10 Easy Brussels Sprouts Recipes

Enjoy these 10 Easy Brussels Sprouts Recipes and my favorite air fryer and oven roasted vegetable medley recipe! 10 Easy Ways to Cook Brussels Sprouts You’ll love these 10 quick Brussels sprouts recipes along with my easy roasted vegetable medley recipe that you can make in the oven or air fryer. Originally published on February […]

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40 New Year’s Eve Party Ideas for Kids

Keep kids entertained this holiday with these 40 Fun New Year’s Eve party ideas! Family Friendly New Year’s Eve Party Ideas for Kids! Celebrating the new year is always a highlight in our house. A New Years Eve Party can be a wild fun time spent with family and friends or a quiet night at home […]

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When Weight Loss Isn’t Healthy

Trigger warning: Eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder

Compliments. I’ve never been very good about hearing or receiving compliments. And while I don’t know why — the cause of my discomfort is, more likely than not, an issue for my therapist (or the basis for another article) — a recent compliment really threw me for a loop. Four words shook me to my core. Why? Because they were inaccurate and misleading. They simply weren’t true.  

So what was the compliment? What were the words which altered the course of my day and, in many ways, my life? A friend, whom I hadn’t seen in months, said “Wow! You look great.” Yes, that’s it. Game. Set. Match. Checkmate.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How basic. How simplistic and innocuous. How pointedly harmless and innocent. But knowing this individual (really knowing them), I knew what they meant. Physically, I looked good. Since March, I’ve lost weight, and being complimented on my appearance bothered me — a lot — because I’m not healthy.

I’m not well.

You see, my weight loss has been fueled by anger, depression, and grief. My mother died in June, in a sudden and traumatic way. In July, I told my husband I was gay. And, like millions of others, the pandemic has taken a mental toll. I’ve been feeling hopeless and helpless, lost and trapped. But my habits have also changed. Old ways of thinking have returned, and old patterns of eating — or not eating — have (re)appeared. 

A long-dormant eating disorder has returned.

I start my day with a cup of iced coffee. Black. I guzzle 20 ounces of water to curb my appetite. To keep the pangs of hunger at bay. I count the hours between meals just as I count calories. Intermittent fasting, it’s called. I don’t eat during certain times of the day. I opt for low or no fat foods, and I measure everything I consume. Ten pretzels. Five strawberries. Three olives. A half cup of yogurt or cottage cheese. And if I eat breakfast, I don’t allow myself the privilege of lunch. I never finish dinner. I also work out constantly. Obsessively.

It’s easy for me to log 50-plus miles a week.

And while I say it’s for my mental health (and, in a sense, it is), it’s also because I’m obsessed with my weight. I struggle with the size of my stomach and backside. I hate the thickness of my thighs. And being thin dictates my life. 

I’ve wasted years pursuing “perfection.”

Of course, there is a name for my condition. Body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a mental health disorder characterized by obsessive, self-deprecating thoughts particularly over or about one’s physical appearance.

“Body dysmorphic disorder is a body image, mental health disorder in which someone has persistent negative thoughts about his or her flaws and/or imperfections, whether they are real or perceived, in a way that interferes with their daily lives,” Kathryn Lee — a therapist in New York City — tells Scary Mommy. And that is the case with me.

My day is structured around workouts and food. I’ve missed out on family moments because I’ve been too busy hitting the pavement or lifting weights. Before the pandemic, I would avoid cocktail hours and happy hours. Events which focused around food. And I sleep a lot because I lack the energy to do anything further. I lack the energy to exist. But that’s not all. I read nutrition labels obsessively. I run through pain. Because my thinking isn’t just disordered and distorted, it’s addictive. I’m addicted to feeling. To “power.” To the pursuit of perfection and control.

I’m not alone. Lee tells Scary Mommy addictive behaviors are common amongst those with disordered eating. “You can be addicted to exercise, eating, and/or not eating,” Lee explains. “And since addictions alter pleasure pathways in the brain, such as the levels of serotonin and dopamine, things like exercise, eating, and/or not eating, can fool our bodies to believe that these activities are good for us. However, as with drugs, the addiction occurs when these activities become abused. If an individual is so fixated his or habits that it interferes with his or her daily functioning, a problem may be developing.”

So, what can you do? What should you do? Well, according to Lee, if these issues persist, you can and should get help: “Individuals should reach out to friends, family, and/or a mental health professional to keep them accountable.” And she’s right. Lee’s advice is the advice I need to take because, from the outside looking in, you wouldn’t know I was sick. Hell, no one knows it … not my husband, my best friend, my girlfriends, or my psychologist. I’ve kept my struggles a secret — at least until now. Until earlier this week. But it’s time I get my shit together. I deserve happiness and health.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder and/or disordered behaviors, text or call the National Eating Disorder Association’s helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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We Need To Snack

We all have a dream of the parents we’d be if we had infinite time and resources. Relaxed and happy with everything we need close at hand. The challenge of family life is that this situation just doesn’t exist- we parent on a limited budget and a packed schedule, and we make the best of the situations that we find ourselves in. Every parent has dined on a supper of the food their kid just refused or tried to dispense a lunch to children in the back of a moving vehicle. Raising kids means developing the skill to make the best of adverse circumstances.

This is why parents become so familiar with The Snack. Our day isn’t scheduled around three sumptuous square meals- it’s a mad dash from a quick breakfast to a bag lunch and a delivered-just-in-time dinner that requires improvisation, cut corners, and a bagful of snacks at the ready. It’s not that nutritional value isn’t always our first priority- it’s that it basically never is. And the result is that we’re frequently presenting our kids with semi-nutritious food just so we can meet the various demands of our day. But with a little forethought, it’s possible to find healthier, more natural snack options that kids love *and* that fit into our mad scramble.

The factor that most often drives parents into the arms of unhealthy snacks is definitely the time crunch. On long, lazy afternoons, it’s easy to search the kitchen for the optimal snack, even if it takes some effort to prepare. But for every long, lazy afternoon that your family enjoys, there are dozens of mad dashes around the house to make the morning school bus or quick drives between two afterschool activities with famished kids. In situations like these, there’s no time to break out the baking sheets and popsicle molds- families need something that’s edible now and healthy to the greatest extent possible.

There are options for families feeling the time crunch, though- natural snacks, better for the whole family, that can be deployed in one instant and cleaned up in the next. Simple Truth™ Plant-Based Buffalo Cauliflower Dip, for instance, is a simple snack with all the flavor that kids crave which can go from fridge to table in an instant. And, served with baby carrots or Simple Truth Organic™ White Corn Tortilla Chips, you’re steering well clear of sugary or overprocessed snacks.

Time is the only consideration for a busy family, though: so much of family life happens on the go. More and more, we’re eating at school, at extracurricular activities, or at some quick stop in between, with no opportunity to bring the whole show back to the dinner table for a three-course meal. There are plenty of ways to make food portable, but few delicious ones that meet the dietary goals you have for your kids.

One great solution here are small, bite-sized snacks made with natural, non-GMO ingredients. Simple Truth™ Blueberry Cashew Trail Mix Bites, for instance, pack all of the flavors of trail mix into snackable morsels that pop easily into the mouth rather than burrowing into every crevice of your car. Easy to throw into a portable container or to dispense directly from front seat to back, small-bite snacks like this are purpose-built for consuming on the move.

Another challenge to healthy snacking that parents know so well is the fact that we’re seldom in a position to arrange separate snacks for kids, friends, and parents. When the neighborhood kids or the grandparents come over for a visit, we need a simple option that everyone can dip into as needed. Again, this problem is easy to solve with a bag of potato chips, but it’s a bit trickier if we have our eye on better ingredients.

The solution here is to go back to basics: kids, adults, and everyone in between respond to great flavors, and there are better-for-you snack options out there that pack the same punch as our guilty pleasures. Some, like Simple Truth™ Popped BBQ Protein Crisps, take a classic “junk food” flavor and improve the delivery method. These swap the fried potato chip for a popped soy protein crisp. Others, like Simple Truth™ Sunflower Butter Filled Pretzels, are in a genre all their own, but with a sweet & savory flavor that adults will enjoy right along with the kids. And because they’re free of both peanuts and tree nuts, we can set them out with peace of mind, no matter who’s joining for a snack.

In this universe of snacks, some healthy and others not-so-healthy, it’s not that parents don’t have great ways to give their kids natural, nutritious snacks. It’s that those snacks are not always the most obvious choice in our hectic modern family life. Thanks to Simple Truth®, though, it’s possible to find snacks that give parents the options and flexibility they need to oversee another stuffed day of family adventures while also keeping an eye on the ingredients we’re offering to our kids.

Kroger’s Simple Truth® provides all-natural ingredients for fresh creations suitable for any diet. We have a lot of love for these brands in this article, and while it is sponsored content, we are honest fans.

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Your Guide To The Snacking Food Groups

The greatest joy of parenting is the bond between parent and child. The second greatest joy of parenting is that the person who makes all the rules is in prime position to break all the rules. For every responsibility that parents take on, there’s a moment, sometimes late at night or when we’re otherwise alone, when we get to toss aside all the family regulations. We leave dishes in the sink overnight, we walk through the living room with our shoes on, and we treat ourselves to screen time before all our other work is done. And after another long day of convincing our kids to eat the healthiest food and most well-balanced meals that we can put together, there comes the moment when we sneak away for some unregulated time in the snack drawer.

No matter how committed we are to healthy eating, snacks are a critical part of the parental diet. Between the time crunch, the constant movement from home to school to extracurriculars and back, and availability of kid-sized portions of food around us constantly, parents turn to snacks again and again to keep our energy up from the morning school bus to the midnight couch session. And if parents are going to keep any kind of control over the amount that they eat, we’ll need to keep a clear eye on the genres of snack that modern society has produced and on those magical items that combine the tastes we crave with the nutrition that we need. And to do that, we’ll need to settle the age-old battle between the twin titans of Snacking Food Groups: Sweet and Savory.

Inside the heart of every grown-up beats the heart of a kid who is forever on the hunt for a sweet treat. From cookies and candy to chocolate-covered raisins and bars of every kind, there are thousands of ways to improve your day with a quick blast of sugar. Parents tend to indulge in these snacks behind closed doors or in kid-heavy situations where it’s easy to point the finger of blame elsewhere.

But refined sugar and chemical additives are usually high on the list of ingredients that parents are trying to avoid. Luckily, though, there are many roads to sweetness, and a little ingenuity reveals all the treats that are kinder to our health. Fruit can be a saving grace here, bringing sweetness to snacks like Simple Truth™ Blueberry Cashew Trail Mix Bites and Simple Truth™ Sweet Plantain Chips without the sugar overdose.

Savory snacks are a temptation to parents partially because they’re the “adult” snacks- not just a quick fix for a sweet tooth or a burst of energy from a sugary treat. A parent who turns to popcorn or pretzels for an easy bite to eat is, on some level, acknowledging the mantle of adulthood. Even potato chips, in all their infinite variety, require a palette that can distinguish between the tang of sour cream and onion and the deep salty umami of the classic BBQ.

Savory snacks, though, can be just as loaded with bad fats and excess salt, and parents who raid the chips have no health advantage over their sweet-toothed compatriots. There’s a saving grace, though- as all the thousands of items in the chip aisle remind us, there’s more flavor at stake in savory snacks than just salt- there’s the earthy crunch of nuts, the fragrance of pesto or tahini, or so many other flavors. So it’s very possible to get our flavor fix while steering towards more responsible ingredients.

One technique discovered by Dads in the mists of antiquity is to shift from potato-based snacks to nuts and seeds. There are other, more inventive substitutions too, like Simple Truth™ Popped BBQ Protein Crisps, which deliver all the flavor of BBQ potato chips on popped discs of soy protein. Even more ingenious are Simple Truth™ Sea Salt Cassava Chips, cassava root chips fried in sunflower oil, and Simple Truth™ Sea Salt Veggie Straws, which have 30% less fat than regular potato chips. With Simple Truth®, there’s a universe of novel, creative, and *delicious* savory snacks just waiting to be discovered.

Which is better- sweet or savory? The answer to that question can only be found deep in the hearts of hungry Moms and Dads. The main benefit of snacks, after all, is that after a long day of rule enforcement sacrifice for others, we finally get a little taste of exactly what we want. More and more, we can indulge that impulse with snacks that satisfy our cravings with ingredients that are better for us.

Kroger’s Simple Truth® provides all-natural ingredients for fresh creations suitable for any diet. We have a lot of love for these brands in this article, and while it is sponsored content, we are honest fans.

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Gingerbread House Decorating Ideas

 Cute Gingerbread House Decorating Ideas and holiday Inspiration! Over 20 easy gingerbread house ideas and recipes for Christmas fun with your family.   Creative Gingerbread House Decorating Ideas What do you think of gingerbread houses? Too hard to make, or hours full of fun? Our house says FUN!! Each Christmas we take days to decorate […]

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Hy-Vee Sells A Tray Of Cheese, Crackers, And Fireball Because This Is Who We Are Now

Wash down your 2020-appropriate snack pack with a tiny bottle of Fireball

When Twitter user Eva Sileo found herself strolling the aisles of her Hy-Vee recently, she never imagined the absolute gem she’d stumble upon: a snack pack that included apple cheddar cheese, Ritz crackers, and a tiny bottle of Fireball.

Sileo found the adult Lunchable at the Coralville, IA Hy-Vee when she was out on a grocery run and snapped a picture for posterity’s sake, captioning it simply, “okay hyvee.” If there was a time capsule for 2020, it would include toilet paper, a mask, hand sanitizer, a vile full of tears, one Xanax, and this snack tray.

Now, Hy-Vee actually sells a platter called the Party Pleasing Snacking Tray, but I would argue if it doesn’t include Fireball, how pleasing is it, really? Plus, this little number fits perfectly under your sweatshirt if you need to hide in your closet away from your family.

Sileo told Scary Mommy that she had to do a double take when she first came upon it. “I actually didn’t think anything of it when I first glanced over it, but then I walked bout ten feet away and turned around to do a double-take because I realized how funny it was,” she said.

Fortunately, for anyone near the Coralville, IA location, she did not actually purchase it. “I did not buy it because I don’t really drink fireball and I’m okay with that decision,” she joked, “but I hope someone did who will find it handy.” She also added that she loves “imagining who that person might be,” and I honestly can’t blame her. (It’s me. I’m person.)

While the cracker to cheese ratio on this snack pack is a titch concerning, once you tuck into the bottle of Fireball, you’ll likely not be bothered. You can also pair it with some Fireball eggnog and have the perfect pre-holiday dinner (or breakfast, no one’s watching).

Fireball is a staple at tailgating before football games, college parties, and, according to my husband, golf outings, which is news to me. But since none of those are happening right now with a global pandemic still raging, it seems only fitting that we enjoy some at home. Thanks to Hy-Vee, now we can.

The tray is the perfect size, too (i.e., it’s too small to share), so you’ll want to pace yourself depending on the time of day.

Sileo said she was “definitely surprised” at how quickly it got shared. “Even though 260ish likes isn’t huge for the internet, it’s definitely big reach for my account compared to usual,” she said.

I’m thinking she may have uncovered a literal treasure in the aisles of everyone’s favorite grocery store (at least in the Midwest) and that demands for this perfect trio will be heard far and wide in the coming days.

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Easy Fall Charcuterie Board

Make a beautiful fall charcuterie board in less than 15-minutes with this unique appetizer snack tray for Thanksgiving or game day entertaining. You’ll “wow” your friends and family with this super easy fall snack board! Whether you’re looking for Thanksgiving charcuterie board ideas, a fun way to display snacks or a last-minute party idea, we’ve […]

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Alton Brown Is Having A Relatable AF Pre-Election Breakdown

Brown is all of us trying to get through this election week

On Monday afternoon, celebrity chef and Food Network star Alton Brown had a sort of pre-election breakdown on Twitter that we’re likely all feeling right now — and it centered (as it rightly should be) on what he’s planning to eat and drink while waiting for election results.

Brown kicked off his tweet-storm innocently enough yesterday late afternoon by tweeting, “So, #QuarantineQuitchen will be live tomorrow night at 8pm on YouTube. What should we cook (and more importantly drink) to get through the night?” This was quickly followed by, “No matter what happens tomorrow, we’ll still have tiny chocolate doughnuts.” Seems reasonable.

Then Brown went hilariously off the rails in a series of tweets that sums up how many of us are planning to make it through the day, and likely the week. “I’m seriously thinking about @LittleDebbie #NuttyBars and cigarettes. Honestly, like at the same time,” The Good Eats host wrote. Minutes later, he seemed to answer his own questions with: “So many Food Network people are like ‘oh, I’m going to braise short ribs in elderberry jam…’ Screw that,” Brown said. “I’m going to mainline moon pies and snort cheese powder!” No shame in that game.

 

For the next 40 minutes Brown channeled all of America by posting his random thoughts such as, “YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT CRAZY LOOKS LIKE? I’VE GOT MARSHMALLOW FLUFF AND THREE FEET OF GARDEN HOSE! YOU WANNA DANCE?” and “MURDER HORNET FONDUE.”

He continued to outdo himself and posted by personal favorite, “I’M TALKING ABOUT PIPING SPAGHETTIOS INTO STALE TWINKIES AND EATING THEM NAKED IN THE SHOWER WITH A BOTTLE OF JAEGER.” I’m planning to make shrimp tacos with a side of buttermilk pancakes tonight (don’t judge) but I may scrap that plan and just go with the Twinkie’s.

Brown later altered his plan (or maybe added to it) and, in addition to asking his followers to go out and buy cat food, also recommended we, “Turn off the lights and run 23 Slim Jims through the juicer.”

The whole meltdown is truly something to behold.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown and his wife, restaurant designer Elizabeth Ingram, have become the YouTube stars we’ve needed by producing a live cooking show called Quarantine Kitchen. What started on a whim because of the pandemic has now turned into a must-watch series with comments like “Vulgar Alton is the Alton we have all been waiting to arise for 20 years” being echoed by his followers.

He may have reached a pinnacle with his pre-election tweets and it’s now anyone’s guess what exactly they will be whipping up tonight. Brown wrapped up his rant with, “Who’s with me?” followed by “I SAID WHO’S WITH ME?” so I think we should all tune in and find out.

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Intermittent Fasting Can Be Dangerous — Especially For Folks With A History Of Disordered Eating

I am someone who likes to make my own rules around food. After struggling with anorexia and then binge eating as a teen, I can not have restrictions when it comes to my diet. It’s too much of a trigger for me.

I go by how I feel and choose foods that make me feel good. Usually that means having no limits on nourishing foods. I eat a ton of fruit despite the fact that lots of so-called “diets” tell you how much sugar there is in fruit and that you should stay away from things like bananas and grapes. I also need to eat when I’m hungry, and for me, that varies every day.

I’ve tried to listen to advice that’s the opposite (like not eating at night, or limiting the kinds of foods I eat) and all it does is make me feel deprived and sad, and I can feel myself dipping into old habits. Like telling myself I am weak and a failure if I decide to have something that’s deemed as bad. Then, what follows is me stuffing my face with it hours after I’ve told myself I need to give it up.

After hearing about intermittent fasting a few years ago, a dieting fad that has you eating whatever you want during certain hours of the day (usually noon to eight p.m.), and fasting for the rest of time as a way to restrict your calories and potentially lose weight, I knew there was no way I could do it. 

I will not tell myself when I can and can’t eat because, again, that’s a trigger for me; then I go rogue and my behavior is followed by self loathing.

I have a few friends who were getting into this new way of eating and not putting anything digestible into their bodies until noon.

At first, many said it was working and they felt great. But it didn’t last. I noticed none of them stuck to it, and each ended up feeling like this was yet another thing they weren’t able to do and they were never going to lose the weight they wanted to.

I have a friend who did it and ended up gaining over ten pounds and said she never felt so sick and tired in her life. “I was starving when noon rolled around and I’d stuff myself until it was time to stop eating. Then, I [would] hate myself and tell myself I was going to do better tomorrow, but the cycle kept continuing.”

Basically, she was feeling so deprived that when her hours of eating came up, that’s all she did because she knew they would be taken away from her. She admitted the only “result” it had was making her feel out of control when it came to food.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine studied the results of adults who, for three months, practiced eating for eight hours a day and fasting for twelve (or more) hours a day, and showed little success.

On average, the fasting group (which was made up of men and women) lost an average of about three pounds (most of which was muscle mass) which was only slightly more than the control group who ate three structured meals per day.

Scary Mommy spoke with Colleen Christensen, a registered dietitian who warns that restrictive eating can lead to binge eating. In addition, she says that fads such as intermittent fasting “commonly lead to weight cycling (losing, regaining, losing, regaining, etc) which has been shown to increase risk for disease.

While I’ve never conducted a study, I can honestly say the handful of friends and family members who I know tried intermittent fasting said they struggled with binge eating when their fasting period was over.

Being super strict with when you can and can’t eat may lead to disordered eating, according to Christensen. “Any time you implement strict food rules, be it amounts of foods, types of foods, etc. our bodies will see this as a threat and want to ‘stock up’ on those foods when they can,” she says.  “Binge eating is a common phenomenon that happens. It may also lead to other disordered eating such as orthorexia or severe fear of eating foods outside of set rules. All of this leads to increased stress to the body, which is not beneficial for our health.”

This is the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve when we take on a new eating plan and try to make healthy eating a new lifestyle choice. 

If it’s leading to binge eating, gaining weight when we are trying to lose it, strict rules around when we can and can’t eat, and feelings of failure, shame, depression, or anxiety, what’s the benefit? Even if we do drop a few pounds, is it even worth it?

I say absolutely not — and my friends who tried it would agree. 

Kristin Foust, a certified nutrition coach, told Scary Mommy via email that we should also be aware that many of the studies done on this kind of fasting are done on men, who have different bodies and hormone profiles than women. 

Foust warns that when done for long periods of time,”Intermittent fasting can cause hormonal imbalance and issues such as fatigue. Especially if done regularly and other issues such as poor sleep, poor diet, and chronic stress are not addressed first.”

Foust also cautions that anyone who has struggled with disordered eating in the past should not try any kind of diet like this, as it can be a trigger.

This kind of restrictive eating doesn’t have a huge success rate, and can also bring about a lot of other added problems you may not have signed up for when you decided to try it to drop a few pounds. 

It’s best to just nourish your body when it tells you it’s hungry — because depriving yourself will only backfire later, when all you want to do is eat donut holes dipped in peanut butter. 

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