When I called Meme Inge for her Side Hustle Heroine feature, I was given the delightful opportunity to step into one of the happiest, ridiculous places of fun I’ve been to in a while—and I live in New Orleans.
During our scheduled thirty minute call that quickly stretched to an hour, she had a snack, killed a bug on the ceiling, halfway apologized for saying shit (no apology necessary, Meme), and she had me wishing I lived in Solana Beach so I could be her friend in real life, which seems to be pretty similar to the bloopers she posts on her site each week.
With over 8,600 followers on Instagram, one sold-out cookbook, and features in media outlets like CNN, Huffington Post, Shape Magazine, etc., Meme is a registered dietitian nutritionist who wears bacon onesies, unashamedly raps like a white girl, and celebrates food in a way that is finally, finally what it should be: fun.
When Meme was six years old, her mother, who was a 36-year-old high school biology teacher at the time, decided to defy the odds and pursue her dream to go to medical school. As a little girl, this led to Meme’s interest in health, as well as a strong conviction to follow her dreams. She attended the University of Alabama where she earned a degree in nutrition and then went on to receive her masters at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It was here that she realized she didn’t in fact like working in a hospital at all and instead preferred her internship experiences in food coaching.
“At the time I had the same relationship with food that most girls my age did: extreme control, dieting, weight-loss driven rules, zero fun.”
She began following several food blogs online, and while she passed around countless recipes of her own to friends and family who encouraged to start her own blog, she put it off for the time being.
After graduate school she made the move to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she began private nutrition coaching centered around the same type of relationship with food: limited carbs, reduced-fat cheese, strict control, zero fun. Her heart wasn’t in it, and she soon quit seeing patients and jumped into a fitness obsession at Barre3, quickly moving from student to teacher to studio manager. During this time, she also secretly worked on creating her own food blog, Living Well Kitchen, posting her recipes and health tips purely for her own enjoyment.
In 2016 she realized this was not the final stop for her career, and she felt an itch to spread her wings. On her 29th birthday, she left on a road trip with her sister and twin niece and nephew to relocate to California (because it was her birthday, no one was allowed to fight in the car). The trip ended in Meme’s new home of Solana Beach, California, just north of San Diego, where she continued teaching Barre3 and earned extra income through paid advertisers on her blog. The barre studio closed in February of 2017, sponsorships and advertising on her blog became her primary source of income, and Meme was able to focus on another dream: co-writing a cookbook with her grandmother.
“For so long I wanted to write a cookbook with Nan, but there was no way I could test all her recipes without the fear of gaining weight and losing control of my eating. Our cookbook is a happy medium between everything tasting good and not feeling bad afterward.”
This sense of balance came when Meme began focusing more on her own relationship with food and developed a new approach to nutrition centered around mindfulness and intuitive eating. Which is why you will now see sentences on her blog like “Cleanses make me cry” and “Diets are miserable, “and you will not see anything related to body shaming, food guilt, or restriction.
“If you eat a cookie, does that make you a bad person? No! If you robbed the bakery where you got that cookie, then you might be considered a not so great person.”
Now she shares her knowledge by seeing clients again, offering phone consultations and meal prep advice, and encouraging clients to focus on self care by doing things that make them happy. To Meme, it’s all about identifying your values and working from there.
“Having fun, being authentic, being thoughtful, being kind—those are the things that are important to me. Is skinny important to me? In theory, yes; in reality, no. It’s stressful, it’s exhausting, and at the end of the day it’s not important to me, so I quit. I actually started listening to my body and (more importantly) trusting that my body knows exactly what it needs. I started asking ‘Can we bring the joy back into our food? Can we just let food be something that nourishes our bodies and occasionally nourishes our soul (I’m looking at you wine & cheese)?'”
As a self-proclaimed “recovering perfectionist,” the Internet can be a hard place to make your office but again Meme has chosen a different approach: bloopers.
“I spent five years doing what I thought I was ‘supposed to be doing,’ and then I started the bloopers. When you’re making a video, you have to laugh at yourself. I say stupid things, onions fly out of the pan, I start to dance or do impersonations. I decided if I can’t make it look perfect, I’ll make it look real.”
Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Meme. We all could use a little more of you (and your bacon onesie).
Meme in Ten:
- Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
- Real Name: Margaret (her older sister nicknamed her Meme and it stuck!)
- Currently Reading: Beneath the Starlet Sky
- Favorite Cooking Utensil: A SHARP knife
- Favorite Ingredient: Avocado Oil
- Favorite Recipe: Anything in the Instant Pot
- Biggest Cooking Influence: Her grandmother, Nan, and her dad
- Other Hobbies: Hiking, the beach, sunsets, drinks on her patio (anything outside!)
- Favorite Humans: Her twin niece and nephew, Buddy and Joy
- Advice: “Life’s too short to eat bad food! Oh and life is a lot more enjoyable if you’re laughing!”