A Facebook memory popped up for me today reminding me that I finished my last class at The Institute Of Holistic Nutrition and started working at a natural health clinic a year ago this week! It’s really refreshing to see these kinds of memories popping up now, opposed to the ones from me in university doing a keg stand or getting “iced” (ha!)
I can hardly believe it’s been a year since I finished school and yet, so many changes have happened and new learnings have come about as to what “holistic nutrition” is all about and what it means to be healthy (in my eyes). If you’ve been following me on social media for a while, you’ll notice my focus and direction have changed over the past year.
But first, let me recap what has happened in the past year …
In all honesty, I was scared. I had already taken a leap into a new profession that held no promise of a prosperous career (not that that’s what its all about, but a nutritionist needs to eat her organic greens!) and now I was out in the world, ready to enhance the lives of many, but not exactly sure how. Sure enough, the combination of my ballsy go-getter nature and fate taking it toll, I landed my first position in the health field at The Root Natural Health Clinic that very week!
After some mentoring under Dr. Lauren Wedlock Brown, ND, I began practicing at The Root Natural Health Clinic in Port Credit where I worked 1:1 with clients to help develop customized meal plans or work on specific health issues together up until April 2017. I didn’t have a specialization at this point, but I was deeply interested in holistic healing for digestive issues, chronic stress and hormonal imbalances. Just as I started a course to continue my learning in my specializations, a friend of mine sent over the job posting for what has turned into being the dreamiest job ever – the Community Manager at Joyous Health!
I had already had a social media background at this point, having previously headed up the social media department at an advertising agency (where I worked on … are you ready for this? Popeyes Chicken Canada!) Hilarious, right?! Fortunately, shortly after I took those social media skills and started freelancing for health and wellness businesses, which morally felt a lot better than telling teenagers to eat fried chicken after school.
After a nerve-wracking and intensive interview process, I landed the job at Joyous Health and started working with the “Joyous Dream Team” (Joy, Walker, Carol and of course, Vienna) in January 2017. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to wear many hats that involve various duties since jumping into this role: community manager, guest blog writing, recipe creating, marketing initiatives, nutrition research and nutrition consulting (since Joy is not consulting at the moment).
It’s been so fascinating and inspiring to work with such a diverse set of clients who I see 1:1 via Skype, FaceTime or phone since January. Oddly enough, I found that most people who I consulted with already had a lot of nutrition knowledge behind them, but yet, there was something keeping them from reaching their health goals.
Which is when it hit me; nobody needed someone to tell them to drink their green smoothie or to have protein with their kale salad or to drink water. There was something else standing in the way and more often than not, it was a hint of disordered or emotional eating.
As you may already know, disordered eating was a big part of my past. After initially recovering, I thought that I wanted to work with people with eating disorders, but as I moved through recovery, I convinced myself that I wanted to leave that in my past. Little did I realize, it was gradually becoming my new calling. Once I began to sink into it even more, it started to feel really right.
I began to dive into more reading and research around the topic to immerse myself into it, found an emotional eating expert mentor and started to subtly change my messaging on my social platforms to reflect this new focus of mine. Not only did people respond very well to it, but the outpour of personal stories started to come in, making me realize that there is even more of a need for support in the area of emotional and disordered eating than I thought.
So while I’m still a Holistic Nutritionist, shifting into this new specialization has felt very “me”. Not only is it part of my personal story, but it took some of the pressure off to be a “perfect” Holistic Nutritionist. What I mean by this is that once you’re a Holistic Nutritionist, people have huge expectations on you to live and eat a certain way. To an extent, I agree – we should practice what we preach. But being 100% hardcore and strict never came natural to me. Being human, relatable and balanced, however – was. There are some nutritionists out there that believe “moderation” can’t exist and that “there is no other way but _________ way of eating” and that’s great because that works for some people. But it doesn’t work for me, and a lot of people out there.
So at this moment in time, while it may appear I’m doing a bajillion and one things, I am gradually narrowing my focus but feel I have totally found my calling in my role at Joyous Health and as a Holistic Nutritionist/Emotional Eating Coach on the side.
And now, what you all came here for … what I’ve learned in my first year as a holistic nutritionist.
This isn’t so much about what I’ve learned about running a business as a holistic nutritionist (although that may warrant its own post soon), but more so how my philosophy around holistic nutrition and what it means to be “healthy” has evolved since I started practicing.
What I’ve Learned In My First Year As A Holistic Nutritionist
1. Hardcore isn’t the only way to health – There’s a lot of us nutritionists out there and unfortunately, they’re going to tell you a lot of different things depending on what their beliefs are. What’s important is recognizing what works for you. You may feel drawn to certain practitioners over others, simply because of the message they preach. Some way and some how that resonates with you and that’s great. But just because you aren’t 100% hardcore when it comes to health, doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy. There is such thing as a healthy balance and I strongly believe that you can find that within yourself.
2. There’s A LOT of information out there. Don’t believe it all – So this new documentary (which may not be so new for some of you by the time you read this) “What The Health” is a prime example. Many people seek out documentaries to get informed when it comes to nutrition which I think is great. What isn’t so great is when a super biased documentary comes out that says “this is the way and the only way” and everyone comes out of it more confused about nutrition than ever and decides to go vegan, as a result. There’s nothing wrong with being vegan, but before you do, make sure that’s the right decision for you. Don’t just do it because a documentary scared you into thinking you have to. Whenever you’re presented with new information, even as a holistic nutritionist, it’s important to dive deep into the research to verify the facts and then further decide if it makes sense for you and your unique bioindividuality.
3. Baby steps are key – Oh man, did I learn this the hard way when I gave my first client a 6 page protocol (note to new practitioners in the field: don’t do this!) If you’re a client of mine, you know I’m a big fan of simple, easy, sustainable changes. These are the habits that end up sticking with us for life, after all. I’m not interested in incorporating a health habit for a 3-week fix, unless the intension is for therapeutic healing and it would otherwise be dangerous to sustain a certain practice for life. But baby steps – they might not seem like much but they are the least overwhelming and ensure compliance so you can actually stick to the health goals that I lay out for you.
4. Health is more than about the food – It’s the thought you think, the words you speak, the sleep you get (or that you don’t), the relationships you foster, the amount of fun you have and the amount of stress in your life. This is what a “holistic” review represents, in that we don’t just look at the food you’re putting in your mouth, but all other aspects of your life that contribute to your overall health. So while you might be totally rocking your food game and have your healthy eating habits down pat, you might carry a lot of stress and that’s going to have negative effects on your health like causing adrenal fatigue, low energy, and poor digestion. Before we start talking about food, it’s important that we have the other lifestyle factors under control first.
5. There is no right or wrong way of eating – Paleo isn’t better than vegan, and vegan isn’t better than paleo; and believe it or not, there are no “good” or “bad” foods. The more we peg a way of eating or certain foods as the right or wrong way of living, the more we set ourselves up for disappointment or failure. This is a big theme I focus on in my emotional eating work as I teach people how to neutralize their relationship with food. Of course, kale is going to be much more nourishing than ice-cream. But if you happen to have ice-cream, that doesn’t mean you are “unhealthy”. The reason why I teach people to neutralize their relationship with food is to gain a healthy relationship with food and ultimately help them stop letting food control their life (like it did for me for far too long). We need to do this before we adopt our healthy habits. As long as we continue to abide by diets or turn to diets to save us, we will not be able to have a positive relationship with food and will constantly believe that food is out to get us.
So, What’s next?
As the Joyous Health Team and I are busy gearing up for a busy and exciting Fall (hint hint: the launch of the first ever Joyous Health Business Program!), I am simultaneously building out my 4 month Emotional and Disordered Eating Healing Program that I will use when working one-on-one with emotional and disordered eating clients.
The reason why it’s 4 months is because, after our Initial Consultation, we will meet every two weeks for 30-45 minutes to review a new theme or lessons that all reflect necessary steps to take in the emotional and disordered eating healing process for a total of 10 themes/lessons in total. Not to mention, 4 months is a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things when we look at how long you’ve been struggling with this.
There are scheduled appointments every 2 weeks to give you time to process this new information and go out into the world with these new teachings. I would never expect someone to shift their mindset and become healed overnight or even on their own, so having a consistently scheduled laid out plan was important when developing this program.
I am bringing in my knowledge as a Holistic Nutritionist around hormonal imbalances and what that means when it comes to food cravings or changes in nutritional needs, my research on Emotional Eating and why we need to strive to heal our relationship with food before applying healthy food “rules” to our life, as well as the knowledge of a fellow Social Worker who specializes in Eating Disorders & Disordered Eating who will be sharing her tried and true psychology practices to heal the disordered mind.
This is going to be life-changing, incredibly inspirational (I hope!) and ultimately, FUN. If you’re anything like me, we’ve dedicated too much of our life to hating and criticizing ourselves and our bodies and victimizing food. It’s time to gain our power back and start living a life free of fear around food and full of love for ourselves, our body, life and purpose!
Want to be the first to know when the Emotional and Disordered Eating Healing Program launches in the Fall? Join my newsletter where I’ll be sharing updates along the way and get access to an exclusive price!