For many of us, this time of year seems to be all about excess when it comes to food. Lots of cookies, cake, eggnog, candy canes, chocolate and don’t forget the turkey! Is it possible to get through the holiday season with our health (and our waistlines) intact?
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
To answer this, I talked to an expert: Registered Holistic Nutritionist (and busy mom) Debbie Scallion of Real Earth Nutrition. In case you don’t know, RHNs are professionals trained in natural nutrition and complementary therapies, who mainly educate people about the benefits and health impact of optimal nutrition.
Debbie received her training at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. She explains why she chose this career path, saying, “I have always been interested in nutrition since I can remember. I taught myself how to cook, I scoured recipe books and watched every cooking show I could find on TV. I read books on the human body, biochemistry, psychology to learn more about what we need to have in our bodies to have them perform well. When I watched my unhealthy parents become healthy by changing their lifestyles to incorporate supplements and a more active lifestyle, I was hooked.”
What an RHN Does
As an RHN, Debbie sees clients in her office to help them achieve their health goals. Some come to her with pre-existing conditions in need of nutritional support. She sees people with cancer, Crohn’s, IBS, diabetes, disordered eating, or planning for or recovering from surgery. Since becoming a mother, she’s specialized in women’s issues including fertility, pregnancy, and feeding kids. She gives nutrition talks at a recovery house for kids who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, she runs a very successful weight loss program in a group setting and she does corporate seminars on various health topics.
Recently Debbie organized a major food event in Vancouver called Feast of Flavour. Participants sampled delicious foods while learning about the natural healing properties of the key ingredients. On offer was organic wine from Summerhill winery and organic saison beer featuring local hops. Celebrity chefs were also on hand to provide demonstrations. She’s looking forward to making next year’s event even better.
Resources for Eating Well
Debbie’s favourite cook books are A Pastry Queen Goes Green by Lorene Sauro, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair, and The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segerstein and Tom Malterre. Websites she loves include Cookus Interruptus, Saveur, Epicurious for quick ingredient dish ideas and a couple of food blogs called Poppytalk and Everybody Likes Sandwiches.
Where does the food expert shop for groceries? Since Debbie lives on Main Street, she heads to the Winter Farmers Market at Nat Bailey Stadium on Saturdays for produce, eggs and fish. She also likes East West Market and Mainly Organics. When she occasionally eats meat, she shops at the old-school butcher shop Windsor Meats on Main at Kind Edward for their well-priced organic poultry and grass fed beef.
Debbie’s Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Since the holiday season is upon us, we thought we’d get Debbie’s tips for eating healthy while getting festive. Here’s what she had to say:
- Try to incorporate an 80/20 rule with healthy eating. 80% of the time eat as best you know how and 20% of the time, give yourself a break.
- Pre-eat before going to holiday parties so you’ll be less likely to over indulge.
- If you think you may have a difficult time, keep a food journal over the holiday season. It helps to bring awareness to what you’re putting in your body. Once you’re aware, you can’t become unaware!
- Stay as close to the original food as possible. It’ll help to keep you away from most processed foods. You’d be surprised how easy to prepare whole foods can be.
- Bring healthy options with you. It’s amazing how many classic recipes can be converted into a healthier form without compromising taste!
How do you eat healthy over the holiday season? Share your tips with us!
Real Earth Nutrition
Lisa Corriveau is our East Side Contributor. When not writing, she can often be found at the park chasing her little boy, sewing clothing, cycling, reading just about anything, performing on stilts, eating chocolate or drinking craft beer. (Sometimes several of the above simultaneously.) Lisa lives car-free in East Van, with toddler, husband and a few bikes. You can also find her on her blog, The Sprog.