Phoebe is a health nut, but not on purpose. Through a series of unfortunate health diagnoses she uncovered what was actually making her body malfunction and how to live a life where food was still a big part of it without upsetting the balance of her body. Chef and founder of the blog Feed Me Phoebe, Phoebe embarks on a health project in her newest book called The Wellness Project. This book will make you think twice about everyone you put on your body and in it.
1. Phoebe, congrats on your most recent book The Wellness Project. Can you tell us more what the book is all about and where the journey began?
Absolutely! I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) in my early twenties. In the years that followed I swung from one side of the pendulum to the other, oscillating between denial (i.e. doing nothing), and obsession (i.e. doing a lot, but feeling guilty when I strayed from perfection).
At the beginning of 2015, I decided I needed to change my approach. I wanted to see what health practices were really worth the time, money and energy I was spending on them. So I dedicated a year of my life to making one lifestyle change, one month at a time. I chronicled the process on my website, and that blog series is now , The Wellness Project book!
I hope it gives folks who feel overwhelmed by all the health to-do’s on the internet, permission to choose their own wellness adventure. To find practices that are worth the time, money and energy we spend on them, and a shame-free way to kick those that aren’t to the curb.
2. As someone who lives with a chronic health condition, what has been the biggest learning about the way you live?
That our head is irrevocably connected to the structure it sits upon, for better or for worse. Over the course of my project, I realized my mind was the invisible fence holding me back from fully healing.
As I connected the dots of my health, I realized how the internal dialogue of doubt I always thought just made me human—the self-deprecation I had mistaken for modesty—was actually causing me the most harm. Discovering that underlying anxiety was behind my back problems, my insomnia, my adrenal fatigue, and perhaps my autoimmune disease itself was a big revelation that came up again and again during my project. And I might need to dedicate a whole new Wellness Project to working on that piece!
3. In reading your book you have mini experiments of wellness for you from elimination diets to using all natural products. What experiments have you maintained since the book ended? What were you most surprised to learn?
The one time changes were the easiest: switching my beauty products to naturals, putting a filter on my shower head and kitchen tap. Those things I rarely have to think about, whereas meditation and exercise I have to fit into my week, and eating is something I will always have to think about three times a day.
I like to think of the experiments as a slow and steady way of building a more general habit of self-care. I have a complete toolbox now. And though I don’t use all my tools everyday, I have a whole host of things to pull from no matter what life throws at me on any given afternoon.
4. As consumers we forget to challenge the marketing behind a product, what tips do you offer people next time they grocery shop or buy any new body products?
READ THE INGREDIENTS. For food, look at the number of grams of sugar, and how many times added sugar is in the ingredient list. Even my favorite “healthy” breakfast bars had three different kinds of sugar. For beauty products, it’s even more important, as “greenwashing” on the front of the package is a real concern. If there are chemicals you can’t pronounce, choose something else. The fewer ingredients, the better for any product, food or beauty. I prioritize simplicity over super foods/potions. Your body still has to process whatever you’re putting into it, natural or otherwise.
5. In addition to an amazing new book, you have a food and lifestyle blog called Feed Me Phoebe. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to go on a similar track?
It’s all about the baby steps, folks. And if there’s one thing I hope you can learn from my experience, it’s that you don’t need to do all of the above, all at once. Just start. Somewhere. Anywhere. And take it one day, week, month at a time.
I created a #4WeekstoWellness mini challenge series for those who want to commit to some small changes for just a month.