Now That We're in Our '30s, How Do We Prevent Weight Gain?

An interview with the Millennial Nutritionist. You do not want to miss this one.

This is Illa, aka the Millennial Nutritionist

Happy Sunday, subscribers.

I’m spending the day in NYC lunching and sample sale shopping, and I just feel so damn ALIVE. Highly recommend doing whatever it is that makes you feel alive, and doing more of it.

I hope today’s article serves as motivation for your week ahead (and the many, many weeks thereafter) to practice self-control around food, and viewing mealtime for what it should be — a mindful indulgence.

Today’s treat comes to you via this fabulous Q+A with my new (incredibly relatable & kind) friend, Illa.

Illa (pronounced Eye-Luh) helps millennial women maintain life-long health habits by showing them exactly how to sustain their weight loss and make smart, informed choices about food.

Known best as the Millennial Nutritionist, Illa lives in Raleigh, NC, where she plans to continue adding dietitians to her team through offering her audience varying perspectives on nutrition and weight loss.

Her goal? To help millennial women lose weight (and keep it off) in the healthiest way possible. I think we can all get on board with that.

Here is our convo, which breaks down why women are prone to weight gain, where emotional eating really stems from, and what we can do to prevent unwanted weight gain in the future.

You are a weight-loss dietician, catering specifically to millennials. I love it. Why was nutrition the right career path for you? 

I literally have just always loved it! From a young age I enjoyed learning how easy it can be to keep yourself healthy by the food choices you make. No additional products required! The more I learned about it, the more interested I became and realized how important it was to so many aspects of my life.

Also, I was a very competitive athlete in high school and college, so nutrition was imperative for me to perform my best. Then in college, I found out I had high cholesterol, so I had to learn how to eat to improve that as well.

The stories go on and on. But all that to say that I love the science, psychology, culture, and history of food and nutrition, which is why I made it my mission to use that passion to help others with it! 

Eating is about much more than taste. It's mental & emotional. Why is this? Is the emotional part why some women have a toxic relationship with food? 

Yes! Food is not only nourishment, but it’s art, love, and history! We can be tied to certain foods because of what it represents to us.

For example, if we made homemade cookies with our mom when we were kids, we can forever tie an association with cookies and love, causing us to later crave them every time we are upset and want to feel better. Unfortunately, this loving action when we were kids can cause some of us to use food for comfort, aka emotional eating. 

I do notice that women have a toxic relationship with food. I think a component of it is the emotions, but I think a big part is also the pressure to look a certain way. Men don’t have this same stress on creating a thin physique as women do. The pressure of that creates more stress and more emotional eating, which just makes an awful cycle.

I find that because women want to look a certain way so badly, it causes them to focus more on restriction with harmful diets. These diets cause the bad relationship with food because they’re so hard to be successful with long-term. The more you fail with weight loss efforts, the worse your relationship with food and your body becomes. 

One of your posts really caught my attention — the weight gain vs. weight loss graphic — what is the biggest culprit of weight gain? How can we avoid it? 

So many people love that post too! I think because people don’t realize what happens when you try to overly restrict your food. The biggest culprit of weight gain is getting your weight loss information from the wrong sources. So many of my clients have all the motivation in the world, but have obtained weight loss recommendations from poor sources.

Food and weight loss seem so simple because everyone eats, but the wrong information can actually be pretty harmful. Eating too much protein can cause kidney damage. Eating too much saturated fat can increase risks for stroke. Eating too little food can decrease metabolism and make it so, so difficult to have long-term weight loss.

Non-professionals also tend to make weight loss so much more difficult and strict, which perpetuates the “all or nothing” mindset. This can cause you to give up if you don’t feel like you’re doing everything you need to do for weight loss, and it just doesn’t have to be like that to see results.

To avoid it, seek eating advice from registered dietitians. We have many formal requirements that make sure we’re up to date on the latest nutrition research and can lose our licenses if we give out incorrect information. Basically, you’ll be given the best nutrition recommendations from a dietitian. 

Illa in her kitchen, cooking up something delicious.

You have another post with the saying, "What if instead of focusing on what you eat, you focus on why you eat it?" Can you explain the psychology behind this? 

Of course, overeating anything will cause weight gain, but people tend to focus SO much on the specifics of the types of foods they eat for weight loss (dairy, gluten, fruit, salad dressing) when it doesn’t really matter all that much. You’ll gain weight if you eat over your maintenance calories for any food; salad dressing or the lettuce.

It’s much more effective to reflect on why you overeat in general. Or why you feel like you really need a snack every time you watch a movie. Why do you overeat when you’re with your friends?

If you identify that you’re not actually hungry, then it’s time to dig into why that happens for you and how you can change it. For example, one of my clients struggled for months with always wanting a late night snack, even though she knew she wasn’t really hungry.

I worked with her to determine that she was depriving herself of all her favorite foods she loved. So we worked in smaller portions of these foods during the day, and the craving went away! By understanding that she was overeating at night because she felt so deprived, she was able to resolve it without just telling her to straight up stop eating it. It likely wouldn’t have been resolved if she didn’t figure out why she was doing that and then treating the root cause of it. 

That makes so much sense. Because this is a mental health newsletter, what do you do to keep your mental health spirits up? 

Journaling or reflecting is so, so important to me! If I find myself down or hopeless or mad, I try to journal and reflect on why I actually feel that way, and if there’s anything I can do about it right now or in the future to prevent it.

As a business owner, this practice is imperative for my mental health so I don’t give up. Viewing every struggle as a lesson to myself is how I grow and continue to improve. So instead of being upset (for too long) about a slow business month or an overly busy time, I ask myself why do I feel like that? And what I can do in the future so it doesn’t repeat?


If you’re struggling with weight gain right now, or you simply want to receive practical tips on ways to stay healthy and feel great about your body, do yourself a favor and follow The Millennial Nutritionist on Instagram. You can also sign up for her weekly newsletter and get general info about her nutrition coaching services by heading to her website.

Thank you for reading today’s issue!

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I so appreciate each and every one of you.


Keep being you.

Xo, Ash