Cathy Russell, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
I look forward to connecting with you in person, but until then I thought you might like to find out a bit more about me. I have put together some frequently asked questions in an interview format so that you can get a sense of what I am all about and how I approach health and nutrition with my clients. If you like my philosophy, possibly we can work together. You can read my formal bio on LinkedIn or [email me directly: cathy @ feedingthewholefamily.com*] if you have any questions.
An Interview with Cathy
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Graphic Designer. I blend my background in art and design with my passion for health and healing to bring my clients a creative and balanced approach to nutrition for the ‘whole’ family.
You have a background in Design. Why did you become a Nutritionist?
I have always been an advocate for healthy living, but it wasn’t until my son was born that nutrition came to the forefront my life. My son had multiple allergies and sensitivities, as well as eating challenges that led me in search of help and more information. This search brought me to the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Thinking initially that this course would simply help me deal with my son’s issues, I soon realized that this is what I was meant to do. 10 years later, my son continues to be my biggest teacher. His issues with food have been challenging but have stretched me and opened up my world beyond what I thought was possible.
How has your experience dealing with your son’s issues helped you to be a better nutritionist?
The short version is that my son has pushed me to create simple, healthy, tasty recipes. Some would call him picky, but there are other issues underlying this simple, careful eating style, one of which is his nut allergy and another his cautious nature. I have worked around this since he first started eating and have never given up. He is still a simple eater, but he is becoming more adventurous as he gets older. And I now have the wisdom of hindsight, as well. There are some things that I would definitely do differently. The process has given me an understanding of how different we all are. What may work for one individual, may not be appropriate for another. I have incredible compassion for other parents dealing with issues with their own children and understand also what a toll it takes on the family as a whole. I am here to support the kids and the parents – the ‘whole’ family. I have been there. I get it!
How has your experience dealing with your son’s issues helped you to be a better parent?
I will be honest, the beginning of this journey was frustrating and overwhelming for me. Not only that, my husband and other family members thought I had gone nuts. Everything seemed to be a struggle, like forcing a square peg in a round hole, you know. One day, a few years in, I had an Aha! moment. I realized that my son was actually telling me, in his own way, what worked best for him. I simply had to follow his lead. So I did. I let go. I let him lead, and everything got easier from then on in. That doesn’t mean that I gave in, and let him eat junk food, because that would have been the easiest thing to do. It means that I prepared simple food based on his likes and dislikes and loaded everything with love and as much nutrition as possible. And… most importantly, trusted his instincts. He has very good instincts, most kids do. There were many trials and errors, wasted food, etc. But I did what I could, and followed my heart and didn’t care what other people thought. It paid off, he is healthy and thriving.
Do you only work with women and children?
I work with men, women, children, seniors, teens, athletes ~ the whole family. Everyone!
What is your philosophy when it comes to making health changes for your clients?
The philosophy that I use is the same for everyone: A simple, individualized approach to healthier eating. That means I take everyone where they are at, work with their likes and dislikes, lifestyle, schedule, genetics, culture, their own pace, etc. I never assume anything, but I have worked with enough people to know some tried and true methods to achieving my client’s goals. One of which is a hands-on approach, meaning that I like to show people how to make the recipes that I may be suggesting or the products I would like them to try, and have them taste them too. I do that in an individual session, and in a workshop or cooking class format.
Do I need to have a specific health issue to work with you?
Many of my clients come to me with simply a desire to live and eat healthier and to cut through all of the misleading health information out there. They may need motivation or inspiration, ideas for healthier food for themselves or their family or just want to feel better and don’t know where to start. This is a simple process, which usually takes from 2 to 6 sessions and will include recipe ideas and custom menu planning. Some of my clients, however, will have specific health issues that they need support working through. This of course is a more complicated process. As a ‘holistic’ nutritionist I am able to look at the ‘whole’ person. It takes more than just good, clean food to keep us healthy. We need to create a balanced approach to life in general, and sometimes it is helpful to have a fresh and unbiased perspective. I can provide that.
If I was to work with you, would I have to give up all of my favorite foods?
I don’t believe in deprivation. I take the approach of adding in really great tasting, simple food. I would help you to create a healthier version of your favorite foods. The magical thing is, that when your body starts getting the good stuff, it will want more of the good stuff. So it is a natural process, you will evolve over time and your tastes will change. The key is adding in foods that taste great to you, so you will always be satisfied and never deprived.
What sets you apart? Why would I work with you and not another nutritionist?
What sets me apart is my creative, hands-on approach. I have lots of experience (read I am no spring chicken!) I love to cook, love to learn, love to teach, love to help others and love a challenge. Many nutritionists don’t cook, so they don’t walk the talk. They will just be spouting information from a book. I have navigated the nutrition and health industry with my own family’s issues as well as my own, so am able to draw from those experiences as well.
I want to lose weight. Can you help me?
Yes and no! If you are looking for a quick-fix, calorie-counting type of diet, I am not right nutritionist for you. I can help you lose weight, though. I would do it by teaching you how to eat, cook and shop in a way that supports you and your lifestyle, your family and your age. Diets don’t work. Eating simple, clean, whole foods and tweaking some lifestyle habits can make long-lasting changes to your health and shedding a few unwanted pounds is just a bonus.
What are some simple things I can do right away that will make a difference in my health?
First of all, it is important to eat real food and enjoy what you are eating. You can make extraordinary changes by simply increasing the quality of the food you eat. If you are already eating lots of vegetables that may mean choosing organic produce, or simply adding in more variety and rotating the foods you choose. If you eat out a lot, it may mean that you make more time for preparing your food. Start with allowing a bit of time on the weekend to plan out your week and make a new or favorite recipe. I find most people need to up the amount of veggies in their diet. Adding in a balanced Green Smoothie a few times per week can go a long way to making you feel great. Another simple one is to drink more water. We already know this right? Just do it. It makes a big difference for energy, detoxification, skin health and general well-being. That’s just a couple, I have lots more!!
What’s your view about adding in supplements?
I like to use food as much as possible to get the nutrients you need. I do occasionally recommend some basic supplements to my clients, but in general I prefer that people spend their money on food first. And I like to show my clients how to make a vitamin- and mineral-rich Green Smoothie which is basically your daily multi-vitamin. If you do these on a regular basis and keep your stress under control, there is usually no need for supplements.
Do I need any fancy kitchen equipment to be healthy?
It is not necessary to have super-powered blenders and food processors. You can definitely get by with your basic hardware store items. I recommend a blender and a food processor, a good knife, vegetable peeler and cutting board to get started. It makes it much more fun to be in the kitchen when you have the right tools. I do however love my Blendtec Blender and Cuisinart Food Processor which get a good workout in my kitchen.
Are you a vegetarian?
At the moment, I eat a vegan diet, but I don’t even call myself a vegetarian or even a vegan for that matter. I eat what’s right for me, right now. And that may change in a few years. But for now I eat a veggie-loaded vegan diet and I feel great!
If I come see you, will you convert me to vegetarianism?
There are many benefits to a vegetarian diet, but I rarely convert anyone of my clients, unless that is their request. The truth is, you must be very diligent and on top of your diet (I don’t like that word but you know what I mean) if you want to eat a healthy vegetarian diet. Most people generally don’t eat enough vegetables. So I spend a lot of time helping my clients find ways to incorporate more vegetables in their diet. That is the key – eat more veggies! That’s why Green Smoothies work so well. Everyone can enjoy them, regardless of their age or the diet they choose to eat. They can be modified to suit your lifestyle or tastes.
What’s with the bird you use in your marketing?
When I first started my company, I called it Feeding the Whole Family and I used a graphic of a mother bird feeding her babies in a nest. Since then, the bird has become somewhat of a mascot for me. I use them in my marketing and I collect them too. They are everywhere. I like what the bird stands for: nature, nurture, gentleness, peace, balance, freedom, courage, happiness and eating real food. It kind of encompasses it all, don’t you think?
What are your other interests?
I love to get outside and enjoy nature. I am an avid cyclist, and love both road and mountain biking. I have been downhill skiing since I was 5, so a long time! And spent 25 years coaching as well. I balance these sports with a bit of yoga, some HIIT workouts and daily meditation. I love to draw and paint, and lately have been drawing on the iPad to reconnect with my artistic side. Making food for my family is definitely a creative outlet for me too. I just purchased a new Nikon DSLR camera to take better shots of my food for my blog. This has ignited a new passion and interest for me. Oh and I love to learn new things. Can’t you tell? I am always reading and researching and doing lots of things. I love living life to the fullest!
Okay enough already. I could go on and on about myself but I will stop there. If you want more, you will have to connect with me in person. I hope you do. ~ Cathy