Thanksgiving is the time of year for, well, giving thanks. I feel very fortunate to be here writing about things I feel passionately about. In that spirit, I’ve been thinking about these five things, for which I am very thankful:
1. Becoming a nutritionist.
There’s no bigger cliché or none that’s truer than “life is short.” We spend at least half our waking hours in our careers, and far too many of us spend that time counting the minutes until the day is over.
I spent many years in a corporate job I didn’t really like, feeling like the work I did wasn’t doing anyone much good. In that time I witnessed great examples of people walking away from jobs they hated to pursue their passions: the marketing manager who became a floral designer, another who became a baker, the sales manager who opened a gym. I watched with envy until I finally had the opportunity to do the same. This week I completed my studies at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition to become a Certified Nutritional Practitioner.
Now, instead of dreading work, I look forward to it. I get to immerse myself in material that engages and excites me, for which I feel extremely fortunate. But even more than that, at the end of the day, I know that the work I do is all about helping people become healthier. I have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Now THAT is something I am truly thankful for.
Do you love what you do?
2. Living virtually digestive-trouble-free.
Like many of my colleagues, one of the reasons I became interested in nutrition was years of suffering with my own digestive problems. I was diagnosed with IBS over 20 years ago and spent the better part of the next two decades bloated and in pain. I saw a gastroenterologist who ran dozens of tests and concluded that my body just didn’t like food. I read countless articles, theories and books. I saw several naturopaths who came close but never solved my problems. Finally, about five years ago I landed in the hospital with acute appendicitis, which I now know is directly related to the cumulative effects of years of poor digestion.
It wasn’t until I started using myself as a test patient throughout my studies that I began to see a change. It wasn’t an overnight success – on the contrary, improvement came gradually over many months and required lots of steps along the way. But with the help of several key changes to my diet and a few very effective supplements, I can honestly say that I feel better today than I have in years. Sure, if I eat the wrong thing I have the occasional stomach ache, but by and large I go through most days pain-free and without feeling like a swallowed an inflated balloon. I am certainly grateful for that!
Are you living with digestive troubles? They can be helped!
3. Living in a time and place when healthy food is easy to find
Part (but not all) of my road to recovery included eliminating foods to which I’m sensitive, including wheat, eggs and dairy. A few years ago I would have thought that was impossibly limiting. Fortunately today, it’s anything but impossible. In a city like Toronto, we are lucky to have dozens and dozens of health food stores that make it easy to find things like raw cacao, hemp seeds and quinoa flour to make our own healthy foods, as well as hundreds of wheat-free and vegan options for those of us who want and/or need them. Even most mainstream grocery stores carry gluten-free bread, goat milk and organic fruits and vegetables.
Not only do we have healthy specialty restaurants and juice bars that cater to the ever-increasing number of people who want healthy choices, but we have lots of mainstream restaurants that are sensitive enough to offer gluten-free pasta and vegetarian entrees. Even compared to five years ago, we are very lucky to live in these times!
4. Healthy food … including dessert!
Of course, Thanksgiving is mainly about giving thanks for the food we eat. In my case, I’m thankful for the abundance of healthy, natural, whole foods I have the privilege of eating every day. In a world where not everyone is so fortunate, it’s important not to lose sight of how lucky we are to eat so well.
I’m especially grateful for discovering that eating healthy doesn’t mean giving up on desserts – even chocolate ones! For a holiday-worthy healthy treat, try this delicious Sexy Chocolate Torte. Yum!
5. The very best family and friends
Nourishment doesn't just come from the food we eat. We also need the kind of nourishment that comes from a loving, supportive family and friends you can count on. Sometimes we need a good laugh and a shoulder to lean on as much as we need vitamins and minerals. My new husband (we just celebrated our first anniversary) credits my improved health with a happier, less stressful life. I’m sure he’s right, and I credit him as much as any supplement or dietary change. I’m especially grateful that my kids will be home from university for the holiday weekend. There’s nothing more nourishing than sitting down with the people you love for a big family meal!
Have you thought about what you’re thankful for this year?
Wishing you all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Rena Rubin-Hines is a nutritionist specializing in women’s health issues. Rena’s philosophy is if we eat better, we feel better and we look better. With a no-nonsense approach to health and nutrition, Rena offers straight answers, practical advice and effective solutions to a wide range of women’s health issues including weight loss, anti-aging, digestive health, as well as prevention and treatment of a variety of health conditions. Rena is dedicated to helping women live healthier lives, naturally.