I always feel that Autumn, specifically late September, is the time for renewal. It feels like more of a New Year to me, than January. The kids have gone back to school, routine is starting to become less of a foreign concept, and we all seem to crave some type of structure into our daily lives. If you’re like me, summer is a time for family, friends and all the wonderful food that goes along with it. I love the lazy summer days where we entertain until the wee hours of the beautiful star lit nights. I love the days where the smell of the barbecue and the allure of a fresh pizza from the pizza oven entices even the most finicky of eaters. Summer cocktails never seem to be in short supply and memories are created forever.
September embraces the warm days and cooler evenings when walking becomes a pleasure again. For the most part, the humidity has left and the fresh autumn air moves in. Exploring nature becomes more appealing as the leaves are changing into the glorious shades of red, orange and yellow. Fall foods are readily available and our natural instinct motivates us to create more culinary dishes using the abundance of our Ontario fruits and vegetables. Our bodies intuitively know what we need. We have been divinely created to instinctively understand how to take care of ourselves. Tapping into that knowledge is becoming more and more prevalent now. We know that when we eat well, we feel well. When our bodies are in motion, our mind will be in motion too.
Many of us feel that we are pulled in so many directions. We drive our kids to practices, tournaments, swim meets and sleepovers. We often forget to take care of ourselves. We skip meals, consume too much caffeine, snack on things that we wouldn’t even consider feeding our children. Essentially, we become the lowest member on the totem pole (so to speak) and our needs really aren’t met. This can lead to sleeplessness, anxiety, headaches, tension within ourselves and with others.
I became a Registered Holistic Nutritionist for many reasons. Particularly because I saw a need within my own family. I have a very long family history of heart disease. Both my grandfathers passed away from heart attacks at an early age. My mom and my brother have both been treated for coronary artery disease and most recently and most sadly, I lost my dad post operatively from cardiac surgery. What I’ve learned is that there really isn’t a lot we can do about genetics. We are all born into a specific family dynamic with specific DNA and hereditary risk factors. However, health isn't completely determined by our families. It’s a very small portion of who we are and what we can do to maintain health and longevity.
I came from a conventional medical background. I practiced critical care nursing and had the honour of working with some of the top doctors in Toronto. I reflect on those days with fondness, gratitude and humility. Even as a young nurse, I often wondered if there were alternative ways to treat and most importantly prevent some of the acute and chronic medical conditions placed before me. Young people were presenting with heart disease, diabetes, and inflammatory conditions. As part of my practice of course, I treated them medically, with pharmaceuticals, and monitored their outcomes accordingly. Often times, patients were discharged, then within months or sometimes weeks, were readmitted with the same symptoms.
I began researching natural methods, reading articles and attending workshops on alternative treatments. But when I discussed these methods with my medical colleagues, I was often met with skepticism and doubt, as was the norm at that time, in the medical world. There has been a slight shift in recent years however, and I’m excited to say that I’ve noticed that the medical community has come on board with several natural, nutritional and non-invasive therapies.
Which brings me finally to the vast and very interesting world of Nutrition. Hippocrates, who was considered the “father of medicine” most famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Even in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Hippocrates noted that disease is a product of environmental factors, diet and lifestyle habits. Remaining true to this day, we see many diseases as a direct result of poor diet, stressful lifestyles and an abundance of toxins both in our environment and in our food. Diseases and disorders such as Cancer, Autism, Anxiety and Depression (to name a few) are now considered everyday words. Never before have we seen the number of allergies like we do today. There is no shortage of intriguing ideas and concepts as to why people are suffering from many of these problems. As we know, the medical community is consistently researching the “why’s” and “how’s” of disease and illness. However, we in the holistic nutritional world, know that many physical, mental and emotional problems stem from a lack of proper nutrients, poor digestion and absorption. A teacher/mentor once said to me, “you are what you eat, but more importantly, you are what you absorb”. That expression has always resinated with me and I often share that with my clients.
Consider what you eat on a daily basis. Consider how you feel when you eat. Consider your energy level, your sleep patterns and your stress level. There are holistic ways to combat and improve symptoms of disease. There are nutritional and supplemental ways to become less stressed, to improve diabetes and heart disease. Anti-inflammatory foods and supplements are greatly helping people to improve their range of motion, arthritic pain and auto-immune disease.
Healthy eating and lifestyle are key factors in promoting and sustaining good health. Every one of us has the ability to change our habits and improve our lives. We determine our destiny and can greatly alter our paths with proper nutrition. Each of us is biochemically unique and divinely created and we need to nourish our souls with the nutrients they so deserve.