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Well Said

A journal for the modern woman.

How Wellness Guru Neda Varbanova Does Self-Care And Eats On The Daily

"It's a mix of healthy meets happy."

 

Cozied up in leggings and an oversized sweater, this self-proclaimed believer that healthy eating, fitness, and a positive outlook are the keys to realizing true health, gave us the lowdown on how she got her start, her passion for good food, plus the daily habits that get her through.


How did you get your start?
Moving from Bulgaria to the US when I was 11-years-old was a huge culture shock to me. Aside from learning to live in this new place, I also had to learn to eat differently. I grew up in an environment where my mother prepared fresh meals for our family every day with simple, wholesome ingredients. No matter how busy she was, she made sure we always had healthy options readily available, even if that meant a quick salad or soup. Silly as it may sound, before coming to America, I had never tried mac 'n cheese, let alone heard of a “Hot Pocket," or even seen a Pop Tart! Not to mention, there was a McDonald's on every corner, whereas we had two McDonald's in all of Bulgaria! For us, fast food was for special holidays, the last day of school, or birthdays - max two or three days a year, at most. It blew my mind the way people ate here and the overall poor quality of food. With this in mind, my health journey began in high school. Passionate about improving the way my classmates and I were eating, I took the initiative and launched a health club at our school, and I began integrating healthier options into the cafeteria. For example, I implemented little tweaks such as whole wheat pizza, a multi-grain bread option for sandwiches, plus salsa as an alternative to nacho cheese, unsweetened yogurt, and additional items to the salad bar. After I graduated, I interned alongside Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, a nationally-known dietitian, and then attended school for nutrition and received my health coaching certification, followed by a Master’s in Food Studies from NYU Steinhardt. Now, I run a healthy lifestyle brand, Healthy with Nedi, offering healthy recipes, nutritional advice, fitness tips, beauty tips, restaurant guides, and detox ebooks.

What have you learned about food?
Leading up to now, I struggled with my relationship to food while managing the effects of IBS and severe bloating. I would crash diet, eat very little, or avoid eating certain foods altogether. With proper education, I have been able to enhance my understanding of nutrition and lead a more balanced and nutritious life. Eating healthy does not need to compromise taste, which is why I continue to recreate recipes that I love with a healthy twist.

And your services?
Along with offering nutritional advice, I guide people to create healthy lifestyle habits and achieve physical and psychological balance. In other words, I work with each of my clients individually to design the best health program suitable to meet their goals and own body chemistry. No two bodies are the same, so no two plans should be the same. Working directly with my clients, I can help cut through the clutter of fad diets and develop a personalized nutritional plan suitable to obtain each individual’s goals. I have different packages depending on needs, from pantry makeovers to teaching people how to shop for food. I will go to Whole Foods with my clients and teach them how to read labels and compare products. For example, the other day, I wanted to buy pesto, and while the three different brands all look good and said natural, the ingredient list told another story. One has over ten ingredients in it with milk and cheese, plus sunflower oil, and the other had four components basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and salt. Marketing companies want to sell you, and they will lie to you to get you to buy their product. You have to be diligent and investigate the ingredients. Ultimately, the fewer, the better.


What’s a day to day like for you?
If I can, I try to start every day with a workout because I never regret it, and it always makes my day better. Working out first thing in the morning increases my serotonin levels and endorphins.

After my workout, I generally spend an hour or so on Instagram posting, commenting, interacting, and engaging with my community. Then I have meetings or answer emails - I have so many emails!

For lunch, I always eat a proper meal either at home, or I will schedule a working lunch meeting. I plan my meals in advance and then I know I’m going to eat healthily. I usually order Sweet Green or Bonberi, or I recipe test and will end up eating that. Typically, I have a client in the afternoon, after which I spend time setting up the site, stories, blog writing, hyperlinking, and general backend maintenance. I'm always on the go -- nonstop!

Often I'm home all day and FaceTime with clients. My office is in my second bedroom. Therefore, I generally need a glass of wine or a Nedi Martini plus something social at the end of my day! Because I'm healthy but also enjoying life :)

On average, what do you eat?
Lately, I have been trying to eat more plant-based. I watched Game Changers, and it was eye-opening. They weren’t preaching to live a vegan life but instead were showing you how people are living a plant-based life and thriving. They give the example of the blood of someone vegan vs. someone who eats meat, and the non-vegan is more cloudy.

That said, I'm not a vegan or a vegetarian, I eat meat from time to time, but now I try to space it out more. For example, if I have fish at lunch, then I won’t have meat or fish for dinner. Whereas before, I would have had salmon for breakfast, chicken for lunch, and fish for dinner.  Overall, it's essential to include more plants in our diets as every meal doesn't have to be meat-based.


Any podcasts that you are listening to recently?
Dr. G Heal Thy Self. It's educational and highlights food products plus everything on living well.


How do you take a moment for yourself?
I usually meditate at night with The Calm app. I play it on my phone and fall asleep to it. Plus, I equally love chilling at home or going out to dinner, depending on my mood and the day I had.

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