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:
DISCONNECTED TO OUR FOOD
We live in a society that has made it really easy to be disconnected from food and really difficult to be connected to food. Food is a huge part of our lives- think about many of the celebrations you participate in- birthdays, weddings, etc. We are connected to the act of eating generally speaking, but that isn’t the same as being connected to food itself. We mindlessly eat all the time- we can scarf down a burrito on the way to work or devour an entire bag of popcorn during a movie mindlessly. Most of the food we see in our society is not in its natural state. Fortunately, there is a growing movement of farmers markets more often; yet, there is still mystery about where our food is grown.
We can be at a ‘healthy weight’ yet malnourished. Snack foods that aren’t in their natural state- chips, candies, crackers, sweets, etc. taste good for a reason and companies spend billions of dollars to make sure we stayed hook on those foods. Tara refers to ‘the bliss point’ and recommends reading Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us Michael Moss.
FROM MINDLESS TO MINDFUL
The physical and mental that you’re in when you’re eating food affects your digestion. If you’re mindlessly eating, you’re most likely not in your rest and digest state. Eliminate distractions when you’re eating in order to pay full attention to how your food tastes and to find connection with your food. Being mindful with your food instead of mindless will make for a better eating experience.
HEALTHY FOOD COMES AT A PRICE
Ever wonder how a McDonald’s burger costs less than a head of broccoli? Tara breaks down how the government system in place for the US has a subsidy system. Farmers can grow corn, wheat, and soy for low cost because the price is brought down artificially. These main ingredients go towards feed for animals or processed foods, like that highly processed McDonald’s burger. We’re at a disadvantage with how the current system is structured because processed foods are cheaper than healthy, whole foods.
Animal agriculture is a huge driver towards climate change. Tara cites some scientific studies done on climate change and sustainable environmental health processes. One of the biggest things we can do is eating more plant-based foods and less meat and processed foods. You can decide to go vegan, but Tara shares that not everyone has to go that route. We just have to make more conscious choices with our food and focus on increasing plants in our diet whenever possible.
Many of us have the privilege of not knowing where our food comes from, but we have the power to make good choices.
… BUT YOU CAN MAKE HEALTHY EATING WORK
Tara covers how there is a misconception about plant-based diets and healthy eating is pricey. Although Tara acknowledges that organic foods and whole foods are generally more expensive than processed foods, there are ways to make a healthy diet possible. Tara shares simple tips to save money and eat healthy foods:
- Cooking your meals more often versus going out is a great way to save money and you have control over how you are preparing your food and what you’re putting in it
- You can buy in bulk, which is better for the environment and your wallet
- Whole grains, beans, lentils, starches, etc. are actually cheap in comparison to meat and dairy
WELLNESS IS FOR EVERYONE
Speaking of wellness, not everyone else’s truth has to be your own. If some people enjoy wellness and self-care via baths and masks or traveling around the world living out a suitcase, then that’s their truth. Some people may view wellness as this ‘all or nothing’ or exclusive thing that only belongs to a certain group of people that brush their teeth with charcoal toothpaste or hand-press organic celery juice everyday. Wellness can mean choosing to eat and connect with an apple and being mindful while you eat your snack and it doesn’t have to be this fancy, unattainable thing.
PLANT-BASED DIET 101
Tara recommends reading the The Eat Lancet report and checking out Cowspiracy documentary on Netflix (don’t worry; according to Tara, it’s not a documentary that shows you cows dying or slaughter houses). We take up a lot of hundreds and thousands of acres that take up space just to make food to feed animals that are killed for us to eat. If we just ate the amount of grains that is grown to feed the animals, than so many more of us in the world would get fed than the animals we end up eating. Overall, it’s a huge waste of our resources. The majority of the meat we consume are not free-ranging but confided in a tight space. These animals get sick and are treated with antibiotics, there is runoff which negatively impacts our water system, which then leads to tainted water that makes people sick. The whole system that has evolved from our consumption of meat has led to a whole unsustainable system of exploitation, land and ocean use, shipping, deforestation, and more is damaging to the environment, our health, and this earth community. The more we support a plant-based system, the better off we will be as a society.
NOW LET’S GET CONNECTED
Tara grew up with her parents having a garden and like any other kid, Tara wasn’t interested in pulling weeds over the weekends and didn’t appreciate it as much back then. You’ll gain a great appreciation and connection with your food if you grow it! Gardening can be a wonderful therapeutic tool. Not only are you connecting with the earth, but you are saving money by growing herbs and vegetables right at home.
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