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How to Build a Better Relationship with Cooking, Social Media, and More with Tiffany Swan

3 Things We Dive Into In This Episode:

  1. Why finding and addressing the underlying cause of eating disorders is the path to healing.

  2. How to form a more easeful and creative relationship with cooking.

  3. How to reset your relationship with social media and alcohol.


📌Episode Highlights

[02:46] How Are You?

  • Let’s take a moment to check in with ourselves without judgment.

  • Give ourselves credit for all that we’ve been through today.

[07:12] The Way to Tiffany's Heart

  • Tiffany is a food person. She loves food, and enjoys eating it and feeding other people.

  • Her love language is sharing food with others. Many of her relationships blossomed through sharing a meal.

  • She's an executive chef, food scientist, and sommelier. She is also trained in nutrition.

  • Beyond food, Tiffany also likes to move. She enjoys activities like snow sliding in her home at Lake Tahoe.

[11:14] Every day is a Challenge

  • Being a professional chef and food scientist, in itself, is an obstacle. It demands work all around the clock and constant problem-solving.

  • Tiffany learned to think on her feet and stay calm even through chaos.

  • One of the biggest struggles she has faced was recovering from an eating disorder. Despite being recovered, she's still affected by her body's responses and triggers.

  • Being a living human being is challenging. However, what can help us is our connections and food.

Tiffany: "In terms of challenges, it's all challenging. Life is challenging. It's hard to be a human being. But I think it all can be helped and healed with connection and a little bit of food." - Click Here To Tweet This

[14:22] Full Recovery from Eating Disorders

  • Research shows that we can fully recover from an eating disorder. However, it can be a symptom of a bigger problem that needs more time and effort to heal.

  • For some of us, our eating disorders can keep popping up despite being recovered. This is because the deeper problem is not acknowledged.

Caitie: “It's like you could chop a branch off a tree, which is like the eating disorder, but like, the roots of the tree are still there. So it's really important to actually get down to the root of what is causing that destructive coping tool. That's what an eating disorder is. It's a coping tool, it always serves a purpose.” - Click Here To Tweet This
  • Tiffany’s drive for perfectionism and the pressure as an athlete was her deeper problem.

  • Now, she’s 25 years out of recovery but she still finds herself in the healing process.

  • One of the things that helped her is getting away from the constant competition and comparison with others in sports.

[18:39] Stepping Away From Social Media and Alcohol

  • Instagram and alcohol were addictive to Tiffany. What she thought was moderation was actually a consistent addiction.

  • It was freeing for her mental health to step away and break her old habits. Tiffany started new, healthier habits to have a better relationship with social media.

  • Tiffany is critical of her health and wellness. Despite this, she kept drinking alcohol, which she now views as similar to poison.

  • The cultures of both wine and social media are a part of today's society. We need to acknowledge how they can be detrimental to our health.

  • Taking a break and changing our habits helps us build a healthier relationship.

[28:42] Breaking the Rules of Cooking

  • Tiffany teaches people basic cooking skills and techniques. She shows them how to enjoy the process and not get too caught up in the rules.

  • After learning the basics we can cook with our own creativity and preference.

Tiffany: "I feel like learning the rules allows you to know how to break them. So with cooking, what I like to do is teach people how to do certain techniques, and learn some of the basics, so that they can riff on their own and be a little bit more creative on their own." - Click Here To Tweet This
  • Her goal is to compress what she learned in her 25 years of cooking into a year of teaching.

  • The virtual cooking club is a place for people to learn how to cook together with Tiffany there to guide and teach.

  • It's harder to share her message without Instagram. Fortunately, there are a lot of other ways to spread the word.

[32:10] Exploring Your Relationship with Cooking

  • One of the reasons why some people don't like cooking is that they don't know the basics. It can be challenging without this foundation.

  • Tiffany is teaching someone who had never cooked before. Now, the person is cooking all the time because she knows the basics and that she is capable of doing it.

  • Another reason people don’t like cooking is because of society's expectation that women should be the one cooking in the house. Remove these expectations and create a kitchen for everyone.

  • Growing up, Caitie never learned how to cook. Having to quickly learn it in her 20s made her resent cooking.

  • Honor your preferences in your cooking. As a professional chef, Tiffany’s food can be simple at times, but she makes it all from the heart.

[39:07] Tiffany's Ever-Changing Routines

  • In the morning, Tiffany starts her day with her dog, drinking lemon water, eating granola, having tea, and taking a walk.

  • All throughout her day, she makes sure to stay cozy while doing whatever she needs to do.

  • Tiffany's evenings are less consistent. She's continuously discovering new evening routines and starting different habits.

  • Routines and habits can be constantly changing. It doesn't have to be the same every single day.

[45:39] This Week’s Processing Prompt and Actionable Experiment

  • Processing Prompt: What is one thing that you desire to change your relationship with? Why?

    • Think about something you don’t like the way you’re relating to, or feeling unsteady about your relationship with.

    • Can you step back and take a break from these things? Reassess your life with and without it and find the balance between both.

    • If your answer is food, it's not something people can take a break from. Look into other ways to process your relationship with food, such as a nutrition counselor.

  • Actionable Experiment: Cook a meal for yourself and see how it feels to take time to cook slowly.

    • Use that to assess your relationship with cooking. Do you enjoy it?

    • Make sure to take that quiet time to engage with food and the process of cooking. You deserve this.

About Tiffany

Tiffany Swan is an executive chef, food scientist, nutritionist, and sommelier. She believes that food not only fills bellies but also souls. It’s a way to create connections and bring people together over shared food and laughter. Her love for food and her guests is put into every plate she prepares. Tiffany’s 25 years of experience gave them the skills and techniques she now shares through her classes, intensives, and retreats.

Connect with Tiffany: Website | Instagram | Medium

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Tiffany Swan: I do believe that you can recover. It's a really good point that you said because it's not necessarily the eating disorder that's always there. It's the thing that is behind it, those desires for perfectionism and body dysmorphia and all of that. If I don't take care of that, it comes through in controlling what I'm eating. But you're right, it's definitely like that underlying thing that is always there.

Caitie Corradino: Welcome to Whole, Full and Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story and with who you truly are, underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder, recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition, but underneath my titles and resume, a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things chocolate truffles, world traveling and serendipity.

I'm here to share no bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full and alive right here, right now. Let's get into it. Hi, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full and Alive. If it's your first episode, welcome. Thank you so much for being here. I'm so glad that we were connected in some way, shape or form out there in the universe.

If it's your second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or in like episode 15 or something now, thanks so much for coming back. I'm so grateful that you're listening. I'm so happy that we get to be connected. I am just wildly thankful for the small little community that has formed around this podcast, and I'm so grateful for your feedback that I've been receiving. Yeah, I'm done with my Oscar speech now. How are you today? How are you?

Wherever you are right now, can you take a moment to just check in with yourself? Really ask yourself that question, and don't judge the answer. Just sit with it for a moment. How am I today? What's on my plate today? How am I feeling in my body? What do I need right now? Do I need a little stretch? Do I need to twist around my chair? Do I need to look away from the screen for a moment?

Do I need to pause this podcast and take two deep breaths? Please, by all means, pause me. Do you need a glass of water? Do you need a break? Do you need a cup of coffee? That's something that we are totally allowed to need sometimes. Yeah, how are you feeling? Just ask yourself and don't judge the answer. I just wanted to open with that today, because I think it's so common to move through our days without taking inventory of how we're doing and how we're feeling and what's going on in our lives.

We don't give ourselves enough credit at the end of the day for everything that we go through in a day. So pull over, take inventory. I'm sure you've got a lot going on right now. Give yourself credit, you're doing an amazing job. So moving into today's episode, I have a very special guest. Her name is Tiffany Swan. She is an executive chef. She has been an executive chef at multiple restaurants.

She's also a food scientist and a sommelier, a wine expert, and the creator of a really fun virtual cooking club that helps make cooking more fun, more accessible for people in their homes who just want to learn the art and science of creating a little more flavor in their kitchen without overcomplicating it. I am so excited to be talking to Tiffany today, not only about cooking. We definitely talk about cooking.

She definitely talks about some tangible tools and some mindset shifts for kind of making cooking a little bit less intimidating, a little bit less anxiety inducing if you're someone who has a desire to cook, but is having a hard time, kind of, processing your relationship with it. We talked about that, and she also shares a lot about her personal life. Tiffany shares that she recently has set boundaries with social media, Instagram, in particular, and with alcohol.

It's interesting because she's an entrepreneur. She has her own business, her cooking club. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are told that they need to be on social media. They need to be on Instagram promoting their services, and she was like, but this is really bad for my health, and I feel like I need to set boundaries with it. Then, she also is a sommelier, a wine expert and she was like, but I need to set boundaries with alcohol.

So Tiffany opens up about this in a very authentic and courageous way, and I'm so thankful that she shares her experiences with setting boundaries with these two things, even though they're very much part of her career and what that has looked like for her so far. Tiffany also shares a little bit about her personal story recovering from an eating disorder. I kind of want to provide a little bit of a caveat about this before I dive into my interview with Tiffany.

One thing that Tiffany talks about is struggling with the feeling that sometimes her eating disorder thoughts get triggered when she thinks that she's finally let go of them. During the interview, Tiffany more or less shares this sort of fear that full recovery from an eating disorder is not possible.

I want to share that kind of off the bat, because it's important to me that you know that after Tiffany says that, she and I dive into a conversation about why full recovery from an eating disorder is possible, and why people kind of commonly are running with the misconception that it's not possible to fully recover from an eating disorder. So if you hear Tiffany say that in the interview, and you're like, oh, is full recovery not possible.

Stick around for 15 seconds, because immediately after that, she and I engage in a conversation about full recovery and what that really means and why a lot of people tend to think that it's not possible. So with that, I am so excited to introduce you to Tiffany Swan, an amazing chef. She is one of those people that just cooks food for you, and you just feel like all the love in it, and how much she loves cooking and making meals for people and bringing people together through food.

I had the pleasure, of course, of eating her food at one point, and also just all around an amazing human being that I'm so excited to be here talking with today. Let's get into it. Thank you so much for being here to talk to me today.

Tiffany: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.

Caitie: I'm so excited for this community to meet you. I believe you're the first interview with the chef, so this is really exciting. I always ask my guests first, who are you, and I want to know what you do for sure. I just kind of, spoiler alert, gave a little bit of it away, but also let me hear about who you are, what makes you who you are, how do people know when they're in your energy, what do you value most. Take it away.

Tiffany: Oh my goodness, there's so many things, and definitely food is a lot of who I am, being a chef and a food scientist and a sommelier and trained in nutrition. Although I'm gonna caveat there, I know that you and a number of my other friends are in nutrition, and nutrition has changed so, so much. I was actually reflecting on this the other day. When I was in college studying nutrition, all of my professors were men, which I think is interesting, because it’s kind of a new science in a way, makes me sound like a dinosaur.

But also a lot of the things that we recognize as being kind of standard, like hunger hormones, for example, hadn't even been discovered when I was in college. So it's really interesting to see how nutrition science has evolved. While I'm not an RD and I'm not in the nutrition world, I still love it and follow it. I think it's very fascinating, so little caveat there. But ultimately, I'm a food person. I love food, I love to not only eat but feed people.

My biggest love language is sharing food with others. It sounds kind of cliche, but they say the way to a man's heart is through their stomach. I feel that way for everyone. Some of my closest friends have become close friends because I cook for them or we share a meal around a table together. You can have so much more connection over a meal than you can just chatting in a way.

So food and connection are really what drives me. But I'm not just food, I'm a full human. I live in Lake Tahoe, California, so trail running and snow sliding and lake swimming and all the things are other things that get me excited. So I like to move and I like to eat.

Caitie: What is snow sliding? Do I need to know that I just moved to Colorado?

Tiffany: It's kind of a all encompassing term for playing in the snow like a skier, a snowboarder, a backcountry skier, a cross country skier, but you're sliding on snow and having fun. You could be a tuber, whatever gets you excited on the snow. I don't know if it's a real term. I use it, because like it. I like to be out on the snow and just flying on it.

Caitie: I love that. I honestly love that. I was picturing you just like sliding on the snow. Oh, what’s that? Maybe I could do that because I don't like skiing. Very cool. I think if a cozy and warm meal was a person, it would be you. You emanate connection and comfort and coziness, and I love being around you for that reason. I love that the first time I met you, you cooked a meal for me.

So I feel like I have experience of connecting with you through food, and you do truly see all of the different aspects of food, so you are a food scientist. You did study food and nutrition. You're also a professionally trained chef, and you also see the value of culture and connection and all the different things that are shared over a meal. I think that's so awesome.

There's so much stuff that I'm excited to talk to you about today. So the second question that I asked all my guests, though, is what is an unexpected challenge or obstacle that you faced in your life that brought you to where you are today, which is being a chef and having had so many experiences in different kitchens. You can talk about that a little bit more too if you want.

Tiffany: Oh my goodness. I mean, I think being a chef in itself is an obstacle. Gosh, I don't even know what the biggest thing is, but I've had a number of obstacles throughout my life. One in which I shared with you, I am an eating disorder recovered person, although it's always there. I share with people and you may feel the same way that it's kind of like having mono, like you get over it in a way.

But you always kind of have that in your body and your muscles and your mind just kind of responds, and you have to know the triggers. I think that really shaped a lot of what I do. Then moving into more of career style, like the actual work itself, like everyday is a challenge. As a chef, the food scientist, you're really just working on problem solving all the time.

I really learned how to think on my feet and stay calm and be a very kind of eye of the storm type person so that the chaos can happen around me, but I can stay calm. That has really shaped a lot of who I am and where my skills come from to. So in terms of challenges, it's all challenging. Life is challenging. It's hard to be a human being, but I think it all can be helped and healed with that connection and a little bit of food.

Caitie: Thank you so much for sharing all of that. Being a chef in and of itself seems like a major, major challenge. I had a brief conversation with you the first time we met about your life working as an executive chef and how crazy the hours were. People think oh, like chefs work these crazy late night hours. I feel like they work 24 hours. It's not just crazy late night, it's also crazy early morning, and just kind of like around the clock energy output.

So I know that that in and of itself was a very unique challenge, and it's also still a very male dominated field in a lot of way. We were talking a little bit about that. Then yeah, I want to circle back to what you were saying about living with an eating disorder, because it is so common that individuals who have eating disorders, or disordered eating become chefs, because they're obsessed with food.

Because they're so hungry, that they are just constantly thinking about food and cooking for other people is like a way of vicariously eating without having to nourish themselves. There's so much research that shows that individuals with eating disorders end up having careers in food, because it's a way for them to kind of be able to think about food vicariously without having to do the scary act of nourishing themselves.

That's just like an interesting fact. To your point about recovery, I also want to address that too, obviously. It's like I believe firmly, and I think research shows that you can fully recover from an eating disorder. Eating disorder is never just an eating disorder. It's a symptom of a bigger problem, and whatever that underlying thing is that's causing your eating disorder, that might be the lifelong healing project, that might be the thing that keeps popping up like Whac-A-Mole over and over again.

If you don't learn to release the coping tools, or you don't learn to release the harmful coping tool that is your eating disorder, it will keep coming up again, and triggers will keep coming up again. You will slide back into disordered eating behaviors. So it's like, yeah, for me, my eating disorder was caused by something much deeper, and that's always the thing that I'll be working on throughout the rest of my life.

However, I'm fully recovered from an eating disorder, because I've learned to let go of those coping tools when the thing gets triggered. But yeah, what do you think about that?

Tiffany: Yes, I do believe that you can recover. It's a really good point that you said, because it's not necessarily the eating disorder that's always there. It's the thing that is behind it, those desires for perfectionism, and body dysmorphia, and all of that. If I don't take care of that, it comes through in controlling what I'm eating. But you're right, it's definitely like that underlying thing that is always there.

Caitie: Yeah, it's like you could chop a branch off a tree, which is like the eating disorder, but like the roots of the tree are still there. So it's really important to actually get down to the root of what is causing that destructive coping tool, which is, that's what an eating disorder is, right? It's a coping tool. It always serves a purpose. It's never just coming out of nowhere, and it isn't just about the desire for fitness.

I think that's a really common misconception is that eating disorders are about the drive for fitness. It's always about something so much more deep, and so that's why I think there is so much conflicting messaging out there about whether or not you can fully recover, because some people are like, “Oh, well, you can't ever fully recover, because it always just kind of keeps popping up.”

It's always part of you, but it's usually the reason it always keeps popping up is if the deeper thing is not really being dealt with, or at least address and acknowledged, right? Sometimes healing is a lifelong process. We're not going to wipe away all our problems and fix every little thing all the time. But it needs to be at least addressed and dealt with.

Tiffany: I agree. I agree. That's a really good reframing for me, and it's really helpful for me to continue to heal, really. Just as a little bit of background, I was in the height of my clinically diagnosed anorexia in high school and early college, and it was really started from, again, that drive for perfectionism, but also as an athlete and as a runner. I'm a pretty muscular person, and so being a runner, I was oftentimes a bigger distance runner, as oftentimes bigger than my teammates, and that was hard, especially as a very easily influenced high schooler.

So I'm 25 years out of my recovery, and I say that in quotes, because I'm always in recovery. It's always kind of a process of healing myself, and I will say that not being a competitive athlete anymore has helped a lot. I don't go to start lines and compare myself to everyone else, like I did in college. I don't race anymore, so that helped a lot.

Caitie: Yeah, yeah. I think competition definitely breeds parison. I mean, yeah, there's enough competition. So yeah, I understand that once you're taken out of competitive sports environments, things do get easier. Being able to set boundaries with stuff that you realize is not serving you even if it seems like a good thing in some ways, nothing is all one thing, and it is important to acknowledge that you need to set boundaries with for your healing.

So I appreciate you sharing that, that chapter of your life. Yeah, so I guess speaking of boundaries, you also recently explored your relationship with two other things that a lot of people are struggling with, which is like Instagram, social media, and alcohol. So I want to shift into that, because you've been writing about that for the medium a little bit. What have you learned about setting boundaries with those two things?

This is kind of a hard left turn from talking about food and disordered eating, but I imagine that your relationship with these things feels similar in a lot of ways. Yeah, what I really admire about the way you've been talking about this is that you're kind of busting these myths that, first of all, an entrepreneur, like yourself, needs to be on Instagram, and also busting the myth that a food lover and a wine expert can't be sober-ish. So take take it away. Tell us a little bit more about setting boundaries with those two things.

Tiffany: Well, first, Instagram is addictive. It was addictive to me. I would get into this scroll hole and just scroll and scroll and scroll and feel awful about myself. Alcohol is the same way, and I always felt like I was a moderator that I was good at moderating but I wasn't. I was drinking a glass or two of wine every single night, which isn't really moderation. It’s a consistent addiction, really.

Because I'm a scientist, I like to test things. My human design too is like if you tell me that that iron is hot, I need to touch it and find out that it's hot. I'm not going to believe you otherwise, so I had to test and find out. So with social media, I had social media coaches. I learned how to make reels. I learned how to write the right captions, and how to post the right photos and what's going to get the most engagement.

I tried it for a while, and I was still in that scroll hole. I was still spending hours each day thinking about it and I just got tired of thinking about it. So I decided to take a break, and that break has now kind of become permanent. I only have Instagram on my laptop, so I physically can't go down the scroll hole, because you can't scroll more than like 10 squares or so. I get to choose what I'm looking at. I check my messages.

I check the people I'm following along with and want to kind of see what they're doing. But it's been so so freeing for my mental health. I've able to step away from it and break those habits so that I can start new habits. Now that I've been away from it for a while, I think I stopped in mid August and it's end of October right now, I'm feeling like I can come back to it. I've changed the habits enough, and I can now have a healthier relationship.

Again, I think it's totally related to disordered eating. When you first are moving out of those behaviors, you have to kind of break the habits and then you can start to eat more normally, again. I feel that way about them. Alcohol, on the other side, is a little different for me because I struggle a lot with the fact that I take care of my body, and again, the nutrition background and understanding my health and wellness.

I buy all these supplements, and I try to make sure I get the right nutrients each day in some way or another. I'm watching to make sure that my meals are going to be satiating and then I go and drink wine, which is technically a poison. That is really challenging in my brain to wrap around because I love food and beverage. I love consumables. I love having that whole piece of the experience being a truly hedonistic experience, all about pleasure, and it's really hard to separate that wine piece.

When you cheers at dinner, you have your wine glass. When you celebrate something, you open a bottle of champagne. When you come to a dinner party, you show up with a bottle of wine in your arms. It's so much a part of the food and wine culture that it's really hard to separate.

That being said, I'm separating, and I'm trying to do the same thing as I did with the Instagram where I'm taking a break, changing the habits so that I can have a little bit more of a healthy relationship with it and enjoy it for what it is, the connection over the dinner table, the clinking glasses, that sort of thing.

Caitie: Thank you so much for sharing all of that. I mean, it sounds like such a cliche. It'd be like not enough people talk about this, but like it's just true. Not enough people talk about how truly addictive these things feel. As a dietitian who works with people who are trying to break free from dieting and disordered eating, people will say to me all the time, I'm addicted to sugar. I'm addicted to steak like crazy stuff.

I'm like, you are not addicted to this stuff. Let's talk about the stuff that you might actually be addicted to which social media is actually showing to be a biological addiction. Alcohol is a drug as much as we want to make it part of food and beverage. It is a drug in every sense of the word. I mean, I hate to say it but people are like, oh, sugar is poison and doughnuts are poison. I'm like, absolutely not.

Doughnuts are not poison. Alcohol is, and so many people will demonize so many foods and never look at their relationship with alcohol. They'll be like, oh, I have to cut out added sugar. I have to cut out white bread and then still go have like five cocktails that night. The way we look at alcohol in our culture makes absolutely no sense. Also social media, I think needs to be viewed in that way too, as something that can be detrimental to our health, as something that as you said, we think about like 24 hours a day.

I noticed I was spending too much time on social media, when I started having like dreams about social media. Social media would be happening in my dreams. I'd have a dream that someone commented on. Whoa, I am living in a virtual reality right now? This is like part of my plot of my dream. So I really admire your strength to walk away because as an entrepreneur, it's not an easy thing to do.

We're fed that idea that we need social media. Similarly, we're fed the idea that we need alcohol. People have told me, oh, you can't go on dates if you don't drink. What are you going to do on a date? Excuse me?

Tiffany: Exactly, exactly. It's so cultural, and it's not just our culture. You think about history, and I think that's a little bit why wine, especially wine and beer, more than spirits, I think, kind of get pushed back as being okay, because we've been doing it for so many years. The Italians have been drinking wine that they've made for generations and generations.

Caitie: Yeah, and at the same time, you can have a good relationship with these things, right? We can have a positive relationship with social media. I have no intention of walking away from Instagram. I have built community on there. I have been able to connect with people who I've been able to serve on there, which is so amazing. I don't have any intention of becoming completely sober.

I do enjoy having fun and having drinks with my friends, and I have Italian roots. It's part of my family's culture. But that said, sometimes you do need that sort of reset, so that you can look at what your life looks like without this thing and take what you learned from that break. I'm bringing this back to food because food doesn't really work that way. Like you said, when you're an eating disorder recovery, you do need to kind of eat in a more structured way before you can start eating intuitively again and that's true.

Tiffany: Right.

Caitie: But you can't take a break from food. You can't be like, oh, I'm going to opt out of eating for a little bit, and I will come back because food is not a drug.

Tiffany: Right.

Caitie: Not your body needs for nourishment, but social media and alcohol, these are drug like substances. Liz Gilbert said a really cool definition of a drug on the We Can Do Hard Things podcast. She was like, “I know something is a drug when I never want it to be over when I’m doing it.”

Tiffany: That’s a good point. And I

Caitie: I never want it to end. I feel like that's a really interesting thing to think about when you take a break from this stuff, because when you do step away from it, part of you feels really tempted to go back, right? When you do that back into it, it's like there’s part of you never want it to end.

I feel like the only way you can get to that place where you are okay with it ending, right, when you're okay with like closing out of the scroll even though you're feeling tempted to stay in there, or you're like good with not having a third glass of wine, even though you kind of want it is if you take that break and have the opportunity to see what your life looks like without it.

So when you took the break from social media and the break from alcohol and you sort of came back to it, what boundaries did you put in place for yourself moving forward? This is how we can kind of shift into talking a little bit more about what you do as an entrepreneur because you teach people the skills and the science of cooking and flavor while also helping them kind of enjoy the process and not get too caught up in the rules. How do you do that now without being on Instagram consistently?

Tiffany: I think that's a really good segue actually is that I feel like learning the rules allows you to know how to break them. So with cooking, what I like to do is teach people how to do certain techniques, learn some of the basics, so that they can riff on their own and be a little bit more creative on their own. My goal is essentially to provide my 25 plus years experience and compress it into a little lesson.

Yes, I'm not reaching people through Instagram like I used to, but I have a virtual cooking club that's actually coming back in a few weeks where we get to cook together virtually and you can actually show me what you're making and say, like, “Tiffany, am I doing this right?” I am there to guide you and help you learn those techniques so that you can break the rules later on.

Yes, it's harder to get the message out without Instagram, but I also feel like I'm a little bit more of a grassroots kind of person. So a lot of what I'm doing is a little bit more of that stapling a flyer to the telephone pole style. I mean, I haven't physically done that yet, but maybe I will, who knows?

Caitie: I really love that, and it isn't just about that, too, right? It's about connections and community and former clients and letting a community built around you without exhausting yourself and grabbing at straws to try to get new clients. I think that organic community that gets built when you're not like forcing it is priceless aand 100%. So your mission is to help people learn guidelines and rules, as you're calling them.

I always veer away from the word rules on this podcast as the first time I’m feeling okay about it, but learning the guidelines, so that they can then get creative within that kind of reminds me of gentle structure approach that I try to take in nutrition, because you do need structure. Structure, lack of it feels horrible for your brain. It causes so much anxiety, but then once you learn the structure, then you get to ebb and flow within that container and create a lifestyle that's going to work and be cozy for you, and that's what can happen in cooking too.

When you learn a few guidelines, a few things that are going to help you feel grounded, so you're not just backflipping into cooking, and then feeling overwhelmed by it, then you get to riff on it. Yeah, I was also told that in my yoga teacher training. They were like, know the rules and then break the rules. Learn how to teach a class that has a good structure and format and arc to it, and then you refine it from there, and that really is where the magic happens.

So when you get someone new to your cooking club and they don't like cooking, I'm sure it's happened before. What do you think that really means? How would you recommend someone explore their relationship with cooking?

Tiffany: I love this question. I have so many theories, but I think that one of the reasons why people don't like cooking is because they haven't been taught the basics. They don't know how to hold a knife. They don't know how to cut an onion, and everything feels hard and messy and just challenging. So maybe they dislike cooking because it's never come easily. I actually have a cooking club member who when she started, she never cooked.

Her best meal at home was like toast, and now, she's cooking all the time. She's making these beautiful things, because now, she knows some basics, and she knows that she is more capable than she ever realized she was, because she hadn't been given the opportunity to play around. I love that so much. It's a little bit like when people say, “Oh, I hate this thing.”

For example, wine again, the people who say I hate Sauvignon Blanc. Do you really, or have you just not had a good Sauvignon Blanc that really like meets your your preferences? If you hate cooking, do you really, or do you really just not quite know how to do it to make it feel good for you? So that's definitely one of my theories, but another one is actually a lot more philosophical and kind of based in the patriarchy, in that we've heard so much of our lives that women belong in the kitchen.

I think that there's a lot of men that don't cook because they believe that it's not their role, and I think there's a lot of women who don't cook because they're trying to rebel against that kind of standard. So I think that there's a lot of people that are kind of fighting with cooking because of that kind of expectation. Once you kind of remove that expectation and make it more like the kitchen is for everyone and you can have fun there, I think people start to enjoy cooking a lot more.

Caitie: Those are two really good points, right? First one being: do you really hate cooking, or have you just not been taught to cook in a way that honors your preferences and your lifestyle and what works for you and what you have available in your kitchen? That one is true for me, I believe. I'm a dietitian, but I'm not a chef, and I've really had to explore my relationship with cooking throughout my 20s.

What I discovered is that, first of all, my mom never let me touch the kitchen growing up, like that was really, it was off limits. I mean, a lot going on there, but her kitchen was her space. I couldn't touch anything. I never really learned how to cook.

Tiffany: Interesting.

Caitie: I went to college having not like boiled water, honestly.

Tiffany: Wow.

Caitie: I really, really had to learn a lot of foundational cooking skills in my 20s, and that definitely made me resent cooking for a while, because I just like didn't know what the heck I was doing for a long time. Also, I see this come up with my clients a lot and definitely with myself is this idea that it has to look a certain way. It has to be like fancy herbs, fancy spices, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, exotic protein sources, like all these different things in order to be good, and that's just not true.

Honor what you enjoy, and you get to make the things that honor your preferences. Then what you're saying about women's role in the kitchen definitely is definitely 100% a thing, because also, being raised by a mom who was very territorial over the kitchen, and also that was like her thing that she did for the family. I was like, well, I don't want to be anything like that.

I don't want that. I don't want that to be my role in my family, and so that's really gotten my wheels turning on a personal level.

Tiffany: I'm glad to hear both resonate, and I'd love to help change that for you. To your point, I think it's so much of finding what honors you, and I'll just share as a professional chef, I don't cook fancy meals most nights. I keep frozen spinach in the freezer to add some vegetables to something. Sometimes, it's just Annie's mac and cheese, and I'm putting some frozen spinach in there to add some nutrition.

Sometimes, I am making a quesadilla for lunch or something like it's not always fancy. In fact, my husband is often asked what it's like being married to a chef, and he's like, “She makes a great quesadilla.” Because when you're cooking all day, sometimes the last thing you want to do is cook for yourself and your family. I find myself often saying, after a long day of cooking, I want someone else to do the cooking now and we'll go out to dinner.

But I will say also, conversely, again, food is my love language. So 90% of the time, I'm cooking at home and I'm making something and especially when my husband is home, I will feed him something that is comforting and warm to me but also to him. So I like to make things simple, but yet make them from the heart. So sometimes it's fancy. Sometimes, most times, it's not.

Caitie: Thank you so much for sharing that. Yeah. Annie’s mac and cheese, a little bit of spinach can't even tell you how many times I've recommended that to a client. First of all, there's this idea that if you have mac and cheese that's like the ultimate lazy meal and you've resigned, and that's just absolutely not true. It's delicious and nutritious has a lot of calcium and protein in there. Also, you can add a pop of fiber and vitamins and minerals by just throwing some spinach in there.

Tiffany: Exactly.

Caitie: It gets to be that simple and that pleasurable a lot of the time. So okay, I love to wrap up with this question because I love morning and evening routines and rituals, and I love reclaiming them from rigid toxic diet wellness culture that has told us that we need to have a lemon water and a half every morning and 20-step skincare routine at night. So Tiffany, what simple routines ground you or what simple routines inspire you in the morning and ground you in the evening?

Tiffany: In the morning, my dog wakes me up each day, so she is my alarm clock. If I have to get up before her natural alarm clock, she's always like what's going on, so she's really what gets me up each day. But then, I start my day with the lemon water because I like it, not because I feel like I need it. It's a way to warm myself up. I live in a cold area, at least in the winter. I make my own granola. I am a granola addict. I'm saying in quotes.

I eat granola every single morning, even when I make another breakfast like say I'm making French toast, I put granola on top of the French toast because I like the crunch. So I love granola. I love making it myself, because I can adjust the way it tastes. Most grocery granolas are too sweet for my preference, or I like a lot more nuts in there than most grocery stores can afford, really. So that's my morning. I have my lemon water. I have my granola.

I have been a cup of tea, and then by then, my dog is anxious to get outside and we go for a little walk. So I get my fresh air in the morning, and then we both start our day. Her day, sometimes, started just by napping, and mine started by jumping into whatever it is that I'm doing. But I will say that I tend to stay pretty cozy, hooded sweatshirts and running tights are kind of my uniform. I don't tend to do much outside of that for a morning routine.

For the evening, I'm a little less consistent in that I am discovering new routines that used to be a glass of wine, make dinner, maybe another glass of wine after dinner, and then watch TV because now, I have a little buzz and I'm not feeling super productive. But since those habits are changing, so are my routines.

So I don't really have an evening routine at this point, other than the kind of basics of brushing my teeth, getting in my bed. I always read before I fall asleep. But really, it's changing, and I think that's kind of fun. I like change, but it can be a little bit scary, too.

Caitie: Yeah, I think no one's really brought that up before that your routines change and evolve with different seasons of your life. It's so common to have a habit of reading and doing a facemask every night for a while and then you realize a different evening routine serves you or if you're contemplating your relationship with alcohol or with anything else, your evening routine can definitely change too.

So I really liked that you pointed that out because it's like you're currently in a exploration phase. With my move to Denver, my routines have changed entirely, completely, totally. I mean, Manhattan versus Denver mornings, versus Denver evenings, very, very different.

Tiffany: Definitely.

Caitie: I feel comfortable saying I'm in a season of change there as well. Yeah. Well, Tiffany, thank you so much for sharing so many beautiful things. Please tell everyone where they can find you and how they can connect with you being that you are opting out of Insta and how they can learn more about your cooking club.

Tiffany: Well, thank you, Caitie. I am so happy to be here. I love your podcast, and I'm so excited to be a part of it. But thank you so much. For those who want to find me, my website is There's a hyphen between each word, That's just weird to say. Then my cooking club is being launched in a couple of weeks in early November, and that will be announced via my newsletter, which you can sign up for on my website.

If Instagram is really your favorite way to find people, I'm still there. I'm just not posting often and not engaging often. And that is@tiffanysageswan. Similarly, I'm writing on medium, just starting there, and that's also Tiffany Sage Swan, so you can follow along, hear the stories of my exploration with wine and Instagram and so many other things that I'm learning about and come learn along with me.

One big thing, how could I forget, but I nearly did, I am writing a cookbook, and that is coming out in summer of 2023. I want the community to be involved, so I want you. I want every one of your listeners that want to come and help me test these recipes. So within the cooking club or on your own, I would love to have everyone's participation in this book because it's my child and it takes a village to raise a child.

Caitie: I love that. I think people definitely would think about writing a book as like a very isolated solo project. So I love that you're like, I'm gonna involve the community and make this like a club book. That's so cool, and I'm really excited to be a part of that and to join your cooking club now that I have actual counterspace in Denver. You had a counter before and a sink and a refrigerator, so I'm adjusting. I am so stoked for people to hear your voice.

Thank you so much for being here. Everybody, if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a five star review or write a review. Let me know what you think. Let me know if you have questions for me or for T about cooking, or food or any of the things we talked about today. I want to hear what's resonating with you. What's landing with you? What's making you think? We'll be back here again next week.

All right, I'm coming at you with your processing prompts and your actionable experiment for this week based on my conversation with Tiffany. So the processing prompts, the thing I want to invite you to journal about or talk to someone about or just think about a little bit is what is something that you desire to change your relationship with, and why? Is it food? Is it social media? Is it alcohol? Processed that a little bit.

What's something that you know you want to change your relationship with? A thing that you don't like the way you're relating to, something that you're feeling a little unsteady about your relationship with, and you want to dive into it a little bit more. Ask yourself what that thing is, and why is it that you desire to kind of dive into it and reassess your relationship with it? Then ask yourself, would it be possible to take a break from this thing?

Can you actually step back and take a break from this thing so that you can really reassess what your life looks like without it and have sort of that ability to see, okay, this is what my life looks like with this thing? This is what my life looks like without this thing, and then you can try to find that balance in the messy middle. Now, this works with alcohol, for sure. This works with social media, for sure.

This even works with exercise to an extent certain types of exercise, like for sure You could totally take a break for a while and kind of take some time away from it. But this doesn't work with food, you can't take a break from food. You can't opt out of eating. I talked about that in the episode a little bit. So if it's food, you can't take a break from it. So there's going to need to be other ways that you process your relationship with food that might be working with a nutrition counselor, that might be reading the book intuitive eating.

Yeah, that might be just being overall mindful of the food rules and restrictions you've created around eating. But yeah, ask yourself, can I actually take a break from this, that I can see what my life looks like without it? Then for your action experiment, let's make that about cooking. Can you cook a meal for yourself and see how it feels to take time to cook slowly, and use that to kind of assess what your relationship with cooking is like?

Do you really not enjoy it if you're one of those people who says they don't enjoy it? Or is it that you don't really take the time to do it or you don't feel like it's worth your time, air quotes? How would it feel to make yourself one of your most favorite meals, even if it's box mac and cheese with frozen peas thrown in there for a little bit of fiber? Even if it's the simplest meal you can think of, how would it feel to slow down, cook it fully, plate it fully and eat it?

I know there are people listening to this that have not done that for themselves in a minute. Take some time cook yourself a full elaborate meal, plate it, sit down and eat it and use that to kind of assess what is my relationship with cooking for myself. Can I do this a little bit more often? You deserve that. I also know that I'm making it sound like everyone who listens to this podcast totally lives alone.

You might not have the luxury of just cooking a meal for just yourself. You might have a family to cook for or a spouse or a partner to cook for. That's okay. Cook for them too, but make sure you take that quiet time with yourself to kind of engage with the food and engage with the cooking and use that to assess your relationship with preparing food. Can you make it a little more meditative?

We'll see. I hope that wherever you are, you're feeling a sense of peace. You could take a deep breath for a moment. Find a little quiet corner to take care of yourself, that be a reminder. I hope that you have a great rest of your week or this week is just whatever you need it to be. I will see you back here next week.

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