Guest Blog: Nutrition (Part 1)

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I could not be more excited about my guest blogger this month, y’all! If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve most definitely heard her name. Not only is she a dear, dear friend of mine, but she is an endless wealth of knowledge in the food and holistic health scene! We’ve collaborated on everything from retreats and workshops to treatment packages, and our most recent endeavor, an online course! So, without further ado, I’d like to share my interview with Danielle Marquis, BS, NTP, CPT, CHC, so that you all can also reap the benefits of what she has to offer! 

1.Thanks for being here, Danielle! First, tell me a little about your training, because as I understand it, it varies substantially to that of a traditional nutritionist. 

Well first let me say I am so excited to be here on the Holistically Inspired blog! Thank you for having me. I’m so glad you asked this because yes, nutritional therapy (NT)  takes quite a different approach than say that of a registered dietitian (RD). It very much looks at a person as a WHOLE and does not look only to chase a symptom but to investigate the underlying cause. NT uses food as medicine and its healing properties to support functions of your body. When systems of our bodies are not functioning as well as they could be we experience adverse symptoms. We can use the healing powers food can provide to support and encourage better functioning of our body. I work with clients to take a look at their current dietary/lifestyle habits and how we can adjust them to better support their health goals as well as restore optimal function. 

Many people think of nutrition help to mean that you are going to have a ton of restrictions and be forced to remove things from your diet but often times I am helping people with what they can add into their meals to make them more supportive and nutrient dense. I don’t operate with meal plans and I don’t like to recommend any one specific diet. I’m not of the mindset of identifying with “I am keto or I am paleo etc.” and the reason for this is each and every one of us is 100% unique in our dietary needs and what is the most supportive for us. A sweet potato can be great for one person yet for another person it might cause their blood sugar to crash. However, one caveat to this is there certainly are very specific diets I may guide a client through, for example an autoimmune paleo protocol, if it is something that can benefit the client and offer a true level of healing. 

2.That’s so interesting, what made you want to study holistic nutrition so extensively? 

From a young age I just intuitively knew I never agreed with this idea of having a “health problem” then going to the doctor, getting a pill and leaving it at that. I always felt there must be a better way and that the food we put into our bodies, which breaks down and literally BECOMES us, must have a role to play. I have been reading about food for years, probably since the time I was about 13. Originally that interest sparked for not the most honorable reason but came from being a young girl who was insecure, had little self esteem/confidence, and had no self love for her body. That interest continued over the years and I experienced some healing in my own journey, then around age 20 I discovered a paleo way of eating and felt significant improvement with my energy levels and weight management. I went on to switch my degree from psychology to kinesiology and had dreams of pursuing a physical therapy career. Life happened and I never went to PT school but reached a point where I wanted to further my education in some way and found the Nutritional Therapy Association. I had always been interested in nutrition and felt it fit well with my physical fitness knowledge so I decided to sign up for the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program. I thought I knew a lot about food and oh boy did I realize I knew nothing! Well, not nothing, I certainly had a good foundation, but the NTP program was transformative on so many levels. I feel like I learned the true way to look at the body, how to view health and wellness, and most importantly how to recognize imbalance and heal myself/others. I loved every minute of my program and am immensely grateful for the knowledge I have gained. Not all of us have the luxury of time to devote to learning nutrition as in depth as I have been able to, and so it is my absolute pleasure to be able to share the knowledge I have gained that is so immensely empowering.

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3.Okay, now onto the burning questions I have for you! There are so many diets out there, and I really see people trying to be “good” but with so much contradictory information, where should people even begin? 

Great question and I am so glad you asked! I feel for everyone out there; it is honestly downright  confusing as a consumer. One day coffee is the greatest thing for you, the next it’s the worst. Eggs have been on both the “good” and the “bad” list how many times now? There truly is SO much conflicting information out there and my NTP program was the game changer for me in debunking and sifting through all the information. Something that helps me when I am shopping or making a decision about food is asking myself this question: did humans eat this 200 years ago? When you think about this in the timeframe of human existence, this is really not that long ago. This is pre-industrial revolution when everyone left the farms and went to the cities. We then had to feed people in mass quantity which led to the refining and milling of grains, making more shelf stable products, etc. Even only 100 years ago.. Did we have pharmaceutical drugs? No, we had herbs to heal ourselves. Did we have food that can sit in a box on a shelf for 9 months and not go bad (I consider these “food-like” products because they truly are not food)? No, we had real, whole food grown from the earth. Did humans eat butter, and eggs, and bacon, and animal products? Yes, yes, and yes! We thrived off of them for thousands of years. *An important note is that these animals were properly raised in pastures and not with the conventional farming techniques we use today of feeding animals corn and soy at feedlots.* Another point I like to express is that the healthiest foods for us do not have labels. There is no nutrition fact label on a bell pepper, nothing on a banana screaming “eat me!”, and no “low-this, low-that, heart healthy, etc.” marketing on broccoli. 

Now, I do find that people often genuinely are trying to make the right choice and sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know and all you have to go off is the messages from the media/big pharma/companies/commercials that get put forth to us: eat a low fat diet, have more grains, yogurt is a healthy breakfast, drink milk for calcium, if you want to lose weight you just need to eat less and exercise more, calories in should be < calories out. All of these messages are what don’t work. I’d say a good starting place is to instead keep a food journal and log how you feel after eating food. Does your energy crash? Do you get a headache? Do you have irregular bowel movements? This will guide you to learn what specific foods YOUR individual body feels best with. I highly recommend not looking for the next quick fix or diet claiming it will solve all your problems--there are.no.shortcuts. At times you will need to refer to resources for information and I have found that comes with a little bit of time and learning what sources you trust. Personally I refer to Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, The Weston Price Foundation, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Mark Sisson for information to name a few. Lastly, if you are really unsure of what choices to make or how to best support your body, consult with a practitioner you trust and who you feel has an approach in alignment with your views.

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4. This is such good information, I hope all my loyal readers are taking notes! :-) Next is a big one, and one of the first things we connected on, because your point of view really aligns with that of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)! Can you please explain to us why things like butter and meat are actually good for us. 

I absolutely love how aligned nutritional therapy and TCM are and it’s part of why I love working with you Holly! Together we are so powerful and create true healing for others. Like I mentioned earlier, we thrived off these foods for years and years and years. The issue today is conventional farming methods and the low-fat diet purported to be the healthiest option for us since the 50s. Let’s delve into these things a bit. In the last 5-7 years the message has changed to a slight “oops, we were wrong” about the low-fat diet while in the meantime Americans have gotten sicker and sicker, diabetes is rampant, and cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death in America. Back in the early 50s people were starting to die from heart attacks. A scientist called Ancel Keyes did the famous 22 country study which only plotted data from 7 of the countries. With these 7 data points it appeared there was a trend that countries consuming lower saturated fat had less cardiovascular deaths. However, when all 22 country’s data is plotted, there appears to be no trend. If the nitty gritty details of how the low-fat diet started and now it weave its way into every aspect of our food system I highly recommend the book The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. This began the entire low-fat revolution which villainized animal meats and products while glorifying grains. It also began the beginning of our food industry removing fat from products, which is tasty, and replacing that fat with something that can taste even better: sugar

Animal products, especially organ meats, were highly prized nutrition to our ancestors who utilized the whole animal. The bones for broth, the organ meats for their nutrient density, the meat for meals. Organ meats were actually more prized than the muscle meat. Dr. Weston Price studied indigenous tribes amongst various parts of the world and found an Eskimo tribe in the northern reaches of the world. The tribe had no scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) yet lived in a climate with no fresh fruits containing vitamin C (think lemon, lime, oranges, etc). The tribe would share the adrenal glands from whales and this was their source of vitamin C. Another example: chickens were historically valued for their eggs (the yolks contain the most nutrition) and not for their “lean” breast meat. Butter from grass fed (that’s the super important part!)  cows contains great nutrition: butyric acid (energy source for large intestine cells) and vitamin K2 (important for blood clotting) as well as vitamin A (vision, reproductive, and immune function). Grains and the agricultural revolution where we started growing food only came on to the scene about 12,000 years ago. That is still the blink of an eye in the historical lifespan of human existence. An important distinction to note is that the grains and agricultural methods we use today are NOT the same as our ancestors. Our ancestors did not eat hybrid or GMO corn/soy, whole grains, nor pasteurized or homogenized milk. They consumed raw milk and dairy from grass-fed pastured cows, traditional fermented sourdough bread, fermented foods, and soaked or sprouted grains and legumes. So, without ranting too much on this one, animal products are absolutely health promoting and supportive for us but it is key that we prioritize placing our dollars on products that have raised animals appropriately.

We’ll cap it there for this edition of our “Nutrition Breakdown” friends, and pick up next week. Make sure to stay tuned! And if you are just loving this interview, check out our online course where you can keep learning from both myself and Danielle. In light of Danielle’s guest appearance on Holistically Inspired, sign up during the month of September and receive $100 off!

To your health,

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