Tell us a little bit about your Instagram account “Beyond the Compass”.
None of us move from point A to B with out overcoming obstacles, challenges and diversions along the way. We each get derailed from our original paths and forge new ones. The name ‘beyond the compass’ is my mantra for embracing these challenges and changes rather than fearing the unknown. I altered my mindset to view life’s journey as a beautiful mystery instead of fearing the ‘what if’s.’ Life is ever changing and that is beautiful.
I came up with ‘beyond the compass’ while I was abroad in Scotland completing my Master’s in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. There were a lot of unknowns and uncertainty at that time in my life. While my decision to complete my Master’s abroad may have been rather impulsive, it was truly the best experience of my life. I traveled the world, embraced new cultures, met amazing people and learned who I was. Better yet, I finally liked who I was.
Most of my Master’s work focused on health promotion and health communication. My thesis topic examined the media’s portrayal of the World Health Organization’s recommendation for individual’s to decrease their daily sugar intake. For the better part of six months, sugar was all I read about, wrote about and talked about. While my thesis only talked about sugar and the media, I drew a lot of personal conclusions from my research.
To put it bluntly, I believe that sugar is addicting, dangerous and that it is unnecessarily added to the majority of products humans consume.
These findings encouraged me to cut out added sugars from my diet completely. I got both criticism and support for this decision. However, my body has responded incredibly to the removal of added sugar since I ‘quit’ it almost two years ago.
Since the sugar debate has become more popular in mainstream media, I wanted to share my personal journeys with others, so I created an Instagram account to share my thoughts, images and recipes with others about 3 months ago. My goal is to demonstrate that you can still eat delicious foods (including desserts!) without pouring sugar into your body.
How do you come up with your creative recipes?
For the most part, my recipes are inspired be flavours and tastes that I try to recreate without having added sugar. I also focused on creating food that is simple and easy to make for individuals on the go. I have a pretty busy schedule, so I appreciate the importance of food that can be prepared ahead of time or without a ton of ingredients that is still tasty.
What are some of your favorite ingredients to use?
I incorporate a lot of protein into my diet/ recipes. I grew up as a competitive athlete and learned the importance of fueling your body for it to perform its best.
Ingredients I love include bananas, nut butters, chia seeds and fresh fruits and veggies.
For individuals looking to reduce their added sugar intake, natural sweeteners like dates, maple syrup and honey work wonderfully!
Do you have a favorite meal of the day?
Breakfast, hands down.
What are your favorite restaurants?
One of my favourite restaurants is Pure Kitchen in Ottawa, Ontario. It’s a vegan restaurant that serves fresh, colourful and hearty meals that are full of flavor. It’s also got an incredible atmosphere and the friendliest staff. Sadly, I don’t live near by, but when I’m in the area I eat there nearly every day!
Who are some of your cooking inspirations?
Growing up, I had one of the only family’s I knew of that ate supper together nearly every night. No TV, no phones, just conversation. My family has a lot of incredible cooks and bakers, so I am inspired by each of them!
I frequently look to social media for a lot of inspiration, particularly on Instragram. I love crowd-sourced accounts like @TheFeedFeed and @HuffPostTaste that display thousands of different types of foods from all over the world from both amateur and professional chefs. While they often display treats and desserts that don’t align with my diet, they serve as excellent inspiration!
I also love Angela Liddon, author of Oh She Glows– it’s the first cookbook I ever owned!
What are some of the greatest benefits you’ve seen in living a healthy lifestyle?
I have had several fairly serious health issues since my teen years. When I was 13, I had brain surgery for something called chiari malformation. While I have healed marvelously, intense headaches were a lasting side effect. After my surgery, I would usually be in the hospital 1 – 2 times a year due to the pain. Since I cut out sugar, I have seen a serious reduction in headaches and have not been admitted to the hospital since.
I’ve also noticed reduce anxiety, increased focus and concentration, clearer skin and weight loss.
What are some healthy eating tips that you swear by?
- Learn to say no without feeling guilty. The truth is that sugar is synonymous with celebration in our culture. The first few times I turned down cakes, pies and cookies I was mocked, told to ‘live a little’ or that I didn’t need to diet. I patiently explained that I wasn’t dieting or restricting, but that I was choosing to nourish my body with foods that made me feel healthier and happier. Over time, people will get used to your lifestyle and support you in your journey!
- Produce> product. I am a firm believer in fueling our bodies with whole foods. I rarely eat anything packaged, as I try to avoid additives and unknown ingredients. My biggest pet peeve is marketing tactics that promote a food as a ‘healthy’ item, when it is loaded with sugar.
- Bring snacks everywhere. I am the girl who is known for having snacks in her purse/ car/ desk at all times. When you are hungry and desperate for something to eat, you are more likely to grab something unhealthy. By being prepared, you can stick to your goals! It may take a bit more time to prepare homemade snacks, but it definitely pays off.
- H2O>everything. It makes me sick to think about how much sugar is added to beverages people consume daily. If you are craving something sweet, try combining some fruits to infuse your water with!
What are some of your other creative outlets besides cooking?
Sadly, I have absolutely no musical talent and am not incredibly skilled at drawing or painting. I do enjoy photography, fashion and décor. I recently moved, so decorating my new place has been really fun!
I also enjoy using my creativity to vary my workout routines and keep things exciting and challenging. I played rugby for 10 years before being forced to quit due to excessive concussions. Learning to train for myself and not for a competitive advantage was certainly challenging, but definitely rewarding. Switching up my workout routine regularly keeps me engaged.
My full-time job is as a marketer in the heath and wellness field. I’m really grateful to have a job that lets me combine my creativity, educational background and passions so seamlessly!
What do you enjoy most about being a creative woman?
It is very easy to get caught up in competition and comparison, so I am thankful to be a part of a community that supports and encourages all women and their creative endeavors.
I find it absolutely beautiful when women, or any individual, use their creativity in a way that is meaningful and representative to them. I admire when a person shares their journey and their passions with others. It’s fascinating to see how individuals use different methods or platforms to express themselves and their stories.