Q&A with Health Coach Anna Glennon on Finding the Balance of Nutrition
We’ve made a lot of changes to our diets over the past year. From stress-eating (and drinking) to short-lived health kicks to more stress-eating, it’s possible that we’ve let our health fall to the wayside. (Hey, even if you’ve remained super healthy, a few extra nutrition tips never hurt!) To give us some perspective, we spoke with Health Coach and Curriculum Coordinator from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Anna Glennon, about nutrition, sticking with goals, and a few of her favorite recipes.
Q: WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE MAKING THE SWITCH FROM COMFORT FOOD TO HEALTHIER OPTIONS?
ANNA: I think it’s twofold. For one, I think our health, our immunity, and our longevity are all highlighted right now, and we’re really in a time when people are recognizing that food is incredibly powerful for bolstering all of those things. Second, I think people realized that after a while, they didn’t feel great. There’s legitimacy in the joy and nourishment that baking and eating delicious banana bread brings you; that’s a form of health for sure, but it can’t be the only form. I think people are starting to realize that they need to nourish themselves on all different levels, and sometimes that means focusing on your physical health.
Q: WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR HEALTHY RECIPES?
ANNA: I love the New York Times cooking app—they’ve made a lot of their recipes free to access over the past year. They’ve got a great mix of classic recipes and easy favorites. It’s been a really fun time to reconnect with my cookbook collection! Currently, my family is cooking out of “Cook Once Eat All Week” by Cassy Joy Garcia. It’s a great system that teaches you how to ingredient prep rather than meal prep so you’re eating freshly cooked meals all week, but they come together quickly on weeknights! I also love scrolling Instagram and seeing what other people are cooking. Some of my favorites to follow are Samah Dada from @dadaeats and Juli Bauer Roth from @paleomg.
Q: ARE ALCOHOL-FREE SPIRITS AND LOW-ALCOHOL COCKTAILS TRULY A BETTER ALTERNATIVE TO REGULAR ALCOHOLIC DRINKS?
ANNA: I think much like dairy or gluten, people’s reactions to alcohol are bio-individual. We have to create options that allow people to recognize, and then do what feels healthiest for them in any given moment, instead of creating hard and fast rules. These alcohol alternatives do just that—people’s biggest concern about not drinking used to be about not fitting in, but now they can partake in the social aspect and reap those health benefits without making any compromises for their physical health. I won’t say whether they’re better or not—I think that’s up to the individual—but what I will say is that personally, I am all about a low-alcohol cocktail.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY MOCKTAIL OR HEALTHIER COCKTAIL RECIPES YOU CAN SHARE?
ANNA: A Lillet and soda is my go-to healthier cocktail. One part Lillet—I use blanc in the summer, rose in the fall, and the rouge in the winter—and top with sparkling water and a twist of citrus. I like lime with blanc, orange with rouge, and grapefruit with rose.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR SETTING WEEKLY HEALTHY EATING GOALS AND REWARDING YOURSELF FOR STICKING WITH THEM?
ANNA: I think this depends on what motivates you! Some of us need a partner, or a coach, or a chart that holds us accountable. Some of us need a prize, and that’s okay—maybe you reward yourself with a new workout top if you meet your goals. Also, setting goals that are realistic and truly serving you is important. I like to tune in to my body and soul at the beginning of the week and ask if these goals are right this week. For me, it shifts almost that frequently between the hormonal shifts of being a woman and the mental and emotional rollercoaster that is parenting and trying to maintain a healthy relationship with my husband. Sometimes I have the mental and physical energy to set specific goals like “eat ___ g of protein,” and sometimes they have to be more fluid, like “consume 5 servings of vegetables.” I try to think about what I can actually handle that week, and what I actually need.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY GO-TO RECIPES FOR HEALTHIER COMFORT FOOD?
ANNA: When I’ve gone off the rails for a few days with healthy eating, my “get back in the routine meal” is always the same: burger salad. I make a juicy burger but throw it on top of a romaine salad with roasted sweet potatoes, pickles, and yellow mustard. It feels super indulgent but is full of veggies. Also, the recipe from Kitchn for Cheetos Style Chickpeas is just beyond delicious. I make these when I want something crunchy and salty. My daughter and I have been known to crush several cans of chickpeas in one sitting.
Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS NUTRITION WHEN IT COMES TO OVERALL WELLNESS?
ANNA: Nutrition is one really important piece of the pie, but it’s not the only piece. Other really important pieces are movement, sleep and rest, mental and emotional health, human connection, and spiritual health. All of these carry different weights for different people at different times in their life. Nutrition might be the most important piece for you right now, or it might not be. It might be important for you to focus on that for a time, but once that feels balanced, move on to something else.
Medical Disclaimer: This content is provided for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Anna Glennon, MAT is an Integrative Nutrition health coach and curriculum coordinator at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). She went through IIN’s Health Coach Training Program where she had training in integrative health and nutrition, health coaching, business-building skills, and further advanced training in Gut Health and Hormone Health. You can find her on Instagram at @teacheatrepeat.