I’ve been smitten with food and health for as long as I can remember. My Southern grandmothers were my first culinary and nutrition instructors; I learned to cook in their sunny kitchens, and they taught me to value and respect food, well-being and the connection between the two.
In the South, meals were elevated to a quasi-religion. Every day was a food-drenched event, starting with hot biscuits and homemade butter, and ending with the inevitable peach cobbler.
Most of the food came from our backyard: the beans and corn from the fields, tomatoes from my grandmother’s garden behind the kitchen, eggs from the chicken pen, and baskets of blackberries and pecans gathered by my small cousins and me.
Inspired by the magic of growing plants, and having watched one chicken too many meet its demise in my grandmother’s kitchen, I became a vegetarian at the age of 11. I read my first nutrition books, and took my first culinary arts classes. And then I spent the next four decades devouring information about health, nutrition and the deep and abiding magic of food.
Over the years, I’ve professionally trained and certified in nutrition and culinary arts, and have taught health and wellness workshops and seminars all over the country. But after meeting with countless people in my nutrition consulting practice, one thing became clear: just knowing what to eat…isn’t enough. Without a fundamental shift in underlying attitudes toward food, even the perfect eating plan won’t work.
So I began to explore what really makes people eat—the deep, emotional aspects of eating patterns, especially troubled ones. I studied with some of the most respected teachers in the field of intuitive eating and emotional eating and earned certifications in the Psychology of Eating and intuitive eating practices. I’ve also trained extensively in spiritual and body-mind disciplines, including Sivananda yoga and pranayama (breath work), meditation, traditional Lakota practices, esoteric Buddhism, trauma healing techniques and Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing.
Currently, I practice ninjutsu martial arts and teach women’s self-protection classes. After earning my second-degree black belt, I began exploring ways to deepen and broaden my martial arts training. That journey led me to Lessons In Violence Evasion (LIVE). Based on skills and techniques used by the female Ninja of ancient Japan, this transformative practice is the most deeply and authentically embodied form of women’s self-protection I’ve ever seen.
What does all this have to do with food, you ask? Everything. I believe there is an unbreakable, if often unacknowledged, connection between how we experience eating—and how we experience life.
Because there’s magic in food, in the growing and preparing of it, in the gathering around a table to share it, in its ability to transform not only our bodies, but also our souls. I want to inspire everyone to feel that magic, too.