I want to help people enjoy food and eat healthy at the same time. Food can be both of those things – it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Growing up I trusted my intuition about eating. I ate foods that I wanted to eat, I ate as much as I wanted to, I didn’t eat too much I didn’t eat too little, I felt comfortable around food and confident in my eating.
When I was coming into the age of puberty, people started commenting on what I was eating and what I looked like. I got comments that I ate like a bird because I never ate large meals (I would just snack throughout the day). I would eat at meals but I never could have large meals and I needed to eat often. That was just what my body wanted me to do. Later in graduate school I learned that this is how humans ate in hunter gather societies. And that this actually has certain benefits to the body. When I learned that in graduate school I thought, “See?! I kind of knew that, why did I ever go against what my body was intuitively telling me to do?” Around age 13 or 14 I started to become self-conscious about my food and eating and I felt like I had to prove to people that I ate. I would over eat – I ate beyond the point of fullness – just to prove to people and show people that I did in fact eat. And it made me feel bad – both the overeating and just the comments that people had about my body.
As I grew older and got into college I went through a phase where I prioritized spending money on “going out” which meant that I prioritized spending money on drinks over healthy food. I bought cigarettes and alcohol – I would buy food too – but as a college student I was more interested in partying than I was in having a healthy lifestyle – I wanted to have fun. When I finished college I wanted to do something entirely different than what I studied. I wanted to help people in some way – I didn’t know how – but I was interested in science, I was interested in the body, and my father was a physician so I thought I would go to medical school. First I worked in research for a little bit and then went back to school. During this time I was involved in an unhealthy relationship. I was involved with someone who was abusive to me physically and emotionally and was very controlling. I was depressed and started going to therapy. I had gained weight and the person I was in the relationship with made me feel bad about it and told me I should lose weight. I already felt really insecure in this relationship and thought that he wasn’t attracted to me anymore and I made all these wrong decisions (number one by being with this person). I started reading these magazines about health and reading books about dieting and nutrition. Now, that I have a degree in nutrition, I can look back and realize that this information either was incorrect or not based in any science. Probably the worst thing about that period was that I stopped trusting my body,vI stopped trusting myself and I started listening to other people. That was my biggest mistake. Rather than listening to my intuition and what my body was telling me (clearly my body was telling me that I was not happy and that something was wrong), I thought that my weight gain had to do with external circumstances like what I was eating or how I was exercising. I didn’t listen to what was going on with me. During this time this person broke up with me, I didn’t get into medical school, and I reached a very big low. I had been living with this person so I had a to find a different apartment. I had no money so I moved in with a friend of mine who let me stay with her. I had a job but I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing at all.
I went on this vacation and I remember thinking that I knew I had to go on this vacation even though I had no money. That maybe if I got away from everything I would figure it out. I’m a very driven person and smart and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get my life together. I went on this vacation to this beach in North Carolina and toward the end of the vacation I remember laying on the beach and surrendering. I thought to myself, “just be to be okay with not knowing. Be okay with where you are at right now. It’s okay not to know what you’re going to do, it’s okay not to know what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s okay that you spent all this money on your education and you’re still no where near closer to figuring out what you’re supposed to be doing. Just allow yourself to feel lost.” During this vacation I made some friends and when we got back to New York we hung out. At the time, one of my new friends was studying nutrition. She had this textbook and she said to me, “I feel like you would really like this – why don’t you just look through my textbook?” So I start looking through her textbook and I had this moment where I felt like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is it. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. The next day I called the nutrition department at Columbia University and I said, “I want to be a nutritionist what do I do?” I signed up for classes and six years later I became a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Since becoming one I have felt really upset because I still see people who are friends of mine, family members and people who I know well that are following advice in magazines and books published about “here is how you diet” and “here is how you lose weight.” And I am in this position where I have had this experience eating by trusting my body and intuition, falling off that wagon and listening to incorrect advice that’s out there about nutrition, then becoming a nutritionist myself and rehabilitating myself back to what I knew to be true about listening to my body but adding on top of that knowledge of the science of nutrition. I just want to share it with the world.
When I see people reading magazines or talking about nutrition that’s incorrect, nutrition that’s written by people who are not dietitians, it really hurts me. I’ve been there too and I want to save people from not listening to themselves, from not listening to their bodies, and from listening to incorrect information that’s out there. I feel like it’s my responsibility as a dietitian to educate people about where to get correct information about nutrition, who you can trust, and most importantly, to listen to your body and what’s right for you. There’s no one right way to eat. Everyone is different – we have different histories, different cultures, we grew up eating different ways, our bodies are all different and we have to honor that.
So that’s me that’s my story – if you connected with any of that then connect with me, leave a comment below, and send me some of your questions that I can answer!