As a Registered Dietitian, Abbey Sharp has dedicated her life to helping Canadians live healthier lives. Founding her own multi- faceted food and nutrition media brand — Abbey’s Kitchen Inc. — to spread the word about the importance of celebrating pleasurable eating experiences, Abbey has become a popular YouTube host, an award-winning food and recipe writer, and a notable TV nutrition expert and spokesperson.
To start 2020 off on the right foot, we caught up with Abbey to get some tips on how to make this year our healthiest yet.
You use your popular YouTube channel to challenge diet-culture, debunk fad diets, and raise awareness about harmful products. When it comes to health and wellness how much of what we see is questionable?
I would say the vast majority of what we read or see online is questionable. The problem is that science and recommendations based on strong evidence aren’t super sexy, so we don’t really see a lot of actual legitimate nutrition and health content.
What’s one of the biggest myths you would like to debunk?
There’s so many! I think one of the biggest is that losing weight is as simple as eating fewer calories than you burn. The reality is your body is incredibly smart, and will fight tooth and nail to maintain the weight that it wants to be. Your metabolism slows down, your hunger and satiety hormones shift, you move slower, and psychologically you obsess over getting more to eat. If it was easy to lose weight the diet industry would be dead.
In your posts you talk a lot about Intuitive Eating, what does this mean?
Intuitive Eating is a mind-body framework developed by registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resche. It includes 10 principles that build upon one another; taken together they are designed to help one heal their relationship with food and honour their body’s true needs. It is ultimately an empowerment tool meant to put you in the driver’s seat of your eating.
We are all born as intuitive eaters. Babies cry when they’re hungry, and push the bottle away when they’re full. But diet culture has gotten in the way of us hearing and respecting those innate cues. Learning to eat intuitively means giving yourself permission to eat what your body needs — physically and psychologically — without judgement.
What intuitive eating is not is a diet. It’s actually anti-diet in a lot of ways because it requires no counting, scales, rules, apps — nothing external is needed to guide your eating.
Your award-winning cookbook, The Mindful Glow, stems from your core philosophy that a pleasurable relationship with food, our body, and our self is the fundamental secret to good health. How did you come to this realization?
It was largely born out of my own experience with diet culture, orthorexia (taking clean eating to the extreme), and also with the birth of my blog, Abbey’s Kitchen. When I gave up the pursuit of controlling everything that went into my mouth, and labelling foods as good and bad, I started to not only find myself enjoying food more, but I didn’t feel the need to overeat even the most delicious things! When I was stuck in diet mentality, I could easily overeat even “healthy” foods, searching for some sense of satisfaction.
There’s a lot of power in pleasure and permission.
Do you have any meal-planning tips for people with demanding schedules?
Yes! Batch prep essentials on the weekend so you have a variety of meal components assembled during the week. I like to cook a big batch of oatmeal, quinoa, and sweet potatoes for starches, chicken, tofu and beans for protein, and chop up a ton of fresh veggies for easily throwing into salads or stir fries! I run an amazing mom group on Facebook called the Millennial Moms Guide to Mindful Meal Planning where we discuss lots of these ideas every week!
Any words of wisdom (or warning) for those of us with health and wellness resolutions this year?
Don’t make “lose weight” your goal. Weight loss is something that may or may not happen with lifestyle or behaviour modification — it’s largely out of our control! So pick a behaviour that you feel confident you can change and sustain, and focus on that. The weight will do what it’s meant to do. For example, maybe plan to eat out one less meal per week, or, add a serving of veggies to your lunch every day. Or, maybe you’re just going to start eating breakfast more regularly! These are behaviours they may result in weight loss, but even if they don’t, they will definitely result in better health!
Find out more about Abbey Sharp, visit abbeyskitchen.com.