Ashley: I am so excited to be joined by Kaylynne. She is a registered dietitian with Emboldened Wellness. Thank you so much for joining us.
Kaylynne: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.
WHEN WE KNOW BETTER WE DO BETTER
A: What made you decide to become a dietitian?
K: So I’ve been practicing as a dietitian for about 10 years now. I actually got into kind of the whole nutrition world through sport. So in high school, I was an elite athlete. I was training with team Ontario and kind of, canoe kayak and also had an opportunity to train with team Canada and go to the World Championships in dragon boat and nutrition never really was on my radar until I had a one-on-one sit down with my coach to go over some goal setting and he asked me, what do you bring to school for lunch? I remember telling him I would have a couple fruit cups, probably packed in syrup. I wasn’t doing any of the grocery shopping, obviously in high school. I was, I guess, subconsciously making healthier choices and he asked me, and I will never forget this conversation. He asked me why don’t you bring real fruit instead of a fruit cup? And that exact question was just the pivotal moment, I guess, for me and deciding that nutrition was something I wanted to look more into and study and kind of pursue as a career.
A: I have a teenage daughter and especially when you’re younger, they don’t necessarily think about what they’re eating. It’s like convenience, whatever I pack her so I think it is really one of those sort of aha moments where it’s like, oh yeah, this is packed with chemicals and this is fruit that could sustain me in a different way. That it is really important.
K: Yeah. I think so many people are making choices they feel are healthy. They’re making an effort to make good choices, but the way food is marketed and just so there’s so many misconceptions about what’s healthy and what’s not healthy. So something like a fruit cup seems like a healthy choice, especially to me when I was in high school. But you, again, like you mentioned, you don’t think of the added sugars. You don’t think of all the kind of fiber that would be in a whole piece of fruit that may not be in something like a fruit cup. So there’s so much to learn. And I genuinely do believe that when it comes to kind of health and nutrition, most people are doing the best they can. When you know, better, you do better.
A: I definitely agree with that. I also think, especially during the last two years that just even seeing like door dash or skip the dishes sales markets, I can only imagine how many people are just so fed up with the idea of cooking that we really are turning to more convenience. I know my household definitely did it is misleading too, because you’ll think even ordering from like a a restaurant chain that promotes like healthy eating, where you realize that potentially the dressing or different things that they put in the salad could actually be about as healthy as eating like a big Mac at McDonald’s.
K: And portions too. I think that’s the big thing with kind of restaurant healthy, like meals at restaurants is a lot of the time the food itself could be perfectly healthy, but it’s just the portions are so distorted and they are served on plates or in containers that make it look like, I guess, a normal serving. When in reality it’s just a lot of extra food
IT’S NOT ALL OR NOTHING
A: What do you think people should do or not do if they’re trying to eat healthier?
K: The biggest kind of mistake, I guess, or setback I see with my clients is that all or nothing mentality, people feel like when they want to eat healthy or get healthy, they have to overhaul their entire diet overnight and that they can only eat healthy foods, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I think that all or nothing mindset actually deters people and just kind of sets them up to fail because nothing in life is black and white. Nothing is all or nothing. Food is very complicated. When it comes to kind of what we crave emotionally, the impact sleep can have the impact hormones can have. It’s more than just fueling your body in a lot of ways. I guess my kind of motto is some foods nourish your body and some foods nourish your soul and a balanced diet nourishes both. I think that kind of all or nothing mentality when it comes to nutrition specifically what we see in diet culture and in the media is that treats are bad and they’re shameful and there’s this morality tied to certain foods. So what people should be doing kind of in my professional opinion is taking those baby steps because the other thing with nutrition and health is there’s no finish line. A lot of people will have a goal of reaching a certain weight or a certain pant size or looking a certain way but the reality is we want to be our healthiest and our happiest and feel our best for the rest of our lives. There’s no finish line. So when you’re looking at what types of changes you can make and should make to be healthier, you really need to think about what changes can I make and continue to do for the rest of my life. That’s where you’re going to see that long-term sustainable weight loss or health gains or excess energy kind of whatever your goal is. So I think kind of avoiding that all or nothing, go big or go home mindset and sticking to kind of small baby steps and then stacking those on top of each other and layering them. Once you get the hang of one, then add another, then add another as opposed to changing everything overnight.
A: I think those are really great points. I do think that once we tell ourselves that we can’t have something, that’s really the one thing that we want to have and then it’s like, if you do cave and an order out or eat the extra dessert or whatever that looks like for you, then there is like all this shame and guilt and weird sort of punishment that you tell yourself in your mind. So I do think that our food should fuel like our body and our enjoyment and our soul and everything that you had said without it having to be we’re just feeding ourselves to survive.
K: Yeah. I mean, when you think of every happy occasion, usually there’s food involved. When you think of big family gathering there’s food, there’s comfort food, and they call it that for a reason. So much of why we eat and what we choose to eat is not just physiological in terms of hunger and what your body needs, but it’s also emotional. It’s also comforting. It’s also kind of historical in terms of what your family grew up eating. It’s cultural. There’s just so many things when it comes to food. I think we’ve done ourselves, a disservice both mentally and physically by not considering any of that when we decide what to eat. And instead, only thinking about calories or only thinking about carbohydrates or minimizing a meal to the macro and micro nutrients that it can be.
A: There’s so many different diets out there that if there was this sort of all or nothing mentality, there wouldn’t be 50,000 different options. There’s so many different factors and what looks healthy for each individual person. So I think that’s really important to note too.
K: Yeah, there really is. No one size fits all. A lot of, like you mentioned kind of the diets you see out there, it’s very structured and it’s very prescriptive and it’s assuming that every single body works the same way. And if that were true, then they would work. But we see time and time again, that the same kind of diet is constantly being rebranded and re-promoted and kind of goes in cycles of becoming popular again every few years. If it worked the first time, then it wouldn’t need to be rebranded and it wouldn’t keep coming up that way. I think we kind of lose sight of that sometimes that if it worked, it would work, but clearly those types of diets just don’t work. There really is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition. I think that’s a benefit to working with a registered dietitian is we don’t just have one plan. We give all our clients, every single kind of recommendation is completely individualized to the person and their lifestyle and their nutrition needs.
ALWAYS HIRE A REGISTERED DIETITIAN
A: Especially with the dietitian too, it’s like you’ve gone and done your schooling and completed the course. And you know more than just say somebody that’s promoting health and wellness and getting you to potentially just purchase one of those fad diets.
K: Yeah. I think Always being mindful of what’s in it for them. So, I mean obviously as a dietitian, I have a business I help people and that’s kind of what I do for work but if it’s particular products specifically supplements, those tend to be kind of red flags sometimes. A lot of the times people promoting those types of health, wellness, nutrition products, don’t actually have the training to understand what exactly is in them or why they’re good for you, or maybe why they’re not the best choices.
A: Supplements can be a little bit of like the wild, wild west. You don’t necessarily know whether your body needs that supplement. You don’t really know what is in the supplement and how much unnecessary stuff is in that pill or that powder or whatever that you’re taking. Like it really is unregulated.
K: It is. I think, I guess kind of as a dietitian, I always think food first, fortified food second, supplements last. I think for some people they can be really beneficial and for some people may need them to supplement what they’re eating, but the goal should always be food first. And the way a lot of supplements are marketed is take this pill its the equivalent to 30 servings of fruits and veggies. So don’t worry about actually eating them because you’ll get all the same nutrients from this pill or this powder or whatever. That’s where it’s I think maybe the most damaging because consumers are looking for a quick fix. They’re looking for the shortcuts because we’re busy, meal prep and cooking and eating healthy particularly if it’s not something you’re used to or not something you feel confident doing can be intimidating. So then when someone’s marketing kind of that quick fix or that pill or, that powder, that’s going to make you healthier kind of in air quotes without doing all that work. It’s very appealing and that’s why the industry is huge and make so much money.
INTERVIEW YOUR SERVICE PROVIDERS
A: If somebody has never worked with a dietitian before what’s some of the things that they should ask a dietitian before deciding that’s the right dietitian for them?
K: First of all asking to make sure they are a registered dietitian. So in Canada, dietitians are regulated provincially. So I am registered in Alberta, but if you were a client in say Ontario, you would want to see a dietitian registered in Ontario. A lot of non-registered nutrition professionals or non-regulated nutrition professionals have very creative names or ways to kind of market themselves, but someone who’s marketing themselves as a registered dietitian would have had to go through not only a four year university program, but an accredited internship program as well. Whereas a nutritionist, nutrition coach, nutrition practitioner, whatever they’re kind of calling themselves, wouldn’t have had that same schooling. And they also are not accountable to anyone in terms of what recommendations they give you simply because they’re not a regulated profession. So first of all, just making sure they are a registered dietitian. The other thing too is I think that because we individualized so much of our care for our clients as dietitians, I always would ask if you could have, I call it a discovery call. So with any potential new clients, I offer kind of a 20 to 30 minute discovery call to get to know each other, chat about goals, chat about expectations, because as much as I want to kind of look for clients to work with, I want to make sure that I’m a good fit for my client and that my client’s a good fit for me because personalities can clash different people have different values and different ways of working even kind of as a dietitian, lots of different dietitians have different kind of strategies they use with clients. So you really want to make sure that you’re a good fit and that your values align and that the structure and how often you’re going to be able to see them and what does access look like in between sessions? All those types of things you want to make sure it’s going to meet your needs similar to a job interview. You want to kind of interview your dietitian to make sure that it’s someone you want to work with. Someone who excites you, someone who motivates you and someone who listens to what you have to say instead of just kind of that verbal diarrhea of all the recommendations of things they think you should be doing.
A: For sure. You definitely want to be supported by that person, especially because food and eating and weight and your body and things like that can be such a sensitive area for a lot of people. Now do you work with women’s specifically or women and men?
K: So right now all my clients are women. I am open to working with both, but find my kind of clientele typically tend to be women just because of, I guess the people who I attract on my social media and just kind of the space I’m in. I also think that women kind of have some unique needs because we often busy, not that men aren’t busy, but to being a woman myself, I can kind of relate to trying to eat healthy while taking care of kids and having a career and that kind of illusion of wanting it all and trying to do all the things. I mean, statistically women tend to be responsible for more of the grocery shopping and more of the cooking in the households as well, which adds kind of that extra layer for a lot of women when it comes to changing nutrition habits, because they’re not just feeding themselves. They’re also feeding families that need to eat. I know what it’s like to cook a beautiful healthy meal and then have everyone at the table just stick up their nose and refuse to eat it and complain the whole meal. So personally I like working with women just because there’s just so many more kind of things to consider. I think being in that position, myself being in that kind of phase of life, even kind of hormonally and all those different things is kind of a benefit to my clients.
A: It’s always beneficial when you can relate to the person that you’re trying to help and vice versa. And it is one of those things that, and again, generalizing for men, most men don’t get that asked that, you know, how do you do at all? Or how do you balance all of these things? I think men are better at taking their space and making that time for themselves where women really are usually juggling 80 different things. And we usually tend to put ourselves last on our list of important things to do.
K: Yes. And I love that you mentioned that men just tend to be better at taking that space because I think that’s it in a lot of cases is just not women don’t tend to be good at communicating kind of what we need in a lot of cases. It’s not that we don’t have supportive partners who would step up, but we don’t necessarily express that because the expectation is that we will do it all and we can do it.
A: I really do think it’s just the world that puts that impression of the balancing everything in this and we can have it all mentality. I think it was sort of different, you know, 50 years ago when we were basically homemakers and maybe doing that kind of stuff where the expectation was just that you stay home and cook and clean and watch the kids where now it really is that we’re virtual teachers, we are working from home potentially, having to be the cook, maid, all of the things while still trying to balance self care and our mental health and everything else. It just feels like there needs to be 75 hours and every single day.
WE NEED TO PRIORITIZE GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
K: Yes, I agree. I think we sacrifice sleep more than anything else, which is something I’m personally really working on. 2021 was a great year for me business-wise and personally, and all the things, but it came at the expense of sleep and by the time November came around, I was just so done with the hustle and that hustle culture. So for me, kind of in terms of self care and trying not to juggle as much sleep has been a major priority for me, this year.
A: We don’t really think about how important sleep is and how much we really need it to function properly.
K: Yes. And even from like a weight loss or a health perspective, not getting enough sleep makes you crave more sugar, makes you crave more salt, makes you crave more calorie, dense foods. So for a lot of my clients, one of the best things they can do to not only be healthier, but also reach weight loss goals, if that’s what they’re working towards is prioritize sleep. it seems like counterintuitive it’s the getting up at 5:00 AM to do a workout and it’s getting up early to kind of meal prep. Those things are important as well but not necessarily at the expense of sleep.
A: I never knew that lack of sleep made you crave certain foods before. That’s really interesting.
K: Yeah. It can mess with hormones as well. So your hunger hormones, so the hormones that regulate appetite and satiety get all out of whack with lack of sleep as well, because when you’re tired, your body’s kind of craving that energy. So it kind of biologically makes you crave those foods that will provide more energy, which are, and fast energy. So the sugars and the high calorie foods.
A: Which totally makes sense.
K: It’s something we never really talk about. Like there’s no fat diet on the market that talks about sleeping. It’s all about cutting calories and cutting out this food group or that food group. But when we think of what makes us are our healthiest selves. It’s not just about food. And even as a dietitian, obviously food is my specialty, but I work with my clients on not just the food piece, but the mindset piece and the sleep piece and the balance piece. I know there’s really kind of no such thing as balance. I heard a saying once that the secret to juggling it all is deciding which balls are glass. That’s just always stuck with me because it’s just a reminder that you can’t juggle all the things at once. So you need to kind of know which ones to put down at what time. It’s okay to prioritize different things in different seasons. So for my clients, a lot of it comes down to obviously nutrition choices and small changes and habit stacking. But also what impact will these new habits have on the rest of your life? Because if it’s at the expense of sleep, it’s at the expense of time with your kids or your husband, or if it’s at the expense of whatever else is important to you, then it’s not the right strategy.
IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE ABLE TO DO IT ALL
A: It is so important for women and I think that we need to be more gentle on ourselves of this idea that you really can put those balls down. It really doesn’t have to be whether it’s food or just in life, this all, or nothing approach that it really is we only have, you know, 24 hours in a day. And it’s important to do the things that you like during that time, you know, work maybe aside.
K: Yeah. I mean, you have to have time like work time, but you also have to have time to do things you love and to be around people you like. I think we are getting better as women at outsourcing and asking for help. I think we are slowly shifting to more equal kind of roles and responsibilities within families. I think we still have a really long way to go but I have seen a bit of a shift, but I think too, I’m probably biased because growing up my mom had kind of the corporate job in the city and my dad worked from home. So he often cooked meals. He often did kind of school pickup and drop-off, and even now for me my husband works away half the time, but when he’s home, he’s home and not working. So when he’s home, he does almost all the cooking. He does laundry, he helps clean. So he’s very involved in all of those things when he’s home. I mean to be fair there’s weeks at a time where he’s not home at all. So there’s kind of pros and cons to every situation. So I think I’m biased, but kind of from my lens and my personal experience, I see things getting better for women, but I also see women being more assertive in terms of communicating what they need and asking for that help and then outsourcing when needed.
A: Well, I think that is one thing too. It’s like women, we tend to think because maybe we’ll notice certain cues or we’ll do something in a certain way so we just expect everybody around us to be mind readers. So I do think it is really important to be vocal in your needs to be able to get what you want. I do think in some ways the positive thing about the pandemic is that we maybe got so burned out and kind of reached our point of like, I can’t do everything. I need you to do this. I need to hire a cleaner to come a couple times a week. We’re going to start hiring tutors and things like that. I think it really did make us realize what is truly important, maybe what stuff we just never, ever want to do again. And what things that we can’t give up and relinquish that sort of control over the situation to other people. I do think hustle culture has started to die with that mentality.
K: Yeah, it’s unfortunate that it took getting to that breaking point for things to change, because I think you’re exactly right. I think for the last two years with kids, virtual learning, working from home, everything has just been intensified kind of on the home front, I think for most women we really have gotten to that breaking point and I wish we didn’t have to get to that point to make the change, but I do see some positive change coming out of this whole thing.
A: I do hope once the world goes back to the normal way of life that we remember that we didn’t enjoy hustling and taking on too much and that it does create healthy boundaries going forward.
BOUNDARIES CAN BE HARD
K: Boundaries as a tough one. I think I see it in nutrition anyways, all the time too especially with families. Boundaries can be really tough. When it comes to food and making nutrition changes for a lot of people, there’s some pushback from family or from friends, there’s like, oh, just come out for one drink or, oh, just, it’s just one piece of cake or without people kind of respecting the changes that someone else is supposed to make. I don’t know why, I guess it’s a little bit threatening when someone is growing and changing without you. So there’s some hostility towards my clients who are trying to make those changes amongst family, particularly over the holidays. So I think getting better at setting boundaries for all of us can be so helpful, not just kind of from a mental health perspective, but even from any goal you’re setting, letting the people in your life know that this is what my goals are this is what I’m working towards and this is what I’m going to start doing to get there can be really, really important, especially with nutrition because you don’t need to necessarily get your whole family on board exactly the way you are. When it comes to food and eating, I don’t expect any of my clients to make multiple meals either. So it’s coming up with strategies that will fill their families bellies and keep their families happy and healthy without being too extreme to the point where they won’t eat it or to the point where they’re making multiple meals so that they can eat something super healthy that their family won’t eat. I don’t know how I got on this tangent from boundaries, but just, I guess that communication piece of kind of what you’re doing, what your expectations are can be really, really important.
A: I do think that any time that you are trying to change something, there’s always going to be that one person that does seem to want to talk you out of making that change or whether they realize it or not sort of sabotaging by encouraging to make less healthier choices, instead of trying to, you know, get on board with that, let’s go for a walk instead of let’s go to the bar.
K: I find that people who are trying to be healthier, they don’t want to ask their friends to go for a walk with them or ask their friends to make healthy food with them. Yeah, for I guess they don’t want to kind of push things on their friends or a lot of people will maybe do it in secret, out of fear of failure and then having people know that they didn’t reach their goals. But the opposite tends to be very true people saying, like I said kinda like come out for a drink or why don’t you skip your workout and watching movie with me instead, or it’s just kind of like one Halloween candy or let’s have popcorn after dinner and those kinds of late night snacks and stuff and it’s just so easy to cave to those things. I mean, sometimes those things are important and I think that’s kind of the other piece of that healthy lifestyle too, is preparing and expecting those types of not necessarily setbacks, but those opportunities and that kind of spontaneity. I think with a lot of really structured meal plans or other nutrition plans, kind of out there that are more prescriptive, they tell you exactly what to eat and when, but then if there’s like an impromptu dinner invitation or your partner wants to go to the movies, then all of a sudden there’s anxiety about what are you going to order? How are you going to stay on plan? Are you going to have the popcorn? Maybe it’ll just have a small instead of your usual medium. And it just causes so much stress. So I think when I work with clients, like we don’t just plan for those types of events, but we actually kind of expect them and we incorporate them into whatever plan we come up with and whatever strategies we come up with, because those are the types of opportunities that can be really fun and that make you enjoy food and kind of those soul filling opportunities that I don’t want anyone to miss out on.
A: It’s totally different when you have that one person that always wants to try to divert you from doing what you perceive as healthy to maybe always going on and always doing stuff where maybe that’s not something you want to do, but you feel like because this particular friend feels that way that you have to versus wanting to go out and go dancing with your girlfriends and have a couple drinks, or whether you want to go out and have that whatever size of popcorn without having that nagging voice.
K: I think too, just fear of being outgrown, right? We’re constantly kind of growing and evolving and some people more than others. There’s that fear that if this person is changing their eating habits or trying to be healthier, then they may outgrow me as well or we’ll have less in common. So yeah, we just got to convince them to join you.
THERE ARE NOT GOOD AND BAD FOODS
A: Yeah, exactly. I know that there is much more of a body positive and a healthy weight at every size movement that we are happily shifting towards. Have you noticed as a dietitian, any of that diet culture stuff actually changing, or do you think it’s really that we’re just kind of saying that it’s changing?
K: A little bit of both. So the health at every size movement I think is really important and having more diverse representation in the media in terms of kind of body sizes, ethnicities cultures, all sorts of things I think is amazing. I think we still have a really long way to go. I do see kind of in clients, there is a bit of a shift towards wanting to be healthy instead of wanting to be skinny, which is great. However, I think our view or idea of what healthy is, is still quite skewed. So I see kind of diet culture shifted from focusing on size to focusing on health and putting a certain kind of health halo around certain foods. On the flip side to that, we still have so many foods that are kind of assigned as bad or unhealthy. So I think we’ve kind of taken health out of context and it’s now being marketed instead of experienced.
A: I think those are really good points. I do like to see that more and more brands are diversifying, but it definitely is happening much, much slower than it really needs to be.
K: I agree. I think just being more inclusive, it’s getting there, but slowly, it still feels a little like tokenism to me and for a lot of brands where they kind of have their token diverse model amongst kind of the norm or kind of what we’ve seen stereotypically that models look like. So yeah, I’d like to see it, get to a point where it’s not like, oh that brand is doing really great at being diverse and inclusive.
A: Yes, I agree.
K: Yeah. We still notice which brands are doing a good job in which brands are doing not such a great job, but eventually hopefully it’ll just all be diverse and inclusive and we won’t be congratulating people or companies for doing what they should have done years ago.
DIET CULTURE AT SCHOOL
A: That’s a very, very good point. I think even outside of like just brands, I think in general diet culture has sort of led into all these different industries like even schools. For example, I am a big advocate against abolishing dress codes and things like that because I think that they really do play into diet culture and everybody looking a certain size. So I do hope that yes, it starts with brands and it starts with individuals, but I do hope come 2022 forward that it really leaks into so many more industries.
K: Yes, I agree. I think schools have a really big opportunity with our youth that is not necessarily being taken advantage of. I’ve also seen, so my kids are seven, four and one. So my seven year old is my only kid who’s in kind of full-time school right now. He’s in grade one. He will often come home and say that whatever was left in his lunch box was because his teacher told him he had to eat the healthy stuff first. And I understand, I guess the idea and the intention behind that type of messaging. Teachers aren’t trained dietitians, they’re not trained in nutrition. So I think, especially with food, when messaging like that is coming not only from the media, not only from parents, not only from friends, but also from teachers and coaches although say like magazine covers, media is more diverse and is more inclusive. There’s still that type of negative language around food that we see, even in kids calling things junk food or saying things are bad for you. I think we have a really long way to go and I think there’s a huge opportunity in schools for education around body positivity health at every size diversity inclusivity but also like including kind of on a nutrition standpoint.
A: Yeah. They really are still super far behind. I don’t think that their intention necessarily is to be harmful, but long-term effects I think it is harmful.
K: I think most things are well-intentioned like, I don’t believe that there are people out there being intentionally kind of malicious about food and stuff. Like obviously there’s the marketers who are trying to make profit, but most people like the teachers and the coaches and the family and the friends they are kind of coming from a place of concern and a place of love and good intentions. It just we just need more training.
A: And we tend to sort of regurgitate the messages that we were taught, whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, even like the food is fuel or junk food, like you said, or all these different messaging that we don’t really realize until maybe we have kids or until we have issues with our own body and self that we kind of realize, oh, that was weird that they taught us that, or that was weird that that’s, you know, the messaging that we all received.
UNLEARNING WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT FOOD
K: Yes. And nothing will make that more obvious than having kids and sitting down at a dinner table. I know me and my husband have very different ideas about kind of eating at the table. People who grew up being told they had to finish everything on their plate or they had to try one bite of everything versus people who grew up being told you don’t have to eat everything on your plate, eat what you can. So the type of messaging we received specifically at the dinner table as kids often comes up again, when we have kids and we’re feeding them at the table and kind of that repeating patterns when it comes to food and nutrition messaging, to me that’s kind of the most obvious time is eating around the table as a family And what type of food rules we have for our kids in terms of the foods that go on their plate and how they get eaten.
A: Well and I think we need to remember, like with younger kids, mine is going to be 15 this spring, but a six year old isn’t necessarily going to starve themselves. So it’s like if they, if they’re hungry, they will eat. I found that the more that we create this environment, and again, I’m not a professional by any means, but if we create this environment where you have to, then we do teach that there has to be this weird control or power balance. I think sometimes with food that is unnecessary.
K: Yeah. I mean, professionally, our kind of evidence-based recommendation is that parents decide what kids eat and where kids eat. So at the table or wherever and they decide what kiddie, so what is being served, but it’s up to the child to decide if they’re going to eat anything or how much they’re going to eat. So like you said, kids are not going to starve themselves. If you were to give children a wide variety of different healthy foods, they would naturally choose balanced choices that would give them everything they needed nutritionally because just instinctually, we’re born knowing to some extent what our bodies need without that’s kind of before the influence of, of media and marketing. So I think we need to kind of trust our kids a little bit more that they will eat when they’re hungry and that they will, if, if a wide variety of healthy foods are offered, then they’ll get what they need.
A: I was lucky my daughter wasn’t a picky eater but I did find any time that we wanted her to try different foods she would come on the grocery trip, she’d get to be able to pick out certain foods, and then she was also a part of helping cook at home. So it really became like a whole family bonding time and I found for her if she was a part of the whole process, it made her excited to eat the meal, versus here’s this brand new thing that you’ve never seen. Like let’s just eat it for the sake of eating.
K: Yeah, exactly. I think getting kids involved in the kitchen when kind of age appropriate is a great way to expose them to new foods, have them pick whatever kind of fruit or veggie they want at the grocery store and figure out how to make it together. It definitely can help kids accept new foods. Scientifically speaking we also know that it can take 15 or more exposures to a certain food before it’s accepted by a child. My oldest is not very picky. He’ll eat pretty much anything, but he’s also a people pleaser by nature so if he thinks it will make us happy, he will eat it, even if he doesn’t like it. But my middles, he doesn’t care what we think he wants Kraft dinner and hot dogs for every single meal. So it has been challenging and so getting him involved, getting them to help bake or cook or stuff definitely helps but I think too even for adults, when we look at kind of going back to family members who are maybe not super supportive, having them involved in the meal planning and picking meals together and doing the grocery shopping together and having them involved in some way, shape or form can also help them be more supportive of kind of your own nutrition or health goals, but also can encourage them to kind of jump on board with you to some extent.
FRESH VS FROZEN
A: In some cases too, healthy eating sometimes can be so expensive that I think sometimes maybe you really did just grow up eating Kraft dinner and hot hotdogs so the idea of having like a healthy meal plan or a healthy balance, or even just cooking in general can seem so overwhelming.
K: Yes. I think a lot of slack cooking skills, depending on kind of how we grew up and what foods were served and how often we are expected to do any cooking on our own but also kind of financially. We have kind of been conditioned to believe that healthy food is always fresh. And so whenever I have clients who have kind of a financial barrier to eating healthy, we always talk about what canned foods, dry foods, and frozen foods can actually be really, really healthy. We hear all the time shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where all the healthiest stuff is which is true in a lot of cases, there’s kind of your whole grains, there’s fruits and veggies, dairy kind of all around the perimeter, but the aisles have tons of healthy stuff too. When it comes to fruits and veggies, frozen can actually be a really kind of cost-effective alternative. The cool thing about frozen is when our food is picked to be sold fresh is often picked before it’s ripe or fully ripe, and then it continues ripening in transportation or at the grocery store or on your counter and so it’s not picked when at its peak ripeness or its peak nutritional value. Vegetables and fruit that are being picked to be frozen and kind of processed in that way. They’re picked at their peak ripeness when they have kind of their maximum nutritional value so for a lot of cases, not always, but if you’re buying strawberries in the middle of January and they’re not kind of in-season anywhere locally, your frozen strawberries will likely actually have more nutrients than your fresh, because they were picked in season at their peak ripeness and then flash frozen. So I think kind of that education piece for a lot of people about how beneficial, frozen veggies and fruit can be and how it can actually be better in some cases and more cost effective and same with a lot of like meat alternatives, like beans and legumes. You can buy them in the aisles. They come kind of dry. They last forever in your cupboard and they can be a really cost-effective way to get protein. However, again, some of those things like the legumes, they do require kind of more time potentially, and more cooking skills, or at least learning new skills that maybe you don’t already have. If those weren’t foods you were exposed to growing up. But there’s a lot of different kind of outside the box strategies for eating healthy. That can be more cost-effective that people just don’t really talk about because I think when it comes to nutrition and health, there is a lot of kind of privilege associated with those things. So a lot of the recommendations and nutrition recommendations, cater to that group of privileged people who can afford it.
A: That is so interesting about frozen. I never ever thought of that and it is one of those things that you are sort of conditioned to believe that just the outside is where the things that you should be eating. I kind of hate the “shoulds” of the whole situation because I think we do put that pressure on ourselves that you have to have a certain thing. I think it is really great to know that you can get just as healthy, if not healthier or fresher in different places in the grocery store.
K: Yeah and I think if we could just like remove should from a vocabulary as women so many things would get better, right?!
A: Now thinking about people in their health struggles and their body consciousness, have you ever struggled with weight or body issues previously?
K: So I have. I was kind of an athlete all through high school and into university but when I was in second year university, I was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition and I actually ended up getting a pacemaker and was basically forced to retire from sport. At the time I was told I couldn’t raise my heart rate above 130 or lift anything heavier than 30 pounds, which is essentially like one nutrition textbook. So it was very world shattering at the time and because I had always been an athlete, I didn’t really know how to eat and not be an athlete and not eat that much. And of course, because I wasn’t training as much, I had more free time and didn’t have to get up for those 6:00 AM practices. So I also was going out socializing a lot more as well. I was in 3rd year university studying to be a dietitian and I gained 40 pounds. So there was also a lot of shame associated with that as well, because again, that should, like, I should know better. I should know how to keep the weight off. I should know how to lose the weight. This is what I’m studying. So what type of dietitian am I going to be if I can’t even maintain my own weight? So I finished university and I moved up North to Northwest Territories. I finally decided that enough was enough. At that point I had also been given kind of the green light to exercise again. So for me, exercise with basically my life as an athlete, but then after that, it really became kind of my outlet for stress release, kind of for mental health and just so much more. So once I was able to kind of get back into movement, my kind of mindset shifted, and I was able to make healthier food choices as a result, because I think so much of nutrition is mindset too. We have all these kinds of mental blocks or these self limiting beliefs when it comes to health and food. So for me it was that kind of mental shift and being able to move my body again and not have the restrictions. I was working as a dietitian. So I had a little bit more confidence in my own abilities to help clients and eventually kind of help myself, but it wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen overnight. The thing with weight loss too, is we always expect it to go faster. We we’ll have one or two days of eating, super healthy and working out, and then we don’t see a change and it can be discouraging, but it takes a long time to gain the weight and it takes just as long if not longer to lose the weight. It’s just not one of those things that is going to provide that instant gratification. So celebrating the small wins. I think what worked for me and what I encourage my clients to do is taking those baby steps so that you have something to celebrate or a win to acknowledge every single day, whether that was the fact that you drank an extra glass of water or you, I don’t know, had one serving of veggies with each meal, whatever kind of that small thing is , we’re looking for ways to set us up for success. Kind of experiencing that myself, knowing that those small wins, even though some days they felt quite insignificant and the big picture they were kind of the key to my own success.
A: Well, and it is so funny. There’s always like that meme out there where it’s like, I ate salads for a week. Why can’t I fit into these pants? Or something like this that I think we have been conditioned with how fast deliveries come or how much content we can view that everything is available at our fingertips, that when it comes to being able to lose weight or to change behaviors in ourselves, I think it is sort of that mind shift, like you said, of just conditioning that everything doesn’t happen overnight. You really do have to kind of be committed to wanting to make different changes, whether it’s for weight loss, whether it’s for mental health, because I think that’s a big part of it too, is. What we eat really does make us like, you know, feel less foggy during the day, or does help our sleep, like you had said, or just helps our overall feeling better. Not necessarily anything to do with our waist size.
OUTCOME BASED GOALS ARE USUALLY MORE SUCCESSFUL
K: Yeah. I think a lot of the time people strive to be healthier or change their eating habits with a physical goal in mind but we know through research, the people who base their goals on appearance or body weight, or how much they weigh those are not the people who are sustainable over the long-term. Those are the people who may reach a goal, and then yo-yo back and forth for years. So when we’re looking at making nutrition changes and making health changes and wellness changes of any sort it’s important to have goals that are kind of those non-scale victories that we can aim for. So do you want more energy? Do you want to go to bed by 9:00 PM, five days a week. And setting yourself up for success, for things that have nothing to do with results and that aren’t outcome-based, but actually process-based because if you are enjoying the process and if you can set goals that are based on doing the things, instead of getting the results, then you’ll ultimately be more successful.
A: I a hundred percent agree with that. I think a lot of people have the mindset of, oh well, when I 25 this is what I looked like, where it’s like so many things, whether it’s age metabolism, having kids like our bodies are meant to change and look different. So I think holding onto old ideals is an a shift that people need to kind of eliminate and really do think of the things that you said, like the mental clarity or the better sleep or the process based changes could be.
K: I see that all the time. Well, when I was 25, I was the size it’s like, okay. But when you were 25, that was 10, 15, 20 years ago when you were a completely different person and so you don’t look the same. You don’t act the same. You don’t think the same. And there’s that expectation? I know, even as a former athlete, like even now, if I go for a run or do a workout, I expect myself to be able to perform the way I did when I was training. I have to remind myself I was 18. I had no kids, no full-time job. Literally my only job was to train as an athlete. So obviously I’m not going to perform the same way now as I did then and even knowing that in the back of my head, it’s still hard to not compare yourself to your best to ever. We need to kind of just that kind of 1% better every day leads to kind of big change over time.
A: and just being more gentle and accepting of ourselves. Like I couldn’t imagine walking up to say my best friend or a family member and being like, you know, at 18 you looked like that. You probably should maybe go back. Like you would never in a million years treat somebody else like that.
K: No, no, you never. We were so much harder on ourselves than we ever would be on someone we love and the voice we hear the most is our own. So it’s not productive to that. All that negative self-talk that we’re so used to and it’s a really hard habit to break. It’s a really, really tough one. I find for me just professionally and personally, I read and listened to a ton of like personal development and, and mindset stuff in terms of books and audio books and podcasts. At first glance, it has nothing to do with fitness or nutrition, but when you kind of dig deeper, it has everything to do with wellness.
ONLINE MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM
A: I would imagine with the worlds being sort of in the pandemic state, that it has been, that more of your coaching and clients is probably done in the online space. Do you have a virtual community or anything that you run currently?
K: My entire practice is virtual right now, so my clients all get access to a client portal. There’s an app as well as a kind of a desktop version. This allows them to keep all their food journals if they’re doing that message me in between appointments and access me in between their appointments as well as all their tips and resources and that kind of stuff. I am in kind of the process of establishing a support group for all my clients, where there would be a little bit more community. When I first got back into kind of fitness and health, I mean I feel like I was always kind of into it cause I was working at, but when I started my own fitness journey I found a community online of like-minded women who were all just trying to be better versions of themselves. They were working out for themselves for the mental health, for the physical health, some had weight loss goals, some had strength, gaining goals. It was just kind of a diverse group of women who all wanted a little bit of extra support and accountability. That was a completely virtual community and through that community I’ve honestly met some of my best friends and we check in and we chat every single day. So I would love nothing more than to create a similar community for kind of my clients. My dietitian business is still kind of young but as my clientele grows then my community will be growing too. Having had a community like that that has had such a positive impact on my own journey. I’m just so excited to be able to give back to my clients in the same way and provide that same type of community because hearing from a coach or from a dietitian is one thing, but to have a group of women or a group of people who are all kind of going through it and are in the trenches with you is completely different.
A: I think in 2020 we definitely and earlier but we’ve definitely determined that some of your best friends can be your social media friends. And there is this way to create those beautiful connections. Especially whether you are trying to get a support on a journey that you’re already in or looking for a new community. I think it is really great to have that safe space that you could turn to.
K: Yeah. There’s those memes out there that say like no one cheers you on more than your Instagram friend that you’ve never met and in my experience honestly it’s a hundred percent true.
A: Which is sad but a hundred percent great that at least we have that option.
K: For whatever reason I don’t know I’ve always been more comfortable with strangers, I guess, because I think people we know there is that fear of being judged because you’re doing something different. I just always prefer to share my journey with complete strangers, my Instagram account. For example, when I first started it to kind of document my healthy eating and fitness and my journey health-wise I didn’t tell anyone I knew that I started it. I didn’t have any friends. I knew I kept it kind of secret. And it was kind of my online community now. I mean, it’s all kind of one but there was that fear of being someone different than who people thought you were, because you were kind of growing and changing and evolving. So I totally, it is sad, but I totally understand it. And I’ve been there.
A: I think sometimes when you have a community, whether it’s an in-person community or a virtual community, once you feel like you have that safe space and you’ve built it, the confidence to feel comfortable in your decisions or not have to defend them or not have to feel like they’re weird and new, then it really does change you as a person. So some of that fear and some of that shame or whatever is associated with it kind of disappears.
K: Yeah because you’re getting that kind of acceptance from one group. So kind of mentally it’s like, well, if they’re accepting me and I’m doing this, then they’re supportive, then there’s no reason why the other group wouldn’t.
A: For sure. If people are looking for you online, where would they find you?
K: So I’m primarily on Instagram at Kaylynne Mateus. I don’t use Facebook very much. You can also email me firstname.lastname@example.org for any kind of nutrition, wellness, any kind of questions whatsoever.
A: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been a really, really informative.
K: Thanks. It’s been so nice chatting with kind of an online bestie.