eat well

How To Heal: Eating Clean with Kristen Ciccolini

Eating Cleanwith kristen ciccolini.jpg

This week, I met with Kristen Ciccolini of Good Witch Kitchen, a certified Culinary Nutrition Expert and Holistic Nutrition Coach, to talk about all things food related! We caught up on how she got involved in nutrition coaching, how food connects to emotions, and some tips and tricks to choosing healthy foods for a healthy lifestyle! Let’s dive in!

Carolyn: Hi Kristen, thank you so much for meeting with me! I’m SO excited to hear about your journey through proper nutrition and how you’re sharing that message with the world! So first and foremost, tell me a little about yourself. What made you want to become a nutrition coach?

Kristen: Hi Carolyn! My story is mood and energy related. I dealt with mood swings and low energy for a long time. I just never put it together that it was connected to the food I was eating! In college, I would go through bouts of eating only goldfish and Hershey’s Kisses. I was really depressed, but a few years after college, I took a class that included a workout and a nutritious brunch after and I learned so much. The teacher explained the ingredients and what benefits each ingredient offered, that’s what made everything click! She helped me understand the reason why our body needs certain foods and the changes I was making made me feel better. Once I started feeling so much better, I realized that I wanted to share that message too! Depression still comes and goes, but it’s usually a sign that I’ve fallen off track.

Carolyn: What an amazing opportunity! So that’s why you started your cooking classes?

Kristen: Yes! I knew I wanted to teach because when I started learning, it changed EVERYTHING for me. I remember I got so excited, I just wanted to tell everyone “Hey, did you know food can make you feel good?!” I felt compelled to spread the word!

Carolyn: I love that energy and I know the feeling all too well! Your classes sound fun, can you walk me through a typical cooking class with you?

Kristen: Absolutely. My cooking classes are focused on healthy eating. We tend to make gluten free and vegan recipes to keep it all inclusive and it gives people a way to see that they can eat that way and still have an abundant, delicious meal.

Carolyn: That’s so important! I constantly hear people say they don’t want to eat that way because they’d be depriving themselves of the foods they really want. Truth is, they’re craving tastes and flavors instead of specific foods themselves.

Kristen: Yes, it’s my favorite thing when someone can’t believe the recipe is vegan! There’s so much you can add to get in a variety of nutrients and flavors. It just teaches them different ways to eat and shows them that healthy foods can be just as enjoyable.  

Carolyn: That was a huge realization for me in my own journey so I love to hear that you’re creating that wave for others as well!

Kristen: It’s important because a lot of people think that eating healthy means deprivation. I come from a place of abundance and want to show people that there’s no deprivation in eating gluten free or plant based. There are so many things to eat and knowing about the ingredients will help students bring what they learn from our class to their kitchen.

Carolyn: Girl, you are so on point. Feelings of deprivation leads to cheating, bingeing, and mood swings and most people only feel that deprivation because they don’t know how to make healthy food taste good! Do you have a favorite “go-to” dish?

Kristen: There’s this really easy to make salad that I love because it reminds me of my grandfather’s garden. Tomatoes, artichokes, romaine lettuce, any other veggies I have laying around, and oil and vinegar. I also really love black bean chili. Honestly, I could eat those every day, all week!

Carolyn: Mmmmm with the weather starting to turn, black bean chili sounds AMAZING right now. Cleary nutrition is your calling, why do you call yourself “the good witch”?

Kristen: Witches were and still are known as healers. We use natural remedies and through my work I give people the tools they need to manage their health naturally through whole foods and nourishing rituals.

Carolyn: And what a gift that is… so, if you had to give someone who is just starting to transition to a healthier lifestyle one piece of advice about food, what would you tell them?

Kristen: Drop the processed foods. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Making healthy foods at home can be really simple and it’s actually really therapeutic and satisfying to make your own meals! I understand that life can get hectic, which is why I also offer educational workshops at the BCAE and through corporate wellness to give busy people immediate strategies and takeaways to make healthy eating more convenient.

Carolyn: That’s really great advice! I’m gonna pick your knowledgeable brain just a littttllleeee bit more since I have you here. Can you give me 3 tips on how to begin?

Kristen: Of course! First, you want to figure out what you’re looking to get out of eating well. Giving it an emotional connection helps you stay focused when things start to get tough. I’d also suggest paying attention to how certain foods make you feel. Everyone deals with different foods in different ways so you want to pay attention to brain fog, achy joints, or gas and bloating. Notice what you ate beforehand and then try cutting it out for a while to see if those symptoms go away. Lastly, don’t forget to HYDRATE! In order to get the nutrients to absorb properly, you need to drink water. It circulates through the system and helps you digest properly, so even when you’re eating well, it won’t process well in the body if you don’t have enough water. I recommend half your body weight in ounces per day.

Carolyn: Wow! I’m so glad I asked that last question, those tips are really helpful and so simple! Your classes sound amazing and you’re clearly so well informed, how can people find you?

Kristen: I teach classes all around Boston and do private nutrition consulting as well. Finding me on Instagram and my website are the best ways to connect!

Interviews by Carolyn from Without The Weight, Inc. are meant to share all the different options available to heal your mind, body, and spirit from a holistic lens. Any advice or recommendations are meant to work as complementary therapies alongside any treatment provided by your medical practitioner and are not suggested as a replacement for medical care.

Are You A Stress Eater?

Do you eat when you’re stressed?

Recently I was reading Deepak Chopra’s "What Are You Hungry For?” (which I TOTALLY recommend, by the way!) and it really made me reconsider the way I think about eating.

Actually, it made me think about what I was thinking about when I eat.

Turns out, I overeat when I feel tense. And I’m not talking mentally tense, which is what I work so hard to combat. I realized I was actually physically tense and that had a connection to the amount I ate. Weird, right?

Turns out, it’s actually pretty normal.

I started focusing my attention on releasing tension in my body through the day and I’ve been REALLY surprised. I had no idea that every little stressor was adding tension to my body and by the time I sat down to eat, my brain was desperate for any kind of release.

When we eat, we naturally release dopamine (AKA the happy chemical) and that release gave me the release I was looking for. The dopamine allowed me to feel happiness, which also meant my muscles could relax, and I’m hooked to that feeling.

Probably because my body knows that, as soon as I’m done, that tension will come right back!

I decided to follow the instructions in the book to make sure I’m getting the right foods and meditation, but I also tried one more thing. I decided to take a minute or two to take a deep breath and give gratitude for my food, where it came from, and how it heals me.

The effects were immediate. I’ve started eating less at each meal (and even feeling full!) and I haven’t been getting cravings to snack in between meals. By continuously bringing myself to a place of awareness, I’ve been able to reduce my food intake significantly!

The shift was so surprising, I knew I had to bring this awareness to my blog and share it with you! In the book, Chopra provides a quiz to help you discover if you’re a stress eater and if you think this might be an issue for you, I highly suggest taking the quiz!

Are You A Stress Eater?

Deepak Chopra’s: What Are You Hungry For?

“Check the items that apply to your eating and general situation.

___ Are you a woman? (Women are more likely to be stress eaters)

___ Are you sedentary?

___ Are you lonely or isolated socially?

___ Do you snack when you’re feeling nervous or restless?

___ Do you cope with stress entirely on your own?

___ Does daily stress and strain make it hard for you to fall asleep and keep sleeping for at least 7 to 8 hours?

___ Do you find yourself grabbing food between meals to relieve boredom or pressure at work?

___ If you feel stressed, do you immediately reach for sugary, fatty snack foods?

Score: ___

Rating yourself:

If you checked 1-2 items, you are likely not a stress eater. You haven’t set up a feedback look between daily stress and food. A score of 5-8 items (AHEM, ME) puts you firmly in the category of stress eating. You are coping with life using food, and a feedback loop has been set up so that the more you use food for comfort, the less effective it is, leading to even more eating.”

If you are a stress eater, don’t fret! Being aware of it can only help you improve. Start noticing how tense you feel, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and give yourself a few minutes to release that tension around food.

Did you take the quiz? Were you surprised by your results? Let’s start a conversation about it! Comment below and let me know your results!