I wanted to share with you my take on food and where I’ve been. It is important for me to share my personal struggles and victories with you so that you can understand that we are all in this together. Sure, it’s tough to admit my past, but I am comfortable with where I am now. My past has helped me to work with women who are currently in my shoes, battling their body. I am a real person. I’ve had my ups and downs just like you (even as a registered dietitian)! Hopefully you will take my hand and go on this journey to health with me, no matter what you are going through…right now. It’s never too late!
This post is meant to inspire and empower you no matter where you stand on the health continuum. We are never at our final destination when it comes to health, so trust in the power of your body to heal and the power of your mind to get you back on track. With time and dedication, you will succeed – you already have just by coming to this site!!
Where I’ve been
- Low calorie and low-fat
- Ovo-lacto-pescetarian (vegetarian that eats eggs, dairy, and fish)
- Strict Paleo
- Paleo + grass-fed dairy
- Paleo + grass-fed, organic, raw dairy with an emphasis on fish
Point #1 (a low-calorie, low-fat diet).
I was a chubbier kid and remember getting teased about my weight growing up. I spent much of my high school and college years battling the scale. I would exercise like crazy (2+ hours a day) and eat like a bird. I hated how I looked and my body suffered a pretty extreme beating. It became so bad that friends and family started communicating that they were very worried about my health. I didn’t see it. I thought I looked fine and even felt that I wasn’t skinny enough.
It was clear. I had an eating disorder. I was mostly suffering with bulimia, purging calories through excess exercise in addition to consuming far too low of calories. My hair started falling out, my nails were weak, I had no muscle mass, and I felt irritable all the time! I was constantly thinking about food and worried about eating too much. At this time in my life I was a walking calorie calculator. I knew the amount of calories in every food out there and meticulously counted each morsel of food I ate. I was unhappy and anxious, but desperate to be thin.
Some of the things on my diet: vegetables, fat-free yogurt, granola bars, fat-free cheese (not joking), chicken breasts, deli meat, lots of chewing gum, tuna, egg whites, cereal, ect..
Point #2 (Ovo-lacto-pescetarian)
In college we started discussing how beneficial a vegetarian diet was. I wasn’t sold on the idea of being a full-fledged vegan or vegetarian due to nutritional concerns, so I kept eggs, dairy, and fish in the mix. I honestly believe part of becoming a vegetarian was my desire to control and constrict even more. I started noticing my hair falling out, my skin and nails becoming weak, my energy at an all time low, severe mood swings, and an inability to put on muscle mass no matter how many hours I spent at the gym.
Even though I was slowing deteriorating, I kept up with this routine for over 5 years. Looking at the pictures from my past, I am blown away by how bad I was suffering from body dysmorphic disorder. I was so thin, but inside I kept telling myself that it wasn’t thin enough.
Some of the things on my diet: Low-carb tortillas, fat-free yogurt and cheese, powdered peanut butter (seriously?), oatmeal, FiberOne bars, low-carb bread, spray “butter,” vegetarian “burgers.”
That was until my husband showed me the light and introduced me to a Paleo template.
Point #3 (Strict paleo)
I actually came into the Paleo world kicking and screaming. I did not want to believe that what I was hearing was true since it was completely against what I learned in school. It took me awhile to let it all sink in, but the concepts intrigued me, so I dug into the literature. I spent a full week investigating everything and anything that I could find about the topic. There were many late nights and tears shed after studying this diet template, but at the end of the day it just made sense. The main scientific concepts that I learned in school were still there, but only one side of the story had been presented. It just made perfect sense.
It was crazy how fast my body responded to this diet. Within a week I had an incredible spike in energy, my mood stabilized, and I felt improvements in digestion (amongst a million other positive things).
It’s pretty unbelievable, but I strongly believe that going on the Paleo diet helped me kick my disordered eating behaviors.
I went from constantly being hungry and searching for “safe” foods to feeling satisfied and nourished. I was filling my plate with the most nutrient-dense foods that I could find and to a malnourished body, that was such a relief. Starting to consume fats and cholesterol in my diet helped improve neurotransmitter functioning – meaning I became physiologically happier and allowed my body to heal.
In this moment I could not be happier, healthier, more confident, or more self-expressed. I realize that food is NOT a number. Food allows us to do the things we love and is NOT the enemy I had always thought it was. Many people say that you can never “get over” an eating disorder, but I think that is very hopeless thinking. In my eyes, it is possible. Anything is possible once you start fueling your body right. Maybe you’re just someone with a sugar addiction. Maybe you’ve been struggling with a lack of motivation to exercise. Whatever it may be, you are SO powerful. Once you realize that and start treating your body with love – the world is yours!
Some of the things I eat NOW: lots of vegetables, some fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut products, avocados, chicken, wild game, lamb, beef, fish, olive oil, fermented foods, bone broth
Points #4 and 5 (modified Paleo)
I’ve been consuming a Paleo style template for about 3 years now and I’ve never felt better. I started out on a strict paleo plan (as close to 100% as possible, no dairy) and have modified it based on how my body responds to food and what my goals are. I have endless energy, enthusiasm for life, and a strong body that supports me. While I will absolutely continue with the principles established through a Paleo template, as I learn how my body responds to food and what’s going on in my life I will modify my intake accordingly. Some of the principles that I will not budge on are listed on my Food Template page.
I’ve started to put an emphasis on fish as a source of protein because I have been lacking in my consumption of this nutrient-dense protein source for quite some time. I’ve been eating a good share of chicken, but what feels right to me at the present time is putting an emphasis on fish and organ meats to provide my body with essential building blocks as I am getting ready to start thinking about babies within the next year!
While someone might appear to “have it all together” on the outside, you have no idea what they may be dealing with or have dealt with in the past. This is another reason why it is so important not to judge others or try to compare yourself with an “ideal” body.
You are whole, complete, and perfect just as you are.
I encourage each of you to keep an open mind when it comes to nutrition and to do what feels right based on personal experience and education. I know that I will always be open to changing my diet based on intuition and science and I will share with you any changes I make to my current regimen.
Thank you for listening to my story. Bon appetit!