Getting Real with Sustainable Nutrition
Katie Hammill is a certified nutritionist, mom of two, wife, kitchen renegade, exercise enthusiast and football fanatic. Her mission is to take the complex relationship we all have with food and simplify it for real life. She believes there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to healthy habits.
Through her work with families and individuals of all ages, Katie helps both beginners in fitness and aspiring athletes alike find the place in their life where healthy feels great and sustainable. She’s a strong believer that sticking to a diet that doesn’t work for your lifestyle is a waste of time.
As a mom, she knows it is not always easy to navigate the conflicting information on nutrition and feeding a family. Katie aims to decipher the good from the bad and share the true story behind health headlines. She wants to give her clients confidence in the kitchen and in the grocery store.
Follow along on Instagram at @katiehammillnutrition or at https://www.katiehammillnutrition.com/ for delicious recipes, insights on the latest nutrition trends and a healthy dose of reality.
What experience do you have in the nutrition and wellness industry?
I am a Certified Nutritionist in private practice since 2012. I grew up and did my schooling in Canada and moved to the Jacksonville area with my family in 2015.
What does your practice focus on?
I work with individuals and families on finding the style of nutrition that fits their REAL life. To make weight and health maintainable it needs to be something you enjoy and is realistic.
What three things would you recommend people change about their diet to maximize their health?
- Fill ½ your plate with vegetables. No matter if you are vegan, paleo, keto, pescatarian (and the list goes on…) the one thing we can all agree on is the importance of non-starchy vegetables.
- Take sugar out of your meals and drinks. As a society, we add sugar in our sauces, salad dressings, yogurts and especially in our drinks. You’ll do your health a huge favor by limiting sugar to dessert. It’s in almost every food marketed to kids.
- Read labels. This goes along with the point above, but you need to be aware of what is in the foods you eat. I’ll have clients who have no idea the foods they pack in their child’s lunchbox are filled with artificial colors linked to hyperactivity or that their yogurt has 28g of sugar.
What are some of the most common nutritional mistakes?
Almost any “diet” can help you lose weight, but the most common mistake is not having a plan to maintain it. Diets don’t work because we see them as temporary. Lifestyle changes and finding healthy food you enjoy eating and preparing is where long-term success happens.
What is one nutrition-related myth you would like to bust?
All calories are equal. The quality of the food we eat is critical to our health – not just how much we eat. I don’t advocate for calorie-counting. We need to build a more intuitive relationship with food.
Do you see a shift happening in the public perception of nutrition?
Yes. It takes time, but the questions I am getting from my clients now are so well-informed. They are interested in understanding not only what to eat but why? They are also interested in how food is sourced. We see this in the grocery store with the increased access to organic produce, grass-fed meats and wild seafood.
The one area I would love to see a shift, and I will continue to fight for, is improving kids’ menus. Our kids should eat the same meals as adults, just in different portions. When I traveled to Europe last summer the kid’s menus were amazing; filled with variety, fresh produce and delicious foods. Here in the states, we see the same four things on every kids’ menu: chicken fingers, mac and cheese, burger and fries or pizza. Many don’t even offer a vegetable. How can we build a generation of adventurous eaters when we force them to chose from the same four hyper-palatable, nutrient-void foods? I am incredibly passionate about this. Parents need to request better options and restaurants must step up.
How can individuals find more natural, trusted products?
Follow my series Trash That! Try This! on Instagram 😉 But honestly, the most important thing is to find a source you trust in the nutrition world and educate yourself. The grocery store can be a minefield and being aware of buzzwords and food marketing is a big step.
What lifestyles do you think a healthy snack subscription, like SmartBox, would benefit the most?
All too often, I hear that my clients don’t have time to follow a healthy diet. That somehow eating poor-quality food is less of a time commitment. It can be helpful to have healthy snacks readily available to avoid the drive-thru or vending machine.
Also, those that find they are easily swayed by the endless options at the grocery store might really benefit from avoiding the temptation altogether and having their snacks delivered.
What is your favorite healthy snack?
Nuts. I love nuts and nut butter. They are nature’s perfect package of healthy fats, protein and fiber. I always have a bag on me, and I have been known to eat a spoon of almond butter as a quick snack before running out the door. Just remember to look for raw or dry-roasted.
What’s your take on refined sugars and the different types of sugar they have on ingredient labels?
Keep them to desserts. Real food doesn’t need sugar to taste amazing. We have programmed ourselves to prefer sweet and are doing a huge disservice to our health. The rise in type 2 diabetes, (which used to be called adult-onset diabetes,) is a huge indicator that our current diet is not working for us.
Which of the food nutrient contents listed on a nutrition facts label are most important to look at when choosing a healthy snack option?
Sugars are the #1 item I look for and try to keep low. I look for protein and healthy fat to be high so I know the food will be satisfying.
What are some ingredients listed on labels that are not good for consumers?
Do you have 10 minutes for me to answer this question? We are a “no funny color” house, so I avoid all foods with artificial dyes. Sometimes they can sneak these in so always read the label. My clients are always shocked to know some brands of pickles add yellow dyes. I also try to avoid poor-quality high-inflammatory oils like canola, sunflower, safflower, corn... the list goes on. There is so much added to our foods now that wasn’t even considered edible years ago. As Michael Pollan says, if your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, you shouldn't either.