Inspiring Women & Their Relationship With Food
Disclaimer:The information provided by these women is for information purposes only and is not advice given directly from me. Eating lifestyles that work for them may not work the same way for you. If you have, or ever have had issues with food, these answers may be triggering. This is a space for women to bravely share their story. If this is in any way triggering to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for support.
In this blog series, I ask women from my life questions pertaining to their relationship with food and how it affects their eating lifestyle. They share their individual dietary struggles and how to overcome them. They also give their honest opinion about diet culture, Health At Every Size (HAES) movement, and how to practice intuitive eating. Each of these women are inspiring to me and I hope that you can also be inspired by their stories and ways of practicing mindful eating habits.
The first woman I’m featuring is my friend, Kristina Thiel, author of the Fruitfulink blog series — in which you can read about her life and improved health through a plant-based diet. Kristina is a type 1 diabetic with a recent onset of Hashimotos Hypothyroid, and Auto Immune Epilepsy which led her to a plant-based diet. Kristina says, “I have been desperate to find a way to heal my body. After a ton of research and trial and error of many different ways of eating [sic], becoming fully plant-based has had the most positive impact on my overall well-being and energy levels!” Read more to see how Kristina uses plant-based nutrition to improve her health. Connect with Kristina on Instagram and Facebook !
What has been your biggest dietary struggle and how have you overcome it?
My biggest dietary struggle is my relationship with food and my use of food as comfort. When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I saw food as my only means of survival, so I would hoard food and eat way more than intended. I felt I “needed” it for the diabetes or I would die. Around the same time, my sister started suffering with her own disordered eating and began binging and purging. As a sister who cared, I couldn’t confront her about the issue because I knew she would react poorly or deny it completely, so instead I began overeating to supplement the food she was lacking. Over the years I have battled on and off with this relationship with food but recently have grown to see food as my friend, used for means of healing and fueling my body, instead of a crutch. Being present with food, has allowed me to have a healthier view on what it is I’m eating, why I’m eating it, and how much I truly need to function.
Explain your current eating patterns. How have they influenced your overall quality of life?
My current eating patterns and dietary preference is a whole food plant-based diet. I eat mainly fruits and veggies and try my best to stay away from any processed foods, refined sugars, and grains.
Switching to a whole food plant-based lifestyle made a huge impact on my life. I have been dealing with a few auto immune health issues (type 1 diabetes, and a recent onset of hashimotos Hypothyroid, and Auto Immune Epilepsy) for the past few years and have been desperate to find a way to heal my body. After a ton of research and trial and error of many different ways of eating, becoming fully plant-based has had the most positive impact on my overall well-being and energy levels.
Do you believe that restrictive dieting at an early age leads to disordered eating? How so?
I think restrictive dieting at an early age could definitely have a negative effect on someone’s relationship to food but it also depends on what is being restricted and how it is being portrayed. If a child is told not to eat any sugar because it’ll only make them fat then that relationship to sugar could definitely lead to disordered eating. On the other hand, if the child is being told not to eat sugar because of the harm it causes the body and them to eat fruits to cure that sweet tooth craving instead then it may have less of an effect. I think it all depends on how the certain foods are being restricted.
As a child, my mom always had concerns about me and my sisters well-being and from the earliest I can remember I have always loved food… because of her concern, she would tell me not to eat too much bread, or not too much pasta because it’s bad for you and makes you fat… that unfortunately lead me to want to eat more food, secretively or behind her back. I’m still in the process of healing my relationship with food but like I explained previously, if adults want to try and “restrict” foods from children for health purposes, as long as they give a clear explanation as to why they shouldn’t eat it without adding any guilt, it would lead to less of a possibility of disordered eating.
What is your opinion on the diet culture and how do you think it has influenced society?
The diet culture now a days is so over-flooded with misinformation that many people are just following trends, instead of listening to their own bodies when it comes to what they should and shouldn’t be eating. There are so many “experts” in the field that you don’t know who to believe anymore, it’s exhausting. In my opinion, the one food people should 100% stay clear from is processed and refined foods and try and consume more whole fruits and vegetables, that’s where all the good stuff is!
What does intuitive eating mean to you and how do you practice it daily?
Intuitive eating to me means eating when my body truly feels hungry, not when I’m bored or anxious. Eating one serving, drinking some water, then waiting a few minutes to see if I’m still hungry then eating some more if hunger is still present. This strategy helps me avoid stuffing my face continuously. I do my best try and distinguish the difference between intuitive eating and mindless eating every day by checking in with myself and not judging myself when I have made a poor food choice.
What is your opinion on the “Health at Every Size” (HAES) movement? How has this changed your view on health, beauty and nutrition?
To my understanding, HAES is a really beautiful movement that is impacting the lives of those that may not have access, a proper understanding or the means to living a healthy life. It doesn’t focus on size, or race, or social standing. It focuses on what each particular person needs to live a healthy life without any negative judgments of how they look or what they can achieve.
Explain how your current eating patterns have changed your overall health and well being.
Before I began eating plant-based, I used to eat anything and everything…I have always been a healthy eater but being someone who loves to cook I was always in the kitchen creating new dishes and trying new things without really knowing what I was putting in my body. Once I made the switch, my whole life drastically changed, not only because I had to be more conscious of what I was fueling my body with, but also because I could see and feel the impact food had on my body and its functions. Before, I used to feel sluggish and tired after meals, I would gain weight super easily, my skin was grey and tired, and I had horrible sleep. Now that I’m plant-based, I feel light and energetic, never sluggish after a meal, my skin is glowing, and my sleep is restored.
Share some tips on what you do when eating out at a restaurant.
Eating out is always a fun one… when you’re the only person following a particular eating lifestyle it can get tricky finding places to eat out. I’ve learned to try my best to plan ahead! I look at the menu ahead of time so I know whether or not I’ll have food options. I always ask the servers if they can make exceptions to the dishes, even if it says otherwise, or worst case scenario I bring some sort of fruit with me so I never go hungry! Salads are always my safest bet and if you’re looking to get sautéed veggies just make sure they don’t cook them in butter.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with similar health/food issues?
If you’re looking to heal your body from a variety of health issues, live a cleaner healthier lifestyle, or just try out the herbivore lifestyle, my recommendation would be to take it one step at a time. When I decided to make the transition it took me an entire month to fully switch over and completely remove all animal products form my diet. I know if I try and make changes too quickly the likelihood of failure is much higher then if I take it little by little. I started out by first removing dairy. I followed by eating one meat-free meal 3 days a week and once I was completely meat and dairy free the last thing I removed from my diet was eggs.
What is your “food philosophy” that you strongly believe in?
My food philosophy is “food is my medicine”
What is your favorite food/recipe that you enjoy making?
My favorite recipe is my super easy vegan mushroom and asparagus alfredo sauce. I LOOOVEE to put it on a bed of spaghetti squash for a meal full of veggies with the delicious taste of a creamy garlic alfredo! Here’s a link to the recipe if you’re up to trying it out yourself: https://www.fruitfulink.com/blog/2018/3/2/simple-vegan-mushroom-and-asparagus-garlic-alfredo
Explain what a typical day of eating is like for you.
I start my days intermittent fasting (16hr fast), which means I eat my first meal around 11:30-12pm. This meal is normally small and consists of fruit like a banana, apples, and/or dates, or a smoothie with blueberries, bananas, coconut water, spirulina & cilantro. After that, I eat my lunch at around 1:30 which consists of a salad and some left overs from my dinner from the night before. This meal normally consists of leafy greens, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, steamed sweet potatoes, quinoa, cilantro, and lemon juice. For dinner I like to steam up veggies, sauté mushrooms, cook mung beans, or make my favorite dairy-free pasta sauce on a bed of spaghetti squash. I’m also just on a huge salad kick at the moment having just moved into a new place and it being the easiest and most refreshing thing to make.