Nicole Keshishian Modic is the lawyer turned cookbook author/recipe developer/content creator behind Kalejunkie, a site and social media platform with just shy of a million followers on Instagram alone. Her fans love her real-life, approachable recipes and lifestyle content. “Despite the name Kalejunkie, my philosophy around health is much more than eating kale and lettuce. My definition of health is one that is well-balanced,” explains Nicole.
Mom to two boys, Gavyn (8) and Hunter (6), the Armenian, LA-born and raised foodie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. In this week’s Meet a Mom interview, she shares about healing her own eating disorder, inspiring others to cook and develop a healthy relationship with food, and weathering motherhood.
Love your recipes and your balanced approach. Can you tell us a little bit more about your perspective and background?
I don’t demonize ingredients or label them as “bad” or “good.” I like to pay more attention to how foods make us feel, which to me, means eating nutritious foods 85% of the time and allowing room for anything our heart desires. After recovering from a 15-year eating disorder (bulimia and binge eating disorder), I healed and learned to eat intuitively, and what sets me apart is that I don’t ever prescribe diets, I encourage my audience to tap into their intuition to find that 85/15 balance!
Amazing! You are a lawyer turned foodie…how did that happen?
I grew up in a conservative Armenian household and my dad instilled in me a strong work ethic. Not wanting to disappoint him, I became a lawyer. I loved law school but did not love practicing law. And growing up in Los Angeles, I became obsessed with being thin and developed a bad eating disorder (bulimia and binge eating) that spanned over 15 years. I was always into fitness and health, and wanted a career doing something in that world, but needed to get help and heal my own relationship with food first.
After my husband caught me mid-binge (EMBARRASSING!!!), I decided enough was enough. I sought lots and lots of therapy, did a yoga teacher training and learned how to find other ways to cope with stress and anxiety, other than turn to food. I also did a lot of inner self work to love and accept my body for what it is, instead of focusing on an idea of physical perfection that simply does not exist anyway.
How are you helping your boys develop a healthy relationship with food?
We don’t put labels on anything. I ask my boys to pay attention to how their food choices make them feel. For example, if they have cookies and cake from a birthday party, they report back that they feel tired and sometimes they get moody. So I then share other food choices (perhaps one of my own cookie recipes made with nutritious ingredients) and they don’t cause that same fatigue effect. I hope that over time, they choose foods that make them feel great more often than not. And because of my past eating disorder, it is important to me that they do not feel deprived and live a balanced, happy childhood that includes all the treats.
What is your mom mantra?
The days are long, but the years are short! Often on the hard days, I just get through them and head to bed early because I know tomorrow is a new day to try again! I like a good night of sleep is the answer to (almost) anything. I also have a small group of mom friends that I can text anytime when things are tough. It’s nice to have other moms in my life that just “get it,” and don’t judge! We are all just trying to do our best!
What are your three absolute favorite recipes?
Life Changing Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies – https://kalejunkie.com/life-changing-chocolate-chip-tahini-cookies/
The Ultimate Kale Salad – https://kalejunkie.com/ultimate-kale-salad-with-creamy-tahini-lemon-dressing/
Tuscan White Bean Soup – https://kalejunkie.com/hearty-tuscan-white-bean-soup/