Meet Beth Aldrich, a healthy lifestyle/green living expert, spokesperson and author. Beth says being the mother of three boys has inspired her to eat, cook and encourage healthy lifestyles and nutrition... to anyone who will listen!
I first met Beth a few years back. When I saw her nifty new website, RealMomsLovetoEat.com, I knew I had to put her on the hot seat for a round of "7 Questions with..."
So, grab yourself a healthy snack and get ready to dig into this insightful installment of...
Diet-to-Go: So real moms love to eat, huh? But isn't that part of the problem -- the fuel behind the fact that 2-in-3 Americans are overweight?
Beth Aldrich: I know, right? But the trick is WHAT you eat and HOW MUCH of it you eat. For example, instead of eating an entire chocolate bar, how about a one-ounce square of high quality chocolate. Savor and appreciate it and stay in control of portions.
DTG: All kidding aside, what sets your website apart from the typical food or diet website?
BA: My site (the warm-up act for my book) is set up like a blog, offering 3 weekly posts (Meal Planning Monday, Whine & Dine Wednesday, and Food Flirt Friday) where I share useful food tips, recipes, nutrition information and guest features from chefs and food and mom bloggers that I really dig (and respect).
RealMomsLovetoEat.com is different because it's based on my personal experience and training in holistic health and nutrition. I also have a video blog page where I give everyone a sneak peek from my Real Moms Love to Eat chef events and featured products. I'm hosting two big events in Chicago this month (one at Whole Foods Market and another at the beautiful Kenmore Kitchen Studios), where moms come and interact with a savvy chef, learn some useful food tips, techniques and enjoy some tasty flavors.
DTG: So I see you attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City -- what exactly did that schooling entail and how can you use your knowledge to help other women eat better and feel better?
We met for a long weekend intensive each month for a year and studied every food philosophy there is, delving into how we feed ourselves through food, relationships, career (or purpose), exercise and movement and spirituality (or connectedness to a higher power). We were tested and certified through Columbia University's Teachers College and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.
The training has proven to be incredibly useful when working with clients or presenting to large groups on so many levels. When we start to look at our "plates" from all of the perspectives listed above, we start to unlock the mysteries as to why we continue to overeat, under-eat and then binge, and have issues with food.
We begin to discover who we are and what our bodies really need, right now, in our lives. Who I was and what I needed yesterday, last year and 10 years ago are very different from what I need right now. I've become mindful of nutrition without being obsessed!
DTG: What do you think are the biggest reasons so many of us are overweight?
BA: In my humble opinion many people are overweight because of a combination of factors. It varies from one person to another. I'll list them here:
Artificial ingredients in foods! Learn to read labels and if you don't know what it is put it down and walk away. Your body doesn't know how to process them so it messes everything up inside.
Something is lacking in your life and food fills voids and numbs the pain.
Overprocessed foods that offer NO nutrition whatsoever!
Lack of fresh, pure water! You need at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces every day (a 120-pound mom would drink 60 ounces).
Lack of regular exercise! Incorporate movement into your day. Walk to meetings, take the stairs, do stomach crunches, contractions or squats at your desk.
Boredom! Don't eat while driving, watching TV or sitting at your desk. Think about the food you are eating and be thankful for it!
Portion sizes! My rule with clients is 2 closed fists equal a full meal. Have a salad and a piece of chicken/beef/fish. Each of our fists are different sizes, so eat according to your own physical needs.
DTG: What are the first steps for someone wanting to eat smarter and get healthier?
BA: When I work with clients or corporate programs, I ask them to keep a food journal for at least a week before we meet. By looking at your eating patterns (and feelings or "things" that come up during that week) are important.
When we become accountable, we start to become mindful and when we become mindful... well, that's the first step towards change.
I also require all clients to drink one glass of water with a lemon squeeze upon waking each day. That gets the digestive system moving and rids the body of toxins accumulated during rest.
Next, take some time to evaluate what's in your pantry and refrigerator. Read labels and start to think about how your food intake impacts the planet. Then, call me so we can work together :)
DTG: What foods do you love to eat -- and do you allow yourself and your family junk food or fast food?
BA: In my book, I have a chapter where I ask, "If I show you mine, will you show me yours?" I share some of my realistic food faves and discuss the importance of not straying far from tastes you enjoy. Otherwise, you'll never stick to ANY eating plan that denies you what you LOVE.
I love Brussels sprouts, roasted salmon, hot fudge sundaes, my special ginger chicken, my daily green smoothie, and any dinner out on the town with my husband. Dinner with special people make the meal special!
My family has never eaten at a fast food restaurant, except Jimmy Johns subs. I mean, come on, they're freaky fast, aren't they? I know, the white flour bread isn't my favorite but the freshly sliced turkey breast combats that issue for me.
My family loves my beef tenderloin recipe (they call it juicy meat!) and my ginger chicken! They do have soda on special occasions. I mean, who can say no to root beer? It has HFCS in it, so you can imagine that it doesn't cross my threshold very often, but come on, we do live in the real world.
When I was a kid, I ate what kids ate -- Count Chocula cereal, pot pies... you name it. And I was still a scrawny kid.
All three of my sons are very slim and muscular (they're sports nuts), but I remind them that they have to instill strong eating habits now because as they get older, things change.
They understand, but still give me the puppy dog eyes for cupcakes on occasion.
DTG: Now this sounds too good to be true: "I got stronger, more energetic, more radiant, calmer, more aware of the influence of everything I did, more sensitive to the effects of food, exercise, and stress on my body... and I lost the extra pounds... without giving up food." So, how does that work?
BA: Ha! Where did you get that quote! It's good, isn't it? I tell ya, food is king!! When I started eating more good stuff like roasted beets and Brussels sprouts and roasted salmon, beef tenderloin, raw brownies and my uber awesome kale salad, I felt amazing.
I got to a point where I could eat something processed or full of bleached white sugar and I'd get a sore throat, bloated belly or headache and I'd KNOW, "A-ha, it's the food! I'm not sick or rundown... it's just a food reaction."
Once you get to know yourself and your own personal food reactions you begin to customize what works for YOU.
There are so many diet books out there, so I wanted to create a book that is customized for YOU, the reader. I have tips, ideas and research backing up my "knowledge" but readers are going to love the suggested meal plan, knowing that they are the boss and can customize it, from my guidelines and make it work for them.
If I were to recommend a certain veggie, etc. and you have an allergy to it, how is it going to work for you? It won't.
Instead, you'll learn about your food, your kitchen and what you love and then incorporate that into what I suggest. If people were to shift away from the process foods, sugar and chemicals, and get moving more, I guarantee, the pounds would come off. I look better now than when I was in college!
Twitter Beth @RealMomsLuv2Eat