Issue #52: The Cognitive Issue

As an attorney-turned-eating-psychology and integrative nutrition coach, Elise Museles had an unlikely path to the health and wellness world. Nevertheless, her passion for helping others and learning about nutrition was always prevalent in her life. Raised in Los Angeles, she says that an interest in health and the outdoors were practically requirements, but it was during her time at an all-girls school where Elise really cultivated her interest in the psychological components of diet, and how what you eat is linked deeply with your mindset. Now, Elise is all about helping people figure out how to connect to their own inner nutritionists so that they are able to make healthier life choices and look beyond the one-size-fits-all approach to health.


Pursuing Her Passion

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The way Elise sees it, jumping from immigration law to nutrition and eating psychology wasn’t much of a leap. “When I practiced law, it was really satisfying and fulfilling,” she says. “I think I’ve always had that in me; to help people lead better lives.” When people began coming to her for health and wellness advice, she began seeing an opportunity to get that same sense of fulfillment out of working to understand what people were eating and helping them see what worked for them. She eventually took some time off work after her second son was born and started making her own organic homemade baby food. That’s when she truly realized the implications of healthy eating; of how her own habits were directly influencing how her family ate. It seemed like a natural step to get certified as a holistic health coach through the Institute of Integrated Nutrition and then obtain her eating psychology certification along the way, which she now uses to work with clients in group settings and on a one-on-one basis to help them achieve healthier lives.

A huge part of Elise’s work revolves around reframing the way we think about food to help us all lead better lives. She noted,

“How I live and what I do are pretty much the same thing. I want to share this lifestyle with others because my story was based on a fear of food and dieting. I overcame this restrictive approach when I understood how the healthy lifestyle can be fun.”

“There are so many misconceptions [about living a healthier lifestyle]. Like, people say they’re going on a diet, but you won’t find that word on my website or in my language, because it isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle and a mindset.”


A Narrative Approach to Health

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At its roots, Elise’s perspective on healthy eating is unique and flexible. Too often in modern culture, we see all-or-nothing approaches to diet, or clean eating to the extreme. As an eating psychology coach, though, Elise understands that beyond looking at food as the breakdown of nutrients that we’re putting in our bodies, there’s something deeper, ingrained in our thoughts. “What we eat is important but also how we eat and what we think,” she says. For Elise, this is a central component of her approach to working with clients, a huge part of which is helping them define what their personal “food story,” as she puts it.

For her clients, either one-on-one or in group sessions, this means talking about the foods they were surrounded with during childhood and identifying any patterns in how they eat.

“What you learn growing up and the habits that you see in your family and your culture; it’s all part of the foods that you see and the foods that you’re interested in. So, we all have this food story. There are positive parts, like how food brings us together and connects us, but there are also some parts or things that might be holding us back and keeping us stuck.”

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You can easily label foods as ‘bad’ and adopt an all-or-nothing approach that eventually leads to eating foods on autopilot rather than being conscious about the actual nutrients you need. It’s important to create awareness – utilizing one’s individual food story – of how food can be a struggle that can be worked through.

Elise explained that everyone’s individual food story ties into their approach to food,

“Someone might have had something really traumatic occur in their life and suddenly they became an emotional eater. When you tie it back, and learn where it comes from; it demystifies it. It also takes the shame away. I have my clients write in a special journal about how they treat their body, and how they talk to their body, and what kind of legacy and story they want to leave for their family; for the next generation. I help them see patterns in how they’re living. Then, when we work together it creates awareness and helps them live more consciously. It’s really powerful work.”


Reaching Out on a Wider Level

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Beyond just helping others understand their food story through counseling, Elise is also the author of a highly successful blog called Kale and Chocolate, as well as a recent cookbook filled with quick, healthy, on-the-go recipes. Her book, Whole Food Energy: 200 All Natural Recipes to Help You Prepare, Refuel, and Recover, supplements the interactive nature of her blog. Each of the recipes in her book uses easy-to-find grocery store ingredients to create original, completely homemade recipes meant to make healthy living simple. From hydrating smoothies to tasty chia seed pudding, Elise knows exactly how to transform natural foods into something delicious. All tested in her kitchen (and on her family, dogs included), her takes on whole foods are meant to be simple and eaten without fuss. Whether you’re going on a hike all day or working a desk job, Whole Food Energy revitalizes the traditional cookbook to let you eat – and think – healthier on a daily basis.

Her blog, where these recipes all started, is aptly named Kale and Chocolate, reflecting Elise’s balanced approach to eating.

“It’s about keeping you healthy AND sustainable since all kale isn’t very fun, and all chocolate isn’t very healthy. On the kale side of being too healthy, [people] become more fun and they’re more vibrant and alive and not fearful of every bite they take. Then there are other people who see healthy eating as complicated and hope that next Monday they start their healthy journey, so it helps people who need more kale in their life to go along with their chocolate. The goal is to keep it somewhere in the middle and make it a lifestyle.”

Figuring out what foods to eat, and most of all, being aware of how your thoughts impact how you eat, is a hard journey Elise Museles knows well. From the beginning, her passion in nutrition, and willingness to help others, was a natural combination that inspired her to make the leap from attorney to eating psychology coach, and now, author. Regardless of where you are on your path to wellness, Elise’s perspective on eating is one where your mindset makes all the difference. Everything else will follow.

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Eating the right foods is essential for your nutrient intake and ultimately, your health. While food should be the number one source of nutrients for your body, sometimes it isn’t enough. Find out how WellPath can help fill your nutritional gaps and optimize your health.