I’m calling bullshit on myself, and I’m cool with that. Over the past few months I’ve gone through a bit of an awakening (helloooo my last blog post was 6 months ago?!?!) and I’ve recognized so many things about myself and what I’m meant to do here on this earth.

  • I’ve realized I’m meant to help over-stressed professional women through their struggles with infertility.
  • I’ve realized I’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past and I’d be willing to say that most nutritionists and dietitians have struggled with that as well (whether they’re willing to admit that or not).
  • I’ve realized that the wellness industry has done about the same about of damage to society as the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Why a focus on fertility

Well, my last blog post was about me opening up about my own infertility story. And not to make my work ‘all about me’, but a lot of my own healing journey has come through helping others avoid the mistakes I’ve made in the past. I also love to educate women on how to care for their bodies (physically, emotionally, mentally) and use food as medicine to help them overcome infertility issues.

So why have I focused on over-stressed professional women as my ideal client? Well, besides formerly being one myself, I know her inside and out. I also know that she’s done a shit ton of research about what could be causing her fertility issues . She’s likely already super healthy, super fit, and on the surface looks like she’s the example of perfect health. People know that she’s an achiever, competitive, and always on her A-game. There’s no such thing as down time because life is too short not to achieve all the things and constantly be on top of the leaderboard that she’s placed in her own mind.

But she’s in her head about everything and has created a life for herself that lacks freedom because she’s lived in a hyper-controlled environment that’s removed a lot of joy and spontaneity from her life because she’s so focused on everything she isn’t currently able to achieve. She’s a box-checker, a real go-getter. But she’s actually too controlled, too perfect, too healthy, and it’s causing her body to revolt by preventing her from creating life. By being so controlled and perfect, she’s told herself that she can’t ever stray from that perfection. And when she’s in situations where she can’t control things like food or drinks, her body recognizes that as an unsafe place to be. And when her body feels unsafe, it shuts down parts of the body that need to feel safe in order to do what they were designed to do- like create life.

She’s so controlled that she believes she’s doing everything ‘right’ and ‘by the book’… but she’s developed an unhealthy relationship with food and, most of all, an unhealthy relationship with her body. In order for her to first start her healing journey she first needs to recognize and admit that her strict regimen is holding her back from LIVING, and in turn, holding her back from creating LIFE…

Which leads me to a spotlight on disordered eating… 

Now, when you hear about disordered eating you likely think of anorexia or bulimia. I’ve never struggled with those, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with disordered eating. To me, disordered eating is really any habit or routine that prevents you from being fully present in your life. Orthorexia was my thing- I became absolutely OBSESSED with eating healthy. For me, it involved:

  • Meal prepping every single bite of food I’d consume in a week, and measuring it out in specific amounts so I wouldn’t overeat a single gram.
  • Avoiding social situations because it was too stressful to think about consuming ‘unhealthy’ foods.
  • Feeling that because I’m a nutritionist every aspect of my plate always has to be ‘perfect’.
  • Bringing my own meals to social gatherings so that I could control what I ate and avoid food I didn’t prepare for myself.
  • If I did plan to go to a restaurant, I’d research the menu beforehand so that I could be fully prepared to order the healthiest item on the menu, whether it actually sounded good to me or not.
  • Freaking out if someone spontaneously offered me a snack that was outside of my ‘eating window’ or wasn’t something I wanted to consume… I’d immediately turn it down and not consider how that made the other person feel.

Now, I’m definitely not saying that focusing your diet on nutritious foods is a bad thing, but it is NOT ok when it paralyzes you from being present in your own life. Food plays such a huge role in our relationships and our society that we cannot just isolate ourselves away from situations where we don’t have ideal food selections simply because they don’t fit our ‘perfection’.

I even believe that upwards of 90% of nutritionists and dietitians have dealt with disordered eating and orthorexia, and yet here we are preaching to you about how you should always eat and we’ve perpetuated our own issues on to you. Clearly that’s not intentional, we genuinely have a passion for educating you on how to nourish your body with healthy foods that will support optimal health, but we’ve become so dogmatic about it that we expect you (and ourselves) to be absolutely perfect 100% of the time and that there’s no room for anything less than perfect. No wonder Americans have no idea how to eat healthy- we’ve basically told you that you have to be 100% perfect in order to be healthy, that taking a half step away from that perfection will destroy every health benefit you’ve come to know. So here you are, doing all the things that you’re supposed to do in order to be perfect, but you’re miserable. Your body doesn’t feel good, your relationships have suffered, your mental health has suffered, and all you can think about nonstop during the day is your next meal. Sound healthy? Absolutely not.

I sometimes feel as though the ‘Clean Eating’ trend has been just as detrimental to society as the Standard American Diet

Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day I will always recommend that you eat real food for optimal health and the Standard American Diet is (to me) THE #1 factor in why we’re the fattest and sickest nation in the world… Eat real fats, meats that are as close to nature as possible, food from the ground- you know, foods that your great-grandmother would recognize and serve on her table. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to find a balance and still be able to live your life with a sense of freedom. Your life is too short to map out every single meal, avoid social situations, and constantly think and search for ways to be ‘healthier’. We’ve taken it way too far and have gotten ourselves on this high horse as our way of eating is better than anyone else’s… just what the world needs more of right now, judgement and shaming. Bravo, wellness experts- you’ve literally created little health monsters that have demonized other ways of eating simply because it doesn’t align with your food philosophies. How 2020.

The problem with this is it’s polarized people who may want to be and eat healthier, but are afraid to because they may be doing it wrong or aren’t doing it right ‘enough’. We put so much pressure and stress on ourselves that we can’t ever let our hair down about our food. What a life! No wonder our bodies don’t feel safe and we shut down normal bodily functions as a way to protect ourself… And I say that this clean eating thing has been just as detrimental as the SAD because it still causes health problems. They may not look the same, SAD contributes to things like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure… I would say clean eating and orthorexia contributes to issues with the thyroid, fertility, autoimmune disease and the gut. All because we simply feel we have to be so fucking extreme with everything that we can’t seem to ever find peace and balance.

Final Thoughts

If you’re reading this and this sounds like you, I’d love for you to send me an email or a DM just to chat cuz I got you. We’ve got to start giving ourselves grace and learning to really live and embrace life and live in balance. Food should not control your life, it should complement it and add value. And if there’s anything that 2020 has taught you I hope that it’s how life as we know it isn’t ever guaranteed, so if you want to eat the cookie then eat the damn cookie- and don’t beat yourself up about it.

At the same time, if you’re a nutritionist or a dietitian reading this and it triggers you in some way I ask that you sit with those feelings and reflect on why it’s triggering you. I will never forget my final class at the Nutrition Therapy Institute, which was ‘Personal Relationship with Food’. My instructor asked the class if we felt the need to be perfect all the time with the way we ate, and we all said yes- that we had to lead by example. At the time, my instructor seemed appalled and said that there is no reason why we need to be perfect- we can educate people on the importance of how food impacts the body but we also need to realize that nourishment comes from more than just the nutrients we consume. It also comes from the conversations we have over shared plates, the excitement of celebrating an occasion over cake and ice cream, and the connections we share and cultivate around the supper table. At the time I thought she was nuts and didn’t understand how she could ever say that, and I didn’t get that until the last few months when I’ve met so many women who were afraid to eat bananas or carrots because they ‘contain too many sugars’… or women who show up to family gatherings with their own prepared food which upset their mothers-in-law who had lovingly prepared a meal to share with everyone… or the women who’ve meticulously reviewed restaurant menus for the healthiest items to order and ordered them when they really just wanted the burger and fries… it’s just too much.

We have a responsibility to teach and educate on these healthy principles, but we also have to find a way to be human about it. To a degree, what we’ve been doing with this whole clean eating movement is quite elitist, as many don’t have the means to follow this way of living. Let’s make it accessible, and let’s do this in kindness and with love. Feed your soul, and fuck your perfect. 🙂

Janelle 2.0