I’m Maria, a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with a longtime passion for nutrition, cooking, and wellness. I am also a wife and mom to two boys, ages 11 and 13, who provide me with first-hand experience of the joys and challenges of feeding a family.
About Hälsa Nutrition
I started Hälsa Nutrition in 2014 as a way to share my love for healthy cooking, eating, and living with individuals and families near and far. Since then my approach has evolved, as along the way I discovered intuitive eating and changed my whole approach to nutrition.
My goals for this site are to support you and your family’s journey to health and well-being by:
- inspiring you to cook more often,
- ditching the diet mentality and instead,
- discovering food freedom,
- helping you learn to listen to your body, thereby becoming a more intuitive eater,
- giving you a variety of family-friendly, nourishing recipes,
- sharing my advice on what works with kids and picky eaters,
- providing you with evidence-based nutrition information,
- offering helpful wellness and organizational tips, and
- adding a touch of Nordic to your diet!
My own experience with feeding a family
During the first several years of motherhood, I struggled with making this ideal family dinner image I had in my mind a reality. I was sleep-deprived and often too tired to prep meals and cook. My kids became picky eaters and dinner time was more stressful than joyful.
Eventually, however, I realized that it was not about having perfect eaters or the perfect family dinner. (Since neither of those exist anyway, right?) It was about doing my best to:
- get a nourishing meal on the table,
- expose my kids to a variety of foods,
- cook only one meal (on most nights),
- sit down together,
- be patient,
- let go of expectations, and
- make eating a joyful experience.
Instead of focusing on what my kids weren’t eating at the dinner table, I focused on making conversation about how their day was or anything unrelated to the food. I stopped nagging and I did away with the “you have to try it” rule, which just wasn’t working for us.
I also read up on the “division of responsibility” by Ellyn Satter. This principle is KEY to raising good eaters who also have a healthy relationship to food. In summary, it states that parents decide what, when, and where to eat. Children decide whether to eat and how much.
These days dinner time is much more pleasant and my kids have gradually gotten a lot less picky. It has enabled me to enjoy cooking so much more, knowing that they will be happier to try any new creations I explore. Of course, there are certain ingredients I know not to waste my time on, and I believe that my knowledge of picky eating and how to create recipes that the whole family will enjoy has given me a potential USP for a restaurant. It’s something I’m looking into, I’ve even thought about contacting somewhere like the Nella Toronto branch to enquire about their restaurant supplies. I’ll keep you posted on this because I know a lot of moms would be very grateful to have somewhere they can dine out where their children won’t have to make a fuss. It is also worth noting that while my Instagram pictures may make it look like my family eats very well all the time, remember those are just pictures. One of my creative passions is taking those pretty pictures and I hope that they inspire you. But please know that we have plenty of dinners that don’t go as planned and plenty of evenings when I scrape up odds and ends for dinner–or order pizza!
Summary of my nutrition philosophy:
Nutrition is a fascinating, ever-evolving field. Fads come and go. New research is always coming out. Yet, there is so much that remains the same. I believe that some of the most important aspects of a healthy diet are:
- eating a variety of whole foods,
- but realizing that all foods have a place in your diet.
Find a way of eating that makes you thrive. This may include:
- eating plenty of plant-based foods (veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds),
- adding more healthy fat (extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish),
- getting adequate protein at each meal (not just dinner),
- consuming probiotics (yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha)
- practicing mindful eating,
- becoming an intuitive eater,
- tuning in to the effects of food on your body,
- enjoying meals together as a family when possible,
- finding joy in eating and cooking,
- and cooking at home more often.
The goal of my blog and counseling services is to help and inspire you to eat, feed, and cook with more JOY and CONFIDENCE. Whether you need help feeding picky eaters, ditching the diet mentality (hello food peace and freedom!), or just some inspiration to get in the kitchen, I am here to help.
From Sweden to the USA
In case you were wondering, the word hälsa means “health” and also “to greet” in Swedish. I was born in Sweden and moved to New Hampshire with my family when I was 7. Although that was a long time ago, it helped spark a serious interest in food and eating patterns. I found the different eating habits of my new American friends fascinating. (Maple syrup, hostess cakes, peanut butter, jello, and fried chicken-these were just some of the foods I had never tried before!) Meanwhile, I remember my classmates looking at my lunches with equal curiosity-whether it was a long baguette sandwich or leftover korv (sausage) stroganoff.
But I attribute most of my love for food, nutrition, and cooking to my mom, who always cooked delicious, nourishing Swedish meals. I’m still learning from her and working on being as effective in the kitchen. (While I’m proud if I cook 4 or 5 homemade dinners a week, she did it consistently, and flawlessly, 7 days a week!)
Thanks for reading!
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