Photos and story by Vicki Bennington
Looking back, Dr. Katie Drake Sherer believes she has had an eating disorder since high school.
“I was never officially diagnosed, but I would try not to eat so I would lose weight, and then binge because I had been depriving myself so much,” Sherer said.
Now, as a nutritionist and chiropractor, she said that 70 percent of her nutrition patients have admitted to the same kind of binge-eating that she dealt with herself. But she’s changed all that now – for herself and her patients.
Sherer earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, later attending Logan University in St. Louis, studying chiropractics. There, she met Jacob Sherer, who eventually became her husband.
“He introduced me to programs on healthy eating and total body wellness. I saw that as a chiropractor, I could also focus on nutrition,” Sherer said. “It snowballed from there. I took more nutrition classes and did more research, all the while still struggling to find my own balance with food.
“As I started to learn more about ‘eating clean,’ and how dangerous processed foods can be for you, I began to eliminate anything boxed or bagged, and it made a difference for me,” she said. “As I learned to allow myself to live my life – and eat well most of the time, I was able to maintain my weight and feel ‘normal.’”
She and Jacob eventually opened their own chiropractic practice where both work to offer a range of programs focused on overall health. Sherer has applied the principles she’s learned in her practice, utilizing a holistic approach to nutritional counseling to assist her patients in achieving health-oriented goals, while living a maintainable, yet healthy, lifestyle.
At home, she uses only whole foods and fresh ingredients, uses tricks like substituting Greek yoghurt for sour cream, spreading sunflower butter instead of margarine, and chooses alternatives to sugar and flour like almond or brown rice flour that are not processed or bleached, and contain natural enzymes and fatty acids, which are so important for women.
“Ninety percent of what you put in your mouth is mental, and you need to be 100 percent in control,” she said. “When you figure out how to eat clean, you feel full. Substituting healthier options allows you to enjoy even your favorite foods.”
Bottom line: Try to eat foods in their most natural state, with no sugars or artificial sweeteners, no dies, no preservatives or chemical additives (most of the time). “Most foods billed as low fat are still processed foods. Basically, if it is natural – it can run, jump swim or fly or grows in the ground – it’s good for you. Good fats come from olive oil, avocados, nuts and cheese,” she said.
But if you are going to dinner with friends or you have a birthday party to attend, you don’t have to stand on the sidelines. After all, the majority of social events revolve around food and drink, and partaking with others makes life more fun.
“If you eat well (clean) most days, you can afford to ‘live a little’ on social occasions, have pizza once a week with your kids, or eat a cupcake at a baby shower,” Sherer said. “You can’t be too obsessive, because that’s not sustainable. You’ve got to find a balance. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”
“That has been my own lesson to learn, and I make it as easy as I can on myself. Give yourself zero excuses to fail.”
She sets aside time every Sunday to prepare meals for the upcoming week (and admits she sometimes has to force herself to do it). Every day, the clean-eating dinner is in the freezer, ready to pop into the crockpot or skillet. She also keeps a food diary and provides variety in her meals. Sherer finds and/or develops new recipes and has produced one clean-eating cookbook, “Not So Guilty Pleasures.” A second cookbook is due for release this fall, which also includes a restaurant guide.
“It all goes so far beyond weight loss,” she said. “By simply changing nutritional habits, it can help control diabetes, thyroid levels, blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, chronic inflammation, heartburn and polycystic ovarian syndrome.”
Staying physically active has been another important element for Sherer. That can mean walking the neighborhood with your best friend, playing your favorite sport or going to the gym, like Sherer, who lifts weights with interval training to stay toned. She has competed in two body-building competitions.
“Find something you like and get moving,” she said.
Under the name Dr. Katie’s Kitchen, Sherer and her team lead groups through a seven-day meal preparation of healthy, clean-eating dinners in a party-type atmosphere.
“And Jacob and I love to try new restaurants,” she said. “You don’t have to stay at home to eat healthy or lose weight. Never be afraid to ask for a dish without sauces, cheese or oils. And portion control is so important.”
Her newest endeavor is Clean Cooks, a company that preps clean-eating freezer meals purchased ready to take home and cook.
In addition to nutritional counseling, she offers chiropractic services through Sherer Chiropractic’s two locations in Godfrey and Jerseyville, Illinois. For more information, visit drkatieskitchen.com or shererchiropracticcenter.com.