Katherine (K), Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) health coach and nutritionist, gives us an insight into her ongoing journey with holistic health
Could you explain what holistic health means?
Katherine (K): Holistic means whole, so holistic health considers the whole person; physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. An underpinning of holistic health is that we as humans already have a universal knowledge of how to live well and be healthy, so we are guiding the client to return to their natural state of vibrant health. We place the locus of control within the client and encourage them to play an active role in their healing using primary and secondary foods.
What are primary and secondary foods?
KU: Primary foods are what nourish us off the plate. Secondary foods are what nourish us on the plate. In terms of primary foods, we look at the client’s relationships, sense of community and belonging, daily levels of joy, laughter and career fulfilment. We look at physical exercise, and the connection the client has with the self. We also consider engaging with a spiritual practice to shed and become elevated versions of the self.
Secondary foods are what nourish us on the plate. We study the world’s best ways of eating with industry leading experts. Despite thinking I was really healthy before my training began – my approach has shifted since starting with IIN and I feel healthier than ever, all within a simple and sustainable approach that includes the odd drink, plenty of laughter and dancing into the night. I didn’t know I could feel this good!
This is what allows people to really leverage their results long term. It’s less about restriction and protocols and more about really empowering the client with their own education of how to take their health into their own hands.
What’s your history with holistic health?
KU: I have been in holistic health for about six years since I was riddled with multiple health complications from about the age of 15, that lasted until I was about 21 years old. I was impacted on a physical, mental and spiritual level. I dropped a lot of weight, my skin was covered in cystic acne, dermatitis, hives and rashes. I became intolerant to gluten, dairy, soy and multiple other foods. My endocrine system and hormones fell out of balance and I slipped into a really heavy depression. I regressed from my friendships and my family relationships became strained. I’m so grateful to say that being led to holistic health helped me out of each and every one of those circumstances, and I feel better than ever, despite the long journey it has been so far. I remember Matt Haig saying the deepest darkest times can break you open to an even deeper gratitude. I think that’s really what happened to me. Having been ill for what felt like so long, I now find life even more colourful than before. I feel so empowered by holistic health. I feel even more awake to life now and I’m excited to start sharing what I know.
How did your journey working in holistic health start?
KU: In January 2021, I made the investment into training with the IIN. My life has certainly changed for the better since, it feels aligned. The course is one year with lectures, worksheets and time to start working with clients. I really love it. It’s something I look forward to studying every week and I think I’m finding my niche; women’s health and hormonal health but I feel confident to work with everyone.
Can you tell us about some of the therapies you recommend?
KU: There are multiple different therapies and products we incorporate, but holistic health recognises biodiversity – that no two people are the same and that we all need different things at different stages of our life. For example, with one client, we could engage with lifestyle and diet changes while also working on nervous system regulation. Our nervous system has a huge impact on our health, which pills or medicines cannot treat.
Coaching is a partnership, we hone in on the client’s main health concern but over time, all aspects of the client’s life will expect to change for the better. We guide clients through how to heal but we also touch on certain prompts that allow the client to come to their own answers, because this is ultimately when the healing is most deep and powerful.
What does your practice look like?
KU: At the moment, I am offering different ways to work with me but my aim is a six-month programme, where we meet twice every month. In between, I make recommendations that pace and leverage ongoing and successful health and healing. Healing is ultimately a shedding and it must be done over time. The consultations are about 45 minutes each. In between, the client and I can email one another if they have any queries. It’s really a space for the client to be heard, seen and to be honoured in what they’re going through. I think not enough people are given the opportunity to just talk these days so I want to give that.
Can pharmacy play a role?
KU: I’m definitely not against pharmaceuticals because one of my first steps to getting better, was actually pharmaceuticals. I went on antidepressants which ultimately gave me the energy to explore holistic practices. When I came off the antidepressants, it’s normal for your serotonin levels to drop because the body is out of sync with producing natural serotonin – it’s called tartus dysphoria. A few years after, I had an organic acid test and thanks to my holistic practices in place, the labs found higher than normal serotonin levels in my body, despite being on and coming off antidepressants. Really shows how powerful holistic health can be!
Pharmaceuticals can help a person off their feet but I think, to treat the cause and not the symptom, and in order to give that person long-term sustainable health, then this is where holistic health has to come in.