly shift the visceral craving away from the food and toward the memory around that past experience...  Perhaps calling one of those eleven people or scheduling a get-together with these people once or twice a year is more what you crave.  Maybe build a new interactive eating group because social eating might be the desire.  If it is in fact the food, moderate (small portion) or lighten (less fat, salt) the recipes so you feel nourished in all areas (physically, mentally, emotionally)."

If you have tips to share, please comment below, 
especially recommendations for food and clothing shopping!
Many thanks!

For Dramatic Wellness courses near YOU
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Health and Happiness, everyone!
XO - Megan Merchant