Food for Thought: Sherrie's gluten-free and plant-based story

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Meet Sherrie, the super sweet gluten-free and plant-based Health Coach from the Midwest! Besides running one of my favourite food blogs, she is all about the 90|10 lifestyle. Have you heard of it? Here she shares her ins and outs of green living and her love for nutrient-dense foods. Enjoy!

A few words about who you are, what you do, where you live and what you are passionate about.

I’m a Health Coach, plant-based chef, freelance food writer, and photographer. I have a naturally gluten-free, plant-based food blog called, With Food + Love. I’m originally from the east coast, but since college I’ve moved around a lot. I lived in Denver for a while, then Philadelphia and now I’ve recently moved to the Midwest to support my husband’s career change. And so far, so good. I have a garden {finally}, so I can’t complain!

When, why and how have you decided on a plant-based lifestyle and a gluten-free diet? 

My wellness journey is long and complicated, but basically I’ve struggled with anxiety and have had food related issues my whole life. When I was younger, in my late teens and early twenties I partied a lot to quiet my brain. I ate like shit. I ate my emotions. I fueled my body with fatty + sugary foods and energy drinks. And all of this eventually boiled over in 2009 when I reached my lowest low. Emotionally I was a wreck and physically I was dealing with debilitating digestive issues + canker sores. It was suggested to me to eliminate gluten, long before the gluten-free movement! And I did it for a while and it definitely helped, but I wasn’t super committed to making the change. Eventually though I realized I needed to take a hold of the situation and get serious about my health.

Very long story short, I went gluten-free for good, started watching as many food documentaries as I could, bought a juicer and enrolled in a CSA program. My husband and I decided to eat vegan for a while after watching Forks Over Knives and I watched him drop nearly 50 pounds {and he’s kept it off ever since!!}. I eventually went back to school for nutrition and after I graduated in 2013 I started my health coaching business.

Although eating plant-based for me is a choice, one that requires careful consideration, eating gluten-free is not. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t been able to get a positive celiac disease diagnosis, but I’m severely gluten-intolerant and I carry the celiac gene - so I consider myself to have the disease and treat it as such.

What is a plant-based diet/lifestyle? What are the food-groups/products you avoid? How do you substitute them?

Plant-based eating means consuming mostly plants, and avoiding animal products either altogether or as much as possible. I eat vegan {avoiding all meat, dairy and eggs} with a focus on nutrient dense foods about 90% of the time and the other 10% of the time I indulge in whatever I want. This is usually in the form of grass-fed steaks and farm fresh eggs and red wine. In general I don’t prefer meat, I’ve always been this way. But about once a month I really crave it, and so I eat it and I don’t feel bad about it – ever. When you embracing a 90 | 10 lifestyle {something I encourage my clients to do} you can still enjoy a normal life, without feeling restricted. It’s just about making the best choices you can as often as possible. So when you have a party to attend or go on vacation you can eat whatever you want without feeling bad about it. By making indulgent choices intentional, you hold the power.

And, I don’t make substitutions. You won’t see me eating chicken-less chicken tenders or soy cheese. I either eat the real thing {on occasion} or not at all.

How do your eating habits influence your every day life? Your family, your energy level, your well-being, shopping for food/cosmetics, going out for dinners, traveling?

If I don’t eat well for too many days in a row, everyone in my life feels the repercussions, HA! But seriously, I need lots of greens both raw and cooked and try to drink a green drink every day, either in juice or smoothie form.

How do you plan your meals as a family and cook at home?

My office is my kitchen, and so I’m constantly creating new recipes, testing them and testing them again. There’s almost always something going on in my refrigerator to pick from - random salads or soups or dressings. I really love to cook, cooking soothes my soul, so I don’t actually plan my meals out. I just cook whatever I am in the mood for, with whatever produce that’s inspiring me at the moment. But there are some days when I’ve been in the kitchen all day and the last thing I want to do is cook another meal for dinner and that’s when I turn to old standbys. Either bean and greens tacos, which take like 15 minutes to put together, or I roast up some veggies and serve it with whatever batch of grains or lentils I have on hand and a giant salad.

What's your daily/weekly go-to meal plan? (Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner)? Food basics that you swear by?

I usually crave savory at breakfast, so it’s typically avocado toast or toast with a smear of nut butter or hummus. If I’m feeling something sweet I go for a green smoothie. Smoothies are often my lunch! When they’re balanced right with lots of greens, omega 3s, plant-based protein and healthy fats they can really take you the distance.

Soups are also similar in that way. Every week I make a big pot of soup and throw in all the veggies that are on their way out, toss in some beans or lentils and you have a hearty meal to warm up whenever you want!

Any tips on how to make a healthy transition to plant-based lifestyle?

Start by watching Forks Over Knives, this documentary radically changed my life. Enroll in a CSA program or visit your farmers’ market weekly and buy all the fruit and vegetables you can get your hands on. When you fill your plate and life with nutrient dense foods, there’s very little room for nonsense.

Thank you, Sherrie for sharing your story! xo

P.S: Also, Drea's vegan storyAshley's holistic lifestyle storyDeniz's fructose free storyTessa's gluten-free story and Aubrey's organic, natural and holistic story.
P.P.S: Plus, my thoughts on food.

(Photos by Amy Gillard and Sherrie)


Anonymous said...

What a great way to turn your life around and thx for introducing me to 90/10 eating plan. It might just work for me.

Liv said...

I also live gluten free. Thanks for sharing your story. Keep up the great work.


Diana Mieczan said...

Anonymous, yay!

Diana Mieczan said...

Liv :)

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