When I was in high school, I felt like I lived in the shadow of others. I felt like I was always less funny, less outgoing, less athletic, less attractive, and less intelligent than all the other girls I went to school with.
I felt like I was always having to prove to others that I was good enough, worthy to be seen.
It was this fear of never measuring up that inspired my initial health journey. I asked my mom to buy all the foods my friends were eating, I joined my friends in the gym, and I bought my clothes from all the same stores my friends did.
I carried this mentality with me all throughout college and into my marriage. At 21 years old, I was regularly checking my Apple watch to make sure I was hitting 'x' number of steps and 'y' number of calories burned each day.
Then the pandemic hit and I was stuck inside. In an instant, I was confronted with the reality that my daily step goal was useless, the gym was closed, and I had constant access to all the food I was terrified to eat.
I soon spiraled into disordered eating and obsessive running. My nutritional training was swept under the rug in the name of desperation and I became the very thing I swore I would never be: unhealthy.
It got to the point where my periods were extremely irregular, my weight was close to double digits, and I was chronically exhausted.
Looking back now, I can clearly see why my husband and I weren't getting pregnant, but at the time, I was confused and angry. I was trying so hard to be healthy, so why weren't things working?
I found my answer from my husband and some of my closest friends. They helped me see that my extreme measures were doing more harm than good and if I was courageous enough to change, we might be able to get pregnant.
The next day, I added another spoonful of dinner to my plate. The next day I added another egg to my breakfast. A week later, I let myself enjoy as much maple syrup on my pancakes as I wanted instead of measuring by the tablespoon. I continued to find ways to slowly improve each day and focus on what mattered most: preparing my body to nourish a sweet baby.
Three months later, I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. And you know what? I WASN'T terrified about the road ahead. I wasn't scared about cravings or increasing calories or low intensity workouts. I was ready.
As I reminded myself daily that food is fuel and I was eating to nourish my body and not punish my body, I found peace with food. Most importantly, I experienced pregnancy to the fullest, without guilt or shame around my food, and I gave birth to a health baby boy.
When I look back on those 12 months, I can honestly say that getting pregnant was the best thing that ever happened to my relationship with food. It was the catalyst I needed to truly change my habits permanently and experience the freedom that comes from knowing that food isn't something to fear, it's the thing to flourish.
When I say pregnancy AND childbirth was the easy part of the journey, I mean it. I still remember the nurses filling out my discharge papers and helping my husband pack up our bags.
Like, that's it? I just went through all of that, I have a tiny, helpless human at my bedside, and you're telling me "good luck" and sending me home? Are you JOKING me?
I was NOT prepared for postpartum. I was not prepared for the pain of learning to breastfeeding, the ravenous hunger and unquenchable thirst from breastfeeding, and the anxiety of everything I didn't know about breastfeeding.
Oh, and don't forget the spiral of "I don't know what I don't know" about breastfeeding. That one too.
As a result, postpartum depression and anxiety hit me HARD. I felt like even though I was doing my best to eat enough calories and feed on demand, I must be missing something or doing something wrong. Why is this natural and intuitive thing so overwhelming and stressful?
Because I was not educated about it. No one had the resources I needed to thrive as a new mom and no one took the time to teach me the basics so I could feel confident in myself.
And I wasn't the only one. All of my mom friend and thousands of followers on social media confirmed my story with theirs.
We were all in the same boat but with no oars, no compass, and no rations. Just each other.
After four months of some of the darkest moments of my life, I knew it was going to be up to me to change things. It was going to be up to me to learn what I deserved to know to even feel competent in my breastfeeding and motherhood journey.
I figured since almost all of my anxiety stemmed from questions about my milk supply (the quantity, the quality, the anatomy, the frequency...), I would filter my research with a nutritional approach and a focus on hormones.
I dug and dug and dug. And dug some more.
And while it took me much longer than it should have to find what I needed, I found it. I found the answers no healthcare professional had taken the time to tell me. I found the well-documented research that explained the role nutrition plays in lactation and how to manipulate the mother's diet to optimize her milk supply.
Then I got to work and used my background in recipe development to create healthy, nourishing, and delicious lactation recipes that actually worked.
This collection of recipes became an entire lactation cookbook with over 50 recipes and 13 pages of all my research about the science of breastfeeding. One resource for the "average Jane" that not only answered all our questions, but empowered us to do something with them.
Since writing and publishing my lactation cookbook, I've become a certified pre/postnatal health coach with an emphasis in nutrition and I've helped thousands of women in their motherhood journey, from pregnancy all the way through the end of lactation and postpartum.
My mission is to close the gap between the healthcare professionals and YOU so you have all the knowledge and resources you need to nourish your body, nourish your baby, and enjoy everything in between.
Here at Ka Pai Cooking, you'll find hundreds of healthy recipes for every stage of motherhood, including pregnancy, lactation, and feeding a family, as well as educational articles and online learning resources to teach you everything your OBGYN didn't.
Are you ready to dive in? Click here to subscribe to my email list and get early access to all my new recipes, resources, and products!
Where did the name "Ka Pai Cooking" come from? When I was 19, I moved to Hamilton, New Zealand as a full-time missionary for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I fell in love with the kind, humble people and their unique culture. I even learned some of the native language—the Maori language—and adapted many of their words, phrases, and expressions to my personal vocabulary. The Polynesians are all about food, so when I was naming my food blog, I wanted to incorporate the Maori culture somehow. "Ka pai" (pronounced kah-pie) means "it's good" in Maori; so Ka Pai Cooking literally translates to "it's good cooking!"
My greatest joy: my family! I'm an Army wife to my best friend and husband, Tyler, and a full-time mama to our sweet little boy, Hyrum. When Tyler and I aren't working, we're spending time together as a family playing sports, board games, or eating cookies.
My greatest passion: sharing my knowledge about nutrition with others, especially other mamas! I want everyone to know that eating healthy isn't hard, expensive, or gross; it's so easy, quite affordable, and incredibly delicious!
My biggest obsession: besides my baby? I'd say it's a tie between sunshine and ice cream. But I'm happiest outside in the warm weather with an ice cream cone.
My favorite recipe: definitely my White Chicken Chili, this Maple Blueberry Salmon, or any of my cookie recipes. I'm always coming up with new creations, so make sure you subscribe to my mailing list so you don't miss out on any amazing new recipes!
Whether you have a question about a recipe or you’re interested in working together, let’s chat!
Whenever I need a quick dinner full of flavor and nutrients, I always make this Sheet Pan Sausage and Veggies! It's just 4 ingredients, one sheet pan, and I can add whatever spices I'm in the mood for. I also like to add quinoa on the side!
It also happens to be the #1 recipe of 2021 and the top rated recipe on the blog right now, so you'd better give it a try! You will be adding it to your weekly menu just like I do!