Hi there! I’m Lindsey Johnson. Welcome to Cafe Johnsonia! This is my “About” page where you can learn more about me and and my work. Welcome!
I didn’t set out to become a food stylist + photographer, blogger, writer, recipe developer, or the other things I now do for work. I studied Biology in school and thought I was headed for medical school. But things changed and so did my path. I found myself living in the New York City suburbs as a single, 20-year-old. It was an impulsive move – not like me at all! During my first year living in NY, I bought myself a film SLR camera and fell completely in love with photography. During that time, I also developed my mad skills in the kitchen. I have always known my way around the kitchen and loved experimenting, but living in New York meant I was exposed to a gamut of new-to-me ingredients and cultures. It was quite the tasty adventure!
A year or so after I moved to NY, I met my husband and we got married. Our newlywed days were filled with a lot of cooking together and dining out. Our favorite thing to do to this day is a jaunt to the market to find some new things to try. Coincidentally, we also enjoy “scrounging” at antique and thrift stores for great props and other items which comes in handy for our work in photography and film.
I’m self-taught in photography, cooking, and baking, which in a way is its own kind of triumph. I pride myself on taking challenges head on and doing my best to conquer them. The work I do now allows me to do that, and I love (almost) every minute of it!
In addition to Cafe Johnsonia, I have also contributed photography and articles to several other blogs/websites including Babble.com, Hello Glow and Hello Veggie, Design Mom, and Good Life Eats (food). I also have worked with numerous clients to create photography for their websites and social media, including Simple Green Smoothies, Culinary Hill, and Naomi Whittel.
I do a lot of other sorts of work too, you can read more about that here.
I started Cafe Johnsonia in 2006. It used to be a blog about my family and I posted a bucket load of pictures and stories about my pregnancies, babies, toddlers, and some embarrassing things that are now safely hidden from public view. I eventually started a separate food blog called Just Recipes, but changed the name to Cafe Johnsonia for simplicity sake and because it was tough keeping up two blogs. I started to put all of my effort into learning my way around a Digital SLR (I still loved film best!) and acquiring new cooking and baking skills while my babies napped. My blog was a record of that and I love looking back through the archives and remembering what I was doing back then.
Cafe Johnsonia (pronounced John-SOH-nee-uh) is the name I chose because we lovingly call our family The Johnsonian Institute. Cafe was because I loved to cook and one day have my very own restaurant or cafe. (Maybe someday?) The name stuck and so did the blog.
DIETS, EATING DISORDERS, FOOD PHILOSOPHY + HEALTHY EATING
Ever since I was a child, I have had a horrible relationship with my body and the food I eat. I started dieting and obsessing about how I looked as young as age 6. It’s true! I absorbed messages from the world around me including family members, media, and peers regarding how my body should look. I internalized those detrimental messages and they ruled over me for many years to come. Over the next 30 years I dieted obsessively, over-exercised, starved myself, binged + purged, and restricted what I ate until it finally broke me.
Recently during a particularly difficult time, I was lucky to stumble across an anti-diet therapist’s Instagram account. The positive messages about body image and self-worth snapped me out of my dark place and led me to seek help. I’m currently recovering from my eating disorder(s) and working on healing my relationship with food, and working to free myself from Perfectionism. I do this under the direction of an expertly trained licensed social worker and a registered dietician. This is a new road for me and every time I stumble, I learn something new. But the greatest gift that’s come out of my recovery so far is giving myself a lot of grace, kindness, and forgiveness.
Over the years my food philosophy vacillated dramatically between both sides of the pendulum. I had definite ideas about what was and wasn’t healthy. What I could and could not eat. I counted calories obsessively and punished myself if I lost control. I weighed myself numerous times a day and berated myself on a regular basis for not fitting into society’s (and consequently my own) ideas of how I should look in order to be accepted and worthy. This was a miserable place to be. And on the other side, I felt reckless and out of control as I shoved my “rules” to the side, wallowed, and drowned my stresses and sorrows in food.
While I still believe in eating seasonal food with a good dose of plant goodness, I’ve also learned that being too strict or restricting food leads to trouble for me. And that means allowing myself and my family to experiment with and eat lots of different kinds of food. And yes, even processed food sometimes. I’m working to change the conversation within myself so I can demonizing foods or food groups and keep listening to my body and giving it what it needs. That may keep changing, but for right now it’s working great!
While I lived a predominantly gluten-free lifestyle for a number of years, I’ve added gluten back into my diet and seem to be doing okay. I still prefer vegan food, but have also added back small amounts of animal products and seem to be doing well. Giving myself permission to enjoy food is making all the difference. This path is so hard, but I know it will be worth it.
I share this not because I’m an open book, but because I know eating disorders keep the sufferer in a place of hidden, secret shame. My ED shaped the way I lived my life. It stole years from me. I want to be a safe place for others who have suffered the same as I have.
“Healthy eating” has a new meaning for me. My definition of “healthy” is much more encompassing and includes all foods that nourish and provide our bodies with energy. (Yes, again, even some processed foods!) Food isn’t just meant for nourishment, it is also meant for enjoyment and satisfaction. I look at food in terms of satisfying hunger, but also meeting other needs that aren’t see elsewhere as “healthy.” For example, if I’m craving French fries, but I eat carrot sticks instead, I’m probably going to come away from the table feeling deprived or unsatisfied by what I ate. And later in the day I may binge on fries or something else and eat way more than my body needed when eating a handful of fried would have done the trick. I guess what I’m saying is that there is a place for kale in my diet (I really do love kale!) and there’s a place for candy and fries. Listening to cues from my body will help me meet my needs and prevent me from engaging in eating disorder behaviors.
I AM A PMDD SURVIVOR
In 2018, I self-diagnosed a condition called Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder after decades of suffering debilitating mental and physical symptoms every month in conjunction with my menstrual cycle. I am huge advocate of taking control of one’s own health and I hope my experience can be a help to other women and individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB). I wrote a blog post on DesignMom.com about my PMDD history as well as a detailed explanation of what PMDD is, how it is diagnosed, and treatment options. To read it, click here.
OTHER TIDBITS + INTERESTING INFO
- I reside in the Pacific Northwest in beautiful Boise, Idaho.
- My husband and I are the parents of three amazing kids who are growing up too fast.
- I adopted two adorable pups named Albert and Rascal. They have my heart.
- Gardening and yard work are both favorite pastimes.
- I love to travel whenever I’m able – my favorite place to visit is Hawaii, and not just for the beaches. ;) I’ve also been to Europe, Central and South America, and Scandinavia.
- I am an introvert – INFJ, to be specific. I would much rather spend a quiet evening at home than out in a crowd!
- I was diagnosed recently with ADHD which makes SO MUCH sense. I can’t believe it took 30+ years to figure that out!
- I hate socks and shoes. Flip-flops are my preferred footwear whenever the weather allows it outdoors, and year-round indoors.
- My favorite world cuisines include: Indian, Ethiopian/Eritrean, Mexican, Thai, and Italian.
- Ice cream is my favorite thing to create in my kitchen. I wrote a self-published book (that’s no longer available, sigh) featuring several dozen seasonal ice cream and topping recipes. A lot of them are available on this blog. Hooray! Click here.