As a Nutritionist, This Mental Shift Helped Me Have a Healthier Relationship With Food

Deprivation wasn't working.

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When I first became a registered dietitian, I never envisioned my career turning out the way it did. At the time, I was so proud of my private practice, B Nutritious, where my specialty was pure weight loss. Fat-free dairy, a lot of cardio and a good amount of restriction were basically the foundation of my program. I was good at my job and made sure my clients didn’t feel deprived, but in hindsight, my work was so much more about restriction than I would have admitted back then. My lack of admission then has less to do with denial and more to do with deprivation being a major part of dieting and how I was trained. It was honestly how I lived my life and how I would lose weight if I had to then.

A few years into my private practice, I started reading a lot more about sugar and how that was really the ultimate culprit when it came to weight and health issues. With research, my practice slowly pivoted to focusing more on healthy fats, naturally low-sugar foods and the benefits of HIIT training (high intensity interval training). This transition was eye-opening and my work was more fulfilling, but at the end of the day, I was still telling so many people in my office or through my books what not to eat. And while just like in earlier years, I had some really good tips and tricks up my sleeves; exerting willpower in denying food was still such a strong element of the success from my clients, my readers and myself. 

Around six years ago, right around the time when I had my second daughter, I started thinking differently again. As someone who is in the weight loss business, my body is often part of my business card—and struggling to lose the weight yet again, while managing a big practice and caring for my older daughter added to the stress. I started and stopped my own programs, meal delivery services and so much more that cost me time and money that I will never get back. My deprivation wasn’t working, and I was in a cycle of losing five pounds and gaining them back on repeat. 

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I needed to be more gentle with myself and give myself credit for everything I had accomplished and what I was doing everyday. Returning to my pre-baby weight might not happen as quickly as I wanted it to, but I had to reevaluate what I was doing if I wanted to feel good each day. The way I started talking to myself and approaching food felt good, yet, I was the biggest offender when it came to speaking to myself unkindly. Yes, I wanted to lose the baby weight but maybe I was more important than the number on the scale. Maybe there were things that felt better than restricting—things like accomplishing a high box jump at the gym or even getting a good night's sleep.

This change of perspective influenced my practice once again and sessions in the office felt less like a review of food diaries and weigh-ins, and more about a healthy discussion around food choices, body image, and so much more. I was thrilled that my associates were on board with moving in this direction and even more thrilled to see our client success rate remaining equally as high as before.

A few years after that last shift in the office, I started to learn more and study the health benefits of cannabis, specifically CBD as a way to try to help my husband with his debilitating autoimmune disease. I was so fascinated with cannabis that I enrolled in a program and became a holistic cannabis practitioner. Bringing CBD in my practice was another eye-opener. Suddenly, I had another solution at my fingertips for my clients who struggled with sleep, anxiety and emotional eating. I was so inspired by the success in my practice that I went and created my own company, Daily Habit, so I could have a CBD product that I knew was safe, effective and met my tough criteria to recommend to my clients, family and friends. 

After nearly 15 years of telling people what to eat, what to avoid and using a scale as part of a measure of their (and my own) success, having my new company was like a breath of fresh air. Instead of food diaries, tricks, weigh-ins and more, I was able to offer something holistic and healing instead. It’s been an incredible gift to be able to share my passion of CBD to help make people feel better overall, instead of analyzing their weight, restrictions and numbers on a scale. 

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I think what’s most important is to eat food that makes you feel good.

My own professional and personal journey from strict weight loss, to eating for wellness, to the cannabis and CBD industry has been the best education I could have asked for, and nothing that could have been taught to me in any of my schooling. As for my personal diet and my new diet philosophy at this point? It’s definitely evolved too. My perspective had changed already, but living through the 2020 has made me realize even clearer that life is too short to always say no to things. I think what’s most important is to eat food that makes you feel good and for some reason, during the difficult year that was 2020, for many of B Nutritious’s clients and myself, it was starches (hello, sourdough!) that did that the best; thus, I've found a way to include more starches for both myself and our practice's clients. I’ve been eating a slice of homemade sourdough or Dave’s Killer Bread nearly every single morning for breakfast for the last eight months and sometimes, I’m still surprised that my world hasn’t imploded because of it—but it hasn't. It makes me feel good, and the coolest part was that once those forbidden foods weren’t so forbidden, they had a whole lot less power over me than they used to. I always said that if you put food on a pedestal, it will change the way you look at it. It still holds true, but I’m just following my own advice a little bit better now. 

I’m grateful to have had an open mind through my career, as it’s led me to be not only more successful at my work, but also to conveying to my two daughters that I am not part of the guilt-inducing diet industry that makes people feel bad about themselves. Having something as simple as Daily Habit to recommend so people can feel better is honestly like having my cake and eating it too. Which, yes, I'll gladly eat the cake!

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