We spoke with Marsha Fenwick, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Cancer Coach who uses the power of food to help optimize your health and improve the symptoms of disease and illness. We found out how to choose the right nutritionist, why the latest food trends won’t work for everyone, and how to deal with cravings in healthy and delicious ways.
What are the most common goals of the people who come to you for support?
People come to see me for sustainable weight loss, healthy eating, and improved health including digestive health (reflux, irritable bowel symptoms), heart health (high cholesterol, high blood pressure), diabetes and insulin sensitivity, women’s health (migraines, peri-menopausal symptoms) and cancer nutritional support and more. I love challenges that clients present to me and I feel accomplished when we achieve their goals together.
Why can’t (or don’t) people reach those goals without you?
Nutrition, diet and food information in the media can be confusing and contradictory with misinformation regarding popular trends. Yo-yo dieting is frustrating and unhealthy. Many times a fresh approach is needed. My approach is personalized and customized while addressing the underlying causes. For example, in order to improve many health concerns the gut health must be addressed initially. It is not just about what we take out of one’s diet, rather what must be added in.
Do doctors recommend working with nutritionists?
Yes, some do, but not enough! However, I have been very fortunate to meet a great community of medical professionals who support the role of nutrition in their patient’s health. I believe the role of nutrition is finally being recognized as fundamental and complementary to a patient’s overall health. I look forward to working with more open-minded health care professionals who believe in the benefits of a team approach.
What factors should someone consider when choosing a nutritionist?
The most important factors are experience, health care background, education and excellent communication skills. I am often complimented on my good listening skills and my ability to address the clients concerns to create a realistic nutrition program. Education is critical to ensure that the client/patient is being provided advice incorporating current scientific research. Working with a nutritionist who has expertise in their area of concern can lead to better outcomes. I believe in getting to know the client and working together to help ensure sustainable changes and habits.
Is there one diet that is best for the entire family?
There is no one diet fits all. Nutritional counselling needs to be personalized and customized to your health issues, lifestyle, and goals. Family eating has to accommodate numerous food preferences, sensitivities and allergies. If a client is on the road a lot, the nutrition plan has to be optimized for eating on the go. Eating should also be enjoyable incorporating new and tasty foods. Understanding the family’s eating habits, environment and preferences are important.
You offer Nutritional Cancer Support. Do your nutritional needs change when you have cancer?
Yes they do. This is due to side effects of the various treatments, medication side effects, energy levels, change in appetite and taste, which may result in weight fluctuations. For example, creeping weight gain occurs with some hormone-suppressing medications. Certain nutrition recommendations can complement a patient’s immune system and strength throughout treatment and recovery process. Of course, prevention is key through healthy eating and lifestyle.
Do you prefer educating a group or working one on one?
I enjoy both but when I work with clients one on one, I really get to know the client on a personal level, which helps me to better understand their needs. It then allows me to personalize my program, educate and motivate the client for more successful and sustainable outcomes. This is validated by research and testimonials from my past clients. Seminars and workshops can be fantastic to bring people together and support one another. I enjoy creating workshops on pertinent topics in health and educating others. The group approach allows me to reach a larger audience who can then decide if a personalized nutrition approach is right for them.
Do you prefer to work with local clients who can meet you in person?
I love working with clients in person. Occasionally, clients find it easier to work by Skype especially after the initial meeting. I do work with clients across Canada and the US.
Do you get cravings? And how do you handle them?
Yes I get cravings, especially for chocolate! I consider myself a reformed sugar addict and have learned how to make nutritious and delicious recipes with healthy substitutes (like these black bean brownies and chocolate nut butter fat bombs). Understanding the underlying causes of cravings both psychologically and physically is critical in order to make changes. Learning healthy alternatives is a great solution to combat many cravings.
Is what we drink as important as what we eat?
Yes! Hydration is fundamental to overall health, digestion, and elimination. Water is of major importance to all living organisms, and our cells are composed of 70% water. What we drink can either contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants or sugar, empty calories and toxins. Drinking water throughout the day is an important habit to be encouraged.
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
It may sound like a cliche, but the answer is Yes because breakfast influences the course of our day regarding our bodies’ energy levels, blood glucose, and appetite for the remaining meals of the day. For example, studies show that people who skip breakfast tend to overeat throughout the remainder of the day. Breakfast also has a direct impact on our hunger and satiety hormones that control hunger throughout the day. There are also studies that show how breakfast has a significant effect on our cognition. Many of my clients leave our first appointment excited to try new breakfast ideas!