EATING DISORDERS, RECOVERY, AND INTUITIVE EATING WITH NUTRITIONIST – HALEY CADA | INTERVIEW

This interview means the world to me because it hits so close to home.

Haley and I get very real and personal about the struggles we used to face with food, our body image and how it’s been a hell of a journey to find self-love, but an incredibly rewarding journey nonetheless.

Haley is a nutritionist, who has an exciting and cutting-edge approach on coaching. She helps clients build positive and nourishing relationships with food and their body by diving into their emotional connections with work, relationships, money, stress, sex, and so on.

Lets get right into it!

Hi Miss Haley! I am stoked to have the BEST nutritionist on the blog!! Puh-lease tell us a little bit about yourself.

First off, thank you so much for having me on your blog, I am beyond honored!

My name is Haley – I’m originally from Santa Cruz but have called San Diego home for the last 7 years. I’m 25 and just started my virtual nutrition + mindset coaching business! I graduated from San Diego State with my Bachelor’s in Nutrition and have always been so fascinated with nutrition and how that plays into the mind-body-spirit connection! I am obsessed with dark chocolate, iced matcha lattes, and travel.

To start us off, what does your health + fitness journey look like? How did you get to this point?

I’ve always been interested in health and wellness. I was an athlete growing up, so I learned early on how important my food choices were to my performance. However, in high school I began to struggle immensely with body image issues, which ultimately led me towards disordered eating. I would restrict, binge, and then purge due to the guilt I had about what I consumed. I was overly obsessed with every morsel of food I consumed, and worked out only to shape shift my body.  I was trapped in this vicious cycle for just over three years. As a result, my confidence and self worth were non-existent.

The summer after my freshman year of college I spent a month in Pavones, Costa Rica. It was on this trip that I began to explore my spirituality, belief system, and relationship to myself. I realized that I was treating my body with harm, and was not honoring the essence of my spirit. This was just the beginning, but this trip allowed a deeper exploration into my beliefs around food, body, and the relationship I had to myself. I still struggled in college with binging, restricting, and disordered thoughts around food, but I would weave in and out, as I had a spiritual anchor that I could rely on.

It wasn’t until after I graduated college that I really dove deep into intuitive eating and my own personal relationship with my disordered eating. I started working at a weight loss clinic, counseling men and women of all ages, however I would see a very similar story. People were coming in defeated and struggling, not just with the meal plan I was prescribing them, but on an emotional and spiritual level as well. I was seeing women basing their worthiness as a wife and mother off a number on a scale. I was making connections that the relationship we have with nourishment stems so much deeper than what we put into our physical bodies. How we nourish ourselves is ingrained into our belief system and it takes a deeper dive to identify these patterns that are holding us back.

It was around this same time that I began connecting the dots between a traumatic event that cascaded my own disordered eating. Unraveling these stories I had based my life off, was some of the most challenging work I’ve ever done. And it’s not over. There is still healing to be done, and there always will be. But I’m so far from where I started, and that is why I feel compelled to do this work.

I am happy to say that today I have an empowered relationship with food and my body. I choose to honor my temple because I want to be able to show up as the highest, most aligned version of myself I can be.

Thank you so much for being so vulnerable and sharing your journey so beautifully. I can definitely relate –

In the past I’ve struggled with an eating disorder and self-image issues, too – what is your biggest tip for those who still suffer?

Yes girl, me too! It’s rare to find a women in today’s society who hasn’t.

I have 3 tips for those who are suffering. First, go within. This is where the true transformation will happen. Ask yourself: What am I struggling with? Why do I think I’m struggling with this? Can I connect my pain to anything that has happened in my past? Get to the root as to why you have poor self image or a disordered relationship with food. This comes through introspection, silence, and diving into your own unique history.

Second, create boundaries. If you know you are suffering with poor body image – don’t follow stick thin models on Instagram or hang around friends who are constantly bad mouthing their bodies. I understand it’s easier said than done, but we do have control over the energy we allow into our lives, and if that isn’t serving you, then let it go!

Lastly, reach out for help. There is no shame in not feeling at home within your body. We all need support, assistance, and guidance in navigating the murky waters of life. Working with a therapist or coach can ignite the healing process and provide you with tools in moving forward.

What is a mind body eating coach?

Great question! Mind Body eating coaching is an exciting and cutting edge approach that was developed by the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. My coaching style addresses weight, binge eating, overeating, body image challenges, and a variety of other nutrition related concerns. I don’t look at my client’s eating challenges as “something that is wrong with them,” but as a place where we can explore some of the personal dimensions in life that can impact food, weight, and health. Our eating challenges are rarely just connected to food, and often are intertwined with work, relationships, money, stress, sex, and so on. Instead of seeing such challenges as the enemy, they become opportunities for growth and self improvement.

In addition to that, I focus on using holistic, individualized nutrition to help clients with their health goals and concerns. I then tie in the emotional and spiritual aspects of being an eater. My work ultimately is about guiding women towards having a nourishing relationship with food and and their body.

Too many people try to diet their way to perfection – why do you think we do this?

My thoughts on this are that many people hold the belief that their life will be perfect, and that all their worries will go away once they have achieved their perfect weight. They use it as an excuse to not go after what it is their hearts or souls are craving. It can also be used as a distraction or placeholder for other difficult emotions. It’s much easier to put our mental energy towards weight loss / body obsession instead of thinking about the deeper, more fragile aspects of life.

How do you feel about the scale?

Personally, I’m not a fan and haven’t owned one in years. I think there are too many women (and men) who give away their power to a number and become so hyper obsessed with what the scale says, that they disembody and live in their heads. Despite that, I know some people feel that it keeps them accountable in the pursuit of their health goals. I am neutral towards the scale when working with clients, as long as they are not hyper obsessed with weight loss or have perfectionist tendencies.

What is something someone can practice at home everyday to help transform their relationship with food?

Slow Down!!! I can not emphasize this enough. The first step in transforming our relationship with food is learning to feel comfortable and relaxed in the presence of food. The act of slowing down with meals is so simple, yet very challenging. When I say slow down, I don’t mean counting how many times you chew before you swallow. This does look like taking deep breaths, recognizing the food that is in front of you, giving thanks for the nourishment it will provide your cells, and deriving deep pleasure from the eating experience. Eating can be very sensual if we allow it to be!

How do you feel about diets?

Not a fan! Diet’s disconnect us from our intuition as they are symbolic of giving away our power to an authority figure or meal plan. I work with my clients on reclaiming their personal power, and by reclaiming our food choices and not allowing someone else to make that decision for us, we are strengthening our intuitive nature.

Second, diet’s typically don’t allow us to make choices off biological indicators, such as our hunger/fullness cues. For example, many diet plans / authority figures will say you must eat breakfast before 9 am. For some women this might be true, but for others it might be true only 50% of the time. Depending on where we are in our menstrual cycle can affect our hunger levels, or how much we ate the night before, or the weather outside. There are so many factors to be considered.

Lastly, food is nourishment and ultimately is an act of self-love. When we are following a diet it almost affirms our belief that we are unworthy and that we must change our body. Our meals become attached to self worth.

Instead of focusing on a diet, I encourage my clients to develop a way of eating that is nourishing, pleasurable, and healthy! And yes, that includes chocolate 🙂

What tips can you give someone who is just starting a healthy lifestyle?

Don’t give up. Creating change is one of the hardest things we can do, because it is literally asking us to step into a new version of ourselves. For people who are just starting to focus on their health, I encourage them to focus on 1-2 things for 30 days before moving on to the next thing they would like to change. Our minds like comfort not change, and the subconscious mind will continually pull you into the familiar past. Work through these blocks and understand them for what they are.

SUCH A GOOD TIP!

Okay, what does self-care look like to you?

Self-care is non-negotiable, and it’s often when I don’t feel that I have the “time” that’s when I need it most! Self care to me can be as simple as sitting in the sun with a cup of tea, just to reset my mind. Or it can be getting a massage or taking a yin yoga class. I find that it truthfully doesn’t matter what I’m doing, as long as the intention behind the act is clear and established.

Lifestyle tips for those with anxiety + depression (AKA me 🙂 )

Meditation, nature, and grounding foods. I developed mild anxiety in college and meditation provided me the tools to pause and reconnect before I allowed the anxiety to consume me. Nature is so healing as well. Walking barefoot on the beach or earthing into the grass with your feet can be an amazing grounding technique. Grounding foods can also be very beneficial, especially for people who struggle with anxiety. Think root vegetables such as beets, carrots, and potatoes. Protein is also a grounding macronutrient, so try incorporating some wild fish or other organic protein source into your diet if you are feeling scattered or prone to anxiety.

Do you have a morning routine or night time routine?

I am a big fan of both! My morning routine keeps me grounded and allows me to enter my day with a positive mindset. I start my morning with warm lemon water, then move into a 15 – 20 minute meditation + visualization. I will then write in my journal for another 10 minutes or so. I play around with different prompts, but they always involve what I’m grateful for and what it is I am focusing on calling into my life. I then do some light stretching, make my bed, and I’m ready to go! Implementing a consistent morning routine into my life was a game changer.

Evening is not as structured as my morning, but I aim to be off social media by 8 pm. Ideally, I would be off my computer by 8 pm as well but real life I’m building a business so that’s not possible right now! I do like to spend the last 10-20 minutes before bed reading or listening to a light mediation.

Favorite healthy recipe?

If you follow me on Instagram you know I am obsessed with curry! I make a delicious curry full of sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, broccolini, and wild shrimp. The broth is rich and flavorful and loaded with curry powder, turmeric, black pepper, tandoori, cinnamon, cumin, and fennel seed!

Let’s talk more about intuitive eating… how did it change your relationship with food?

Yes, I love intuitive eating! It was the framework that really pulled me out of my own disordered mindset around food and my body. It is centered around eating in a way that feels right for your own unique, bio-individual self. We really are so different when it comes to nutritional needs, and it’s possible to eat in a way that is empowering and based of your intuition and body wisdom. It’s really fun to live from this state and it’s really rewarding to be able to guide women in accessing this intuitive nature within themselves!

What do your workouts look like in a week?

Depends where I’m at in my menstrual cycle! Week 1, when I’m bleeding, looks like a lot of yoga, beach walks, and oftentimes just not working out at all! Weeks 2 and 3, I am much more energized, and my workouts will reflect this. I love strength training, Pilates, and the occasional spin class. Week 4, I am starting to slow down again and begin gravitating to yoga and walking. Having my workouts reflect where I’m at in my menstrual cycle and where I am emotionally, physically, and spiritually was a big step in reconnecting back with my body and intuition.

I LOVE that you mix it up!
Thoughts on alcohol?

I love a good glass of red wine, but I have developed higher sensitivity to alcohol over the years. I still enjoy it every once in a while, but it’s not a staple in my weekly routine. I do think everyone is different in this way though! For some women, a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day is a beautiful way of inviting pleasure and softness into her body. I like to believe that the effects of alcohol are less toxic than the effects of stress if consumed moderately.

Thank you so much for hopping on the blog! Where can everyone find you?

For now my Instagram is the best place, @avoeats. My website will be updated this summer and you can find me on www.avoeats.com!

Thank you beautiful! So excited for this!

If you or a loved one is going through an eating disorder speak to a professional. Visit this website here. You are not alone. There is hope. 

Read about my health journey here.

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