As a person who absolutely loves cooking and eating her own food, it’s not so often I dream about having someone else cook for me… except when it comes to Stella. Stella makes the most delicious, nutrient-dense food, and if I lived in her city I’d be a regular customer at Stellar Eats (her meal delivery service). There are so many layers to Stella – not only is she smart and ambitious, but she also has a lot more layers that lend itself to her story. Keep reading to learn a little more about this fabulous woman…
Lets start from the beginning – how did you get into health and wellness? What made you pursue it as a career?
I have always loved food. Cooking with my family was such a big part of my life and I always new I wanted to find a way to work with food somehow. As the years went on, I began to struggle with disordered eating – in many forms. Food, which I had always loved, became my worst enemy. This up and down negative cycle continued for about 10 years. One day in university, I knew this negative obsession surrounding food had to end. I decided to try the “paleo” diet which basically means you cut out grains, dairy, legumes and by proxy, all processed food. I was fuelling myself with tons of veggies, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, protein and some fruit and something kind of amazing happened…. I started to feel GREAT! This may seem obvious now, but back then it occurred to me,
I’d never realized people ate healthily for reasons other than looking good.
I had more energy, I was happier, my anxiety got better, I stopped getting sick as often and just generally felt like I’d gotten my life back. No more starving and then bingeing on processed 100-calorie snack packs! I figured out how to fuel my body right, and began doing so from a place of love – not hate or restriction.
One day after university, I was cruising the internet asking the question so many of us do in our 20s, “what am I going to do with my life?” when I stumbled across the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I remember reading over the courses and being like, this program was made for me! I enrolled immediately and started that year.
While waiting to start school, I also became certified as a pilates instructor. I could feel my old disordered eating mindset coming back at times, saying things like “you don’t look like what a pilates instructor should look like” and all these negative things. But I figured, the best revenge on your insecure self is just to be really happy. So I put those insecurities aside and just DID it. I had the most amazing time, made amazing friends, and the happiness I felt because of that accomplishment totally trumped any insecurity I was feeling.
Now, I own the meal delivery company Stellar Eats , see nutrition clients in person and Skype and recently started a podcast called the Rock Your Bod Pod which is all about the journey towards self love through body image, health, relationships and food.
Your journey has been so amazing – it seems like this path of health and wellness was really meant for you personally in the way that it has brought so much growth and light to your life. Why did you decide to start Stellar Eats? Where do you get the inspiration for your meals?
Honestly, it kind of happened by fluke! I had just graduated from IHN, had been seeing a couple clients here and there but was feeling a little lost in this new career I’d jumped into. as the months went on, I kept getting the same question over and over again from my clients, “ugh will you just cook for me?!” so eventually I was just like, okay why not! I started posting weekly menus on my Instagram and people started ordering. One of the people who ordered continuously was my cousin who swears the meals saved her through the first few months of being a mom! She had more time to spend with her baby, didn’t need to grocery shop or figure out what to eat, she knew healthy meals were always in the fridge. Last winter, she came on as my business partner and we have grown into a team of 5!
I’m not going to lie. This year was HARD. Probably one of the hardest years of my life. Starting a business is no joke. It takes all your time, energy, mental capacity, positivity and resilience to make it work. Looking back, I am so grateful that I went in so naive. Had I known what it was going to take before I got started, I may have never started. Instead, we had no choice but to just put our heads down and work through every problem that got thrown our way.
My favourite part of the business is designing our weekly menu. I try to draw inspiration from what foods are in season, what looks fresh and random flavour combinations that I think will taste good. I actually have a note in my phone where I just write random ingredients in and what I think they would taste good with (i.e. almond butter sesame sauce) My main mission is to show people that healthy eating does not need to be boring. It does not have to be bland chicken and steamed broccoli every day. Thats why our meals often contain things like burgers and sweet potato fries, almond crusted chicken tenders and hearty curries.
Yes I can totally see that from your offerings – it’s not your average health food! A lot of people think “healthy” means salad, whereas you make amazing flavour and texture combinations that I’m sure leave your clients feeling anything but deprived. What do you love making for your family and friends?
I go through different food obsessions but currently I love making spaghetti squash! It is such an easy thing to throw in the oven, pair it with a great homemade sauce and boom you’re set! My favourite thing to hear whenever I make a meal is, “woah I can’t believe this is healthy!” So that’s always my goal haha
That is truly an amazing compliment! Health and wellness is so multifaceted – what do you think is the key to living a healthy lifestyle?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. No one is 100% perfect all the time. Diet culture has us convinced that in order to be healthy, you have to do so ALL the damn time. In my mind, what’s healthy is to have a good relationship with food. That might mean I eat tons of vegetables but if my friends are going out for pizza and wine you better believe I am too! Letting go of guilt surrounding food is really important to me and trusting that your body knows what it’s doing. If we listen to our bodies and eat what they want to eat, you find yourself naturally gravitating towards foods that make you feel better. I’m always so proud of my body for being able to do that. I think that adopting this attitude would be my biggest health hack.
That rings so true with me too. I think that perfection mentality really leads people to self-destruction when they realize that they can’t stick to perfection. You make a great point about letting go of guilt – that’s fabulous advice. What is the #1 question you get asked the most by clients?
I think the question I get asked the most actually has to do with dieting and its, “how do I maintain the willpower to eat healthy?” and my answer is, you don’t! “Willpower” is such BS to me. Often when we deprive ourselves and label certain foods as “bad” or “forbidden”, we put them on a pedestal and they become this forbidden fruit that you can’t stop thinking about and craving. So naturally, you go to eat that food and then you feel guilty about it and continue to deprive yourself. Not a fun cycle. My biggest piece of advice is to allow yourself to eat what you want but make it yourself! If you want pizza, use cauliflower crust or organic cheese. Sometimes just allowing yourself to eat it, makes you stop even wanting it. It’s like we only want what we can’t have and then it makes us feel like we have no control. If you simply allow yourself to eat what you want but try to do so using real food ingredients, you’ll feel so much better and happier!
You blog, consult, run Stellar Eats, and now you also podcast! What can’t you do?
Haha! You’re too sweet. I feel so lucky to get to do what I do. I am so excited about this podcast right now because I feel like it’s such a good outlet/platform to be able to talk all of these complex topics out. Sometimes I find instagram can be pretty daunting and not the best place to start a conversation.
I do think a weakness I have is spreading myself pretty thin. I am trying to learn to honour my mental health more and say no when I need to. Being a type A people pleaser, that is not easy. But I am working on it and I think I am improving!
The more health professionals I talk to, the more I learn that we ourselves are also on our own journey of wellness too! The fun really never ends when it comes to health – it’s all about improvement! It’s refreshing to hear someone be so open about their journey too, and it reminds us that we’re all just human.
Thank you so much for answering these questions Stella – you are a true #bossbabe and total gem! If we want to get to know you better, where would be the best place to follow/find you?
Thank you so much for interviewing me. I am so honoured to be featured here!