here is my story...
Many many years ago I was living in St. Petersburg, Russia, in a family of medical doctors. They weren’t doctors because of the prestige this profession carries with it. They were doctors because they truly loved helping people get better. I believe seeing my mom working tirelessly day in and day out trying to help her patients while receiving huge satisfaction from her work was something that stayed with me years later. I too, wanted to be able to help people who were not at their physical best.
What led you to become a nutritionist?
When I left Russia to come to the US at the age of 16, I went through a period of earnestly seeking my true self. This landed me in the world of an eating disorder as well as several jobs, which, I will admit with all honesty, were the jobs I was hoping were the ones aligned with my gifts and talents. Almost ten years later, after completely changing my lifestyle and eating habits, I was finally healed from the eating disorder. But I was still working in sports marketing and was rather miserable. It was at that time when a close friend of mine said to me: “Why are you doing this to yourself? You’ve been living and breathing nutrition for a while now, you seem to really love it. Go study it and work in the field!” And boy, a revelation it was! I quit my job, went to school to study nutrition, and two years later I started my practice. And the rest is history. It’s been ten years since I received my credentials and I am still just in love with what I do as I was back then.
You offer kids’ feeding workshops. What inspired you to do this type of teaching?
I believe deeply in the importance of helping our kids develop a healthy relationship with food. And it starts in our own kitchens and at our dining tables. When I was figuring out how to get through my disordered eating, I learned not only about healing foods, but also about how to listen to my body and give it what it needs. Now that I am raising my daughter I can see how in tune she is with her body and I want to encourage her be receptive to its needs without interfering. I believe that when we, the parents, allow our kids to respond to their internal needs, it builds their ability to control themselves. And that can go a long way in terms of future confidence and self-esteem. I’d like to be able to help parents tune in into their children’s eating habits so that we can give our kids the best we can and equip them to become confident, respectful, and physically and emotionally healthy individuals. This is my great inspiration.
What training do you have and what enabled you to practice in such a unique way?
I am a Certified Nutritional Practitioner. I received my education at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto. Since then, I worked with private clients helping them acquire culinary nutrition skills needed to adjust their lifestyle to a prescribed diet. I also had the privilege to consult for larger companies. My most recent project before my maternity leave was creation of the culinary nutrition chef training program at the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts worldwide. Together with a team of executive chefs, we developed a series of globally inspired menus catering to a variety of dietary preferences.
What in your job brings you the most joy?
I love, love, love seeing people breathe a little easier as they understand what and how they are supposed to eat in order to follow their new prescribed diet. I love seeing families less stressed out because they know how to manage their kiddo who has food intolerance. I love seeing moms learning to cook and enjoying their meal times with the family. I love seeing kids learning to enjoy the process of eating and experiment with different foods and being excited about trying something funky they’ve never tasted before and telling me all about it.
What is culinary nutrition coaching?
Culinary nutrition is a field of nutrition that focuses on taking all the nutritional information about different foods and bringing it to life in the kitchen. For example, why do you want to leave a few inches of the beet stems when you are boiling them? Which part of cilantro stores most of its heavy metal detoxifying nutrients? Which potato will have a bigger impact on your blood sugar - hot or cold? When a doctor prescribes a special diet, there is a way to build recipes and meal plans that not only include the foods that are beneficial but also get the most out of them by enhancing their nutritional value through cooking. And that’s what culinary nutrition is all about.
When you are not helping families, where can you be found?
When I am not in other people’s kitchens, I can be found in mine! I love cooking with my daughter, especially when we test out recipes inspired by global cuisine. And the best part of it all is watching her make all kinds of faces as she fearlessly puts our concoctions in her mouth and makes the final verdict. I also get a thrill from watching her chomp on sauerkraut or borscht - it especially warms my Russian heart. And when I am not in your kitchen or my kitchen, I can be found scouting local farmers markets or specialty food stores for tasty goodies that I can share with you in our next cooking class!