The Chocoholic Dietitian’s Take on Healthy Living
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What I have learned over the past 12 years of counselling clients, is that when it comes to healthy eating imperfect is perfect. Dr. Brian Wansink, a leading food researcher suggests we make over 200 food related decisions each day. How could we expect them all to be perfect?

Chances are there are a bunch of things you could do better to improve your health.  But what is the top one, two or three changes maximum that you can commit to working on?  An extreme lifestyle makeover is not only intimidating, it will set you up to feel overwhelmed and fail quickly.  Have you ever heard yourself say things like “when life slows down, or when the kids don’t need me as much, or when this work project is over, then I will have time to take care of my health?”  The truth is life never slows down long enough to give us all the time we need to truly take care of all the things you want to do to get healthier.  There is no better time to begin changes to your lifestyle than now.  You don’t need to drink more water, eat less fat, consume more fruits and veggies, exercise more and get more fibre all at once.  While all of these are good things to work towards, ask yourself where is the easiest place to start?  Would it be easier to change your breakfast cereal to boost your fiber intake, than hit the gym?  Then start with this.   Over time you can address the others and the good news is that you will feel fired up with motivation to continue making changes if you have experienced initial success.

setting weight loss goalsIn addition to choosing a few changes to make at a time, think about working around what I call non-negotiables.  I have always been puzzled why people try to change the few things that matter to them most.  What are your non-negotiables?  In other words what would cause you stress if you knew you couldn’t eat it ever again?  Or what have you tried to give up but couldn’t?  Don’t worry about these, start with changes somewhere else and work around your non-negotiables.  If potato chips are your absolute favourite thing in the world you don’t need to give these up. Allowing yourself flexibility and the opportunity to enjoy your favourite treats is the only way I believe you can be successful and committed to achieving good health.  The healthiest and happiest people I know have figured out the concept of what I call middle magic. Middle magic is about finding a balance between “all or none.” There is a basic psychology principle that we all want what we can’t have.Just like if you starve a child of affection they will seek it out.  Similarly if you starve the chocoholic dietitian of chocolate I will hunt it down, obsess about it more and eventually overeat. It is far better to have some of your favourite treats built into your plan than have all or none. Middle magic means finding a balance between healthful and soulful living. One without the other will always run you into trouble.

It may come as a surprise to you that as you begin to think about setting goals keep in mind you don’t ever need to commit to any goal 100%.  If you have skipped breakfast for 30 years of your life, it is unlikely that as of Monday morning you will achieve a healthy breakfast every day until the day you die.  Instead of setting yourself up for failure why not set a goal to choose a healthy breakfast 3 times a week to start.  If you have made a commitment to choose healthier fast food, remember that you don’t have to choose the best option every single time to be successful.  I always say that bite-sized changes have supersized results.  The little things you can do add up to be big over time.

Join me with a new mission to challenge yourself to do better but cut yourself some slack.  This is the recipe for happiness and health.  Live fully…that is both healthful and soulful.

Thanks for reading!



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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

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Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
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