Graydon: Hey everybody, it’s Graydon and Sarah! And we’re going to talk about holistic nutrition. Sarah is a holistic nutritionist in Toronto, in the east end, not far from us. Before we start, let’s light a candle! I always love an excuse to light a candle, even when it’s not dark out.
Sarah: I do too!
Graydon: I also have some of our lavender chamomile and sandalwood blend, do you want a drop on your hand?
Sarah: Yeah I would love some.
Graydon: We can do a little palm rub, its very aromatic.
Sarah: Smells so good! Mm, I love this.
Graydon: We don’t have to talk, we can just mediate for the next half an hour! [laughs]
Sarah: I could definitely use some meditation! [laughs]
Graydon: Right? Well on that note, do you find a lot of your clients are dealing with anxiety, and stress, and exhaustion, and depression?
Sarah: Yeah, and that’s definitely something that I definitely have been noticing more and more. I think that when we’re in nutrition school, we notice the connection between stress and physical ailments or symptoms, or conditions. But something that I’ve definitely come to realize more and more in practice is that stress is a part of every single health concern and issue, and it’s often I feel, the driving cause or force in experiencing symptoms - even if I client isn’t coming to see me for something stress or anxiety related. The other thing is that a lot of people don’t realize that nutrition can play a role in stress and anxiety, so I don’t have many clients who are seeking nutrition support specifically for stress, or mood, or anxiety. But as [the client and I] are speaking, stress and anxiety, or mood and depression changes a problem in their life, and in impacts everything.
Graydon: I think there’s this conception that if you're in the holistic world, whether it’s nutrition or you’re a naturopath, or run a skincare business, that your life is totally zen and perfect. And it’s not! Life happens. It’s just how you respond to those things and the tools you use.
Sarah: Oh it’s not! Life happens. And I think even thinking that you’re in the health profession, in whatever capacity, that you have all the tools and you know what to do, and you have a really good balance, but that’s also not always the case. You could be looking for help, and looking for support, and looking for what to do. I think that stress, anxiety, depression, mood, that’s something I’ve dealt with my whole life, and probably the biggest health concerns of mine.
Graydon: We can’t always just put some essential oil in our palms and zone out in the middle of the office right?
Sarah: But it can help - all these little things that we do, creating a space, whatever it is. And breathing, oh my gosh breathing, literally taking a deep breath is one of the best things you can do. It stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system and it actually physiologically calms you down. People just don’t breathe! I’ll notice myself, I’ll be working and stressed at my computer, and I’m taking such shallow breaths. I’m not even breathing! So I take a step back and sit straight, and take a five deep breaths, like real belly breaths. It really helps. But I can myself all the time not breathing.
Graydon: That’s one of the reasons why I let Odin sit on my lap. He’s almost like a therapy dog, even though he needs therapy - he’s totally anxious right now!
Sarah: I have a dog as well, and it really helps with stress! Even though he is a cause of stress sometimes! [laughs]
Sarah: Even just touching them is so calming.
Graydon: I think [Odin] likes you! So tell me, when people come to see you, what is the typical question you get asked?
Sarah: I think that it really depends on what they are coming to see me for. If they were coming to see more for any digestion concerns, which is probably the main general health concern I see, they they would have questions specific to their experience, lifestyle, concern, but I do get asked a lot about fats. People will come in and ask me something regarding something they’ve read in news, or they watch a documentary. And those are similar, depending on what’s going on in the news.
Graydon: There are so many trendy diets out there.
Sarah: So many trendy diets, and health-headlines are very sensationalized. If there’s something in the news I’ll get a lot of emails about that.
Graydon: For me it seems that whether its a skin condition or a digestive condition, it seems to boil down to inflammation. I wouldn’t mind your opinion about that.
Sarah: I think that inflammation is a part of every disorder. How to minimize inflammation is just so individual. There are many things that we can do, what it really depends on what your specific source or cause of inflammation is, how it’s manifested, and what is a realistic way for you to decrease inflammation.
Graydon: I have also dealt with a number of severe digestive issues, and have a bunch of people in my life who are still dealing with things, and I feel like I have to get hardcore. Like I have no patience for or interest in refined foods, but I realize sometimes when I go over to another person’s house that I’m living in a bubble. Like, ‘talk to me about superfoods, that’s what I’m interested in’. But it makes me think when I go over to family member’s house, and they have Tropicana orange juice for breakfast, and I’m like ‘woah’. There’s still so much misunderstandings of the information.
Sarah: There’s a lot of misunderstanding and lack of information. Also working as a practitioner, I really had to take a step back. Especially when you start, and you’re in nutrition school, you’re surrounded by those who are interested in what you’re interested in, and have similar values. But when you’re working as a practitioner, you’re a practitioner, and those who are coming to see you, your clients, are living their life and their experiences are different. My approach is very much to work with people where they are. I don’t have a very dogmatic approach, I don’t believe that there is one thing you need to be healthy, or one thing that everyone has to do to be healthy.
Another thing I really have to realize is that everyone has a different idea of health and sustaining health. Health means something different to everyone, so I think it’s important not to take my idea of health and put in onto someone else, because their idea could be completely different. But meeting people where they are. I have clients where their goal is to stop eating fast food 7 days a week to 5 days a week, not eating greens, not having superfoods, but minimizing their fast food intake. You realize there’s such a range of education when it comes to nutrition. A lot of people just don’t know the significance and importance of nutrition, and how impactful changes can be. They might not prioritize it, and that’s another important thing that I’ve come to realize, that not everyone is going to prioritize nutrition and making changes in their diet like I would. It’s really important to work with people where they're at, and what they want to do.
Graydon: That’s a wonderful opportunity to practice non-judgement.
Sarah: I find that in my work as a nutritionist you have to practice that every second, and now it’s so ingrained in me, and I take a completely non-judgemental approach. But you really need to work on that. Everyone has their own experience and everyone has the right to their own decisions.
Sarah: It’s hard, but it’s definitely an opportunity to practice.
Graydon: I never really know how these conversations are going to go because they are literally an unscripted conversation! But this is reminding me of before doing [Graydon Skincare], I was teaching yoga, but I also taught a lot of teens. This one person connected to me finally confided in me that she couldn’t go to the bathroom, and there’s so much shame people have talking about their bodily issues. It really took a lot of coaching, and realizing that if you start going to the bathroom, your skin will improve.
Sarah: People don’t make the connections with their bodies, and that’s the other thing. I connect the dots for people all the time, and that’s also really important.
Graydon: There are short term effects, and long term effects…Another one that is of interest to me and if you don’t feed your body properly, you can have a lot of fertility issues…
Sarah: Yes, totally.
Graydon: Teens and young adults are so affected. And there’s also a lot of talk about cannabis these days. That’s coming up a lot for us.
Sarah: There definitely is. As it’s being more integrated in the wellness space, I'm definitely getting more questions.
Graydon: In terms of an ingestible, or a topical?
Sarah: I think the questions come more so for ingestibles, like using it not as a topical, because that’s not really my domain. People think of nutrition like what’s going in, what’s going on is more your domain!
Graydon: Right, like CBD oil can be taken and you can use them on your skin. Where are you finding that a product like that can be helpful?
Sarah: So I’m not an expert or would consider myself super knowledgeable, but from what I know: stress, sleep, pain.
Graydon: Stress, sleep, pain, what more is there!
Sarah: Exactly. From what I’ve researched, for my personal use, it can be helpful for stress, anxiety, sleep, and pain. The difficulty is you don’t know what dosages are best for what yet, and I think you need to take a significantly higher dosage for sleep than you do for anxiety. A medium dose for pain from what I’ve read.
Graydon: Is it CBD related or THC related?
Sarah: I’ve looked mostly into CBD, so not THC. So, the THC is a completely different domain. It’s a whole world and there’s so much to learn, but I don’t know much about that. I’ve just looked into CBD.
Graydon: Do you refer people to cannabis now that it’s legalized?
Sarah: Now that it’s legalized, I probably should have some referral system, but I don’t. I should recommend something, but I can’t. But it’s an emerging field. I think CBD has adaptogenic properties. So adaptogens are a herbal classification that helps the body adapt to stress.
Graydon: We love adaptogens! I love to, for example, use medicinal mushrooms and superfoods. Moringa is really interesting, and we love blue majik. How does an adaptogen help to support the body?
Sarah: So it’s very much a supportive herb. Not a relaxant, like a chamomile or lavender that relaxes, it works to moderate and mediate the stress response. It all has to do with the response, which is what they're called adaptogens, because they help the body adapt to stressors. Whether that be internal stress, mental-emotional stress, environmental stress, situational stress, whatever the case may be. They don’t chill you out, but they help regulate when the stress response comes. As a result, you can feel more calm, have more energy. That’s why a lot of adaptogens and herbs are thought of as ways to relax, and ways to energize. But it all has to do with the response to stress.
Graydon: I’m interested if we could leave our wonderful viewers with some tips. Our interest is in skin health, and your generalized focus is more on digestion. If we merged those two categories together…
Sarah: For sure. Something that’s very important, but boring, is fiber. Fiber is so important, and when we get wrapped up in the latest and greatest [trend], we forget about the basics.
Graydon: Like eating whole foods?
Sarah: Eating whole foods!
Graydon: Not necessarily from Whole Foods! [laughs]
Sarah: Eating a lot of leafy greens, and flax seeds are one of my favourites. They are a really good source of soluble fiber. It’s really good for your digestion and in turn really good for your skin. I think when you think of skin health, I mean I think of digestion first! And a lot of things good for digestion are good for your skin. Fiber is definitely at the top of my mind.
Graydon: You almost can’t go wrong when you choose a vegetable!
Sarah: Yeah, and eating the rainbow. It’s almost an old-school term at this point, but it’s so important. Eat the rainbow!
Graydon: That’s a good tip if you haven't heard! Try to pick a bunch of different colours when you go to the supermarket. Thank you so much!