We recently spoke with Brittany Forman, owner of Well Being with Brittany, to learn about her journey to health, becoming an integrative health coach and nutritionist, and how she finds balance in a typical day. Read below to learn more!
Describe your journey to finding a balanced relationship with food and how you view food now as opposed to before your current career as a nutritionist and health coach.
Food used to be an all or nothing thing for me. Before finding my way, I was focused on counting calories and food restriction. This always backfired. I had cravings that I couldn’t say no to, and my dopamine levels were unnaturally surging. Despite my upbeat demeanor, I felt moody, unable to handle stress and hormonally imbalanced. I had difficulty concentrating and getting things done. What’s more, I was frustrated—I was exercising constantly, restricting myself all the time, and seeing zero results.
When I started learning about holistic nutrition and functional medicine, things started to change both inwardly and outwardly. The functional framework made a lot more sense. The conventional mindset of a calorie in equals a calorie out just doesn’t add up-- 100 calories of chard doesn’t do the same thing as 100 calories of white bread. My main focus today is on nutrient density: I focus on maximizing the nutrients I take in and doing my best to eliminate the foods that I know will take energy away from my system by triggering an inflammatory response.
There is no one size fits all plan -- we all have own unique physiology, genetic makeup and ailments that cause our body to respond differently. I believe it’s not what you eat, it’s what your body does with what you eat. This requires more work and self-discovery—part of the work I do with my clients. Taking ownership of your particular body and health is essential to feeling your best.
How would you describe your view on health and wellness in just a few sentences?
Health and wellness is about balance. In my case, health and wellness involves getting enough time for me—which could be spent in a yoga class or during my morning matcha ritual, spending time with my husband and family, eating nutrient dense foods throughout the day, doing the work that makes me feel whole (meeting with clients or blogging about health tips), and breaking a sweat. All of these things are non-negotiables!
Do you tend to follow one specific diet - paleo, gluten-free, vegan? If so, explain why.
I like to call my approach “plant-based paleo”. Throughout my day, I focus on getting several cups of leafy greens, 2-3 servings of organic and wild animal protein and 3 servings of healthy fats. Other daily staples are sauerkraut, olives, squash, coconut, chia seeds and tahini. I try to balance my day with a mix of both raw and cooked foods—cooked foods help me feel grounded, satiated, and are easier to digest; raw foods make me feel bright and energized. Finally, I also focus on adding anti-inflammatory and immune boosting micro nutrients to my meals such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and cumin. It’s easy to add these things into smoothies, dressings or vegetable sautés.
Avoiding gluten and dairy allows me to maintain stable blood sugar levels and proper digestion. Old signs of inflammation are gone-- my skin is clear and I don’t have dark under eye circles. The pancreas doesn’t produce an enzyme that can completely breakdown the protein gluten and most cow dairy is highly processed—so knowing this makes it easy to avoid. I also stay away from refined foods like white flour and cane sugar. The rate of mineral loss increases by 300% when you eat refined sugar, which means you’re bound to be deficient in essential minerals like magnesium and calcium if you’re eating sugar regularly. Plus, there are so many high quality alternatives out there like Simple Mill’s cookies and crackers!
What is a typical day of eats like for you? Do you find that your body reacts better to switching up your meals or keeping things similar and routine?
I find that sticking to my daily routine makes me feel balanced and allows me to focus on other things besides eating!
First things first - I start my day with a matcha latte, adding a scoop of collagen and a tablespoon of coconut oil for protein and fat to hold me over until my next meal.
Brunch (I eat early!) - A big bowl of greens (raw or sautéed depending how I’m feeling) topped with chicken, avocado, onions, carrots, and tahini dressing.
Snack – I generally need something to keep my blood sugar from dipping in the afternoon so I munch on some kind of fat bomb or power ball. I’ve been having one or two of these lately.
Dinner - similar to lunch but I usually add a warm starchier vegetable like squash or cauliflower. I love to eat out of a bowI and I typically layer my foods—the base is always 2 cups of greens tossed with olive oil and sea salt, followed by a layer of baked or sautéed vegetables, and topped with meat or poultry and a drizzle of tahini.
What are your top 3 favorite foods for fighting illnesses/inflammation at this time of year?
Lemon and lemon zest - The entire lemon helps build immunity. I drink warm water with half of a squeezed lemon each morning to help build stomach acid. Stomach acid is essential for killing unwanted bacteria that enters into your system. I also use the zest— it stimulates phase II of liver detoxification. I simply add the zest from half of a lemon into smoothies or soups.
Fermented foods – Even though I take a probiotic everyday, I like to add fermented vegetables like sauerkraut to my meals, increasing good bacteria and supporting overall digestion. Studies show that 70-80% of the immune system is in the gut and is dictated by the balance of good and bad bacteria.
Bone broth - I love having a cup of homemade bone broth in the afternoon to warm me up. Fresh bone broth contains glucosamine and gelatin which strengthen and repair the digestive tract, bones, tissues, and joints. Tip: make sure you add apple cider vinegar when making bone broth to draw out the minerals from the bones.
Since we live in a world where sugar is hidden EVERYWHERE, especially in processed foods, blood sugar imbalances are so prevalent. What’s your philosophy on enjoying sweeter treats? What’s your favorite way to indulge?
True -- sugar is everywhere but there are loads of alternatives that won’t spike your insulin levels. My favorite alternative sweetener is coconut sugar, since it contains fiber, which helps mitigate an insulin spike. I always pair sweet things with a healthy fat, like coconut butter or oil for example, to avoid insulin spikes and plummets.
My favorite indulgence is typically something warm since I run cold. I make a mean hot chocolate with cacao powder, coconut milk, coconut sugar, a pinch of sea salt and cinnamon.
Name your go-to snack, and tell us why it’s your fave.
I love chia seed porridge—it takes 2 minutes to make and contains fiber, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. It is the perfect snack to balance your blood sugar and keep you satiated in between meals. I like to add cacao nibs for crunch.
What is your favorite Simple Mills product and what creative spin do you like to put on it?
I love the Everything Sprouted Seed Cracker. I like to break a couple crackers up and toss them into salads for a crunchy, healthy crouton! They also make for an easy snack with a dollop of tahini. Sprouting makes the nutrients from the seeds more bioavailable (i.e. the minerals and vitamins from the seeds are more easily absorbed in your body).
What are some of your tips for staying healthy when you live a very busy lifestyle and things tend to get stressful?
Break a sweat every day. Find the time no matter what. Even if it just 10 minutes of HIIT or yoga in your bedroom-- make it happen. Exercise is essential for reducing insulin sensitivity, building bone density, and maintaining an overall state of happiness!
What 5 foods would you recommend one should remove from their diet?
White flour, refined sugar, vegetable oils, fast food, and soda. The processing of these foods has made them almost void of all nutrition. They put a massive burden on the liver and digestive system. The cons of eating these foods outweigh the benefits-- they take energy away from the body, depleting sources of vitamins and minerals needed to fight disease and reduce inflammation. All take and no give-- not a good partnership! No doubt in my mind that a Simple Mills cupcake will make you just as happy. Your body will thank you for it!