TUESDAY TALKS: JANINA GABRIELA GELBKE (@naturally_nina_)
JANINA GABRIELA GELBKE
The 3 foods I can’t live without: Bananas, chickpeas and sweet potato I think!
Favourite activity: Training (I do CrossFit and I absolutely love it!) or creating something delicious in the kitchen.
Favourite kind of relax: Reading a good book or going for a walk with a podcast (The Plant Proof Podcast is my favourite!).
My guilty-pleasure: I no longer associate anything that brings me joy or pleasure with guilt, as even if something isn’t the healthiest, the fact that it brings pleasure is such an important thing for mental health and wellbeing that we should never feel guilty for it! But I would have to say the Braggs Ginger Spice Apple Cider Vinegar drinks - they’re really pricey but I’m obsessed!
Dear Nina, thank you so much for being a part of my #TuesdayTalks series. I’ve been following you for so long and you are a huge inspiration of mine. Could you please introduce yourself?
Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me! Well, I’m Nina and I’m a qualified Nutritionist and health blogger from Western Australia, although originally from Switzerland. I have a huge passion for all things health, nutrition, fitness and wellbeing, which I share with my community on Instagram and the rest of the world with hopes to educate, motivate and inspire others to take better care of and nourish their body, mind and soul. Plus a whole lot of wholesome and delicious vegan recipes!
Your plant based recipes are incredible but what I love the most about your profile are those REAL TALK posts. Mostly they talk about the self-love, self-acceptance and also about an eating disorded which you struggled with as well. How did your ED started? How serious it was and where did you find the strength to recover?
My ED started about a year after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (I was aged around 11) because I saw controlling my food intake and over exercising as a way of trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ blood sugar levels. I was also a competitive athlete at the time. It all spiralled downhill from there until I ended up in hospital fighting for my life, where I spent the next 2 years. I found the strength to recover through my family and realising that nothing good ever came from starving myself - in fact, I only lost all of the things I loved. I had such big dreams of competing in high level sport which my ED took away from me, and that was a huge motivation to turn things around. Then finding the vegan diet and leaning more about nutrition, I discovered just how amazing our bodies are and how important it is to take care of them, that food is the medicine and the building blocks of our existence. And in order to live a fulfilling and vibrant life, we have to nourish our bodies!
During your recovery, did you ever feel like giving up and falling back again? What helped you to find the motivation to continue? Were you visiting any specialist during this time?
It was a very long process with many struggles, but I kept reminding myself of all of the reasons I wanted to recover and become healthy and strong, which really helped me get through those dark times. I actually wrote a list of these things and read through it so many times when I was struggling, my number one biggest motivation was wanting to go back to competitive sport! And I also had amazing support from my family, as well as a team of specialists including doctors, dietitian and psychologists.
Do you think that it’s possible to recover from an ED on a vegan diet? What were you eating? Were you doing any form of physical exercise?
Yes! A vegan diet helped me so much in recovery as it changed my whole mindset towards food from calories, shame and guilt to nutrients and nourishment. We can get everything we need on a vegan diet, as long as (just like with any way of eating!) it’s balanced in the right way for the individual person. It’s also very important that the choice to be vegan isn’t another form of restriction which can be incredibly destructive and harmful to recovery. It is important to get a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, as well as all of the micronutrients, enough calories and also challenge food rules and fears. I wasn’t doing any exercise for almost 3 years during my eating disorder recovery.
How are you dealing with bad days and evil voices telling you that you are not good enough now?
I acknowledge those thoughts, then gently let them go and choose not to act on them. I always do my best to replace negativity with thoughts that are more positive and kind, even though this can be really hard. Something I find very helpful is distracting myself by listening to music, going for a walk, doing some baking or having a good chat with a friend or family member. Learn to see the good in things and practice gratitude instead of filling yourself with constant self criticism. This has been so powerful for me!
How does your typical “day on a plate” looks like?
For breakfast, I usually have porridge with fruit and nut butter, or a smoothie bowl.
Lunch is a typical nourish bowl - if you follow me on Instagram you’ll see a whole lot of these!
Then dinner is something like baked sweet potato with bean chilli, tempeh and veggie stir fry with brown rice or lentil Dahl, quinoa and salad. I always have to have some greens with every meal!
I also have around 3 snacks every day, usually things like bliss balls, fruit, homemade banana bread or a smoothie.
And lastly - if you could give your younger self just one piece of advice. What would it be?
Stop basing your entire self worth on numbers, because they say absolutely nothing about you. Start focusing on health and feeling good within your body, mind and soul, and work towards building yourself up, instead of tearing yourself down.