• My Body Story & Relationship with Food: We All Have One

    Photo by Pura Soul Photography
    My Body Story & Relationship with Food: We All Have One
    Photo by Pura Soul Photography

    I have been wanting to write this post for so long. But to be honest, I really wasn’t ready to write it until recently…

    I am frequently asked how I stay in shape being a food blogger and recipe developer. Shockingly enough, I ask myself that question often too.

    I am surrounded by food 24/7. There is a pantry 10 feet away from me with 12 shelves stacked with various types of granolas, nut butters, chocolates, bars and more at all times. There is fridge that honestly has not had vacancy since we moved in last August, and a freezer that is filled with the leftovers from recipe testing (mostly cookies, banana breads and other desserts) and who even knows what else is in there…

    Then there are the packages that arrive daily filled with food. Half the time I don’t even know how the company got my address (yes, it is scary) or any idea what the product is. 90% of the time it is food related and luckily since I am in the clean eating space, chances are it is organic and likely up my alley to eat.

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t ever feel stressed or overwhelmed by it. I am human too.

    I feel like it would be beneficial for you to know a bit more abut my background with food personally over my life because it has 100% shaped me to where I am today. I get a ton of notes from you guys asking me about how I stay balanced and sane around food and it is so important to me that you know I am not perfect and wasn’t always easy for me and my bff/frenemy food. We have had our up’s and down’s for SURE.

    When I was younger (middle school/early high school years), I was definitely on the chubbier side. Think 30 lbs more than I am today. I wasn’t comfortable in my body. I had a ton of extra baby fat (late bloomer) and it wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I really started to fit into my body. I would overindulge in anything from burger king to pop tarts to meat supreme pepperoni pizzas. Literally I would go to a friends house and rad their pantry looking for nut butter bars and twinkles (yes, all the JUNK food I wouldn’t touch now). But it wasn’t a binge eating phase. I wouldn’t eat a lot at once, it really just was eating too much junk too frequently. Basically the opposite of everything in moderation.

    Then I went to eating those 100 calorie packs when they were starting to be trendy, yogurt and fruit for lunch and just not going through the drive through a few days a week. I started to follow the moderation perspective a bit better and ate like most 17 year old girls did around me. Of course with the occasional chocolate chip cookies too (my high school had the BEST cookies ever) and I had slimmed down, just in time for college.

    Went to college – gained freshman 15 from all the drinking, late night eating (chicken fingers on a grilled cheese sandwich kind of eating), drinking, junk food in the cafeteria, and did I mention alcohol? Because pretty sure that was the real culprit. By the time sophomore year of college rolled around I was definitely not feeling my best self. I knew I wasn’t eating right, I felt large (even if I didn’t look it to others) and just plain old uncomfortable. I started to lose weight and that spiralized into me being pretty underweight during my first semester junior year of college. Luckily my parents and Jord (yes, we have been together for that long) helped put me back on track and regain my excessive weight loss. I put weight back on (in a “healthy” way) pretty quickly and have pretty much been a consistent weight ever since then.

    As you can see here in my story, my body size has been all over the place for most of my life. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I really started to take an interest in my health for the better. I began to pay attention to the foods that I was eating and the amount of alcohol I was drinking. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t very easy. I definitely stood out amongst my friends for the type of food I wanted to eat, the interest in organic foods and even having things like almond milk in our fridge or making wild salmon with dinner. I used to get really embarrassed and pretty defensive about what I wanted to eat/how I wanted to eat it if anyone questioned me. I wasn’t comfortable or confident in what I was doing. I would stress over what restaurants we were going to “what am I going to eat there?”.

    I was working on finding that sense of balance and I was still just self conscious in my own body. Comparing it to others around me and not practicing any form of self love for my body.

    Everyone’s body is different. We cannot compare ourselves. It sets us up for failure.

    Photo by Pura Soul Photography
    Photo by Pura Soul Photography
    Photo by Pura Soul Photography
    Photo by Pura Soul Photography

    I am grateful to say that since I graduated college it has been an amazing growth experience for me personally. Over the last five years, I have learned to love my body more than I ever have and also learn what to nourish it with. It wasn’t until very recently like Spring of 2016, that I really finally felt confident in my own body.

    At my last two office jobs, I was always made fun of for the weird food I would bring for lunch or why I wouldn’t want Chipotle every week with the office crew. Honestly it was a mix of me being cheap with spending money on lunch ($12 for lunch like come on) and because I really didn’t want to eat food that didn’t make me feel good. I craved my sprouted seed bread with nut butter and fresh fruits. I enjoyed making my overnight oats to eat in the morning when I commuted or at my desk. But 3-4 years ago, these foods and my perspective on eating was not common. In fact it was pretty rare at least around me.

    I would hear (and still hear) people at parties or even friends say that they think I am too thin (or they label me as anorexic, like yes I hear you..) or comment about what I am eating when I am at the table. “Oh that’s Rachel food” or “Rachel won’t eat that..”

    And for the longest time ever I took it to heart. I was so self conscious when someone would tell me my overnight oats looked like shit or question why I drink something with weird things floating in it (kombucha). Or tell me I won’t eat a restaurant because it’s not ‘heathy’. People were always making comments and I wasn’t strong enough to handle them for the longest time.

    It wasn’t until I started my Instagram account and began blogging that I really became comfortable with myself. When you guys would tell me my recipes looked delicious and then actually made them, I could not believe it. I would tell my Mom and Jord “omg look someone made my cookies how cool is that?”. And I STILL freak out and get so excited. My food was never ever the “cool” food or the most appetizing food. It was the “weird Rachel food”. I was the only one who ate it for the longest time.

    But as I continue to get older, I have become so much more confident in myself. I don’t give a shit when someone tells me they think I am too skinny or question if I actually eat the food I post. OF COURSE I eat the food I post. I created this account to help inspire others to eat deliciously clean food. To create recipes that taste amazing and are actually good for you. And to create a space where we CAN have conversations like this.

    I want to teach others that you don’t need to eat kale or drink green juice for days to feel your best self. I want to inspire others to eat the foods that they feel nourish their bodies and make them feel energized and amazing. This includes cookies, chocolate, anything.

    And most importantly, I want everyone to know that just because someone has an Instagram following and their food looks good, that doesn’t mean they are perfect. It most definitely doesn’t mean that their lives are perfection and nothing goes wrong. Heck, I was fired from my job a year ago, struggled with body confidence for basically 15 years and am finally in a place of peace with myself mentally and physically.

    As I have found peace with my body and myself, being surrounded by food just really doesn’t effect me like most would think. If I did this job in high school or college, yes I would have no self control over the amount of desserts and delicious treats around me. But as you grow that sense of security and comfort in your own body, you don’t take your emotions out on food. I eat a couple cookies and I feel satisfied. I don’t feel the need to eat a dozen. The cookies and 22 types of nut butter will be there tomorrow too. They aren’t running away and they aren’t going to solve any deeper issues we may have.

    I don’t deprive myself from things that my body is craving. I mean just look at the example of me eating meat again for the first time in 5 years. I do not eat something just because someone tells me to. I follow my own path and do what my body needs because you know what, our bodies are UNIQUE. No one is the same and we all run differently.

    I also stopped comparing myself to others and their bodies. Something I used to do so much. I would ask myself why she can eat like that and not gain weight. Or wait to see what everyone else at the table was ordering for dinner before I decided. And now, I’m like “okay I’ll take the X dish.” And I don’t care what anyone else wants and you shouldn’t either. Listen your body and you will find peace, you will find happiness and you will find comfort.

    My biggest piece of advice for everyone who struggles with body confidence and finding their “happy place” with food is to remember that they are not alone. I do not know one person who has not looked in the mirror at one point or another and did not find something wrong. Everyone has something they don’t like about themselves or their body, it is a part of life, but we have to each embrace our insecurities and turn them into positives.

    My goal each and everyday is to inspire, relate, love, and connect with everyone in this community. It is important to me that you all know that things haven’t always been easy for me food and body image wise.

    Love yourself, don’t obsess over food and listen to your body.  The “balance” will come with it.

    xx, Rach

    BTW my AMAZING and talented friends at Pura Soul Photography took these photos. I cannot reomcmend them enough, they are beautiful souls, so talented and have some of the best photos I have ever seen!

  • You may also crave..


  • Reply Elle April 5, 2017 at 7:55 am

    LOVED reading this post. Thanks Rach for staying so real with us.
    xo elle // https://splashofpreppy.com

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      thank YOU for reading!!

  • Reply Leah Kuuse April 5, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for this post Rachel it really means a lot to me in this time of hardnship in my life. 🙂

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      i am so happy to hear that! sending you lots of love!!

  • Reply Jessica Kapusta April 5, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Wow! Your story is so similar to mine it’s uncanny. Nice to know there are other people out there, right?! Also the Instagram community is amazing! I don’t have many followers, but since I decided to make my profile public and focus on food the response has been more than I could have dreamed of. I totally understand the giddy feeling of someone saying they like what you’re doing instead of saying it was weird. Thank you so much for sharing! This made my day 🙂

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      i so agree!! thank you for reading !! xx

  • Reply lee tilghman April 5, 2017 at 9:08 am

    LOVE this, LOVE you, ugh youre just the shit!!

  • Reply Sayle Milne April 5, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Many thanks for this post. I, along with thousands of other eyes, are reading it and nodding our heads. I have struggled with my relationship with food and my body since I was 15 and being a ballerina did not help the issue. But one day you ask yourself, “WHO am I doing this for? It’s not for me. I am miserable” and you begin to see food as fuel rather than punishment or reward. And you look at the ones you love more than life around you and you say, “I have this one body and it has to last me a long time.” And if you are lucky, something clicks. Not that it is not a daily struggle, but hopefully love of self can overpower love for the quest for the unachievable. Your work is important, not only because it is delicious, but because you are helping to restructure the language of food for so many and at the foundation of all of it is balance. Thank you!

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      thank you so much for sharing!! i am so happy to hear you enjoyed this post! xx

  • Reply Emily April 5, 2017 at 10:27 am

    So thankful you got to a point of not comparing any longer, and it amazes me how strong you are around so much food; I love the balance you’ve struck and the way you share the food, eat what feels right for your body, and that you’re comfortable in the body you’ve been given! Thank you for opening up and sharing Rachel; it is always encouraging to others who struggle knowing that they are not alone and that a healthy relationship with food and their body is possible!

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      thank you so much for reading emily!!

  • Reply Melissa April 5, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Thank you so much for posting your backstory! I’ve often wondered about it, you seem like the type of girl I’d be best friends with. I discovered you’re blog about 2 months ago, and when I would make your recipes my family was all “what’s in this?!” as they snarfed the whole pan down;). I know how it feels to feel observed in every food choice you make by others. I went through an anorixic phase in college and also had to learn the hard way what my body needs. I’ve given your blog link to others because EVERY recipe I’ve tried has been AMAZING. Literally, I get almost sad because I know that I won’t get around to making that recipe again for a long time–because I HAVE to try all the other ones first!! ;D I love your blog SO much and check my email with hopefulness every day to see if there’s a new post. You have a huge gift and sincerity about you-thank you for sharing it 🙂

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      awww yes! thank you so much for reading!! and you’re sweet note. xx

  • Reply Nicole April 5, 2017 at 10:52 am

    i love this honest, relatable story. thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Reply Erin April 5, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Thank you for sharing your story, it was inspiring to read! I myself went to college and gained the freshman 15 the same way and cared, but still continued to treat my body the same until senior year. I hated the way I looked, but the crappy food just tasted sooo good and that’s how everyone around me ate. Since senior year in college I have been conscious about what I eat and drink. I still have times where portion sizes, ice cream, and French fries are an issue, and I fluctuate in weight. I’ve recently discovered I’m gluten-free, lactose free, and have sensitivities to a bunch of food. I am very excited to try your recipes since most of them comply with my difficult diet 🙂 So glad I came across your IG account!!!

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:58 pm

      thank you so much for sharing, erin! i am so happy to hear this was helpful for you!!

  • Reply Megan April 5, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Thank you SO much for posting this, Rachel! It was a delight to read and I appreciate your honesty and admission. Social media is a blessing in a curse when it comes to comparison and it is refreshing to hear and see such a positive role model in terms of learning contentment and confidence in one’s body.

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      thank you so much for reading, megan! i am so happy to hear this was helpful for you!! xx

  • Reply Hannah April 5, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I am so grateful for you for writing this post, Rachel. You’re amazing. Love, love, so much love!!!

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      thank YOU hannah!! xx

  • Reply Christina Rice April 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Loved this post Rachel! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for being so open about it. I relate to so much of this. Growing up eating waaaay too much junk food all the time, the skinny shaming, everyone making fun of my “weird” food. Thank god for the Internet so we could find our tribes and find people who appreciate us for the way we are! I really admire how far you’ve come and how you’ve found so much balance. Thanks for the realness – always a breath of fresh air! XO

  • Reply jordan @ dancing for donuts April 5, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    i couldn’t love, or agree, with this post more. i think it’s so important to be comfortable with how food and exercise work for us as individuals, but it’s much easier said than done. it’s easy to feel pressure to eat a certain way, whether that’s extremely healthfully or the opposite (i know that feeling of everyone making fun of you for bringing your own lunch or dinner!). that’s another reason i started my blog as well – it made me feel comfortable with the choices i was making and i hope to inspire others to feel that same.

    thank you for sharing your story!

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      thank you so much jordan!! xx

  • Reply Angel April 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Your posts are always so real Rachel! I congratulate you for always being so open (and engaging). Thank you to the internet and Instagram for connecting me with the “weird food eaters ” lol

    PS I love how you and my daughter have the same name. She’s 5 and we both love making your food together!

  • Reply Lauren April 5, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Rachel, thank you so much for sharing from the heart what I have struggled to find the words for! I am just shy of 21, but I began eating an unprocessed and whole foods diet when I was about 15. As you mentioned, I too feel different from many of my friends and oftentimes uncomfortable with how they react to my food choices. Example A being your baked turmeric oatmeal bars I made just two weeks ago (because “oatmeal isn’t supposed to be yellow!”) Thanks for being so open and candid with your followers.

    Additionally, I want to let you know that I am definitely interested in women’s health like you are. Acupuncture, adaptogens, hormone balancing etc. etc… It all fascinates me! You haven’t directly stated anything on your account or blog but, if your interest in women’s health stems from a personal experience to find balance in your body, just know you are not alone!

    Thanks again for just being you 100% of the time!

  • Reply Zoe April 5, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this Rachel!! Love and appreciate your message so much

    • Reply Rachel April 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      thank you for reading!!

  • Reply Sarah April 5, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Wow oh wow! You’re strength and vulnerability in this blog point is simple amazing. Thank you for writing this piece and sharing this to everyone. Following your blog has truly inspired me to love food, balance, and myself a little bit more everyday.

    • Reply Rachel April 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      thank you, sarah!!

  • Reply Sarah April 5, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you for this post! It is really nice to relate to something on that level. As a junior in college, I struggle with the same body confidence issues and am made fun of for the stuff I eat all the time.

  • Reply Jenna April 5, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    As a senior in college that’s gone through some serious ups and downs with food, exercise, and body image, I was so happy and inspired to read this post. In the past I struggled with following fitness/food accounts that were so restrictive that it was actually driving very unhealthy decisions in my life. I so appreciate that all of your posts emphasize making personal health choices to make yourself feel GOOD, and the fact that you embrace body and individual differences. Your blog and recipe posts have made such a positive impact on me, and I hope some day to find the wholesome, healthy, balance you have found.

    You kill it!!! Keep doing what you’re doing, my instagram feed wouldn’t be the same without you 🙂

    • Reply Rachel April 7, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      thank you so much!!

  • Reply Ciara King April 5, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 wow, your sequence of body image is exactly the way it was for me as well! I think a lot of girls have had these problems but it’s something that no one wants to talk about, so thank you! I am 26 and just now learning to love my body and give it the nourishment it so much deserves. I had suffered from bulemia/binge eating disorder for so long and honestly really have just truly overcome it this year.. it has always been hard for me because I am one of the very few (I mean like 3) people in my very large/close family that is within normal weight and really tries to take care of my body. It’s been tough all my life to find balance when it comes to social situations because my family has always surrounded everything around food (and not healthy food at that). It was actually this Christmas when I just kind of voiced my opinion on everyone shaming me for not eating what they are eating and it was empowering. I am growing everyday and thank my Lord and Savior that my husband is now in it with me and a big supporter! Thank you for your wonderful recipes and posts, I truly enjoy them!

  • Reply Sara April 5, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Thanks for sharing your story! I felt like I could be writing it myself because I have felt the exact same way since changing my lifestyle/eating habits and my social environment has been the biggest hurdle in sticking with my desired way of eating.
    I always feel like I’m the outcast and that it’s not cool to eat the way I do. Luckily I have recently surrounded myself by others who share the same views/respect my choices. I have a food/health instagram as well that has been quite helpful in keeping me motivated and I will be starting a blog soon. I will check out some of your recipes!
    xx Sara

    • Reply Rachel April 7, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      thank you for reading!! xx

  • Reply Laura K. April 5, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Thank you for your post. Have you or do you struggle with counting calories?

    • Reply Rachel April 7, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      i do not count calories! i have found it can be brain washing and not the healthiest habit for me personally.

  • Reply Pedra April 5, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    literally YES girl. I am recovering from an eating disorder and although I am weight restored, the mental thing is a whole other journey. I sometimes feel like I can’t stop eating (mostly chocolate and nuts haha). Any tips on this? How do you learn to feel satiated after “a couple cookies?”

    • Reply Rachel April 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      if there is little satisfaction coming after you eat, you likely are depriving yourself of something whether that is certain nutrients or even emotionally something is missing. once i didn’t deprive myself and ate the right foods, i didn’t want more than a couple cookies etc.

  • Reply Adrienne April 5, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Great story about your food journey. I’ve had a similar one myself. I’m the girl at the office too who brings in her “weird” breakfast and lunch foods that everyone is asking about! Really enjoy your posts- thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply Rachel April 7, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      thank you for reading!

  • Reply Ruthy April 6, 2017 at 5:44 am

    I can’t believe I tuned in here for the first time no this is what I read! Jackpot! Inspiring and helpful.

    • Reply Rachel April 7, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      haha YAY welcome!! thank you!

  • Reply Julie April 6, 2017 at 6:27 am

    omg I don’t think I’ve ever cried reading a blog post….until this one. Rachel you are one of a kind and I am so glad that I found your blog and have been fortunate enough to meet you in person. Please never change, you’re the best!

  • Reply Jody New April 6, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Rachel, having known you for a very long time, maybe not well, but I certainly remember knowing you as a young girl, I was quite surprised by your post. Thank you for sharing such a personal story; it was very inspiring and I applaud you for doing what you think is right for Rachel; most young woman cannot do that on their own. And good for you for eating what you want to eat and not feeling pressured to eat at Chipotle with the others; just because everyone is going.

    Like others who responded, i, too put on the freshman 15 from drinking way too much beer and eating random snacks when we got home in the middle of the night. I remember in my early 20’s asking my Mom if I was fat as I had gained nearly 20 lbs and just felt awful about it. Also, like you, I finally found my comfortable weight, and know what I can and can’t eat to try to maintain this happy place for myself. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when my weight fluctuates, but I never deviate from the breakfast mush that my co-workers comment on; yes I eat cold oatmeal prepared in advance, too. But I know how to eat healthy and practical without feeling cheated to get back to where I am comfortable with myself. We need to treat each day as a new beginning and just try to eat healthy without feeling deprived.