I am starting a series where I record conversations I have with other women in wellness.
I have a couple of reasons for wanting to do this. First, these are conversations that I was already having with the women in my network and I felt that our audiences would get as much out of listening to them as I do when I’m having them. It’s great to have the opportunity to expand our thinking by being introduced to new people and learning about different entrepreneurs or wellness modalities.
Second, I feel that in wellness, and maybe especially amongst women running online businesses, there is a tendency to feel isolated from one another. I wanted to combat these feelings of ‘going-it-alone’ or ‘me-against-the-world’ by cultivating a stronger sense of community between women who have a passion for helping others.
Another reason I want to do this is because I believe in collaboration over competition. What I mean by this is that I intend to use my platform to promote women, and for us to model what support and encouragement of another female business owner can look like.
The key result I think will be that we feel even more empowered and energized to serve our communities knowing that there is a sisterhood of likeminded women supporting and encouraging us.
Without further ado, let me introduce my first guest Maria Zamarripa, RD!
Britt Reuter: Hi, I’m Britt Reuter and I’m a Functional Medicine Nutritionist. I serve women who have gut issues, hormone imbalances, and autoimmunity. I run an online virtual clinic from my home in the Boston area. If you want to learn more about me and what I do, you can visit my website www.brittreuter.com or find me on Facebook or Instagram @nutritionbritt
This is the new thing that I’m trying out. It’s called Conversations with Women in Wellness, and one of the reasons I’m doing this is because I was already having these conversations with women in my network, and I felt that our audience would get as much out of it as I do in having these conversations. So, I really wanted to share that with all of you.
I’m so grateful to my friend and colleague, Maria for being my first guests on this series. She and I really hit it off together when we had a conversation recently and I really admire the work that she does. She’s even written a guest post on my blog called The Four Crucial Steps To Reducing Sugar Cravings and I highly recommend you check out this blog post.
Maria is the registered dietitian and owner behind Food Farmacist R.D. an online health and wellness community aimed to inspire people to use food as their primary medicine. After a few years of working in the conventional hospital setting, she became frustrated from the lack of results she was seeing both in her health and the health of her patients. After diving into integrative and functional medicine she now aims to share the message of holistic healing and breakdown complicated health topics into easy take-home messages. Her passion is helping others conquer sugar cravings, using a realistic whole-body lifestyle approach.
Thank you and welcome, Maria!
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m so excited!
Britt Reuter: Great. It’s great to have you. So, let’s help my audience get to know you a little bit better. We’ll start out with: what does your daily health routine look like?
What Does Your Daily Health Routine Look Like?
Maria Zamarripa: I work from home, so I try to keep a regular routine. Otherwise, it’s really easy for anyone who works from home, if you guys can understand this, just not to do anything. So, I always schedule my alarm. I’m an early morning riser so I wake up and have my coffee first thing.
One of the first things I’ve been doing lately is I’ve been practicing a meditation technique called Ziva Meditation. So, I’ll come here in my office, I have my little makeshift meditation chair, nothing special back there, but I do a 20-minute meditation usually within the first 45-minutes of waking up. Ziva is really cool, just kind of a background for those not familiar but Ziva is run by Emily Fletcher, who is this famous meditation teacher, and she’s taught all of these high performers, actors, business people how to meditate. But you don’t have to be an actor to learn how to do it. She has an online program. I did her 14-day program, like I said, a couple of months ago. She uses three concepts of meditation. She does meditation, mindfulness, and then manifesting well, and so she kind of teaches you how to how to work through it. Honestly, it’s just been so life changing. It’s always something so dramatic and you say that, but what I kind of realized was like before, I was just doing more of a mindfulness exercise. a lot of the apps out there they’re more so mindfulness, which is still good, but it doesn’t get as deep into the meditation. She teaches you how to do both of them.
Britt Reuter: That’s awesome to have the guidance because I know that having tried meditation before, it can be really intimidating. And you always have that voice in the back of your head that’s telling you, “I don’t think I’m doing this right”, so it’s so nice to have a coach.
Maria Zamarripa: Yes, and what I love about her is she’s like, “You don’t have to clear your mind”. She has the thought of trying to stop your thoughts is like trying to stop your heart. Like you can say, “Okay, heart stopped beating”, you know, so that just being able to be like, “Hey, thoughts. Okay.”, and it’s normal. And that’s just a part of meditating. I think it’s helped me stick with it. Yeah, so I do that for about 20-minutes in the morning.
After that I’m usually running late already and then I have breakfast which is usually the same breakfast. I have two eggs with an avocado, chia seeds, and sauerkraut. It’s been my go-to breakfast for a couple of years. Then I usually will work for a couple of hours. Like I said, I work from home so I bought a standing desk from Amazon. It’s just a little makeshift thing that pops up, so I’ll try to do that when my iPhone yells at me to stand up or my Apple Watch.
Then around lunchtime, I have a 10-month-old German Shepherd, so I have to take her for two walks a day because if I don’t, she will not leave me alone and she’ll get into trouble. I usually take her for a mile walk, then have a little lunch (which is usually leftovers), and then come back and work for a couple more hours. Then usually in the afternoon it’s either I’ll take her for another longer walk maybe two miles or, if it’s icky outside, I’ll do an at-home yoga session. I use an app called Down Dog and it’s free. What I like about it is they’re really good yoga sessions that you can pick your level. I’m not an expert, I just like doing it as a form of exercise. I just do it on my iPad, literally a mat behind me, and you can do it for 15 to 20 minutes or up to an hour session. I might do that a couple times a week to and then that’s pretty much it. Make dinner when my husband gets home and then go to bed at 9:30 or 10, nothing too crazy. I’m not that exciting.
Britt Reuter: No, I think that it’s funny because “crazy and exciting” used to be a priority. You know, it was probably the same for you when you’re a little bit younger and just want to be social. But now it’s at an expense. So, it’s like you stay out late one night and then pretty soon your whole week just seems to get out of control: you’re tired, you’re drinking too much caffeine and you’re dehydrated, you’re maybe reaching for more sugary snacks. So, I mean, routine is where it’s at! I’m convinced.
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah, absolutely. Man. It’s so funny too, because I’ve started to realize that now I lean towards routines. For example, with exercise before I would make myself feel guilty if I didn’t, go to the gym or do HIIT high-intensity workouts. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I still think that they’re really good. I like lifting weights and stuff like that, but I just feel like I really leaned more towards natural movement and things that make me feel kind of calm at the same point because I’m just naturally a really fast paced person. So, I’ve got to ground me!
Britt Reuter: A hundred percent agree! I can totally relate to that.
I shared a little bit about this in the intro, but tell us a little bit more about how you discovered functional medicine.
How You Discovered Functional Medicine
Maria Zamarripa: I’m a registered dietitian and both my undergraduate and my graduate degrees were in Nutritional Sciences, so heavy on biochem and physiology, but I was trained in the conventional medicine sphere. So, when I got my first job as a dietitian it was at a local hospital here in Denver, and I was working in more so the acute care type of field. So that means I was covering the ICU which would be intravenous nutrition or tube feeding for people who are critically ill and on life support. And then I kept kind of jumping around. I would go to work in the dialysis unit. Then I would go to the surgery unit. And I think I was trying to find something that I felt passionate about. Then I finally moved to the outpatient clinic. I really liked the outpatient clinic because I liked seeing people’s progress and kind of following them through this journey. But then I started to become really frustrated with the conventional medicine model.
I actually should say that, I think conventional medicine (especially because I worked in acute care), I think conventional medicine is first class for acute care. If you break your arm or you get into a car accident, (God forbid), or you’re having a heart attack and you need to go to the Emergency Room, that’s where conventional medicine really thrives. But I saw it in the outpatient setting. I kind of felt like they were trying to use the same model in treating chronic diseases. And it just, it didn’t work. So, I was getting frustrated.
I was kind of going through some health issues of my own. I was having some hormonal imbalance issues (acne) and I was just frustrated. I would go to doctor after doctor and they would not know. They would try to do prescriptions and stuff like that. In the back of my head, I’m thinking like, “Well, what is actually causing this though?” not only for myself, but in my patients that I was seeing at the outpatient clinic as well.
To be honest, I was actually really close to changing careers because I was just so frustrated. I didn’t feel passionate. Then, just as fate would have it, I kind of fell into this group and I got connected with dietitians that were in a group called Integrative and Functional Medicine, and I had no idea what functional medicine was. It just blows my mind that even with a master’s degree in nutrition I had never even known what functional medicine was! I think it is starting to change in the dietetics realm. More dieticians are starting to get involved with it. But yeah, it’s definitely lacking in that part of the education.
Everything was just blowing my mind as I was learning about functional medicine. Thankfully the clinic I worked at, they have in their national program some up and coming functional nutrition training programs, so I was able to do some further training. I guess all that kind of led me to starting Food Farmacist R.D. and I just wanted to share all of this information with everyone. Then I started my blog and I really wanted to break down these kind of more complicated topics that I’m like “How can we get more people to know about this without having to have degrees and all this stuff”, so that kind of evolved into me writing about functional medicine and then you know ultimately helping people heal from sugar cravings, looking at root causes, and everything like that.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, I’m a little bit partial here, but I think that the best functional medicine practitioners (or just maybe healthcare providers in general) are ones that have experienced our own health struggles because I think it’s really just that burning passion to help people and to kind of help expedite their journey because you’ve been through it, and you went the long way like having to discover this on your own and self-teach. And so, if there’s anything that you can do, I hear you say, to make someone else’s journey through this a little bit more expeditious, a little bit faster and more efficient and help alleviate their suffering sooner, that’s what you want to do.
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah, yeah 100%. I think it also just helps you be so much more empathetic towards the frustrations because I think in functional medicine and with functional medicine practitioners, I’m sure you can agree with this as well, when people come to us they’re just so frustrated because they’ve tried other things when they’ve come to us, and they’ve had people not listen to them, and they’ve felt like they’re getting Band-Aids. I think having that empathy can really help any provider, but then especially with functional medicine.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, it’s really powerful stuff. And I can just tell the conviction in your voice! You’re just like, “Oh my gosh, this is awesome and I got to get out there and tell people about it.”
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah. Yeah.
Britt Reuter: I know that you love looking at sugar and helping people get it out of their diet. I mean, it is, you know, just seemingly the source of so much inflammation, so many chronic diseases. In your experience as a registered dietitian, what would you say is the most common misconception about health? Does it relate to sugar? Is it something different?
The Most Common Misconception About Health
Maria Zamarripa: I think there are a lot about sugar. I think one of them around sugar is just that there’s one answer, “All you have to do is eliminate sugar and once you cut out of your diet, then you’ll never want it again, and you’re done”. Kind of like there’s one answer when there never is. That’s where I was kind of looking around and I was noticing this common trend in all my patients and even myself that all of these people were struggling from sugar cravings and not being able to feel like they were in control of their food. But they would try and do things like a sugar detox where they just go off of sugar right away. That obviously does help because there is a component of the less you have it, the less you’re going to want it. But thinking about the root cause you have to look at “How are your stress levels?” and “What about what else are you eating?”. You know, if you’re eating no added sugar but your diet is really high in maybe refined grains, you’re not having enough healthy fats and protein, your blood sugar it’s going to be an issue. There’s mindfulness, like if you’re not paying attention to you’re eating. A lot of people tend to eat sugar out of boredom or habit in their car. The misconception is if you just take something out, it’ll fix it right away. Whereas, especially the sugar cravings, you just have to get to the deep-rooted issue there and there’s usually more than one, right?
Britt Reuter: Yeah, it’s kind of like mirroring that functional medicine approach like you’re saying. Looking for the root causes versus just addressing the symptoms. The symptom is eating the sugar but it’s cause can be many different things and so getting to the root of it and addressing the cause. Rather than just to stop eating the sugar which is suppressing the symptoms. That’s kind of more your approach?
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah, and I think that when you get to the root cause you get less of that binge-restrict cycle, because you know, if you understand that, it’s really more of a stress management issue or more of a macronutrient issue. It doesn’t come down to just your willpower. Because I feel like when you just focus on that, you tend to feel that restriction. Then whenever you get access to something, you tend to be more bingeing towards that food product because it seems so taboo.
“The misconception is if you just take something out, it’ll fix it right away. Whereas, especially the sugar cravings, you just have to get to the deep-rooted issue there..”
Britt Reuter: Right. And if you feel personally deficient in some way, like you’re lacking in willpower or resolve, I feel like, me personally, that that would cause more stress and make me want sugar more because now I feel less than, or something.
Maria Zamarripa: Right, right. Yeah, absolutely.
Britt Reuter: I can totally see how it would be cyclical, and I’ve experienced that myself too. So yeah, I just so appreciate the insights that you have on that because it’s your mission. I mean, it’s real world advice and I think it helps just break it down for people and make it seem so much more approachable because what could be scarier than eliminating something as big as sugar? And it’s so ubiquitous. I’m sure you can agree. What would you say is one of the most surprising things that you can find sugar in?
One Of The Most Surprising Things That You Can Find Sugar In
Maria Zamarripa: Ketchup is a common one, like high fructose corn syrup and ketchup. Yeah, most nutritionists and dietitians feel like they would know that, but the common person on the street usually doesn’t know that in these condiments and stuff that there’s that high fructose corn syrup hidden everywhere and finding those hidden sources. Part of what made me want to approach it in this way was that I was looking out there and I was like, “There’s nothing really that’s talking about this from a whole-body perspective.” But then also being realistic in that it’s not that you’re never going to eat sugar again. It’s just a matter of feeling like a you can control when you want to, more than feeling like you’re out of control and you can’t help yourself.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, that’s awesome. Kind of realistic expectations there. So, I know that you like to research diet trends, and you always share awesome recipes and wellness tips on your social media accounts, especially Facebook. I love following you on there. Are there any cultures that you would say exhibit a favorite health routine of yours?
Cultures That Exhibit A Favorite Health Routine
Maria Zamarripa: I love this question! I wrote a blog post actually a couple of months ago about the Blue Zones and it’s one of my most popular posts. I think people just like it because it really does give you hope for what life could be like. The Blue Zones are basically five countries that have the highest life expectancy with the lowest amount of chronic disease. They’re basically the oldest yet healthiest people in the world. And one of the countries in the Blue Zones is in Greece, and it’s a little island called Ikaria Greece and when I was reading and I was doing this blog, I was reading about Ikaria and was like, “I need to go to this place because everything about their health routine just sounds so amazing.” What’s really interesting is Greece is known for their kind of higher fat intake. Ikaria has about 50% of their diet comes from fat, mostly all oil and you know, all of mono-unsaturated fats like that. Then they also are very plant heavy as well, because obviously they have access to optimal growing environment. But what I actually love about Ikaria is not so much about the food but it’s more so about their other non-food health routines. So, one of the things that they do is for meals, I guess it kind of revolves around food, but their meals, they always eat with friends and family. They never eat alone. That and it’s always kind of a big production. So, breakfast, lunch and dinner, they sit down and their meals will maybe take an hour, at least with all of their community. They have a whole spread. At lunchtime they’ll kind of close down, come home for lunch and do that kind of a siesta type of deal. I really love that because I think, especially in America, we’ve gotten so far away of that. Even myself, I’ll catch myself eating at my desk, super detached from our food. That really leads into mindlessness and that habit that can lead into uncontrollable sugar cravings. So, I love that about them. And then the other aspect that I really love about them is that they implement naps, during their day.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, I’m on board!
Maria Zamarripa: But I really think it just comes down to that they are so good at listening to their bodies. They’re really connected with how they feel. If they feel tired, they take an hour nap. And that’s not always possible in our world, which I realize, but I think we can just take so much from the routines that they do have: sitting down for family dinner, not having the phone at the table with you, and trying to make your dinners last. Even sometimes for me it’s even hard to try and make them last 20-minutes. Because we get such in a hurry. So yeah, I think I just thought it was such a cool aspect that a lot of their health routines and the reason why they live so long is probably a lot of it revolves around having that social connection and that mindfulness aspect.
“The Blue Zones are basically five countries that have the highest life expectancy with the lowest amount of chronic disease. They’re basically the oldest yet healthiest people in the world.”
Britt Reuter: Yeah, I definitely think that part of the conversation was missing several years ago, when the Mediterranean diet was at its hottest trend peak. It was just 100% about the food. They left out of the conversation, for the most part, other important aspects of their holistic wellness routine. Because, yeah, it’s all integrated with each other, like you’re saying. It’s being more mindful at the dinner table. You’re not only more conscious about the choices that you’re making, you’re probably more sensitive to when you’re going to reach that state of fullness. And then also your body’s just in a better position to digest food and assimilate those nutrients. Because we can’t really digest when we’re in that fight flight mode when we’re answering work emails or checking out social media and getting FOMO.
Maria Zamarripa: Right? Yeah, that’s so true. I don’t think people make that connection that even your digestion, eating slowly, and just when you eat with other people you hopefully are talking to them, and so it’s just a matter of you can’t eat as quickly when you’re having conversation. And then, all of that like you said affects your digestion, lowers that cortisol, and lets you actually absorb the food adequately.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, awesome! Well, that is my retirement plan. We’ll move there. Okay. Oh, my gosh. Give everybody an idea of what a functional medicine dietician’s kitchen looks like. What are the top three things in your pantry or fridge that you cannot live without?
The Top Three Things In Your Pantry Or Fridge That You Cannot Live Without
Maria Zamarripa: Okay, so let’s see. The first one would actually, so this is kind of fun. I mentioned it with my breakfast, but actually two of them are with my breakfast. The first one is, I have been very persistent about getting at least one form of fermented food in my diet every day. It has really, I think, just helped with I mentioned in the beginning that I struggled a lot with hormonal acne, and still do if I don’t take everything into consideration. Adding fermented food, anyone out there that has hormonal acne, this is a super easy thing that you can just try and implement. Like I said, it’s not going to be the overall answer. It might not be. It can really just help get those good probiotics, and you have to eat them daily, because probiotics are transients, so you can’t just eat it once a week and expect to happen today. I wish. Yeah, so I’ve been implementing sauerkraut. I do this raw organic sauerkraut from Sprouts here in Colorado, the health food store, and I add that with my eggs in the morning. The other one that’s kind of tied into fermented foods is kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea, and I was starting to make my own and then I just kind of got away from it. Now I buy a quart of it from a local brewer here in the Denver area. I go refill it up once a week, and I do four-ounces a day with that.
Britt Reuter: Just a little shot of it, just a little taste.
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah, just a little four-ounce glass. What I like about this, the sauerkraut and the kombucha, stuff like that, rather than yogurt is that a lot of times the probiotic (the number of organisms) is a lot higher in the kombucha and sauerkraut. So, you can do a tablespoon of sauerkraut and still get a good amount of organisms in there compared to a six-ounce yogurt. I still like yogurt, but I haven’t been able to find a non-dairy, I don’t really tolerate yogurt with my skin, or dairy with my skin. So, um, so if anyone knows of a non-dairy yogurt, let me know!
Britt Reuter: I find it really challenging to find nondairy alternatives that don’t have a lot of additives. And I know that additives maybe don’t have to be our primary focus and what to avoid or what to include, but you look at the ingredient labels on some of these products that are quote/unquote “healthy” and it’s like, “That’s a lot of ingredients for coconut milk yogurt”. You’re like, “what is this?” Um, I’ve wanted to try this, I’ve heard that people can use, I think they can use their Instant Pot for coconut milk yogurt, and then you use full fat coconut milk. And then you just add the kefir yogurt grains to it. I don’t know. I’m going to have to do some googling after this to verify.
Maria Zamarripa: Oh, that. Yeah, I have heard that. People making yogurt in that Instant Pot. So yeah, I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, with the coconut milk. And I yeah, I know you’re a huge Instant Pot fan!
Maria Zamarripa: Yes. Yes, I love that!
Britt Reuter: You recently had a giveaway, and I was like, “Do not enter it”, because I was so close. That would be cheating ha-ha! Okay, what was the other thing from your pantry or your fridge?
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah. So, fermented foods. And then the second one is avocado. I think I’m like every millennial and I just love my avocado. But I feel like avocado, this is going to sound so cheesy, but I feel like avocado really has a deeper meaning for me. I know I’m getting deep here! When I was going through training and in college (and I think a lot of people can kind of a can feel the same way) I was so worried about calories and eating low fat even to the point that I would switch my toast! The more I tried to save 30 calories, I wouldn’t say it was necessarily disordered eating, but I didn’t have a full understanding of like, “Yes, calories do matter with weight loss. But if you’re eating the right kind of them it’s more important.” When I started learning about functional medicine, I was looking at my own diet and I ended up switching out starting with half of an avocado with an egg in the morning, and noticing that I felt so much better in the morning, my cravings were down, I didn’t feel hungry. I used to eat every one or two hours, because I would get hungry so often. I think it was just part of my functional medicine revolution with this avocado. Learning that I can eat these higher calorie foods more of these healthy fats, and not necessarily feel like I’m overeating or having to worry about gaining weight. I wasn’t trying to lose or gain weight either way. But, it’s always kind of in the back of your mind (I think especially with women), always having that kind of little voice in the back your head whether we want it they’re not. I think the avocado now, it’s kind of my liberation. I can eat more fat and know that it’s going to make me feel so much better.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, it’s almost like it was an act of rebellion or something!
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah, my breakfast is 500 calories!
Britt Reuter: Oh my god, living dangerously with avocado.
“I think the avocado now, it’s kind of my liberation. I can eat more fat and know that it’s going to make me feel so much better.”
Maria Zamarripa: Yes. And then my last one would probably be red pepper flakes. That has no backstory. It’s just that I really like spicy foods. And I use way too much of it.
Britt Reuter: It’s so simple and I love it too. I love it on avocado and eggs together. That’s my favorite now. Yeah, I’m with you on that. I love spicy foods too.
This has just been such a treat for me, Maria, and I know that people watching this are going to get a lot of this conversation too. People are probably going to want to keep in touch with you and check you out on social media. How can they reach you? Where can they stay connected?
How People Can Stay Connected With You
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah, so I am most active on Facebook and you can find me on Instragram @foodfarmacistrd and you’ll probably put the spelling in there somewhere. It’s F-A- R-M as in farmacist and I also really interact with my weekly newsletter so if you feel like you want to see what’s happening on my newsletter, I just send it once a week and notify you about each of the new blogs. You can join that on my website and just join the Resource Library, and that will get you connected.
Britt Reuter: Awesome. I am a subscriber on your newsletter, and I can attest to the value in the content that you share. You also have one of the most comprehensive resource libraries available to subscribers that I’ve ever seen. Which is, is great. You know, it’s just so nice to have all of that high-quality information available at your fingertips. I love personally your Snack Pairing Guide. I that’s a game changer. I was like, “This is really good!”.
Maria Zamarripa: Yeah, if you want to start anywhere, especially if you struggle with sugar cravings that is a really good place to start, is downloading match Snack Pairing Guide,
Britt Reuter: 100% agree. You’d think that there wouldn’t be much left for me to learn, but it such a handy guide, especially for people like me, who love to travel and want to stay healthy on the road. Super convenient snack ideas, and that’s just one of many resources available. So hopefully you check it out.
Thank you so much, Maria! This is just been great.
Maria Zamarripa: Yes. Thank you so much. It’s been so fun!