My road to holistic health counseling

After college, I started a career with AT&T as a member of the programming staff. I adapted quickly to the corporate environment and thrived. Coffee was used “as needed” to get through the 12 hour days. While the environment was high pressure and required extensive travel, I truly enjoyed the adrenaline rush from being immersed in problem solving and putting out major fires. With a little less than five years in I was promoted to Team Leader over two busy projects. It was at that point that I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. Though I was working more hours than ever, something inside of me was beginning to shift.

“Severity One” situations at work and in life

Part of my job responsibilities included being “on call” 24/7 to support the software. This software was critical in order for AT&T to generate bills for its residential customers. I was frequently called in at 2 am because something was “broken” and needed to be fixed immediately. We called these incidents “Severity Ones”.

After giving birth in the hospital to my son, my first “Personal Severity One” was in the Maternity Ward. My pediatrician scolded me because I was trying to breastfeed exclusively and my newborn was dehydrated. She told me I HAD to supplement him with formula and when she left the room I was in tears. Word of my distress circulated throughout the ward and later that day I was visited by a nurse from the neonatal intensive care unit. Her name was BJ and with some patient, hands-on coaching she showed me how to wake up my sleepy newborn and start teaching him how to latch on. No formula was ever used.

Julie Cohen

Changing my viewpoint on accepted practices

Six months later at a routine pediatric visit, that same pediatrician marveled at how robust and healthy our little boy had become… “Just on Breast milk,” she repeated it a few times. She actually called in her associate to show her this amazing child. That’s when I started looking for a new pediatrician! At that moment my health priorities began to crystallize. From that point forward all the health decisions I made and all my interactions with doctors followed a whole new paradigm.

When my children were little I did a lot of reading about nutrition, particularly about how best to feed infants, toddlers and young children. I would read that babies and young children didn’t require any juice because juice crowded out nutrient dense foods and the sugar in juices suppressed their appetites. Yet I would see countless toddlers with 8 ounce bottles of apple juice bobbing out of their mouths as they waited for their turn to see the pediatrician. This made me so MAD but I realized it was largely due to a lack of education around nutrition. After all, we all love our kids.

Setting up our kids for health problems later in life

Observing what most school-aged children eat for lunch in the cafeteria makes me MAD! The school lunch programs provide low quality, processed foods that perpetuate and encourage unhealthy eating habits. There are no whole grains. Fruits and vegetables are scarce and unappetizing. Most school lunches are high in white flour and unhealthy fats, and sorely lacking in vital nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber.

For me, educating my husband and children has been the key to empowering them around their health. Sure, they may have an occasional fast food burger when out with a group, but they now understand the impact of eating a junk food diet. They not only know how to make good healthy food selections but actually enjoy it. It’s amazing listening to my kids comment on the poor diets of some of their friends.

Introducing the concept of “holistic” health

I’ve been involved with holistic health for many years. “Holistic” is defined in the Oxford American Dictionary as “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.” The American medical system trains doctors to focus on and treat disease symptoms, rather than the causes of those symptoms. The holistic approach to health takes into account the effects of lifestyle, environment, diet and exercise routines in order to reduce stress and increase overall health which can eliminate many of the root causes of chronic ill health.

In the beginning, I educated myself by reading everything I could find on the topic. When I decided to go from being a consumer to being a provider, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City to receive my certification as a Health Counselor and a Certificate in Integrative Nutrition from Columbia University Teachers College.

Strange as it may seem, the disease process is not actually a natural part of aging. It’s the result of the gradual breakdown and damage to our body systems. What causes this breakdown? Stress, unhappiness, lack of physical activity, absence of spiritual practice and environmental factors, such as smoking and the quality and quantity of the foods we eat, all contribute.

Understanding what you eat is essential to your health

We really are what we eat. Our food goes into our bloodstream and has a huge influence on our outlook, energy level and general sense of well-being. Do the foods you eat make you feel good? Are they whole foods that give you energy for your life or are they processed foods that leave you dependent on short term boosts as from coffee or sugar? Together we can discover what’s best for your particular body.

So Why Mad Nutrition?

My husband and kids used to joke that I was a “mad scientist” when it came to healthy eating and nutrition. Later when I set up my health counseling practice I realized that “mad” fit in two very important ways: 1) I’m mad (angry) that so little is taught about healthful nutrition and is made available to people in general, and 2) I’m mad (enthusiastic) about the results that can be obtained from simple and easily implementable eating and lifestyle changes.

Have you made the food/mood connection for yourself or your family? Find out about the various health and lifestyle services we offer.

Getting started on your road to better health:

If you need support in creating a life that truly nourishes you, I would love to work with you to create a custom program to help you achieve your health goals. Please contact us by filling in the contact form or calling (973) 290-0111.

Mad Nutrition Book



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