Inspiring Women: Alexandra Gionta

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.

My sister, Alexandra, is a graduate from Cal Poly Pomona with a B.S. in Microbiology and an overall awesome human being. She amazes me of how incredible she is which could just be me being a proud sister, but she truly is amazing. One of her recent accomplishments is getting accepted into Western University’s Physician Assistant program (she’s super smart no big deal). I am proud to call her my sister and best friend. You’ll see her sense of humor and hilarious comments as you read more to learn more about my sister and her relationship with food.  Also, check her out on Instagram! 

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It is almost like we think of the word “diet” as this temporary weight loss remedy when really the definition is..the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”  I think it’s important to construct a personal eating lifestyle based on what works for your body because everyone is different.”  – Alexandra Gionta

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

My biggest dietary struggle is finding the time and energy to make health-fulfilling meals. With my schedule, it’s difficult to make conscious choices in what I am eating rather than just finding the quickest and most satisfying option at the time. To be honest, I can’t say that I have overcome this because I feel like I’ll try for one day and then I can’t incorporate it into a lifestyle. I really want to put forth more of an effort to do so and I think just expressing it in this blog is a good start.

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

I tend to not eat breakfast, which I know is a big problem because I find myself getting really hungry at night. I also feel that this limits my energy throughout the day and I start feeling sluggish at work/school. I have been getting better at eating in the mornings but I have not been on a consistent eating schedule. One breakfast I enjoy is toast with bananas and almond butter, so I am trying to encourage my appetite by eating that for breakfast.

Because of a GI issue I experience, the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Apple/applesauce and Tea/toast) focused diet really helps me feel better throughout the day. I also drink a lot of coconut water which keeps me hydrated and feeling wonderful. I always joke that coconut water is always the answer (But really, Jesus is…)

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

Based on my experience in high school I feel that restrictive eating has impacted my life negatively. I had a habit of eating and immediately going to the gym. There were days I would be at the gym 2-3 times a day or go to the gym right after volleyball practice because I didn’t think I burned enough calories.  One day my best friend called me out. She noticed I was losing a lot of weight and that I would avoid hanging out with friends/spending time with family in order to workout what I just ate. My friend told me “I challenge you to eat and not go to the gym. Just sit and enjoy having a full stomach.” This freaked me out, but I did it and it really helped. I am very grateful that friend noticed and said something to me because it helped me grow tremendously. I did end up gaining weight after this growth but I was fine with it because I was happy and not so anxious about burning calories. I encourage you all to support your friends if you notice they are experiencing an eating disorder of some sort.

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

I cannot keep up with all the diets out there. Paleo, keto, juice cleanses… I don’t even fully understand how they work haha.  I think a lot of the time people just want to be able to share on social media or tell their friends about this new diet they are on because it gives them purpose (sorry if that was to honest). There is also pressure to participate in these diets to be “healthy” but they really end up just being a fad for people. It is almost like we think of the word “diet” as this temporary weight loss remedy when really the definition is..the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”  I think it’s important to construct a personal eating lifestyle based on what works for your body because everyone is different. For example, one time I ate chipotle and yogurtland within a 4 hour time span and I felt like I had a bean, cheese, yogurt, and sugar hangover for the next two days so I decided that won’t be a part of my regular diet. Then one day I ate brown rice and beans with chicken and vegetables and I felt like Beyonce, so I decided to incorporate that more into my diet. Its a trial-by-error thing and you find what compliments your body and what doesn’t.  (Just and FYI, chipotle and yogurtland are great…just not at the same time.)

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

Well I mean in theory this sounds great but I crave chocolate chip cookies like all the time and I know for sure that a cookie a day does not keep the doctor away. I also know that several times I have been like “Oh I am so full..” as I reach for said food item right in front of me. BUT, I do find that when I log my food/track my exercise it helps me realize why I am more hungry at times or crave certain foods. For example, one day I just really wanted an apple for some reason and I was looking at my food log and saw I didn’t eat any fruit/lacking vitamin C…it made sense. Then when I was at school I would get hungry all the time and felt guilty about it. When I started tracking my  steps I realized I was walking so much around campus that I was burning more than I knew. It helped me understand my body better and have more trust in my intuitive eating.

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

I think its awesome. When I go on social media I feel like there is this “one size” that’s beautiful and it’s just straight up fake. Diversity makes life more beautiful and I like how HAES promotes that. 

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

I like to try new foods at restaurants. Depending on who I am with, I usually will ask for a nutrition guide/menu so I can see what I am putting into my body. Not just for calories but for things like sodium and trans fat. I also ask for adjustments if necessary like no bacon or tortilla strips so make it a little bit healthier. But sometimes I want the bacon and tortilla strips so YOLO.

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

“Food is lil nuggets of love for your body.”

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

Friggin’ love Caprese Salad. Big mozzarella balls sliced on thick slices of tomatoes with olive oil and vinegar with lots of basil! DAYUM so good.

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