Think back to January 1st—did you make any diet-related resolutions? Whether you did and are struggling with those resolves, or you didn’t, but desperately need to get your relationship with food and health under control, don’t get down. Eating well shouldn’t be a battle—after all, it’s ultimately what your body wants!
Few know this better than Registered Dietitian McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped. She is a pro at empowering folks to eat well through her nutritionally sound recipes, easy-to-understand dietary resources and coaching services. In the following Q&A, we quizzed McKel on her food philosophy and had her share a few of her favorite recipes.
Relish: When did you start eating well? What did that journey look like?
McKel Hill: I used to suffer from chronic migraines in high school—I’d be out of class for days at a time, and it was starting to affect my emotional and mental well-being; I wasn’t able to hang out with friends, pursue hobbies or work on my art—not fun! It wasn’t until I was an undergrad in nutrition and dietetics that I really started to pay attention to the quality of foods rather than getting hung up on all the numbers of calories/grams of fat, etc.. That’s when I found true health. I also discovered my sensitivities to gluten and dairy. Once I eliminated those from my diet, my energy, digestion, skin and overall well-being radically improved.
RE: For someone looking to improve his or her eating habits, where does a person begin? Cutting things out? Adding certain ingredients? It can be very overwhelming!
MH: Adding in more whole foods—simple as that. Limiting (ideally completely getting rid of) the processed foods you’re consuming will immediately boost the nutrients in your diet along with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Also, whole food recipes taste completely amazing.
RE: It’s easy to be skeptical of certain diets and lifestyles when the marketplace is so saturated with “quick fix” ideas. What research should one do before settling on a diet plan that is fitting for his or her needs?
MH: Definitely be your own health advocate and listen to your intuition and body—if someone tells you eating 20lbs of fruit a day is going to get you slim and this doesn’t “sit” well with you, it’s for a reason. Radical diets aren’t needed, nor will they allow you to achieve long term health and wellness. I would highly recommend having a one-on-one consultation with someone who’s an expert in the field of nutrition to get a path and plan started for you.
RE: Any popular diets to stay far, far away from?
MH: Avoid any “diet” that can’t be maintained or envisioned in your life for five years or more, that socially isolates you, or one that causes emotional or mental distress. That’s why I’m constantly speaking of the whole foods lifestyle—because it’s not a diet, it’s for your life. Eating food should be just as enjoyable to your taste buds as it is nourishing to your cells.
RE: Can you share your go-to recipes for this time of year? Deciding to live healthier during the dead of winter doesn’t give a person access to all that fresh summer produce at the get-go!
MH: I love my Ultimate Vegetable Pot which is great for squeezing in extra veggies any time of year, my Stripped Green Smoothie, a master smoothie for supporting your body’s natural detoxification pathways and Turmeric Milk—my most famous recipe on Nutrition Stripped.
RE: What do you say to new dieters who feel defeated after slipping back into old habits?
MH: Remember why you wanted to commit to health in the first place. If you don’t truly have a solid motivating factor, something that reaches to your core, you’re never going to change. You have to get real with yourself and find that inner drive, determination and reason for wanting to improve your health. Write it down, meditate on it daily, talk to your family and friends about it, and stay accountable.
RE: In your opinion, what are the three most important things to keep in mind when living (and eating) a healthy lifestyle?
MH: Keep it simple. Move and sweat every single day. Manage stress, sleep well, and drink water.
Recipes by McKel on Relish: