With so much wellness information out there, it’s hard to know what’s right for you.
How to Be Healthier Together with Liz Moody
In this conversation with the author of the bestselling cookbook, Healthier Together, Liz Moody helps us navigate all the conflicting information around what to eat.
She talks about how to choose the best diet for you and how to get into the kitchen and be healthier together.
Today we are talking about how to be healthier together with Liz Moody
Liz is the author of the number one bestselling cookbook, Healthier Together.
She’s a longtime writer, journalist, editor, and healthy recipe developer, and she served as the food director of leading wellness website, mindbodygreen.
In this conversation, we get into how to navigate all the conflicting information around what to eat, the best diet for you, and how to get into the kitchen and be healthier together.
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On what led Liz to write Healthier Together:
Liz just came out a beautiful new book, Healthier Together.
And there are so many parts of her story that culminated in this book; it’s her life’s work in a number of ways.
A number of things in Liz’s life have led her to believe that community is one of the biggest missing elements of the wellness conversation.
During her time as the food director at mindbodygreen, a wellness website, Liz was able to connect with some of the nation’s best doctors and she was also front row for every major wellness trend that was coming out.
She could really dive into what the benefits of these trends were and whether or not they were legit.
Through that, she found that everyone was arguing about what diet was the best and what supplements you should take, while the importance of community in wellness and stress were getting lost.
“I think that no matter what you’re eating, and no matter what supplements you’re taking, and how you’re working out, if you’re stressed, none of that really matters.”
You could eat a greasy, gross burger and if you’re feeling good and having a good conversation while you’re eating it, you’ll digest it better.
And the community piece is so easy to get, but you can’t commercialize it.
It’s not exciting, it’s not clicky, it’s not a product that you can buy, and that’s why it’s not covered on social media sites.
It doesn’t come up in the conversation, but community is so important for lowering stress.
We are in an epidemic of loneliness right now.
We view independence as a sign of success, but at some point it leads to isolation, which almost directly correlates with a rise in anxiety and depression.
Another thing is that led Liz to her book is that she had a bad bought of anxiety when she was living in London, and she believes that was a direct result of her isolating herself.
She was bed-ridden for a month and struggled with severe anxiety for over a year, and it’s something she still struggles with to a lesser extent, but it came from a time where she wasn’t seeing or interacting with people for a really long time.
That cemented in her personal life how important community was to the wellness conversation.
Her goal with Healthier Together is that you can nourish your relationships by cooking together in the kitchen, but also that your health choices will be solidified by having strong relationships.
There are a number of studies that show people tend to do what others around them do, so if you surround yourself with people who are eating well and excited about eating vegetable-rich dishes, then you will likely also eat really well and be excited about vegetables.
It works both ways: nourish your body and nourish your relationships.
On wellness trends:
Wellness trends don’t just appear out of thin air, they are curated and strategized and then they are put out into the world by major players.
mindbodygreen is an editorial website based in New York that has 14 million readers across the country and world.
They’re a lot more science-backed compared to other websites.
They really pride themselves on working with the best doctors and really utilizing information from double-blind and repeatable studies and spreading that information to the world.
But like every media site, you live and die by clicks.
You need to hit certain traffic numbers so that advertisers are happy and that results in changing the content that you would naturally write.
So we write about stuff that’s important to us and that we think is vital for the world to know, but we will also write about stuff that we think will be exciting to people and that’s where trends come out.
Most of the wellness trends of the world are driven by people who need to sell products and people who need to get clicks.
It’s really important for all of us to understand that, and it’s not a critique of these sources, but it’s really important to understand where our information is coming from and what’s driving it.
It comes from a very organic, well-meaning place to spread really good information, but at the end of the day, it’s a commercial venture and you have to make it a business, which is going to affect editorial decisions and the information we get.
It’s just about awareness that what we are getting is highly filtered, highly curated, and based on things that aren’t always necessarily related to true wellness.
mindbodygreen really is focused on giving consumers the best information possible, but it’s still about splitting the difference.
As an editor, Liz would often put a very clicky headline that described what was in the article, and then would fill the article with really serviceable stuff that spoke to the messages she believed in.
So with community being important to Liz, she would put a headline that was maybe about gut health and she would write a gut health article, but then she would add something about how one thing that’s important for gut health is lowering your stress levels, which you can do by building relationships and eating without your phone.
What’s important here is recognizing that the whole message will need to give the people what they want as well as what you think they need.
On the right “diet” for you:
Liz still has access to the best minds and the most cutting edge doctors and their research, and one of the things from Liz’s book that really resonated with Robyn is that even these top doctors, who are all research-backed, do not agree on everything.
And that is such a tension for many of our listeners, here.
When we’re looking to the experts for the one right way, it can seem overwhelming and frustrating when they’re all conflicting.
But Liz has some good news and some bad news about that.
The good news: 80% of your diet is generally agreed on by most experts.
Most experts believe that 80% of your diet should essentially be vegetables, and what they’re really arguing about is that last 20%.
And Liz thinks that much of the tension in that last 20% comes from a need to get clicks, to sell books, and keep people searching for that one answer.
The bad news: there isn’t one answer.
Everyone’s body is different and everyone is going to react differently to different foods.
Some people will do really well with chickpeas, but for other people it will make them feel really bloated and unwell.
“The best way to know what diet is best for you is to really pay attention to how different food is making you feel”.
Unfortunately it’s a longer process and we’re out of touch with how our bodies actually feel at any given moment.
All of Liz’s recipes follow that 80% / 20% rule.
All of the recipes are about 80% vegetable-based and then 20% grains, legumes, and pasteurized meat, which is used more as a condiment to the recipe.
So no matter what your dietary preferences are, what you believe is the healthiest, or what reacts best with your body, you can enjoy everything.
This aligns with the “feel factor” that Robyn talks about, too: how do you feel before, during, and after?
You have to be able to ask those questions.
If we all started with 80% veggies, cooking at home, and connecting with community, we could really simplify this whole health thing.
On Liz’s “homemade challenge”:
When Liz is feeling meh, she does what she likes to call “the homemade challenge”.
For the homemade challenge, Liz just makes all of her food homemade.
So if she wants cookies, she has to make cookies.
If she wants bread, she has to make bread.
She eats whatever she wants as long as it’s homemade.
The homemade challenge makes her instantly feel better because it’s almost impossible to make everything 100% homemade and feel bad.
On health vs. wellness:
Something Liz wrote on her website is, “I believe in wellness to enhance and not limit”.
One of her life mottos is that “wellness is a tool, not an end to itself”.
If wellness is making you less content, satisfied, and happy, it’s no longer wellness.
If wellness is making you feel limited and stressed, it’s no longer wellness.
Health has more to do with serious autoimmune conditions or actual health disorders that need to be treated with conventional or natural medicine.
Wellness is this notion that we all could be feeling a little bit better, a little more energetic, a little happier, and a little less stressed.
We do so much in pursuit of this notion of wellness, but we forget that we’re losing it if we’re stressing too much.
“The goal is to feel better, and we let wellness make us feel worse, and then it’s no longer wellness”.
And that’s hugely important to Liz’s food philosophy.
When people think of healthy food, they think of salads and things that they’re not going to be excited about.
So with the Healthier Together cookbook, Liz was so keen on making these recipes things you would crave and be really excited about.
Liz describes herself as a “trashy eater”- she did not grow up on healthy food and she ate her first vegetables when she was 21.
So she really wanted to make the things that she loves, like taquitos, enchilada lasagna, and dessert, those types of dishes that were also healthy.
There are only like three salads in the book because Liz doesn’t love salad, it doesn’t make her feel good.
Instead, she wanted it to be stuff that people would genuinely be excited about eating.
If you approaching dinner time everyday like it’s a chore just so you can get in your vegetables and feel like you’ve checked off a box, that’s not wellness.
On the role of food in wellness:
Food can have a really big role in both health and wellness and it can be something that’s incredibly healing,
For example, every recipe is Liz’s book is designed to keep your blood sugar balanced.
If your blood sugar is balanced, you’re not going to have these highs or crashes that leave you hangry and you’re also going to stop the cascade of hormones that have negative impacts on your body.
Another thing Liz says in her book is that food is the one thing that every person on the planet has in common.
All people, all political persuasions, all cultures-- we all eat.
Food has an incredible power to connect us and Liz wants to connect us while eating things that make us feel really good, too.
At the end of the day, you can’t separate it.
Liz’s message of Healthier Together is very people-focused.
And it’s not just for couples, it’s healthier with your family members and with your friends.
It can bring you together with all sorts of people in your life.
But you can also be healthier together with your food, with your choices, and with yourself.
Healthier together for Liz:
Food has played a huge role in Liz and her husband’s relationship.
When she met her husband, Liz was very much into the diet food, she ate a ton of splenda, Fiber One cereal, and poached chicken breast.
The first night he slept over her made him oatmeal with blueberries and a TON of splenda, because she has a huge sweet tooth.
But her husband was raised in Berkeley with an edible garden at his elementary school, he grew up eating kale in a very hippie town, and he was appalled at what she was eating.
The next day, he took her to her first farmer’s market and introduced her to vegetables.
It was really nice, because instead of associating vegetables with “eat your veggies, you’re not going to like it,'' she was cooking these wonderful meals with a new person who she was really in love with.
They’ve traveled and lived in a lot of different places, and food has really played a role in enhancing their relationship.
They really are healthier together.
They cook together and support each other's healthy choices, but they’re also healthier together in other elements of wellness.
He encourages her to have a stable workout routine and just makes her laugh everyday.
He’s been fundamental in her entire Healthier Together journey.
In Liz’s book, all of the recipes are two servings and she also offers suggestions for ways to split the tasks and actually to cook together.
But interestingly, she’s gotten a lot of amazing feedback from people who are using the cookbook for solo cooking, because you have exactly the right amount for leftovers.
And a Healthier Together partner doesn’t have to be a spouse, or even somebody who lives with you.
There are sisters doing it together and best friends who are at college in different states who choose a recipe in the book and then they cook it together and share photos of it and talk about whether they liked it or not.
There are moms who use it with their kids, even when their kids live in different places, and also moms with little kids at home.
Creating Healthier Together:
As a food editor, Liz gets a number of cookbooks sent to her daily, but she notices that, often times, chef-written cookbooks are hard to translate into home cooking.
So Liz sees her role as somebody who takes all of the health information from the world’s best doctors, and takes all of the cooking information and flavor profiles from the world’s best chefs and synthesizes them into really easy, accessible recipes that home cooks can actually make on a Tuesday night.
And because of the ease of her recipes, Liz gets a lot of pictures of kids helping their parents make the food.
“Teaching kids about the power of food, and where their food comes from, and getting their hands dirty, and the correlation between what they eat and how they feel from a young age is such a powerful gift that we can give the next generation”.
This is actually Liz’s second cookbook, her first one was what she likes to call a “freezebook” as it is all popsicle recipes.
Getting sent so many cookbooks while she was trying to write her own was daunting for Liz because she didn’t want to create a copy of anything else she was seeing, but she also didn’t want to create something so unique that it was inaccessible.
She wanted every ingredient to be easily found at any grocery store.
A lot of recipe developers have the gift of ignorance, where they don’t see a lot of the recipes out there, so they don’t feel like they have to compete with them.
But as she started brainstorming and thinking about what was missing, she thought about how she can create simple tricks to make recipes easier and healthier with that trashy food element.
Once she narrowed in on what her food perspective was and what a healthy diet meant to her, it got way easier and way more fun.
On navigating tensions between partners when it comes to food:
A lot of people who write to Robyn are saying that they’re struggling to get their partners on board with healthy eating.
And even though Liz’s husband loves healthy food, there have been wellness things that she’s tried that he is not into.
For example, she’s been trying to get him to meditate for ten years, but he‘ll try it for a week and then will decide that he doesn’t like it.
She’s had to come to terms with the fact that even though this thing has an amazing effect on her life, it’s not for him.
At the base level, recognizing the individuality of all of us and the fact the you make your choices and your partner is going to make their choices and that’s completely okay, is great.
But also, it’s about making really delicious food.
You don’t want your partner to feel like they have to deprive themselves and can’t eat the stuff that they love to get “healthy”
Teach your partner that it’s not about deprivation, it’s about adding something to your life.
Liz would recommend some of the more cravable recipes that she shares in her book which allow you to sneak in the vegetables that still feel hearty.
You can teach your partner that it’s going to add joy and pleasure to their life rather than making them feel sad that they’re not eating the food that they want to eat.
Also, there is the option to do Healthier Together with someone outside of your immediate relationship.
There are people so focused on changing someone else that they forget about themselves.
You can do Healthier Together with a best friend, a parent, or anyone in your life and cook for yourself for those meals.
But don’t lose yourself and give up your own needs over it.
Healthier together for Liz and her dad:
Liz’s dad is a psychologist and he’s been really amazing in terms of mental health for her.
She does a series on Instagram called “ask a psychologist”, where people send in their therapy questions and she has her dad answer.
He’s been lovely for her own mental health journey when she’s struggled with anxiety, there with both advice and breathing exercises.
He also encouraging her to exercise because in double-blind studies, exercise has been found to be the most effective antidepressant in the world, more effective than any pill you can take.
And with food, they’ve had a really fun Healthier Together journey because she’s helped him with his diet.
The one change she suggested for him was to start his day with a green smoothie.
Liz has a green smoothie guide in the book so you don’t even need a recipe, just follow her rules and you’ll have a perfect, healthy, satiating green smoothie every time.
If someone does nothing else but replace their breakfast with a green smoothie, Liz believes that will help them feel so much better. It almost gives you permission to eat whatever you want for the rest of the day because you’ve already eaten more vegetables before noon than most people eat in an entire week.
It also tastes really good-- Liz like to do a chocolate covered strawberry one, or a mint chocolate chip with cocoa nibs so it’s something she craves and wants to wake up to.
And then also by having that many vegetables, you’re sort of training your brain to crave that a little more
So Liz got her dad on the green smoothie kick and now he sends her pictures of his green smoothies every morning, he feels so much better, he’s lost a ton of weight, and his cholesterol went down.
And that’s all he did, he still drinks his wine and eats what he wants.
And this is lovely because one, it’s something she gets to connect with him though and two, it’s this additive piece, with incremental baby steps.
You don’t have to give up everything, just switch one thing and see a ripple effect.
Robyn has seen these changes in her parents, too, who have watched her over the years.
Sometimes leading by example, connecting, and encouraging is the best way to see those ripple effects in others.
“Being your best self and feeling great yourself is the best thing you can do to change the habits of the people around you”.
On what’s lighting Liz up right now:
This book launch has absolutely blown Liz’s mind because she didn’t know what to expect.
You work on a book for two years before it actually comes out into the world, so it’s such a strange process.
She’s mind blown by people’s reactions, after hitting number one on Amazon, who are sharing their thoughts on her recipes and sharing how the recipes are connecting them.
Seeing people’s lives changing because of something she’s produced, even in tiny ways, is what’s lighting Liz up right now.
On what goes on behind the scenes:
Something that doesn’t get talked about a lot is how much work goes on behind the scenes for book launches.
There’s self-doubt, anxiety, and imposter-y, which is so normal which being human, but we don’t show that part when we get to the finish line.
Liz also notes that it’s not always being seen because during the process of writing, your day is pretty boring-- you’re not going to Instagram yourself sitting in front of the computer for 10 hours.
But in her job, Liz has also had access to the whole influencer world, which has been fascinating.
And she wants people to know how much of it is fake.
People make food that they don’t eat, they stage photos that aren’t reflective of what they’re actually doing that day, they talk about things that aren’t really happening in their lives.
Liz suggests taking it all with a grain of salt and finding people to follow on social media who authentically resonate with you and make you feel good when you’re reading their posts, who don’t stoke those feelings of jealousy or negativity toward yourself.
The more she uses social media as media, where she’s just consuming content, rather than social, where she’s engaging with people and treating them like human beings, the worse she feels.
And the more she leans into the social part and tries to ask people questions about their lives, lets them ask her questions, and authentically says how she’s feeling, the better she feels about social media.
Lean into the social and away from the media.
The content creators are, in fact, often the people who are most riddled with self-doubt and self-loathing.
It’s not a coincidence that people who have a lot of followers on Instagram tend to need outside validation, because that’s what they’re looking to get from those followers.
And they often struggle with self-esteem issues, Liz included.
This is often true of the very people we put on pedestals as public figures.
Enter to win a copy of Healthier Together:
Head over to Robyn’s Instagram @realfoodwholelife for a Healthier Together giveaway!
What’s the number one way a relationship has made your life better?
Comment your answer on Robyn’s instagram post for a chance to win one of two copies of Healthier Together that we’re giving away!
On what it really means to be healthy:
“To feel like you’re enhancing your life rather than detracting from it. I think somebody who’s healthy is leaning into their relationships, they're leaning into food they love, they’re leaning into food that makes their body feel good, and they’re leaning away from stress and overthinking… I think listening to your gut and leaning into your best life is healthy”.
Liz Moody is the author of two healthy cookbooks: the number one best-seller Healthier Together and Glow Pops. A longtime writer, editor, and healthy recipe developer, she served as the food director of leading wellness website mindbodygreen, and her work has been featured in goop, Vogue, Women's Health, and many more. She hosts the acclaimed podcast Healthier Together, where she explores the secrets of living extraordinary lives with some of the country's most notable women. You can follow her daily musings on Instagram @lizmoody and on lizmoody.com.
Healthier Together cookbook
The True Meaning of Wellness (from the biggest brand in the game), with Colleen Wachob
How to Restore, Repair, & Thrive, with Mark Sisson
Connect with Liz on Instagram @lizmoody
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