Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN, CD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Consultant, Writer & Speaker
One thing I know for sure is that one-size-does-not-fit-all when it comes to nutrition and the journey to better health
A few other things I know? Healthy eating doesn’t need to be time-consuming or complicated, health is not dependent on body weight…and a lot of us have skewed relationships with food.
Those realizations, or my decision to advocate for individualized nutrition and balanced food relationships, didn’t happen overnight.
My mission is to help people work on the why and how of eating—not just the what—to support body, mind and soul
I know that having a healthy, joyful relationship with food isn’t always easy. Even when you think you know what to eat, life can get in the way of acting on what you know. For example:
- Crazy schedules
- The lure of the diet du jour
- What your spouse/friend/coworker or mother/neighbor/barista says you should eat
- The ghosts of diets past
- Minimal cooking skills or kitchen confidence
- The barrage of media messages about super (and not so super) foods
- Struggles with food allergies or sensitivities
- Battles with food cravings or addictions
- Pure habit (aka being stuck in a rut)
When your relationship with food is in balance, you don’t eat to live, but you don’t live to eat, either.
You eat nourishing food that fuels your body for all you need it to do, but you also enjoy your food, making eating one of many pleasures in your life.
For years, I viewed food and nutrition as little more than a means to control weight. Fortunately, I woke up and got a clue
On a personal level, I have a long history of dieting that started in adolescence, when I would pore over weight loss diets in “women’s magazines.” Unfortunately, this was fueled by comments about my weight from family members. I quickly learned that weighing “too much” opened me up to criticism and shame, while losing weight earned praise. (Yeah, totally messed up.)
What my family environment started, the broader dieting culture nurtured. While I wouldn’t say I’ve tried every diet out there, I did try a lot of them: meal replacement products, Weight Watchers, vegetarian, vegan, detox diets, low-fat, super low-fat (Ornish), cabbage soup, South Beach, Paleo and intermittent fasting. I dove headfirst into workplace fitness challenges, logging so many steps that I actually started to become bitter. (Did I mention I have a bit of a competitive streak?) I did one of those stupid “fat burning” competitions with “before” and “after” photos.
Today, I say, “Just say no” to body projects!
I have a background in journalism, and several years ago I found myself writing about health and wellness for a health management company.
Eventually, I had the big “epiphany” that eating well and moving often were super important for staying healthy and feeling good in our bodies.
My interest in nutrition grew, and I made it a point to keep up with the latest nutrition research. Constantly reading “Eat this!” news stories followed a few months later by a “Wait…on second thought, don’t eat that!” story made me realize that it was no wonder that we’re so confused about what to eat.
That’s when I decided I wanted to pursue the education and credentials needed to become a true nutrition expert so I could use my writing to bust nutrition myths and provide some clarity in the midst of so much nutrition confusion. I also wanted to do more than write about nutrition. I wanted to work one-on-one with individuals to help them eat well, feel well—and really enjoy their food.
I dismissed the voices in my head that whispered, “You’re a writer…not a science person.” I waded through two years of heavy science classes (anatomy and biochemistry, anyone?) so I could apply to graduate school and study to be a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).
I’ve learned, through personal, academic and clinical experience, that while the healthiest ways to eat have certain things in common, there is no one right way to eat
There isn’t a “magic” ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat. There’s no food group that must be avoided (unless you have a food allergy or sensitivity).
What works beautifully for your neighbor may leave you feeling tired, hungry and cranky. When you try to shoehorn yourself into a way of eating that doesn’t resonate with your tastes, your background and your body’s internal wisdom, you’ll find yourself unhappy, later if not sooner.
I’ve also learned that dieting really, really doesn’t work.
That’s why lots of people lose weight on diets, but few keep it off. It’s not a matter of willpower, either. The process of controlling calories in an artificial way is inherently flawed, and our bodies simply won’t put up with it for long! Relearning how to eat intuitively and mindfully, in tune with our body’s natural hunger and fullness signals, is a much saner and sustainable way to nourish body and mind (I say “relearn” because little kids know how to do this…until they are taught differently).
Plus…all that number crunching and record keeping takes time and energy that could be spent on much more fulfilling and satisfying activities.
I care about feeling vital and energetic, and I bet you do, too. This is what’s important to me:
- I want to sleep well, wake up refreshed and have the energy to do what I want (and need) to do each day, whether that be work or play.
- I want to be fit and strong enough to walk for miles sightseeing on vacation, to dash for the bus if I need to, and to haul Costco-sized bags of groceries and 50-pound bags of chicken feed from my car.
- I want to reduce the odds that I develop chronic health problems that will slow me down in future decades. (I think modern medicine is an amazing thing, but I hope to not need a medicine cabinet filled with prescription drugs when I’m 75.)
- I want to enjoy the pleasure of eating food that satisfies my taste buds, nourishes my body and sometimes even soothes my soul.
- I want to experience the joy of movement that makes my me feel good.
What’s Important to You?
- Are you ready to let go of rigid or ever-changing food beliefs and food rules?
- Are you ready to cultivate a way of eating that feels right for you?
- Are you ready to feel more confident in the kitchen?
- Are you ready to care for your body, mind and soul with nourishing, delicious food?