What if I told you that you can break free from the all-or-nothing diet mentality keeping you stressed around food? It’s possible, and that’s why I’m so excited about this conversation with the founder and CEO of Nutrition Stripped, dietician, and author, McKel (Hill) Kooienga, about her research-based Mindful Nutrition Method group coaching program. We discuss her journey with food, free tools you can use right now, and her Mindful Nutrition Method pillars that have helped thousands of people cultivate balanced eating habits for life. This program is one of the few that actually creates long-term, sustainable, healthy habits surrounding food, nutrition, wellness, and health. You won’t want to miss her teachings that move the needle in feeling good in your body.

here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [0:58] Listen to McKel’s journey with food, becoming a dietician, and creating a researched-based program.
  • [7:17] Understand the all-or-nothing mentality and habit loop that is commonly associated with food and diet. This awareness allows us to aim towards the balanced middle and find a balanced weight where we are able to enjoy food and nourish our bodies.
  • [14:40] Learn how creating a healthy relationship with food allows us to find sustainable, healthy, balance in other areas of our lives as well.
  • Hear more about McKel’s 3 principles within The Mindful Nutrition Method: 
    • [17:55] Self-Compassion
    • [37:17] Mindful Eating
    • [43:43] Lifestyle
  • Learn more details about The Mindful Nutrition Method
    • [48:50] Coaching
    • [52:39] Section 1: Defining balance for yourself
    • [54:24] Section 2: Re-framing your thoughts around food
    • [56:05] Section 3: Building balanced meals
    • [57:54] Section 4: Being present

links mentioned in this episode

How to Create Healthy Habits with Ease, with McKel (Hill) Kooienga

Real Food Whole Life Recipes

McKel’s Instragam

McKel’s Website

McKel’s Balanced Eating Archetype Quiz

Join McKel’s FREE Online Training

guest bio

McKel Kooienga is the founder of Nutrition Stripped, author of the Nutrition Stripped Cookbook, creator of the Mindful Nutrition Method, and is a leading voice in mindful eating, named “Top 20 Role Models” by Arianna Huffington.

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:05)

McKel. Thank you so much for joining me today.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (00:08)

Thank you for having me. I love our discussions. I love our conversations. I’m really grateful to be here.

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:14)

I am just so grateful for your friendship, but also that you’re in this kind of wellness, health, nutrition space, just really teaching things that not only move the needle, but that are research-based, and that really bridges the gap between these extremes that we so often see when it comes to food, nutrition, eating, and health. Can you tell us a little bit – you have such an incredible story and I will recommend if you haven’t listened to the first episode that McKel and I did together, I’ll link to that one, it was incredibly popular and she tells a lot more about her story. But for those of you who haven’t met you yet, how did you get to this point where you’re creating these programs and The Mindful Nutrition Method? Like how did you get from point A to point B?

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (00:58)

Oh my goodness. Well, I feel like there are a lot of stories I could share. So, in a nutshell, I think, I’m excited to meet everybody for the first time if this is the first time that we’re meeting. So hello. Hi. I really, through my experience of being a dietician over the past decade, I’ve worked with thousands of clients, whether in-person, one-on-one, or online in our programs, and really what comes down to their main struggle. The main thing that keeps them up at night is their relationship with food. And more specifically, the stress that they have around food. It’s like, food’s always on their mind and not in a positive way. So throughout my professional career, I really wanted to meet them where they’re at and help them in a nutshell.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (01:48)

And also early in my – I’ll just kind of give a little quick recap too, for those of you who are meeting me for the first time – I also had so many challenges early on in my journey as a dietician or before I was a dietician, I should say. And I had a completely disconnected relationship with food. And also in inadvertently me with myself or relationship where my mind was always stressed and obsessed, almost thinking about food, everything I should be doing, or I shouldn’t be doing. And I was treating my body and my eating habits almost like a machine so that I could get from point A to point B in the most perfect, efficient way as possible. I remember not enjoying mealtimes at all. I honestly didn’t understand what truly enjoying food meant or even what in the world is having a positive relationship with food or a joyful experience around food.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (02:42)

And on top of that, my mindset was really strong in the inner critic. I know Robyn, you talk a lot about mindsets, but I would just get in this negative loop and thought and behaviors around eating just for the sake of nourishment, but really restrictive and rigid. And so it left me just really disconnected from my life and myself. I wasn’t fully able to enjoy the life that I had in front of me, relationships. I would avoid some social situations just because of the food that was there and it would stress me out. And so I remember very specifically, there was a moment I was having a meal with my family and I caught myself in the moment having this, just repeating entire conversation. Like I know we’ve all been there, whether the subject matter is the same or not, but I had this, this like monologue about, oh, like how many calories are in that? Like, I should be eating this. I shouldn’t be eating that. Maybe I could have that next week when like my cheat day is there. And in that moment, I finally said to myself, “what is going on?!” I literally can’t do this anymore. There has to be another way of eating and also nourishing myself and even just carrying on a proper present moment conversation with my loved ones to enjoy the moment.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (03:59)

And so this was early on before I even was a quote dietician and getting into my work as a dietician. And so that personal fuel mixed then with my experience coaching so many people, it just has led me to develop The Mindful Nutrition Method, which we can dive into of course later on, but it really is my proudest work. I’m really excited to share more about it. And The Mindful Nutrition Method basically is a live experience group coaching program. And I teach you how to cultivate balanced eating habits for life. And I do this with some mindset shifts. Of course, we get nitty-gritty and the actual, what do we eat for balanced nutrition? Then of course, some lifestyle practices to truly make the habit stick so that it’s sustainable.

Robyn Conley Downs: (04:45)

Hmm. I think that’s so relatable. Whether, you know, you relate to the sort of maybe a little bit over-restrictive or just distracting that that becomes so consuming that you’re not able to fully enjoy the life or the people around you or eating experiences, or if, you know, it’s not even a spectrum – I I think we always tend to put things on a spectrum. I think this is more of like a 360 kind of, we could plot points on a graph and we can fall all different places, but healthy, balanced eating is so elusive that I even think that that idea of healthy, balanced eating is triggering to people because they even project all-or-nothing thinking onto balance or perfection on to balance. And so, I think many of us have had some experience, so around food that doesn’t innately feel balanced, but we don’t even necessarily know what an alternative is or it’s so normalized that we think, oh, well, this is the only way.

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:41)

So, I mean, I know a lot of people come to me and I think this is true for you too, where they might not even be thinking about healthy, balanced, eating. What they’re thinking about is weight, right. They’re struggling with their weight. And that is the most immediate problem. That’s keeping them up at night or they’re getting up in the morning and not feeling great in their body. So can you talk a little bit about the spectrum of approach to weight struggle and what people come to you feeling like their problem is?

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (06:09)

Yeah, absolutely. I think the biggest and most important aspect to what you were talking about to Robyn is that the end game is to have that positive relationship with food and have balanced eating habits for life genuinely that are sustainable. And both of those things can seem very abstract. What in the world does that actually mean? What do I eat? What does that mean in terms of how I approach food and my thoughts around it? So I like to offer up a tool that I think is so beneficial for someone. So if you’re listening, if you’re watching, try to get a little visual with me here as I go through what I call the balance spectrum. And so I share this tool because this can instantly help you assess where you’re at right now, in terms of the balance that you’re feeling today, this week, this month, the scope of your life to then further answer those questions of like, what is balance and how do I get there? So if you picture on one end being this quote, all-in, so Robyn, you talked about like all-in, all-out mentality, you brought that up, and this is perfectly appropriate for this situation because we have this spectrum.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (07:17)

So on one end, it’s all-in. And so this is where I was, I was talking to you about how I was really restrictive and had more highly regulated eating behaviors, which is so common. And I was using them to try to reach a goal, or maybe you’re trying to reach a goal weight, or you’re finding yourself using it for control. You’re rarely allowing yourself to enjoy food without guilt. Also when you’re on this side of this all-in spectrum, you typically are labeling foods as bad, off-limits. I can eat this. I can’t eat that. I shouldn’t eat this. Should, clean, dirty, bad, all those words and labels that we start to associate and identify food as, and we really break it down to this identity. Also on this side of the spectrum, it’s really common that you’d be counting calories or macros or points. Like I said, only eating those clean foods. So this is really common. Again, I was on this spectrum for a long time. But what happens is that most people don’t just hang out here. They don’t just hang out on this all inside of the spectrum, where they’re eating in this restrictive and regulated way, because guess what? It breaks, it breaks down at some point, you have to give, right? And food is consuming all of your thoughts. You might feel that obsession around food. I know obsession is a pretty weighted word, but truly if you’ve been there before, you know what it’s like to just have constant mental chatter around food and your relationship to food, it’s so exhausting. As I mentioned earlier, too, with my case, I would avoid social situations sometimes because it involved food which caused so much anxiety even to the point where I’d avoid them all together, or I would just be so stressed in the moment that I wasn’t even really there experiencing that social situation. When you’re also on this side of the spectrum, you really are taken out of life’s moments. You’re not present, again because you’re so in your head, you’re thinking about all of the restrictions, all of the food rules that you might have, you might be obsessing over what actions you need to take to get to your goal weight X, Y, Z. And then of course, you don’t feel your best. You’re not able to give your best to yourself, let alone others like your family – it’s stressful. It’s overwhelming. So because of that, I just want to frame that up because this is so common and eventually it’s going to break. It feels so challenging. It’s incredibly taxing, it’s unenjoyable to maintain this.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (09:51)

So instead of just gently gliding over to the other side of the spectrum, you literally leap and swing aggressively into the all-out side, right? So this is where that disconnection comes into place or mindless or being disconnected from food, being disconnected from your meal experiences, from your hunger cues, your satiety cues, maybe even disconnected or not as intentional with prioritizing your physical health with your food choices. So when you’re on this side of the spectrum, you’ll find yourself being mindless or distracted eating. You could also find yourself using food to cope with your emotions. You may engage in overeating, binge eating, eating whatever you want whenever you want. And again, this is really common. So typically what we see happen when you end up on this side of the spectrum is some of those behaviors for a period of time, you’ll do those and then you’ll be like, “Okay, I’m kind of exhausted by going all out. I need to get back on track.” Right? “I need to get back on track. I need to reset. I’m gonna start Monday. I’m gonna do everything overnight and completely change my world and my habits.”

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (11:03)

You and I, Robyn, both do a lot of habit work in different ways. And we know this is so common and it’s so difficult and just not sustainable. And so what people will do is they’ll just, again, they’ll want to swing right back to that all-in cycle. And what happens is you’re then just stuck in this repeating cycle. You’re swinging between these extreme states of imbalance. And you’re gonna most likely revisit a diet that you did in the past because so many of us have been dieting for years, if not decades. So you’re gonna pull out your Rolodex of diets or trends. You’re gonna start them. You’re gonna stop them. And also what might happen if weight is on your radar, or if that’s on your mind, you might also find yourself noticing that your weight is fluctuating, you know, up or down are just changing. And this is also why studies show that dieters end up gaining weight back within 12 months, is this whole on-off cycle. It’s not sustainable at all. Most importantly, what it does, this whole pendulum swinging, it fuels an unhealthy and negative relationship with food, both with your body, your mindset around food. It can lead you to engage in eating behaviors that also aren’t in the best interest of who you wanna be in your life. Not just your physical body, but your mental state, your emotional state, your spiritual wellbeing.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (12:28)

So I want to just highlight those two extremes because they do sound quite extreme, but I think it’s important to lay a framework so that you can actually assess okay, well then if I understand those two extremes and we’ve all been there before, then what we’re aiming for is this center. It’s, this is balance it’s right in the middle, where you no longer have this all-or-nothing mentality. You’re aware of it. It’s in your purview because you need the knowledge of it existing, right? You need the awareness of it, but it’s in this center, in this balanced state, where you’re able to find joy, like truly enjoyment and nourishing your physical body with the foods that it needs to live life, to show up, to do the things that you want to do that you’re here to do. And also mindfully eat the foods that you really enjoy, that you love, that you prefer without the guilt or the shame when you do eat those foods. And so Robyn, to go back to your earlier question too, about weight, because this is also really common, and this is where I believe you’re able to find and maintain what I call your balanced weight.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (13:39)

So your balanced weight, just as a teaser, actually isn’t a weight, a number, a scale, a specific number, anything at all, rather than let’s say, like in comparison to a goal weight, which a lot of us hear the word goal weight, or even ideal weight, or even happy weight, honestly. Happy weight – I really don’t like that terminology because for me it, it paints a picture that you cannot be happy or experience happiness where you are now, and you must achieve something in order to have that state of being. So rather than that specific goal weight, ideal weight, again, which really focuses on a specific number and which might be healthy or unhealthy for your unique body, your balanced weight really is this place where your body comfortably sits when you’re experiencing that middle, that ground, where you have the enjoyment for food, and you’re also prioritizing nourishment for your body.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (14:40)

And so I’m talking about eating habits basically, but this can also be a catalyst for all the other habits that you do in your life related to taking care of yourself, related to finding balance in your own life. And so it’s really this physical state of being where you’re embodying balance with the way that you’re nourishing yourself as a whole, it’s realistic, it’s sustainable for you to maintain without obsessing over diets or food, or again, swinging from this all-in side to the all-out side, just over and over again. And most importantly, it’s flexible, it literally moves with you, with your chapters when your chapters of life change, when maybe specific practices or ways you want to embody balance when those change. So it’s flexible. So that’s the biggest difference. I really just wanted to create The Mindful Nutrition Method to get people to that place so they’re not so exhausted anymore with all the diets and the programs out there.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:45)

Mm. And I feel like a quick win quote unquote quick, but it really is here – is just seeing the spectrum for what it is, because it’s so normalized that we don’t think that there’s an alternative, right. That language, that terminology of being on-track or off-track, on the wagon, off the wagon, starting on Monday, starting on January 1st, it’s so embedded in the way that we’ve been taught to think about how we approach food that it’s almost like what is the alternative? Because I don’t like it. I don’t love swinging between these extremes. I don’t like how I feel on either end, but it’s almost like there isn’t this alternative. So here is just a quick win is like shifting your mindset to know that those two extremes are not gonna get you where you wanna go. There is an alternative of that works better.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:34)

And the other damaging thing that we don’t need to go into too much today is just the self – people get weirded out sometimes about self-love – but I’ll say self-compassion the compassion aspect that happens when you swing between extremes and then you beat yourself up for it. So I see a lot of my community, you know, it’s maybe struggling with these extremes, but they’re also struggling with blaming themselves. So I don’t have enough, willpower. How could I let this happen again? Or, you know, on the heels of almost two years of a pandemic, and maybe you found yourself on one end of the extreme, maybe after having balance in your life and then things got difficult and still, I find people blame themselves for it, that they’re somehow damaged. And I think that’s just this extra layer that we don’t talk about enough.

Robyn Conley Downs: (17:22)

It’s not just our physical body and the result of the extremes on our physical body. But as you mentioned, our emotional health, our mental health, how we feel about ourselves and the amount of time we spend beating ourselves up for the system that we are in, that’s not our fault, but we are basically a victim of, and then when you can step out of that, not only can you get different physical results, but you can have that place of, like you said, being balanced and grounded and happy outside of what your body looks like is pretty profound.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (17:55)

Mm. So profound Robyn, I love that you brought up self-compassion. I mean, you and I talk, you know, as friends and I feel like we talked about all the things and compassion is such an integral principle to live life by, but in particular, as it’s relating to your relationship with food, self-compassion is actually one of my four principles inside The Mindful Nutrition Method another being curiosity. So that can kind of take the immediate judgment that we all tend to have on ourselves. And that inner critic that gets really loud. And I love that you just brought up self-compassion, and also with the curiosity component, just as you were mentioning, being open: what if there is a different way? What if there is a different way of living and nourishing my body that isn’t on these two extreme sides?

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (18:48)

What would that look like for me? What do I want that to look like for me? And so that’s why I’m so passionate about balanced eating and just balance in general, because I truly believe that it really is the most effective way to be free from food and diet obsession to maintain your unique, balanced weight, whatever that looks like and is for you. And most importantly, cultivating a positive relationship with food, your body, and nourishing yourself with a sprinkle of joy, because it’s important that we enjoy what we are doing with our health. So I do love those actionable tools. So I just want to remind everybody listening or watching to use this balance spectrum tool instantly. Whenever you need a little help, whenever you’re in the moment, and you’re just wanting to check in with yourself, like, Hey, how am I doing?

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (19:35)

Wear the lens of self-compassion, bring that in and just start to ask yourself, “Okay, where am I on this spectrum right now? Am I feeling like way all-in or way all-out?” So first just assessing where you are on that spectrum, and then just ask yourself, “How can I bring more balance to my day or my moment?” So if you’ve noticed, for example, if you’ve noticed that you’ve only been eating foods for enjoyment, or maybe you’re eating whatever, maybe you’ve had like a super stressful week, maybe you are mindlessly eating or distracted eating, you are eating, whatever, whenever, the question then maybe you could bring a little bit more balance to your day. Could you add in maybe some more non-starchy carbohydrates or more protein or fat to keep you nice and satiated, and also nourish your physical body? You know, so that could be a little check in, or let’s say on the other hand, you’ve been avoiding all of those, like quote, bad foods, or you’re starting with the restriction and the regulation, and, you know, you haven’t been eating just for the enjoyment sake. See if you can allow yourself to enjoy something that you’ve really been wanting all week. I know it’s a simple tool, but it is so powerful and it also helps you visualize it, snap into the present moment, and then it allows you to take that action too.

Robyn Conley Downs: (20:54)

Yeah. And so whether you wanna work with McKel or sign up for her program, this is a completely free tool that you can do right now like she said. I call them pattern interrupts, right. You’re interrupting a thought, an old thought pattern – it’s really shown in the research to be very effective. And one of our questions is: How do I feel and how do I want to feel? And how is this thing contributing to how I want to feel or not? It might not. And that’s fine, but it’s that pause and pay attention moment to kind of, like you said, snap you out of an automatic habit that maybe is a more extreme view or approach and interject that moment of mindfulness even if you’re not into mindfulness, it’s sneaky mindfulness. We’ll tell you right now and just asking, “How do I bring more balance?” Is so powerful. It really is. And I think sometimes McKel, we think it has to be more complicated than this, or more expensive or more time-consuming. But really this is a very effective thing.

Robyn Conley Downs: (21:52)

I wanna dig into it slightly abit more. And then I wanna talk about your pillars, but I seriously find that the word balance is like so triggering for some people because they have, associated balance with perfection. And so I see a lot of anti-balance on the social media, like F-balance and blah, blah, blah. And I think where that’s coming from is that again, extremism, when we take balance and we turn it into another form of productivity and perfection, we end up in the same place. So can we help people separate balance from perfection? If they’re going use this question, I want to make sure that they’re not then triggering themselves into another mindset trap. So if we’re asking, “How can I bring more balance to my day?” I’m not asking, “How can I do something perfectly right now?”

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (22:48)

I mean, yes, that’s exactly it. Yeah, ’cause I feel like a lot of you and my past self would be like, “Okay, awesome. McKel so I’m gonna make sure that everything I eat right now is perfectly balanced.”

Robyn Conley Downs: (22:59)

And you can really see where you’re coming from on the spectrum of how you approach this question. I think.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (23:06)

Exactly, exactly. Right. So eating balanced isn’t about being perfect. I’ll actually pull in the self-compassion component and the curiosity, because I think that when you are asking yourself that reflection question, when you’re using the balance spectrum, and you’re like, “How can I bring more balance into this meal or into my day, Into my week?” It’s a little open-ended and it allows you to relieve the pressure of just having exploration, having curiosity, making it a little bit more flexible versus what do I need to do to make this a perfectly balanced day. So if you can start to just reframe that answer when you start to catch yourself – and I’ll actually go into this a little bit too with mindful mindset because I think this directly plays really well with just this question – but try your best to have that layer of self-compassion, feeling like it’s an exploration when you’re trying to answer that question rather than something to do, rather than a checklist moment, that’s my biggest tip there.

Robyn Conley Downs: (24:12)

And that Dr. Kristin Neff the self-compassion question is: what is the kindest choice right now? So I feel like those two together, right? How can I bring more balance to my day in a kind way. And so some times kind is, I’ve been sitting, so I’m gonna move and sometimes kind is, I’ve been on the go and I need to just rest. And so it’s a loop because many of us have not practiced asking ourselves these questions we are in that should cycle where we’re doing things ’cause we think we should not, ’cause they’re good for us. And so it’s breaking out of that and then retraining yourself to pay attention. So it might be a little difficult at first, honestly, but it’s these skills that you can learn that are like a ripple effect across the actual habits that you’re trying to make. Let’s talk about mindful mindset because I feel like that pairs in so well to what we’ve been talking about.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (25:04)

Yeah, absolutely. And Robyn, and as you were talking about that too, I just thought of another little prompt that I find is really helpful for those perfectionist Mindful Nutrition Method members out there that I’ve worked with. And, and also again, like my path,

Robyn Conley Downs: (25:18)

Right. I know neither one of us know anything about that.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (25:21)

No, I can’t can’t relate. But truly and again, this is also related to self-compassion because it works: What’s the next best thing I can do right now? And can that be good enough? What is that good enough status? And that’s fine. Right? Cause I think we all, if we are operating from a perfectionist mindset, we are operating from yes, perfection as the goal and also idealism. And so if we can just establish, “Hey, what’s the best I can do in this situation? What’s the good enough in this situation that can also help you move past that hump of feeling paralyzed because you’re trying to perfect it or procrastinating it or not taking action because you need it to be perfect?” So that’s another layer there. This is all in terms of mindful mindset.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (26:14)

It’s my first pillar inside The Mindful Nutrition Method for a reason, you know, Robyn firsthand, how powerful and how important it is for our minds to be working for us and not against us. In a nutshell, in a mindful mindset in my world is really about cultivating that positivity and that positive relationship with food and your body so that you can nourish yourself properly. ‘Cause again, that’s important, but you can also enjoy all those foods that you really like and you prefer, and that are, you know, enjoyment foods for you without the guilt. And so what I find it’s about unlearning all of these food rules, all the old diet patterns that keep you stuck again in that dieting cycle are swinging from the all-in the all-out. It’s also about reframing your mindset to work again for you, not against you, so that you can actually break free from all this diet mentality that keeps you so stuck and rigid and you know, food-obsessed really.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (27:17)

And so having a positive relationship with food, ’cause sometimes people are like, “Oh, what is that even? What is that like? What does that even mean?” Again with the abstract concepts McKel, but having a positive relationship with food is so important to maintaining balanced eating, because it does allow you to have this perspective and this lens with food and your body and nourishing yourself as a whole from almost like a neutral perspective so that you can enjoy your food choices based on genuinely what your body wants and is needing in that time, and what balance looks like for you at that time, rather than following a specific list of foods that you can have, that you can’t have, that you should eat, that you shouldn’t eat. And that also don’t take into account your unique body, let alone, what do you like, what do you dislike? What’s your lifestyle like? And so it’s really unrealistic and also really unhealthy to think that, for example, some food rules, like you can avoid sugar or you need to avoid carbs or any other food that you’ve been told is bad for the rest of your life. That’s again, being on the all-in side of things. And so when you’re eating less, if you’re avoiding foods, especially certain foods that you’ve deemed to be off-limits, if you’re restricting what you can eat, research has actually shown that it only makes you hyper-focused on that food and it intensifies your desire for it. It’s almost like when we’re kids and we’re told, “Oh, you can’t have that candy. That’s enough, that’s enough candy for right now.” Then you’re just so hyper-focused on that candy, for example.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (28:51)

This is really interesting. One study showed that when they asked people about chocolate cake and they said, “Do you associate chocolate cake with guilt or celebration?” The people who said, “Yeah, I associate chocolate cake with guilt.” They also felt far less in control around food and were more likely to overeat it. So, you know, mindset is really, really important. And unfortunately for so many of us we’ve been entertaining this diet messaging, or we’ve created this list of foods in our minds that are labeled off-limits or bad. Most of us have experienced this for, let’s say years. Some of us have experienced this for decades. Some of our mindful nutrition method members have literally been unraveling and unlearning all of these food rules that they have been told for decades. And what happens of course, Robyn, like you talk about this in your work and I teach this as well, but we know that when we start to have these messages, so for example, dieting messages for years, then they’re ingrained in our mind, we start to think about them a little bit. So maybe we approach the candy or the pizza. And we remember, “Oh, I remember reading or somebody telling me this was a bad food, right?” And then it starts to create all this thought and this conversation, which then of course on repeat, creates a pretty strong belief system around that thought. And then we take actions based on that. And then it becomes our behavior literally becomes now our reality. And so what most people don’t realize in relation to dieting and their relationship with food is that all these old thoughts, these layers upon layers of years of behaviors or beliefs around bad foods, aren’t going to go away overnight. So even if you hop on a diet or a trend or something, and you’re all-in, those thoughts and all of this mindset and beliefs around food and your relationship to it just, they’re still hanging out.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (30:52)

You haven’t really addressed them. And so, you know, like a really common food rule and thought that I will hear come up a lot with our Mindful Nutrition Method members is I don’t know why, but carbs always get a bad reputation. People have a lot of food rules around carbs. Like, I shouldn’t eat carbs after 2:00 PM or all sugar is bad. I can’t eat the whole egg because egg yolks are bad. I can only drink black coffee because creamers’ bad, or it’s gonna make me gain weight. You know, the list goes on and on. And all of these food rules that we have are so individual to our experience with dieting and also how many years they’ve just been accumulating and also external circumstances, like, conversations with family members or support systems. And so I just want to highlight that the mindset piece is the first thing I teach people because it’s so important because those food rules are just like hanging out, Hey, I’m over here.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (31:50)

So I just wanna share that because if anybody listening or watching feels like, “Oh, I have this weakness with chips or candy,” or “I overeat a certain food” or “I’m triggered by having this food in my house or in my pantry”, or “I don’t have enough willpower or motivation to not eat it all or stick to this certain way of eating.” I just want to say, it’s not true. Those aren’t true. It’s because of all the diets and the plans, all of these restricted and regulated ways of thinking about food and eating, having these things off-limits, aren’t allowed to have, can’t have, that has led to this food mindset of preoccupying your mind with diets and food stress. So I just want to highlight that and yeah, the mindful mindset is so important to address because if you don’t, like I said, they’re just gonna hang out. You’re gonna have all these negative unsupportive thoughts, and they’re gonna continue to pull you back into this all-in, all-out mentality. And you’re gonna get into that same pattern again.

Robyn Conley Downs: (32:52)

And I like to think of it. Well, you have the three pillars. And I like to think of it as a pyramid almost. So mindset is the base, right? Like we always wanna start with habits and while habits are, I don’t know what 47% of our day is made of habits, but those, even those 47% of our day of habits is based on our mindset. So when we are starting in the middle or the top, we’re not gonna have the same long term sustainable results. I love that you have that. What about your mindful eating pillar?

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (33:24)

Yeah. And I love that point Robyn. And one thing I just want to drive home is once you really start to take care of the habits and your mindset around food, when I like using the word “heal” your relationship with food because it takes time. And healing is always a messy journey. There are some ups and downs and you have to be patient with yourself and give yourself self-compassion. And a lot of us, like I said, are working through years, if not decades of dieting messaging. And so once you overcome it, because it absolutely is possible, when you heal that relationship with food in your body you’re no longer sitting there labeling foods as bad or off-limits or choosing a way of eating solely based on being able to achieve a specific physical result in a short amount of time, like diets will tell you.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (34:12)

Instead you’re really able to honor what I say is the many roles that food plays in your life, which is yes, physical nourishment so that you can show up and do what you’re here to do, but also experiencing all the amazing roles that food plays in your life, like experiencing culture, tradition, social connection, creativity and fun and enjoyment. And so that freedom will bring you so much peace and confidence in yourself that you will be able to take better care for your body, give yourself the nourishment it needs. And most importantly, making decisions from an empowered place that’s really aligned with who you wanna be in the future versus more passive.

Robyn Conley Downs: (34:54)

Yeah. That’s so powerful. And even if that’s all you get out of this conversation today and the things that I’ve also taught over the years, it’s the power of shifting your thinking and coming at it from that more balanced place from that more compassionate place. So yeah. So let’s talk about the mindful eating beacuse like mindful mindset I think people are like, “Well I don’t really even know what that means. I think I want it, but I don’t know what it is.” So can you tell us a little more about that?

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (35:26)

Right Robyn? Sorry, my, my landline just rung. Can you hear that? Okay. It stopped. Okay. Can you, can you ask that question again? 

Robyn Conley Downs: (35:35)

Yeah, sure. So, just like mindful mindset or a healthy relationship with food, that might be something we just talked about, what that meant, mindful eating can be really hard to get, wrap your head around in terms of what that means. I think a lot of us think we want it, but we actually couldn’t even define healthy eating if you asked us. So what is that pillar for you and The Mindful Nutrition Method?

McKel Hill Kooienga: (36:00)

Yes. So I find that when I talk about mindful eating to an acquaintance, networking, friend, family, and also the community, when you hear mindful eating, I think people visualize that you have to have this whole experience where it’s the all-in mentality where you’re trying to perfect the act of mindful eating. You have the incense going, you have the right lighting and you’re chewing your food 80 times. And you’re really absorbed in all of the flavors and all the textures. So I mean, I will say that there are some of tools that I just listed that can actually be really fruitful and that actually might be part of your unique, mindful eating experience, but it doesn’t really capture the entire essence of mindful eating. The purpose of mindful eating simply is to guide you to have more awareness, more self-compassion and intention with your body and your meal experiences so that when you’re approaching a time to make a decision or a choice around food and how you’re nourishing yourself, you’re doing so with deep awareness and compassion and intention to listen to what your body’s needing, what you’re wanting and also the right amount of balance between the two.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (37:17)

So this is why I talk about mindful eating in terms of the second pillar, because it’s really beautiful to lay upon your mindset shifts that you’re starting to explore. And you know, eating mindfully is key for balanced eating because when you’re making intentional choices, you’re able to align with what that unique state of balance is for you in the first place. So sometimes, you know, the definition of balance for you today, you know, Robyn, or for me today, it might be like, okay, I’m gonna choose to order a slice of pizza when I’m out, because it’s my favorite pizza spot, I’m in the mood for it, I’m having a really fun time with my friends who I’m meeting up, who I haven’t seen in a while, and I really am excited to eat this pizza. But other times it might look like ordering a veggie-packed salad on the side, or instead, because you’re really checking in with your body. And you’re like, you know what? I just need more nourishment today. And this salad option sounds so satisfying to me. And maybe sometimes it’s a balance, truly a combination of the two. But the key thing to understand is that the choices are intentional and they’re intentional in creating the balance that you like, rather than mindlessly eating a slice of pizza or an entire pizza because you’re stressed or you’re coping with emotions or it’s comforting or on the other hand, again, polar opposites or just choosing a salad because you think you have to, you think that’s the only way to do it. And you know, unfortunately, most nutrition advice out there, especially with diets and diet culture, is that they focus on, you know, again, the whole what to eat, what not to eat. So when you know what to eat and nourish your body with, it can be challenging to maintain it because there are again, so many factors that play into your eating habits, everything from the emotional state that we’re in, our physical environment. As you know, Robyn, habits are very, very intertwined into our physical environment. It’s impacted by whether or not we’re cooking or eating from home, what food’s available and so much more. And so what people don’t really realize is that where, when, why, and how you eat is just as important to what you’re eating. And so many people just focus on the, what, they’re not even considering the where, the when, the why, the how, like the actual act of it, and when you start focusing on those areas, it can support you so much more so that you’re not just, again, you’re just more intentional about checking in with why you’re eating the food that you are.

Robyn Conley Downs: (39:51)

Hmm. Yeah. I think that’s like a mic drop moment too, that, and I’ve had guests that mentioned that before so I’d love to reiterate that. I think about all the mental energy you have put into what you’re eating and, and then in the absence of all of those other things. So I really think about your method as the roots – really nourishing the roots so that the tree can grow or the plant can grow. We aren’t just starting at the top of what, we’re just actually getting into the why and how and where, so that you can have better results that are sustainable, that are also joyful, that feel good, that aren’t, you know, based in this sort of restrictive, discipline, willpower loop that we sometimes find ourselves in which I think bring us beautifully to your third and final pillar, which is lifestyle.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (40:41)

Yes. Yeah. And also Robyn, you just brought up something that made me think of it too, because like starting anything, habit change, or I’m saying like, “Yeah, mindful eating is important. Great.” But what happens if you’re just like, “Oh, okay, I know what to eat. I’m kind of aware, you know, when I eat, or how I eat, maybe I can just like gloss over that, mindful eating isn’t that important to me.” But if you don’t have strong, mindful eating practices set up to help you stay in that intentional pace with your food choices and really embody that intention, then you will find yourself someone who’s eating while distracted. You may overeat, binge eat, emotionally eat, mindlessly graze. You also might even be eating on a specific time schedule because you’re not able to maintain that balance. So you’re always going be on this all-out side of the spectrum when you’re eating, whatever, whenever you want without paying attention or giving your body truly the nourishment it needs. And so that’s really a common thread I see with new Mindful Nutrition Method members is they’ll, you know, they’ll come and share their story and why they joined and what their biggest challenges are. And a lot of them struggle with overeating or just this concept of just disconnected eating. And if you don’t break those disconnected eating habits that you have, you’re gonna find yourself feeling more imbalanced than you’d like, and you also are going to be challenged to just maintain that balance long term. Another specific situation too, this is really common. Let’s say for example, you had a really stressful day at work, or maybe there’s just heightened emotions in general and you ended up binging, let’s say a pint of ice cream and you’re watching a movie or TV show or whatever. First and foremost, emotional eating is normal. It happens to all of us. It’s okay. It will happen to all of us sometimes anyway, but for those of us who have strong, mindful eating practices and truly have balanced eating habits, you’re able to readjust pretty quickly and also easily and rebalance that center without feeling guilt or shame, or what is most common, taking drastic measures to make up for that binge. Or again, it feels really exciting to be like, “Ooh, then I need to reset.” And then you have that pendulum swinging. So I wanna call that out because especially with stress and all of our lives and a lot of change the past few years, this is so common. So if you don’t have a strong, mindful eating practice, you might, you know, again, start to get into that cycle and say that like, “I’m so bad, I’m gonna reset.” And we don’t want you to do that. You wanna have that self-compassion, you wanna have the appreciation, the enjoyment for nourishing foods. You want to connect with your body and be excited by the way that they make you feel, the taste, the textures, where the food came, from and so much more. So it really makes you much more connected to your food as well. I just wanted to pop in there and share that as well because I think that’s so common.

Robyn Conley Downs: (43:43)

It is. And it does, it creates this lifestyle. So I imagine for your third pillar being lifestyle, it’s like supportive of this mindful approach.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (43:53)

Yeah. And so the lifestyle really is, how are you developing the quote right habits? When I say “right” I mean, unique for you, that are gonna make it so much easier for you to actually make balanced choices naturally in any situation in your daily life, rather than going back to those unsupportive habits. And again, so many diets out there, I feel like if we Googled them, they would be like in the hundreds of thousands of all the diets that are like five-day this, 30-day that, six-day this and all of those are leading you to believe that number one, it’s possible for you to change your eating habits. And you’re gonna be set free and you’re good. You’re gonna do this one five-day thing and you’re solid. I have a hunch, that everybody listening to our conversation right now, us included, knows that that’s not true, but all of this messaging around short term fixes, or the five-day this, 30-day that, it keeps you in that mindset of just focusing on yourself short term, and also even prioritizing quicker, instant gratification over long-term results. They sell you on that. Right? But changing behaviors, as we know, and the way that they truly become habitual, second nature, part of us, and also enjoyable, you have to learn where you’re at. You have to learn how to adjust your habits that you do have for different life situations, like going out to eat with your friends, or traveling, going on vacation, what you do when you’re feeling really stressed at work, so many more just life situations so that you can change them and they are more sustainable for you. So that’s really important. And that’s really what the lifestyle pillar is about. So if you’re someone who’s ever felt like you always fail at following a diet or you lack willpower, self-control and motivation, all those things, Robyn, you brought that up earlier, you’re not alone. This is so common. It’s also because you don’t really give yourself both the time, I believe, you don’t give yourself the time, the right tools, the resources, and the strategies. And when I say time, I mean, just time to experiment and integrate not only the new practices that you want to create to be habits or to be habits, but also to practice them in your life and say, “Hey, this is working.” “This doesn’t work.” And so that will really help you figure out what that habit and that balance really uniquely means for you when you start to actually implement it too. And one of my biggest mantras that I’m always sharing is “help is a daily practice” because I truly believe it’s possible to enjoy your eating habits, have them come with ease, but you have to get over that hump. And that idea that in order to achieve it, it’s gonna take 30 days.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (46:45)

You have to welcome the idea that if you truly want balanced eating habits for life, and a positive relationship with food, if you wanna find joy in nourishing yourself, you have to take action. You have to be intentional with it every day. Just like when you are intentional with relationships or work goals or whatever you have in your life, you have to put in effort, right? So you have to practice it. And it doesn’t have to be filled with so much hardship and challenge and resistance. It can act actually be something fun and that you really look forward to.

Robyn Conley Downs: (47:18)

Mm that’s such a great way to kind of wrap up and come full circle. Cause I want you to tell us a little bit about The Mindful Nutrition program, because it’s not a 30-day program. And I know that there’s some real intention behind that and how you created it. And I think even if this is not the right program for you right now listening, I think it’s just really helpful to hear how it’s designed, because it’s kind of an approach that whether we take McKel up on her program or not, something that we can really think about for ourselves in making long term change, regardless of whether it’s food or movement or any other kind of health habit.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (47:57)

Yeah. Thank you. I’m really excited about The Mindful Nutrition Method. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m so proud of it because I’m seeing the transformations come out of it. And I’ve been using this work for decades, coaching people one-on-one and integrating it into my work with Nutrition Stripped and compiling it into this one immersive – really it’s a live experience because it’s not just the coursework where you’re taking a program and you’re learning the skillset or the education and the knowledge, which of course is needed to make any kind of change, you have to be educated, but it’s not just a course so that you can check it off. You’re really embodying it. You are really taking the coursework into your real life. I create so many different tools. Not only is the coursework really robust and comprehensive, it’s not overwhelming, and addition, you have incredible support.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (48:50)

So we have online group coaching with myself and lead RDs on my team. You have a private community because we know that accountability and support is so crucial for not only just reaching goals, but most importantly, with our health and our habits, especially with building balanced eating habits and correcting and reframing our mindset, we need that support. So the private community is incredible for that. And then we also offer personalized coaching with it. So, like I said, it’s an online course component and you can go and do it self-paced – it is intentionally broken out so that you can, as we were talking about, really integrate it into your life, see what works, see where you can pivot, how are you making it unique to you? And of course you have access to group coaching with my team and myself and fellow friends in the Nutrition Stripped community.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (49:43)

And all of that is included in our base tier. And then we found throughout the years that a lot of our Mindful Nutrition Method members want that extra personalization or that extra support. So whether they might have a health condition that they’re managing, or maybe they wanna dive deep with their balanced weight, or maybe they just genuinely want more support, guidance, expertise. I also offer that as another tier too, but I’m really excited. I can hop in and share all the details, but we have nine sections of the course. And a lot of the things that we just even went over to are covered in this. So, and obviously in much more detail, but each section is about an hour of lessons. So really approachable for your timeframe and time management. You can watch them, you can listen to the lessons. And then as we know, you know, Robyn, both you and I’s work, we are actionable, because it’s one thing to have the education that the other thing is to put it into your life. And so for that reason, every single lesson has an action item. I have tools that you literally can use. I mean, like the balance spectrum we went over earlier is just one example of 50 tools I have in The Mindful Nutrition Method that you can use in real time that are so easy and not work. I’ve really perfected this course not to be a perfectionist, but I have really been intentional, but we’ll use that word really intentional with this course creation, streamlined it as much as possible while also getting you to the goal, which is creating balanced, eating habits for life.

Robyn Conley Downs: (51:22)

Well, I know a lot of people in the space and I will say that McKel puts pretty much the most thought and intention into her programs of anyone out there, maybe a little bit more. And, and I think that iteration and that experimentation to refine it with real people over time is really what makes it stand out to me and the support, and then the focus on research-based behavior change and habits, and then that mindset piece, plus everything you bring as an RD and in the nutrition knowledge, the deep nutrition knowledge that you have. So it’s really exciting to me to be able to share it here with my audience mainly beacuse there’s so few programs that I can recommend that I think will not trigger disordered eating, that won’t trigger all-or-nothing thinking, that will create those long term success habits in that you’ll leave the program feeling nurtured and gaining a new sense of lwhat works for you versus all of these rules that may or may not work for you. You know, that may work in the short term, but won’t work in the long term.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (52:39)

Absolutely Robyn and you’ve hit on something that is literally what the entire first section of The Mindful Nutrition Method course curriculum is about. And it’s about defining your vision of what balance means to you and really unlocking that motivation in terms of your core motivation, your intrinsic motivation, so that when you’re taking actions throughout the entire Mindful Nutrition Method journey, you feel empowered, you’re aligning with your goals, so that you don’t get, you know, the bright, shiny objects or external circumstances that pop up that you’re like, “Oh, well wait, should I do this? Or should I do that?” I really walk you through how to create a vivid vision so that you have that visual that you can pull in, similar to how we almost did like a little visual exercise at the balance spectrum. I think it’s really important to have that vision that you can tap into your true motivators, that when you are making choices, they feel very aligned with who you wanna be in the future and also where you’re going.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (53:40)

I think that’s so powerful and it’s all about making it unique to you as well. And then I also teach a really powerful tool that helps you cultivate the behaviors, the mindsets, the habits that you wanna create for your health. We also talk about how to prioritize your long-term goals over short-term gratification, without relying on the willpower to stay on track. So I really walk people through that because it’s important as we talked about to focus on the long term, and this is truly the foundation of your balanced eating habits, and it’s gonna make sure that every choice that you do make inside of the program, most importantly, and outside in the real world and your life, is aligned with your wants, with your needs, with your preferences.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (54:24)

And then the second section is called reframing your thoughts around food. I wanna highlight this one too, because we talked a little bit about food rules earlier, and I bring this up so early in The Mindful Nutrition Method because it is so strong and like 99% of our members, I know it was for me and also coaching thousands of people, it’s such a hangup. So like we discussed earlier, food rules, this all-in mentality, the all-out mentality, it creates that imbalance, that inconsistency, it takes all the joy away from it. It makes you so uneasy around food. And so I wanna remove as much stress by addressing those old mindsets so that you can actually build new habits from a place of wanting to care for your body in the best way. And that is aligned with your vision that you had just set. So what I teach in this section is really helping people answer the question of, “what does balanced eating really look like for me on a daily basis?” Also the four types of food rules to avoid and how to navigate them, how to get rid of the good vs. bad food mentality, how to overcome that food guilt. Again, that keeps you stuck, keeps you in that unsupportive feeling of judgment and obsession. So that’s a really important section as well. And then the next section, the third, I have nine, we can go over these in detail, cuz I’m really excited about all of them. If you’re, if you’re game for it. Yeah.

Robyn Conley Downs: (55:56)

Let’s just briefly go through them. Cuz if it’s something that’s interesting to, I know I always want the details when, if I’m interested in something. So yeah, let’s just quickly go through each section.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (56:05)

So the third section is really for all those out there who are really all about like the mindful eating or answering the question of like, “Okay, McKey, yeah, what do I eat?” So the next section really addresses that confidence and nourishing yourself in a balanced way, no matter what the situation. So I address the simple system for building balanced meals. So no counting, tracking, no off-limit foods, what to keep stocked in your fridge, your pantry, your freezers, that you can make balanced meals all week long super easily, how to set up your environment so that it becomes second nature to make aligned choices. So this is really important as we talked about environment and impacts so much of our behaviors and the actions that we’re taking. And then at this point in the program, so many of our members, and you’ll start to be a little bit more nourished on a physical level because you’re gonna be more empowered. And you’re also going to be then layering on some more advanced skills that help you navigate some of those common roadblock that we see with balance. And this is all about leaning into your hunger cues so that you can answer the rest of the question of what is mindful eating so that you can know what to eat, but also when to eat, how much to eat, where you’re eating. So really walk people through how to not only read your hunger fullness, craving cues, but also then what to do after that. Like, what is your portion size gonna look like then based on your hunger cue? Do you understand what type of hunger it is? Is it physical? Non-physical? So there are different types of hunger and also how to prevent cravings, emotional eating, or when you do emotionally eat, then what do you do afterwards? I address overeating in this section as well. So this is, this is a really important layering section after people start to answer that question of what to eat.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (57:54)

The fifth section is all about being present. So we talked about mindful eating a little bit and this section is all about teaching people how to stop mindlessly eating, binge eating, overeating. We also walk them through a four-step mindful eating experience practice so that it really helps them connect to that meal experience as a whole. It doesn’t have to be the music and everything we think mindful eating is, it really connects you with your hunger cues and then also how to prepare for real life situations. Like maybe you’re eating in a social setting or you’re traveling or you’re going out. So I wanna make it really easy for you to eat balanced when you’re in your real life. So we talk all about that.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (58:38)

Section six is all about designing your routine so that you have as much ease and not effortlessness, but you know what I mean, ease and less friction if you will, with actually acting on these habits. And so what I teach them is how to build an overall routine so that it makes it so much easier to follow through on your habits, that support your goals, your vision, even if you’re stressed, even if you’re super busy, how to leverage your environment. So how to pick up, what are the items in your home or in your office or in your kitchen that are gonna support or be unsupportive for you. And then also a step-by-step process to adjust your routine. That’s really important because people will be like, “Oh, I’m sick or I traveled or I had some life change. So what do I do now?” If I felt like I was being balanced and now my life is all over the place, what do I do in that situation? So we walk through that.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (59:34)

And then the seventh section is all about maintaining eating habits for the long term by cooking. This is a really fun section because I teach people all about my meal planning strategy that can save them easily, like five hours a week, if they’re used to typical meal prep sessions, and then also some skills just to make food really flavorful and satisfying. How to set up your kitchen so you have more ease and flow and you enjoy the process of cooking more.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (01:00:03)

And then the last two sections, which are important. And I wanna cover them a little bit more in depth here because they are the final sections for a reason, because I truly believe that in order for you to cultivate a positive relationship with food, nourish yourself with joy, create balanced eating habits for life, and also maintain a unique balanced weight, you have to really work through all of those sections before then we’re talking about cultivating a positive relationship with food in your body. So in this section, I help people uncover self-compassion, which we talked a little bit about, but as it relates directly to making supportive health choices, moving any negative self talk, body image talk that can pull you back into unsupported eating habits or dieting. Learning how to track non-scale wins so that you can understand and celebrate how your habits and all the actions that you’re taking day-to-day are literally supporting you versus looking at a scale or making it associated with a number. And then also how to cultivate more joy with nourishing yourself properly so that you’re not stuck in a rut or feeling like, “Oh, this is so draining.”

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (01:01:11)

So then the last one is section nine. So throughout this program, you’re learning all these different types of skills to maintain a balanced weight. So in the final section, I just dive deeper on that. And this section is called embracing your balanced weight and finding what feels best for your body. So with so many Mindful Nutrition Method members coming into the program, struggling to find a weight that felt right for them, that isn’t at the expense of their mental health, emotional health, relationship with food. It’s really important not only to define balanced weight, which we briefly did today, but how to determine it, how to maintain it for the long term. So through this section, I uncover exactly what a balanced weight is, why they need to cultivate it for a positive relationship with food in their body, how to find and maintain a balanced weight so it’s not drastically fluctuating and you feel more peace and ease in your body, and reframing your mentality around weight related goals so that you don’t end up stuck in this again, the diet cycle and you release all of that.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (01:02:14)

So that’s a pretty in depth overview, but I think it’s so important for people to understand the comprehensive level that The Mindful Nutrition Method is and all the support that you get, all the action items, it truly, and this might be a lofty vision that I have as a dietician, but it truly is the last nutrition program I want anybody to take. I really want them to be able to take The Mindful Nutrition Method and implement it into their life and be balanced and just feel so much freedom and enjoyment around food that they aren’t even turning over to the magazine at the hair salon that has like the diet marketed on the front cover. They’re just so empowered and confident in what they’re doing for themselves and their body that they’re just ignoring everything else.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:03:07)

Yeah, well, and I think the comprehensive nature of the program speaks for itself. And I think that’s really helpful for anyone who’s trying to decide if it’s right fit for them. And it also just shows how much goes into it, right? That it’s not as simple as, “I’m gonna eat this set of foods and not this.” And so it might actually give some context to why you haven’t felt as successful around the whole premise of mindful eating in the past, or having a healthy relationship with food, or creating those healthy habits, that there is a lot that goes into it, but there’s a lot to be said for going through a program that’s structured, that’s supportive, that has accountability, that has those benchmarks. So thank you McKel so much for creating it and for sharing it with us, we are putting together a full page on www.realfoodwholelife.com that we’ll have all the details that you just shared here. Plus I’m gonna create a bonus for you that has some of my Real Food Whole Life recipes that are in line with McKel’s approach, as well. So you can find that on our site, we’ll put the links in the show notes. And then where can people find you if they wanna just follow along with you? You share so much free information as well on your website and on your social media and email. So where can people connect? Where can people connect with you?

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (01:04:26)

Yes, I would love if you use social media, then Instagram would be a great place to just send me a DM and say hi and tell me that you watched or listened to this with Robyn and I. I would love to meet you and say hello, otherwise, on my website I do have a ton of free articles with the best place to start in alignment with what we’re talking about today. And just assessing where you’re at. I have a free quiz. So I know Robyn, you can link out some of those things on the page, but that would be the other place that I hang out the most is in your inbox.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:05:00)

I love it. Yes. And you just have so many incredible resources. If you’re not ready to start a full program, you could just start with the email or following along with McKel and all the great resource. I just find following you on Instagram is very balancing for me. So that’s another plug. We covered so much. So as we come to an end, is there anything that you wanted to close out with that we didn’t cover already?

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (01:05:28)

I don’t think so. If anybody has questions again, feel free to DM me, but I’m just excited. If you feel that this is in alignment and the next step that you’d like to take for yourself, I’m so happy to welcome you. And also I’m just so happy to meet you regardless of what your choice is. And yeah, Robyn, I really appreciated this conversation.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:05:47)

Oh, good. Well McKel thank you so much again for creating this incredible program and for coming on the show today.

McKel (Hill) Kooienga: (01:05:53)

Thank you.

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