76: What it's Really Like to be a Healthy Living Blogger
"Food was such an obsession...I was definitely on the spectrum of orthorexia. I was obsessed with healthy eating."
Alexis Joseph is a well known healthy living blogger, restaurant owner and registered dietitian. She's recently written a lot on her blog about her transition toward food freedom and intuitive eating, moving away from strict veganism to more of a connection to her body. If you've ever wondered what it's really like to be the person behind the perfect pictures and food you see on Pinterest and Instagram, listen to Alexis' story. She's honest, real and raw about why she ditched her restrictive eating to the curb.
She talks about the reactions she's gotten from the vegan community as well as the reactions she's gotten from her loyal readers. Listen in for a fascinating conversation about what it's really like to be a food and healthy living blogger.
Alexis Joseph's blog: http://www.hummusapien.com/
Her recent posts about her transition to intuitive eating: http://www.hummusapien.com/i-have-been-changed-for-good/ http://www.hummusapien.com/eating-intuitively-helped-live-intuitively/ http://www.hummusapien.com/became-eater-want/
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Paige: Hi everyone. Welcome back to Nutrition Matters Podcast. I’m Paige, your host. And as always I’m so glad you’re here. Today’s conversation is a really important one with the world we live in with so much interaction with social media and lots of healthy living blogs going on. Lots of sharing what we’re eating, lots of diet talk, etc. Today I sat down with a really well-known food blogger and registered dietitian named Alexis Joseph who is the blogger at http://www.hummusapien.com/. She’s also the proud owner of two restaurants in Columbus, Ohio. And she has her own story with her journey toward intuitive eating. And it’s really a fascinating one and an important conversation about what we see on social media and what real life is actually like for these people putting out this content. So I wanted to shed light on that because I know a lot of my clients struggle with seeing people on social media and how/what they’re eating etc. And feeling like they fall short or are inadequate in comparison. I think this is an important topic to talk about in our culture today. So that’s what Alexis and I set out to do in this conversation. Before that I wanted to make sure you were all aware of my online course. If you get anything out of these podcasts and you like the content and if these conversations have been helpful for you, the course will really help you take that to the next level on how to put all of this into action. Paigesmathersrd.com/course
Paige: Well hi Alexis, thanks so much for joining me on Nutrition Matters Podcast.
Alexis: Hi I’m so excited to be here!
Paige: Yay! Me too! Alexis, I’ve been kind of hounding you to come on so I’m glad we finally found a time that worked. Recently, Alexis published some really awesome articles on her blog about her own transition and journey with food. And it really spoke to me. It was just such a beautiful thing to see and I’m so excited to be able to talk about what that process was like for yourself and to hear about your journey. So that’s why we’re here: to talk about you and learn from your experiences!
Alexis: Yes, it’s been quite a journey so I’m excited to share!
Paige: Great! So for those of you who don’t know Alexis. She is kind of a huge deal. Alexis runs a blog called hummusapien. Just tell us a little bit about your blog and kind of when it started and what the scope of it is.
Alexis: Yeah! So I started hummusapien in 2011. I was in college, I was a sophomore and I always loved to write and I always loved food. And, ya know, I was like “let’s combine the two!”. And never ever thought it would be anything more than a fun little thing that me and my dad read. It really started off as posting recipes and those kinds of things. And it grew really more into a career probably a couple years ago and really what it is now, I kind of call it a multi-faceted food/wellness/lifestyle and inspiration space. So I share a lot of recipes, I like the blog to be really approachable and fun spaced. These days I talk a lot about intuitive eating and finding happiness and self-love through food. Recently I did an accidental re-brand where my focus shifted from pretty clean eating and harping on a lot of nutrition, to really focusing on intuitive eating and just bringing the fun back into it and sharing my perspective on a really nutritional role.
Paige: Yeah that’s awesome. I think I’ve been following you since I got on social media, at least Instagram with my work. I was looking for dietitians to follow. I’ve been along for the journey. It was really fun to see that first article you came out with. The one that was “I’ve been changed for good”. Was that kind of when you came out, for lack of a better term, as in changing some of your perspectives, or am I wrong on that?
Alexis: Yes! That was the post. I got such incredible feedback from that. Some words that actually brought me to tears. The connection that’s there makes it really important for me to spread a message that brings me even closer to my readers. It’s one thing to post a recipe that goes viral on Pinterest, and it’s awesome when those things happen. But, to me, what really brings meaning to my work is providing content that really inspires people and can help people for the better. So yeah, I just kind of got sick of recipes. And I really found a new passion for talking about disordered eating and the like.
Paige: Okay, I’m so excited to get in your head and hear your story so to speak, just because I think we have this view of food bloggers as these specimens of perfection when it comes to food. And we all know that perfect eating with food doesn’t really exist. And when people pursue it, it turn into really unhealthy behaviors. So I just love the idea of being able to hear and real food-blogger with a really big following talk about what it’s like to have so many people looking to you for advice and for recipes and for guidance. And then to make a shift in your own life and then to hear about the response you got and the experiences that maybe others shared with you and to see how that message has spread. So that’s sort of the scope of what I want to talk about today. I do want to sort of wind a bit and just hear a little bit about your story growing up with food and talk about any important experiences or stories that may have shaped why you became a dietitian.
Alexis: Yeah, it’s a really interesting story because I feel like where I am now with food is actually how I grew up, like how I was with food throughout my childhood. I use the word normal even though my family is so far from normal. But, ya know, normal is not cool nor exciting! Anyways, I grew up with a very normal view of food. We ate everything. Food was celebratory. It was never restricted. My parents would never dream about commenting on someone’s weight. It was just wasn’t a thing. We ate good food, we enjoyed it. We were never forced to finish our food-it was never like that. There was gentle nutrition, I would say, from my mom. Like, if I got home from school she would say “would you like some fruit or some yogurt..?”, but if I wanted something else, she would buy me a chocolate bar too, and I loved that. Maybe the cookies that she bought weren’t the super processed kind, but she still bought us cookies. And if we wanted a bowl of frosted flakes, we would eat a bowl of frosted flakes. So I grew up with a really good sense of balance. And I also grew up with friends whose parents were kind of the opposite. We knew their houses had no food.. They grew up with parents that were super restrictive in the home. I saw those friends, some of my best friends, end up with serious eating disorders. So how I grew up with food was really lovely and I feel really blessed to have had that. My shift to plant based eating, ya know, my mom like never had lentil so I did not eat that kind of food growing up. We would grill, we’d have fruit salad, it’s not like we were eating out of a box, but we weren’t eating vegan by any means. We never ate tofu or anything like that. Really, in college I took this trip to Israel on BirthRight and met a couple people who were really plant based and got really passionate from it based on the perspective of preventing chronic disease. Not from a weight loss thing. I never counted calories in my life. I didn’t even study studied nutrition in the beginning. That wasn’t at all the forefront of my life. In high school my favorite snack was wheat thins with cheese and diet coke. Like, I didn’t eat perfectly, but I didn’t run around eating perfect bars, and blah blah blah. And thank God for that.
Paige: That’s a great way to grow up, right?
Alexis: Yeah! It’s so freeing. It just wasn’t a thing. I always loved food more than the next person and my mom always thought it was funny, but it wasn’t an unhealthy obsession or anything. So yeah, then in college I went to Israel-that was influential for me. I read Skinny Bitch, I watched Forks over Knives, etc. I did that whole thing. Back in 2011 and really got super inspired, or obsessed, for the whole plant based movement. Everything was Vegan, my blog was vegan, I was selling Vegan. I thought it was just so cool what you could do without eating dairy and the body of research with preventing chronic disease. So that was really my passion for so many years. And I’m still very passionate.
Paige: Can I ask a question? Tell me what was your fascination with preventing chronic disease? Was there something that was in your genetics that you were concerned about? Or was it all just in general? What drew you to that do you think?
Alexis: No! I started to develop this interest in nutrition along the way, right? And I had a cooking interest but I wasn’t always so nutrition focused and that kind of started developing. And I say that “with a passion to develop chronic disease” because there’s a lot of claims that go plan based to have a reason to restrict, essentially, to be candid. And that’s not saying that people aren’t doing this for animal rights or for health, like I was. But again, there are a lot of people I realize now who are doing it for maybe no the healthiest reasons so I don’t have any chronic disease, I didn’t know anyone with a chronic disease, I just was so enthralled with that. Looking back it’s interesting to look at that because I didn’t have a chronic disease so when I was really craving eggs and not eating eggs because I was vegan and adamant about that. I kind of look back and I’m like ehhh… did I need to be so rigid? Probably not.
Paige: Okay, so what did you think during that? Was it sort of “white knuckling” through those “I want eggs” type of moments for you? Or what was it like?
Alexis: The cool thing about my experience is that Instagram didn’t exist in 2011. So my inspiration for becoming vegan was what I adsorbed on my own and then like, “Oh She Glows”, was the big thing, which you know she still is so amazing. So those were my inspiration. It wasn’t like I was doing it like everyone else was, I guess. And I’m not saying that’s why people go vegan. But, I kind of was like on my own path, which was cool. And it wasn’t in people’s faces, unless they were reading the blog. No I wasn’t “white knuckling” it. I was so passionate about it. I loved it. It was just so cool to me. And I really was only straight vegan for a year. But again I wasn’t like, ya know.. If I really wanted Jenny’s, I would eat it occasionally. But I got this place where like I’d want something, and then I wouldn’t eat it because I’d be like, I’m vegan. And I know if someone sees me eating this they would be like “I thought you were vegan”. Which happened all the time and it was so annoying.
Paige: Yeah like people policing you?
Alexis: Yeah totally. And I was like, “get off my case!” I am who I am! But, food judgements a whole other story. As college went on I was still plant-based. But I was definitely not vegan. I wanted the freedom to eat what I want when I wanted. So whil I was still really passionate about those kinds of foods. Maybe 90% of the time I would still enjoy an egg sandwich if I wanted an egg sandwich and I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. But, ya know, I’m way more lax about it now than I was before. Especailly with things like dairy, which for me, were so not part of my diet for so long. I don’t eat a ton of dairy now, but I still eat yogurt, or my favorite egg sandwich with cheese on it. Now it’s not a thing. And what I realized was like food was such an obsession and I’ll say I’ve never had an eating disorder, but I definitely feel like I was on that orthorexia spectrum where I was obsessed with healthy eating. Now I look back, and again I hope this doesn’t come from a judgmental place, but I see these feeds that are all just bowls of food. And I feel for those people. I just hope they have other outlets because I was in a place where all I thought about was food and I didn’t see the harm in that until later. I look at myself now and if I don’t bring a lunch, like I’m cool. Where as a couple years ago it was like, “Oh my God, I don’t have my lunch, and my thing and my perfect blah blah blah that was very in control”.. that’s how I was. It was this overall really in too deep with food. It was just too much. Too much to my mental energy spent on what I was eating. And like yes, health is important, but it’s so much more than food.
Paige: so yeah! I want to hear.. I’ve never eaten vegan, I mean I eat vegan meals occasionally here and there. But it’s never been something I’ve followed. As someone who had the childhood experience having a very normal, great relationship with food and eating lots of different kinds of foods without guilt and all of that. What did it feel like to be vegan? Did you feel a sense of, kind of like, I don’t want this to come off as offensive either to anyone either.
Paige: but a superiority to like, “Oh look at me, I can do this even though it’s hard.” Or was there a sense of like purity, or what was going on for you? Were you hungry all the time? How did you do?
Alexis: No! I definitely was not hungry, no not at all. I was like whipping up cool stuff. Honestly, if I could put it into words, I felt empowered. I felt so passionate about something that I had never dreamed. I’ve literally said the words to my friend, I read the book “Skinny Bitch” and it was really good book but I would never be vegan. Which looking back, that book is so incredibly fear mongering it’s ridiculous. I never in a billion years, and you can ask anyone in my family, never would I have said I would become a vegetarian. It was such a ridiculous foreign concept. Now, I’m not a vegetarian because I eat sea foods sometimes, but I do identify with that word now, and it’s so interesting. But for me I really did not feel any sense of superiority, I think that that can definitely happen because people almost unnecessarily challenge themselves with these diets, and for me, it totally was a diet I guess, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever been on a diet. I didn’t feel that way. For me it was that whole thing that go me so in foods. And I’m a very passionate enthusable person. So I was just like so into this. It was the coolest thing to me. So it was kind of like my own thing. I had no friends this way. I wasn’t really posting things on Instagram. I was just in my own world exploring these new foods. Even almond milk! All of the sudden I wanted to drink almond milk and cook tempe. And for me this was so cool. These are environmentally friendly and healthy! I had the best of intentions. I still think that going through that was for the better because I learned so much about plant-based eating. Things have changed now and it’s definitely not that all-in like it was before. Like I said, I still eat that way, just because I like it and it’s what I’m used to. With my boyfriend, we eat vegan every night for dinner and I’m not even trying, it’s just what I’m used to. Obviously with the restaurants I run here in Columbus it’s a big focus. It comes to me as second nature, not over analyzing it. It’s just how we cook most of the time. We go out on the weekends, we get brunch, we get eggs. I had pizza last night with plenty of cheese. It’s just becomes this freeing thing where it’s not a big deal. I’m not analyzing anything and it’s a beautiful place to be.
Paige: And it seems like it’s not all or nothing. It’s sort of taking the good parts of what you loved about that. But also combining the parts you love about a different way of doing things, right?
Alexis: Yeah. I think such an issue with, ya know, a lot of type A people like myself where maybe you fall into these patterns because you want to be in control or maybe you’ve lost control of some aspect of your life, and this is something you know you can control. It just becomes this all or nothing mentality where I’m going to only do these things and blah blah blah and it becomes so intense so quickly without realizing it. And there’s so much in the media right now and everyone has an opinion. Anyone that looks thin or muscular has a vantage, right?
Paige: Right, that’s so true.
Alexis: Getting nutrition information is hard these days. Someday I’m like “I don’t know what to eat! Should I be eating..” It’s crazy how saturated this industry is. It’s insane.
Paige: Lots of input.
Alexis. It’s how it’s selling products. Diets make money because everyone wants a quick fix! I think I had another answer to your question and I just forgot it.
Paige: Oh, that’s okay. You’re doing great! One thing that I just want to point out is- we really tend to look at behaviors as the litmus test for whether or not you’re a “healthy” or a normal eater, whatever.
Alexis: So that's different for everyone. Everyone has different taste buds so there’s a big period of exploration and curiosity that needs to happen if you’re kind of “coming out”. If you’re hearing this and thinking, “hmm this resonates with me” then there’s that big period. And what i’ll also say is that we’re in the bubble of health. So we look at everything with this lense of health. There is so many people who are vegan for animal rights. And there’s so many people that are vegan for health reasons that have no disordered eating tendencies. What’s gotten me into problems is I, as someone who used to be vegan, I get a lot of angry comments from people who are vegan that are really mad at me for taking a picture of a yogurt and they’re like, “how could you do this?”. I kind of have to take those strides. But at some point it like, I’m important too! What about what I want?! So you just have to respect. It’s easy when you’re in our positions to have that radar because I was that person that was really exclusive. So now I have both goggles on where it’s like, “Oh, you’re vegan? Are you doing it for the right reasons?”. For example I had a client yesterday who came in and she was a total normal eater. I have been probing to see if she has disordered eating tendencies because most of my clients do, and she just didn’t. I was like, “whoa”! I forgot that not everyone has eating issues. She just wanted to straight up be healthier. And I haven’t had a client like that in so long and it was such a breath of fresh air. It was just interesting for me. Rewind, and don’t just assume that everyone has an issue, right? So it’s been a really interesting learning experience. For me and for dealing with my clients that don’t come in with any preconceived notions, no matter if they’re paleo, if they’re this or that. There are a million reasons why people are doing what they’re doing and you’ve just got to find out why.
Paige: For sure! No, that’s a good reminder. So talk about how you made the shift and what that was like for you.
Alexis: Yeah! So, I went to FNCE last year which is the big nutrition conference. I had been getting close to a few dietitians like Robin from the Real Life RD, I’ve known for years. And Kylie from Immaeat that and a few other girls. I was spending a lot of time with them and kind of started reading Intuitive Eating. It really started when Davida, from the The Healthy Maven had me on her podcast and she asked me if I felt like Healthy Living bloggers were kind of perpetuating this problem with orthorexia, because we’re always posting these perfect picture of healthy food. And I told her yes! I do! And that’s when I kind of wrote that whole post and everything started changing. So really i just started surrounding myself with all this new information about Intuitive eating, Body Positivity, self care and self love. I was reading all these different books that really inspired me and it was like a whole new world. Dieting really is so much of a religion. So doing something different is very strange and it affects a lot of different aspects of your life because food is important. So I really just kind of put the breaks on the whole...I’m not going to say I put the brakes on plant-based, but I really just opened my brain up and I was more conscious of the decisions I was making. Like, last night I went to dinner at a restaurant and I had two pieces of toast and two eggs for breakfast. And I happened to eat a lot of bread yesterday. And then at dinner I caught myself saying “I am craving pizza but I should get this one thing.” I heard that thought and immediately I was like, well I’m ordering the pizza! Because I caught my old dieting mentality self telling myself, “oh you should eat this, even though you’re in the mood for that. And if you order a salad, you’re going to go home and eat fifty other things because you never satisfy yourself.” So I really started listening to myself and listening to what I wanted and feeling this whole new sense of fullness and freedom because I was eating things. But before I was like, you cannot go eat that because it’s not vegan, or X, or Y, or Z. I go to bed and I was really craving dessert and I didn’t have it and it used to make me proud of myself that I didn’t have dessert, that I “resisted”.. Whatever. Now I’m proud of myself when I do have dessert because I’m feeding my craving and listening to my body. It really has been this whole new sense of satisfaction that’s taught me just so much about how things can change when you really start to listen. Just listening to yourself. Everything we do is so acute externally so-I should be eating what I see on Instagram, I should be eating what this magazine told me to eat. We’re not eating based on our bodies. We’ve gotten so far from that because there’s so much information overload.
Paige: Well, we’re kind of taught that we can’t be trusted, right? We’re taught that the body is sort-of to be feared, or to be afraid of. And then it leaves you with this like, “what am I supposed to do?” I must look to some guru to guide me through what I should be feeding myself. When in reality, you should be your own guru, right? Developing that through paying attention to your thoughts and your body in general.
Alexis: Yes! And now I have these diet goggles where now I just hear everyone talking about changing their body all the time to the point where I’m like, “I’m so just like.. Ughh!” I just don’t contribute to it, whether it’s my friend saying, “oh she’s so skinny”, or “I’m going to have to eat salad all week” or “I have to lose weight for my wedding”, things that you used to hear and not think anything of I know hear and I will not contribute to that diet conversation about “let’s manipulate our bodies to feel better about ourselves. It’s just so interesting how when you’re conscious of things and when you really start listening for how many men and women talk about manipulating their bodies. It’s honestly so astounding.
Paige: Yeah! You hit on a lot of really important things there. I think it is part of the process that intuitive eating brings to you. And this is why I think it’s such meaningful work. Talking about food can seem a little superficial sometimes. I don’t know, it just seems like it doesn’t matter all that much. I actually have my podcast called Nutrition Matters because I LOVE to talk about what matters. That’s literally just kind of the way that my soul works. I really like connecting with people about those things. And so, what matters about nutrition is the fact that it’s sort of a physical thing that you can do that can teach you all kinds of things on an abstract level. So you can’t help but learn how to be a more intuitive, kind, gentle, loving, understanding, and less judgmental person with others when you practice that with yourself with food.
Alexis: I’ve never even thought about that! That’s so interesting
Paige: Yeah! It teaches you how to be that way in life. You practice paying attention to your thoughts and really questioning some of your assumptions with food. But then you learn that you can do that with people, right? You can say okay, I used to take a look at someone in a larger body and think X, Y, and Z about them, but now that I’m noticing those thoughts come in and out of my mind, I’m recognizing that that’s not really in alignment with who I want to be. And that’s not fair, and that’s not what I want people to judge me on some outward thing about my body or about who I am. I want people to take time to get to know me. So I’m going to do that. What’s crazy is that intuitive eating can kind of help you learn how to do that process in so many different ways.
Alexis: I feel like my mind is blown right now. I’m like “I have to write a blog post about this!”. I wrote a post called “How Eating Intuitively Helped Me Live More Intuitively”, but I didn’t get into the whole thought things so much. But it’s just crazy how much it’s affected me. It’s really just affected my entire life. I won’t talk about that post, i could talk about that post forever. But, it’s just crazy how exactly what you said, when your perception of food changes, you are in fact getting more in touch with your own thoughts which has this overflow effect into every aspect of your life. That’s probably the most rewarding thing of it all, and it has nothing to do with food.
Paige: Right! It’s sort of this window into a beautiful way of living, right? Where, it’s very hard to be so metta and talk about all these abstract things and make them happen, but it’s kind of cool that we have food to sort of teach us these lessons to help us get there, ya know?
Alexis: Right, and it was so unexpected. I just noticed it about myself. I was just such an interesting thing to think about. I was really an unforeseen huge positive benefit of the whole thing.
Paige: Yeah! Oh i love it! And it’s impossible to know that would be the consequence when embarking on something like that or even just sort of intuitively coming to those conclusions on your own. It’s been so true for me, too in my own life. You can’t help but become more intuitive and in tune with your own inner sort of wisdom as you work on your relationship with food. And that’s one of the things I love about this work, it’s so much more than food. But, the food teaches us how to sort of learn those abstract lessons. Another thing you talked about Alexis is that you see it everywhere now that you’re sensitized to it. And that is seriously such a burden sometimes. It depends on your personality, but me, i’m a really sensitive person and sometimes I just want to not have to fight that fight anymore. And even in my own circles sometimes it’s just AHHHH I’m so sick of knowing how annoying these conversations are. I wish I was kind of clueless, it would be so much easier sometimes to exist this culture. I don’t know if I have anything amazing to add to that. But I know that’s a real struggle and I think a struggle for the people listening to this podcast. They’ve written in and said “okay now my whole family annoys me because this is all we talk about.” And it is somewhat of a burden.
Alexis: It is a huge burden. It’s like when you buy a new car and then all you see is that car. And before you never saw it. I forgot what it’s called, there’s a word for it. It’s a phenomenon.
Paige. There’s a thing! I don’t know what it’s called either. I know what you’re talking about!
Alexis: For me it actually made me take a closer look on the people I spend my time with. And because I started hearing these things I was so turned off to it. To people that talk that way. That’s what they need to surround their conversation with, that’s so not my thing. But in a positive light, it’s made me seek out women who love themselves in their own skin and people that bring the positive light out of me. A health coach here in my area is a great example of this. She works with people with disordered eating and we became friends probably like a year ago. We bond over having such similar beliefs over these things. What I try to keep in mind is, for people who are maybe your friends back in college or whoever they are, very few people know this perspective. So it’s kind of like, okay maybe their thoughts were my thoughts five years ago and they haven’t been on this journey. My best best friend called me a couple weeks ago actually saying “hey I want to lose five pounds” and I was like “okay let’s talk about this”. It ended up being this huge conversation about her boyfriend actually making her feel insecure and she didn’t want to actually lose weight at all but felt like she had to .It was this incredible conversation. The more people that look at it this way, the better that can kind of encourage those conversations to not “proliferate” if you will. We just have to keep on keeping on. When someone says, “ahh I can’t eat it because I’m on a diet” and taking it with a grain of salt because we have to accept that the diet industry is a 3 trillion ca-jillion dollar industry. There’s far more people on a diet than not, I would say. At some point you have to accept it that that’s going to happen. But also, how can I rise above? Maybe, can I say one thing that can make that person second guess. Maybe it’s even raising your daughter or son to not always compliment people based on their appearance. Maybe they say, “You’re so smart”. Or even to your daughter say “you’re so smart” instead of “you are so beautiful, you are so strong.” Complimenting people based on things other than their appearance I think is a huge thing.
Paige: Oh! That’s huge! If you look at people that way, with those eyes of “what do I really actually, legitimately, like about this person?” Right. Because yea, they might have a pretty shirt on, or something, and that’s an okay compliment. But really, trying to think about what do I really like about people, and what do they maybe need to hear, is such a different way of looking at the world than with this lense of “Oh I’m so insecure about things, and what are people thinking about me, and the only compliments I give are sort of a reflection of things that are going onfor me.” That’s so often why people do say, “Oh you look so skinny in those jeans” or whatever, because that’s what they’re struggling with inside.
Alexis: I would never go up to someone and be like, “you look so skinny!”. That’s just such a weird thing to say to me. I think of my friends with eating disorders, and when I’m with them I would never say something like that to them. That’s just encouraging them. That’s just not something that needs to be commented on. That’s not really a compliment to a lot of people either. If people told me I was skinny, I’m like uhh… is that nice? It’s just so uncomfortable. An activity that I do with my clients sometimes is pick someone that you really look up to, and then why do you look up to them? Write down ten adjectives of why you look up to them. Warm, caring, powerful, determined, they’re not like-skinny, pretty, you know what I mean?
Paige: For Sure!
Alexis: It’s not even the top of our value system. And even if it is, you better check yourself. But we forget that those things aren’t even important.
Paige: Right! And they’re not important to us for who we love and who we want to connect with. So why do we place so much importance on that for ourselves? That’s a big question to ask yourself. If this is top of your mind, and something you’re just beating yourself over, really ask yourself-well, what do I love about people in my life? And yeah, you usually don’t list, “oh I just love their abs”, or whatever. Ya know?
Alexis: “They have the BEST Elbows ever!” hahaha
Paige: Exactly! I really want to hear about how you mentioned you talked to your clients about that little activity and I do another activity with my clients, too. I want to ask you it! So, if you could go back in time and talk to yourself before you went down the vegan road, what would you say? And it’s okay if it’s nothing different, but what would you tell yourself with your wisdom of being a little bit older and wiser?
Alexis: Oh, that’s such an interesting question. Hmmmm. I think I would tell myself that life is too short to not live everyday to the fullest. And that probably sounds a little cheesy, but to me it means life’s just too short to not eat the donut. You know what I mean? Life is just too short not to get the Latte you actually want vs. a coffee with whatever is in it. I get push back sometimes for people saying, “Well lucky for you, you’re in a small body you can eat whatever you want”. Eating intuitively doesn’t just mean eating donuts all the time, and I just used that example because I love donuts. I think I’m getting off track, but I think that’s also really important thing to point out. Have you ever heard that?
Paige: Oh yeah!! I think that there is kind of a phase that a lot of people have to go through when they’ve been so entrenched in diet culture for so long. There is a typically pendulum swing over into “I’m proving myself on a physical level that I really don’t have restrictions anymore.” And yeah you can feel pretty out of control and it can feel pretty difficult to navigate. But it usually doesn’t last very long for people. You know? And it’s not the goal of where you want to land with intuitive eating. Because intuitively, your body will communicate “hey donuts all day doesn’t really feel very good, and doesn’t help me function, and doesn’t help me be my best self.” So while I do think that’s not what intuitive eating is, I do see that in practical life that a lot of people kind of go through that as a phase of discovering where they want to hone in on as their place where they feel in balance.
Alexis: Oh, totally. That phase is huge. I have clients that kind of told themselves that they could skip over that phase. And they can’t eat intuitively because they’ve never actually let themselves go or let themselves enjoy the food that they actually want.
Paige: I was just going to comment on what you just said. So letting yourself go is like a phrase that really freaks people out, you know? They’re like “OH! So intuitive eating is letting yourself go, like, ahh run the other direction!” And I think it’s an important distinction that you’re not really letting yourself go, so to speak, kind of the way we talk about it in our culture. But you’re just letting yourself be. Letting yourself exist in your life and in the moment. And sometimes that means donuts, and sometimes that means salads. All of that is okay. So keep going forward!
Alexis: So I was just thinking that I really wish in school that we had class on disordered eating. I think it’s really outdated in our education. The topic is this is anorexia, this is bulimia. And when you read about it, it’s this extreme thing. I used to say, “Oh i could never work with people with eating disorders, that sounds terrible!”
Paige: I said the same thing!
Alexis: We just didn’t have good education on it. Disordered eating was something I didn’t really know how to define. And I think that, had I been given the opportunity to work with an intuitive eating dietitian in the beginning, or had I read the book, I would’ve counseled very differently than in the beginning instead of hyper-clean eating. I don’t regret anything, I’ve learned so much along the way, and you have to start somewhere and make mistakes. And I’ve still only been practicing for a few years now so I’m still young in the business. But I think going back to your question about what would you tell yourself, I’m not always very good at letting myself be. I wake up in the morning and I’m getting high off all the things I could get done before 10. I’m like, Okay I’m going to get coffee, I’m going to get that one thing off my to-do list, I’m going to go pee, I’m going to get dressed. And it’s weird, I just cannot just chill. I did nothing for three hours this morning so don’t think I’m killing it all day, that’s definitely not the case. I’m working on not thriving so much off of my to-do list. I need to stop the whole idolization of productivity. We’re in this society where there’s drones of efficiency. Present Over Perfect is a good book to talk about that stuff. Really just slowing down and just chill out. What actually matters in life? Stop over doing it in every aspect of life and things start to look better and you have time to see the beauty in life.
Paige: Yeah I love that answer! So, overall no regrets. You wouldn’t really change anything. Just some advice in terms of like, enjoy life and slow down, and take things one step at a time and it’s okay to make mistakes. Keep working hard, basically.
Alexis” Yeah! And find things that excite you besides food. If you think about food all the time there’s probably something going on. For me, I used to sit on my phone and stare at recipes. It was an obsession. And at the time, yeah what’s wrong with that? I like looking at recipes. my boyfriend thought it was cute I was always looking at recipes. Now, we just got a house and now I’m always looking at furniture and it’s such a breath of fresh air to not be staring at food every minute of every day. If all you’re thinking about is food, of course you’re going to start overeating because, every second you’re going to wonder what you can be eating even when you’re already full and you just ate. Maybe you’re not satisfying yourself, maybe XYZ is happening. But, long story short, if you’re thinking about food all the time, there’s something going on.
Paige: Yeah! That’s a good indicator. Definitely. Food should require some of your time and energy and mindful awareness. But if it’s occupying the majority of that for you, that’s a good indicator that you might want to take a look at what’s going on. It deserves some time but not all your time.
Alexis: Help yourself! I keep saying Instagram because so many of my clients are influenced by these things,but if you pull up Instagram and your whole feed is bowls of food, you need to find some other inspiration. Follow home decor, follow puppies, follow something else, or freaking just delete Instagram for a week. What you’re putting in front of your eyes is what’s going to be on your mind. So if you’re staring at birds and nature all day, you’re not going to be thinking about what kind of Yogurt you want every five seconds. So re-look at what you’re feeding your mind all day every day, and how that might need to shift to help you change your thought process. I always tell my clients this quote, “you’re the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”. So you can think of that as what your brain spends its time on. You’re not a salad so you want to surround yourself beyond other things that inspire you, if that makes sense.
Paige: That totally makes sense! I recently actually had a pretty long hiatus from social media-pretty long for me as someone who uses social media for my business and it is an important part of my work. I think that’s what makes it hard for me personally, is when I’m putting myself out there and for my business. I don’t struggle with social media personally, but that isn’t as hard. What I was going to say is I took a break just because we moved houses and it was so much work. My husband and I did basically all the moving on our own. I have so many cuts and bruises! But anyway, I literally couldn’t. My time was taken up by going to my office and working with my clients, and then coming home and doing that for a long time. Things are kind of starting to settle in again and I’m getting back on social media a little more. And I’m like, oh yeah, this is kind of hard. And I do surround myself with really positive people and lots of great messages. But for some reason for me it’s not this pressure to eat quinoa bowls all day or something, but for me it’s all the opinions, all the input, all the images, it’s just too stimulating. I just need stillness and nature.
Alexis: We use social media to tell people what’s going on in our lives. I get on, and you said it perfectly, I’m so over stimulated. I’m like, “Oh I should be doing this, eating this, getting married.” I’m a very sensitive person and I am someone who gets affected when I go on social media. And I know if I get affected then how are my clients feeling? So it might not always be food. But, just our brains and how they’re changing to be so stimulated all the time, I don’t think it’s necessarily the best thing all the time.
Paige: It’s kind of nice. When I took that break it was kind of nice to remember, “oh here’s my little life, and here’s my little circle of people I care about and talk on the phone to and who I visit with in person. And we’re all good.” It’s just good to remember what really matters and what’s really close to you. Sometimes the connection that we think we have on social media can actually be a source of disconnection. It’s kind of ironic. I think it has its merits, and it’s value in so many ways. But it is something to sort of keep in check. And again, learning intuitive eating and really trying to practice that can help give you a window into being intuitive in the type of media you’re taking in and to recognize when it’s getting out of control for you. Or when it’s working for you, or when it’s not. Because you’re learning that practice of intuition and mindfulness and gentleness with yourself.
Alexis: Yeah definitely. And I think another point is that with technology, we are constantly taking in so many forms of media. What I’ve told myself and what I’m realizing is that it’s okay to not know. You know? It’s okay to not know what that person ate yesterday and to not know who just got pregnant, XYZ. Sometimes it’s just nice to just BE. And to have a clear brain space where you can connect with yourself and connect with the people you love and not be inundated with news that doesn’t really have a place at that time. That’s something I’ve really started to tell myself. I notice that I feel better before Instagram than after I get off. I’m not meaning to criminalize Instagram, it’s very important in my business. I do love it, but I’m just going to be in saying that sometimes it makes me feel crappy about myself.
Paige: You know what?! That’s so fascinating because to the average person who sees you on Instagram, and I just pulled yoou up, 43.4K followers! And you’re smiling and you have this cute boyfriend, and you post all these cute pictures of food and like, you’re just adorable. This is exactly why I want to talk about this. People will look at your and say, “she has it all! She has everything I could possibly want, look at her life!” And to hear you talk about this is just really important. Let’s hear what you have to say about it.
Alexis: That is so important to me, that’s why I’m like brutally honest on my blog. If you ask my readers, maybe a top word to describe me would be “transparent”. I have a lot of struggles in my life and as does everyone! I’m sure mine are greater than some and less than some, I don’t even know if I’m saying that grammatically correct. But when you pull up people’s feeds and you look at them and think “oh they have everything” I’m just really big on making sure people know. I like to talk about what I’m going through and to show people that yeah, I just went to a really fun wedding in L.A. and we just opened a new restaurant and it looks all fun and dandy on Instagram because Instagram is the place for positivity. I’m not going to post a picture of my boyfriend just getting a new job and not have a stable income and it being really stressful. Or me working a zillion jobs because I have to payoff 80k of student loan debt. There’s just so many things we don’t talk about because I’m not going to bring down the world with woe is me, but I have a ton of my own issues. I cried like three times this week over things. So I just want people to know even about me because I know people can look at my feed and be like, “oh the restaurants in the blog and what a cute boyfriend. Oh, she’s lucky!” And of course I am lucky but, I have plenty of stuff going on in my life that isn’t the lovely Instagram material, if that makes sense.
Paige: Yeah! I think when we all sit back and really think about that, we know that logically and intuitively. Of course everyone has their struggles. It’s sort of like a cliche, like DUH! But when you’re just scrolling through and there’s almost this subconscious feeling of like, “Gosh, that person has it all figured out. And look at me, I’m such a mess.” It’s just important for people to hear realness and I love that about you and I’m so glad you’re willing to share what it’s really like to kind of be in that space. I’m sure there’s a level of burden of having all these people who follow you and who are interested in your life and probably sending you lots of messages. I get lots of messages and I don’t have the reach that you do , even close. So I can’t imagine. There’s probably a level of a burden there as well. We need to just keep in mind that even these healthy living bloggers that you mentioned earlier when you got that question, are they part of the problem? I like that answer. I felt that way when I first got on Instagram for my business and I started following dietitians and food people and whatever. I was like, “what is going on?! Why is everyone not eating dairy, and not eating wheat, and what?! Why are we doing this?” And then I would have clients come in and be like, “oh I saw these people on Instagram. She’s a dietitians, she told me to eat this way!” And I’m just like ahhh! I think that’s so important.
Alexis: That’s where I like I did a 180. In the past I would never post, I keep talking about this image because it’s like the best thing ever, it’s soo good! But for me that was so symbolic. I’ve posted that on my feed and it’s not like unhealthy, it’s just a super bready egg sandwich with cheese, it’s so freaking good. And to me it was so symbolic of my food freedom. My life is imperfect, and I freaking love it that way. ’m not going to post that because my spoon has peanut butter on it or every picture has to be amazing. I was just like, screw this! I want my feed to personify my life. My life is messy and imperfect and funny and weird. I hope that people can see that when they read my material and see my content. It’s super important for me.
Paige: Yeah! That is really really important. And that’s helping more people than you know to have you express how you approach things and to give room for enjoying life and taking part in the pleasureable experience of eating and not being restrictive and obsessive or crazy around food. When I asked you to come on I wasn’t sure if you’d say something like, “Like it was really hard to keep up almost facade of perfect eating.” I wasn’t sure if that would be your experience because I’ve had a lot of people express that to me who do post a lot of food pictures or more lifestyle food bloggers constantly feeling like they have to put content on. Posting something and adding more to the plate after the picture or trying to make it look perfect and eating it a different way because real life.
Alexis: Oh, definitely!
Paige: I was interested to know if any of that got to you or if you feel that way trying to keep up with the sheer demand of content.
Alexis: Oh, definitely. It’s actually interesting because I straight up stopped blogging for a while because I lost meaning in it. It was just not resonating with me it was not what I set out to do. It just became this thing that was like ehh, I was not feeling it. I wrote about! I think the post I wrote, I’m trying to think of which one it was. It was one of those, I can’t remember. It was before the Unicorn Frappuccino post which might have been the post I came back with. It was my most viewed post ever. How I handled was like this constant needing of perfection. I decided to boycott it and not do it for a while. And then I kind of came to terms and I realized I missed blogging and I felt like I was in a better situation. Where it used to be if I was eating a gorgeous salad I had to photograph it. Where now, if I’m eating a gorgeous pizza I have to photograph it. I want to show the fun stuff. I’m very careful about my content now. I have so many readers that are clients and that have eating disorders. The last thing I would ever want is to exacerbate those triggering feelings. It’s been so cool that it’s shifted to this thing where there’s so much less pressure. Anything that looks perfect is not real and will probably be triggering to something. So if you look at my stuff, unless I’m promoting a recipe that was taken with a camera that I posted on the blog, it’s mostly iPhone stuff. It’s not perfect at all because again, that’s just not who I am. I used to be a slave to the clean eating healthy world and feeling like i needed this really perfect content. Where as now, I feel like I’m a fighter for this whole other group of people. So I have such a more personal stronger purpose and reason to post content.
Paige; Yeah! It’s so easy to overthink content, right. It’s like, if I post this then people might think that. I go through this all the time. It’s like gosh, sometimes I just end up not doing anything because I overthink it. And everyone has an opinion.
Alexis: Sorry, I was just thinking, my brain is going a million miles an hour. I was thinking with posting, you’ll post what you eat for dinner and then someone is going to judge it. And maybe because they eat a bunch more or less than you do. We forget that we’re not all equal.
Paige: ANd you might eat a little less one night, but no one knows what you ate for lunch, right? And no ones knows what you might have eaten before bed. It’s just so out of context and people are so ready to pounce on you and be bugged that you didn’t do it just the way that they wanted you to. I commend you for putting yourself out there and being real. That’s what really matters and that’s what resonates with people and that’s what helps people. And you know what, it’s okay to post a salad because guess what? Normal eaters eat salads every once in awhile too. It’s not about eating pizza or not eating pizza. It’s the reasons why are what really matter more. But we can’t show those in a picture so there inlies the problem, right?
Alexis: Right, exactly. And I love your point about salad. Salad is not the enemy. I eat plenty of salad and I love salad and I post salad. It’s just another food.
Paige; And sometimes it’s exactly what sounds appetizing and appealing in the moment. And maybe your body needs some veggies in that moment. I’ve definitely experienced that in my own life. But I will over think it sometimes. Do I want to post this picture? WIll everyone think I just eat salads all day everyday? Because I definitely don’t.
Alexis: LIke, I just had three brownies and here’s the salad I had.
Paige: Yeah exactly. It’s a tricky thing but I think anyone who is trying to be part of the solution is commendable and is doing great work. And I love that you’re showing an evolution and a process and a journey and your reach is so incredibly huge. That’s so important and meaningful. I’m just so glad that you’re doing the work you’re doing, it’s really important so thank you.
Alexis: That’s so sweet, it really means a lot. I really appreciate it, thank you.
Paige: No prob! SO Alexis, tell people how they can get in touch with you through social media or take a look at your blog if they haven’t seen it already. Just talk quickly about how to access your blog and your content.
Alexis: Yeah! So the blog is hummusapien.com. My Instagram is @hummsapien and Hummusapien on Twitter and Facebook.
Paige: Well, Alexis, thank you so much for being here and talking about your process with intuitive eating and your own particular approach to hear your inside story of a food blogger. And what else did you call it?
Alexis: I think I said food wellness. Inspiration?
Paige; Yeah inspiration, there you go. It’s just an important message that people don’t hear very often and I’m grateful for your transparency and for talking about the realness that is your life.
Alexis: Yes, it’s all real. I hope it resonated with people and I hope people found it inspiring.