• Theresa Gentile

Your mindset and how you perceive the world can predict if you achieve your goals. Mindset is an important element in achieving success in school, business, life and your eating habits. I love this Oprah Winfrey quote: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Ok, easy to say coming from a billionaire, right? But there is research to prove this theory of the abundance mindset.


What is a scarcity mentality versus abundance mindset?


The terms scarcity mentality versus an abundance mindset were coined by Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (For which I can thank my high school for including on a summer reading list.) The scarcity mindset is where one feels there are limited resources to achieve our goals. It’s the idea that life is a pie and if people take too big of a piece, there won’t be enough left to go around. It makes us competitive for scarce resources, driving the primitive part of our brain to its evolutionary roots of survival.


On the flip side, there’s the abundance mindset. This is the growth mindset, where there is enough to go around; money isn’t lacking, resources aren’t lacking, and food isn’t lacking. When we’re not acting in the context of the feeling of scarcity, we aren’t pulled automatically towards unfulfilled needs. We don’t have to act in the moment; we can take our time, savor, appreciate, and avoid always feeling like your decision is a trade-off.


How an Abundance Mindset Can Help you Reject Diet Culture and Lose Weight


The scarcity mindset creates short-sightedness. When you’re micro-managing the minutiae of your calories each day, you need to resist and avoid so much. “Since I ate a cookie, (which was baaad!), now I need to deduct those 100 calories from somewhere else in my day. Ok, 50 calories here, 50 calories there. I won’t eat at the party; I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!”) This constant worry eats away at your self-control facilities. It’s no wonder you’re not left with much will-power at all after scarcity thinking like this all the time.


When you restrict foods you believe are “bad” or off-limits, it triggers your scarcity mentality. You wind up focusing on those foods you “can’t” have. Scarcity mindset creates the desire to hoard these foods.


I can’t tell you how many times a client has come to me and told me that they just had their “last meal” of pizza (or some food they thought I was going to restrict) because, after seeing me, they can never eat that again, right?


The abundance mindset frees you from the diet cycle. Frees your mind to be more in tune with your hunger, fullness, desires and habits.

The abundance mindset allows you to make better decisions around food. It allows you to be intentional and intuitive with your food choices and with the timing of your meals.

Abundance mindset frees you to meal prep and make healthy choices at tempting events and in stressful situations.


The abundance mindset also helps you to avoid falling prey to shiny wrapper syndrome. Training your brain to act in light of an abundance mindset means you don’t have to eat the Entenmann’s cake at AND your Grandma’s homemade cheesecake at your Christmas spread. The Entenmann’s cake will always be there. It’s not going anywhere. It’s just decorated in red and green on the outside.


Plus, you CAN have both if you want. You don’t have to restrict. It’s a choice, not doctrine. You’re in control of your food choices. NOT the other way around.

Scarcity mindset also makes you focus on the present scarcity, blinding you to the future. You have to have an abundant mindset to value future benefits to overcome immediate temptations. You have to be able to see the larger picture.


OK, How Can I Shift My Mindset from Scarcity to Abundance?


1. Be grateful for what you do have


When you’re feeling inadequate, flip the script to accentuate what you’re really good at. Accentuate your abilities and gifts. Actually write them down – on paper. Keep a list of achievements handy, so you can revisit this when feeling down.

Also, consider keeping a gratitude journal and jotting down 3 things for which you’re grateful every day. I try to do this often with my kids as a way to foster optimism and help them savor and appreciate life’s everyday things. The science of gratitude indicates that gratitude can actually change our brain to increase our mental and physical well-being by decreasing inflammation and increasing optimism.


2. Practice being happy for others


The corporate world breeds scarcity mindset. Competitiveness abounds, everyone fights to hoard information, and there’s a bias towards the here and now, leading to short-term thinking. Instead, notice when a resentful feeling pops up in you and jot down one of your own achievements in that gratitude journal. Try a small act of kindness for someone who didn’t expect it and see how it makes you feel. Don’t compare and despair.


3. Surround yourself with like-minded people


You are the company you keep. If you’re surrounded by those with a fixed or scarcity mindset, you’re likely to think like them.


4. Grow


If you’re stuck wallowing in self-pity or feeling of lacking, try learning and growing. Learning a new skill can foster an immense sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. You’d be surprised how much a little extra boost of pride and achievement can help you view the whole world in a different way.


Although the world may seem like a competitive and difficult place sometimes, if you can alter your own world to decrease urgency and increase happiness, you may find yourself making healthier food and life choices.


Do you find some aspects of a scarcity mindset in yourself?

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  • Theresa Gentile

Updated: Aug 6

Summer is here and if you're looking for thirst-quenching drinks with low, or no-added sugars, look no further! I've compiled a list of low-sugar and low-calorie drinks from fellow Registered Dietitians and food bloggers that you and your family will love!



Don't get me wrong, I love clean, crisp NYC water, but sometimes, summer in the city demands something more. I love mocktails and low-sugar drinks because I can quench my thirst without the added alcohol or calories. Plus, my kids can enjoy these drinks and feel fancy, too.


Here's a round-up of the summer's best refreshing, cold drinks for when the temperature heats up.


Laura Yautz, RDN blogs at Being Nutritious and uses fresh mango and pineapple for a tropical feel without any added sugars in her Tropical Mango Lemonade.




Laura Yautz, RDN, also pairs some of my favs here: Strawberry, watermelon, and mint. Talk about a refreshing, low-sugar drink! Strawberry Watermelon Agua Fresca.




Here's my go-to refreshing drink when it's hot and I want some flavor! Cucumber Lime Mint Sparkling Water.




Jinan Banna, RDN, blogs at www.jinanbanna.com, and has compiled a list of Low sugar drink alternatives.


At veggirlrd.com, Kristine Duncan, MS, RDN, CDCES has this really interesting shrub drink, which is a sweet vinegar mixed with club soda. I can't wait to try this Simple Shrub Recipe Using Balsamic Vinegar.



Kristine Duncan also has a round-up of low-calorie, fruit-infused summer beverages. Check them out: Homemade Low-Calorie Fruit-Infused Summer Beverages - Veg Girl RD



DJ Blatner, RDN at DawnJacksonBlatner.com makes a Hibiscus Sangria Mocktail that looks perfect for your next BBQ.



At Liz's Healthy Table, Liz Weiss, RDN makes a Watermelon Strawberry Punch that is an all-natural Hawaiian punch makeover.



Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan, RDN makes a calming and refreshing Healthy Berry Lemonade with Lavender on her blog, One Hungry Bunny. The berries also add a punch of healthy anti-oxidants.



Amy Gorin, MS, RDN at Amy Gorin Nutrition developed a recipe using prune juice to make a Virgin Prune Juice Pineapple Sangria + Rosemary Syrup. This mocktail boasts digestive benefits from prune's insoluble and soluble fiber.


Amy Gorin makes another healthy mocktail; a Tropical Green Tea Sangria Mocktail. This features flavonoid-rich green tea with lots of summery, tropical fruit.



On her blog, the Grateful Grazer, Stephanie McKercher, RDN, and food blogger makes a refreshing Watermelon Chia Fresca, full of nutrient-rich chia seeds.



Ginger Hultin, RDN has a refreshing, healthy, and easy Pomegranate Ginger Mocktail at Champagne Nutrition.



On her blog, Sharon Palmer.com, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN creates a refreshing Herbal Lemon-Lime Mint Water from citrus from her own garden.



So, try them and tell me your favorite! I'll be adding them to my weekend rotation, for sure!

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  • Theresa Gentile

Updated: Jul 2

Want a guilt-free snack that won’t ruin your diet? You’ll love this all-natural, protein-energy ball recipe made with chickpeas, peanut butter, and oats.





Energy balls have become my new go-to snack. They are healthy, versatile and tasty. They’re also quick to make (which may be my #2 reason for making them…#1 being that the healthy part.).


I started making them as a healthy snack for my kids in school. Ideally, I’d love for my kids to be content with the fruit, carrot sticks, and edamame I give them, but, let’s face it, most times they’re not. (In fact, it only took one month into pre-K to hear, “But M’s mom gives her Goldfish and Oreos. I want those tomorrow!”

Four years of healthy eating thrown out the window!)


Despite all that, my kids love the energy balls – especially the ones made with peanut butter. My husband also loves them, so I wind up making several batches at a time. Lately, these protein balls have been great for the following, especially since they are so easy to transport:


1. School lunch boxes

2. Long car trips

3. Post sports practice

4. The beach/park

5. Post gym workout

6. Anytime you need a healthy, protein-rich little pick me up


They’re perfect for kids who need healthy snacks during the day to keep up their higher energy demands and for adults who need a portion-controlled snack to fuel their metabolism and ward off sluggishness.


The first protein energy balls I made had a base of peanut butter, oats and honey. That’s it! Clean and natural. (And you can substitute any nut/seed butter (like almond/soy/sunflower butter) for the peanut butter.) I mixed it by hand, but I found it a little annoying as the sticky batter always sticks to my hands. So, I started adding it to my mini food processor instead. Much better! Although my kids like them better when I mix them by hand. 😒


Then, I read how the energy ball base could be chickpeas! Whaaat? Fiber, protein and vitamins in my energy ball snack?? A dietitian’s dream…


Whipping these energy balls up in the food processor speeds things up a lot, but increases your dishes. Rubbing the skins off the chickpeas took the most time, but it’s really not so bad. Doing this allows for a smoother consistency, but it’s not necessary.


(Update: I no longer rub off the skins and I don't notice the difference at all.)


And, usually, I cut the sugar (in every recipe), but these definitely needed the sweetness, so I compensated with adding some chocolate chips.


There are so many varieties of energy balls, you’ll never run out of snack ideas! You can also make them with a base of chopped dates. If you like these quick, healthy energy balls, try these:


Date, Cashew, Orange No Bake Energy Balls or

Strawberry Pretzel Energy Balls


Tired of yo-yo dieting? Do you want to lose weight for good the healthy way? Learn to eat & exercise for your changing hormones & ditch guilt around food in my habit-based group coaching program, Ditch the Diets.






How to make these no-bake chickpea energy balls:


Drain and rinse chickpeas. Rub off skins (optional). Add to food processor along with all ingredients except for chocolate chips. Pulse until blended. (Add a little water if the mixture is too dry.) Avoid overmixing; mix just until batter is sticky and stays together when you press it together with your fingers. Scoop batter into tablespoon-sized balls.









No-Bake Energy Balls with Chickpeas


Ingredients:

1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup oats (can be 1 minute or 5 minute oats)

1/2 cup All-natural smooth peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips


Directions:

For a smoother consistency, rub skins off chickpeas.

Add all ingredients to a food processor except chocolate chips.

Blend until combined. Add a little water if it's too thick.

Remove mixture to a bowl, mix in chocolate chips. Refrigerate until firms slightly.

Roll into tablespoon-sized balls.

Try not to eat them all at once!


Nutrition Facts: Serving size: 1 ball. Makes about 15 balls.

Calories: 104 Carbohydrates: 12.7 grams Fiber: 3.4 g Fat: 5g Protein: 3.3g Sugar: 6.5 g


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