Darya Rose’s secret lies in real food and real science.
Darya helps people fall back in love with food and redefine their relationships with health. Growing up in Southern California during the Bay Watch era, Darya admits she spent 15 years on diets. Darya’s dieting caused body anxiety and weight gain and she soon realized that magazines and doctors were not giving her the right answer.
Science gave Darya her answer. Darya discovered that in order to be her healthiest self she needed to start focusing on eating what she loved. Darya’s since written Foodist, created the blog Summer Tomato and acquired a Ph.D. in neuroscience.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Darya Rose, Ph.D., author of Foodist and creator of Summer Tomato, one of TIME’s 50 Best Websites. I studied neuroscience at UCSF and UC Berkeley, and now help people get healthy and lose weight without dieting. I eat amazing things daily and haven’t even considered going on a diet since 2007.
What kinds of experiences helped develop your eating philosophy for Foodist?
I grew up in Southern California back in the Bay Watch era, and dieting was a way of life. I spent 15 years doing exactly what both magazines and doctors told me to do– eat less and move more–and all I had to show for it was extra weight and constant anxiety about food and my body.
Fed up, I turned to science for a solution and learned that the advice we’re given isn’t just wrong, it’s actually harmful. We’re taught that we need to restrict what we eat and force ourselves to exercise to the extreme. But instead of helping, that mentality turns healthy eating and exercise into a chore and punishment, driving us away from them in the long run.
What I discovered is the most effective way to get healthy and control your weight is to reinvest your relationship with health by focusing on the things you love, that make you feel good and are good for you. When you do this you can turn your healthiest behaviors into habits that you actually enjoy instead of dread. Only then you can stick with them forever, and that is how you become a healthy person for life.
In a recent blog post on Summer Tomato, you talk about the process of learning to eat mindfully. What are some of the highs and lows along that journey?
Mindful eating is a crucial part of rebuilding your relationship with food, because it helps you learn to appreciate and savor real flavors and not just the sugar, salt and fat that hijacks your brain’s reward system. Research has shown that when people eat mindfully they enjoy what they’re eating more, and naturally eat less. It’s portion control without deprivation. Win-Win.
It is very difficult to adopt mindful eating habits in our culture. I was one of those people always eating at my desk or while doing other things. I would wolf down huge amounts of food, and always got a stomach ache because of it.
For me the secret was finding a trigger during the eating process that would remind me to pause and reflect. That trigger turned out to be the act of preparing a new bite by poking my fork around the plate. It’s a discreet action that is easy to recognize, plus it takes some time to finish so you have a second to process what is going on. When I notice myself preparing a new bite, I use this as a reminder to ask myself, “Is there anything in my mouth right now?” If the answer is yes, then I put my fork down and focus on chewing my food. This simple trick turned me into one of the slowest eaters at any table, and I never get stomach aches anymore.
What has been one of the most surprising realities of writing a blog?
I’m continually shocked by what a wonderful and helpful place the internet can be when you cultivate a culture of respect. So many websites, especially in health and weight loss category, are filled with negative comments and judgmental people. Summer Tomato is just the opposite. My readers are tolerant and supportive of one another, and always willing to help each other out. I feel very proud and lucky to have such an amazing community to work with.
Who inspires you?
I spend a lot of time reading and listening to podcasts for inspiration, so my list is very long. In food I love Michael Pollan’s work. In nutrition, Dr. Andrew Weil is a breath of fresh air and sanity. These days I’m really into psychology, and have enjoyed the works of Jonathan Haidt, Carol Dweck, Dan Gilbert, and Michelle Segar, to name a few. Spiritually I enjoy Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. I love Tim Ferriss’ podcast and the blog Wait But Why by Tim Urban. I could go on and on…
How do you find balance and take time for yourself?
I find balance by being really clear on my priorities, and at the very top of the list is self-care. I’ve gotten derailed enough times now to know that if I don’t eat well, sleep well, exercise, and take time to let my mind rest then every other part of my life suffers. I demand a lot from myself and don’t ever want to put my name on mediocre work or neglect my personal relationships. Self-care is the basis of making sure those things are taken care of. I drop everything else before letting it slip.
Describe your experience with about.me so far.
about.me has really simplified something in my life that used to be complicated, which was explaining who I am and where to find me. People are interested in me for different reasons. Maybe they want to get healthy and visit my website, or maybe they love my dog Toaster and want to see pictures of him on Instagram. Or maybe they just want to know why anyone cares about me at all. I can just put my about.me page in my email signature and all those questions are answered. It’s just so easy.
Anna Lizaur is a Marketing Manager with about.me. She graduated from the University of Virginia. Anna is fluent in Spanish and can count to 100 in Chinese.