Alex Cabeza Rasch, Dietitian, and Jennie Sokol, Holistic Nutritionist, briefly chat with us about the difference between these two fields and share some pro tips for maintaining a healthy diet, eating with an active lifestyle and aging!
Why did you pursue dietetics/nutrition? How do you define what you do?
Alex: I got into nutrition and dietetics for my love of food. I absolutely love food and love eating! I also love feeling healthy, energized and great, and I love helping people feel the same way. With those two passions combined, becoming a Dietitian made sense. I believe in the power of food, how it can heal, enhance and change your life. Of course, when I talk about food, I’m referring to real food, and I think that’s what is missing in most people’s diet today.
Jennie: I got into holistic nutrition because I have always had a strong connection with healthy food and how it has made me feel. I would define a Holistic Nutritionist as someone who addresses all different angles of a person’s health – all systems working TOGETHER. We believe the body is complex and each person has different needs – therefore we treat the person sitting in front of us.
What’s your educational background?
Alex: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, specializing in clinical and sports nutrition. I also have a diploma in Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from the University of San Francisco, a certification in Bach Flower Therapy, Mesotherapy and am a certified Yoga Instructor.
Jennie: I have a Bachelor’s degree with a major in English and Creative Writing. I also am certified to teach English as a second language and have a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition. I graduated all with honours.
What relationship should people have with food?
Alex: We think that our relationship with food is just that – a relationship with food, but in reality it is the relationship with our body.We have to think about food as information, and what information we want to give to our body (and of course, this information has to taste delicious!). Feed your body with what it needs, respecting and listening to my body every step of the way. Food has always been an important part of my life, in part because of my culture – everything revolves around food! Not just eating it but a strong, passionate connection to the process of making good food, and sharing it with your loved ones.
Jennie: Start to become aware of the impact your eating decisions have on yourself, community and the environment. This is why 10 years ago I decided to go plant-based. Since then I have become so much more adventurous and creative in the kitchen! Experiment by discovering different flavours, ingredients and substitutions that make cooking and working with food so much more fun and ethical!
How can someone stay inspired and motivated to eat well?
Alex: Focus on health and your body from the inside out. If you want to feel good, be healthy and have a high-quality body, eat good, high-quality food. Also get yourself in the kitchen! There’s something magical about cooking, you learn so many things along the way and you can decide which ingredients you want to use and how, so you become more aware of what you put inside your body. I have a few cookbooks for when I feel stuck in a rut, I don’t think I’ve ever followed a recipe perfectly! They do inspire me to play around with different flavours and ingredients that I normally wouldn’t.
Jennie: Stay inspired to eat well by making cooking fun! Set aside time to prepare a healthy meal or snack with friends and family. I always look forward to getting fresh ingredients from a local market and experimenting with my own recipes. The process of collecting our ingredients and cooking our food should be done with care. To feel good, energized and stronger for your workouts and life you need to feed your body well!
What is your opinion on taking supplements?
Alex: Always have a reason and be informed. I don’t recommend taking supplements just for the sake of taking them. I do recommend being informed of what the supplement actually is, if it has any side effects, where it’s sourced from, the presentation of the active ingredient, the bio-availability, etc. There a lots of people who take supplements that don’t really need them, always ask your health professional before starting.
Jennie: I believe they definitely have their time and place. It’s no surprise that your body’s preferred source of vitamins and minerals if through food – but sometimes we need some extra help or compensation. Especially if you’re in a “treatment” phase.
What nutritional recommendation do you have for athletes?
Alex: The quality of your food will determine the quality of your performance. Stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep at the right time, invest in high-quality protein sources and ‘superfoods’ like cordyceps, spirulina, chlorella, etc. Watch out for nutrients you may be deficient in, have clear goals and have professional guidance to reach them.
Jennie: The MOST important thing is to listen to your body. If it’s sore or fatigued, maybe you need a rest day or to take it a little easy. You can’t burn your body out. Recovery after workouts is so important; refuel with adequate protein and carbs, rehydrate with electrolytes to speed recovery time, you’ll get way more out of your training.
What nutritional recommendation do you have for the aging population?
Alex: Strength training. It isn’t a nutritional recommendation but it is extremely important! Stay hydrated, keep a steady protein intake and be aware of your needs, whatever they may be: hormonal support, bone health, inflammation, etc. I would also recommend including turmeric, black pepper and ginger in your diet.
Jennie: It’s actually pretty important to think about getting a nutritionist on your health care team. The aging process if very stressful on the body and can be made easier and supportive with proper nutrition. Managing bone/weight loss, delaying memory loss and preventing falls can all be supported with proper nutrition and lifestyle adjustments.
Are you hosting any upcoming workshops or nutrition classes open for registration?
Alex: I am hosting a few this year although the date is yet to be determined. You can follow my Facebook Page or Instagram (links below) to stay updated on my upcoming events!
Jennie: I will be collaborating with Danille at renewretreats in October! It will be all about how to properly fuel yourself for hiking – before, during and after! It’s going to be great and super informative, it’s a subject I’m super stoked about. I’m also collaborating with Nicole, the Client Care Manager + Cardio Trainer at Le Physique, on a workshop to target S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) with therapeutic yoga and nutrition! Tickets are not yet for sale, but I will post further information on my social media closer to the workshop dates.
Connect with Alex…
Nicole is a therapeautic yoga teacher and UBC kinesiology student passionate about holistic health and wellness. She aims to embrace a variety of perspectives to natural health and healing approaches. Her curiosity continues to fuel her journey in living a healthy lifestyle for her mind and body.
This post has been developed by studio contributors which include Co-Op students, kinesiologists, therapists and our expert colleagues