Nancy Rose Williams
HOLIStic health coach and CULINARY NUTRITION EXPERT
For so many women, food is a loaded issue, and for much of my life I was no exception.
My history with food has been complicated, intense, and, at times, unhealthy. Growing up with an ever-dieting mom, our kitchen was full of chemical concoctions offering the “promise of thin.” Products with names like Ayds, Metrical, and Tab filled the kitchen cabinets, right beside the highly-processed, sugary snacks and cereals they were intended to compensate for. What they delivered was a mother who alternately starved and binged her way to morbid obesity and a host of medical issues, and a daughter who learned early on to fear food for its power to destroy health and happiness in a person's life.
Fast forward through years fueled by caffeine, counting calories, and skipping meals, I was 25 and tired, battling migraines, chronic weakness, and shame. A six-hour glucose test confirmed I was hypoglycemic, and my doctor advised a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates. No simple carbs, sugars, caffeine, or alcohol. It sounded impossible, but I committed to at least give it a try.
I eliminated not only all obvious sweets and desserts, but also most processed “convenience” foods that rely so heavily on sugars as a preservative. I started to cook my own meals, leaning heavily on fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish. Within weeks, the improvement in my health was remarkable! My energy returned, I stopped feeling dizzy each time I stood up, and the headaches disappeared. Ironically, the 10-15 lbs. I previously struggled so hard to lose fell away with seemingly no effort!
My glucose level eventually got back to normal and my doctor said I could add some of the “forbidden” foods back to my diet with moderation. While it was nice to hear and even nicer to indulge in the occasional treat — the experience of viewing food from a wellness perspective was a new mindset that really stuck with me. It drove home that food is a tool that can help us function at our best, not just a collection of tastes and calories that contribute to how we fit into a pair of jeans.
For the first time, I began to really focus on the nutritional quality of food, and the enormous impact our choices have on our quality of life. I also discovered cooking was not just a means to an end, but rather something I felt passionate about! I began cooking my way through an extensive collection of Gourmet and Saveur magazines, hosting large parties and brunches for neighbors and friends. We all had a great time but it was really just an excuse to prepare a large, eclectic collection of dishes! My love of cooking ultimately led me to culinary school at the Institute for Culinary Education in NY, where I received classic French training.
Spending all this time in kitchens taught me that the best meals feature the freshest ingredients…ideally local, seasonal, and shared “slowly” around a table filled with family and friends! They needn’t be complicated, expensive, or include hard-to- find ingredients.
In 2015, I completed training through the Academy of Culinary Nutrition and graduated with honors as a Culinary Nutrition Expert. Here, I deepened my understanding of the myriad ways our food choices contribute to our health and happiness, enhancing or depleting our energy, stripping away or creating vitality. And, that the best time to take advantage of the healing powers of food is now…proactively…before being sidelined by chronic illness or disease so endemic to modern society. Since then, I've added to my training with classes and certifications in Fermented Foods, Gluten Free Baking, Vitamins and Supplementation, and Neurology and Mental Health.
Whether I’m cooking for myself and my family, or working with clients, I choose foods that promote optimum health, but most of all taste delicious and indulgent. I eat a primarily plant based diet, emphasizing whole, organic foods and rejecting processed foods, GMOs, and preservatives. It works for me nutritionally, ethically, and ecologically. I love the vibrant colors and textures at the farmers market, the discovery of exotic herbs and spices, and learning how to use them to their best advantage. Counting vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants instead of calories has drastically changed my relationship with food. No longer the enemy, food is now a nurturing partner in my mission to serve up health and happiness one tasty bite at a time.