As someone who was a teenager during the fat-free, sugar-free, and calorie-fearing craze (because that’s what it truly was), I, along with many of us living in North America, shunned food that was high in fat and cholesterol, and spent hours running and logging miles on cardio machines in order to maintain the thin (but far from healthy) look that was so desired at the time. My dad, who suffered a heart attack a few years prior, was strongly advised by doctors to eliminate food such as eggs (too high in cholesterol, they said), butter, red meat, and coconut (that was a huge no-no in those days!) and replace it with lots of produce (thumbs-up), grains, egg beaters, canola oil and margarine, and low fat and calorie items. While veggies and fruit are glorious, the bulk of the rest of our daily consumption consisted of lots of processed and packaged carbs that were loaded with artificial ingredients and refined sugars to make up for the fat that was removed from these food-like items. My mornings began with huge servings of processed cereals (because we figured that ‘enriched with vitamins’ was good for us) in skim milk, while my lunches consisted of large bowls of pasta (hold the protein please!) or ‘lite’ wheat bread slathered in fat-free margarine! And I vividly recall coming home from many nights out and heading straight to the kitchen to devour the fat-free Entenmann’s cakes, or gorging on ‘healthy’ chips and cookies, and aspartame-loaded crystal light after a long run. My thinking was similar to that of many Americans, “it’s fat-free, so what’s the problem?”
The problem, of course, was that, except for the fruit and vegetables that I ate, the things I was consuming had no quality ingredients or nutrients, whatsoever. The reason I was constantly starving, moody, and under-nourished was because I was loading my body up with tons of inflammation-producing garbage, and, in return, it eventually yelled out in anger. While some of the damage had already been done (many food intolerances and autoimmune issues), I finally listened to my body and educated myself on quality nutrition and lifestyle. I eventually became certified as a health coach because I saw such a direct connection between what we put into on onto our bodies and how we feel, think, and behave. This informed my view of seeing and treating people as holistic beings, and my goal as a therapist and health coach is to empower my clients and to help them thrive and bring balance to their minds, bodies, and spirits through the food they eat, the thoughts they think, the relationships they nurture, and the love they provide themselves.
These days, I spend my time educating and offering programs that go back to basics and teach people how to shop, prepare, and eat real, anti-inflammatory food, that is high in quality and rich in nutrients, and why it is important to do so.
I encourage those interested in living a healthy life to crowd out the processed, packaged, and artificial food-like items that are causing inflammation and contributing to diseases, and instead fill their kitchens and bellies with quality food—opt for sustainable, local, organic, and seasonal food; stock up on an array of fresh (or frozen) vegetables and fruit; purchase grass-fed/grass-finished meat, butter, and ghee; choose cage-free poultry and eggs; and consume only high-quality oils, such as olive, coconut, and avocado oils. Additionally, I stress the importance of eating foods high in Omega-3 fats, such as cold-water fish (wild salmon, sardines), grass-fed meat, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds, as well as foods abundant in natural probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, and kefir. While eating healthy may initially require more preparation, organization, and money, it turns out to be so cost-effective and time-saving in the long-run, when medical expenses and sick days are reduced.
It is important to note that quality extends well beyond food. I encourage people to prevent or reduce inflammation by using high-quality ingredients on their bodies (skincare) and in their homes, by seeking high-quality relationships, by thinking positive thoughts about themselves and others, and by prioritizing self-care, including stress-reduction methods and restorative sleep.
All this may feel overwhelming if one doesn’t know where to start. But, in reality, quality is about living simply: using ingredients we can pronounce and recognize, eating real, whole food and stopping when we feel nourished, being in relationships that make us feel loved and empowered, listening to our bodies without feeling guilty, having the confidence to set and accomplish goals, and feeling the freedom to laugh and enjoy life to its fullest.
Here’s to a quality life!"