My Formula: Rens Kroes

The Dutch nutritionist breaks down her definition of health.

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"My grandfather is an organic farmer. Back in the ‘70s, he started growing that way because it was better for the crops, the animals—and for humans as well. My mom and my grandmother are both nutritionists, so I guess you could say my profession runs deep in my family. I think I just grew up with more awareness than most kids. I knew a lot about food, but also about other things, like maintaining a healthy lifestyle, wellness, and being conscious about your actions.

I didn’t think I’d follow the family tradition until I moved to New York about ten years ago and got really inspired by the wellness community here. I worked at an obesity clinic first, and then started formally studying nutrition and hormones. From there, I thought maybe I should make a blog about food—and the rest is history. Blogging went wild, I started writing for Glamour, and then I created a cookbook, and then another one…and then two more.

I explain my approach to health as a tool of empowerment. Mental health, exercising, and socializing are all important to make you feel good. Of course, nutrition is part of that too. It’s really about trying to find balance—and that can’t be done without awareness. I want to help people understand the why and how of eating different things.

People like to have guidance so I give my clients a certain kind of structure, but mostly, I let them chose what they want to. I think that’s the most important part, because I need them to listen and understand their own body. Every person is different, and every body has different needs. I don’t believe in diets, but I do believe in direction. To eat healthy and to eat fresh is one of the most powerful things you can do.

What you want to eat is more cultural. It depends on where you were born and what kind of food your body is used to digesting. The first question is what do you like? How can we make a version that you love to eat, but is nourishing you? Another thing I encourage all my clients to do is to have fun in the kitchen. If you cook instead of ordering in all the time, your food awareness will increase and you’ll start to feel better. In a city like New York it can be a harder mentality for people to adopt, but in the rest of the world people are still cooking.

Taking supplements doesn’t mean you can eat unhealthy, either. They are there to help as an extra special something on the side to boost you. I like magnesium for my bones and muscles because it feels good. Sometimes I take protein, sometimes extra vitamin c. I love adaptogens, like reishi, ashwaganda, and maca too. But I don't like to take too many things at once. My motto is to keep things simple, don’t overcrowd.

I don’t feel any pressure to present a certain image because I’m a nutritionist. I just want to feel good and look healthy. I go out. I drink. Sometimes I struggle with what I should and shouldn’t share on social media, but that’s about it. I don’t believe in cheat days, and I hate it when people ask me what my guilty pleasure is. I’m choosing not to eat certain foods because it doesn’t make me or my body happy, but I can eat anything I want to if I feel like it. Everything I do comes from within. I love talking about food, I love learning about health, and I love helping people learn about it too.

At the moment, I’m really focused on choosing what’s good for the animals and the health of the planet, as well as what’s good for me. I’m a pescatarian, but occasionally I eat some chicken. I love supporting others not to eat so much meat too. I always tell people to eat as much real food as possible. Eat your greens everyday. Not too much refined sugar. Not too much gluten or dairy. Steamed vegetables are good. And coconut—everything with coconut."