With Halloween a couple weeks away, I thought it would be fun to hear some thoughts from Kristen Ciccolini, a culinary nutrition expert and holistic nutrition coach who runs the Good Witch Kitchen in Boston. She is a proponent of integrating mindfulness throughout our journey to mealtimes.

How do you approach meal planning for clients?

  • We start with an initial call to discuss health concerns and goals, food preferences and allergies, and lifestyle so I can get an idea of how they can best execute the meal plan. I want to be mindful of their work schedules, family needs, etc. to make it as easy as possible. Meal planning can be overwhelming when you’re just starting out and I want to help make it a sustainable habit, so paying attention to things like whether or not there’s a way to heat up food at work, if they can’t eat gluten, and so on makes it easier from the get-go.

What do you recommend for quick, healthy autumn breakfasts?

  • Cinnamon is key! Adding it to your usual meals instantly warms them up for the season, and I like mixing it with chopped apples in a yogurt parfait or with oatmeal, pumpkin puree, and nuts. I also like making variations of my Apricot Bars to snack on, for fall I’ve been using cranberries and apple juice.

Are there any parts of the consumption journey (meal planning, shopping, cooking, eating) where being mindful makes a particular difference for you?

  • Every part of the journey has a mindfulness component. I mentioned above being conscious of certain things while meal planning, and with shopping, we really want to take a look at ingredient labels and health claims of products. In my coaching program, we go over how to navigate the grocery store and learn the marketing tricks the food industry plays – to me, that awareness is one of the most important things you can learn. Eating while stressed is another thing we want to avoid. Being more present, paying attention to and truly enjoying your meal can do as much healing as the meal itself.

Any advice for working women?                                                         

  • Plan ahead and you’ll always be prepared! Taking just 2 hours out on a Sunday to prepare meals for the week can save you a ton of time and stress for the days ahead. Even if you’d rather go to the salad bar than make lunch yourself, at least stocking your desk with healthy snacks (like the Apricot Bars, fruit, nuts, homemade granola, etc) can keep you full, energized, and mood-stable, rather than being on a rollercoaster from processed vending machine food.

Since you’re a good witch, do you have any special Halloween advice for busy women who are trying to consume mindfully?

  • When I was still working in an office, I had a lot of trouble staying away from the candy bowl, it was front and center on the table where we all sat so I was constantly eyeing it. It’s often a case of “out of sight, out of mind” – have a piece of candy if you want it then walk away, and make sure to enjoy it slowly or you’ll want to keep popping M&Ms. You have time to chew and you have time to savor. Eat the meal/s you brought to work before diving into the bowl as well so you’re not ravenously ripping apart Kit Kat wrappers. If you’re in charge of the candy at home, go for a healthier dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao).