Hi, I’m Ulla (pronounced “ooll-lah”) and in the words of my 7-year old I “help people eat good food”.
I am a nutrition consultant, but also a mother, a wife, a sister, a German expat living in the US, a cookbook addict, and a late-life career changer: I spent almost 20 years in the hotel & restaurant industry before my love for food and nutrition steered me in a different direction.
I was born and raised in Germany and was lucky enough to enjoy home cooked food and insanely good bread on a daily basis. My parents and grandparents passed along their love for food and traveling, and while I hated having to trade precious beach time for a 3-course lunch during every summer vacation, I am now forever grateful, because it was during those vacations that I learned the magic combination of sweet cantaloupe with salty prosciutto, the addictive taste of briny, garlicky mussels, and that good food is so worth waiting for.
At home my mom’s mantra though must have been “if we can make it ourselves, don’t waste money on it at the store”. My parents taught me how to be content with knock-off Nutella and make-your-own-fruit-yogurt (plain yogurt with homemade jam). Those things all stayed rooted within me as I learned much later, but first I decided to eat whatever I wanted, especially once I moved to the US. The sheer amounts and varieties of foods available for any occasion were mind-blowing for me, so naturally I wanted to try it all and packed on some weight in no time. I yo-yo dieted, I tried shakes, I gagged down salads without dressing, I ate LeanCuisine microwave meals that left me starving, and I hated it.
I hated eating “healthy”.
Whenever I wasn’t dieting I mostly ate “mindlessly”: sometimes I ate when I was hungry, sometimes I waited until I was starving. Other days I ate lunch when it was time for lunch, whether I was hungry or not.
I noticed getting sluggish, cranky, bloated, and constipated and figured it was probably something I ate – but I never thought to find out what made me feel this way, or address the root cause of these symptoms. I just took some over-the-counter medication and went back on my way. I numbed the symptoms and ignored what my body was trying to tell me.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my daughter that I finally started paying attention to what I’m actually putting in my body. And only because the doctors told me that I can’t eat any more lunchmeats. I mean, what was I supposed to put on my sandwich now?
So I did what any smart person would do:
I consulted the internet and for the next few years I followed every random advice I found online. Some good, some terrible. By the time I was pregnant with my son, our eating habits had already changed quite a bit, but we still considered whole grain Pringles chips a healthy snack food choice. What had happened to my love for pure, simple foods? Over time I realized what had happened: the food industry had taken my taste buds and brain for a crazy, amped up ride. They made me forget the taste and feel of pure, simple, nourishing foods.
I didn’t change everything overnight. And neither should you. To succeed at a lifestyle change, you have to change your daily habits, and that takes time. My family started with small changes. The worst offenders got phased out first, and we slowly started replacing one thing at a time once we found a suitable and/or affordable alternative. And this is still work in progress, even 4 years later.
But it was during these years that I realized 2 important things:
By replacing all the “fake” foods with wholesome, real food, I no longer felt like I had to diet and I no longer felt deprived by not getting any of those “forbidden” foods from days past. Instead I started to feel the amazing “side effects”: I haven’t had a headache in years! No more poop issues (yes!). My crazy menstrual cramps eased up, and my weight stabilized. I was eating tastier food, and none of it felt like “diet food” to me.
There was nothing low-fat or sugar-free in our pantry. When I felt like having a sweet treat, I ate one. A real one. And then I moved on, without any guilt and without eating the whole bag.
The second thing I realized was that I could spend hours upon hours researching on food and nutrition. Books, magazines, online articles, documentaries, and more – every day I would find something new.
And one day it clicked. THIS. This is what I want to spend the rest of my life’s work on. Nutrition studies. That’s what I need to be doing! So after looking at all my options and finally finding a solid curriculum that was in line with my values, I went back to school at the young age of 38. The next two years were filled with textbooks, lectures, reports, case studies, and exams, and thanks to my husband’s rock-solid support, I was able to graduate with honors from Bauman College’s Holistic Nutrition Consultant program in 2016.
After receiving my certification as a nutrition consultant, I knew I wanted to help people become healthier, but there are already so many resources out there! The market is full of nutrition messages, diet tips, tools, and programs. It’s overwhelming for people to find what’s right for them. So I made it my goal to help you navigate through these seas of mixed messages.
Here at The Mindful Plate, my mission is to show you how to start and sustain a healthy lifestyle
with the foods you know, you enjoy, and you can pronounce.
Together we will find your first step, creating new habits that work for YOU.
This is the start of your new, positive, and confident relationship with real food.
I’m so glad you’re here. Now let’s find out how I can help you.