As a coach in the wellness industry, I have a rare but crucial opportunity to reach people at their most vulnerable. Food is so personal, intimate and sometimes secretive in nature. As a nutritionist, I help people with one of the most personal things they can do: eat, and the the opportunity lies in exploring the literal aches and pains of the mind and body and how their symptoms are connected to food. Nutrition as an exploration of dietary manipulations as well as an exploration of self can be a gateway for many people that leads to more healing: counselling/therapy, massages, yoga, traditional chinese medicine, chiropractic, meditation, crystal healing, dosha balancing, sensory deprivation, etc etc etc. Wellness is about so much more than images of flowers and yoga poses: people come to us to sort through their struggles, calm their anxieties, and just generally feel better in our consumerist world that prefers' them to feel worse. Often we are their last resort.
As stress and anxieties build in society it feels as if wellness careers are more important now, in this politically charged and high tech time, than they’ve ever been. More of us are struggling not just with digestive issues, but to add to our plates our mental wellness is suffering, our high-tech habits are weakening our bodies and minds and our addiction to being busy is dizzying.
We’re lucky that the people who are seeking out wellness-related products, services, communities, or “influencers” are already open when it comes to a responsible and proactive mindset. They're ready to jump into change. They're ready to fight. Read: [Welcome to the Machine: Become a Liberated Eater]
Those clients already know they can be the change they wish to see in the world, and they already know that it’s small but powerful tweaks to routine that are the real gateway to being that change. Wellness folks come to us ready to be open, be vulnerable and shed what they don’t need anymore in order to start fresh. It's a powerful time and it's a powerful process to be a witness of.
That requires an immense level of responsibility, vulnerability and bravery, all of which is something I cannot take lightly. My clients are so ready for change, and are willing to put the work in required of it that I too, hold very high standards on myself and my work with them too.
Here’s what I can personally promise you: non-judgement, accessible nutrition recommendations, staying open to learning, high code of ethics and art as activism. These are 5 ways you can embrace wellness in your life.
1. Finding safety + non-judgement in your wellness team
It can be easy for a nutritionist's words to be triggering – shameful even. Sometimes nutritionists’ are not aware that people or clients are feeling embarrassed or judged and most often, people are self-conscious of being judged by us when we absolutely aren't! I meet everyone where they're at and I don't judge. Period. Read: [Eat Ice Cream & Other “Bad Things] My students, readers, clients, and followers come to me baring their vulnerable selves in the heat of the moment, like talking about digestive problems, their life drama's, their nutrition issues and having probing questions asked in a coaching session, being open to alternative ways of living, the discomfort ...….those are all vulnerable things to do! Changing your diet is a process, learning and evolving as you go, which is something I am not immune to either. We are all learning. Keeping an open mind is the only way for new things to get in. Finding practitioners that you trust are key to feeling safe as you explore your version of wellness. The space of non-judgement that I hold during these moments is what keeps clients feeling safe.
2. Getting a wide variety of ways to live well that can work for your lifestyle.
Make wellness simple. Most of us aren’t living the life of the “wellness high society,” who can afford multiple holistic and massage treatments per week, buy thousands of dollars a year of special powders and supplements to get high nutrient intake, and have transformed their backyards into fitness gyms or backyard farms for organic food access. I’m not against any of these things of course - they’re wonderful, but just not realistic for everyone out there. In my practice I take into account the entirety of the human experience and where folks are at. I believe in the power of the body over diet plans. Read: [Consciousness Over Calories] and I won't send you a dispensary list for $300 worth of suggested supplements. I won't recommend organic foods unless it (truly) fits in your budget. I won't do anything that doesn't work for you. Because the truth is, the only good advice is the advice you can take, and I need my recommendations to fit your life. If it doesn't take, then it's wasting both our time. It just has to fit.
3. Be open to learning, always.
I am still learning, always, and I promise I know I must seek out, actively seek out, viewpoints other than my own, because we all know that living truly WELL in body, mind, and spirit means not assuming that one way is the right way for all times and for all people. Read: [7 Starter Steps to Success in Nutrition] I believe so strongly (like way, way deep down in my core) that in order to be our best selves, we must be open to continuously learning ourselves. It does not stop. How can it? My version of living well and finding balance has evolved immensely over the years. Living well is about finding what works for you, and how can I outline that for you perfectly? I can't, but I can demonstrate that balance and flexibility have vital roles. This is what I teach and knowing this, really knowing it, will help you as you evolve in your wellness plan. And in order to help people find what works for them, I must demonstrate that there is more than one option and more than one way to be part of the wellness movement. It doesn't have to look a certain way in order for success.
4. Find practitioners with a high standard of ethics, and bring your own high standards for yourself to the game.
I hold confidentiality (and our schools' Code of Ethics) in such high regard. I promise that I will continue to respect the confidential nature of my relationship with clients and protect the confidentiality of assessments and recorded documents. I maintain an interest in the well-being of all human beings, regardless of colour, creed or nationality, and in the care of planet Earth. I respect the rights of my clients as an individual as to personal tastes, morals and social values, and am non-judgmental as to the life values and experience of the client. I promise to only provide professional services only in those areas in which I have competence and training. My job is to guide clients, to help them achieve optimal health through natural nutrition and I always respect the right/need for the client to make the final decision in all wellness plans and to accept responsibility for their own choices and actions. Bringing your own standards for yourself to the table makes you a stronger player.
Since our profession is yet to be regulated, it's up to us as practitioners' to have our own personal code of ethics within our practice, which is of high importance to me for gaining your trust.
5. Bring your whole self into it. (I use my Art as activism)
I get to use artistry to build my business. Writing. Speaking. Teaching. Brewing. Social media content. There are many art forms in which wellness and creativity intersect and so many ways to get creative when it comes to promoting change. Behind the scenes, I sit on the board as the BC liason for Slow Food Canada, I'm researching stuff you probably wouldn't want to (so you don't have to) and sometimes, sharing petitions through a computer screen and even writing letters to corporations or government officials. I promise to continue this underground fight and to partner with other high caliber activists so we can do our art together, as both art and activism are made even more powerful when there’s a collaboration involved. The fight isn't always broadcasted, and it isn't always "tweeted" either. But I don't play by the rules "no photo didn't happen." Don't let that dim our light for continuous growth in the movement. Bringing your whole self - your creative self and all - is key to making deep change, because you're not depending on one part of yourself to do all the work, it becomes holistic. I know that our voices mean something, even though it sometimes feels too small, I speak for all of the food movement when I raise my voice against issues that negatively affect our planet and our health.
Wellness is your right.
And, right now is the time to take action. Right now is the time to do things differently.
As Holistic Nutritionists' our goal is to inspire others, to help change people’s lives for the better so they can truly live well. With the accessibility of good quality food, a community interested in healthy, holistic living, the high level of coaching available & a ton of tools at our disposal (think all of Google), right now, more than ever, is the time to make that happen. Above are 5 ways to bring the new sanctuary of wellness into your life.
The space of non-judgement that I hold during these moments is what keeps clients feeling safe, because the truth is, the only good advice is the advice you can take, and I need my recommendations to fit your life. If it doesn't take, then it's wasting both our time. It just has to fit. And in order to help people find what works for them, I must demonstrate that there is more than one option and more than one way to be part of the wellness movement. It doesn't have to look a certain way in order for success. Since our profession is yet to be regulated, it's up to us as practitioners' to have our own personal code of ethics within our practice, which is important to me for gaining your trust. I know that our voices mean something, even though it sometimes feels too small. I speak for all of the food movement when I raise my voice against issues that negatively affect our planet and our health.