Cod Liver Oil

Tara, Holistic Nutrition Consultant

I know what it’s like to be uncomfortable in my body. I’ve lived with chronic health issues since I was a kid with asthma ‘n allergies and later with ADHD, osteopenia, panic attacks, and MTHFR.

Though I grew up eating organic, I ate lots of pasteurized milk, cheese, gluten, the whole 9 yards. I ate better than anyone I knew and still felt like crap. I’m thankful for my mother’s efforts though; she drove hours to source organic food from health food stores in nearby cities. This was back in 1980, when good food wasn’t available like it is now.

My mother’s efforts are likely where my innate desire to eat well, feel well stems from. That and a desire to get off the medication keeping my lungs open, nose clear, nervous system stimulated, and brain stabilized. 

At 12, I opened Fat Mamas in my family kitchen with a healthy menu and at 14, I created allergen-free recipes for kids at my mother’s Montessori School; later which I bound into a small cookbook for parents.

Growing Up

In college, I really tuned into using food (+ avoiding certain food) to feel better. I worked at one of the first Whole Foods in Boston and everything felt familiar. I liked the way people felt; the vibe relaxed and harmonious. I spent my $$ on food and stopped eating in the school cafeteria. I started fasting, doing wheatgrass shots, and colonics with my nose buried in nutrition books. I started to feel better, more in control of my health. 

Yin & Yang

On graduation day, I traveled to California where I found a book called Zen Macrobiotics by Georges Oshawa. I drank each word and pored through all I could find on the topic of healing with food. Inspired, I moved north to apprentice with a Japanese teacher, Cornelia Aihara, whose teachings formed my understanding of yin and yang principles.

I learned to cook with simple ingredients and make medicinal dishes for very sick people who came to the center in wheelchairs and left with canes and hope. I was so inspired. I chanted, walked barefoot in morning dew, and applied ginger compresses to people with terminal cancer; watching the water turn black from bodily toxic discharge.

Esalen

In my twenties, I baked bread and allergen-free treats for the Esalen community; it was here I let loose and cooked with more flexibility; while maintaining the inner discipline I’d come to cherish. I also had the fortune to cook at Tassajara, a zen monastery, where kitchen-life is infused with peace.

Pregnant

A dream come true, I became pregnant. Unfortunately, I was one of 1% of women to suffer from a rare prenatal condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. I let go of my desire to eat well and ate what I craved. If I wasn’t salivating for a food, I couldn’t keep it down. Days would pass before a craving hit for mashed potatoes, big macs, and bagels.  Meanwhile, I leafed through food magazines, took antibiotics for yeast infections, and received intravenous fluids. 

Motherhood

My introduction to motherhood was filled with fatigue, low blood pressure, anemia, TMJ (from intense vomiting), and 11 new cavities. My asthma ‘n allergies flared from a weak immune system and the medication prescribed meant I’d have to stop breastfeeding. Our home was poorly insulated and ridden with mold and dander; two of my worst allergens.

When my baby was 8 weeks, I packed our car and moved from place to place; eventually settling in California. The good news is that I successfully breastfed my son until he was 3 years old. The flip side is that my dream of writing nutrition books for the prenatal/postnatal period flew with the wind as I was busy taking care of myself.

Celiac Disease 

When my baby started solids, he became bloated with diarrhea/vomiting. We saw many doctors but no one knew what to do. Everything I’d learned about healing was out the window; I lived moment to moment, raising a child. At 2, I admitted him to intensive care for weight loss, listlessness, and dehydration. He was diagnosed with ‘borderline Celiac’ and told to avoid ‘too much gluten’ … this was back when allergies were not as understood as they are now.

With my nutritional background, I knew to do more than avoid gluten. First, I changed our busy life by taking a position as a Therapeutic Healing Chef; this swung our days into more balance, so I could focus on my son’s health. Then, I eliminated gluten + the top food allergens (soy, nuts, eggs, crustacean, peanuts, dairy). In weeks, I watched his health return. This transformation is what motivated me to continue my studies on how food can heal (or harm) the body.

Medicinal Cooking 

I studied with Cynthia and David Briscoe, healing counselors/parents of 6, and cooked medicinally for families. In 2007, I moved to Vermont to have another baby and attend Culinary Business Academy to receive more formal training as a chef. After a few more years of cooking, I hung up my chef hat to study at Bauman College and step into a counselor role. 

Today

I’m a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and offer nutritional support and healing meal plans for those with health issues, dietary restrictions, and/or on The Body Ecology Diet.

My interest in the healing properties of food continues to be as strong as ever, as is my desire to support each body, each person, to function harmoniously. Over the years, my perspective has widened to see that yes changing what (and how) one eats is very important, yet food is not always the end all, be all. Both time and experience have shown me that healing happens, often simultaneously, on an emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical level. The food bit is where we begin.

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May all bellies be happy!,

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