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Pancakes for Everyone Else But Me -- Wellness Quest

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I love pancakes. But I need the butter and syrup to make them extraordinary. So, today, at breakfast I made a smashing round of Pumpkin Spiced pancakes (organic ingredients only) and fed them to my kids. Yes, we had the organic maple syrup. And I had two eggs over easy.

This is one of the lessons I'm learning about being a parent AND watching what I eat: I don't have to force my regimen onto my kids. Sure, it's easier if I start restricting everyone from sugar and processed foods, and I do, but there's no reason for them to have pancakes.

When I am by myself (I'm a divorced father) I don't keep tasty treats or fat-filled foods around the house. That has been my strategy for curbing my cravings and access to unhealthy food. However, there's no real reason, other than *my* willpower to keep those things out of the house. With kids you often have to put your "program" on the side, and still provide them with pancakes from time to time.

What I learned this morning (and have been learning the last two weeks since I started this blog) is I can make them whatever they want. And then I can make what I need. My willpower has firmed up. Perhaps it's all about changing habits, and creating a brick wall of permission that allows me to cook tasty treats to perfection and then not even taste them

Our relationship to food is 100 percent personal. Emotions and cravings around food are more about us and what's going on inside of us. Sure, if we're craving salt, we might want to look at our electrolyte levels and make sure we are getting all the minerals and supplements we need. And in my newly restricted eating plan, I'm certain I can use a little support from a wide-spectrum multi-vitamin supplement.

I listen to my body and take note of my cravings. Then I have a number of choices: 1. do I give in to the craving and indulge; 2. is there some other activity I could do rather than eating (if it's boredom or a craving that is not supported by actual hunger); 3. do I need to make sure that I stock up on some alternative foods for this particular craving.

I've been doing a bit of both since I rebooted. I noted my salt cravings and I stocked up on organic low-salt, sea salt almonds. I noted my desire for sweets and I made sure I have a variety of chilled apples to throw at the craving. And I also noted what times and emotional states usually resulted in these cravings.

Late night snacking. Even after a good and healthy meal, if I stay up until 1 in the morning, I'm going to require some additional fuel. Cravings begin for me around the 10:30 - 11:30 hour. I can go to bed early and wake up early without any cravings. Or, if I need to work on something, or if I'm inspired by something creative, I can use one of my healthy snacks. The best idea is going to bed around 10:30, when that's an option.

Mid-afternoon cravings. Again this is often within a few hours of my lunch. And of course, if I had a high carb meal, or something with a bit of hidden sugar or artificial sweetener in it, the craving is likely to be for sweets. But what I'm really craving, most of the time is energy. The afternoon sag in my physical energy is more pronounced if I stayed up late the night before. However, I am most creative when I burn the candle on both ends a little bit, and the afternoon slump is a situation I have to deal with.

Again, I have options. I try for the healthiest first: 1. nuts; 2. fruit; 3. nap (when possible). Most of the time, however, when I'm in a high-focus work situation, I need coffee. A little 1 percent milk and coffee, no sweetener. I suppose I need to look at my coffee intake and how it jacks with my blood sugar and other pitfalls, but at the moment, I'm fine with my "jolt of the joe" habit. Something in my body is also craving the caffeine. As I'm brewing up the afternoon java supplement my brain gets excited and my mouth salivates. I'm addicted. And for now, I'm going to leave that off the table for adjustment or negotiation. [I know it's an issue I will have to address in the near future. One step at a time. (grin)] I am looking at milk alternatives, though.

Waking up and making several breakfasts for my kids is a pleasure not a chore. My son wanted scrambled eggs and bacon. So we grow and learn, and we make better choices for ourselves and for our children. Of course, my focus here is on *my* habits and my eating and exercise patterns. Still it's good to know I am in control of my own cravings and desires even when I'm making delicious pancakes for one of my kids.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

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image: pumpkin pancakes - kerbey lane cafe packaging, john mcelhenney, cc 2014