I’d love to educate people on how to tell what real food is, what it’s not, and then how to apply it to every “real life” situation they might come across. This is what I teach in my programs, meal plans, and group programs: that being healthy doesn’t have to be hard and doing it right has the potential to change every part of your life when you can approach it in this more long term, sustainable way.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Adler, best-selling author, nutrition coach, healthy lifestyle expert, food blogger, and owner of Simply Real Health: a healthy lifestyle company on a mission to educate, teach and inspire people to live their happiest & healthiest life, made simple.
She helps more people keep it simple with real food so they can live a more beautiful, intentional life.
Sarah is the proud author of two best-selling healthy cookbooks: The Simply Real Health Cookbook: Everyday Recipes For A Healthy Life Made Simple (2015), and Simply Real Eating: Recipes and Rituals for a Healthy Life Made Simple (2019).
With her 4-tiered signature coaching process that blends equal parts nutrition, neuroscience, psychology, and the power of daily routine, Sarah’s served thousands of women through her cookbooks and courses and been a featured as an expert in Huffington Post, Cooking Light, Well + Good, MindBodyGreen, Camille Styles, Refinery 29, and more.
She lives with her husband and baby boy in Seattle, WA.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Igrew up always obsessed with healthy eating — from age seven onwards. I loved going to the grocery store with my parents, picking out my apples and yogurt for the week, and never minded the un-cool wheat bread sandwiches that accompanied it. It was innate in me: why wouldn’t I want to eat the best I could? Looking back, it makes me laugh — what seven year old cares about that!? But I did.
Fast forward to middle school, and then high school where my love of being healthy started to take a less innocent turn. It wasn’t long before I became obsessed with it. “It” being whatever diet was cool at the time. I tried each and everyone, always with the goal of doing it perfectly. It wasn’t a full-blown eating disorder, but it was definitely disordered eating — and an unhealthy obsession with being as healthy as I possibly could.
It wasn’t until later in college that I realized how much time and headspace was being taken over by thinking about food. It took a trip to Italy to make me realize how backward my relationship to food was — specifically that I had zero enjoyment associated with food. Watching the Italians and how differently they approached food (as a beautiful part of life — meant to be savored and enjoyed), instead of a means to an end (and one that often impacted the size of your jeans), changed everything for me that came after it. I was jealous of their mentality, of their joy — of the appreciation of it, and the role it played in their lives.
That trip was the starting point of the rest of my life. It was there that I learned about this “new” (to me) concept of throwing out all the rules. All the diets and fads and trends, and just start eating real food — simple food, from the earth. It took me a while to truly let go of my old way of operating, but once I did, everything in my life shifted. My body felt better, my moods and energy were so consistent and stable, my skin looked amazing, those five pounds I’d always been trying to lose was magically gone (and I was eating BUTTER people! Real butter!). I didn’t need coffee to get my day going, nor did I experience that mid-afternoon chocolate craving. But even more impactful than all of those things? My headspace was CLEAR. I had so much more time to focus my energy on things that mattered to me, instead of it being taken up by all the “shoulds”– all the conversations in my head about what I was eating or not eating that day, etc. It was the first time in my life I felt calm and happy and peaceful around food, and the first time I realized the power that simplifying your food can have: it simplifies so much else in your life. Now it’s my mission to teach as many people, especially women, as possible about the same thing: that food matters. But your relationship to food matters just as much. And my definition of being “healthy” means physically healthy, but also mentally and emotionally too — it’s all connected, and it’s easier than you think to elevate all of three of those things when you start with real food.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Oh man, there have been so many over the last eight years. One of my favorite stories was about an exercise I did way back when I first started my business. It was something I’d heard from one of my biggest mentors, Marie Forelo, and it was called a Painted Picture. Basically, the exercise was about envisioning your life five years from now in very specific detail. So, I did it. I wrote down all my dreams, including getting to meet Marie one day to thank her for making us do this. To this day, it’s a practice that I’m so thankful for. But back then, I did it, and then soon forgot about it, tucked away in that year’s notebook. Five years later, almost to THE DAY, I got an email from Marie’s team. They had gotten a copy of my first cookbook, and wanted to fly me out to meet their team and Marie and to be interviewed by her. OMG YES! In the process of prepping for that interview and looking back at all I had learned those first five years, I stumbled across my old notebook — and my entire list. Each thing I read brought tears to my eyes because it had come true. My wildest dreams. And then I read the last one — that one day I’d get to meet Marie in person and thank her. And then, I did that too. It’s my favorite story.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was first starting, was that I was horrible about asking for help. You see, when I started my business, being a nutritionist and wellness coach was not a thing. Especially so, when working to build that business concept online — where I could reach the masses and have more of an impact.
I didn’t have anyone I knew to look at or model my business after, so I remember always having to take notes from other industries and just figure it out along the way. I thought I had to figure every little thing out on my own, to prove to myself that I could do it. And to prove to other people that I could make it work. Looking back, I know I could have saved so much time if I just asked people for help — whether it be some of the tools they used or things they found helpful. There is no point in re-creating the wheel, and while it may have taught me perseverance and lessons in not giving up, I’m sure I could have sped up the process so much, especially as I was getting my foundation set with the basics.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Oh my gosh YES — 100 percent! While it may be super cheesy, as a new mom this year, I can’t stop thinking about how lucky I was to have the parents I did. Specifically, how much influence parents can have over their child’s confidence and mindset, just from the little things they overhear or feel. From such a young age, my parents always encouraged me to pursue the things that I loved, that brought me joy, or that I was naturally good at.
My dad owned his own business and I always remember him saying that if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” And that “you can do anything you want to do” in life. He was always encouraging that mentality and supported it in so many ways — buying as many books as I wanted on any topic I was interested in, pointing out things I was good at or seemed to enjoy, etc. It’s been one of the biggest gifts of my life, and something I know made a big difference for me in setting the stage for being an entrepreneur myself. About the importance of love and passion and joy in what you spend your days doing. It’s something I hope I can carry on for my own son as well as he goes through life.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I believe that when you simplify your food, you simplify your life. That the best way to be well is to 1) eat real food and 2) learn how to tune in to your own body to learn what’s best for you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, or what the cool trend is at the time — we are all different and learning to embrace that is the healthiest thing you can do.
I believe that having a foundation of real food sets the stage for a more magnetic, aligned, and joyful life. And that being truly healthy requires addressing your physical health, but also your mental and your emotional health at the same time. It’s all connected, and so much more freeing when you approach your life this way.
It’s my mission in life to help as many people as possible simplify their food, start eating real food, and to start connecting these dots in their own lives so that they can live at their highest human potential.
Can you share your top five“lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Get educated about what real food actually is (and what it’s not). A quick tip? Check the ingredient labels on everything you eat and make sure they are simple, normal, and natural things (no chemicals or man-made).
- Stop looking at what everyone around you is doing. What matters is what YOUR body is telling you. As long as you are eating real food, your body will start to tell you what it’s loving and what it’s not.
- Drink more water. Especially first thing in the morning — before your coffee or any food. Oftentimes we wake up dehydrated, and we mistake it for hunger. But what your body needs most is water first!
- The belief that anything you’re craving can be done in a “real food” way: pizza, ice cream, bread, cookies, etc. I have two cookbooks that have recipes for all of these things, in ways that are simple and pure. You don’t have to miss out on what you love, just learn how to upgrade the quality of ingredients first.
- Get fresh air every day. Even 10 minutes of walking around the block will change so much. Our bodies are meant to move and breathe in oxygen. Doing so is such a small act, with a profound impact.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
It would be getting everyone to eat real food. Doing so makes everything else in life so much easier. You feel better, you never have to diet again, food becomes so simple, you’re able to tune in to your body better, etc. Let alone better moods, skin, patience, digestion, etc. I would love to help educate every person on the planet about how to go about this process, but simply. That it doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming or stressful or confusing — it’s actually possible to make a delicious but fulfilling meal with five ingredients or less. I’d love to educate people on how to tell what real food is, what it’s not, and then how to apply it to every “real life” situation they might come across. This is what I teach in my programs, meal plans, and group programs: that being healthy doesn’t have to be hard and doing it right has the potential to change every part of your life when you can approach it in this more long term, sustainable way.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Ask for help sooner. This also applies to grow a team and getting help earlier than I did.
- Keep your eyes on your own paper. Every person has a gift to bring to this world. Don’t compare yourself to others. What you have to contribute, and the way you do it is needed.
- Starting a business is the ultimate personal growth journey. Learn as much as you can about yourself early on, and know that it’s a lifelong journey.
- Find a community of people who are also creating businesses doing what they love. You will need each other’s help, advice, shoulders to lean on, and friendship. Give fully, and always. When one person rises, everyone does.
- Enjoy the process. So often in business, it’s about the next result, the next goal achieved, the next amount of revenue brought in. But if you don’t enjoy the process — figuring it out along the way, the growth, the personal development — you’ll never be satisfied.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health, for sure. It impacts how you show up daily fo–r yourself and for everyone around you. And it’s been something that so few people (until lately) have been willing to talk about.
I think it’s a part of living a truly healthy life — learning about what’s going on in your head, your mindset, how you talk to yourself, the pressure you put on yourself, and where it all comes from. Everyone has stuff — old programming I like to call it — that when brought to the light, our load gets lightened. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and the sooner you embrace that your mental health is important, the easier it is to make changes that help support that and support you in creating your best life.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@simplyrealhealth on Instagram and Facebook and simplyrealhealth.com