In this episode of The Feel Good Effect Podcast, we’re talking with Michelle Smith all about the secret to finding consistency & joy with healthy eating.
If you’re done with feeling like you’re “falling off the wagon”, this episode is for you! We’re talking about how to make healthy eating work for real life and ditch the all or nothing mentality. Listen in to the interview or keep reading for all our practical & tactical tips.
The Secret to Consistency & Joy with Healthy Eating with Michelle Smith
This episode is all about the secret to consistency and joy with healthy eating. No more all or nothing thinking, “falling off the wagon”, or impossible-to-meet expectations.
And who better to talk to us about this than Michelle Smith, founder of The Whole Smiths, bestselling author, author of the upcoming book, Real Food Every Day, and host of the Get Wellthy podcast.
Michelle comes to food, eating well, and healthy habits with a very grounded and sane approach. I was so excited to have her share her perspective because she’s one of those people who really gets it. And by “it” I mean what a gentle, sustainable, made-for-real-life approach to wellness looks like.
She’s a working mama who has her kids at home right now (like many of us do), and has a familiar story of someone whose used to see wellness as being either all in or all out. Maybe you’ve found yourself fitting into that same mentality before – I know I have.
Thankfully, Michelle found a different, more consistent, more joyful, more balanced way of being. She has some really straightforward, practical, tactical things that we can do to find that consistency and joy with healthy eating.
“One of the things we bonded over is coming to wellness and coming to health as normal, working moms – who don’t have all the time & don’t have all the space to devote themselves to wellness full time”
ditching all-or-nothing thinking
When Michelle first started out in the wellness and health industry, she quickly found it was very much about the all or nothing approach.
It gets a little intimidating to see people working out all day and only eating healthy foods – seeming to have all the time in the world to make healthy habits happen.
When you set the bar that high, the average person can be easily discouraged. But there is so much wellness to be found in-between the extremes of that impossibly high bar and going through the drive-through for every meal.
On the other side of these extremes, there’s doing nothing. Have you ever found yourself feeling like if you can’t do it all then why bother doing anything at all?
There’s a lot of reasons psychologically and culturally we struggle to embrace this power middle or ‘wealth’ – where there is so much magic in the in-betweens. It’s not sexy, it’s not six-pack abs, it’s not the perfectly curated salads every day. The magic of ordinary everyday habits is there – but it may not get the same engagement or buy-in as the louder extremes do.
“The truth of the matter is…there’s a whole bunch of health & wellness that’s kind of boring, kind of ordinary, but it works. Nobody really talks about that enough.”
breaking free from comparison traps
With so many labels floating around & different ways of eating – it can be easy to feel like you don’t always “fit in”. Fitness and body image are also places where you can feel that same comparison and feeling of not-enoughness start to creep up.
There were a couple of points during Michelle’s career when – even though she worked in wellness – she felt like she was failing.
One example is her first book – where Michelle did a lot of work with Whole30. She’d be out for lunch and people who recognized her would out in public would comment on whether the food she was eating was Whole30 or Paleo. She started to feel like she’d be seen as a fraud if she chose to eat a sandwich and worried people might think she only ate “healthy” online or on social media.
Before that book came out, Michelle also watched a talk show where Melissa Urban – co-founder of the whole30 program – was on. The host waved at Melissa’s body and commented, “wow, you are a perfect example of the Whole30 diet”. Michelle – a size 8/10 – wondered what it meant for her body to look different with her own Whole30-endorsed book coming out.
Did she need to get in better shape? Was all of her credibility gone because of this? Michelle started to realize that if she – somebody in the health and wellness community – felt like she didn’t fit in, there must be others out there feeling intimidated too.
So she sat down and reflected on what was really working for her. Rather than living up to others’ standards, she created her own. She had to remove others’ narratives from her own and remind herself that her way works too.
“You don’t have to start perfect, start with a step.”
how to get started with healthy habits
Michelle recommends if you’re not sure where to start, to start with these two simple lists. Write down:
- things you aren’t prioritizing or know you could do better at (like not getting enough sleep, drinking more water, eating a healthy lunch instead of fast food)
- things that are working really well for you (do you have a great morning or evening routine? do you go for walks after work? do you always eat a nourishing dinner?)
You can use these lists to understand what is already working for you and how you can start to shift more things over to that second list. Think about what makes your strengths from list 2 work for you and apply those qualities to the areas on list 1 that you want to improve.
It’s a beautifully simple exercise in getting really real and honest with yourself. Bringing awareness to you what you’re doing is a useful step we often skip. Often, we set the goal and make a plan without paying attention to what we’re doing right now.
Another place we get stuck is by setting unrealistic goals for ourselves from the start. We’re often so ambitious with our goals and then may feel like a failure if those new habits don’t stick. Ask yourself “is this reasonable for me right now?” and adjust as needed (for example: instead of aiming for a perfect 7 days a week habit, maybe see how it goes 2 days and build up from there with smaller wins).
Give yourself grace to not do it perfectly, to just do it differently; that’s where something shifts.
tips to make healthy eating even easier & more fun
If you’re getting back into cooking more at home or are short on time – look for recipes that are accessible and approachable (in other words, ones that are less work for you). Look for shorter ingredients lists and fewer steps that are easy to prep.
If you feel like you’re in a bit of a rut & are looking to beat pandemic cooking fatigue – try getting creative or shaking up your routine. Even Michelle and I, who do this for a living, can get bored in the kitchen!
Try a new cookbook, a new cuisine, and immerse yourself in that. It’s a quick way to get unstuck. Finding cookbooks that are simple from authors that are approachable that understand the value of simplicity. If buying a book isn’t in your budget, libraries are a great option too.
Michelle’s upcoming cookbook focuses on accessible and approachable recipes. Her book was designed for home cooks concerned less with fancy recipes & more with getting something wholesome in after a long day at work or taking the kids to soccer practice. She uses familiar flavor profiles and easy to find ingredients. Chapters are broken up by things like recipes with 5-ingredients or less, recipes that take 30-minutes or less, instant pot recipes, sheet pan recipes, make ahead recipes, and recipes for things to keep on hand (e.g. condiments, sauces). There’s also a ‘weekend living’ chapter – because we all need things like brownies and mocktails or cocktails. Things that are a treat and still wholesome.
Reminder to look at recipes as a starting point – but give yourself permission to customize everything!
If you want to add more salt, add more salt. If you want to add mushrooms, add mushrooms. It may not be exactly the way the recipe developer designed it but you can experiment until you find what works for you. To come full circle on avoiding all or nothing – it’s taking what you need from a recipe or ingredient list, and leaving what you don’t.
what it really means to be healthy
“It means feeling good… it’s really just about what we are doing to feel good, what can we do, is this helping me or is this hindering me from that goal?”
Michelle Smith is founder of The Whole Smiths, best-selling author of the Good Food Cookbook and author of the upcoming cookbook, Real Food Every Day. Michelle lives with her husband and their two girls in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s a big believer that being well and healthy doesn’t mean you need to take an extreme approach to health. She’s also host of the Get Wellthy Podcast where she explores a variety of wellness topics outside of the realm of diet and exercise.
Connect with Michelle on Instagram @thewholesmiths
Checkout her website at www.thewholesmiths.com
other feel good effect episodes you’ll love
The Secret to Consistency & Joy In Your Workout Routine with Robin Long
Reset Your Eating Habits with This Simple Strategy
Stop Feeling Like You’ve Fallen Off the Wagon: How to Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes
How to Create Healthy Habits with Ease with McKel Kooienga