Tara is a mental health and self-love advocate, nutrition educator, writer, and health coach. She is currently studying in a PhD program for Interdisciplinary Health, with a concentration in psychosocial health. Her dissertation research is exploring the role that a nutrient diet and nutrition education can have in fostering resilience in substance addiction recovery.
Tara’s journey with an eating disorder and anxiety have led her to be passionate about building a healthy relationship with body, food, and self. Tara shares her personal experience and wisdom on these topics through her Instagram account, email newsletters, personal coaching, and in-person retreats. When she isn’t studying or working on these projects, Tara loves cozying up with a good book, dancing around her apartment to Taylor Swift, and trail running, hiking, and xc skiing in the mountains around her current hometown of Flagstaff, AZ.
Here are takeaways from our conversation:
MENTAL HEALTH, PHYSICAL HEALTH, AND SPIRITUALITY ARE ALL CONNECTED
Tara’s focus is nutrition, self-love, mental health, and overall wellness. Passionate about mental health and nutrition, Tara couldn’t choose one over the other. She found the PhD program she’s currently in which offers her the best of both worlds. Focusing on psychosocial health within her program, Tara is involved in research exploring the role on a nutrition-dense diet and education and how that fosters resilience in substance abuse recovery. Tara has seen hundreds and thousands of people transform their lives through diet. She has witnessed the improvements people have experienced not just in their physical health, but in their quality of life and inner mental health transformation. Physical health, nutrition, and spirituality are interwoven, and Tara is curious about exploring people experiencing addictions finding spirituality in their recovery and building a sustainable, healthy lifestyle through improving their nutrition.
GET TO THE ROOT CAUSE OF YOUR PROBLEM
Tara shares her personal experience and knowledge on eating disorders. At the time of her eating disorder, she felt a lack of guidance during that journey, although the people around her supported her the best they could. An eating disorder isn’t just about the food or the weight. It’s about much deeper things. Someone is not in recovery just because they have reached a ‘healthy weight.’ An eating disorder, like other addictions is a form of a coping mechanism. As humans, we naturally deal with immense struggle in pain. We must recognize our imperfections and find peace within our struggles.
We all have our shadows even if we don’t have a disorder. We are all experiencing something painful or have experienced that at one point. Tara talks about the duality of experiencing anxiety growing up while being a confident, positive person at the same time. The balance of struggle and thriving was real for her.
ANXIETY IS NOT LOGICAL
When Tara was seeking comfort and support in the midst of her anxiety, she was faced with people trying to make logical sense of her anxiety. As someone that is quite familiar with anxiety myself, I can relate to Tara’s experience. Anxiety is not logical. Something that Tara wanted to hear was “It’s OK to not be OK” or “It’s OK to feel like you do.” If you experience anxiety or know that someone close to you is, the best you can do is be a pillar of support. Know that it’s OK to not be OK. Give yourself or someone else that permission to get in the feelings. We all want to be seen, heard, and supported.
The more we try to be in control, the more we can be out of control. Tara’s spirituality now relies on trusting the process and trusting this greater power that holds us together. From a young age, Tara recalls being deeply philosophical. As she got older, she didn’t believe in a greater power. She was confronted with the idea that there is something greater. Over the past few years, Tara has opened up to spirituality and brings up a good point: spirituality doesn’t have to be religious. Tara explains how she has come to understanding how spirituality and energy are connected and how energy can be measured. Our organs vibrate at different frequencies, with our hearts having the biggest electromagnetic field in our body. Tara’s definition of spirituality is feeling deeply connected to the people on this earth and the planet. During her recovery process, Tara found meaning and connection in her food and garnered an appreciation for where her food came from. It’s all connected. Connecting to spirituality has made her a better person as she is more able to give to others and has given her a deep sense of inner peace.
Want to explore spirituality at a quantum physics level? Check out Joe Dispenza’s work and books that was mentioned in show.
SELF-LOVE- IS IT CRINGEWORTHY?
Self-love is Tara’s jam. Self-love is a space where you can hold unconditional love and compassion, even if you are not proud of yourself. Self-love starts with awareness and paying attention. You can learn that you are not your thoughts and recognize that you are the space-holder of conscious awareness for what you’re experiencing by creating awareness. We are hyper-connected to the world with social media. Although social media is a wonderful tool, it’s important to acknowledge that we are just inundated with messages that may bring a constant stream of fear and comparison. Look inward and ask yourself what is your truth and then go forth and honor it.
Sometimes people won’t understand your truth, which has been hard for Tara. After you’ve developed the self-awareness, tune into your internal messages. To be self-aware with a layer of judgment is not useful. Remove the judgment from this whole process because it does everything but serve you. Believe that you are enough no matter what your state is- you don’t become more worthy or less worthy depending on your circumstance. You are worthy as you are.
There’s nothing that we need or have to do. There’s not level of achievement we have to reach. We are simply enough, which can be extremely challenging to believe in a society where your value is measured by how accomplished you are. Tara’s best first step to cultivating self-love is to ask yourself some questions:
“What if this story that I’ve been telling myself isn’t true?”
“What if this is not the only truth that is possible here?”
Allow for the potential for you to be wrong and for you to discover a space that invites more self-love.
WE ARE COMPLETELY DISCONNECTED FROM OUR FOOD
Recognize the beautiful journey that food plays in our lives. The cycle of connectedness with food is something we don’t usually think about. We are caretakers for our bodies. We are more than our bodies- we have an energy and a soul. This body is an amazing vessel that enables us to experience this planet, and food is a way to take care of our bodies. Taking care of our bodies enable us to engage in our passions in a meaningful way. As mentioned previously, it’s all connected.
Tara describes the benefits of plant foods as being nutrient-dense foods that fuel us to the highest degree. We want to take care of ourselves so that we can live a full and long life. What we can control is what foods we put in our bodies. We are so disconnected from our bodies and food in general as a society. There is a mental health component with food as well- if you are chasing healthy eating at the expense of your mental health, then it is not healthy eating. Eating nutrient dense foods means you are worthy of having a beautiful life. If you are making food choices that look healthy (aka, avocado toast) but it’s coming from a place of fear and anxiety about weight, that plate of healthy food isn’t serving you when you’re in a negative state of stress.
We are so disconnected from our food, the natural state of food, where food came from, and more which is concerning, especially with sustainable food sourcing. We need to start to think where our food came from, find appreciation for it, and find that connection so that we can use food in our lives to properly nourish not just our bodies, but our minds and our souls.
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