by Kelly Brown
We’ve all been there: You’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and you see ad after ad trying to sell you some gummy bear vitamin or instant tea mix that is going to shrink your waist 4 inches and help you drop 10 lbs. in just a few weeks time. Your best friend is going paleo, the news says carbs will kill you and what’s all this gossip about fat being good for you?
It seems like it’s getting harder and harder to figure out what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it. Luckily, the secret to eating healthy and living your best life isn’t difficult to understand at all. In fact, it can be summed up in three words: Just eat clean. Nutritional Therapist Diane Teall Evans gives her expert advice on how to transition your lifestyle from fad diets and smoothie cleanses to a healthy eating plan that will last a lifetime.
Kelly Brown: How did you end up as a Nutritional Therapist and what led you to this career choice?
Diane Teall Evans: I used to work at a plastic surgery office and would always bake goods from scratch and bring them in for everyone. I realized I loved cooking. Then, I transitioned to working at an agency in Grand Rapids. Before my wedding, I became really stressed out. My skin was freaking out, and I needed a solution that wasn’t just topical. I started the Whole 30 program and noticed a huge difference in my skin’s appearance. From there, I transitioned into a loose paleo diet and became very interested in gut health. I was unexpectedly laid off from my job while planning my wedding and that’s what pushed me to enter the Nutritional Therapy Consultant (NTC) program. I entered the program four weeks before my wedding. I had considered a few other programs, but none of them vied with my philosophy like nutritional therapy.
“What it boils down to is bio-individuality and what works for you.”
KB: If you could break it down to just the basics, how should people eat?
DTE: Eat clean, seasonal and local. I think diets are really overwhelming and people get caught up in macros, carbs or no carbs, eat the yolk vs. don’t. What it boils down to is bio-individuality and what works for you. All these diets take the emphasis away from the individual. The NTC program does have a lean toward traditional diets using local nutrient-dense foods.
KB: I think a big complaint about eating clean and local is that it is “more expensive.” What tips do you have for getting the most bang for your buck when grocery shopping?
DTE: A lot of people talk about the investment. The key is to buy in season; just because you can have strawberries in January doesn’t mean you should have them. When it comes to meat, honor the animal. If you’re buying a whole chicken, you’re getting a better deal instead of a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Grab some friends and invest in a CSA box, so you’re eating fresh, local produce every week. It’s an investment to eat this way, but I tell my clients you can pay the farmer now or the doctor later.
KB: What resources do you suggest to your clients?
DTE: Balanced Bites podcast and the books Practical Paleo, 21-Day Sugar Detox, and Eat the Yolks are all amazing resources that are very relevant. Each of these makes eating clean digestible and attainable for those just getting started. They are all part reference and part education and help you build a cleaner, nutritional lifestyle.
KB: What are the pantry staples everyone should have?
DTE: Go home right now and ditch your vegetable oil and replace it with good cooking fats like Kerrygold butter, coconut oil or Ghee. That is the first thing you need to do. Then, buy pastured eggs – not free range (cage free). If you can get all of this from the farmers market, even better. Yes – the right fat is good for you! Frittatas are a great and easy way to use up your eggs and any leftover veggies in the fridge. Remember, eggs can be enjoyed outside of breakfast and make an excellent addition to salads and dinner dishes.
It might sound crazy, but wild-caught sardines are one of my favorite pantry staples for easy, nutrient dense lunch. I like the boneless, skinless with a little bit of jasmine rice and a bunch of green veggies. Sardines are an amazing source of protein, healthy Omega-3s, vitamins D and B12 and minerals like calcium. They haven’t had the chance to sequester heavy metals like big fish and are more sustainable. I encourage all my clients to try them! They taste a lot like tuna.
KB: Lastly, where are your favorite places to eat in Grand Rapids and what are your tips for eating out?
DTE: Just enjoy it; food is meant to be enjoyed. If you want to have a glass of wine (or two) and the cheese board and dessert then go for it! Don’t cheat yourself with an avocado brownie when you could have the real thing (in moderation). San Chez is a favorite, and I really like Reserve for a date night.
For more information, please visit diteawellness.com or follow on Instagram at @Ditea