Category Archives: Lifestyle

Permalink to SISTERS: Nourishment for the Soul

SISTERS: Nourishment for the Soul

When I studied holistic nutrition I mostly learned about eating healthy to nourish your body and mind, but I also learned that nourishing your soul is equally important for your wellbeing.  My sisters and ‘sister friends’ are nourishment for my soul. In fact, I sometimes think they’re part of my soul. My younger sister can finish my sentences and sometimes say things out loud that make me think, “Hey, did you say that or did I?” Maybe you have had a similar experience so you know I’m not crazy.

Sisters don’t have to be relatives. They can be friends, better known as ‘sister friends’. They are usually the type of friend you don’t have to tell how you’re feeling, the same one who knows all the sordid family history and who doesn’t wait to be offered a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, they just help themselves.

Sadly, and very recently, my younger sister and I lost one such friend. On December 25th, Christmas Day, it will be exactly two months since our friend Laurie passed away. Laurie’s death is still very raw and I can’t stop myself from thinking about her, especially as Christmas draws near. I may not have always seen Laurie on Christmas Day, but I would almost certainly see Laurie sometime in the days surrounding Christmas. Usually I spend the Christmas holidays with my sister’s family at her cottage in Ontario and the cottage is where I first met Laurie.

Christmas at the cottage is always memorable and I have a very special Christmas memory of Laurie.  Laurie and I had been chatting about our favourite Christmas movies and we both thought White Christmas with Bing Crosby was one of the best. Laurie owned the video and we decided we had to watch it together. Later that afternoon in the middle of her cottage, with bedlam and visitors all around us, we watched White Christmas. We sang every song as loud as we could. And, believe me, Laurie could sing incredibly loud and with complete abandon. Both of us knew every word to every song and we agreed our favourite song was the song sung by the two female leads called ‘Sisters’. What a gift to sit with someone who enjoyed the movie as much as I did and who (like me) could sing along to every word! We had so much fun and we made a promise to do it again every year. Unfortunately, time passed by and we didn’t watch it together again, but I’ll always treasure this most precious Christmas memory of Laurie.

In December, 2011 Laurie sent an email to a few of her friends titled “To My Sisters” in which the value of sisters is beautifully emphasized. The email is a story of a young woman sitting with her mother and they are talking about life. The young girl’s mother advises her to ‘never forsake her sisters’ because she’ll need them in her life. The mother also makes a point of saying ‘sisters’ aren’t just relatives; they are the women in your life. It was a beautiful message and it meant a lot to me that I was part of Laurie’s distribution.

In Laurie’s life she built a huge network of amazing friends. I know she understood the value of these friendships and it was these friends and her sister who were with her until the end. Her sister took a leave from her job to spend more time with Laurie and it was her sister that Laurie relied on and wanted by her side.

Laurie’s death has had the expected effect of making me think about decisions and choices in my life and reflect on the people and things I most appreciate.

When I reflect on people I most appreciate, one group of women stands out above all….my sisters. I am blessed to have four sisters and although our lives have been very different from each other we have an unshakeable bond. There’s a line in the song ‘Sisters’ that says it perfectly, “all kinds of weather, we stick together”.

If you read my previous blog you’ll know that I’m leaving B.C. and moving back to Ontario. I’m very excited to be living close to my Ontario family and friends again, but it is with a heavy heart that I move away from my sister and brother-in-law in Vancouver. No words can describe the generosity and hospitality of these two people. They have helped me, every step of the way, through school and starting up my own nutrition business. They were always willing guinea pigs for my nutritional experiments and they completely changed their diet. I think they would agree that the diet changes have all been for the better but, for me it was a bonus to have two such willing and enthusiastic practice clients. They opened their house, their hearts and their minds to me and I am forever grateful.

Laurie, dear friend, I miss you and whether any one sings along with me or not, I’m going to watch White Christmas and sing every song and smile when I think of you.

To all my sisters and sister friends thank you for nourishing my soul.

Happy, Healthy & Nourishing Holiday wishes to all,


ps  Here is a youtube link to the ‘Sisters’ scene in the movie White Christmas

pss  Here is a link to a copy of the story Laurie sent in her email

At holihealth we specialize in holistic wellness.  We offer interactive and informative presentations and workshops, as well as, group or individual nutrition and lifestyle consulting.  Please visit to learn more or contact us at



Last Thursday my sister, brother-in-law and I went to see Dr. William Davis speak.  If the name Dr. William Davis doesn’t ring a bell then I’m sure his book “Wheat Belly” does.  Dr. Davis spoke for an hour about the evils of wheat.  Especially, our North American hybridized, high-yield, semi-dwarf version.  (Kind of sounds Halloweenish doesn’t it?)  Dr. Davis makes a very convincing argument that not only is today’s wheat causing ever expanding waist lines it’s also wreaking havoc on our health:

 “The wheat plant has been hybridized and crossbred to make it resistant to drought and fungi and to vastly increase yield per acre.  Agricultural geneticists have shown that wheat proteins undergo structural change with hybridization, and that the hybrid contains proteins that are found in neither parent plant…..we’ve created thousands of what I call Frankengrains over the past 50 years, using pretty extreme techniques, and their safety for human consumption has never been tested or even questioned.”  Dr. William Davis “Wheat Belly” excerpt from Maclean’s Magazine

In his book and on his blog Dr. Davis provides an extensive list of conditions and diseases from arthritis to ADHD that he believes are caused by wheat consumption.  Visit   for more information, but for the purposes of this blog I want to highlight three very compelling reasons to give up wheat:

Raises Blood Sugar – Just two slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar higher than a Snickers bar.  Davis calls our modern wheat a ‘supercarbohydrate’ because it is broken down so rapidly it spikes your blood sugar, as quickly as, eating pure sugar.  If blood sugar rises too quickly, your body secretes a greater amount of insulin in order to lower your blood sugar. Insulin helps bring sugar out of the bloodstream and it does this mainly by converting the excess sugar into fat.  When your blood sugar dips you may feel hungry, tired, cranky, and shaky and your brain feels foggy.  Your energy plummets and you need to get your energy back.  What do you do?  Instinctively you reach for something that’s going to squash your hunger and bring your blood sugar back up.  Crackers?  Cookies? Bagel?  Chocolate bar?   Once you start this cycle of sugar highs and lows you’ve stepped onto the ‘blood sugar roller coaster’ and unlike other roller coasters this one isn’t fun.   This roller coaster leads to weight gain, foul moods and disease.

Inflammation – Repeated insulin spiking leads to belly fat, insulin resistance, weight gain and disease. Insulin resistance creates an accumulation of visceral fat (the deep abdominal fat or organ fat).  This fat has a life of its own and sends out inflammatory signals into the bloodstream and this can cause: high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high triglycerides which can ncrease your risk for heart disease.

Gastrointestinal upset – Modern wheat can be difficult to digest and is a very common cause of food intolerances and sensitivities.  People who suffer painful digestive and intestinal upset such as:  acid reflux, irritable bowel disease, cramps, and bloating (to name a few) are often unaware that the toast they ate at breakfast, or the sandwich they had for lunch, may be the root cause of their intestinal woes.

What Dr. Davis had to say wasn’t news to me.  I know how damaging inflammation and blood sugar imbalances can be and I know how much better I feel and how much better my clothes fit when I avoid wheat. I always recommend my clients eliminate wheat and I have been witness to the positive changes they experience.  After a few wheat-free weeks they routinely lose weight, have less bloat, less acid reflux, better looking skin, slimmer waists and best of all – they feel great.

When you make a conscience effort to eliminate wheat you are forced to ‘think outside the box’.  You can no longer reach for your ‘go to’ breads, cereals and pastas.  You must think about alternative grains and start to read labels to identify hidden wheat ingredients.  You really have to avoid processed foods.  That’s what I love about giving up wheat.  Not only will you feel and look better – a whole new world of whole food awareness happens!

Beware if you’re being lured into the maze of ‘gluten free’ substitutes now on the market – don’t even consider them.   ‘Gluten Free’ is the current fad health claim.  It’s everywhere and there is an abundance of new gluten free ‘junk’ food in every grocery store.  Many of these foods replace wheat flour with powdered starches such as rice, tapioca, potato and corn starch.  These powdered starches are of questionable quality and they raise your raise your blood sugar faster and higher than the wheat flour they replaced.

When giving up wheat I urge you to think quality, whole grains and not processed food substitutes.  The ‘Wheat Belly’ protocol suggests for you to fully maximize blood sugar balance, and reap all the benefits of a wheat free life, you should significantly reduce all grain carbohydrates.  This will excel weight loss and it will help quickly reduce sugar/carbohydrate cravings.  Most of my clients find a complete elimination of grains too overwhelming to start, so unless you are diabetic or have other significant health challenges, you may find giving up wheat alone is enough to help you shed unwanted fat and gain energy and wellbeing.

If you’re thinking about giving up wheat and want some support join holihealth’s 30 Day Wheat Free Challenge on facebook.  The grand prize is a healthier trimmer you. There are no rules.  Just a group of people trying to give up wheat for 30 days.   I’ll post frequent helpful tips, hints, recipes and favourite products and we’ll get input from fellow challengers on their product finds, likes, dislikes and suggestions.  We’ll try to make giving up wheat fun and easy.  Come join us and you’ll have support for your first few weeks of navigating through a ‘wheat-free’ world.   Go to  holihealth – Nutrition & Lifestyle Trainers facebook page and join the event and make sure you hit ‘like’ to ensure you get all the healthy, helpful tips.  The challenge starts tomorrow November 1, 2013.

Visit holihealth regularly to learn more strategies for a holistic and preventative approach to wellbeing. If you would like help in learning how to implement and practice a healthy, holistic lifestyle please contact us

Permalink to Time for Change

Time for Change

I noticed just this morning that the leaves on the trees on my back yard have started to turn bright colours and are dropping to the ground.  A sure sign that autumn is coming, there is a change in the weather, in nature and coincidently in my life.

Co-creating and developing holihealth Nutrition and Lifestyle Trainers has been a joy and a gift over the past three years but life is calling me in a different direction and I will be leaving the holihealth team.

Nancy is excited for the opportunity to continue to offer all the great holihealth products and services as well as some wonderful new ways to help people get started on their health journey with clarity, ease and support.

I will be continuing on in the holistic nutrition field and spending more time in the kitchen creating dishes that are good for you and taste great.

Thank you for your amazing support and I wish you all a lifetime of FEELING GREAT!



Permalink to Do you have Questions about how to Eat Healthy?

Do you have Questions about how to Eat Healthy?

At holihealth, the people we meet have many questions with regards to how the eat healthy and feed their family nourishing foods at a reasonable price.

We get questions like:

Is it better to buy organic apples that have been shipped from the other side of the world (often New Zealand) or buy local non-organic fruit?


Is “orange” cheese REALLY that bad for my kids?

Quick answers:

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Permalink to How to be a Healthy Vegetarian (Why I am a Vegetarian Part II)

How to be a Healthy Vegetarian (Why I am a Vegetarian Part II)

Last week my blog focused on why I became a vegetarian and this week I want to focus on how to be a healthy vegetarian.

For me giving up meat was actually quite easy.  After reading Diet for A New America by John Robbins and learning about the treatment of animals intended for human consumption, I stopped eating meat fairly quickly.  Now, just because I stopped eating meat it didn’t mean that I was going to be any healthier.  There are many studies and it is broadly accepted in the medical and alternative health communities that, key point – done properly, a vegetarian diet is very healthy and in fact, beneficial for the environment, animal welfare, disease prevention and longevity.

So if simply cutting out meat doesn’t make you healthier, what does?

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I’ve been meaning to write a blog about how to eat a healthy vegetarian diet for a while.

When people hear I am a Holistic Nutritionist they often assume I’m a vegetarian or vegan.  While the practice of Holistic Nutrition doesn’t necessarily promote a vegetarian diet, it does promote eating whole foods as close to nature as possible and preferably organic.  We suggest our clients eat less meat, preferably no red meat or pork, from farms where animals are humanely treated and fed their natural diet and organic if possible.

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Last week I was invited to two events where I needed to bring an appetizer.

I always feel, as a nutritionist, the expectation for me to provide a healthy appetizer is quite high.  Whether this is true or not, it doesn’t matter, because I always want to serve healthy, delicious food.  By the way, ‘healthy and delicious’ do not have to be mutually exclusive and these two recipes are proof.

I prepared and brought with me SunSpread Pate as well as Gourmet Pumpkin and Sunflower Seed Pate .

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Permalink to More Inspired Than Ever

More Inspired Than Ever

Can you think of anyone who has not been intimately affected by cancer? We can’t.

But, the good news is we can think of a number of people who are surviving cancer and thriving due to the advancement of treatments, early dectection, better nutrition, as well as incredible care and support. More and more cancer treatment centres are including a holistic approach of treating the patient as a whole person instead of just treating the disease.

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Permalink to Ride2Survive simulates a day of battling cancer

Ride2Survive simulates a day of battling cancer

This is my sister, Cathy with her three children. She inspires me for many reasons but most recently because of her amazing grace and strength.

In the past I have written about utilizing a fund raising opportunity as a launch pad to achieve a personal fitness goal, support a greater purpose and heal your heart.

Cathy epitomized this message when she married her love for riding with her need to be part of the solution and joined the 2011 Ride2Survive. A one day bike ride from Kelowna to Delta, 400 kms, 13,000 feet of climbing, 19 hours. Some may call this extreme or even crazy but the route and terrain are a purposeful metaphor of what it is like to battle cancer for a day.

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Permalink to Pick a Purpose Close to Your Heart and Get Fit

Pick a Purpose Close to Your Heart and Get Fit

Find a cause that is close to your heart and it will motivate you to get out, get moving and set personal goals that not only support your community, they set you on a path towards better health and wellness and a more balanced you. Or sign up to be one of the many volunteers it takes to make these events happen. I guarantee you will make great friends along the way and you will support a family in need, build a hospital, find homes for neglected animals or fund cancer research.

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