How have food and holistic nutrition trends changed in the last five years?
The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that there has been a general but tangible shift in people’s interest in healthier and more holistic choices for themselves and their families. This means that the average consumer is much more informed, engaged and passionate about the food choices they are making today than they were just five years ago. Even dating back only two and a half years to when we first opened nutbar, a common question has shifted from what is matcha? to where do you source your matcha?
What do you think is the most misunderstand element to Holistic Nutrition?
I think there are still some skeptics out there who think that holistic nutrition or a holistic approach to health works in opposition with science and western medicine.
How do you feed yourself? What’s a typical 24 hours of food and drink intake look like for you?
On the whole, my eating is very mindful and clean. I’m careful about what I stock my cupboards with – especially for my son– eat a primarily plant-based diet, look to add doses of nutrients to meals wherever possible and don’t buy or cook with heavily refined items like white sugar or white flour. I always start my day with a lemon water followed by either a matcha or coffee which are often “suped-up” – infused with medicinal mushrooms, collagen, adaptogens, coconut oil, etc. In the summer months I may have a smoothie for breakfast (base of greens, a nut butter, avocado or other healthy fat, nutmilk, and then whatever superfoods I have lying around: cacao, collagen, bee pollen, tocos, medicinal mushrooms, sea greens, etc.) but often I find a need more food in the mornings and will start with a big bowl of oatmeal (sometimes use quinoa instead of oatmeal – try it!). Lunch is often at nutbar (avo toast and smoothie) and dinner is a veggiecentric dish made at home.
However, it should be noted that this details an ideal day. More often than not, my eating is instead punctuated by a meal out or a casual indulgence and I don’t think there should be any guilt associated with that. If we obsessed over every morsel of food that’s put in our mouth, that’s not a healthy way to eat either.
Do you take any vitamins and /or supplements?
I really try to get most of the nutrients I need from whole foods but the supplements I do take are: a probiotic, Vitamin D in the winter, medicinal mushrooms and a spirulina capsule.
What’s made the greatest difference in your inward and outward beauty, when it comes to holistic nutrition?
I feel the most tangible difference in my overall health and well-being when I avoid sugar. I have a huge sweet-tooth but eating any refined sweets always leaves me feeling sluggish, compromises my digestion and noticeably impacts my skin.
What are you go-to beauty regimes?
I think eating well is by far the most effective beauty regime because I believe our skin is a direct reflection of what’s going on inside. That said, I do love a good natural face care regime: jade rollers, natural skin-loving oils (my favourite brand is Living Libations), the guasha tool and toners like witch hazel. It’s so exciting to see all the amazing clean beauty products now available to us.
What do you do to take time to yourself? Self-care and all that it encompasses.
There’s no easy answer when you have a full schedule and busy life except that it’s important to make it a priority like any other scheduling item in your week. I’ll book myself into a yoga class, or make sure to plan a night out with friends or have a quiet night in so that I’m getting that time because it’s really what recharges and energizes me to run the business and keep up with my two year old!
How do you manage stresses in your life?
A really simple but effective tool that saves me from becoming overwhelmed by the little day-to-day stressors has been the focus on breath work. It may sound rudimentary but slowing down your breath to take deep breaths in and deep breaths out when you’re feeling an anxious feeling creep on can instantly switch your body into a parasympathetic – “rest and digest” – mode. For the bigger stressors it’s become increasingly important that I continue to try not to react right in the moment. I take a step back, try to see the big picture, think through the consequences and take a measured approach to dealing with it. Basically, it comes down to recognizing stressors will inevitably arise but to learn to put myself in the best state to deal with them. Admittedly, it’s sometimes easier said than done.
Are there any exercises or practices you can’t live without?
What are your thoughts about fad diets? For example, do you see value in today’s diet trends like the Keto Diet?
If a certain diet is working for you and you feel really good on it, that’s great. However, I think that any fad diet or any way of eating that’s marketed to a large population is misguided. What and how we eat to feel our best is so personal and I’m a really strong believer that there is no one size fits all. I always say that our best guide to eating well is to focus on real, whole, nutrient-dense foods and then make adjustments to suit your personal needs or goals.
What do people need to know about animal versus plant proteins?
There seems to be an ongoing worry that a plant based diet is lacking protein and includes too many carbohydrate calories. It’s certainly possible to get a very well-rounded diet from solely eating plant foods. However, I think that where many people get into trouble is not realizing how careful you have to be in order to all the nutrients you need. Many plant proteins aren’t “complete proteins” meaning they don’t have the full amino acid profile that we can easily get from meat proteins. If you are thinking of going plant-based you need to ensure you’re well-versed on the types and amounts of protein you’re ingesting. But again, I think it’s important to always come back to the idea that diets are so personal. Some people feel great eating a little bit of meat whereas others are functioning optimally as vegans. The closer attention we pay to how food makes us feel, the better.
Do you drink? What are the best choices for our health and holistic nutrition when it comes to alcohol?
I hate to say it but in a way these two need to be looked at as mutually-exclusive. Let’s face it: drinking alcohol is not great for our health (save for the odd glass of wine) but I think for many of us we’re not thinking about being our healthiest when drinking so let’s just enjoy it ☺
Why are hormones in our food such a major concern and what do we need to understand better about them?
Any food (or beauty product for that matter) which contains synthetic forms or unnatural amounts of hormones are at risk of disrupting the delicate work and balance of our endocrine system — the collection of glands in our body that produce hormones that regulate growth and development, metabolism, tissue function, reproduction and sleep and mood among other things. Experts worry that introducing excess or artificial hormones may contribute to cancer, early puberty in girls and other serious health-related issues. It’s very important to be mindful about choosing hormone-free food and products that don’t contain endocrine disruptors.
What are “superfoods” and which should we all make greater efforts to include in our diets?
Superfoods have become a gimmicky word in the last few years but they are anything but a trend. Most of them have been around for thousands of years and offer potent nutritional and medicinal benefits. The best way to think about superfoods is a food that is super-charged in nutrients like minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Incorporating them into your diet is a really easy way to pack a punch of extra nutrients and it doesn’t need to be complicated! Add hemp seeds to your smoothie, sprinkle kelp flakes on your pasta, add bee pollen to your morning oatmeal or use medicinal mushrooms in your morning latte.
We are hearing more about Adaptogens? What are they and who and how can we use them?
Adaptogens are incredible — they are healing plants that help our body’s natural ability to adapt to stress. In this modern fast-paced world, it is more important than to incorporate them into our daily routines whenever possible. My favourites are ashwagandha, rhiodiola and reishi.
Can holistic nutrition help the growing number of people who suffer from anxiety and sleep disorders?
Absolutely. What we put in our bodies has a very real and profound effect on the way we feel and on our mental state. It of course depends on the person and the circumstance but it would be wrong to ignore the fact that the food we eat influences every single aspect of how we function.
Do you think cleanses are good and why?
I think they can be great for the right person at the right time under the right care. But they are much more complicated than they are made out to be and it’s not always effective if you haven’t done the proper prep work (things like ensure your organs of elimination are open and clear, be very cautious about the cleanse you choose and how long it’s for, etc).
How are holistic nutrition and naturopathic medicine similar? Different?
Both occupations support and stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself. Holistic nutrition and naturopathic medicine recognizes that every person is unique and believe in a holistic approach to health – focusing on the root cause versus the symptoms. While a nutritionist is primarily focused on the influence of food on well-being, a naturopath has an additional set of skills to draw on like herbal medicine, acupuncture and massage therapy.
Do you think about aging? And do buy into any “anti-aging” products?
I think our relationship to and perception of aging evolves as we age. But at the moment, I’m focused on seeing beauty in the aging process for all of us at our different stages and trying to resist this idea that we need to “fight” aging. I think it’s easier said than done and I think it’s a constant battle in today’s beauty climate but I hope the focus can be more on preventing premature aging versus anti aging.
What do you love to treat yourself with? Whether it be late-night snack, an expensive facial, or a shopping purchase? Any weaknesses?
All of those sound pretty amazing.
What are your favorite TV shows?
I’m really into Big Little Lies right now.
What’s on your nightstand?
Essential oils blends that are great for calming and nighttime routines, 4-5 books I either have on the go or are up next on my list, a photo of my family and a pen and paper.
Where in the world would you love to travel to and haven’t yet?
I’m dying to go to India.
How long have you been married? Any relationship “musts”
I’ve been married five years this August but have been with my husband for more than 10 years! What has worked for us is that we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders, have a really deep respect for one another and still have a ton of fun together.
What’s the best route to take, to welcome more holistic nutrition practices in our lives?
I really feel like knowledge is power. The more we know, the better we do. And so I’d welcome anyone who is interested in learning more about holistic nutrition to be curious and start reading and learning. It’s really easy to put much of it into practice once you start to realize how powerful of an effect food can have on the way we feel!