For registered dietician Desiree Nielsen, the release of her book UnJunk Your Diet comes at a time when people are ditching short term “diets” and shifting towards more long-term and attainable eating habits.
Nielsen’s story began in Vancouver in 2001, after relocating from her native Victoria to study at the University of British Columbia.
After finishing school, she branched off to start her own private practice and became inspired to create a fun, educational, and relatable guide to help readers “unjunk” their diets.
I had the fortune to sit down with Neilsen recently to talk about her book and her passion for getting people excited about food.
What inspired you to write this book?
I think for me, as a dietician one of the biggest challenges I have with diet books is that you don’t see a lot of diet books by dieticians on the shelf and I think it’s because many dieticians are so committed to evidence-based nutrition and rational advice and that doesn’t really sell that well. So I wanted to see if I could make evidence based, rational, sane, nutritional advice interesting and easy to read for people. I really wanted to make it accessible and fun and hopefully get people excited about real food.
What can readers expect from UnJunk Your Diet?
People can expect a lot of humor thrown in, a lot of education and myth-busting about nutrition. They can also expect something that doesn’t preach. It’s really about providing them with the information and helping them learn more about who they are as an “eater” and what approach might be right for them whether that’s taking baby steps or diving into a 2 week detox.
What is one myth you hope to dispel?
Sometimes people think that when you UnJunk your diet you’re removing taste and flavor and that’s just not true.
You focus a lot on “prevention.”
My core principle is anti-inflammatory nutrition. It’s all about prevention. It’s about staying vibrant and staying healthy. If you are unwell or have chronic pain, anti-inflammatory nutrition is the path that will help you out of that.
There’s a lot of stigma attached to the word “diet.” What’s your definition of a diet?
For me, a diet is what you eat. It’s not “diet” with a capital D. I never want to see anyone go on a restrictive, time sensitve diet in anticipation of losing 15 pounds for a vacation. I want people to change their diets permanently so that it brings some joy and so that they love what they’re eating.
Who is this book intended for?
This book is for everyone from 18-80 who just wants to get healthier and is tired of fad diets. I’ve taken what the health conscious community has been talking about for a while and I’ve really made it accessible to the masses.
What’s the best advice that you can give to anyone working towards maintaining a balanced and nutrititonal life?
There’s a real on and off mentality that happens with dietary change. To realize that every choice that they make in the right direction, matters. So having a huge side of spinach salad with your steak dinner matters to your body because it helps nourish your cells. It’s important to have an “all or nothing” approach. It’s about making simple food, cooking for yourself and making something at home that’s tasty and inexpensive but far more nourishing than anything that’s packaged and processed.
What’s next for Desiree?
I think there are more books in my future. I love to write and I love the challenge of trying to interest people in what is really basic advice. Eat your veggies. For me, it’s growing my private practice and reaching as many people as I can through speaking and writing and getting people really excited about food again.
Follow Desiree Nielsen on Twitter: @DesireeRD