Have you ever tried a fad diet but afterwards, just go back to your old eating habits and previous weight? Do you struggle with knowing what food is ACTUALLY good for you? If we're being honest, most people (women especially) have had a frustrating relationship with food in one way or the other. Local food and health guru, Sarah Adler, created Simply Real Health, a cookbook and community to help you love food and feel your best! I spoke with Adler about Simply Real Health and how it's changing the lives of locals and beyond.
Seattle Refined: Tell me about Simply Real Health.
Sarah Adler: Simply Real Health is a #ladyboss run book, blog and healthy lifestyle education company on a mission to inspire people to live their happiest and healthiest lives. I started Simply Real Health to teach, educate and inspire a healthy and beautiful life, made simple.
- To TEACH: people a upgraded/hip and more modern pure/true/clean concept of what “healthy food” actually is (and what it is not).
- To SIMPLIFY: to make food and living a healthy lifestyle simple enough to understand, and easy to implement in real life (so people will actually do it!), in a non-intimidating and non-rigid way. To clear the clutter and noise!
- To CHANGE: people’s relationships to food so they can free up their life for the things that matter most, so they can live a more joyful, happy and fulfilled life, and share their own gifts with the world.
I basically want to teach people how to eat and enjoy great food, without the guilt, or massive swinging between good and bad. How to have a better more stable and calm relationship to food, so that it can be a joyful and life-giving one.
How did the concept come to be? Have you always been passionate about good food?
Yes! I grew up always being somewhat obsessed with healthy eating and living, but after literally decades of always chasing the next thing, doing every diet and experiment on myself, that I had a bad relationship to food. I had NO joy - I just saw food as fuel or the enemy (depending on the week). I didn’t realize this, of course, until I almost didn’t go to Italy to study abroad because I had so much anxiety about only eating pizza and pasta for months at a time. But, it was over there that I realized something so much bigger about my food knowledge:
That we (as Americans), are never taught how to eat, in the most basic way. Though marketing? YES. About different diets? HELL YES, EVERYWHERE WE LOOK. But learning about food in a normal, balanced - and even celebratory, joyful way? No. Like not at all. It’s why I was always constantly searching, trying, and grasping for the next new thing - because my basic education and filter was missing. I was defining “healthy” food as whatever was trendy at the time, instead of healthy food being REAL FOOD that has existed in the same way for thousands of years. It was a pivotal moment in my life - that everything I thought I knew about food and truly healthy food, was wrong. And it took a while to unwind it all. And when I did- I was caught by how much more SIMPLE, CLEAR and easy it was. And how much better I started to feel.
I started cooking (simply, of course) and my life just changed. I knew I had to spread the word, and tell other people about this - that it didn’t have to be so hard or complicated or take up so much mental space. That there was just such a freer, happier, and healthier way to live. And so, in 2012, Simply Real Health was born.
What was the process like putting together a cookbook?
Oh, um. Crazy? Like you have to be a crazy person to do it. My process was a bit different than the traditional one, because I decided to self publish and produce the entire thing, instead of going through a traditional publishing house. I wanted the creative control - it had been a dream of mine for a long time and I knew exactly how I wanted it to look, feel, read, and what it would look like sitting on people’s counters.
All in all, it was a YEAR of my life for the production side of things - and that was with all of the recipes/content already being done and written. So shooting, photography, styling, design, editing, proofs, more editing, figuring out production, shipments, storage, etc. Then, there was the next phase - selling it, shipping it, pre-orders, setting up book signings, distribution locally and nationally, marketing, the whole thing. But, I wouldn’t change a thing, because I’ve seen firsthand how much that book has changed people’s lives, their cooking skills, their relationships to food, and how they feed the people they love with more ease and grace.
How has living in Seattle affected with your business? How has the community been a part of your journey?
Well, I’m a born and raised Seattleite, which for me - as a small business owner, has been the best thing ever, and is the reason why Simply Real Health has grown the way it has over the past 5 years. Both with people - family, friends, acquaintances and friends of friends, and with other local Seattle businesses, there is a crazy amount of support and love that I’ve seen and felt, that’s unlike anything else.
I feel so thankful for it - for each person, for each small business that carries my books, hosts book signings, sends the blog to their friends and family, and buys meal plans and cookbooks for each-other. It’s a strong and fierce little community in that way, and although we’re a growing city, in my opinion it’s growing with more businesses and creative people that care about community, connection and local love. It’s fun to see.
What are all the ways people can get involved in your programs?
Well, I have 5 different offerings that people can do, no matter where they are in the world, and each have their own thing or piece of the puzzle that they address. They are:
- The Simply Real Health Cookbook. This is the easiest way to start and a great intro into the world of real food made easy! There’s over 150 easy and healthy (and naturally gluten-free) recipes in there, with gorgeous photography and most recipes clocking in at 15 minutes or less, and 5 ingredients or less. (The Simply Real Health Cookbook is for sale on Amazon, most PCC Natural Markets, Book Larder, Queen Anne Book Co., Paper Delights, Pipe N Row, Coco’s House, Whisk and Fly Fitness).
- I also write seasonal meal plans every quarter that help people learn to efficiently shop and cook and eat healthy delicious real food, all in under three hours a week. All the recipes are original, and it’s a family-friendly way to start experimenting with real food that works in a busy life!
- Then there’s the online Food Academy, which is like a three week masterclass school in real food: what to pay attention to, what to ignore, how to navigate the store, cooking, eating out, dinners, traveling, and just REAL LIFE stuff, with a more balanced and joyful approach to being healthy.
- One-on-one private coaching and consulting- this is for people who want to learn everything they need to know about real food, and how to apply it to every facet of their lives- no matter what their daily lifestyle entails. One on one coaching focuses primarily on helping people create happier relationships to food in a much deeper way.
- Twice a year (in April and September) I run the Simply Real Life Group Program, to help people from start to finish - to get educated about real food, dive deep into the more mental and emotional sides of food, and ultimately to create a better relationship to food that lasts forever! I call it the #antidietlife crash course.
If you could give our readers three tips when it comes to diet, what would they be?
- If you can’t pronounce the ingredients (yes, all of them), your body can’t either.
- Think about UPGRADING your food, all across the board, instead of cutting out completely. In other words- instead of taking out all cookies, stick to the ones that are homemade or five normal ingredients vs the low calorie packs. Or gelato instead of more processed frozen yogurt. You can have anything you want, real food style- it’s not about deprivation!
- Cultivate having a value of eating well first. And the value that you are worth it- worth feeling great, worth investing in yourself. Because even that ONE HOUR of time can be the center domino that shifts and changes so much else in your week for the better. It starts there - not the other way around that everything else in life comes first, then food as an afterthought.
Mostly, I feel so excited about being able to help more people address and create a more joyful, longterm and sustainable relationship to food, without ever having to diet or be continually doing program after program. And to be more involved in our Seattle community, spreading more real talk about food, and being healthy in a more attainable, FUN way. Because when being healthy can be a more positive thing in life, everything else lights up even more. I love seeing that light in other people, and feel so honored to play just a tiny role in that journey for someone, and this city as a whole.
For more information on Simply Real Health, head online. The next Simply Real Life Group Program starts September 27th!