Life in Balance

Through this online art blog/gallery we can encourage, inspire and share hope with one another…We invite who you to share your “NAPS” (News, Art ,Poetry, Songs) or inspirations. Email if you would like to share inspirations. Please note we can not post advice with regards to nutrition and exercise.

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A Part of Holistic Health: Holistic Nutrition

Jacqueline Marie, Holistic Nutrition student

“Before we begin to discuss how nutrition, chemicals, deficiencies or imbalances relate to depression, mood and anxiety disorders, it is important to know that every person is biochemically unique,” says Jacqueline Marie (right), Holistic Nutrition student, soon to be a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, at the very start of our conversation, making it clear that not only are we all different on the outside, but on the inside, too.

There is more than one natural remedy, Jacqueline continues, adding that seeing a Holistic Nutritionist or an Orthomolecular Practitioner for a thorough analysis before starting any new health routine or program is recommended.
Seeing a Holistic Nutritionist or an Orthomolecular Practitioner could help an individual determine what kind of natural remedy would best benefit their body, since every body is different.
Allison Jorgens, author.

Allison Jorgens (left), author of Read it With a Grain of Salt, says at the age of 17, when she was a competitive figure skater, her parents found out she was struggling with Bulimia Nervosa. “They were concerned most with nutrition in terms of my physical health, so they sent me to a dietitian.”
“The dietitian went through what I was eating, how my eating disorder affected me, [considering] when I was binging, purging and what I was taking in,” Jorgens says. “[The dietitian] gave me a meal plan that was suited for someone dealing with a condition like Bulimia [Nervosa].”
Now with a BSc in Nutritional Sciences, Jorgens is studying at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition towards the designation of Registered Holistic Nutritionist.
Jorgens says she wrote her first book, Read it With a Grain of Salt, not to provide advice or suggestions, but to educate her readers on holistic facts.
The young author enrolled in the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition to learn about optimal eating.
“My entire book is about processed foods, but I wanted to take the course to educate on alternative natural foods as well as for personal interest,” Jorgens says.
Jorgens advises that anyone looking for nutrition information can look to both dietitians and holistic nutritionists, as they are both credible and can help, but in different ways. “It is really important for each individual to research which professional is right for them.”
A Holistic Nutritionist will be able to first determine deficiencies or toxicity in the body and then suggest modifications or a supplement accordingly, Jacqueline says.
A Holistic Nutritionist or an Orthomolecular Practitioner could determine what may be the best possible natural remedy to ensure an individual’s body is no longer deficient. For example, if I was experiencing fatigue and a lack of energy, I could meet with a professional to understand why I had been feeling so tired.
If the Holistic Nutritionist or Orthomolecular Practitioner determined that my body was low in iron, they would suggest the best possible natural remedy and also discern how my body was absorbing the nutrients, to determine whether the issue was the actual vitamin or mineral or if it had more to do with what my body was doing with the nutrients.
“We would also be able to correct and help the person better absorb nutrients from food or supplement,” Jacqueline says. “A full assessment is needed for this.”
The Gut Brain Connection
 “The digestive system contains 100-million neurons and produces equal amount of neurotransmitters as the brain,” Jacqueline says.
A neurotransmitter is a messenger. It is a chemical released from a nerve cell, which transmits an impulse from one nerve to cell to another nerve, muscle, organ or other tissue.
The gut, however, produces about 66 per cent of the happy hormone, Serotonin, for the body, Jacqueline adds. “That’s why the right foods can make you happy or the wrong foods can leave you feeling anxious or depressed.”
Every body is different when it comes to processing nutrients. “Every one has a different speed of digestion and the quality and quantity of enzymes, which directly impacts absorbality,” Jacqueline says.
Alternative Medicine and Mental Illness
“The alternative medicine approach encompasses the mind, body and spirit of the individual,” Jaqueline says. “They are all interrelated and affect one’s overall well-being.”
Jorgens says she has dealt with unexplained infertility, which may have been related to stress. “I dealt with it holistically,” Jorgens says. “I went for massage therapy, to see a nutritionist…I did the whole thing and it was so helpful for me.”

Some options of holistic treatments for mental illness include acupuncture, chiropractic care, nutritional assessments, massage and reflexology, yoga and many more.
“More people are using natural remedies because they may not want to be dependent on synthetic drugs,” Jacqueline says. “They can be addictive and can alter one’s biochemical traits, which can directly affect one’s brain.”
Natural remedies are less addictive. “They may become addictive if the person over uses them,” Jacqueline says, “but [there] is less of a chance due to [their] potency.”
What are Amino Acids?
Jacqueline describes Amino Acids as “building blocks of proteins needed for growth, development and hormone signaling in our bodies, as well as cell repair…”
The human body naturally produces 10 of the 20 Amino Acids. Those remaining 10 that the body doesn’t naturally produce are known as Essential Amino Acids, those we must ingest from food.
“When we do not consume these Essential Amino Acids, the body breaks down proteins found in muscle, skin and hair in search of them,” Jacqueline says.
Deficiencies in the body can lead to anxiety and panic attacks, addiction, obsessive thoughts, phobias (like a fear of snakes, heights, foods, etc.), depression, negativity, low self-esteem, difficulty making decisions, violence, suicidal thoughts, etc., Jacqueline says.
She advises not to supplement without discussing health with a holistic health care practitioner.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact Jacqueline at
To speak to Jorgens about her experiences and studies, e-mail her at
Disclaimer: Thank you Jacqueline Marie and Allison Jorgens for taking the time to speak with Eating Disorders of York Region about Holistic Nutrition. This blog post expresses some perspectives that our readers may find insightful. The opinions expressed are those of Jacqueline and Jorgens.

— Leviana Coccia

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Diets: You lose more than just weight

A friend of mine teaches Sunday school and a few weeks ago he texted me from class saying, “These [girls] are in grade six and seven and they are talking about their weight.”

After reading the text message, my jaw dropped! These girls weren’t even in high school and yet they were fussing about their weight. I also thought back to when I was nine or 10-years-old. I was told numerous times that I was fat, ugly, worthless and a goody-goody. Once, before performing a dance in the talent show, a boy in my class said to me, “No fat chicks allowed dancing.” After my short blast from the past, I asked my friend to elaborate on what he had overheard at Sunday school.

“Talking about how they had a slumber party and all weighed themselves at the beginning and end to see if they lost weight,” my friend said. “One lost one pound and [the others] were jealous.”

According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), 40 per cent of nine-year-old girls have dieted, despite being within a healthy weight range. NEDIC also says that human bodies come naturally in a range of sizes.

“We inherit a genetic set-point around which, with healthy lifestyles, our weight will fluctuate a few pounds,” reads the centre’s brochure called, “Dieting & Weight Loss: Facts and Fiction.” 

Being asked, “Did you lose some weight?” is often followed by, “Wow. Great job. You look fantastic,” or something of that nature, when really, an individual who lost a certain number of pounds may not have needed to, at all, should they have been at a healthy body weight.

NEDIC also says the following in their “Dieting & Weight Loss: Facts and Fiction” brochure, “Some people will naturally be thinner, a larger number will be naturally average and another group will be naturally fatter. It is healthiest to remain at your natural set-point weight.”

Although my natural body-weight may not be my ideal, it is the weight at which I am going to be the healthiest.

“And when we are healthy, we have the energy and vitality to live our lives to the fullest, and to look our best,” the NEDIC brochure says, as well.

A person receiving the positive reinforcement may be suffering terribly and addicting comments encouraging negative behaviours like restricting food and excessive exercise can lead to self-doubt and acts of self-harm.

Photo by: Leviana Coccia

There was a time in my life where I was extremely concerned with my weight and I spent months obsessing over the number on the scale, like the girls my friend texted me about. It was as if losing weight was the only thing that was supposed to be on my to-do list.  These behaviours of mine could have turned into an obsession that could have eventually taken my life, literally speaking if they were to result in an eating disorder but also because these actions slowly started to take away my joy, resilience and openness that are all vital to a healthy life.

It was as if a number on the scale defined me, in place of my self-worth, self-love, self-awareness and ability to stay centered on goals of my choice. Everything about me on the inside seemed not to matter when I was given addicting compliments about how great I looked at my new weight. And, it was extremely hard when others around me were dieting and exercising excessively, essentially doing the same thing as me, and losing more weight than I was. I felt jealous, like those girls my friend talked about in the text message. This competitive edge can be dangerous because self-worth can be replaced by external measures, like negating oneself that could spark the beginning of isolation.

That’s when I realized I would never be able to look the best, be the best or feel the best based on other people’s standards because I couldn’t define myself based on what others perceived of me. And, no two people are comparable, because every person is so unique. Instead, my self-awareness and self-definition needed to come from who I was entirely: How I defined myself, without outside prejudices and judgements.

When on a diet, you can lose more than just weight. NEDIC says you can also lose your sense of humour, muscle and lean tissue, water (which means you could end up dehydrated), money (after spending tons on diet products – and for the record, the diet industry has a 98 per cent failure rate) and time and energy (that could have been spent on something that could ensure lasting self-esteem instead of dieting, which could lead to lowered self-esteem and poor health).  A preoccupation with food can also lead to loss of friends, goals and life.

For more information about dieting facts and fiction, visit our website.

— Leviana Coccia