What is Eats With Pride?
Food has been a major part of my life since I can remember. Growing food, shopping for food, making food, sharing and enjoying food were all things my family did together. It stuck with me. A few years ago I teased with some friends about starting a blog and calling it Eats With Pride as a way to continue sharing the food I create and enjoy. I finally started my Instagram feed last fall! Eats With Pride is an outlet on Instagram and Facebook for me to share what I’m excited to be chowing on, recipes I’ve created, recipes I’ve failed at, eateries I’ve discovered, new products I’m crazy about and really all of my adventures involving food. I use Eats With Pride to nurture a social conversation about realistic, positive creativity, discovery, exploration and solutions focusing on what we eat. With so many opinions, attitudes and voices in the world of diet and nutrition I hope that mine will help foster positive, fun, sustainable relationships with food.
What inspired you to become a dietitian/nutritionist? & When did you discover your passion for food would become a career path?
When I was twelve my older brother decided to become vegetarian. At that point I thought most things he did were still worship worthy and I followed suit. We were lucky to have supportive parents who were encouraging of our decision but set some ground rules that we were going to need to learn to prepare healthy vegetarian meals to avoid falling into the easy vegetarian pasta and sandwich trap.
To nurture this they bought us what might still be my favorite cookbook. I still have it, 18 years later, full of post it notes and bits of ingredients stuck between the pages. Before you could get to the recipes in this book there was a massive chapter detailing different vegetarian diet staples and why they were important to have on frequent rotation. I had always heard the nutrition basics growing up but this was the first time I can recall reading and learning about what exactly these nutrients do and what whole foods we can consume to get them in our diets. I was hooked.
We cooked our way through that book (The Greatest Ever Vegetarian Cookbook) and many more but I ultimately began eschewing cookbooks in lieu of experimenting with food on my own. In high school, still a vegetarian, I started to play around with my diet and how it helped me both academically and athletically. I drew connections to eating well and feeling alert in the classroom and strong on the field. This new discovery furthered my interest in food and nutrition. It was then in high school when I had my first experience meeting a registered dietitian. She showed up in my senior honors English class when at 18 I didn’t want people telling me what not to do. I was eager to listen to her speak to us, to hear what kind of attitudes around food she might promote. To my disappointment her whole lecture was basically eat this not that, drawing negative connections to the food available in our school cafeteria and I hated it. It left a bad taste in my mouth for what the role of a registered dietitian should be. At that point, I remember thinking “I could choose that career path and promote healthier relationships with food,” but I wasn’t ready to pursue it right away. After high school, I was at a small liberal arts school out west studying studio arts and history. I loved my classes but wasn’t sure where they were taking me. I’d do my homework and reward myself with a trip to the grocery store to stock up for an evening in the dorm kitchen cooking for friends or a night in the campus library pouring over food and nutrition articles. After nearly 3 years out west, I realized food and nutrition was a real passion that I could see myself making a career out of. I thought about different career paths involving food like the restaurant and food service industry, academics, food science and finally, decided the versatile role of a registered dietitian was right for me. So I packed up, moved back east and completed my undergraduate degree with a major in food science, nutrition, and dietetics. I still think of that as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your journey?
The biggest challenge I face are consumers’ attitudes that healthy food is expensive, hard to prepare, and often times tasteless. In order to address these beliefs, I have had to learn to communicate with clients in a way that shows them I am certainly not the often thought of role of a dietitian as the food police. Focusing on the positive and meeting clients where they're at to teach them how healthy food certainly is affordable, delicious and easy has helped me learn that there can’t be a single approach to nutrition education.
What are your top two experiences as an RD/LD?
It’s hard to pick just two of my most memorable experiences as a dietitian. I find the most satisfaction and gratification working as a dietitian when I can see that my efforts to encourage healthy choices in clients have been successful. This could be when someone reluctant to change has tried a new food, a new recipe or has adopted a positive lifestyle change or when a client returns to tell me that they have seen favorable changes to their health following adopting a new habit. Watching someone find joy, motivation, and success through food never gets old!
If you could only give 1 tip on 'how to eat healthily', what would it be?
Define your own healthy. I think food should be celebrated and enjoyed with a thoughtful but realistic approach. We need to be less rigid and appreciate the way our food looks, smells, tastes and makes us feel rather than focusing on calories or a single nutrient. Don’t eat a salad because you think you need to deprive yourself and it will make you look a certain way if you really don’t care for salads at all. Don’t guilt yourself over indulging in a pint of ice cream once in a while. Sure, I’ll still encourage focusing on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins and whole grains but we all have such unique preferences and needs that what works for you might be so wrong for the next person.
Do you have a guilty pleasure snack?
Yeah! Salty, crunchy snacks are my jam. Classic Cape Cod chips will never let me down. Or pretzels with peanut butter. But I try to not feel guilty about it. If most days I am choosing to eat what feels healthy for me and on a Friday night I have a few beers, chips, and maybe a burger? Great! I’ll enjoy it.
What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?
I don’t think I can pick just one! Any quote that reminds me it's okay to let go of expectations I have on myself, I think other people hold on me and encourages pursuing what brings me happiness. Anything from Mantra Magazine. I also always remember my grandfather saying to me “Don’t take life too seriously.” Of course, there are some things I will take very seriously, but it reminds me to let go of trivial things, be lighthearted and focus on what brings me joy.
In one word, describe yourself: