10 Question: an Interview on Minimalism with Erin Hendrickson, RDN

Notes from the Road is a new blog series featuring interviews with travelers, eaters, makers and all-around kickass people doing creative and interesting things. Ten questions exploring a topic relevant to living an adventurous, explorative lifestyle with someone with an interesting story to tell. 

Minimalism. You’ve heard the buzzword and it invokes images of granola-eating, tree-hugging hipsters shucking the comforts of modern life for hemp-soled shoes and homemade kombucha. You may have even jumped on the minimalist bandwagon and are now rolling and color coding your socks and underwear perfectly in your drawer because a Japanese guru told you this is key to living to an orderly life. The minimalist movement is gaining steam and all jokes aside, it is causing people to take a hard look at their lives, what they value and how they define the ‘good life.’

I met Erin Hendrickson, the MinimalistRD, at a nutrition conference. We were seated at the same table during a networking event and realized we followed one another on social media and had similar career stories working in non-traditional jobs for dietitians. We carried on our friendship after the conference through phone calls and social media and connected over a shared interest in food sustainability and sustainable living. In addition to sharing food waste and food sustainability tips, Erin’s Instagram has become a treasure trove of tips for sustainable purchasing and fashion. Read on for how a trip across Europe changed her perspective on life.


1. What is minimalism and how did you find it (or did it find you)?

There isn’t a one-size- fits-all definition of minimalism, but to me it’s ultimately living with less clutter (both physically and mentally) in order to lead a more fulfilling and purposeful life. I fell into minimalism during a quarter-life crisis; wasn’t happy in my career nor my relationship at the time, so I quit both and traveled through Europe and never looked back! I stopped wasting money to live like everyone else and started being my authentic self. It’s changed my entire perspective.

2. What has been the easiest part of adopting a minimalist lifestyle? The hardest?

Television and cable were easy distractions to give up. The challenging part is explaining the concept to friends and family, and why I’d prefer to be gifted experiences, not ‘things’ for holidays. I still find myself succumbing to consumer marketing at times, like when I expected flowers this past Valentine’s Day. Minimalist fail.

3. How does minimalism effect your philosophy on food? Have you changed your eating habits since becoming a minimalist?

Food is one of my passions, and minimalism allows me more time in the kitchen and a bigger budget for quality food-think minimally processed and locally sourced. Since becoming a more responsible consumer, reducing food waste and increasing sustainability are issues that concern me now more than ever. Luckily as a dietitian, I have a platform to raise awareness on these topics.

4. Let’s talk about minimalist fashion—give us ‘Minimalist Fashionista 101.’

The funny thing is I never previously cared about fashion, nor understood that what I choose to wear conveys a bigger message. A smaller, capsule wardrobe encourages creativity and appreciation of detail. As with food, it’s important to research brands and ask key questions. Where is the clothing made? What are the working conditions for employees? Are environmental concerns part of the mission? I’m also a huge ‘secondhand first’ advocate; I often thrift for high quality clothing instead of buying new.

5. What about minimalist travel? Any tips for traveling with less?

We are ALL guilty of over-packing! Traveling with minimal baggage is one of the most freeing changes I’ve made. It takes a bit of planning, but it’s both worthwhile and cost effective AND you’ll never be accused of looking ‘touristy’ again. Choose a neutral color palette, make sure items are interchangeable with other pieces, plan your outfits and organize your carry-on rather than stuffing it all in at once. Take advantage of any amenities offered wherever you’re staying and don’t think too hard!

6. What are some resources you can suggest for those dipping their toes in the minimalist lifestyle?

A few early adopters of this lifestyle include: Ryan and Josh of The Minimalists and Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist . The True Cost Movie was a fashion eye opener for me.

erin-hendrickson-rdn7. Any tips for breaking the “more, more, more” mindset?

Learn how to say no. I still struggle with this at times, but allowing ourselves to slow down and JUST BE is so imperative to our well-being. Another tip is don’t allow society to dictate how you live or what you spend money on. Instead of spending thousands of dollars and months of stress on a grand wedding, my husband and I planned an amazing elopement and vacation combo in the Florida Keys! I said NO to the dress!

8. What has been your favorite travel location and why? Tell us about the food!

Mal Pais, Costa Rica-a tiny, remote surf town on the country’s west coast. It’s my favorite place to travel because of the ultra-laid back vibes, untouched beaches and friendly locals. I can truly disconnect since it hasn’t been plagued with consumerism and over development. Even better, the food is always freshly caught, harvested or picked! The traditional meal is ‘casado’: rice, beans, plantains, salad and an optional protein. Simple, yet stunning.

9. Travel Reading Recommendation: What is your favorite story to get lost in while traveling?

I read Tales of a Female Nomad in college and it’s still a favorite to hype me up for travel.

10. If you had to choose your top 3 favorite meals of your life, what would they be?

Even more than the delicious food, it’s about the memory of the location and my amazing tribe of friends that make these my top 3!

  1. Oysters and seafood etouffee-my first Acme Oyster experience in New Orleans, LA.
  2. Fresh ceviche and guacamole-my first meal off the plane in Costa Rica.
  3. A 3 hour, 10 course tasting experience at Cat Bird Seat in Nashville, TN

Want more minimalism tips?

Head over to Erin’s blog MinimalistRD or follow her on Instagram.