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Q&A With a Nutritionist, Part One: Eat

This post is sponsored by Merrell shoes and clothes. Let’s Get Outside.

Sarah Starpoli is an accordionist, boxing enthusiast, and sometime nutrition counselor, as well as a pleasure to email with.

Sarah! Thank you so much for fielding my questions. To start: is there something women commonly do wrong in regard to their eating habits?

Aside from an unfortunate predilection toward weird fad diets, women seem to like to NOT eat in order to lose weight. I’ve been around so many hungry brides in recent years, and I too have fallen into the trap of not eating (though not for bridal reasons, alas). The problem is that you do see some results for a minute or two, but you become a horrible bitch and then your body freaks out and thinks you’re actually trying to starve it. It kicks into survival mode and holds on desperately to the nourishing fat that you’re so desperately thinking you need to get rid of. I still fall into the starvation trap sometimes, but it’s better say “DON’T EAT CRAP” rather than “DON’T EAT.” 

Sometimes I worry that in trying to eat healthy — mostly plants, almost no meat, no processed food — I’m also kind of messing myself up. Those processed foods were fortified with stuff, vitamins & minerals, etc., and maybe I’m missing them?

You’re not messing yourself up by not eating processed foods, I promise you that. If you’re having issues, or are not feeling well or robust, it’s certainly because you aren’t eating *enough* of the right things. Maybe you need more leafy greens, more actual whole grains (not Cheerios “with whole grain!” … that stuff started as a whole grain and was pulverized to become a processed food), more protein!

A story I like to tell is about when I decided to be a vegetarian many years ago. I ended up with seriously the worst skin I had ever possibly had, but I was regularly shoveling vegetables into my body (fresh, multi-colored, locally grown ones, not pizza). Ultimately, nine years after going vegetarian, a plate of fried chicken brought me back to the land of meat. Within three months, my skin totally cleared up. What? My takeaway from that was *not* that vegetarianism was bad, but that I wasn’t figuring out the right ways to get protein into my body. All human bodies do not have the same needs. When I lose all coping mechanisms, I usually need protein. Others need some sugar, or some salt. Sugar makes me mean, but makes my best friend a sweetheart. I think the best thing anyone can do for themselves is figure out what foods truly work best for them and learn how to make them central to their eating habits.

What’s your favorite food?

Singularly? Broccoli. I eat it for every meal some days, and it makes me feel an inner joy. This is something that makes me annoying.

Last meal style?  Pumpkin curry from a restaurant that closed in San Francisco. It’s comfort food. This is something that makes me more normal.

Is my tupperware ruining my life?

No. It means you’re bringing your lunch to work, which is making your life a thousand times better. 

What’s your healthy-eating history been like? And tell me about how you started boxing!

I WANT TO ANSWER THIS, BUT I HAVE TO GO TO A PARTY. Will I get more of a chance?!?!?

Haha. “I want to answer this but I have to go to a party” is probably the best sentence of the week. Let’s continue this in part two tomorrow-ish!

Update: Part Two.

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