Our September Wellness Talk guest Riyana Rupani is a holistic nutritionist (NTP), a healthy recipe developer, founder of Healthy-ish & Happy blog, Clean-in-15™ program and Food By Ri, a mom of three boys, and a huge foodie. We have loved the work Riyana does in the nutrition space for a long time so it feels very fitting to have her as our next wellness guest and now be connected as friends!
She works with clients one-on-one and in groups through her Clean-in-15™ program to help people learn to honor their unique needs through real food and lifestyle choices. She’s also the founder of Ri’s, a line of clean, flavor-forward table staples focused on great taste, real food ingredients, and always bringing a good time to the table.
Before we get started, could you share with us how you started your day this morning?
I started my day with a cuddle from my little ones followed by a cup of hot lemon water with a pinch of salt. Once the kids were off to school, I did a session of yoga and had a smoothie for breakfast. I usually use this time to also journal and plan out my day. To be honest, I wish every morning could be as smooth, but with a 7,5, and 4-year-old you have to learn to go with the flow!
What is your story, what do you do and how you got into the work you are doing?
I’m a holistic nutritionist focused on helping people honor their unique needs through real food and lifestyle choices. My passion is creating delicious foods that not only taste good but are good for you too. I work with clients one-on-one and in groups through my Clean-in-15™ program, and recently launched my own line of products featuring a range of clean chili sauces and grain free crackers. I thrive off of teaching people the power of food and lifestyle habits, and love showing them how to eat in a way that will make their taste buds and body happy!
Before my career in wellness, I spent over 15 years working in corporate America and Asia. I totally understand the pressure of corporate life and the stress that comes with juggling work and family. (I’m a mom of 3 too!) I found my passion for nutrition after years of suffering from multiple health issues – from PCOS to infertility to colitis to name a few – which led me down a long path of medication and doctor visits. While medication helped me feel better, it didn’t help me heal. I didn’t understand why I was facing these health issues or what I could do to prevent them. Fast forward a few years, I turned my health around through real food and lifestyle changes, and am now on a mission to help others do the same. I find I have a lot of success with my client because quite frankly – I get it.
How has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally?
I grew up in the US where my family lives, and not being able to go home and reconnect has made these times emotionally challenging. That said, I have become more mindful and appreciative for all that I have and experience. It has helped me stay grounded as well as grow in gratitude.
Professionally, I feel the pandemic has compelled people to take a closer look at their health. People are shifting from a “fix it” mentality to a “prevent it” mindset, so the upside to me is how health and wellness is finally getting the attention it deserves.
From your experience, what do you feel are the biggest health challenges people are facing today?
Quite honestly, stress is the biggest health challenge as it increases the risk of conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Stress can be caused by the food we eat, the way we eat, how we live our lives, and our environment. There’s also the expectation of being “always on” and available all the time, the glorification of multitasking, and having more on our plates than ever before. These stressors can make us feel like we’re constantly under attack and the long-term activation of our sympathetic nervous system can disrupt almost all our body’s processes, which leads to so many of the health problems we see today.
Can you describe your food philosophy?
I believe living a nourished life doesn’t have to be all or nothing because life is about balance and finding what works and what doesn’t work for you.
What does gluten free mean to you?
While I may not be gluten intolerant the prevalence of gluten sensitivity is definitely on the rise. I personally don’t handle gluten well and live a pretty much gluten-free life. All the recipes on my blog are also gluten free. Even if you aren’t celiac, gluten can have a huge impact on your gut and inflammatory response. I think it’s also important to note that not all gluten free products are made the same! People shouldn’t assume gluten-free foods are necessarily better for you. Reading those ingredient lists to understand what's in your food is very important.
What is your typical day on a plate? Do you have any go-to, family-favourite recipes (snacks or meals), if so please share the recipe!
Breakfast is usually something easy to put together like a smoothie, grain-free muesli, or a hearty egg dish like shakshuka. For lunch, it’s all about the fiber. I love a good BAS aka Big Ass Salad (lol). My favorites are my Thai Kale Salad and my Chicken Curry Salad on a bed of greens. When it comes to dinner, I like my meals warm and hearty. The Paleo Chicken Tikka Masala and Anti-inflammatory Golden Soup are two of my favorites! I’m not much of a snacker but my kids love these banana muffins.
What are your top three tips for healthy living?
Fast for 12 hours overnight to give your digestive system a rest. Digestion requires a lot of energy and taking a break from digesting food will allow the body to focus on other wonderful things like detoxing and healing.
Listen to your body and act accordingly. Many of us live on autopilot and have forgotten how to tune into what our body is telling us. Whether we are hungry, full, thirsty, tired, or if certain things aren’t agreeing with us – take a minute to really listen to what your body is saying.
Less is more. Many of us are constantly pushing ourselves to do more but sometimes what we really need is to do less. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a break.
For someone wanting to learn more about wellness/nutrition, what resources would you recommend? (This could be books, podcasts, websites, anything!)
I share a lot of info on my instagram (@healthyishandhappy) and website (www.healthyishandhappy.com).
Podcasts I love: Wellness Mama, Naturally Nourished, The Doctor’s Pharmacy, Do The Thing.
Books: The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin; The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg; Healthy Gut, Healthy You by Dr. Michael Ruscio; Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser, and Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf
Apps: Healthy Living by EWG
Do you have any affirmations, quotes, or mantras that you turn to regularly?
I have a lot! I really believe what you put out into the universe is what you get back. One of the things I’ve done is change the group name of folders on my phone to affirmations that trigger a positive thought whenever I open them (i.e. I am nourished – food apps, I am successful – business apps, I am blessed – travel and leisure apps, I am prosperous – banking and finance apps).
The ones that I say to myself daily are “I am enough” and “everything happens for a reason”.
How can our readers connect with you further?
Group program: www.cleanin15.com (Use the code WHOLEKITCHEN for 10% off the next Clean-in-15™ kicking off September 27th.)
Products - www.foodsbyri.com (use the code WHOLE10 for 10% off)
And finally, just a bit of fun, some sentence starters:
Three things I always have stocked in my fridge are…
To relax I…
love going for a massage or watching something funny.
I’m most grateful for…My health, and my family and friends.
If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life it would be…OMG, this one is literally giving me anxiety! Tooo many good things to choose from!