wellness for 20-somethings

10 Things Nutrition Experts Wish They Knew In Their 20s

Throughout college and my early 20s, diet was a mystery and constant experiment. I played with new ideas, cooking methods, recipes, and beliefs surrounding food. I went through periods of restricting, overeating, & over exercising to figure out what works for me and my body.  

Our 20s are a time of transition, trial and error, & experimentation. While we may not have everything figured out, we're enjoying the ride and learning as we go. I thought it best to learn from the pros who have been there/done that. Take a look at what they have to say and what they wish they knew about health and nutrition when they were in their 20s - everything from body image, to drinking, to bone health, and athletic performance.

Our 20s are prime time to develop lifelong healthy habits and there's no better time to figure out what healthy means to you.

nutrition expert, 20 something

I wish I knew about intuitive eating and that health and happiness was not about calorie and body fat control. - Adina Pearson, RD

I wish I knew.... Making physical activity and good nutrition a priority in your 20's helps you continue those healthy habits later on in life when life gets busier in terms of family and work responsibilities. Make it a habit while you are young so that you'll continue it later! - Kate Chury, RD ThinkyBites.com

I wish I knew what an important role bone health played in my 20s. I definitely was not active nor did I nourish my body properly during these years when I was working in Corporate America and putting my job ahead of myself. I watched my mom suffer a terrible fracture as a result of osteoporosis when I was in my late 20s. Had I known my bone health would start to diminish in my 30s, I definitely would have put more emphasis on my self care. The good news is I now know that I can slow progression of bone loss and it's never too late to start following a healthy eating and activity lifestyle. - Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT of Nutrition Nuptials

I wish I knew there is no BAD food. We're not perfect nor are we the food police. If I try to hit 80%, that allows to miss physical activity or eat pie and ice cream occasionally. For consulting, if we can agree on 3 changes no matter how small, that's success for client - Wendy Rice, RD

I wish I had known more about alcohol's lack of nutritional value, how it contributes to weight gain and the role that heavy alcohol consumption plays in cancer risk. At the time I thought I was doing myself a favor because at least I wasn't drinking soda, but now that I know more about it I can see how my "heavy" consumption at the time (defined as more than one drink a day for women) likely contributed to my weight gain and possibly increased my cancer risk. I'm not saying 20 somethings shouldn't drink (I certainly still drink now!) but I do think it's important to be mindful of your consumption. Diana K. Rice, RD, The Baby Steps Dietitian

I wish I knew that I wouldn't have to work so hard to control my body's appearance and eating habits - if we learn to be okay with our choices and let our body be where it wants to be, it can be so freeing. Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN, LDN of Bucket List Tummy.

I wish I didn’t give food so much power over me. In my early twenties I used to label food as “good” or “bad” because I thought there was a perfect way to eat well and look good. As I learned more about nutrition, my eating habits became better balanced. For food to nourish your body AND soul, you can't be overly restrictive. Good health is a lifestyle change that you can sustain! - Trinh Le, MPH, RD of Fearless Food RD.

Don't worry so much about eating the perfect diet - it doesn't exist. Instead, focus on eating fruit and vegetables at every meal. It is easier to achieve eating fruits and vegetables (most days of the week) than to stress about eating perfectly all the time. - Kristi Coughlin, RD

I wish I had known that calories didn't count as much as quality. The laser focus on fat and calories back then was misplaced and resulted in recommendations for artificial sweeteners and high carb, low fat foods. - Bridget Swinney, MS, RD Prenatal and Family Food Expert

While I did figure it out in my 20s, I wish I knew in my early 20's, as a college athlete, how important carbohydrates were. I was under-fueled for years until my last couple of months of my swimming career, and eating adequately made a huge difference in my performance and mood! - Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN Performance Dietitian

Talk to me! I'd love to hear about your relationship with food, what healthy means to you, and how you can be your healthiest in your 20s!

What This Dietitian Thinks About The Whole30

Is Whole30 healthy?


As days are getting warmer, people seem determined to shed a few pounds and feel their best in their tank tops, shorts, & bathing suits, & this summer it seems as though the Whole30 is the way to do it. As the Whole30 seems to be the talk of the town, I wanted to share my two cents.

If you haven't heard of The Whole30, it's a strict 30-day elimination diet, prohibiting dairy, legumes, grains, alcohol, & sugar (referred to some as 'paleo on crack'). The creators promise to solve your skin & digestive issues, allergies & chronic pain, improve your eating habits & relationship with food and 'magically' eliminate a variety of symptoms, diseases, & conditions - including, but not limited to: diabetes, Lyme disease, celiac, Crohn's, depression, eating disorders, infertility, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, & more! WOW! Sounds impressive, doesn't it?

To me, the diet is a bit ridiculous & extreme. 

Many Whole30 dieters do report feeling better over the course of their 30 days. However, when you limit things like alcohol, sugars, & processed foods, this is typically what happens. I do think there are other ways to feel better without such an intense, restrictive program.


One of my main issues with the Whole30 is the restrictive, fear-mongering nature. See below...

  • This is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. 

  • Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip.” Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a pizza, there is no “slip.” You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident.

They actually published these things!

While, they claim it's not a diet, it very much is. You can see on their site the list of 'rules' that must be followed and lists of approved and prohibited foods and ingredients.

The restrictive nature of diets can cause people to just want something more. If they 'slip' and have a prohibited food it usually comes with guilt and shame - two emotions that should not be associated with food.

As you know, I don't believe in restrictive eating patterns unless medically necessary. They say they encourage a healthy relationship with food but with such harsh words and strict rules I find that hard to believe. 

The Whole30 diet also encourages followers not to weigh or measure themselves throughout the 30-days. This, I'm okay with! I think it takes the focus off of weight and emphasizes the way you feel.

They also discourage tracking your intake over the 30 day course. This, I don't think is necessary. There are huge benefits to tracking your intake, including making you more aware of your habits surrounding food. I encourage my clients to track their intake before our first session to help us both get a better picture of their current habits and daily intake. Many of my clients even enjoy doing so.

By eliminating so many foods and food groups and gradually adding them back in, some Whole30 followers report that they've been able to self-diagnose food intolerances after following the Whole30. This is great, however, it is usually best to consult your MD, ND, or RD before self-diagnosing.

And finally, many of the studies cited in The Whole30 have been misinterpreted and provide inaccurate claims.  Check out this site for chapter-by-chapter reviews of the scientific claims made in The Whole30.

You can read more reviews here, here, & here!