The Skills You Need to Prevent Regain

When you’ve developed positive coping skills it is easier to stay motivated and on track with the consistent eating and exercise habits that are so important to maintaining a healthy weight. When life gets challenging it is natural to gravitate towards old comfortable habits that may not support a healthy weight.  Practice positive coping skills ahead of time so that you are ready for the challenges ahead.  When a challenge presents itself, you’ll have the skills you need to stay on track.

Download: The Skills You Need to Prevent Weight Gain

We all have different ways of coping when life throws us a curve. Big life changes can bring on feelings of anxiety, depression and frustration. Some of our default coping strategies, like overeating or drinking too much alcohol, provide quick relief, but may end up derailing the positive habits we’ve put in place to support a healthy weight. Healthy coping, on the other hand, helps us to both manage the stress and maintain weight loss long term. And, the good news is, healthy coping skills can be developed to deal with stressful situations, get through tough times, and even eliminate stressful situations.

Different Types of Coping Skills

Coping skills tend to be proactive, emotion-regulating, or problem-solving in focus. Sometimes a combination of different approaches works even better than a single approach. Keep in mind that what works well for one person or situation may not work for another. Trying and practicing different skills in a variety of situations is a good way to build your toolbox so that you’re best able to handle the next curve that comes your way.

Proactive Coping Skills

Coping skills are often thought of as reactive—you’re stressed so you use a strategy to cope. Being proactive, however, can help us manage obstacles sure to come our way. Instead of defaulting to not-so-healthy behaviors when confronted by overwhelming stress, we may be able to eliminate the situation from feeling stressful at all. With a little foresight and planning, some stressors, like not having the right foods on hand or being tired from staying up too late watching TV, may be totally under our control.

By being proactive, we keep distress to a minimum, and improve the likelihood we will be able follow through with healthy behaviors. Here are proactive skills you can use to keep your healthy lifestyle on track.

Special Occasions. Have a plan for the temptations and emotions that are associated with special occasions. It may be a holiday party, a wedding reception, dinner at the in-laws, a business trip, or your birthday celebration—whatever the occasion, a proactive plan will help you make better decisions. What will the temptations be for you? How will emotions play into the occasion? Is there a way to “treat” while still sticking to your plan? Have you successfully navigated a similar situation–what worked or didn’t work for you?  These are all important questions to ponder as you think through the strategies and attitudes that will best serve you.

Triggers. Specific situations or triggers tend to lead to poor food choices or grazing. You know when you’re prone to these behaviors. Make a plan—pay for the gas at the pump, avoid driving by your favorite fast food restaurant, keep the candy out of the house, chew gum while you watch TV, watch less TV, put healthy foods in plain sight, or keep your hands busy.

Have Healthy Food Available. Plan, shop, prep, and take food with you. Having the right foods at your fingertips makes eating right easy. Even if life throws a big curve, you can grab a little cooler and pack it with a cheese stick, yogurt, a 100-calorie pack of nuts, and ready-to-drink protein shake and you’re good for several hours.

Structure and Routine. Structure and routine allow you to put many decisions on autopilot. Like brushing your teeth and taking a shower, it just happens. Fewer decisions equal less stress. Get in a groove and pack lunch/snacks evening before, shop on Wednesday evenings, meal plan and prep on Sunday early afternoon, etc.

Adequate Sleep. A lack of sleep increases the cravings for carb-rich foods and weakens our resolve to eat right and move more. Set up good sleep habits and routines so you’re well rested, experience less stress and are better able to confront the stress that you do have.

Self-Monitoring. Research is clear that people who write down what they eat in a daily log are more successful at losing weight. This simple act makes you aware of everything you eat. If your weight begins to creep up, this is the first place to look for clues as to what is going on. Chances are that little extras are sneaking back into your diet. When you find an area that needs improvement—problem-solving or emotion-regulating coping skills are helpful.

Get Support. A good support network of people who understand your circumstances can help to keep you accountable.  A great therapist can be invaluable as well.

Stay Active. Boredom is not your friend. Physical activities can reduce stress and social activities can help us meet our emotional needs without resorting to unhealthy eating.

Problem Solving Skills

If you are unable to avoid a stressful situation by being proactive, then you need to decide if the situation calls for a better way to cope with your emotions about the situation or a change to the situation itself. Problem solving skills are most helpful when it is the situation that needs changing.

Increased confidence that often accompanies weight loss can help bolster a person’s ability to using problem solving skills to eliminate stressful situations. For example, rather than soothing your emotions when another person puts you down repeatedly, it may be time to sever ties and end the stressful situation altogether.

Other types of problem solving skills include improving time management, establishing healthy relationship boundaries, asking for support, walking away from a stressful situation, creating a step-by-step plan to accomplish a goal, obtaining job training and working on self-development skills that can help you move out of a situation that causes you stress.

One problem-solving strategy involves writing down the problem and as many potential solutions you can think of.  Then evaluate each potential solution to come up with a game plan. Break the plan down into individual steps: what will be done, how will it be done, when will it be done, who will do it and where will it take place.

Finding solutions to stressful situations helps you to feel in control and boosts the confidence that you will be able to solve additional problems that arise. Problems themselves no longer have the same level of stress as this confidence builds. 

Emotion Regulating Skills

Emotion regulating skills are helpful to take care of your feelings when you don’t want to or are unable to change the situation itself.  For example, when going through a health crisis (yours or someone close to you), using emotion regulating skills can help you take care of your feelings in a healthy way. These coping skills can help you, 1) Accept your feelings and allow yourself to feel them without numbing or distracting, 2) help you change your mood or calm down, or 3) temporarily distract yourself until the distress is at a level you are better able to cope with.

It’s important to figure out what is going on emotionally while snacking, overeating or choosing unhealthy foods. If you can identify the underlying emotions, such as boredom, stress, fear, sadness, happiness, inadequacy, shame, celebration, or reward, you can work on finding healthy coping skills that make you feel better. For example, eating handful after handful of chips while bored could be replaced by listening to music, taking a walk or reading a good book. Once you have identified the emotion, you can begin to find a healthy way to cope with it.

Examples of healthy emotion-focused coping skills are numerous and include:  going for a walk, writing in a journal, drawing, listening to music, taking a bath, playing with a pet, cleaning the house, reading a book, meditating, playing with your children, working on a hobby, spending time in nature, praying, using deep breathing exercises, making a list of all the things you are grateful for, gardening, focusing on the good things in your life, progressive muscle relaxation, drinking tea, thinking about the situation differently, practicing yoga, laughing, smiling, thinking of people who bring you joy, doing something nice for yourself, or using a meditation or relaxation app.

Avoid Unhealthy Coping

Not all strategies that help you reduce distress are healthy. Some means of coping may temporarily help you to feel better, but have a negative impact on your overall health. Be sure to avoid numbing with drugs or alcohol; stuffing your feelings with food; overly restrict eating as a way to feel in control; sleeping too much; overspending; or ignoring a situation that needs to be changed.

Find What Works

There is always room for growth and improvement to continually sharpen your skills. The strategies that work for someone else might not work for you. You need your own toolkit of skills and strategies to use in different situations. When you learn and practice skills that minimize stress and regularly take care of your emotional needs, you find yourself less vulnerable to temptations and more empowered to make healthy choices.

Apple, Spring Greens, Chicken Salad

1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Cooking spray
6 cups mixed baby spring greens
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 apple, skinned and cut into 1/4-in.-thick slices
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Stir together oil, rind, juice, thyme, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Place 2 tablespoons juice mixture in a large re-closable plastic bag; reserve remaining juice mixture. Add chicken to bag and marinate for 10 minutes or longer—turning the bag occasionally to distribute juice mixture.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Remove chicken from plastic bag and pat dry. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from heat and let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into thin slices.

Combine spring mix, carrots, celery, and apple in large bowl and add remaining juice mixture, tossing to coat. Divide salad mixture evenly among 4 plate and top with chicken. Sprinkle with almonds and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 317 calories, 24 grams protein, 20 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 318 mg sodium.

Fresh Tossed Asparagus and Mozzarella Salad

8 ounces asparagus
1 head butter lettuce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup pistachios
6 ounces mozzarella balls

Trim the asparagus and cut on the diagonal into thin slices and set aside. Tear lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces, rinse, pat dry and set aside. In a large salad bowl, Whisk together lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and mustard.  Add the asparagus and lettuce and gently toss to coat thoroughly.

Divide the salad evenly among 6 salad plates. Sprinkle each serving with pistachios and mozzarella balls. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 162 calories, 8 grams protein, 13 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 373 mg sodium.

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Celebrate National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day

March 1st is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day–who knew? If you love peanut better, chances are you’ll love the taste of powdered peanut butter, like PB2. It’s great to make the switch from regular peanut butter in these recipes—by doing so, you’ll save 131 calories and 15 grams of fat in each 2 tbsp. serving. Now that’s something to celebrate! Enjoy these low fat and low sugar National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day Treats!

Peanut Butter Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
2 cups oats (steel cut, quick or regular)
½ cup powdered peanut butter
pinch of sea salt
a few drops of liquid stevia other sweetener to taste
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the mashed bananas in a bowl and stir in the applesauce to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Line baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and drop dough by the spoonful onto the baking tray. Press down with a fork to form cookies. Bake for 16 minutes until golden brown, do not overcook—they will appear slightly underdone. Let cool and enjoy. Makes 12 cookies.

Nutrition information per cookie: 86 calories, 4 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, 44 mg sodium.

Sweet Potato Protein Bars

2 scoops (60g) of vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup PB2 powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ c sweet potato, cooked, mashed
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 egg white (about 2 Tbsp)
10-15 drops of liquid stevia

Preheat oven to 350F and coat an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Add the dry ingredients (protein powder, PB2, baking powder and salt) to a medium bowl and mix well. Add the remaining wet ingredients (sweet potato, almond milk, butter, extract, eggs and stevia) to a separate bowl and mix well.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until combined. The batter will be quite thick–add a bit of water or milk to thin it out if it is not spreadable. Spread the batter evenly into the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Allow to fully cool before cutting into 8 bars. Wrap bars in cellophane and keep refrigerated.

Nutrition information per bar: 108 calories, 9 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 7 grams carbohydrate.

Peanut Butter Apple Dip

2 tbsp. powdered peanut butter
2 tbsp. water
8 ounces fat free cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. Swerve confectioner’s sugar – sugar free alternative
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips, sugar free

Add powdered peanut butter and water to a small mixing bowl and use a spoon to stir until combined.

Add cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract and stir until well combined. (I used an electric hand mixer, but a large mixing spatula will also work).

Stir in the chocolate chips and serve with graham crackers, cookies, sliced apples, celery, or eat it straight from a spoon! Makes 5 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 74 calories, 9 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 336 mg sodium.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal

1/2 cup quick cook oats
1 cup fat free Fairlife Milk
2 tbsp. PB2
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
sweetener (stevia, erythritol, or other non-nutritive sweetener) to taste

Combine all of the ingredients except the sweetener in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until the oats start to thicken and get soft, about 5 minutes. Sweeten to taste. Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 273 calories, 24 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 40 grams carbohydrates, 211 mg sodium.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

2 cups powdered peanut butter
1/2 cup Swerve confectioner’s sugar (a no added sugar alternative)
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup water
1 cup chocolate chips, no added sugar

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the peanut butter powder, Swerve confectioner’s sugar, and salt together. Add the water and stir until mixed – the batter will be very stiff. Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop out 12 – 1 tablespoon portions unto a wax paper lined baking sheet and place in freezer for 30 minutes before rolling into smooth balls with your hands. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 103 calories 8 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 314 mg sodium.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

1 cup of powdered peanut butter
¾ cup water
1 cup sugar free chocolate chips
¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk, room temperature

Line a mini muffin pan with 20 mini cupcake liners and set aside. Combine the powdered peanut butter and water until smooth.

Microwave the chocolate chips for about 20 seconds. Stir and repeat until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Gently stir in the coconut milk until the chocolate sauce is thick and smooth.

Divide half of the chocolate sauce evenly into the mini cupcake liners and let it sit for 10 minutes to set up. Top with the powdered peanut butter mixture followed by another layer of chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before removing the peanut butter cups from the muffin liners. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 20 servings.

Nutrition information serving: 39 calories, 3 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 40 mg sodium.

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Vitamin B 12 – Essential for Good Health

The right level of vitamin B 12 helps your body to function at its peak. Weight loss surgery puts you at risk for a Vitamin B 12 deficiency, causing sluggishness and even irreversible nerve damage if not treated. The good news is that it’s easy to keep your Vitamin B 12 within a healthy range with a couple of simple steps.

Download Healthful Tips: Vitamin B 12 – Essential for Good Health

What Does Vitamin B 12 Do?

Vitamin B 12 is important. It helps your body 1) turn food into energy, 2) make red blood cells, 3) protect nerve endings, 4) make neurotransmitters, and 5) replicate the genetic code within each cell.

Where Do We Get Vitamin B 12?

We need 2.4 mcg daily of Vitamin B 12. Vitamin B 12 is naturally found in animal products—meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and yogurt. It is generally not found in plant foods, but some foods, like breakfast cereal, are fortified with it.

Why Does WLS Increase the Risk of Deficiency? 

The body has a very specific process for the absorption of Vitamin B 12. This process is less efficient after gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery, increasing the likelihood of a deficiency.

Here are the kinks in the process:

  • Less Stomach Acid. Stomach acid frees Vitamin B 12 from foods and the post-bariatric surgery stomach has less stomach acid. That means more Vitamin B 12 remains bound to food where it is unavailable for absorption.
  • Less Intrinsic Factor. Once separated from food, Vitamin B 12 binds to a compound produced in the lower stomach called intrinsic factor. It is the intrinsic factor-Vitamin B 12 compound that the body absorbs in the small intestine. Because the lower stomach is bypassed with gastric bypass surgery and mostly removed with gastric sleeve surgery, there is less intrinsic factor available to bind with Vitamin B 12.
  • Less Food. Portions are smaller after surgery and in many cases less Vitamin B12 is consumed.

Signs of Low Vitamin B 12

Symptoms of a low Vitamin B 12 may be vague or even non-existent, but can include weakness; fatigue; lightheadedness; heart palpitations; shortness of breath; pale skin; a smooth tongue; constipation; diarrhea; loss of appetite; gas; vision loss; nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking; or mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes. A deficiency of Vitamin B 12, if not treated, can lead to irreversible nerve damage—best to take steps to keep it within a healthy range.

Keep Your Vitamin B 12 in a Healthy Range

Just a few easy steps and you can be assured that your Vitamin B 12 stays within that healthy range—not too low or too high.

Step 1.  Get regular lab testing to monitor your Vitamin B 12 level. Most labs set 190 and 950 pg/mL as the reference or normal range, but these numbers vary some from lab to lab. Your Barix Clinics nutritionist will look for a minimal lab value of 400 pg/ml to insure that deficiency symptoms do not occur. Test Vitamin B 12 every 3 months for the first year and then at least once a year after that.

Step 2. Supplement as needed or as a preventative step. If your lab value dips below 400 pg/ml, supplement as recommended by your surgeon or nutritionist. Typically 500 mcg of sublingual Vitamin B 12 daily will restore levels within the reference range. This dosage can also be used to maintain levels within the reference range- a preventative approach.

Step 3. After starting or changing a supplement dosage, re-check levels and adjust as needed. If lab values exceed the high end of the reference range after starting a supplement, reduce the frequency of supplementation to once a week. Then re-check in 3 months. There is no advantage to exceeding the high end of the reference range and some negative effects of excessive Vitamin B 12 supplementation have been reported.

Choose the Right Supplement

An oral (pill) supplement of Vitamin B 12 has limited absorption following gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery. If supplementation is recommended, choose one of the following forms:

  • Sublingual (under the tongue) supplements are a cost efficient and effective solution. They are available over-the-counter in both liquid and dissolvable tablet forms.
  • Vitamin B 12 injections are available at your doctor’s office or by prescription.
  • A vitamin B 12 nasal spray is available by prescription.

Vitamin B 12 has many important roles in the body. Having weight loss surgery increases the risk of having a deficiency, but with a few simple steps, it’s easy to maintain a healthy range of Vitamin B 12.

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Have a Sugar Free Valentine’s Day

If Valentine’s Day conjures up images of heart-shaped candy boxes, cupid cupcakes and other sweet treats, you are not alone. We grew up with the commercialism and the traditions of this holiday just like all the others. One of the challenges after bariatric surgery is to redefine the holidays—to shift the emphasis from food. It is freeing to lose the images of sugary treats and replace them with new images. Rather than a sense of deprivation, this transition can bring with it a deeper, more satisfying experience for you and your family. Just think of yourself as the vehicle for change—the one to impart a healthier lifestyle to future generations. Learn new traditions, give simple gifts, and increase your use of loving words and actions. Maybe your kids will automatically carry on the tradition of a Valentine’s tree (see below) with their own families rather than lavishing their children and spouses with chocolate.


Find new ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day or challenge yourself for the entire month of February to focus on expressing love to the people who mean the most to you. Blow off the sweets and start some new traditions that build relationships and truly express your love. After you’ve redefined Valentine’s Day, you might be ready for family birthdays—how could you celebrate without the traditional cake and ice cream? I bet you can come up with some more meaningful ways to celebrate those special days.

Cut out red, pink and white hearts. Give every family member enough hearts to write one thing that they appreciate about each family member.  (They can fill out a heart for themselves too.)  Post the hearts with loving sayings on each family member’s bedroom door. You can do this for just one day, a week or each day for the entire month. Think about the environment of love this exercise can create!

Cut down a tree branch and place it in foam inserted in the bottom of a planting pot. You may want to paint the branch red/pink/white or just leave natural.  Cut red/pink/white hearts out of construction paper and punch a small hole at the top. Have family members think of words that mean love to them.  Write these on the hearts. You may want to have children decorate the one side of the hearts with glitter, ribbon, doilies or paint. Hang the hearts from the tree with yarn.

Purchase small gifts and place them in red bags with white tissue paper. Attach a heart shaped name tag on each one.

Let the love extend beyond your family by reaching out to others. It may be as simple as making a Valentine’s Day card for an elderly neighbor and delivering it as a family. You may consider sponsoring a child through one of the great established organizations (about a dollar a day).  You have the idea…it isn’t hard to find someone who has a need.


Keep gift giving simple and meaningful this year.

Write love notes and leave them in places where they will be found throughout the day (in the car, on the bathroom mirror, on the bed pillow, in the backpack, in the purse, in the lunch bag, near the toothbrush). How about a note like, “You drive me crazy!” placed on the steering wheel?

Write down and present your Valentines with 100 reasons why you love them.

Put together a CD or playlist of their favorite songs or romantic songs.

Get a babysitter every Friday.

Create a jar or basket filled with love coupons for hugs, kisses, back rubs or foot rubs to be redeemed over time.


Make an extra effort to show family members that you love them through the words you choose to use:

You mean the world to me. I like the way you handled that. Wow, you really thought out the solution to that problem. I have faith in your ability. I appreciate what you did. You are really showing improvement. I trust you. It must make you proud of yourself when you accomplish something like that. You’re special. Well done. You’re on top of it. Hurray for you! You are a valuable part of our family. I’m proud of you for trying. It is such a blessing to be your mom (or wife, grandma, dad). You did so well at that! How smart. I admire you for ….. (a specific quality or trait). If more people were like you, the world would be a better place. It’s one of my favorite things to be with you. You’re an amazing person. I believe in YOU. You’re precious. You’re a real trooper. Thanks for what you did to help me. You did a great job. You make me happy.  What an imagination. You mean so much to me. I love your sense of humor. You’re so much fun to be with. Thank you. I’m sorry. Tell me more. You can do it. How can I help? Let’s work together. How about a hug? Please. Wow! Look at that! You did it. Super. Super-duper. Now, that’s impressive. Bravo! Excellent. Nice work. Good for you. Look what you can do! Wonderful!  Fabulous.


Below are some great ways to say I love you to all of the important people in your life—that includes you.

Use only positive words when talking about your family members, in their presence or when they are not there. Listen with your full attention. Be their biggest fan and encourager. Regularly give a toast of appreciation at breakfast or dinner. Tell them how they bring love to your life. Ask open ended questions and talk about your day during mealtimes. Read books aloud together. Say you’re sorry. Recall good and bad memories. Just hang out together. Encourage mental, physical and spiritual health. Act silly together. Refrain from the temptation to compare your loved ones to others. Ask questions about opinions, feelings and thoughts. Encourage adventures. Always give a big welcome hug when they come home. Show gratitude for them.  Compliment them in front of others. Spend time together. Ask for hugs and kisses.Take vacations together. Be honest. Practice self-acceptance. Show interest in their interests.   Accept them just the way they are. Forgive. Give the benefit of the doubt. Learn something new together. Keep your promises. Laugh together. Read a story together. End the day with loving words. Have a family hug.  Eat meals together. Compliment often. Take walks together. Do a puzzle together. Send an encouraging/loving card in the mail. Make your home a fun place for everyone.

Loving Self-Talk

Love yourself by only allowing positive, loving thoughts to circulate through your mind. Make an individual list of positive affirmations. Here are some ideas to get you started. Then when you notice a negative thought creep in, say “stop” and replace that thought with one of your affirmations.

I am competent.  I am energetic.  I can grow.  I will make healthy choices.  I am strong.  I can heal.  I will reach my goals.  I am beautiful.  I am enthusiastic.  I can make it through this situation.  I am loving.  I am smart.  I can use new ways to cope.  I am generous.  I can take risks.  I can change.  I am creative.  I am talented.  I can let go of fear.  I am a good person.  I am a good mother/father/sister/friend.  I will accept myself as I am.  I can be honest with my feelings.  I will take care of me today.  I love me.  I am growing stronger each day.  I am caring.  I am courageous.  I can succeed.  I can laugh and have fun.  I can exercise.  I am becoming healthier each day.  I am terrific.  I can solve these problems.  I will get the support that I need.  I will take time to exercise today.  I will let others take responsibility for their own lives today.

Strawberry Chocolates

2 oz unsweetened chocolate bar
6 Tbsp. cocoa butter
½ cup powdered erythritol (Swerve or other brand)
11/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, reduced-fat, softened
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 pkg strawberry gelatin, sugar-free
24 mini muffin liners

Line mini muffin tins with paper or foil liners and set aside. Make chocolate by heating chocolate bar and cocoa butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. When melted, slowly stir in powdered erythritol. Remove from heat and add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Spoon ½ of the melted chocolate into the mini muffin tin. Place in freezer for 5 minutes.

Mix together cream cheese, strawberries, gelatin and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. Place in a food storage bag and cut a small hole in one corner for piping. Pipe out evenly on top of solidified chocolate. Press down with a spoon to even out.

Spoon the remaining chocolate over the strawberry filling and freeze for 5 minutes. Remove from the freezer and enjoy. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Makes 24 servings.

Nutrition information per serving:  52 calories, 1 gram protein, 5 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrate, 43 mg sodium.

Chocolate Muffins

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
¾ cup erythritol (or other sweetener)
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Oikos Triple Zero Yogurt, vanilla
1 egg
½ cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and spray 12-count muffin pan with non-stick spray or add muffin liners. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, sweetener, flour, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, vanilla extract, egg and vegetable oil—slowly stir in dry ingredients. Fill muffin cups 2/3rds full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition information per serving:  162 calories, 4 grams protein, 11 grams fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 128 mg sodium.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

24 mini sized foil baking cups
Crust ingredients
10 full sheets graham crackers
1/3 cup stevia, erythritol, or Splenda
6 tablespoons butter, melted
PB filling ingredients
1/2 cup stevia, erythritol, or Splenda
3 tablespoons PB 2 or powdered peanut butter
3 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese

Chocolate Filling

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
1 3/4 cup stevia, erythritol, or Splenda
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a blender or food processor, crush graham crackers into fine crumbs, then mix well with 1/4 cup sweetener and melted butter. Set aside. Place peanut butter filling ingredients in a bowl and mix until well blended. Set aside.

Melt chocolate in small sauce pan over low heat and set aside. Blend cream cheese and sweetener in a small mixing bowl. Slowly add milk and mix until smooth. Add melted chocolate and stir well. Add egg substitute and vanilla and mix until blended. Set aside.

Place 24 mini sized foil baking cups on a sheet pan. Divide the crust mixture evenly between the cups and firmly press into the bottom.  Top with ½ teaspoon of the peanut butter filling. Spoon chocolate mixture on top and tap sheet pan on counter top to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until slightly firm to the touch. Chill for 2 hours. Serve and enjoy. Makes 24 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 74 calories, 2 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, and 75 mg sodium.

Mini Cherry Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes


12 Murray Sugar Free Cookies Murray® Sugar Free Chocolate Chip
12 ounces  fat-free cream cheese, softened*
1 cup  small-curd, fat-free cottage cheese
1/2 cup refrigerated or frozen egg substitute, thawed
1/2 cup Splenda granular (sugar substitute)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup light cherry pie filling

Line twelve muffin cups with foil bake cups. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place one cookie in each.

In food processor bowl combine cream cheese, cottage cheese, egg substitute, sugar substitute, flour, lemon peel and vanilla. Cover and process until smooth. Spoon onto crusts. Bake at 300°F about 18 minutes or until almost set. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes. Peel away foil cups.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Spoon pie filling onto cheesecakes.  Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition Information per serving:  110 calories, 8 grams protein, 3.5 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, 290 mg sodium.

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How to Eat Better Meal by Meal – Dinner

It’s easy to get into the habit of stopping to get a bite to eat on the way home, but those restaurant meals come with a nutritional cost. If you’re ready to get serious about eating better, the first place to start is by preparing foods at home. With a little pre-planning and practice, you can overcome the lure of restaurant food and be a dinnertime superstar in no time.

Download On Track with Barix: How to Eat Better Meal by Meal – Dinner

Why Bother?

Although food prep may not be at the top of your “want to do” list at the end of the day, the many benefits to cooking at home are worth the effort—take a look:

Better nutrition Home-prepared meals are generally more nutritious and include more fresh fruits and vegetables than convenience meals. They are also lower in calories, carbohydrates, fat, added sugar, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. Bonus—studies find that eating home-cooked meals five or more days a week is linked to living a longer life.

Higher quality food When you prepare your own food, you can choose to use fresh, unprocessed ingredients—the key to eating better.

Right-sized portions When we’re served large portions, we tend to eat more. At home, you can get in the habit of serving right-sized portions on smaller plates and avoid excessive calories.

Family time By watching and participating in food prep activities, your children are learning skills and behaviors that will help them with a lifetime of healthy eating. Not only that, but eating meals as a family regularly is associated with happier and healthier kids, better school performance and teens that are less likely to use alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.

Save moneyStudies show that eating out at restaurants costs 4-5 times more than the same meal prepared at home.

Feel better Some studies show that adopting a diet of healthy, home-cooked meals can increase your resilience to stress; reducing anxiety and depression–all while boosting your outlook.

Make the Most of Your Time

If you’re ready to start some new habits and reap the benefits of home cooked meals, we’ve got some tips to help you be an efficient cook and make the most of your time.

  • Have a plan. Start with a blank 1-month calendar and pencil in 2-3 favorite meals each week. Then think about how you can reuse leftovers from your favorites to create other meals throughout the week. For example, slow cooker pork tenderloin is a healthy meal to slice and serve with a vegetable. Make extra so you can dice and add to a quesadilla one night and add no-added-sugar barbecue sauce for another meal. Cook once for 3 meals—that’s a time saver.
  • Keep it simple. Repeat family favorites throughout the month and select recipes that don’t have a long list of costly ingredients.
  • Share the responsibility with your spouse, children, a roommate, or a friend. Cooking with others can be a fun relationship building activity.
  • Multitask: chat on the phone, listen to an audio book or watch TV while you cook.
  • Buy pre-washed bags of chopped vegetables or try a cook-at-home delivery service where the ingredients and recipes arrive on your doorstep.
  • Do some of the preparation ahead of time. For example, chop vegetables over the weekend to cut down on weekday cooking time.
  • Load a slow cooker with meat and vegetables in the morning and come home to a piping hot meal at night.
  • Make meals in bulk and freeze leftovers in single portions to eat when you don’t have the time or energy to cook.
  • Stock up on staples and keep ingredients that you use frequently on hand. Frozen fruits and vegetable can extend the time between shopping trips.
  • Use your weekly menu to create a shopping list then add in seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks. Organize your list by the path you travel through the grocery store.
  • Keep an ongoing grocery list in your kitchen so you can add items as you run out.

Get Creative

 Add an element of fun and creativity to meal planning and prep.

  • Play your favorite music and dance around as you chop and peel.
  • Create your own custom cookbook. Search for and gather new recipes for no-added-sugar treats, sides, salads and entrees while you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or during commercial breaks. Print recipes and store in plastic sheet protectors in a 3-ring binder. You can add to your cookbook or delete recipes anytime you like.
  • We eat more of the things that are in our line of vision. Notice throughout your day the foods that are clearly visible. Make a concerted effort to have fresh, wholesome foods front and center in your refrigerator, on your counter, in your cupboards and at work.

Armed with a plan and healthy foods on hand, you are well on your way to eating a better diet.

Mini Lasagna

16 oz ground beef (90% lean)
1 can Hunts Garlic and Onion Spaghetti Sauce (or equivalent)
1 tsp dried oregano, divided
½ tsp dried basil
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
24 small square wonton wrappers
2 cups shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Add spaghetti sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, oregano, and basil. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and place a wonton wrapper into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides.

Divide half of the ricotta mixture among the 12 muffin cups. Layer next with ½ of the meat mixture and then top each cup with 2 tsp of mozzarella.

Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer. Top with remaining ricotta, followed by remaining meat sauce and then mozzarella. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool. Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition information per serving:  258 calories, 21 grams protein, 12 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 535 mg sodium 

Taco Lettuce Cups

1 lb. lean ground beef (95% lean)
1 package taco seasoning, low sodium
1/2 c. shredded Cheddar
8 large lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
1 avocado, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 cup fresh salsa

Cook ground beef in large non-stick skillet. Follow instructions on taco seasoning. Serve taco meat in lettuce cups. Garnish with cheddar, onion, avocado and salsa. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving:  249 calories, 14 grams protein, 8 grams fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 377 mg sodium.

Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup Bisquick®
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup liquid egg substitute

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat 9” pie plate with cooking spray. Cook ground beef and onion in skillet until beef is brown; drain. Spread in pie plate; sprinkle with cheese. Stir remaining ingredients in separate bowl until well mixed. Pour into pie plate. Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 283 calories, 26 grams protein, 11 grams fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, 406 mg sodium.





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