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By Andrea Holwegner RD, Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. – for IMPACT magazine

I recently coined the term healthorexia in my nutrition consulting practice after working with yet another female client, who didn’t have an eating disorder but seemed to be taking the healthy eating message a bit too far.

Karen was like many people—just trying to do the right thing. She was eating every two hours on a strict regimen, avoiding high glycemic foods such as bananas, which could spike blood sugars, avoiding butter and white rice like the plague, and eating whole grains such as brown rice (never white rice). Karen was also worried that carbs were making her fat and that protein bars and supplements were the answer for weight control.

While there is truth and reason for all of the choices she was making, I asked Karen if she was actually enjoying what she was eating. She hesitated and seemed stressed by the mundane patterns she had implemented for months. She appeared betrayed that her body would not let go of unwanted pounds. She cracked a smile when I asked her if she thought anyone had actually gained weight eating too many bananas. She also grinned when I asked her why the whole continent of Asia was not overweight eating a high-carb diet based on large amounts of white rice.

Figuring out food and how to balance your nutrition is a challenge, considering there is conflicting information wherever you turn. Sometimes with so many options, I think we complicate things more than we need to do. I vote for simplifying eating by starting with a basic principle of balancing health and enjoyment.

Balancing Health & Enjoyment

While healthy eating is absolutely important, so is enjoying your food and being flexible in your relationship with it.

I meet many people that make all their choices based on taste with little consideration to health. While this is not the answer and can lead to health issues, a diet based on nutritional perfection isn’t ideal either.


Give yourself permission to enjoy all foods, and remember, there are no bad foods. We all want what we can’t have—trying to remove your favourite foods will only lead to overdoing them and feelings of failure for not sticking to your perfect eating regime. It is better to have small portions of something you really enjoy more often than binge uncontrollably with feelings of guilt.


There are twenty-one meals in a week—if a few are not ideal, don’t worry about it! If you had three meals last week that were a nutrition disaster realize this is still a score of eighty-five per cent on your diet, which is pretty good. Remember to celebrate your successes rather than just notice your failures.

Tune In & TRUST

If you seriously tune in and trust your body, it won’t let you down. Intuitively you know what is good for you. Start small, choose not to go on a diet and toss out forbidden food lists. Listen to your body for hunger and satiety cues.

As Karen discovered, white rice, bananas, and a bit of butter on her toast are not the root of all evil, just as bars, shakes, and supplements were not as enjoyable for her as eating a tasty meal. Now Karen trusts her own intuition and includes a variety of pleasurable foods daily.

For me, as the “chocoholic dietitian,” balancing health and enjoyment means choosing nutritious foods daily that give me energy and nourishment. It is also means indulging in chocolate regularly.

Food provides nourishment for our body, but it tastes good because it is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated.

Andrea Holwegner, “The Chocoholic Dietitian,” is a Calgary-based professional speaker and president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Visitwww.healthstandnutrition.com or call (403) 262-3466 for more information about nutrition coaching, workplace wellness, and conference keynotes.

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Success stories

"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
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
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

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
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.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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