While my arrival to health coaching has been a lifelong path, how I got here has been a more recent revelation.
My father’s untimely death at the age of 37 left me with the painful and immediate awareness of life’s fleeting nature. Our grief stricken family struggled for years. My mom turned to alcohol to numb her pain and I became the classic co-dependent. I tried to alleviate my mother’s grief by being a “good girl.” Early on, I poured her alcohol down the sink. Post college, I sent her cassette recordings of me speaking encouraging words, in an effort to support her attempt at sobriety. For years, I tried convincing others in the family to see that there was a problem. But denial is powerful. I felt powerless and alone.
This manifested as a six year battle with bulimia. Instead of alcohol, I numbed my grief and filled the emptiness in my life with the one thing that I could control-- food. My eating disorder kept me engaged in my own little world, focused on my own “problems.” I love my family fiercely and I felt the need to preserve them, to save them, to prevent them from hurting more. So, I kept both my ‘sickness’ and my mothers reliance on alcohol a secret, which only exacerbated my shame. What I didn’t understand at the time was the connection between my bulimia and the immense grief and loneliness I felt as a child. My relationship to food was a symptom-- a byproduct--of a deeper familial issue. I was trying to fill a deep emptiness with food. No binge, psychology class, or self-help book could fill this void.
Years later, I became tired of demonizing my body and every bite of food I put in my mouth. I was fatigued and at a bottom. But, in the midst of this darkness, the messages of the Universe got louder. I listened to my gut, which told me to stop chasing a graduate degree in Psychology and get into the kitchen. If I was really going to understand my relationship to food, I would need to meet it head on. Within a few weeks, I had enrolled in culinary school and landed a prep job in a local restaurant kitchen.
In some of Boston’s top restaurants, I found comfort in the heat of the kitchen and the community of co-workers. This phase was crucial to my healing because it taught me to celebrate food, rather than fear it. In fact, my “lightbulb” moment occurred while I was working and listening to a radio talk show. The show explained that babies cry when they’re hungry for food and stop eating when they are satiated. How simple. Babies listen to their bodies; they eat intuitively. Instead of feeding emotional hunger, I was re-learning to notice physical hunger. The more I listened to my belly growl before eating, the more in tune I became with what my body was actually hungry for. No longer needing to gorge on food, I was able to discover the creative outlet that cooking can be. This filled my soul. The combination of honoring my body’s signals and innovating dishes was a powerful one: it taught me that food is medicine for our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves.
In our first year of marriage, my husband and I moved to live and work in Italy. There, I picked grapes with local farmers and worked in restaurants that preserved regional specialties. I discovered the tradition of cultivating seasonal foods, reveled in bold flavors, and witnessed how families commune around their dinner tables, I made it my mission to replicate this nourishing way of life for myself and other Americans.
Over the next twenty years I pursued this goal. I began by helping to start and run our local farmers' market. Then, I co-founded an educational business, Kids Cooking Green, which strives to instill the next generation with a love for cooking and eating earth-based foods. Most recently, I have been working with young men who are in their early stages of sobriety, teaching them the healing powers of homemade food.
While this phase was one of tremendous growth for me, it was not without its hurdles. When our children were in middle school, my body demanded attention again. Fatigue, body aches, and general malaise had taken over. Doctors tested me for various ailments and in return I got vague answers. Finally, I went back to my PCP and asked for both a lyme and metals test.
Yes, I had a high heavy metal counts: mercury, lead, aluminum etc. I was shocked. I had never lived near any toxic sights. Where did all this toxicity come from? Sure, I had mercury-amalgams in my teeth and had eaten the occasional tuna sushi roll, but metal poisoning? My diagnosis sparked an interest in alternative medicine and the therapeutic aspects of whole foods and herbs, a fascination which has grown over the years. With the help of a reputable functional medicine doctor, I underwent a multi-faceted healing approach which involved physical, emotional, and spiritual work. The silver lining of my recovery from metals was learning to heal from the inside out.
These precious years of life experience, paired with and affirmed by my certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and my training with Dr. Stephen Cabral's Integrative Health Practitioner Program, have provided we with tools to serve as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I know what it’s like to struggle with body and health issues; AND I see these challenges as a source of strength-- they have made me a compassionate listener and ally so that I can serve you. Together, we will co-create a personalized action plan based on your individual goals, body, and lifestyle. Let me guide you towards your ideal vision of health and fulfillment while putting the power back in your hands.
Cheers to fueling your mind, body, and soul!
My Professional Expertise
Offering guidance, insight and structure to your next steps toward good health.
Encouragement and positive reinforcement.
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