What Does Holistic Health Really Mean?

Do you know what “holistic” means? I feel that the true meaning of the word has been lost. It is thrown around to encompass anything that is natural health oriented. However, this is just a tiny piece of what holistic actually means. Holistic is defined as “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.”

When it pertains to health, holistic isn’t merely using natural means to treat health issues. Holistic health is treating the entire person. When a patient comes in to see me, not only am I asking them about diet, physical ailments and health issues, but also about how they are sleeping, the environment in which they live, their social and family life, relationships, exercise routine, spiritual and religious practices, and much more. Think of every person as a puzzle. If one piece of missing or doesn’t fit, the picture isn’t complete and it can throw the whole thing off.

When it comes to the body, I am looking at the person’s ENTIRE body. If they have kidney issues, I’m not just looking at their kidneys. I’m looking at every single organ and body system to see where I find any weaknesses. It’s important to remember that everything is connected and that anything can cause anything. For example, if a patient comes in with hypothyroidism (because that’s what her labs indicate), I’m not just looking at her thyroid. Her thyroid numbers could be off the charts due to the dysfunction of an entirely different organ or gland, and thyroid weakness isn’t, in fact, the root of the problem. Her thyroid will never truly heal unless the weakness of that other body part is addressed. Sure, Synthroid could make her numbers “normal”, but the second she stops taking it, numbers are back up. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to depend on medications for the rest of my life. This goes with any condition.

And yes, natural means (such as diet) are typically used when you work with a holistic health practitioner. That is because the nutrients from food are exactly what the body needs so that it can function correctly and heal itself. Medications are typically just covering up symptoms, not working towards strengthening the body. The fact that medications aren’t “natural” is just a small part of the reason why they shouldn’t be the first thing we reach for when we get sick. There is a time and place for medicine, but usually natural means are more effective and better benefit our health in the long run.

In my practice, in addition to diet and lifestyle changes, I use whole food supplements (mostly from Standard Process) to help support the bodies of my patients. Ideally, diet changes would be enough, but due to current farming practices, the quality of the soil and the use of chemicals and antibiotics when growing food, the nutrient density and quality of our food is nowhere near where it needs to be. Whole food supplements are a great addition to a healthy diet because they are concentrated with the nutrients (in their natural form) your individual body needs in order to repair. When I say individual, I mean that no two people are treated the same (another indicator of a truly holistic practice!). Even if two people have the same exact symptoms or conditions, it is likely that the root cause of these symptoms, and therefore their supplement programs, are completely different.

I hope to see health care move towards being predominantly holistic. Not only is it effective in helping people truly resolve their health issues, it can help them prevent getting sick to begin with. In my opinion, nothing works better!



Whole 30 - DONE

Yahoo! It’s over!

As much as I loved doing the Whole30, that’s exactly how I feel. I didn’t necessarily miss any particular food, but I was ready to not have to be so careful. I missed going out and eating something without worry that there was a little bit of dairy or that something was cooked with butter. I missed the freedom of having a glass of red wine if I wanted to (this was actually the first non Whole30 thing that passed these lips!). I was also ready to add some convenience back into my life. Not that I even eat processed/crappy snacks to begin with, but I was feeling a little burnt out from having to be so prepared all the time. For example, if Rory and I were going to hang out at my parents during the day, I would bring my own lunch even though they have a stocked kitchen.

Overall, I would definitely recommend doing the Whole30, especially if you feel like you need a reset. I personally felt like I had been in a downward spiral of carbs, sugar and overeating after pregnancy and postpartum. I now feel more in control of what I put in my body. I don’t recommend doing the Whole30 if you’re not totally committed or if you’re looking to simply lose weight. It is so much more than that. If you were interested in weight loss, I would suggest doing the Whole30 as a means to get you on track for an overall lifestyle change in the long term.

How I Feel

I’m feeling good! I lost 4 pounds, which is still a few pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I am comfortably back into most of my jeans. I feel so much more comfortable in my body - which is all that matters! I am ok with this because it is normal to hang onto a couple extra pounds while breastfeeding, which I have no plans to stop anytime soon.

My mood is still good, digestive symptoms are gone. They did start to sneak up a little around week 3, and I was eating way too many nuts and nut butters around this time. I already knew this was an issue so I plan to be mindful about how many nuts I’m eating and making sure I soak them and not eating any roasted in bad oils.

Going Forward

On a daily basis, I would like to eat as close to Whole30 as possible, especially when I’m making dinner at home. Initially, I intended to introduce one non compliant food at a time, and I still do for the most part; however, I did go out to dinner last night and along with the aforementioned red wine, ate small amounts of hummus and parmesan cheese. I feel totally fine. I didn’t think dairy or legumes were problem foods for me anyway. I am pretty sure that grains and/or natural sugars (I don’t ever really consume refined sugar, but was having things like maple syrup or raw honey) are what were causing my digestive issues. I will introduce them in good time, but for now, I have no desire to add them back in. Going forward, I plan to eat paleo (minus maple syrup, honey, etc) 80% of the time, and then living a little the other 20%.

What I Ate

I got into such a good groove with meal planning and cooking. I absolutely intend to keep this up. Prior to the Whole30 I felt like I was in a rut of making the same, boring meals over and over. It was fun to try new recipes and get creative in the kitchen. I included some recipes and links in my last post but here are a few more ideas:

Breakfast

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  • Cauliflower Oatmeal. I found this recipe on Instagram and I changed it up a little every time I make it. Combine 1/2 banana (can sub mashed sweet potato), 1/2 cup riced cauliflower, 3 TBS ground flax, 1 cup non dairy milk of choice, and cinnamon in a small pot. Bring to a boil then bring down the heat to medium low. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. It’s done when the mixture thickens and has an oatmeal-like consistency. Pour in a bowl and add toppings (nuts, nut or seed butter, coconut butter, shredded coconut, blueberries).

  • Sweet Potato Toast. Cut a sweet potato long ways into thin slices, then toast as you would toast bread. When it’s ready, you can add whatever you’d like on top! You can do sunflower butter with sliced banana, avocado and a fried egg, coconut butter with blueberries.

  • Half of a baked sweet potato topped with almond butter, apples sautéed in coconut oil and cinnamon and a sprinkle of paleo cereal.

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Lunch

  • Egg Drop Soup. Heat up chicken broth, slowly pour in a whisked egg while stirring with a fork (so it gets stringy), then add kelp noodles and spinach at the end.

  • Nori Wrap filled with avocado, sliced carrots, beets and chicken

  • Bowl of roasted vegetables and protein of choice with a drizzle of tahini

Dinner

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  • Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • Buffalo Wings

  • Chili from Whole30 cookbook served over baked potato and topped with avocado

  • Carnitas from Whole30 cookbook served with cauliflower rice, peppers, sweet potatoes and guacamole

  • Cod with pesto zucchini noodles, sautéed kale and roasted carrots

  • Vegetable curry (make sure to use a sauce with compliant ingredients or make your own) with shrimp

  • Spiralized potatoes cooked in bacon fat with bacon and over easy eggs

Other

  • Cardamom Cashew Milk. Soak 1 cup cashews over night. Strain and rinse then add to a blender with 3 dates, about 1/2 tsp cardamom, and a dash of cinnamon and cayenne. Blend for about 2 minutes on high. This was so good in coffee and chai tea! I love making cashew milk because it doesn’t require straining.

  • Flax Crackers. Add flax seeds and water to a jar in a 1:1 ratio (I did about 3/4 cup of each) and let sit overnight. Pour out onto a parchment lined pan and put in the oven at 200 degrees for about 3 hours. They’re done when they’re crunchy and break easily. You can add whatever spices or herbs you’d like! I just added a little sea salt because I like to change up the dip/topping.

Whole 30 - Halfway There!

Today is day 15 of the Whole30 and I can’t say enough good things about it. The Whole30 is a 30 day challenge during which you give up all grains, dairy, legumes, sugars and alcohol. It focuses on eating a whole food diet. You can read more about it here.

Here are some details about my Whole30 journey!

Why I decided to do the Whole30

I was more than ready to do some type of clean-eating reset or elimination diet when I started. After giving birth, I have been hanging on to about 10 extra pounds. And I felt it. I was still eating healthy, but no where near how I once ate before pregnancy. Once pregnancy was over, the breastfeeding hanger kicked in. I felt like I had lost all control of what and how much I was putting in my mouth. I knew it wouldn’t last forever and would slow down once Rory started eating solids, so I gave myself some grace until he reached 6 months.

In addition to feeling heavy and weighed down, I had also been experiencing some pretty bad digestive issues since giving birth (I’ll spare you the details). I had found that I had a sensitivity to nuts through Nutrition Response Testing, and avoiding them definitely made a difference, but the problem wasn’t completely handled.

How I’m Feeling

I feel AMAZING! I want to shout it from the roof tops. Seriously. For the first time in a year and a half, I finally feel like “myself” again. Obviously my body will never be exactly the same as it was, but I at least feel comfortable in my skin.

My digestive symptoms are GONE. I have not experienced one “episode” since starting the Whole30. At this point, I am in no rush to introduce any of the forbidden foods, but I am curious to find out what was causing this issue. Before the Whole30, symptoms would flare when I ate nuts; however, I started eating small amounts of nuts a few days ago and my body is handling them just fine.

I am nicer. I experienced a little bit of postpartum depression and anxiety after giving birth. Nothing crazy, but my mind and emotions were not in a good place, and it was clear through my behavior (mostly just at home. Poor Pat.) I only noticed this in the past few days, but since January, I stopped snapping, I’m crying less and when I’m in a stressful situation, I’ve been able to handle it much more gracefully.

What I’m Eating

I’ve been having so much fun cooking! I’m not creative when it comes to making my own recipes. But I’ve been cooking a lot so I thought I’d share some good recipes I’ve found with you all!

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Breakfast

  • Sautéed sweet potato and apples with cinnamon, almond butter and coconut yogurt. Make sure you buy sugar free.

  • Chia pudding. Mix 1 cup non dairy milk of choice with 3 Tbs chia seeds. Stir and let sit over night. In the morning, pour into a bowl and top with almond or sunflower butter, coconut shreds, blueberries and pumpkin seeds.

  • Banana egg scramble. Heat up 1 Tbs coconut oil over low medium heat. Mash a banana and add to the pan. Stir for about two minutes, until fragrant. Whisk two eggs with a little non dairy milk, cinnamon and about 1/2 - 1 Tbs of each hemp and chia seeds. Add to the pan and stir as if you were making scrambled eggs. It’s done when the eggs are cooked through. Add to a bowl with almond butter, blueberries and coconut yogurt.

  • Paleo Cereal

  • Eggs, bacon, roasted potatoes. Classic!

Lunch

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  • Tuna salad made with homemade or a whole30 complaint mayo. Add some chopped veggies for a crunch. Serve in romaine lettuce or collard wraps.

  • Turkey “sandwich” (make sure turkey has no nitrates, sugar or antibiotics) with avocado, sprouts, spinach on a roasted eggplant “bun”

  • Big salad with roasted veggies, avocado, protein of choice, seeds and a compliant dressing.

  • Leftovers!

Dinner

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Snacks (not typically allowed but #breastfeeding)

  • Almond Pulp Crackers

  • Guacamole and Plantain Chips

  • Hardboiled eggs

  • Flax crackers

  • Date dipped in nut butter or tahini

Other

  • Almond milk (soak 1 cup almonds over night. strain and add to blender with about 3 cups water. blend on high for 2 minutes. Use cheese cloth or a nut milk bag to strain. I put a large mason jar in a bowl and put a strainer on top of that, and squeeze the nut milk bag on top. this helps to double strain and avoid a huge mess). Or make cashew milk, which is similar but you don’t have to strain!

  • Homemade Mayo from Whole30 cookbook

Welcome

Welcome! I'm not exactly sure which direction this blog will go, but I figure I will start with sharing my story.

In 2008, I hit a tipping point. I was overweight and very unhappy.  My mom took me to talk to a natural health practitioner. This woman told me that I feel this way because of what I am eating (chemicals, preservatives, sugar, etc.) and the fact that I was on birth control. This was all news to me at the time. She scared the crap out of me! Starting that day, I began to make little changes in my diet and started exercising a little more. Nothing crazy. Within a year I had lost about 30 pounds. Not only did I feel good physically, but I was a new person mentally and emotionally. I couldn't believe the life shift caused simply by eating more vegetables and less processed food. This was the first stage of the making of the wellness junkie I am today. 

After going through college and a few years working in public accounting, I found that I was miserable and my health was plummeting. Even though I was eating well, the stress, long hours and lack of purpose took a serious toll on my health. In September 2013, my grandmother died from cancer. This turned my world upside down. I couldn't help but question the western medical model. I was convinced that things would have turned out differently if cancer was treated naturally, such as through nutrition.  It was so painful for me to watch someone go through chemotherapy and being fed sugar everyday because "she needs to eat something." That month, I decided to quit my job and take some time to reassess what I was doing with my life. The next spring, I enrolled in a program to obtain my masters degree in nutrition. 

This period also marked the beginning of my meditation journey. This all seems simple when I am writing it down, but at the time it felt anything but that. I was so confused and upset and was completely overwhelmed by the fact that I had no idea what was in store for me. I started meditating by trying out different apps and focusing on my breathing for 5 minutes or so a day. I immediately began to see changes and felt more at peace. Soon after, someone came into my life who helped me bring my meditation practice to the next level. I met with this teacher every week for almost a year. She taught me so much and changed my life more than she will ever know and I am so grateful. A consistent meditation practice helped me deal with all of the anxiety and depression I had been experiencing for the better part of my life. I was finally able to make decisions easily without going into a tailspin. I was able to feel at peace even when life threw curveballs and I didn't know what would happen next. 

This wellness journey has yet to end. I am so passionate about experimenting and making changes to optimize my mind and body. Now I am nearing the end of my masters program and will soon be obtaining my Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) certification. I am also training to be a Nutrition Response Testing practitioner. Because meditation has had such a profound impact on my life, I would love to incorporate that into my career as well. I decided to create this website and blog to organize and share my thoughts, projects and services as I go through life as a healer. I hope I can touch the lives of people just as so many have touched mine.