It’s my birthday, and I only want one thing…

by | Nov 18, 2013

Photo by Will Clayton

I’ve never been one to make a fuss about my birthday. Honestly, it was rarely an option.

As someone who spent far more of her life in school than she cares to admit, it didn’t take long to realize that the week before Thanksgiving usually meant only one thing: midterm exams.

Somehow champagne, parties, presents, and birthday cakes rarely percolated to the top of my to-do list on the day of my birth. (Well maybe champagne, but not usually until after school got out for the holiday.)

Now that I have more freedom in my schedule I decided to ask myself: what would I really want to spend time doing if it were entirely up to me?

I realized that since I spend so much of my time thinking and writing about how to help you solve your health problems, what I would really love is to know how it is working for you guys in your daily lives.

This year for my 34th 29th birthday my wish is to hear about any of the successes you’ve had as a result of my work here at Summer Tomato, or in Foodist.

Have you lost weight? Lowered your blood pressure? Learned to cook? Convinced your kids to eat cauliflower? Reached one of your dreams?

I would love to hear your stories and triumphs, if you’d be willing to share. Not only will hearing from you totally make my year, but I’m sure others will gather inspiration and motivation from your success as well.

If you wouldn’t mind, please tell me in the comments any way I have helped you get closer to your ideal awesome life. If you’d like to share but are feeling a little shy, I’m asking the same question of my monthly newsletter subscribers, and the replies there will go directly to my private inbox. So feel free to sign up and let me know that way if you prefer.

Anything you have to share, big or small, would make my day.

Thanks so much.


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97 Responses to “It’s my birthday, and I only want one thing…”

  1. Shamus Halkowich says:

    Happy birthday Darya,
    Just got back from seeing Ben Harper at Walt Disney Concert Hall and it turns out it’s his birthday, too. That’s good company.
    I’ve thought about your question on and off through the day and for me, it’s about thinking about how our actions fit into our healthstyle.

    Drives our decisions every day.

    Thank you!

  2. Elle says:

    Happy Happy birthday!

    I love your site – stumbled upon it once, signed up for your emails and have been enjoying them ever since. I haven’t yet read all of your site or recipes and I haven’t read your book but after the comments here I think I shall buy it for me for Xmas (I’m in charge of gift buying for the holiday in my family…for myself also).

    I’m a public health professional and my work also deals with nutrition – what you write makes so much sense and you deliver your message in such a pleasant way.

    In the last year I have developed severe food intolerance for eggs, cow & sheep dairy, row leafy greens…can’t eat any of those any more. I’ve been compensating myself by eating non-dairy sweets (including home made) so I gained a few unwanted pounds.
    Two weeks ago I started the whole30 diet that is supposed to help fight the intolerance but I feel so deprived all the time (though I’m not hungry at all, eat tons of fresh vegetables and fruits and have lost 3lbs) and that makes me think of your blog – I really need to find a way to eat healthy within my new restrictions (eggs, dairy) AND feel happy about what I eat.

  3. Katy says:

    Happy Birthday- no matter your age, birthdays are awesome. Period. End of story!

    I have a little different story than most people who have commented thus far- I just found your book and blog a week ago. So, needless to say, I haven’t really lost any weight, there have been no changes in nagging chronic symptoms of a poor diet, etcetera. I am at the beginning of my new way of thinking- but everyone must start somewhere.

    I’m not fat. Ever since high school I have fluctuated +/- 15 pounds. Very much like you, though, this was a big deal and caused me to try every eating plan under the sun. I was successful getting ridiculously in shape on a few occasions, but it constantly had to track calories to stay there. I was convinced something was wrong with my thyroid because, for goodness sakes, no one should have to work that hard to maintain status quo! What I was and wasn’t eating was constantly on my mind.

    I got a “real” job (read: a lot of sitting) and I wasn’t able to workout for an hour six days a week. Then my Dad lost his battle with cancer when I was 25 and I no longer wanted to have to focus on eating and workouts anymore. I was exhausted. Not to mention in pain: I had horrible digestion issues- gas pains, bloating, you name it.

    I stumbled upon your blog when looking for tips to identify food allergies (because, like trying to blame my thyroid, my issues MUST be someone’s else’s fault!) and decided to try your tips first. The past week I have focused on getting 10,000 steps a day, keeping a foodist diary, and chewing. I have found that chewing has eliminated most of my digestive issues. I found that I don’t need to keep a diary because I know when I have too much food- time to admit to myself that writing it down doesn’t tell me anything I don’t already know. Lastly, the 10k steps takes away my guilt of not wanting to do a formal workout somedays. I now workout when it sounds fun.

    I still have a long way to go- I know I need to work on my portions. However, focusing on habits and not calories is so refreshing. Onward and upward!


  4. Ashley says:

    I’ve just finished reading your book, and it is helping me to kick my Weight Watchers habit for good! I’ve been on and off WW for the past 11 years. I suffered greatly from what you called the “what the hell” effect. When I would screw up a day, the rest of the day (sometimes week) would be a free-for-all. I was just growing weary of the roller coaster of being “good” and “bad”.

    My weight hasn’t fluctuated greatly over that time, except for during my two pregnancies, which was a definite time of “what the hell” for me. Those little ‘vacations’ from WW contributed to my gaining more than recommended. But then afterwards, WW did help me lose my pregnancy weight within a year. My youngest is now 14 months, and it’s time to kick WW to the curb and integrate healthy habits more intrinsically into my life.

    I’ve only been a follower of yours for a couple of weeks, but I believe I’m a convert. I feel very free to be rid of the shackles of weight watchers, and to be in control of my healthstyle. My daily mantra that I repeat often is that I can have anything I want to eat whenever I want it, I just don’t choose that now. I’m also recommitting to 10K steps/day (long time fitbit user here), and to weight lifting.

    My initial goal is to lose about 8 more lbs (current weight – 173, 5’8″). That will get me back to my wedding weight (8.5 years ago). After that, I’d like to get below 160, which would put me in a healthy BMI. I think these things are doable, and I’m taking a long term view! There’s no rush because this is a sustainable way of life for me.

    Thanks for your book! A real game changer for me.

  5. Julia says:

    Happy Birthday Darya! I am living and eating so much better since I found your blog. You make it exciting to eat healthy and colorfully. I have weight and arthritis issues but doing much better these days & lost 20 pounds, moving more – yoga & walking and eating better, – high fiber, anti-inflammatory & antioxidant rich foods. You are an inspiration for my life style change.

  6. AJ says:

    Thanks to all of your work, I…

    1. Significantly increased the proportion of consumed food that is high quality (local, organic, sustainable, pasture-raised)
    2. Eat SO many more vegetables
    3. Went from having a sweet tooth to rarely touching sugar and rarely missing it
    4. Chew 25 times
    5. Know to CHILL OUT about food/diet issues and embrace that a “healthstyle” is a journey that can change and adapt over time
    6. Love farmer’s markets!
    7. Can make and share delicious easy recipes that include ingredients such as cauliflower, kale, chickpeas, zucchini and more.
    8. Discovered how awesome sardines and legumes are
    9. Keep up with the latest news and scientific findings on healthy eating
    10. Own some pretty nifty kitchen gadgets (and even non-kitchen related items she’s recommended like safer beauty products)
    11. Strive to meditate on a regular basis
    12. Feel so happy to know that people who practice/utilize/preach about the importance of science can have a place in popular culture

    In conclusion: Not only have you helped me get closer to my ideal awesome life, you helped me figure out the things that make an ideal awesome life.

  7. Allie says:

    No crazy success story, but because of you I now know that sauteed peeled zucchini can be just as good, dare I say sometimes better, than pasta 🙂

  8. Marisa G says:

    Happy (Belated) Birthday, Darya!

    You have given me the gift of inspiration.

    Also, thanks to you, I own a pedometer and walk/run 10,000+ steps most days. I eat tons more veggies, have a much higher standard for how food should taste, shop at the farmer’s market every week, eat beans and lentils and salads much more frequently, and enjoy being the slowest eater at the table.

    Am very much looking forward to reading Foodist (as everything I’ve soaked up so far has been from your videos and blog posts) and cooking more when I finish with grad school in May!

    Thanks for everything 🙂

    p.s. My boyfriend now eats a healthy breakfast every day and has many more veggies, too! (And loves it.)

  9. Tara Nofziger says:

    I love reading your blog and your book, and have used several of your recipes. To make a long story short, you’ve helped me transition from 30 lbs of weight loss on Tim Ferris’ slow carb diet and create a sustainable healthstyle. I think the best thing I can tell you is that I passed your curry roasted cauliflower recipe on to a friend and she just told me that her 7yo son ate 1.5 heads of cauliflower at dinner tonight! Behold the power of curry!

  10. Jen says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I enjoyed reading your book. I have spent the last few years trying to diet, and starting on Monday naturally! Does that day ever arrive? You have inspired me to stop that nonsense and enjoy food again. I have only lost about 5 pounds but I am paying more attention to my habits good and bad. I am slowly learning which foods make me feel good and what doesn’t. For this knowledge alone I am thankful because now I can work on creating healthy habits that last. Thank you!

  11. Ris says:

    Hi Darya!

    Happy belated birthday! I am so grateful to you for your amazing website and book. They have both changed the way I eat over the past few months. I’m sure you hear this a lot, but I used to HATE cauliflower until I tried your recipe! Beets and kale and a few other veggies weren’t really my favorites, either. (Love that beet salad that converted your dad!) I think the best thing you’ve done for me is help me realize that it’s not the specific vegetable that I don’t like, it’s the way I have (or others have) been preparing it. Since then, I’ve been more adventurous in trying new vegetables and even getting my husband and other family members to give them a shot!

    This is another big thing for me: I’ve always loved to cook, but I’ve never let myself cook simply, for some reason. By that, I mean preparing complicated recipes with 1,000 ingredients and as many steps. Oddly enough, since reading your book, I’ve rediscovered the joy of preparing food simply and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. A little bit of olive oil and a high heat roast on acorn squash, marinating chicken in herbs and lemon juice and throwing it on the grill, etc… your philosophy has influenced the way I treat ingredients and has made me less of a “cheffie” perfectionist in the kitchen, if that makes any sense. It’s made preparing dinner on weeknights and grocery shopping less stressful, and I think it’s made me a better cook because I can appreciate the ingredients for what they are.

    Your philosophy of an overall healthstyle has sworn me off dieting forever. I used to do South Beach every time I needed to lose some pounds, and it would “work” temporarily, and then a month later I’d be back up where I was before (or even heavier). I hated the restrictiveness of it, especially because I love food! I like that your philosophy celebrates food instead of banishing it, or labeling foods inherently “bad.” Now, I try not to think of it as being “bad” or being “good” when I eat something. It has allowed me to change my focus to eating for overall health rather than weight loss only. I admit, I could be better about the mindfulness aspect, but when I do remember to focus on it, I see great results.

    Thank you so much for all you do! I love the blog, and I think I’ve recommended your book to everyone I know!

  12. Samantha says:

    Hi Darya,
    I just finished reading your book. My favorite chapter is the one about helping your loved ones eat healthy. I am experiencing the painful frustration of trying to help a parent deal with weight gain and apathy often when they don’t want to be helped. Lots of great tips to overcome that. Great book, I use it as an on-hand extended reference from your blog.


  13. Happy belated birthday! As you know, Mike and I started reading your blog several years ago. Thanks to Summer Tomato, we have learned soooo much. As a result, and due to some awesome personal influences, we’ve lost a combined 85 pounds. Crazy.

  14. Kate says:

    Happy Belated Birthday!

    Since finding Summer Tomato and reading Foodist:

    * I no longer “store” cheese other than Parmesan; I don’t cut it out of my diet, but pre-shredded convenience cheese doesn’t live in my fridge any more;

    * I switched from an English Muffin and low-fat cheese for breakfast to your muesli, plant milk (usually hemp, which I discovered I love), a hard-boiled egg, and one piece of fruit. I almost never am hungry before lunch now and notice that I don’t even get as hungry in the afternoon;

    * I eat pasta less often but switched back to “regular” and enjoy the pasta I do cook MUCH more than when I was eating the whole-grain; and

    * I just started a new job and will be primarily brown-bagging it, after a decade at a job with a free lunchroom, so I look forward to implementing a lot of your principles in my daily lunch life and maybe even dropping a few more pounds!

  15. Karen says:

    Darya –

    I hope my response is not too late! Over the past year or so, two things have happened for me, both of which are equally important, and started with reading your blog and understanding that things can be different.

    The first is that over the past year, I have stopped “dieting” and started eating for my well-being. I have struggled with vanity weight over the years, but have never had a huge issue. That being said, I have always worried about my weight and therefore tried to restrict what I ate significantly. I have been working with a nutritionist to develop those “home court strategies” that I need to ensure that I am eating proper meals and snacks to fuel my day. In doing so, I feel freed from the worry and stress that I have carried with me for about 15 years. This stress about my weight and body image was like a never ending cycle.

    The second thing that happened was that I discovered how much I LOVE delicata squash. Your recipe for the squash fries is life altering. Because delicata is only available for a short time, I look like a crazy person at the register with 10 of them at a time. Good thing they are so shelf stable!

    Thanks again, and happy birthday!

  16. Saif says:

    happy birthday to you Darya. hope you are doing fine.
    when i first heard about summer tomato, i felt a little strange about the name, thought about something else rather then food. at first i didnt consider summer tomato to impress my life, i subscribed the newslatter just to assist to my assignments, but later on i had completely changed my mood of life, regarding foods. i started to get interest in my eating and foods. what i like most about summer tomato was to get more and more about vegetables and fruits. i started to join a more hygenic mode of life. today i have nearly changed my entire family. thanks to you darya
    saif rehman

  17. Michelle says:

    Hi Darya,

    I bought the audiobook version of Foodist and couldn’t be happier! I have always been overweight, and struggled with attaining a healthy lifestyle. Thanks to your book and blog – I eat more vegetables, eat less processed foods and have far less cravings. You have changed my relationship with food forever! I just wish you would post more of your recipes or even a picture of what you are eating everyday would be inspiring.

    • Darya Rose says:

      The recipes for almost everything I cook regularly at home are already on the blog. I mix these up with different herbs and veggies depending on the season and my mood. Typically I don’t follow a recipe at all, that’s why I hired Elyse to create some for you guys 🙂

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