The Nutrition Nerds Podcast

Did you know that I’m the co-host of a podcast? The Nutrition Nerds Podcast has been going strong since January of 2018 and we just released our 70th episode! I created this podcast with my lab-partner-for-life Jenn, and each week we discuss new research, dissect fad diets, debunk nutrition myths … and make lots of lame jokes!

If you haven’t checked out The Nutrition Nerds Podcast yet, below are a few of my favorite episodes:

EP70: Our most recent episode is one of my favorites because we talk about metabolically healthy obesity! AKA, living in a bigger body doesn’t automatically make you unhealthy.
EP67: We do a deep dive into the future of nutrition and medicine in general – if you’re a tech nerd, this one’s for you!
EP61: In this episode we talk about weight bias in my own profession, dietetics. It’s a hard subject but an important one. We also talk about misophonia, a disorder I have that can be a major bummer!
EP58: An intermittent fasting episode – it just had to be done! Get some science behind this latest “fad diet”.
EP44: Here we give you the low down on Keto! Is it good for you, horrible for you, or somewhere in between?
EP27: Did you know food can be counterfeit?? Tune in to this episode to find out which of your favorite foods may not be what they seem.
EP10: Literally everything you ever wanted to know about soy. We did the research so you don’t have to!
EP47: This is a very special episode, because it’s all about us nerds! Why we got into dietetics, things we wish we knew before starting school, and all about what a dietitian actually does!
EP63: And last but not least, this special episode is for our RD2Be listeners – all about how to get a coveted dietetic internship! Plus a fun and informative interview with Jenny Westerkamp, RD!

There you have it! If you want to find us, head to The Nutrition Nerds Podcast or find us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.

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On Loving Food

Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!

I wanted to discuss something that I’ve been thinking about lately – emotional eating and love of food.

We all agree that emotional eating isn’t the best. You’re sad, or angry, or disappointed, or even happy, so you reach for food. Cue disordered eating.

But what about loving food? What about eating a slice of cheesecake because you love cheesecake? What about making chicken and dumplings because it reminds you of your mother and it makes you happy? What about buying yourself a box of chocolates on V-Day and savoring them, and screw the calories and the high-fructose corn syrup?

When I was in my years-long calorie counting obsession, when I moved on to my Paleo obsession and even up until (very) recently, I thought associating food with any emotion wasn’t ok. LOVING food led to binging, or weight gain, or falling off the wagon, or losing control. Food had one purpose, and it was to nourish your body.

But where’s the joy in that?

Food is such an amazing, fun, delicious part of life! We cook for others and ourselves to express love. We eat together and share stories and put our phones down for 10 seconds to look each other in the eye. Food is magical, so can we give ourselves permission to really, truly enjoy it without dismantling it into something scientific?

I bought that box of chocolates today and I savored them. I’ve done this for myself every year (except when I was Paleo…), but I usually feel guilty about it. I think about how I should be showing myself love in a different, non-food way like taking a walk in nature or getting my nails done. But you know what? I really love chocolate and it makes me happy. Buying a box of chocolates just for myself feels so lavish and indulgent and it literally makes my day. How fun and awesome is that?

There is a difference between food bringing you joy and emotional eating. So here’s your permission – you can love food! Food can make you happy!

Enjoy your holiday, celebrate love, and eat some yummy food.

Deconstruction

2018 was an amazing, but difficult, year.

Over the past 28 years, I have developed an interesting combination of depression, anxiety, fear, courage, ferocity, and determination. There is a minute-to-minute battle that occurs between these opposing forces – whether I will leave the house, whether I will take a shower, whether I will do my homework or quit my job or go back to school or drink water or eat.

I am a ferociously driven person that has crippling anxiety and fear. It’s a pain to live with this mixture of traits, but negotiating between them has given me a resilience and drive that I wouldn’t otherwise have. And without the courage, the determination… that anxiety would consume me, and the depression would never leave.

Many people strive to achieve success in the face of their adversaries; their goal is to show that one teacher or that one parent that they have the ability to be great. Instead, my greatest adversary is my own mind. My very genetics have mental instability written into them, yet at the same time they refuse to respond well to antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. More contradictions that I cannot control, only fight against.

So I fight. And yet I wonder what would happen if I stopped fighting and found another way. Waging war against my own body and mind works to an extent but leaves me hating a part of myself, endlessly frustrated and irritated. What if instead, I loved those parts? What if I loved the anxiety, loved the ever-present threat of depression, loved the fear?

I doubt they would consume me. And maybe on a steady diet of acceptance and love, those traits that currently rule me more than I’d like would slowly fade. These seemingly vindictive qualities did not develop out of self-hatred. The depression came about at an early age to protect me from the harshness and too-muchness of the world, to shield my sensitive body and mind from things I just couldn’t handle. The depression kept me safe, kept me dreaming and writing inside a cocoon of my own safe worlds.

The anxiety came about after an abusive relationship in high school, a relationship that left me looking over my shoulder and dreading phone calls. Without anxiety I could get found, I could become vulnerable to a threat that no one seemed to be protecting me from. The anxiety kept me safe when I was vulnerable to someone who could have done me harm. Someone who already had.

The fear was a natural result of that toxic mixture of anxiety and depression. The world was no longer safe for me for so many reasons, from the harshness of other people’s emotions to the threat of being harmed. Fear kept me from forming real relationships that could open me up to being hurt or taken advantage of. Fear prevented me from going to parties where my senses couldn’t cope, where there could be someone hiding in the crowd. Fear kept me from taking risks that were too large, because I could not handle failure. Fear kept my body and heart safe. For a time.

2018 was the year I began trying to dismantle the anxiety and fear once and for all – in response, they retaliated. The anxiety said “what if he finds you, what if a car hits you, what if you fail, what if they discover who you really are and they don’t like it?” The fear loomed over me, smothering me, making it hard to breathe.

But then… I failed. And a car did hit me. And I’m still here. The anxiety and fear wavered, because if these things still happened despite their presence… what’s the point? They aren’t keeping me safe, not anymore.

So here I am, in 2019, desperately trying to convince myself that panic attacks and constant vigilance are not the only way to be. It’s hard, when these things have seemingly been my only defense from cruelty and pain for so many years. It’s going to take time, another thing I have to try and be okay with.

I’m going to love the anxiety, and the fear, and even the threat of depression. Those things are a product of my younger mind, doing what it could to keep me safe. I’m going to love these coping mechanisms and at the same time, convince them that I don’t need them anymore. At my core, I am safe without them.

The courage keeps me safe from a harsh world. The ferocity keeps me safe from people who could cause me harm. The determination keeps me safe from surrendering to failure.

I’m happier, more fulfilled, and safer than I’ve ever been. This year, my body and mind are going to catch up.

Thank you 2018. Thank you for disrupting the waters. 2019… I’m so ready. As always.

Ask and They Shall Receive

I’ve had migraines for a long time. Like, since I was in elementary school. As you can imagine, I’ve tried a lot of treatments, from over-the-counter medications, to prescription meds, to meditation, chiropractic, massage, supplements, binaural beats, tapping, progressive muscle relaxation, gluten-free diets, keto, paleo, yoga, breathwork, crystals….

…and yet, without fail, every time someone new learns I have migraines, they get excited and ask “Have you tried…???”

Yeah, I’ve tried that. Thanks for the unsolicited advice.

Is there anything more annoying and off-putting? Probably. But if you’re looking for a way to have someone ignore your advice and perhaps pointedly not take it, you can tell them how best to conduct their life when they haven’t asked for your opinion.

I know. You want to help. You desperately want to help, and you just read this article that said that the best way to – STOP.

Here are the reasons why your unsolicited advice is so annoying.

1. We’ve already tried it.

If your burning advice is in regards to someone’s longstanding predicament (like my migraines), chances are we’ve heard it before, tried it, and it didn’t work. Being reminded of this just brings up the annoyance of yet another thing not working and makes us more likely to snap at you for “trying to help”.

2. We’re just venting.

Work sucks. Traffic was terrible. The coffee maker broke on your way out the door again. These are all things that can have you steaming and looking for a sympathetic ear.

But do you need to be told to look for another job? Or to try an alternate route? Or to upgrade to a coffee maker that costs more than $10? Probably not. You know these things already. And hearing them come out of someone else’s mouth is infuriating, because you know already. And you know that you know. It’s probably an issue you’ve been dealing with for some time and are either too stubborn, too scared, or too stuck in a routine to do something about it.

You’ll get there. But in the mean time, having someone who will just listen is a huge comfort, isn’t it?

3. No one asked you.

I know. It’s harsh. But if you’re not directly in someone’s conversation and you butt in to provide your (unasked for) opinion, that’s just rude. Let people have their own experience unless they’re directly asking you for yours.

 

So what do you do when you genuinely have some information you think may be beneficial? What if you heard about a new study that just came out, or a job opening that could solve all their problems, or have had that exact same experience and you really, really want to help!

Simple.

“Hey, can I offer some insight?”

“I’ve been through that too, would you be interested in some advice?”

“I just read something about that, would you like my input?”

Asking if the other person even wants your advice in the first place does two things – it gives them a chance to say no if they weren’t looking for help, and it makes them more receptive if they do want your opinion.

Oftentimes, people do want advice, but having someone spew their personal opinion at your face like it’s their job is off-putting.

That’s where this becomes a two-sided thing – if you are the person looking for advice, ask. And if you’re the person lending the listening ear and have something to add, ask.

Skeptical? Think this is silly and that I’m overthinking it (oh hey inner voice)? Try it for yourself. See how much better people respond to you, and how much they appreciate it, when you ask for permission to give advice.

 

Grace

I feel like I have done nothing but learn new lessons for the past nine years. I’m nearing the end of my twenties, and everything they say about them is true. It’s been agonizing, eye opening, magical, and horrific to discover who I am as a person and why I am that way. Thank god for therapy!

The lesson I’m working on right now is Grace. I don’t like identifying with a Type A personality, but I absolutely am one, and I’m not very good at cutting myself a break. Luckily, I have some really great opportunities to practice Grace pretty regularly.

I have dealt with chronic migraines since I was a child. I used to hold them off with ibuprofen until years of taking it frequently gave me a stomach ulcer (please be careful with Motrin friends!), and now I have no real effective way of masking the pain. I am fortunate enough to go to a school where there is free chiropractic care available, and it was through this that I discovered I have a severely rotated disk in my neck that causes the migraines. So that’s great – we know the cause now! The only thing is that it’s going to take YEARS of regular care to get rid of the migraines – or I may even be under regular care for life to keep them at bay. I’m ok with this. I’m actually ecstatic about it, because I have control over my pain now.

At least, I thought I would.

I still get migraines pretty regularly, because my body is getting used to a new way of living after over 20 years of being out of place. So once every week or so I get migraines, sometimes for days. My way of dealing with these migraines for over a decade has been to push through as long as I can, basically until I’m in so much pain that I’m throwing up and literally cannot force myself to function anymore. I feel like I have to do this, because the alternative is to lay in bed for days and watch the world pass me by. Jobs don’t like that option very much, and neither do professors. And neither do I.

But one thing my therapist has helped me see is that I have to allow myself Grace when I’m suffering from a migraine. In reality, if I gave myself a break when I feel one coming on, if I turned off the lights and rubbed some lavender into my temples and took a 20 minute nap, there is a very good chance it would go away. And even if it doesn’t go away… I have to be ok with that. Sometimes there is literally nothing I can do about them (other than go to the hospital and get an injection, which I refuse to do multiple times a month), and that is so scary. It’s also really challenging to “check out” because I have so much to do, and most of it is stuff I really love doing.

So now I’m practicing Grace. When I have a migraine that won’t go away, I surrender. I try not to push myself and ignore it until I’m in agony. To be honest I’m not very good at it so far (for instance I have a migraine right now… oh the irony!), but that’s the point of practicing. I also remind myself frequently that everything is temporary. I tend to get plagued with What If’s – what if this time it never goes away??? But it always does. And that knowledge gives me comfort and allows me to surrender more fully to what is.

I know this has got to be a struggle for others who deal with migraines, chronic pain, or other conditions that interrupt their lives on a regular basis. Take this advice or leave it, but if that applies to you I would highly recommend finding a therapist you like. In fact, if you’re reading this at all, I would highly recommend find a therapist you like! Therapy is amazing. All of us have weird stuff from our childhood that affects us in adulthood, no matter how “perfect” our younger years were. Shit, I was living with PTSD for years and had no idea.

So Grace. That’s the lesson for this season – allowing room for what is with no judgement. Not forcing things. And surrendering…. my lesson for this lifetime.

Happy Sunday friends ❤

Making Space When There is None

My life is pretty busy these days, and I’m guessing yours is too.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m in the process of making my way through a Dietetics degree. It’s… not easy. As someone who has a low tolerance for suffering and needs a lot of recovery time (introvert + long days surrounded by young college students = dead), I’ve made the realization that I can’t be “on” as much as others may be able to. Maybe you can relate? I’ll hear classmates talk about how they stayed up until 3 am studying and I’ll think Did I not do enough? I went to sleep at 10, is that bad? I’ll see people spend 10 hours in class and still have energy to volunteer the next morning while it takes me half a day to recover from that much activity… Am I being unrealistic? Am I supposed to suck it up and rest in… 5 years?

Yeah, no. I tried that. I tried working 20 hours a week while going to school full time (some people work full time, I should be able to work part time…). I tried squeezing in volunteering and meal prepping and budgeting and cleaning and being a wife and a daughter (some students have kids, I can handle this…). I tried staying up late to get things done (I did this in high school, why can’t I do it now?). I tried just “dealing with it” and pushing through while constantly comparing myself to what other people where doing.

But here’s the thing. I’m not other people. You’re not other people.

I need a lot of space and recovery time. I’ve always been that way, and when I just surrender and allow myself that time, I’m about 1000% more productive when I finally get back to work.

So how do I make space when there is none? How do I find time to relax and let go and recharge when I have deadlines, financial stress, a marriage to tend to and piles of dishes to wash?

– I surrender to the fact that I can’t do everything.

– I quit my physical job to focus on work I can do from home.

– I let everyone know that I’m not available on Sundays so I can recharge.

– I force myself to wake up at 6 am every single day so I have time for my yoga and gratitude lists.

– I allow my house to get a little messy (hint – keep the room you work in clean and close the freaking door!).

– I take less credit hours than I would like in order to maintain as much sanity as possible.

– And I make room for what brings me joy, like co-hosting a nutrition podcast and walking in nature.

I promise you, if you schedule time to STOP and refill your cup, you will be more productive when you get back to work. I promise. It feels scary at first because of the pressure (from whom…?) to be working or studying or doing every waking minute, but that’s just not sustainable. At least not for me, and if you relate to this, not for you either.

If you’re looking for a place to start, clear your Sunday mornings. Until noon, pledge to make no plans, answer to no one, and stay off of your phone and computer. Do absolutely whatever you’d like to do – sleep in, make a huge breakfast, do yoga or exercise, binge watch your favorite show, take a bath, meditate, bake, read a book, journal, wash your hair, organize your closet, lay in the sun, play with your dog, go for a swim, create, spend time with your spouse and/or kiddos…. care for yourself. If you can only give yourself this one pocket of time all week, that’s GREAT. You’re ahead of the game.

When I decided I was ok with not being perfect at everything, life got a little bit easier. Try it this weekend? Give yourself Sunday morning. See how great it feels to take care of yourself. You’re so, so worth it.

The Underrated Nature of Curiosity

When we’re children, we’re told not to ask too many questions. We’re told not to eavesdrop, not to snoop, sometimes even not to wonder why. Some of these things have their place in the adult world (get caught going through drawers at a dinner party and see how well that goes over), but that innate curiosity we’re born with can get lost amidst the pleasing and obeying.

Curiosity is dangerously underrated. As adults we certainly know how to think through a situation – turn it over, look at it this way and that, play out all the scenarios, have the imaginary conversations in our heads. And what emotion do we bring to the table when we carry out this relentless planning? Stress? Anxiety? Dread? Unease? Worry?

What about curiosity?

What if we looked at difficult situations with interest, with a little bit of distance, and with… curiosity?

What do we feel when we’re curious? Excitement, anticipation, wonder…. we become inquisitive and look to creativity to help us figure things out. Contrast that with dread, worry, anxiety…

At it’s core, this is all just mindset. Which, did you know, you’re in control of? You control your mindset. You control your attitude. Now, your level of control over these factors can vary depending on things from your past, but that’s another topic entirely. Not saying that’s an excuse not to try, just… never underestimate the power of a good therapist.

So friends, what I’m trying to say here is that my life looks a whole lot less bleak and a lot more exciting when I enable my curiosity and disable the anxiety. It’s not always as easy as that, but it’s getting easier. Through curiosity I am able to come up with creative solutions, find more hours in the day, and have more fun. Life doesn’t always have to be so serious, even when it is. And I’m saying this to myself more than anyone.

Next time you’re faced with a problem, tilt you head to the side, let your eyes brighten, and allow your mind to wonder instead of sweating, biting your nails, and pacing. Hell, trying enabling curiosity while you’re sweating, biting your nails, and pacing. That’s where it starts.

Curiosity. Your new super power? I think so.

Owning Your Inner Warrior

The world of spirituality is a weird place.

I first found my way into a spiritual life through the divine feminine – a path full with flow, surrender, allowing, and receiving. That shit felt great, and I leaned way in. I fell into the river of femininity and flowed right along, allowing and being soft as hell.

And then I began trauma work.

Healing from a trauma is no joke, and it’s not soft. It’s not flowy, it’s not delicate, and it can’t be done whilst floating in a river of divinity. At least, that hasn’t been my path.

My path has involved hiding under a rock, trying to crush myself with the rock, and then….. unfurling. Anger that had to be pulled up from a deep well. Fighting, both myself and the trauma. Horror when I realized that I’d used my divine femininity as an excuse to protect and excuse my abuser. Anger that spilled over and flooded my whole being, that at once scared me and felt something like….

Peace.

It’s ok to be a warrior. In fact, I’m going to say it’s necessary. For a long time I laid down and allowed and surrendered and that’s all I did. Learning to fight and feel anger and rage and allowing those things- that has been a whole new experience. It’s a merging of the divine feminine and something new and delicious… the divine masculine. There is divinity in anger, and warriors can be noble creatures. They can fight for beautiful things like love, and humanity, and their struggle makes room for that softness after the storm.

I am a warrior. I don’t lay down anymore or float passively along. I’m fighting, and it’s messy and clumsy and I don’t quite know what I’m doing, but I know it’s divine work that needs to be done. I’m owning it, and allowing this masculinity to find it’s place among the feminine. Because without the banks, the river has nowhere to flow.