And Then I Lost Interest

Roughly three months have passed since I decided not to continue the path towards becoming a dietitian. I did not anticipate anything in my life to change except for my job position. And then I lost interest.

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Interest in learning more about food and how the body responds to it. Interest in expanding my knowledge of phytonutrients and the benefits of adding them to your diet. Interest in knowing all the physical and psychological sides to disorders and daily processes. I simply don’t care to know more about blood sugar, metabolic rates and intolerances. I’ll take my coffee, enjoy it however brings me joy in that moment and sip it in my jungle of a view, why thank you!

I’m all for health. However, viewing food as a manipulative tool to achieve wellness isn’t for me. It’s just one category of the complex mix…our society doesn’t grasp that all too well. Howzabout we place equal attention on social vibrancy and alllll the sleep and a fruitful spiritual life?

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Recently, I’ve been wishing that I could forget some of what I was taught. Sure, it comes in handy as I’m able to take care of myself better but in a different sort of sense than people assume when they view me as the “the healthy girl”. I pay attention to getting an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients so my body can function optimally. I also know that it has a sharp mechanism in place where it will communicate my needs to me. I leave it at that. No stress or guilt attached.

I’m not qualified to offer any sort of advice. I have crazy respect for those professionals who spent years and thousands of hours learning the intricacies of it all on a cellular level. But I have lost all the interest necessary to go into that career. Last week was the first time I processed that out loud. 

My coworker asked how I was doing in my new PR role and if I was missing dietetics. She laughed as I went on a tangent about how food is just food and on the most basic level, it’s essential in servings its purpose as a biological need but highly over complexed and superficial in the grand scheme o thangs.

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Yes, I ultimately wanted to help people in significant matters with endocrine and reproductive health but with the qualifications I have now, hyper focusing on food is not going to do me well. But this girl and all other relationships I grow in over toast flights will.

I unfollowed all of my former favorite podcasts related to food and body, I don’t have any desire to read most dietitian blogs anymore and I would so rather meander through my apartment halls while on the phone with my college roommate than spend a good chunk of time in my kitchen roasting up vegetables and making no bake bites for the week.

I still love vegetables and I had planned on adapting these tonight to make pumpkin cranberry dark chocolate chips balls until I decided to blog instead. Both are delicious and crave-able and make tasty snacks. But what’s a cauliflower to a human person?! Sorry bout your luck, little man. Man in that sentence does not refer to a breathing one.

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Shore thang, the creativity of food continues to intrigues me. I’m still thinking about these lamb meatballs with herbed rice, cabbage, pickled daikon, cilantro lime hummus and root veggie chips with sriracha aioli two weeks after I enjoyed it.  A wee tip for ya: don’t leave the empty bowl in your car unless you want your vehicle to smell like sriracha aioli. I got an air freshener called Bora Bora Waters as a result and I now ask anyone who steps foot in my car if they feel like they’re in Bora Bora.

When I’m not ordering oh so memorable bowls, I find cooking to be relaxing and innovative and a BLAST. I caught up on Greys Anatomy yesterday with this (half eaten) french toast. I was tempted to make it all over again for the sheer bliss that slow mornings in the kitchen bring me.

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I’ll wake up early, drive out of my way and wait in a 20 minute line for my favorite egg sandwich to ever ever exist inside this foxy bag.

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I’ll sample the cinnamon roll apple crisp and the most rich peanut butter pie to grace this planet at Thanksgiving pie night. This spread was all made by two dear friends who find joy in bringing people together over pie. Bliss.

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I’ll highly suggest a new vegan burger spot I found on Yelp to a friend and say thank you time a million and 3/4 because I drag her around to all my favorite foodie spots. She’s such a sport.

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I’ll make it my obligation to make sure my brother’s friend only has the best meals while visiting from Arizona. Two thumbs up for teriyaki bowls and bang bang nachos!

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I’ll order this vietnamese iced coffee for the sole purpose of my job’s Insta while loving that fact that it was an excuse to sit me in my third favorite coffee shop. Yup, I have a list.

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Because we are human and we’re made to enjoy life’s little pleasures. The pleasures that bring us around a table with loved ones and the ones where I wind down the night all by myself with the coziest of blankets and a glass of wine.

I may have lost a ton of interest in this category but that’s only cleared out space for other endeavors. While brushing our teeth the other night, my roommate and I shared our goals for 2018 (yaaa, we could barely understand each other with mouths full of foamy toothpaste but it was flawless). I decided on focusing on a single fella that gets me lit up but will also require a crazy investment with lots of challenge ahead.

I’m absolutely elated to give my interests a makeover.

 

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Keep on Comin’, Avocado Craze

I have just been smiling at the avocados on my Instagram feed, in the news and as the topic of podcasts. It has become one trendy green fruit and I’m cheering it on with pom poms!

Not because avocados are photogenic on my picture-ready plate. Not because I think monounsaturated fats hold moral superiority. And most definitely, not because I adhere to a “clean” diet. No no, not at all!!

I am loving this craze because I like to think of avocados as one of the medicines that healed me. Food and especially those rich in fat did. Helllllo there, salted peanut butter and brambleberry crisp cone in one hand as I use my other to talk to my gal pal during our German Village stroll.

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I am not going to get too TMI on this space but I’ve seen the doc because one of my body’s 11 systems stopped working in its entirety. Which was caused by my hypothalamus telling a few of my hormones to stop functioning as these hormones ought to. Lucky for me, this doctor didn’t agree with others who told me to “just go on the pill and you’ll be golden”. Golden is my word choice but you know what I mean.

A deficiency in birth control is not why my body was choosing what to sacrifice in order to keep my heart beating. Synthetic hormones are not the real deal and should not be treated as such. No amount of drugs could heal my underlying problems but why go that sticky and unforeseeable route when I have access to the easiest, quickest and perfectly packaged fix to everything under the fiery star that stands 93 miles away? That would be called the sun.

As I said in my previous post, I fully recognize that I am not a credentialed health care professional. However, I have my personal story to contribute and have read a fair amount of research because I needed to make sense of what was occurring and how I could fix this problem for my sustainable well-being.

I resisted the band-aid solution and am so very grateful to my intuition, self-education and acknowledgement of God’s plan for the female body for that choice. It was my worst fear to push this issue off and continue dragging my body through intense stress until I try (and would’ve 183% failed) to bring babies into this world down zeee road. I couldn’t imagine selfishly telling my future husband, “Hey bud, we can’t have children because I didn’t take care of myself well enough. Sorry bout your luck.”

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This particular doctor told me to increase my intake with an emphasis on consuming enough fat from foods such as avocados, nuts, dark chocolate and ice cream. Because in case you were unaware, we all need fat to synthesize our hormones.

YES MA’AM. The caps are to celebrate my happiness for finding a MD who looked at my lifestyle and not just my test results. And that fats have become my favorite macronutrient. I now eat avocado daily, have a nut butter collection of 6 jars (formally 12 but my past roommate put me on a rightful ban for my excessiveness hehee), hardly go a day without dark chocolate and rounded up the troops at my family reunion last weekend to visit an ice cream shop that serves homemade IPA ice cream. IPA ICE CREAM!!

It wasn’t a fa(s)t and furious road to healthy inner-workings. Smooth like sunflower butter or beer ice cream or the creamiest avocado you ever did see is not how I would describe this process. Despite following these orders, time kept passing and I was losing hope. But my initial idea of what my body needed wasn’t oh so accurate. Everything fell into place with alllll the flexibility.

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Through plenty plenty plenty of trial and error, I now understand what my body requires to function as one cohesive kickazzzing unit, to have enough energy to get outside on a jaw-dropping running trail and to be my fully energetic, smiley self that thrives on puns and early morns and talking to my super cool aunt about her Chilean pottery. Being this in tune with my needs that change every single day is like woooAHmazing. But what isn’t that 12 letter adjective are the diet-focused messages that we’re surrounded by.

Just because avocados are the craze today doesn’t mean that our society has collectively accepted that fat on an individual’s body serves an important purpose. Diet-culture tells me that the fat on mine (or graduation cap?!) can be gone in 14 days if I could just simply eat a restricted diet and adhere to a Pinterest toning exercise plan. Probably should get a personal trainer who has never heard of intuitive movement too. Actually, I won’t be able to be a mother without it and will have osteoporosis at age 50 at that rate so byyyye. And this is no exaggeration.

My most recent birthday celebration was inspired by my favorite way to eat avocados (never ever less than 1/2 in one sitting is my motto!). A good tossing of full-fat dressing is key in my salads so that the fat-soluble vitamins in my veggies are actually absorbed by my body. The nut butter paired with my overnight oats, toast, smoothies, medjool dates and dark chocolate bar isn’t capped at two tablespoons in one day. HeccckNO.

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Endless yesses to whipping up squid ink pasta made from scratch paired with a cream sauce, scallops and asparagus in a cooking class earlier this month. With a grilled endive and radicchio salad beforehand, a peach bellini sorbet afterwards and memories made with friends and strangers in between. Plus a snack when I got home because of satiety. Swooooon to the moon!

Who knows if this avocado frenzy is here to stay. I wouldn’t care if it all faded away tomorrow. My food philosophy isn’t fluctuating with the trends that millennials double dutch jump on. I’ll take your entire stock of ripe Hass avocados AND a bloodstream full of hormones AND a fabulously colorful life over fatphobia and prescriptions, please and thank ya!

One Unusual Quality I Look For In Friends

In the two months that I’ve been home, I’ve been surrounded by new faces. Not so much new friends but friends who I haven’t gone on strawberry lemonade donut and iced coffee dates with since high school.

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I have spent a few days in the past two months with one friend in particular who I have noticed a certain quality in – one that I wish wasn’t so uncommon. Through four square dominating, rooftop drinking and lemon pizza (my new favorite topping!!) sharing, it has become apparent that in addition to her constant humor, selfless nature and contagious joy, she displays a healthy relationship with food.

I am fortunate to have a few other friends who I can also identify as normal eaters. The ones who don’t categorize their food into good and bad categories, don’t think talking about cutting dairy in hopes of a new body size is an engaging conversation and don’t shame themselves or others over food choices, body image and exercise regimens. But it is devastating to me that I should be elated when I discover that someone doesn’t partake in these discussions.

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This blog post was sparked because although I notice disordered (sadly, turned normalized) comments countless times a day, I’ve been to multiple barbecues this month. Ya know, the kinds with hamburgers, cheesy potatoes, chips and dip, fruit, veggies and many dessert offerings. I always happily help myself to what I want in that moment and float to wherever an empty chair is.

Over and over and over again, I’ve heard comments about how people never eat mac and cheese so they “need to eat up now” while it’s being served, how they need to get away from the food table because they “don’t have self control”, how they worked out that morning so they “allowed themselves to have whatever they want” and how the carbohydrates on their plate will go straight to their xyz body part.

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I will never understand why people would rather pick themselves apart rather than discuss their life happenings, goals bigger than the sky, excitement when Natasha Bedingfield comes on (see above pic hehee), nail polish…practically anything other than their fear of gluten and the like. I try to always be compassionate because I know there are deeper issues present. I am aware of the taxing cultural messages we are engrossed in and how the body functions when it is listened to and treated with respect…or not. In these ugly and all too familiar settings, I simply add in a single comment about eating both mindfully and joyfully and do my best to shift the conversation to something that will create smiles on the faces of those around me.

I know I’m sensitive to this information because of my internship turned volunteer work with an eating disorder treatment center and the dietitian bloggers and podcasters I read/listen to who focus on intuitive eating, health at every size and joyful movement (I list my faves here!). However, with this experience and consuming their content backed by research, I can’t simply erase it from my mind and frankly, it would be a disservice to the nonprofit that I communicate on behalf on to behave contrarily to their world-renowned work.

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Being exposed to this fatphobia dialogue has only gotten more difficult because when my career goals changed last summer and I now inform people of my five-year plan that ends in me (hopefully) passing the RD exam, the shame heightens. “Ker, can I be your first client? I am in desperate need of a meal plan”, “You’re probably judging what I’m eating, aren’t you?”, “Woaah, do I see ______ on your plate. I didn’t think future dietitians ate fried food”.

I can give you 17 more examples but that’s not necessary. I’ve prepared myself to receive these for the rest of my life and have even heard that dietitians lie about their real profession because they are tired of these comments. Send your ideas my way but I’m thinking I’ll take on librarian status! I’m kidding buuut we’ll get there when we get there. Either way, I fully understand that I have zero credentials, my current nutrition education is limited and I won’t be a dietitian for a long long time, if that is even what’s in God’s plan for me.

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Sure, it gives me hope for my future goal of nutrition counseling that I will never be without work. It is obvious to me that folks across generations have practically forgotten how to eat in accord to their personal needs because of all of the marketing they give in to and dieting behaviors they have added to their daily routine. But that is the only positive side to it and well, not positive in the slightest because I would rather be without work than live in a toxic world.

This is why it is so SO refreshing to spend good, sweet quality time with friends who never linger on such shenanigans. I typically don’t know the complete picture of their past and current relationship with food and exercise, their mental health status, their stress levels and endless other factors that may be influencing their remarks. But I do know that an apple pie popsicle made with local ingredients at a farmer’s market shared with good company tastes incredibly dreeeamier if I’m eating it with people who don’t make diet-y remarks about the sugar content of this treat. Who wants to join the popsicle party?!!

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So I’m here. Left with a desire to make more friends who have a healthy relationship with food but crazy thankful for those close to me that do. I certainly have a place in this tug of war to do my best to be that confidant. One who never tears myself and my food choices apart and especially, not when others are around and can be impacted.

Because these comments about ourselves, family members, dear friends and complete strangers are not ok. We were given one divinely crafted body and the soul within it is communicated by our external ways. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in understanding how everything we do is literally extraordinary because it’s an extension of our soul. Altogether, if we shift our worldview to this standard, diet-culture will be long gone. Oh would I love to see it come to an end.

Summertime Bites!

In my last WIAW, I shared how I a little uncertain on how I wanted to carry on showcasing the food and drinks in my day. Wellllz, instead of a full day of eats, I’m just going to throw a loose idea of what I’ve been enjoying this summer into this post with no timeline attached. I like this much better. Woo!

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Mini coconut milk ice cream sandwiches
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TOAST! I’ve been into one sweet slice and one savory.
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Acai bowl from a local coffee shop. Topped with banana, bloobs, coconut and granola. I may bring my own nut butter next time because it was lacking on the fats but still tasty!
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Off-brand La Croix, yes please!
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Looks like vanilla. I’m not a vanilla girl. I’m a peanut butter girl!
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Rose lemonade topped with espresso. Strange yet AHMAZING
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Peaches and greek yogurt stuffed french toast!
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Beer flight!
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Pad thai with edamame noodles (Costco find!), onions, peppers, zucchini. egg and a sriracha peanut sauce
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Ice cream sandwich with peanut butter cookies, strawberry ice cream and sprinkles!
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Greek brown rice pasta salad with feta, chicken, spinach, cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes and peppers!
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My grandma’s signature cinnamon rolls topped with sprinkles and a candle for miii birthday!
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Beet chips with hummus
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Maple cinnamon overnight oats topped with a diced peach and pecans

How Interning for Yelp Changed my Definition of Health

For nine months, I interned for Yelp. No, I wasn’t paid to write reviews. I know you were thinking that because 96% of the time, that’s the first question I get.

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I assisted the Community Manager in the city where my college is located by fostering the online community of Yelpers, helping plan events, assisting with television segment productions, attending local businesses’ events and using social media as a platform to support the happenings and wonderful spots in our city. And yes, I got a fair amount of free food along the way.

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Simply Rolled Ice Cream

In those nine months, I ate out a lot more than I ever have before. This fact alone transformed my life…stick with me to the end because I’m not being dramatic. Initially, this was all because of my Yelptern duties but only three of the pictures in this post were actually for work. Yelp introduced me to the most innovative and best reviewed local joints so I did what I now do weekly: share businesses’ links with friends left and right and left again with a “What are you doing on Saturday afternoon because Simply Rolled is having a pop up shop”. And right back in return I got a, “You always know the coolest places. I’m in!”

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Momo Ghar

My friends would make comments about this marketing internship and I remember them quite clearly. While a lot of them were so intrigued about my responsibilities and the events I was given the opportunity to attend, I received a fair amount of comments that reflected their diet-culture mindset. The ones that blatantly communicated the fear mongering of eating food that can’t be controlled. Such as, “You eat out all the time and haven’t gained a pound.”

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Coffee Connections

That comment may not mean a lot to you but as a (hopefully) future dietitian and frankly, human being who hopes people see me for more than what I look like, I don’t brush it off too easily. 1. Why do you associate dining out with weight gain? 2. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t weighed myself in a few years. 3. I truly truly hope that is not what you think about when you walk into a restaurant. However, you wouldn’t say that if a number on a scale doesn’t occupy space in that mind of yours.

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Hot Chicken Takeover

My weight may have fluctuated because that is freaaaking expected. It would be exhausting to do all in my power to not let my body change as it needs. I follow my hunger cues but I also know what it’s like to eat past satiety. Sometimes a double dark chocolate brownie tastes best on a full stomach and I’d call that normalcy. But I do just that; follow my hunger cues. I order whatever sounds best in the moment, typically stop eating when I’m satisfied and frankly, have much better things to turn my attention to.

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Zest Cold Pressed Juice

The more I ate outside of my home, the more I recognized that the emphasis is not on the food. It never is when I’m sitting down across from a beautiful soul.  It’s on that individual and our friendship that grows when we are sharing a meal. Although my camera roll is cluttered with plates and glasses from all over the city of Columbus, I don’t view it as that. Rather, it’s full of memories of who that second bowl belonged to (heyyo, Lez), what we talked about and what songs we sang together on the car ride to and from. It’s full of these edible, fleeing pleasures because hecckkya, food can look pretty and taste insanely good. However, to me, those can’t stand in the way of how it brings people together.

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From time to time, I would lose sight of this notion because I know that the majority doesn’t share my view of food and appreciation for all that my body does for me. I would think, ‘I need to stop posting when I’m eating out on social media because people are going to think I’m not “healthy”. They can’t see my pans full of roasted veggies and the ugliest shade of green smoothies (my roommates would actually make fake gagging noises when they saw it because ya, not the most adorable thing ever) in my home.’

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Zauber Brewing Company

I have come to learn that the molecular structure of food doesn’t qualify it for the category of “healthy” or not. PS, those quotations are there because I cannot take that word seriously anymore. What oh what does it even mean? Are you talking nutrient-dense or respecting your body’s natural cravings or restrictive eating with your “cheat meals” and “eat on a smaller plate to trick your eyes” and all that ugliness that seriously makes me cringe. Either way, placing such a big emphasis on food to determine an individual’s well-being is completely flawed. My definition of healthy has shifted over the past few years as I have been on the entire spectrum of health.

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Toast Bar

Spring of high school senior year, I was being readmitted into the hospital due to post-surgery complications. I will never forget the moment when my mom looked at my emaciated, helpless self sitting in a wheelchair and burst into tears as we were trying to figure out what was wrong with me. My body was failing me (I have a red blood cell disease) and I wasn’t doing a good job at taking care of it. I was going to school part-time because I was too weak to make it past lunch, let alone walk up the stairs. People started looking at me differently, I became very familiar with social isolation and I lost every bit of my vibrancy. Thankfully, a lot can happen in four years (far more than the fact that my scleras are now white instead of 18 years of anemic yellow woo!) 🙂

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Northstar

Spring of my college senior year, I was scheduling scone dates and walk n’ talks multiple times a week. I carried on with enthusiasm in my academics and on and off-campus involvement while finally treating myself with the delicacy that I had resisted for far too long. I was maintaining a Yelp online community while treasuring the in-person community of those in my life. I unraveled a new definition of the messy and loose and splendid term that is “healthy”.

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Meza Wine Shop

My version of healthy is:

Not working out after a night of little sleep because my body’s cortisol levels are much too high for any good to occur.

Making time for what I actually want to do and not what I feel expected to.

Drinking endless water refills of my healthy human (my side kick aka my beloved wooden water bottle) while saying yes to the cocktails as they come my way.

Scheduling plans on weeknights because I need friend time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and not just Saturdays.

Getting two scoops because I’m in tune with my body enough to know that one will not be sufficient for my hunger on some days.

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Bake Me Happy

It was Christmas break when I identified this transition. That month, I fell in love with nurturing the bonds I have with my long-time friends. It’s when I grew a new appreciation for food because it’s social, not because of the actual substance. It’s when my body reminded me that it was starting to trust me again after years of immense stress that literally shut off one of my body’s systems. Yelp in its dynamic, relational glory played a huuuge role in that shift.

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Alchemy Juice Bar & Cafe

You may never call these pictures of beer and ricotta pancakes and fried chicken healthy. But I do. I know what it’s like to not to and that life is not cute. Through interning at an eating disorder treatment center last summer and Yelp the past two semesters, I have never been surrounded by people whose relationship with food is so normal. It makes me sad saying that because I wish everyone fell into that category. But these folks who I worked alongside for the past year taught me so much more than the skills I have added to my resume.

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Kittie’s Cakes

Staff meetings with dietitians and clinicians had veggies with hummus right alongside cookies and ice cream. Everyone went through the line, created a balanced plate, didn’t make any justifying comments about how they “never eat ice cream” and moved on with their day of saving lives. Same goes for my Yelp supervisor. Our conversations about food in the meals that we shared were only of total amazement for the chef or baker’s talents and creativity. He knows how to throw the party of yo dreeeamz and food is the medium for celebrating people. Ahem, Bleu & Fig.

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Acre Farm-to-Table To-Go

Without even knowing it, they taught me that when you let go of the skewed view of health that is unfortunately normalized today, there is so much more space to think and talk about and conquer the million and two other things that make this life remarkable. Go canoeing with a friend to appreciate nature and your friendship, not to “get your workout in”. Get that fresh loaf of cinnamon raisin bread at the farmer’s market because it’s your favorite flavor combo, not because it has the FDA-approved whole grain label. Apply for that internship or job (just might be your best decision ever!) that you would utterly love and be challenged by, not because you meet every single qualification.

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Hai Poké

Do what brings you joy. Because that is what makes you healthy in all of the multi-faceted ways it can!! Thank you wholeheartedly for teaching me this new definition of health, Yelp. XOXO TO THE MAX! ❤