Cod Liver Oil

Tara, Holistic Nutritionist

I’ve been labeled with asthma, allergies, anemia, temporomandibular joint disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, panic attacks, osteoarthritis, and more. I know what life is like to be uncomfortable.

I grew up the middle of 5 kids and a busy family. From a young age, I was anchored in my body by a dripping nose, itchy eyes, tight lungs, fiery brain, and sitting still was out of the question.

My mother drove hours to source organic food (this was 1980, good food hard to find). She kept a garden and chickens and her efforts are likely where my desire to eat well to feel well stem from …. that and the desire to get off all the medication.

Took a long time to connect dots between what I ate and how I felt; even longer to understand the stress that permeated my childhood. I now believe our emotional landscape is more difficult to sort through then food when it comes to healing; especially if trauma is involved. I understand the importance of emotional health and well-being.

Growing Up 

When I was 12, I opened a home kitchen restaurant in my family home with friends. We called ourselves Fat Mama’s and served a healthy menu. At 14, I created allergen-free recipes for my mother’s Montessori school kids and later bound a cookbook. In college, I really tuned into food for healing. I started working at Whole Foods in Boston and felt at home there. People were relaxed, easy-going, wore loose clothes, seemingly happy and free. I spent my extra money on good food and stopped eating in the school cafeteria. I started fasting, doing wheatgrass shots, and colonics while keeping my nose buried deep in books about healing and nutrition. I started to feel better, more in control of my health issues. 

Yin & Yang

On graduation day, I traveled to California where I found a little book called, Zen Macrobiotics, by Georges Oshawa. The words within moved me north to apprentice with a Japanese teacher/master in the kitchen, Cornelia Aihara; whose teachings formed what I know about yin and yang principles. I cooked medicinal dishes for people arriving in wheelchairs and leaving with a cane. I chanted, walked barefoot in morning dew, applied ginger compresses to bodies  with terminal cancer and watched as the water turned black from toxic discharge. I understand how to use food to heal mild to severe illness.

Esalen

In my 20’s, I studied massage and baked bread for Esalen in Big Sur, CA. I let loose, cooked with more flexibility and maintained the inner discipline I’d come to cherish. During my time there, I had the opportunity to cook in the kitchen at Tassajara Zen Monastery where I shaped bread and found even more stillness.

Difficult Pregnancies

In 2001, I became pregnant with my first and thought I had morning sickness. Turned out I had a rare prenatal condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) that affects 1% of women. I was able to eat only what I craved with my whole self; if I didn’t salivate for a specific food, it wouldn’t stay down. Days passed before a craving hit. Meanwhile, I leafed through food magazines, took antibiotics for endless infections, and received intravenous fluids. I couldn’t lift my head, read a book, watch television, or drink more then a teaspoon of water without vomiting.

In 2006, I became pregnant with my second, whom I miscarried at 15 weeks in utero, just days after the HG lifted. Five months later my father died from a sudden heart attack likely due to uncontrolled diabetes. My grief of losing my baby and my father was overwhelming and my desire to fill that empty space was too. I dove into my third pregnancy and experienced 40 full weeks of HG that did not let up its grip until I had given birth.

Motherhood

My experience as a new mother was filled with fatigue, low blood pressure, stomach issues, and 21 cavities total (from excessive vomiting during pregnancy). My asthma ‘n allergies flared from a compromised immune system and the only medication that worked meant I couldn’t breastfeed. I chose to continue feeding my babies and lived in discomfort. During this time, I moved from place to place trying to understand my health issues and be comfortable. I knew I was sensitive to mold and dander and rodent feces, yet finding an affordable place as a single mom was not easy and I lived in environments that weakened me further. The stress of working 65+ hour weeks, raising children, and keeping up with my own health issues did a number on my weak constitution. 

Celiac Disease 

When my oldest son started solids, he became bloated with diarrhea and vomiting. No doctor knew what to do. Everything I’d learned about healing was out the window as I was too busy being a single mom with a sick kid. When he turned two, I admitted him to intensive care for weight loss, listlessness, and dehydration where he was diagnosed with ‘borderline Celiac disease’ and I was told to avoid giving him too much gluten. 

Personal Therapeutic Chef 

With a background in health and nutrition, I knew to do more than avoid gluten. First, I changed our stressful weeks by taking a position as a Personal Therapeutic Chef to do something I loved …. cooking medicinally for families/individuals wanting to heal with dietary changes. This swung our days into more balance and I was able to focus on my son. I eliminated the top food allergens (gluten, soy, nuts, eggs, dairy, peanuts, crustacean) and within weeks I could see the pink return to his cheeks and a sparkle in his eyes. His transformation motivated me to continue my studies on how food can heal (or harm) and I began studying with Cynthia and David Briscoe, macrobiotic counselors and parents of 6, while continuing to cook in people’s homes. 

Prayer

By my mid-thirties, I was zapped at a cellular level and had given up on helping myself. My anxiety was through the roof and I began to have panic attacks over the simplest of activities. I was at hit rock bottom and too tired to understand what to do next. I literally prayed one day, standing in my kitchen, with my face to the ceiling, asking for support to move forward. I had more health challenges then I’d ever had at once (i.e. digestive issues, ear infections, skin issues, asthma) and felt swallowed up by life. It was then that a diligent naturopath came into my life and diagnosed me with systemic yeast overgrowth; a gut imbalance that turned out to be the source of many of my health issues. I used The Body Ecology Diet for a total of three years to get myself back in balance.

More Training

In 2011, I attended The Culinary Business Academy to receive formal training as a chef and then continued to cook for individuals and families wanting to use food to heal. After a few more years cooking medicinally, I hung up my chef hat to study at Bauman College and become a Holistic Nutritional Consultant.

Today

I am off all medication (other then for asthma) and meditate daily. I have not had a panic attack since January 2018 and am committed to living a slow life. My husband and I built the home we live in with eco-friendly materials and this has done wonders for my allergies. My food sensitivities are less and I am in a better place of health. My interest in healing is as deep as ever as is my desire to support each body, each person, to function harmoniously and heal simultaneously on an emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical level.

There is a dance that only you know how to do. ~ Gabrielle Roth

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