Note from Emma: I’m so excited to announce the third Generation Real Food Interview here at Real Food Renegades! Switching to a real food lifestyle provides lasting health and nourishment, but it can seem daunting at first, especially as a young person or a family with children. The truth is that there is no one diet that will work for everyone – it’s all about finding what works best for you. Our goal with this series is to encourage you in your journey, promote a holistic, balanced lifestyle, and show that though we may seem hidden, there are lots of young people like us hoping to inspire change in our own lives and the greater community!
Today I’m so happy to be joined by the lovely, energetic Zoë of Healthy With Zoë! She is a 15 year old plant-based foodie, exercise enthusiast, and positive light with whom I am lucky to have connected on Instagram. I adore Zoë’s posts that are always filled with good vibes, smiles, and delicious fresh foods! Let’s hear what she has to say about being a passionate healthy-living teen and make sure you check out her blog and Instagram below!
Tell us about yourself and your lifestyle!
HELLO ALL!! My name is Zoë and I’m a 15 year old girl living in Los Angeles!! I am OBSESSED with healthy foods, and exercising in order to keep my mind and body healthy! I am on a high-level club soccer team, and I LOVE IT SO MUCH! It is so much fun for me, because it allows me to exercise and have fun while getting good at something! I also LOVE LOVE LOVE to run. I’ve run, specifically track and cross country, my whole life, and I’m still not sick of it! Of course, at some point in there, I needed a break, but for the most part, I kept on coming back to running! OK… my lifestyle. Hmmm, well for the most part, my average day is me waking up, and doing my morning routine, which includes eating a healthy breakfast! I never ever skip breakfast, because I believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The reason for that, is because if you eat breakfast, it will give you energy and allow your brain to start working early! I usually workout daily after school, because it is a good change for me to clear my mind from being at school all day! I usually run, or play soccer, but sometimes I even go to workout classes that help give me strength and build my endurance. I am so blessed to live the life I live, and have all the resources and abilities to be able to work out, eat healthy and enjoy my life. You should too 🙂
How do you define “real food”? What does it look like for you?
What is “real food” you ask? Well, real food to me is food that comes from the ground or food that truly has benefits that are nourishing to your body. When I initially think of certain real foods, I think of fruits, and veggies, whole grains, healthy starches, legumes and vitamins (not necessarily pill form!) Those foods, to me, define the meaning of “real food”. If you want to see the way that I incorporate real foods into my recipes and daily life, please look at my Instagram: Healthy With Zoe!!!
How did you discover the “real food” way of eating?
Well, my whole life, I was brought up in a fairly healthy household. Of course we had our ice creams and occasional bags of cheese puffs, but otherwise, we were super healthy. I think when I was in about 6th or 7th grade is when I started to choose to eat well. However, the reason I really started eating healthy was because I was starting to become more body conscious, and wanted to feel good about myself. I was not overweight at all, but I thought that if I ate healthy, I would feel better about myself and the way I looked. And for the most part I did! But I was eating healthy for the wrong reason. Of course you want to eat healthy to feel good about yourself and the way you look, but it should be for more important reasons – to nourish and feed your body by giving it what it wants to function properly and be its best! But when did I truly discover the “real food” way of eating? I think I officially found it about a year and a half ago when I became a plant-based vegan! I started to truly eat real foods, that nourished my body, and made me feel better, physically and mentally. I saw a change in my body… I started to have more energy and more confidence! Guys, that’s what “real food” does to you. It makes you overall a better person. Trust me 🙂
Was it difficult to change your diet?
Oh, yes of course it was difficult! When I became vegan, it was extremely hard for me, because it was my New Year’s resolution, so I totally was not prepared! One day I was a meat eater and the next I was fully vegan! When I look back at it, I truly believe that is not the best way to become vegan, or change to any diet for that matter. I know for a fact that you should ease into a diet! I have done tons and tons of research about diets and I have found that you should ease into a diet by cutting out specific things at different points in time. For example, when I interviewed Kathy Freston, a vegan author, she told me that the best way to ease into veganism, is by cutting out cows, pigs, then chickens, fish and lastly eggs. So how does my transition to eating “real food” come into play? Well, as I said before, I initially started to be conscious of what I was eating, healthy vs. unhealthy, when I was in the 6th grade. So, to be honest, I can’t really remember if it was difficult to change from eating one way, to another! All I remember is that I missed when I could eat cookies, ice cream, and tons of other goodies like that, in one day! HA! Oh the perks of being young 🙂
What benefits have you noticed in yourself from getting back to basics and eating fresh, whole foods?
Oh my gosh… MY WHOLE LIFE HAS CHANGED! It has changed my body in so so so many ways, physically and mentally! Physically, I have felt stronger, I’ve had more energy, and I’ve felt more in shape! Mentally, I have been more confident, I’ve been happier and I’ve been less tired… which is surprising for me! The one thing I have to say though is to eat enough of the right things. Make sure you are consuming all of your essential macronutrients, which are your carbohydrates, protein, fats and vitamins (and minerals if we’re getting specific)! If you don’t, you will be tired and moody and it’ll be really hard to function… trust me, I know from experience. Since I’m a vegan, I recently have been taking B12 shots. When you are vegan, you can be deficient in some things, like iron and B12! I knew that, but I didn’t really think that I needed to take it, until I researched the symptoms of a B12 deficiency! The symptoms are major fatigue (which I have for sure been feeling a lot lately), being forgetful (which is normal for me, except it’s been worse) and especially being moody… specifically crying and being worried (I have felt this one a lot lately)! I was shocked when I read them, and realized that, “Oh my gosh, I am deficient in B12”! For weeks I have been tired and forgetful, would cry about everything, and get super worried! And the craziest thing, is that when I took the shot for my first time, the next day, I felt instantly better, which honestly scared me! I had tons of energy and I wasn’t very emotional or stressed! It’s crazy how if you change or adjust little things in the way you eat, or in general, live your life, how much of a different person you become… in a good way! So if you’re going to take away anything after my long rant, I want you to remember that your body is a marvelous thing, and that it does so much everyday fighting for us to stay alive. So please, feed and nourish it with food that is going to benefit it, give you energy, and allow it to work and strive to its fullest potential.
What are some staples that are must-haves for you?
WOW! THERE ARE SO MANY, I DON’T WANT TO BORE YOU ALL. OK, but if I had to narrow it down… I would say… I know that it is super basic, but ALWAYS, ALWAYS have maple syrup. I make SO SO SO much with it, and it is, in general, such a good sweetener! I add it to my chia seeds puddings, overnight oats, homemade bars, and even my granola recipe! I would also say that you should always have Kombucha in your house. My favorite brand is GT’s Kombucha… they have no many different flavors, and kinds to choose from, it’s amazing… except sometimes it can be overwhelming too 😉 … in a good way! I love Kite Hill’s Chive Cream Cheese… I mean, its SOOO good that I would marry it if I could! It is so amazing as a spread, a dip or just straight up… sorry, had to be real for a second, because I mean, who doesn’t eat things plain-jane? I do, for sure! Also, I always have nut butter in my pantry (or fridge), whether it’s my own recipe, or ones I buy from the store! My favorite kinds of nut butters are… hmm well… all of them 😉 Almond & cashew butters are amazing, and so is sunflower seed butter… MMMMmm I’m drooling just thinking of it! And to be honest, even though peanuts are not the best nut for you, who doesn’t like themselves a scoop of peanut butter once in awhile?? I know I do! This list could just keep on going and going and going, but you’d be sitting here reading this for a very very long time! I’m just gonna leave you on one last thing that I can’t live without… I’m not sure if this is a staple or not, but FRESH FRUITS AND VEGGIES!!! All sorts of course! I always have kale and spinach in my fridge, that’s just how it it! As well as bananas, I always have a big bunch/bunches in my house, just because! Oh and don’t forget to have some good old-fashioned dark chocolate in your pantry, you can never ever go wrong with some chocolate 🙂
Do you have any advice for young people for thriving with a real foods lifestyle?
Ohhh advice! Ok, well, for all the young people out there who want or are living a “real food” lifestyle, just remember to keep it simple. Life, if you haven’t figured it out already, is very very challenging, and you don’t need to make it harder by stressing over how you are going to eat. Sadly, I STRESS OUT about what I am going to eat sometimes, but when you think about it, in the long run, it isn’t worth stressing out about! And to be honest, when you cook simple meals at home, with real, local and nutritious ingredients, it often tastes better and satisfies you more! And one last thing, remember to thank your parents for everything. I know that mine probably don’t want to be dropping huge bills at Whole Foods once a week, but, the crazy part, is that they still do, and I need to be super grateful to have these resources, (and awesome parents) to be able to do that!
Are you a young person living a real foods lifestyle? Has your family (including the kids!) transitioned to eating real food? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your journey! I’d love to have you.