About a year ago, in the midst of a scary time for our family (as Chris and I prepared for my impending mastectomy) we took a little weekend trip to California for a wedding. It turned out to be more fun than we could’ve ever imagined! Now we talk constantly about going back to Palm Springs for another visit someday.
I count meeting Natalie and Brian Borton among the many wonderful experiences from that trip, and I have since come to love Natalie’s blog – Thoughts by Natalie. She has an amazingly refreshing perspective on the topics of beauty, style, wellness, & life. Basically I am inspired by her regularly, and I knew all of you would be equally encouraged by hearing from her!
I’m thrilled that she is here with us today to talk about a few of our shared favorite topics: healthy eating, overcoming eating disorders, true beauty, and how to look goooood without breaking the bank! Side Note: Have any of you ever considered adopting a vegan or plant-based diet?? I must confess the concept is mighty intimidating to me, so I was especially excited to pick Natalie’s brain about that!
(P.S. Natalie has interviewed me for her blog as well! If you would like to read that interview, you can catch it here.)
Aren’t these two adorable?!
Welcome Natalie! Could you tell us about the experiences that led you to adopt a plant-based diet? To what degree are you plant-based?
Well, I first stopped eating meat after college when I was an intern making hardly any money. Beans are so much cheaper than chicken! Fast forward a few years and I’m married, watching a documentary called Forks Over Knives—a film on the link between animal protein and disease—with my meat-loving husband Brian. As soon as the film was over, we looked at each other and agreed to give plant-based eating a try. For a year and a half, we were super strict about it and I’m so glad to have that experience. These days, we’re about 90%. Sometimes Brian eats egg sandwiches, and I admit I really love blue cheese on my salads. We also eat a bit of seafood, just because that feels right to us. It’s all about listening to your body and using the information you have to make the best choices for yourself.
Have any friends or family members ever questioned your diet choices? How do you insure that all your nutritional needs are met (particularly the need for dietary protein)?
YES! When we were strictly plant-based, we got a ton of judgement and also a ton of curiosity. People were always concerned with our nutrition, which is funny to me since a plant-based diet is absolutely the highest in antioxidants and nutrients (even protein!). When whole foods are what makes up your entire diet, you don’t need to count calories or carbs or fat—you just eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and perhaps take a multivitamin. As I learned, there is protein in all food, and our bodies need significantly less than our American culture would tell us we need. In fact, broccoli has more protein per calorie than steak—a fact I really love!
What is your favorite main dish to prepare at home? Brian’s favorite?
My favorite foods are chili and sweet potatoes, so of course my favorite dish combines the two! Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie is an all-time favorite for me, followed by homemade veggie chili, which Brian really loves. On lazy nights, I love what I call a “picnic meal,” which is usually veggies, hummus, bread, oil, balsamic vinegar, and a big glass of wine. Also, we always have a side salad—usually just a spring mix with a simple balsamic vinaigrette to make sure we get our greens!
On your blog, you’ve been very open about your past struggles with an eating disorder. I have shared the story of my own similar struggles on my blog as well, and numerous readers can relate. It seems many of us have “food issues” we’ve struggled with in the past or that we continue to haul around today. What words of advice or encouragement do you have for people with similar “food struggles”?
The biggest encouragement I could offer would be, it gets better. There was a time in my life when literally all I thought about was food and how it impacted my body. I thought about calories and nutrients and when I last ate and when I would eat next and the cycle went on and on. It was awful, and I am thankful every single day that I’m in a healthy place with food and my body. It took a long time, but I’m glad to say that food is not a struggle for me anymore. For some, it takes therapy (there’s NO SHAME in that!), and for others like me it takes A TON of journaling and accountability from loved ones. Regardless of the path you’re on, know that there is hope!
You have a delightful perspective on beauty, wellness, style, and life in general. What are some of the lies that our culture perpetuates when it comes to these topics and how would you like to see the conversation change?
Thank you! The biggest lie is that beauty comes from what we look like. WRONG! Yes, our appearance is a small piece of the pie of our attractiveness, but beauty is about who we are and how we interact with the world around us—not how sexy we look in our jeans. Another big lie, of course, is that in order to be attractive, we have to be skinny. That is such a big lie, and it’s one so, so many women believe—myself included, sometimes. The reality is, our natural, God-given size is beautiful! If we’re starving ourselves to look pretty, or overindulging constantly in an effort to say “who cares” to our culture’s standards, I think there’s a problem. But if we’re eating nourishing foods according to our hunger; exercising in ways that feel good for the body, mind and soul; and part of communities that are fulfilling, authentic and supportive, we are living a beautiful, healthy life!
I love how you believe that great style doesn’t have to be immodest and doesn’t have to cost a fortune! What are some of your favorite money-saving tips for looking chic on a budget?
Thank you! Over the years, style has become a form of self-expression for me that I really enjoy. That being said, I definitely don’t have a huge clothing budget and don’t even shop that often myself. I find one of the easiest ways to look chic on a budget is high-low mixing. It’s worth it to invest in everyday pieces that are classic and won’t go out of style. For example, a few of my favorite investment pieces are my J.Crew Minnie Pants, my Hobo Sheila Bag, Michael Kors Fulton Flats, and my J.Crew Schoolboy Blazer. I wear all of those items constantly, but since they’re quality, I’m not having to replace them year after year. And since I have a few quality pieces, I can easily mix in inexpensive items and create an overall chic look. My biggest allies are certainly Target—which has seriously awesome stuff—as well as J.Crew Factory and LOFT—both of which are constantly having sales and sell really high quality clothes for low prices. Also, though I’m not the best at this, never underestimate the power of thrift and consignment shopping! The last time I went, I snagged a pair of Elizabeth and James ankle boots worth $400 for just $50!
Be sure to check out Natalie’s lovely blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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