I know I am repeating myself, but one of my favorite things about blogging and social media are the connections and friendships that you can make, with people all over the world. Connecting with like minded people, who inspire you, support you, educate you is a beautiful thing. I have surrounded myself with women who are all of the above and I am grateful to have them in my life. So let me introduce y'all to Victoria. Victoria is a licensed dietician/nutritionist, who is passionate about intuitive eating, digestive health, and inspiring others to ditch the diets and make peace with food and their bodies. Read more about her story below...ENJOY!
Sitting down to write this, I realize how different my life and my mind are these days. There’s consistent and overflowing happiness, gratitude for this beautiful life I get to live, and deep compassion for myself, my body and who I am as a person. Before I sat down to write this, I sipped on my version of bulletproof coffee while reading and then meditated. As I write this I am sipping on bone broth and have plans to enjoy a breakfast soon of eggs, bacon, and avocado.
Years ago, the calorie counter in me would have been petrified at blending butter into my coffee, or not knowing a number of calories are in my homemade bone broth. And allowing myself to eat the whole egg with bacon and avocado? Get out of here.
You see, I am different. I became a nutrient-seeker, not a calorie counter. I learned to eat intuitively and instinctively, finding foods that on a daily basis make me feel beautiful, radiant and energized. Not only because these foods and lifestyle are physically nourishing my body, but they are also mentally nourishing to my mind and soul, too.
How did I get here? How did I ditch the diets, stop calorie counting and learn to live life again? I’d be happy to explain! But let’s first start from the beginning…
It was ingrained in me at a very young age to think about what I am eating in terms of how I look. Food and specifically restriction of foods were how to get skinny. I am positive I am one of many women who was taught our self-worth is based on our size and looks. The television and media, friends and family and now these days’ social media, all tell us how we should eat and what we should look like. Don’t lie to me…you know you’ve looked at some of those Insta-famous girls and obsessed over their feed trying to figure out how they eat so you can look the same way.
I can vividly remember at the age of 16 deciding it was time to lose weight. Since all I knew about losing weight was restricting calories, I started to count my calories. It started off innocently with tracking what I was eating and realizing a lot of the foods I was eating on a daily basis were full of calories (ah, not those scary calories!) But then I started having goals of eating less and less. First, it was only 1,200 calories. And then it was 800 calories a day. And while the calorie allotment I gave myself would change throughout those dieting years, it was always way less than what my body truly needed. Unfortunately, this is what my education as a dietitian taught me to do as well- so it was further ingrained in me that this must be how to get skinny and stay that way for good (spoiler alert: it’s not).
But throughout those eight years, I would constantly lose weight and then regain weight, almost always more than where I started initially. My metabolism became badly damaged from the constant calorie restriction, and because so many foods were off limits, I constantly craved them and would overeat the moment those foods would touch my lips.
For eight years, this is how I lived my life. Constantly calculating calories, weighing myself multiple times a day, exercising because I thought I had to and in constant war with my mind and body about what I was going to eat that day.
Shortly after my husband and I got married (almost three years ago), and I had had multiple binge eating sessions from severely restricting my calorie intake the entire year of our engagement… I snapped. I realized that eating shouldn’t be so difficult. That it didn’t have to be this way. I hit a breaking point and knew the change had to happen.
From that point on, my eating began to change. It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly I stopped counting calories. I stopped tracking my eating. I stopped caring about how many macronutrients were in my meal. I threw out my scale. I read the Intuitive Eating book and went through the stages to heal my relationship with food. For months, I would challenge myself to eat foods I thought in the past I shouldn’t eat. My favorite foods like juicy cheeseburgers, ice cream, and gooey chocolate chip cookies. I was amazed that when they no longer were off limits in my mind, the joy and satisfaction I felt when eating them. I was further amazed when I was easily able to stop when I was no longer enjoying the foods, either because I was comfortably full or because they no were no longer enjoyable to eat.
Years later, my eating continues to evolve. I healed my relationship with food and made peace with my body. From there, I was able to experiment with what I was eating in terms of how it made me feel. The last couple steps in the process of healing HAVE to be last because otherwise, eating to heal your health becomes another way of dieting. Another way of controlling food. That’s why in my private practice with Meg, we have layers to do what we do. We first focus on body acceptance and self-love, practicing self-care, managing stress and getting quality sleep. Then we fix your relationship with food, making peace with all foods no matter their health benefits (or lack thereof). And once that is complete, we can begin to eat instinctively.
You see, I probably differ vastly from many dietitians because, in many ways, I agree with the premise behind the Paleo diet movement. For years I would have vehemently disagreed and anything with the word diet would have sent me into a frenzy (I still hate the word diet and don’t ever use it). But then my own health became a concern. While I had IBS for years, my symptoms became unbearable. I was not able to get my period back after getting off birth control. My allergies, asthma, psoriasis, eczema and other skin issues continued to worsen. I felt fatigue all the time but was never able to get a good night sleep. I knew it was time to change, and just as I did with healing my relationship with food- I slowly, very slowly began to make changes to my diet in order to heal my health.
While the paleo movement focuses on what we would have eaten thousands and thousands of years ago (i.e. the Paleolithic era), I don’t think that’s quite necessary. Our bodies and genes evolved over the years, and I think simply looking at a time frame where cuisine began and real food was eaten is all that is necessary. We simply need to look back 50-100 years ago. Before we demonized the very foods that made us who we are today and began eating foods that were instead made in a lab. Before we began over-analyzing food for its calorie or macronutrient profile. Before we questioned our food choices, we ate instinctively.
I was able to fix literally every health issue I experienced by simply going back to my instincts. Meg and I believe in instinctual eating, which is our tailored approach of combining intuitive eating with eating real, whole foods. Traditional foods that your great grandmother probably ate. Foods like broth made from the bones, eating pasture raised meat with the skin and bones, cooking and eating a diet higher in fat, eating fresh foods (like fruits and vegetables but also fresh foods like raw whole milk), fermenting foods like yogurt and sauerkraut and soaking and sprouting foods like grains and nuts. These are the foods we have been eating for the past 10,000 years. These are the foods that true chefs have been cooking all along. These are the foods I used to heal my health, and foods that we all can benefit from.
I believe now in seeking nutrients, not calories. While I know our ancestors were not blending butter and collagen into their coffee or roasting vegetables with coconut oil, I think we can take these basic premises to optimize our body, mind, and soul. We can take the old age wisdom and combine it with our new age technology and personal food preferences.
I now use my own experience and education to help others do exactly that. My hope is that by working with my clients, I can help them heal their relationship with food and then heal their health. You can learn from the past ten years I have had to get here and get there much, much quicker. It takes time, but I wish all those years ago when I was struggling that I would have just reached out for help. But I know for me, I needed to go through all those struggles, trials and tribulations so that I could help others. I needed to ditch diets and heal my health on my own so that I could be there for you when you needed it.