Ashley: Nutrition Specialist and Mindful Epicure
Food and Nutrition Philosophy
Hi! I’m Ashley, the registered dietitian (aka nutrition specialist) and Mindful Epicure for Everly Grace Whole Beauty.
One of the things that clients and customers always ask me is, “Ashley, what do YOU eat.” The short answer is I eat anything that I want to in any particular moment. Which is not the answer that most people are looking for! For the longer answer, I’ll do my best to spell out my own personal diet choices and how that reflects my overall philosophy for nutrition. If you are thinking about working with me, this is a great place to start to see if we would be a good match.
First, I will say that one of the main reasons I love being a registered dietitian is that the science of nutrition is dynamic and exciting… and I’m a huge nerd! The other big piece is that I love working people, and figuring out a healthy diet for YOU is a highly personal business. Science + unique people + coaching and educating + helping people uncover their perfect “diet” (aka reveal their best eating pattern) = a bit of a puzzle. A healthy eating pattern varies by person, so it really is putting together the puzzle pieces to uncover the best way of eating that fits with your health, food preferences, lifestyle, schedule, and more.
And seriously you guys, I love food! Like most other dietitians, I find a lot pleasure in taking care of myself with a nourishing diet and mindful movement. It makes me happy to fuel my body and feel good. Energized and focused. At the same time, I come from a long line of people who love to eat and I’m married to a chef. I’m obsessed with food and live to eat. I love fancy restaurants and eating all the pasta, seafood, butter, and chocolate that my heart desires. I love trying new cocktails with unusual ingredients, or trying the perfect pairing of wine and food. There is so much joy to be had in food and ultimately I’m all about the pleasure that happens when we eat. This is where the term epicure comes in: Epicure, noun: a person who takes particular pleasure in fine food and drink.
“There is so much joy to be had in food, and ultimately I’m all about the pleasure that happens when we eat.”
Which might sound silly to you. Like, duh! Everybody loves to eat, don’t they? On a surface level yes, but what I mean is truly enjoy. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I ate ___ yesterday, so I’m going to be “good” today?” Or, while working out “I’m earning my dessert and wine tonight?” Are those enjoyable thought patterns? I use to think that way all the time and basically it’s another way to say, “I don’t deserve to eat because ____ and ______” which is pretty negative, when you think about it. Instead, I work on fostering a positive relationship with food. This type of thinking is what dietitians call intuitive eating (here is a great book where you can learn more).
If I am craving cheese and wine, that’s what I’m having. Because, cheese and wine. If it’s a Tuesday night, and friends are headed taco Tuesday, I’m there. Because tacos and friends. If it’s lunch time, and I need to be productive for 4 more hours, I’ll pick a salad with greens, salmon, avocado, and chickpeas. Because I need energy and don’t want a huge bomb in my stomach bringing me down. If it’s breakfast, and I’m late (which is pretty much always because I lie in bed until the last possible moment) I’m eating in the car (which I do not recommend by the way! Still working on this…) I’m eating a yogurt with some fruit or nuts because it’s easy to have while driving (+ coffee, lots of coffee!). Because convenience and a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat. For me, this is where the mindful aspect comes in: Mindful, adjective: conscious or aware of something. I’m always pausing for a minute to see what is going to serve me best in any particular eating moment.
In different scenarios, my food choices support my differing needs whether it’s limited time, being social, maintaining productivity, or simply just enjoying the finer foods in life. There is room for all of it, and the variety of it is just plain fun! That same variety supports good health if you make nutritious choices much of the time, and the trick is finding what works for you.
“Diets are not one-size-fits-all.”
Which brings me to my overall nutrition philosophy as the Mindful Epicure, which I can sum up with a few key ideas:
Diets are not one-size-fits-all.
A diet is simply what you put in your mouth. There are specific diets that registered dietitians use to treat specific medical conditions. However for general health and even weight loss, I don’t believe in restrictive, controlled “diets.” In other words, I do not dabble in fads and trends. When it comes down to it, the basics of a healthy eating pattern are quite simple.
When you can free yourself from the obsession of dieting, you will create mental space to find the joy and delight that is eating.
Be plant-based. That doesn’t mean vegetarian (unless you want to be!) but what it means is that a majority of your diet should be based around minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes. Animal proteins can be included in a variety of ways and be very healthy.
Nutrition is just one puzzle piece. Mental hygiene, body movement, self-care, sleep habits, work and family life, medical conditions…. there are so many components to health and they all work together. We need to look at the big picture to find out what works for you.