Inspiring Women: Alyson Steward

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.

Alyson is an online secondhand clothing boutique owner and an expert-level blanket crocheter. Alyson loves cats, and is a proud, tattooed cat mom to Theo. Alyson’s passion and love for music shows through her knowledge and appreciation of various musical genres and being a dedicated concert enthusiast. Her favorite bible verse is “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2). Alyson has also been a freelance photographer since 2014 and you can check her out on Instagram.  

Alyson shares her personal relationship to food throughout her life and the eating style that works for her now. Alyson states, “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ eating routine, so I rely on my body to guide me, and I have my go-to snacks for random cravings (dark chocolate is my favorite). Every day is different; some days I am more hungry and some days less, but regardless, I try to be as caring as possible with what I consume.” Read more to dive into Alyson’s story.

 

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“It took a long time to learn how to have a functional relationship with food. Sometimes, it’s still a challenge for me, but I focus on the positive changes I see in my life and move through it.”  – Alyson Steward

What has been you biggest dietary struggle and how have you overcome it?

I would have to say my biggest dietary struggle is giving up on convenience. During times when my life was very busy (i.e., working long hours and going to school full time) I started to rely on convenient eating. Breaking the habit of turning to fast food restaurants, microwavable food, and processed foods was a difficult one, especially because I am not a particularly accomplished cook. I now can say that it is a rare occasion that I will default back to this habit, but sometimes circumstances dictate otherwise. When I am faced with this, I just try to make the healthiest choice I can.


Explain your current eating patterns. How have they influenced your overall quality of life?

The way I eat has changed so much over the last year. I listen to my body and eat when my body tells me to. I stick to a diet of mostly lean protein and lots of vegetables. I avoid super starchy foods and foods that are high in sugar. I also avoid processed foods and try not to eat out at restaurants as much as possible – which allows me to be more in control of what I feed my body. I feel so much more energized and happy now that I “fuel” my body instead of  just “filling” it.

Do you believe that restrictive dieting at an early age leads to disordered eating? How so?

I learned at a fairly young age that certain food was “bad”. I think a lot of us go through the same kind of conditioning. This sort of thinking definitely led me to negative eating habits, and I started having a very tumultuous relationship with food and my body. I found myself living with extremes when it came to my eating habits. I either feared putting certain foods in my body or I simply didn’t care at all. It took a long time to learn how to have a functional relationship with food. Sometimes, it’s still a challenge for me, but I focus on the positive changes I see in my life and move through it.

What is your opinion on the diet culture and how do you think it has influenced society?

Diet culture is a huge problem. Culturally, it is instilled at such a young age that there is a standard of beauty and size. The reality of the matter is, that every single person is perfectly imperfect. We all have our own unique bodies that require special care and attention. We are taught to rely so heavily on what mass media tells us is acceptable instead of embracing the differences that make us who we are, and I believe this results in what can be a devastating body image. It’s this “diet culture” that lays the foundation for so many issues, not only physically but emotionally. I believe that emotion goes hand in hand with our physical health. Love yourself and take care of your wonderful and incredible body!

What does intuitive eating mean to you and how do you practice it daily?

Intuitive eating means paying attention to the signals that my body sends out and also employing a lot of awareness when it comes to what I put in my body. There is no “one-size-fits-all” eating routine, so I rely on my body to guide me, and I have my go-to snacks for random cravings (dark chocolate is my favorite). Every day is different; some days I am more hungry and some days less, but regardless, I try to be as caring as possible with what I consume.

What is your opinion on the “Health at Every Size” (HAES) movement? How has this changed your view on health, beauty and nutrition?

I really like the idea of the HAES Movement! I love that it embraces loving your body and recognizes the fact that not everyone’s body image and health issues can be addressed the same way. I think changing the standard of beauty, health and nutrition is so important. We have to set a positive example for younger generations by speaking out about unrealistic standards in society. Our bodies are unique and amazing machines that have to be nurtured and loved!

Explain how your current eating patterns have changed your overall health and well-being.

Instead of being afraid of food, I embrace it. I take more time to enjoy what I am eating, and am much more thoughtful about what I do eat. I have lost weight and I sleep better at night and have a lot more energy during the day.

Share some tips on what you do when eating out at a restaurant.


Don’t be afraid of modifications! So many things can be health friendly with just a few, simple alterations. Ask for a lettuce wrap, get sauces on the side, sub a side salad for fries – eating out while you’re being conscious of what you eat does not have to be boring or hard!

What advice would you give to someone dealing with similar health/food issues?

Commitment is key. There will be days when all you want is a cupcake, so have a cupcake! Giving in to your food cravings doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human. The important thing is to not let simple cravings turn into binging. Its also important to look at every experience as a lesson learned for the future. I like to challenge myself to make my own “treat” food in a healthy way. Trying different flours and sweeteners can be a fun way to experiment and enjoy “guilt free” treats!

What is your “food philosophy” that you strongly believe in?

Food is fuel. It might sound cliche, but adopting that motto has really helped to change my relationship with food.

What is your favorite food/recipe that you enjoy making?

My favorite food to make is definitely an indulgent one, but it is oh so good! Bacon Wrapped Dates With Goat Cheese Filling. Its simple to put together and doesn’t require a lot of cooking time. I use pitted dates, because it cuts down on prep time. All you have to do is spoon some plain goat cheese (I used Trader Joes brand) into the center of the dates and half a slice of bacon, wrap around the date and secure with a toothpick. You can sub turkey bacon if you prefer! I usually bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, but you can cook them in a skillet as well. If you choose stove top, a copper pan is a great choice because it requires no extra oils or butter!

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