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 10 and 12, who provide me with first-hand experience of the joys and challenges of feeding a family on a daily basis
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. 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,
- helping you learn to listen to your body, thereby becoming a more intuitive eater,
- giving you a variety of family-friendly, healthful 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 (instead I baked muffins at 5 in the morning!). My kids were picky eaters and my husband often worked late. Needless to say, I often got frustrated, cooked their favorites, which only led to more picky eating, and let’s just say dinner time was not always joyful.
Eventually, however, I realized that it was not about the perfect family dinner. It was about doing my best to:
- get a healthful meal on the table,
- expose my kids to a variety of healthful foods,
- cook only one meal,
- 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 did my best to follow 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 less picky. While my Instagram pictures may make it look like my family eats very well all the time, remember those are just pictures. There are plenty of dinners that don’t go as planned and plenty of mornings when my kids eat just cereal for breakfast.
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 diet. I found the different diet 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, nutritionally-balanced, Swedish meals. She was a home economics teacher in Sweden and has some serious kitchen talent. 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!)
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,
- making most of your food plant-based (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),
- cutting back on added sugar, white flour, and processed foods,
- practicing mindful and intuitive eating,
- tuning in to the effects of food on your body,
- enjoying meals together as a family,
- 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 well and cook more. Whether you need help feeding picky eaters, managing your weight, or just some inspiration to get in the kitchen, I am here to help!