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  • Writer's pictureElise Johnson

You Are What You Eat

Updated: Apr 10

We've all heard the saying -You are what you eat.” I think we sometimes

forget the power of this statement. I certainly did.

Before and after pictures of Elise. This is from a slide she uses in her Art of Healthy Living Workshop. She is throwing a bright red apple in the air while wearing a big smile on her face.
My Story

As someone who overcame many chronic illnesses, including pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, and dystonia, I typically begin my wellness workshops with this before and after slide. I often share with clients that we should depend on vegetables and fruits as though our lives depend on them - because THEY CERTAINLY DO! And as you can clearly see, I am living proof of this!

I typically end my workshops with this slide...

A picture of Elise and her best childhood friend before losing 80 pounds is on the left. On the right, a picture of Elise running by the lake. Elise has a big smile on her face!
Before and After

I recently watched the Netflix series You Are What You Eat. I highly recommend it.

Along my own health journey, I have learned that food is not merely calories, but information. The foods you eat and the beverages you drink directly affect your body at a cellular level - the moment it enters your mouth. Food is not just energy. Your body is specifically designed to absorb the nutrients it needs from the foods we eat and turn them into fuel for activities and processes, from running and jumping to digestion and cell repair.

As we learn more about eating patterns and the body, it’s increasingly clear

that what and how we eat as well as how we digest food significantly affects many aspects of our life, and having a healthy relationship with food is a vital part of wellness. Yet having a healthy food relationship can feel complicated. Many factors influence our feelings about food, including cultural, genetic, social, familial, individual,

economic, and psychological components. Given these variables, what does a healthy relationship with food look like, and how can you improve yours? It all begins with bio-individuality. Food affects each of us differently.

We've all heard the quote from Hippocrates, "Let food by thy medicine and let medicine be thy food", but did you know that one person's medicine could be another's poison? The following suggestions are an overview of the practices we should all take to prevent chronic illnesses, but as mentioned above, we are all bioindividuals.

Your Choices Matter

It is important to understand that your choices matter. You can think about preventive care in relation to food like a seatbelt. We all know that seatbelts save lives every year. Since 1975, seatbelts have saved over 374,000 lives.

The same thing can be said for smoking. Cancer deaths due to smoking, are no longer the number one cause of death in America. People have learned just how dangerous smoking is and by avoiding smoking or stopping altogether they have prevented chronic disease and premature death.

Unfortunately, obesity is now the leading cause of death in the United States. The wonderful news is that like fatal car crashes and dying from cancer due to smoking is preventable, so are diet and lifestyle-related chronic illnesses. Isn’t that wonderful news?

Learning this information saved my life.

Five pictures of Elise running, tossing a salad, holding an apple in her hand, tossing a tossing an apple up in air, and holding a client's hand while having tea.
Healthy Living

I'd like to share with you a few of the changes I have made to help my body heal itself:

  1. I crowded out all processed foods from my diet and do not miss them one bit! The Standard American Diet definitely lives up to its’ acronym SAD. Processed foods full of sugar and bad fats will greatly increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a multitude of other chronic illnesses.

  2. I crowded in nutrient dense foods. If it is alive and unprocessed I enjoy it. If it grew from a tree or other plant, I eat it. The body recognizes whole, nutrient dense and allows the nutrients to act together like they meant to unlike processed foods.

  3. I eat real food. I learned about the difference between organic and inorganic.

  4. I eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables which are high in fiber, antioxidants, polyphenols and nutrients, and I fill my plate with 75% vegetables and fruit at every meal.

  5. I read all of my food labels. If I don’t recognize what is on the label, neither will my body.  If it has a label, it must contain less than five ingredients, be unrefined, and contain good fats.

  6. I use raw honey, pure maple syrup, dates, unsweetened applesauce, agave nectar, or coconut sugar to sweeten foods. My tastebuds have changed significantly and apples have never tasted better!

  7. I drink at least 64 oz of filtered water every day. I also enjoy herbal teas. I never get my calories from beverages. Did you know that many people are untentionally dehydrated? Many times we think we are hungry, but our body is crying for water. My workshop explains why we need water and how our drought-management system works.

  8. I never put artificial sweeteners in my body as they are endocrine disruptors.

  9. Focus on good sources of protein like wild salmon, lentils, organic chicken and turkey, grass-fed beef on occasion, Greek yogurt, and good sources of fats from olives, nuts, and seeds. Protein is found throughout your wonderfully-made body. It is found in your muscle, bones, skin, hair…virtually every other body part. When eaten together, healthy protein and fats work together synergistically.

  10. Good sources of fat - For example, good fat helps your body absorb nutrients like vitamin A, D, E, K. It keeps you satiated or fuller longer. This is the correct type of fuel that your body needs. Unlike when eating processed foods, your body will not store excess glucose when eating this way. Did you know that your brain is 60% fat and in order for optimal brain health, it needs good fats like olive oil, avocados, wild salmon, nuts and seeds?

  11. Intermittent fasting: I eat my largest meal in the morning and then a second meal no later than 4 pm. If I choose to eat three meals, my last meal is very light and I never eat four hours before bedtime. If I find myself very hungry in the evening, I eat a few nuts for example so that my body does not feel stressed when I am asleep. When the body or your adrenal glands are stressed your cortisol levels rise. This can contribute to weight gain and the dangerous type visceral fat around your organs.

a graphic of two brains with a lightbulb

Recap: These are some of the ways that I control my blood sugar, reversed my chronic illnesses, and became a happy, healthy human being. I avoid processed and refined foods. I eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables which are high in fiber, antioxidants, and polyphenols. I crowd out simple carbohydrates by adding in delicious complex grains like quinoa for example which has a good amount of protein keeping my blood sugar stable.

Always Remember

Small steps lead to big results. Beginning with crowding out sugary drinks with water is the perfect way to begin helping your body heal and ultimately living a healthy, happy life.

Interested in attending or hosting one of my transformative wellness workshops, simply reach out to me via email at!

Be well,


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