About McKenzie Zajonc, MS, CN, Lmhc
The story of how I Let food be my teacher...Then my entire life opened up.
That time when food ruled my life...
I learned early in life to comfort myself with eating packages of Oreo’s and pieces of toast dripping with butter while watching Mickey Mouse club. Food was how I found happiness, relief, and escape in a world I didn’t quite understand. The first time I was called fat was in grade school, which then began a chain of events that led me to daily warfare with my body. By high school I fell into dieting, calorie counting, and over-exercising. I’d put up rules around food during the day and then go home at night and fall face first into pints of ice cream and boxes of cereal. As I grew into my adult body, I’d swing up and down in weight, with as many as ten different pants sizes in my closet. One particularly dreadful summer I was eating under a thousand calories a day, got to my lowest weight, then in a matter of a few weeks put on over twenty pounds binging on Quaker Chewy Bars. I was in food and body hell.
That time I was trying to be everything to everyone...
I was also running around like a wild woman trying to be everything to everyone and please anyone who crossed my path. I’d stay up until 2am baking birthday cakes for people I barely even knew. I’d break my back attempting to be the perfect friend, daughter, girlfriend, student, and co-worker, hoping if I just said the right thing, did the right thing, and had the right body, I could be happy. I figured if I did everything for everyone they would in turn praise and love me, and that would somehow fill me up. So I hustled for a perfect life – and the hole inside me grew and grew.
That time I spent $112,000 on the "secrets"...
I figured I'd no longer have an eating issue if I knew all the up-to-date research, nutritional information, and the right foods to eat at the right times. I was willing to pay and do just about anything for those secrets, so I took on hefty student loans and enrolled in a double master's program for nutrition and health psychology. I spent the next five years with my head in textbooks learning the science of food and art of behavior change. I practically became a walking nutrition encyclopedia, graduating with one B (it was a B+ might I add). But. I was still a wreck around food.
That time I was a master's level Nutritionist and Counselor and still a wreck around food...
Here I was, an expert on metabolism science. I could write meal plans for dozens of medical conditions in my sleep (i.e., hypothyroidism, anti-inflammatory, metabolism health) and recite all the enzymes and receptors for vitamin and mineral absorption. Yet, I was still emotionally eating, playing games of restriction, and hooked by exhausting food cycles. As much as I wanted the food journey to be about gathering more knowledge and getting A’s, clearly I needed to go deeper. The pursuit of facts wasn't enough. After all, we live in a culture today that has more information than ever before and never have we been more confused. It’s important to clarify all the noise we hear about nutrition these days - don’t get me wrong. But I eventually had to see there was more to inner peace than flax seeds and organic kale.
That time I let food be my teacher and my entire life opened up...
I was at a fork in the road. I could keep trying the next fad, buying more books, and feeding my head with more information, which wasn’t getting me very far. Or, I could take a radical approach and let food be my teacher. With a whole lot of patience and an open mind, I eventually saw food was trying to reunite me to the most important parts of my womanhood. It showed me how I punish and reward myself. How I play games inside my head – one minute I’m my own best cheerleader and the very next my best saboteur. It also showed me that I could do just about anything but be. I’d think about food all day, yet when it came time to be with it, I’d scarf it down. When it came to being in my body, I wanted to jump out of my skin. I couldn’t be with my emotions, sit still in the moment, or allow myself to rest. That's when it dawned on me, I didn’t have a food problem, I had a being problem.
That time I started to taste real peace with food, my body, and my life...
The food asked me to look in the places I’d least expect (which, might I add, I also had the most resistance to), like actually slowing down, trusting myself and my life, and unhooking from the drug of efficiency. I took up presencing practices, learning how to actually sit with myself, alone, and not run away for once. I studied how to ground myself, so I no longer had to rely on blocks of cheese and cookies to do that for me. I also began to trust my emotional eating. It was no longer the enemy, but rather a reliable messenger showing me when I was off my center. I learned how to care for my sensitive soul, listen to my intuition, and for the first time in my life I was embodied in my skin. I began to trust my cravings and my needs, and I honored them with kindness versus the self-criticism of the past. And I stopped waiting for a special one-day-some-day life, and let myself fill up on the good around me now. The food eventually began to change because I changed. And for the first time in my life I knew what good and true nourishment tasted like.
The time I wanted to give back and teach...
When I was in the thick of it with food, I wish I had had someone who could have been my ally, teacher, and guide. Someone who could talk science nutrition as well as all the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects underneath the food. To think, all the money and time I would have saved, not to mention the many, many precious life moments I lost to worrying, planning, and obsessing. That’s why I do what I do, because I don’t want you to waste another minute in these exhausting cycles. My story with food and my body is not an unusual one. I've wondered, who am I to do this work when so many similar stories are out there? I’ve almost taken a hard left in my career path because of this, but the truth is, I couldn’t if I tried. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be and it's an absolute pleasure to be here with you.
"McKenzie’s ability to connect with the deep needs of her clients is beautiful and truly moving. She is so fully committed to their unique and personal path in this world, ready to act as a guide to bring them to a greater experience of ease and joy in their lives. She genuinely walks her talk as she chooses openness, honesty and health in her own life. Working with McKenzie will open your eyes to the possibilities available to you in creating a life you love to live."
- Parrish Wilson
Who I am...
Certified masters level nutritionist and counselor
I'm a food therapist, coach, ally, teacher, guide, companion and confident. I am a certified master's level nutritionist who is also a licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of Washington, which means I'm credentialed to hold space for you to discuss the science of your body - your biological health ranging from hormones to digestion, while also addressing your deeper emotional, mental, and spiritual hungers. I received my degrees at Bastyr University and have been in private practice since 2011.
A Facilitator of MINDFULNESS and Meditation
As a practitioner of mindfulness and meditation for over 15 years, I teach you the importance of this evidence based approach, which not only enhances our relationship to food, but enriches our whole life. I walk you through meditations, visualization, and nervous system science, all of which direct growth and change from the inside-out. My background is informed by my training in body-centered psychotherapy, Insight meditation, yoga, Shamanic healing, and lots and lots of personal practice.
Intuitive eating and health at every size professional
I am a certified Intuitive Eating Professional who believes in the philosophy that we were all born knowing how and what to eat; however, for many of us, this wisdom was hijacked at some point in our journey. I use a variety of tools and techniques to help you re-connect to our greatest food and body wisdoms. I'm also keen on identifying, teaching, and explaining the barriers to that get in the way to making lasting peace with food and ourselves. As a certified Health at Every Size facilitator I am well versed in the research that challenges our current weight obsessed and dieting filled culture. Diets do not work. They just don't. In our work I challenge you into the lasting work, focusing on your behaviors and mindset.
A mentor for sensitive souls
Understand and caring for your sensitive soul is one of the most nutritious things I teach my clients. I am a highly sensitive person, who is also an extrovert (most are introverts). I tend to attract kindred sensitive souls in my work and have the opportunity to teach my clients the importance of claiming yourself as a highly sensitive person. This helps us understand why we feel a lot, get overwhelmed easily, and often want to run and hide under the covers. It also shows us a whole ton of why we are the eaters we are.
A retreat and workshop leader
I've been a group facilitator since 2005 (started as a wilderness leader) challenging teens and adults to become their very best selves. I've lead a variety of retreats and workshops ranging from yoga studios, government agencies, and online gatherings for the Inner Nutritionist.
McKenzie Zajonc, MS, CN, LMHC, is clinically trained in Whole Foods Nutrition and Health Psychology and has spent much of her life seeking the truth of food, nourishment, and the art of behavior change. Voted top Nutrition Coach at Microsoft, McKenzie has consulted and spoken for a variety of Pacific Northwest groups such as YMCA, Sound Mental Health, Seattle Urban Farm Co., Bainbridge Yoga House, and Groundspeak.
McKenzie is the founder of Inner Nutritionist, a business committed to freeing women who have been hijacked by our diet-minded culture. She helps her clients trade in their food and body struggle for a more meaningful, free, and magnificent life. She is not your typical Nutritionist.
McKenzie has her Masters in Nutrition and Health Psychology from the world’s largest Naturopathic Medicine school, Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She speaks often, sometimes to large groups, and a lot of time to herself. She would love to hear from you.
Credentials and Certifications
- Masters in Nutrition, Bastyr University 2011
- Masters in Healthy Psychology, Bastyr University 2011
- Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Agriculture 2003
- Certified Intuitive Eating™ Counselor 2011
- Certified Health at Every Size™ Facilitator 2012
- Voted Top Health Coach at Microsoft Health Fair 2012
"When I began working with McKenzie I struggled with anxiety about my body and the food choices I was making. Through my work with her I’ve experienced a new feeling of freedom with my food choices and a greater appreciation for my body. I wanted to let go of the years I’d spent preoccupied with weight, food, and exercise but I didn’t know how to do this without feeling like I was losing control and giving in to the disappointment that I’d never have the “perfect body” or the “healthiest diet.” In our work together, McKenzie’s empathy, encouragement, and expertise helped me trust the process of rebuilding my relationship with food and weight by listening to my body’s cues and signals for guidance on what to eat, tuning out the diet culture, and challenging my own false beliefs about health. I still have work to do, but I have greater confidence that I can become a healthier, happier person through letting go of the rules, restrictions, and criticisms I used to let influence me. McKenzie has been an invaluable partner in this process and I look forward to our continued work together."