Alrighty everyone… time for a little personal moment. I have been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks, but honestly was a little nervous about it. Sometimes it makes me squirm to acknowledge my imperfections or my past mistakes because well, who wants to really come face to face with those things?
Yesterday I read Alexis Joseph’s (Hummusapian) post, I Have Been Changed for Good, and so much of what she talked about resonated with me and gave me a little push to share my own story of how I have evolved over the years. If you haven’t read her article, I highly recommend you take a look and see if you feel some of the inspiration that I felt after finishing.Everyone has a “story” or has something about themselves that they dislike or work to change. I’m not going to sit here and talk about all my problems or struggles as someone who works in a profession where talking and thinking about food can consume a good chunk of my day. I more want to reflect back on where I was and who I hope I am becoming now in my career and in this hobby I have adopted, blogging.
No, I don’t have over a million followers. In one day, I really don’t know how many people I reach. My hope is that for those who read this, maybe they can reflect on themselves in a similar way. Maybe you will just get to know me a little better and either appreciate my honesty and flaws or think that my words have little value. I can only hope that what I say might just help one other person.
I have been blogging for about 5 years. I started blogging in college as an outlet and way to help others “eat healthy”. What a blanket statement right? It’s interesting as I look through my various phases of blogging the different names that I took on and how they related to that period of time in my life – Nutritious, Fit Me; Nibble on Nutrition; and now today, Her Healthy Kitchen. Boy, does this bring me full circle. It may not be apparent to you, but to me this timeline truly shows my growth as a person and as a health professional.
When I first started my blog and was in the height of taking nutrition classes and “training” myself to be the best nutrition professional possible, I was doing anything and everything possible to maintain that image. “The perfect dietitian.” What even is that? To me, as someone who wanted so badly to have that title this meant eating perfectly, being at an optimal fitness level, and being a “role model” for those trying to achieve the same.
If I could go back in time, I would change so many things about this point in my educational career.
My recipes and my advice were all about having “less”. Less sugar… less fat…less dairy; the more I took away, the smaller the chance was of me not looking the way I needed and achieving the image that I was going for. I was fueling my body with “diet” products that were filled with artificial sweeteners or weren’t filling or satisfying (rice cakes — AWFUL decision) all to keep my calories where I wanted them. I was extra careful with the foods that I chose and was very proud of my diligence and dedication to “healthy eating”.
At the time, I was training for half marathons and not fueling properly, and when the training was over would struggle with the thought of not continuing to “feel fit” or exercise in the way that I was. I was prideful when people told me I was thin because I was doing it the “right way” in my eyes. Of course I am thin. I mean, I was studying nutrition for goodness sake?
Now, I’m not saying I had a problem with eating. I ate a lot… I was just extra cautious and would avoid foods that I though may effect my body in a way that I did not want or like. I have had many close people in my life struggle with disordered eating, so I am well aware that this is a slippery path that many people can find themselves going down. I don’t think I was at that point, but I do think my perception of food and nutrition was very skewed.
A few things happened to me since that time period.
For one, I actually became a Registered Dietitian. As a Registered Dietitian, my looks and my appearance mean nothing to a 5 year old child who doesn’t know where he’ll receive his next meal if it is not at school. It doesn’t matter to a newly diagnosed diabetic teen who is angry and upset that they cannot eat what their friends eat. Being a dietitian is so much more than teaching people to “eat healthy”. My job helps me build connections with families, children, new mothers, and help them prevent future disease and disparity. I can play a role in breaking the cycle of diabetes for a family by educating a child on how to make themselves balanced meals on a budget. I can teach a mother how to properly feed her infant so that it can thrive and grow at an optimal rate. This is my job, and this is something that I live for.
The second thing that happened is I got married! I have one of the most supportive spouses ever. When I started really getting into Her Healthy Kitchen and revamping my approach to blogging, Jeff was and still is my number one supporter. Being married to someone that has complete opposite eating habits than myself has actually helped me become more balanced with my own eating. I want to fuel our little family with wholesome foods that are not only are satisfying, but nourish us and keep us healthy and fulfilled. While some days the challenge of hiding veggies in our food (sorry Jeff!) can be tiresome, cooking for two has opened my eyes to new recipes, new challenges, and has made me really appreciate sharing a meal with someone else — not analyzing every part of that meal.
I think about my views on food and nutrition now, and I am so proud of where I am. Five year ago, I was eating PB2 to make sure I didn’t have too much fat from peanut butter. Today, I probably have at least 1-2 Tbsp of full fat peanut butter every day on top of eating handfuls of nuts such as almonds or cashews for snacks while I’m at work. Why did I make this change? Because why miss out on all the healthy fats that REAL peanut butter and real nuts have to offer? Fat is good baby!
A few years ago, I also fell into the thought that I shouldn’t eat whole eggs and would only eat egg whites; now I eat eggs almost daily for breakfast INCLUDING one big, tasty egg yolk. I now happily eat chicken, turkey, and pork (actually, I hate going a day without one of these proteins) whereas I previously avoided meat at all costs. I now look at whole foods as my fuel. I eat fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and some grains, and you will very rarely find me looking for a “low fat” product.
While I still support eating for good health and love posting all of my recipes, I think my life has become much more balanced and my approach to talking about food and nutrition has changed.
No, I still don’t support going to McDonald’s and ordering an extra large fry and thirst buster of soda, but I see the obsession that people can develop with eating “perfect” and never making a “bad decision”. Yes, there are circumstances where “low fat” or “diet products” have their place, and I recognize when those arise during a consult or counseling experience.
Today, my hobby for blogging incorporates my world of balance. Her Healthy Kitchen shows everything that I love about food, nutrition, and living my version of a healthy lifestyle. I love to eat! I want to be able to help others without creating obsessions or making people feel bad about themselves or who they are as a person. There is such a blurred line between being obsessive with healthy eating and eating for good health. I choose the latter and hope that I can help and inspire others to do the same!