Growing up you could say I lived in a typical American family. School lunches consisted of PB&J’s, potato chips or a little Debbie snack with a lonely piece of fruit. Dinners were homemade by mom or dad and would usually be something like bbq chicken or pasta. I was always very tall for my age and criticized for being too skinny. I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain any weight. And then when puberty hit, I was struck with terrible, painful and embarrassing acne. To the point where I didn’t want to go to school and always left the house with way too much concealer on.
It wasn’t until my college days that the acne started to calm down and weight gain finally started to catch up with me. In my early 20s I started to very slowly pay attention to what I was eating and my workout routine when my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. That is when I decided I needed to start being more conscious about my health. My mom was told that her early onset Parkinson's was due to environmental factors since there was no hereditary gene found to link it to her family history. Around the same time of her diagnosis, I had a grandmother and two aunts diagnosed with breast cancer. I quickly began to realize that food and lifestyle play a major role in your longevity, health and happiness and not just about weight and looks.
My food journey and path to becoming a nutritionist started when I took the time to cook for myself, discovered cold pressed juicing ( I was a frequent visitor of the Juice Press at it's first flagship location in NYC) and started self care like acupuncture and yoga. This all led me to becoming very passionate of what I was eating and how to take preventative measures through food.
I enrolled in IIN in 2011 and was blown away by all of the different dietary theories out there. From the Atkins Diet, The Zone diet, South beach diet, the raw food diet, and then Ayurveda and Paleo. I remember being assigned to read The China Study by T.Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell (a book about the relationship between diet and disease) at the start of the course and thinking this is what I am meant to do. People have forgotten and been so misled on what it really means to “diet”. It’s not about restricting yourself or cutting fats and carbs, it's about eating real whole foods that grow from the ground and if you eat meat or fish being conscious to know where it is coming from and what those animals are eating. Today’s society is very focused on convenience and ease that Americans are consuming more sugar and processed foods than ever. The rate at which kids are being diagnosed with diabetes, cancers and heart disease is growing at an alarming rate and starting in even younger ages. I like to view food as medicine and my guide to feeling my best.
While I’m not always perfect, I like to fill my days with a mostly plant based diet and sometimes fish. Eating this way has helped me clear up skin issues, gain more energy, fall into my natural and healthy weight, sleep better and even helped subside anxiety and brain fog.
If I can leave you with any advice for your own personal food journey it’s do what feels right for you. Take time to eat beautiful food, self care and ask for help when you feel lost or confused. Food should be enjoyed, and fit into your lifestyle not make things harder.
Tara your holistic nutritionist and social curator