TBS spoke to The Nude Nutritionist Lyndi Cohen about her least favourite things on social media and why she decided to go Photoshop free.
TBS: Can you please tell TBS readers how you came to be The Nude Nutritionist?
Growing up, I always struggled with my weight. I started dieting at the age of 11, but like most people, dieting only made me gain weight over the long term. By my early twenties, my relationship with food was torturous. I was 20kg overweight and I had developed binge eating disorder (the most common eating disorder). I felt out of control around food. One day, it dawned on me that my obsession with trying to lose weight was actually making me unhealthy.
Confused, I decided to study to become a dietitian to deepen my understanding of food.
Interestingly, through studying nutrition, I learnt how to find balance and moderation with my eating. I started The Nude Nutritionist in 2014 in an effort to share the information I learnt about how dieting can ruin our relationship with food and set us up for emotional eating. These days, the purpose of having my social media accounts is to show others that healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated and confusing. You don’t need expensive superfoods, cleanses and fad diets to create a body you love – something I learnt to the hard way.
TBS: Instagram. What do you find the most frustrating?
Instagram has become a place to get unlimited inspiration for new recipes and healthy living, but it seems Instagram and other social media platforms (like Facebook) can trigger a great sense of anxiety and envy as we scroll through the stylised and often perfected images of others.
Everyone knows that celebrities have personal stylists, chefs, personal trainers and dieticians to help them look “perfect,” but when an everyday person posts an image to Instagram of their “perfect” life, it can create a feeling of “why not me?”
Instagram isn’t real life. Once you accept that fact, it becomes a springboard to new things. I am inspired daily by the food I see on Instagram, as it prompts me to try new recipes, ingredients, food combinations or a new exercise.
TBS: It’s refreshing to see that you have a “no photoshop” policy. Why is it so important that the images of you are photoshop free?
My images on the Internet should reflect the real life me, not a perfected, idealised version of what I look like. Working on social media, it is especially tempting to want to photoshop/filter/edit images. I’d guess 99 percent of people do, but I refuse to let others think that in order to be healthy, you need to weigh a certain amount or look a certain way.
In the social media world, only the most curated, most flattering images make it to the newsfeed. Thereby, the perfect newsfeed life we envy doesn’t actually exist. I didn’t want people scrolling through my newsfeed or looking at images of me thinking my life is better than theirs – because, frankly, it isn’t.
My aim on Instagram has always been to be honest about my life and what I look like. I don’t want people to think that what I do is unattainable and unrealistic. I eat everything in moderation and that includes enjoying chocolate and drinking wine. I’ll eat ice-cream and post about it. People need to see that you can be healthy by eating things other than poached chicken, salads and carrot sticks.
TBS: What is next on the agenda for The Nude Nutritionist?
There are a lot of exciting things happening. I’m taking time this year to finish writing my book, which will be reflective of my experience with binge and overeating. I’m writing the book for emotional eaters because I know how stressful and devastating out-of-control eating can be, and thusly, I will not be sparing any details. I am really excited to create this book because so many people struggle with the conventional advice given to those who emotionally eat.
Apart from writing my book, this year I’ll be putting on my hat as a nutrition speaker and presenter more often. Social media is great, but there is nothing like getting face-to-face to share an important message and truly connect. I’ll continue to share my food adventures on social media proving that you ultimately can be healthy, have your cake and eat it too.
TBS: If you found out that you could only keep three of your Instagram photos, which pics would you save?
Really, as they are just Instagram photos, I wouldn’t be devastated to lose any. No doubt I’ll eat more food and probably photograph those meals too! But if I had to choose, I’d say my favourite snaps are probably:
I like to celebrate with healthy food and when guests come over, my default setting is to prepare colourful platters of whole foods. As a guest, I think it is better to leave dinner party feeling energised and satisfied instead of bloated and guilty.
This shot is of the sushi bar at my engagement party last year. Food is so important to me personally, I believe it should be centre stage at celebrations. We were lucky to be able to serve our guests a variety of sushi and sashimi, alongside a fresh dumpling station. At the party there was also a wide attendance of alcohol and dessert, because, hey, YOLO.
On my Instagram feed, I share lots of my favourite recipes. This salad is simply delicious, but best of all, it’s easy to make. There is nothing worse than an overly complicated recipe with ingredients that are a mystery to you. When it comes down to it, healthy eating is about good quality, real food.