One of the best parts about being a blogger is within the past six months or so I’ve met some of the most wonderful people. Did you know that through social platforms you could meet your best friends? Because I’m pretty sure it has happened. I just met with two owners of a DC-based juice company this past Wednesday and it felt as though we had all been friends for years. After all, food is what brings people together at the end of the day. How freakin’ cool.
During the fall, I stumbled upon this wonderful gem of a friend and inspiration, Katie Shields of the blog Honestly Nourished. I might have come across her beet hummus on the explore page of Instagram or found her through clicking on other profiles but when I made it on a whim, I knew her and I would get along great. Now we text and Snapchat each other on the regular and I’ve come to learn how similar we are to one another. She’s currently a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in San Francisco who has come quite a long way from processed to plant-based and wholesome foods. She’s even lived in my home land of Ohio! #twinning
I threw together some questions for Katie to introduce you to her and to get to know more about the wonderful soul she is. Now without further ado, here we go.
So my readers can get acquainted with who you are, list your name, current profession and what made you start blogging!
Katie Shields, MS, RD
Holistic Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Coach, Blogger
I was inspired to start a blog to share my longtime passion for nutrition, pretty food, gut health, and wellness with others—especially women. Nutrition can be very confusing and overwhelming with all the different sources of information and various so-called experts claiming to know everything. It’s hard to know who and what to trust!
After four years of studying nutrition, the one thing I do know with 100 percent confidence is that real, whole foods are what we were meant to eat. Period. Not the packaged junk loaded with chemicals, preservatives, and artificial colors and fillers. Still it’s not black and white, which I think is what makes choosing healthy so hard. There’s room for grey, meaning you can (and should!) enjoy the occasional cookie or froyo while also nourishing your body with healthful, nutrient-rich foods.
I hope that through my blog, I can not only clear up some of the confusion around nutrition but also inspire others to get in the kitchen and cook healthy meals for themselves. Cooking is still a relatively new hobby for me; it used to really intimidate me. I’m much more comfortable baking, i.e. following a recipe exactly, but I’ve grown to look forward to spending time in the kitchen because I love how preparing and eating healthy food makes me feel. I also started the blog to facilitate honest conversations about what it means to live healthfully—mind, body, and soul—and empower women to feel confident in their skin. And to also not take healthy eating and nutrition science SO seriously. It can be fun, I promise!
I see you’ve lived everywhere from Ohio to Tennessee and now you’re whippin’ up recipes in California. To you, which has the best food scene for us health nuts out there?
Ha, you’re right. I have lived all across the United States! As far as the best scene for health nuts? California—no doubt. It’s the motherland for all things healthy. I also love how so much of the country’s organic produce is grown right here—down the road even! I thought that I ate healthy until moving here and now my views on nutritious food and healthful living have completely shifted.
I love that I can literally walk down the street and find an organic bakery that serves a mean almond milk latte, an organic and humane butcher with nourishing bone broths and grass-fed meats, as well as a local juicer.
That said, health and wellness is becoming much more mainstream across the country, which is so amazing to see. And I think you can always find the healthy spots wherever you go if you seek them out. Other than California, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was the second healthiest place that I ever lived. It’s such a progressive city and has always had an incredible wellness scene.
But still, there’s no place more woo woo and health crazed than California! I’m obsessed.
When did you realize you had a passion for nutrition and helping others find happier and healthier lives through wholesome food?
It’s funny how life works, as I didn’t even realize that dietetics/nutrition was a field until I was working with a registered dietitian to overcome an eating disorder in college. As I healed my own tumultuous relationship with food and body image, I realized how little I knew about nutrition. But it wasn’t just me—none of my friends seemed to have the answers either, rather everyone had an answer but they were all conflicting. You know—“eat carbs,” “don’t eat carbs,” “eat these carbs but only before noon.” It was maddening.
That’s when I knew that I wanted to help clear up the confusion around healthy eating and ultimately empower other women in the same way that I had been empowered. I wanted to gain an even deeper knowledge and understanding of how different foods and nutrients impact our digestion, health, well-being, mood, physical appearance, and energy levels. I couldn’t wait to get my credentials and share that knowledge with others so they, too, could make the best choices for their bodies and lifestyle.
For a long time, I didn’t talk about my eating disorder or share my experience overcoming it with people because I was tired of being seen through that lens. Tired of thinking people were worrying that I was relapsing if I ate salads two days in a row for lunch (ridiculous I know). During that time, I felt like I needed to keep it private to be able to actually move on from it and allow myself to have a different identity.
I know some people think that it’s cliché for a dietitian to have become interested in the field after overcoming an eating disorder and that’s also probably why I kept quiet about it for so long. But that’s my truth and I own it. My eating disorder was a very real, very serious thing but it’s not who I am today. I somewhat downplay it on my About page [http://www.honestlynourished.com/about/meet-katie/] because at this point, it’s only a small portion of who I am and how I became interested in nutrition but an important one none the less.
Before you started eating organic foods, incorporating super foods like bee pollen and cacao into your diet, what was your go-to favorite processed/packaged/junk food? We all have ’em… 🙂
Well, I’m a former sugar addict so I’d probably have to say Starburst Jellybeans or Reddi Whip—I love that stuff. And also Diet Coke. Ugh, I cringe when I think about how many cans of Diet Coke I used to drink in a day—seriously I think it was something close to eight or 10! I’d even crack one open at breakfast. My poor body.
Are your family and friends interested in eating the same healthy foods as you? Do you motivate them to do so?
I hope so!
My husband eats pretty much the same way I do and actually, he has been interested in health foods much longer than me. It’s funny, I remember five years ago being really skeptical of his daily green smoothies with spirulina and wheatgrass and now they are so mainstream. He also got me to try kombucha years before everyone was drinking it—he’s amazing. As for the rest of my family, I’d say that my mom eats really healthy…But my dad and younger brother? Not so much! They along with my extended family all live in the Southeast (Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas) where fried and decadent foods reign supreme but I’ve definitely noticed a shift in some of their eating habits. I can’t take credit for it but it’s great to see! Most of my friends are really active and care about what they put in their bodies. I love being able to talk about nutrition with them. Still, I am pretty sure they think I’m crazy most of the time. I try to reign in my nutrition nerdiness when I can, but it’s hard!
As you’re a registered dietitian working with clients on a daily basis, what frustrates you most at the end of a long day? On the other hand, what is most rewarding?
Luckily, I can honestly say that I find both working as a per diem clinical dietitian at a local hospital and in private practice to be incredibly rewarding. I absolutely love working with people to lead healthier lives and love the really getting to spend a lot of time with clients through private practice. I secretly always wanted to be a cheerleader and nutrition coaching is really similar—I love encouraging and uplifting other women.
It’s rewarding to see my clients make small changes to their diet or lifestyle that have a hugely positive impact on their energy levels, skin, digestion, and even weight. I really value each and every opportunity that I have to guide someone through the process.
But to answer your question, the most rewarding thing about what I do as a dietitian and nutrition coach is to help other women feel confident about their bodies and identify the best ways to care for them from the inside out with nutritious, natural foods. This means helping them figure out which foods will truly nourish them as an individual—because what’s healthy or nourishing for one person may be harmful for another, i.e. how gluten is toxic to someone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity—and fuel their lifestyle and fitness pursuits so that they can embrace the full happy and healthy lives they deserve.
It sounds a little sappy but it truly makes my heart sing. I love introducing women to new ways of thinking about the foods they eat and inspiring them to take better care of themselves by making small, sustainable changes. We only get one body and treating it with love and respect by nourishing it with healthy food is obviously a huge part of it, as is practicing grace and kindness when you choose the cookie instead of the kale salad.
It’s also incredibly rewarding because I learn just as much from each of my clients as they do from me. We all have amazing stories and experiences and the opportunity to be a part of another person’s journey to health is such a privilege that I truly cherish.
The most challenging aspect of being a dietitian and nutrition coach is listening to how much women want to change about their bodies. I get it—I struggled with this for years and definitely still do at times—but my goal is to shift the focus from the external to the internal. Usually once the body is truly cared for and nourished in the ways that it needs to thrive, the rest falls into place on its own.
If you only could buy only 5 things from Whole Foods each week… what would they be?
Love this question. I actually go to the grocery at least every other day for something and do most of my shopping at Trader Joe’s but totally rely on Whole Foods for certain staples. Still, only five things?! Addie! You’re making this really hard!
I don’t eat soy products and coconut aminos are the best alternative I’ve ever tried. Such a lifesaver! Plus, I love that they are slightly sweet and has significantly less sodium than soy sauce or tamari.
2. Kalamata and picholine olives from the olive bar…Or the ones seasoned with spicy red chili pepper flakes. Dangerously addicting!
3. Organic kimchi and sauerkraut
Whole Foods has the best selection of both of these gut health superstars and I eat some version at least twice a day whether on eggs, fish, or straight from the jar!
4. Nutiva coconut mana a.k.a. coconut butter a.k.a. the reason I get out of bed every day.
G.T. Dave’s, Healthade, or locally brewed Marin Kombucha are my go-to brands. It’s basically slightly bitter, fizzy water with loads of gut healthy probiotic bacteria floating around in it. It’s definitely an acquired taste (and pricey) but I love it and drink one over the course of a day or two.
IF I was allowed to buy one more thing it would be Go Raw lemon pie raw sprouted cookies. I have to eat something as soon as I wake up and I usually grab a handful of these. They only have 4 ingredients—organic coconut, sprouted organic sesame seeds, organic dates, and organic lemon oil. They are amazing!
We share a similarity… we love our bowls of veggies and our fair share of hummus. Sometimes it may look like we’re vegan. So I have to ask, are you vegan? If not, have you ever considered and what are your thoughts about labeling diets?
You are right, I do love my vegetables—like L-O-V-E them—but I’m not vegan. If I had to describe my current diet, I’d say that it’s plant-based, as I aim to eat around two pounds of non-starchy vegetables per day (usually one pound of which is carrots—seriously). I focus on including high quality, organic ingredients and try not to worry about calories.
As for labels, I think they are for clothing not people.
There really is no one “best” diet or “right” way to eat. I also know firsthand how dangerous a dogmatic approach to nutrition can be. It’s never a good idea to get totally attached to a single label or way of thinking. I try not to be too rigid or relaxed with my own diet, but it’s hard sometimes to find the balance. We are each constantly changing and have to be open to the fact that what’s working for us and our body today may not always be what works and that’s OK…As long as we can really accept and honor it.
Of course, most of us can agree that certain foods are better for optimal health than others, but generally speaking, the best diet is the one that works for you. Period.
As I’m a huge restaurant and cafe nerd… what’s your go-to stop in California? Or really anywhere… 🙂
Ah, Addie! This is another really hard question!
California (especially San Francisco) has an insane amount of amazing restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops and each has so much character, charm, and history. But, if I had to choose one, I would say The Plant Café Organic. It’s not fancy (or even what most people would consider as a must do when visiting) BUT it’s hands down my all-time favorite place to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner. I love everything about their menu and their commitment to using locally sourced, sustainable, organic ingredients. They have incredible salads, raw desserts, smoothies, noodle bowls, and a beetroot burger that will change your life. Not. Even. Kidding.
Thank you to Katie for sharing more about herself and her blog with Chickpea in the City. To check out more of Katie’s recipes featuring her Seriously Simple Beet Hummus and Vegan Grain-Free Double Dark Chocolate Chickpea Cookies (what, did someone say chickpea cookies?!), head over to her beautifully bright and simplistic blog –> Honestly Nourished.
Who are some of your favorite bloggers? Have you met any blogger friends or inspirations in the past year or attended blogger meet-ups? Let me know with a comment!