In this third and final installment of the Women In Wellness Series, I’d like to introduce you to another one of my fabulous friends in the wellness biz, Mandy King.
Mandy and I first met at an influencer event several years ago when I lived in Waterloo and Mandy in Toronto. Our friendship must have been meant to be, because we both ended up here on the west coast. We’ve continued to pursue our passion for health and wellness, often bouncing ideas off each other over green juice and delicious food.
Mandy’s a Holistic Nutritionist, speaker, and the founder of HEAL. She works with an impressive list of corporate clients to help their employees optimize their health, and if you watch morning television, you might have seen her on CTV a few times! She’s rockstar when it comes to all things digestion and meal prep, so I figured she’d be a perfect guest for this series.
Tell me a bit about your past, before becoming a Holistic Nutritionist. What were a few of the major experiences that made you want to pursue a career in this area?
Like a lot of people in the health world, it was a major personal health struggle that led me down the path of nutrition. I had never really paid too much attention to what I ate, but in May 2008 I traveled to Southeast Asia with some friends (this is relevant, I promise ?). I then moved to Toronto to start my first career job. Right around that time, I started to experience these really awful symptoms – severely upset stomachs, extreme fatigue and just general depression because I felt so crappy!
Like any normal person, I went to the doctor and said “Diagnose me! What is wrong with me?!” He listened to my symptoms and told me I was just stressed and that the upset stomach was “just IBS” and something I’d have to live with. Having always been healthy, this was pretty devastating news. But, he was the doctor and he knew best, so I went on my way.
My symptoms got worse and worse and finally, one evening I was walking around my condo and I fainted. I couldn’t stand up without continuously fainting. Luckily, someone was home at the time, called 911 and I went to the hospital. This was the first time they started taking me seriously and I was tested for a number of things, one being Celiac disease. For those who don’t know, Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease where you are severely intolerant to gluten.
I totally didn’t think I had that because I grew up having toast for breakfast and cereal for a snack and was always fine! Turns out that I was Celiac though. The very next day, I cut out all gluten but still, my symptoms didn’t really improve. Fast forward another 2 years of having major digestive problems, super low energy and feeling awful, I finally sought help through a natural health care practitioner. I was diagnosed with a parasite, which I contracted in Southeast Asia! To make a long story shorter, I was put on a natural supplement plan to get rid of the parasite and within about 3 months was completely back to normal!! My digestion was better, so my energy improved and got my “joie de vivre” back!
This experience sparked a massive interest in the world of natural health and wellness because the doctors just couldn’t help me, so I enrolled at IHN to become a Holistic Nutritionist. The rest is history!
When it comes to health, what comes to mind immediately for many people is fitness and nutrition. But as we know, there’s a whole lot more to being healthy than just those 2 aspects. What does holistic health mean to you?
I agree! At first, I really thought it was just what you ate and how many hours you worked out. But, now that I’m in the world full time and a health entrepreneur, I think there’s another huge aspect that often goes overlooked: stress. If you’re stressed, no matter how many kale salads you eat, you won’t be a picture of holistic health.
As someone who runs her own business and creates her own schedule, what does an average day look like for you?
No two days are the same, between the corporate wellness side of my business where I might be in an office giving a lunch & learn, to the 1:1 coaching side where I’m likely working from my co-working office, to days where I let myself work from home in my PJs haha!
A few things are non negotiable though: I drink 500ml of water before breakfast or coffee/tea, sometimes with lemon in it. Then, I have a high protein, low sugar breakfast. If I don’t do breakfast with protein, I end up having cravings throughout the day, or getting that wicked afternoon slump. 99% of the time I do a matcha latte with almond milk, as coffee doesn’t make me feel great.
From a movement perspective, I work out with a personal trainer once a week, for the sole reason that it gives me accountability and motivation. I’ve noticed that having the extra guidance from someone who knows what they’re doing is amazing and I am getting way better results from a strength perspective than I would get from just group classes. I guess the same could be said of nutrition coaching – a personalized approach and the accountability/support is worth it!
I’m a huge meal planner and I batch cook a couple of times a week so that when the week gets busy I have healthy food in the fridge. Otherwise, I end up grabbing something that might not be as good for me and then end up not feeling great either.
Other than that, I like to do yoga and use Headspace a few times a week because it keeps me on the calmer side. (I tend towards feeling anxiety and stress without those two things).
You’ve developed a ton of expertise in digestion, especially since you’ve learned to live (and thrive!) with Celiac disease. How did you go about getting diagnosed, and how did that change your life in terms of what you ate, and perhaps otherwise? I’m sure it helped resolve a lot of the health issues you were having, so perhaps seeing those positive changes was incentive to stick with a gluten-free lifestyle?
I was diagnosed with Celiac disease by a traditional medical doctor. First I had the blood test, and that came back positive, so then I had the endoscopy to confirm that my small intestines were damaged. That diagnosis was such a turning point in my life. I remember feeling so upset that I couldn’t eat what “normal people” were eating.
What I learned though is that when a food makes you feel so awful, it’s not even worth eating. I can’t say I miss gluten at all or ever feel jealous anymore when people are eating it. Plus, there are so many ways to replace those traditional foods with more nutrient dense ingredients. So now, all of the recipes I post are always gluten free. I’ve got a cauliflower pizza recipe, a socca bread pizza recipe, spaghetti squash pasta recipes and so much more!
For somebody who knows they need to make a significant lifestyle change – maybe it’s going gluten-free, undergoing a gut healing protocol, or removing large amounts of processed food from their diet – what 3 pieces of advice would you give them?
- Don’t go at it alone. Get help from someone who’s been through it or is trained to help you. I’ve had so many clients who come to me saying “I went gluten free but it didn’t work.” Or, “I tried a probiotic, but nothing changed.” Often, just making one random change isn’t enough and you have to fully address the root cause of your symptoms.
- Get tested. Nowadays, we have so many additional tests that we can run to help address the root cause of what’s happening. For example, I run food sensitivity testing and hormone testing for my clients (that they can do at home with a kit I mail them). So many people are struggling with digestive problems and are told it’s just in their head, or that they will have to take a medication for the rest of their life. Being able to run these extra tests allows me to help the client get to the root cause of what’s going on and give them a solution that isn’t just a bandaid medication.
- Finally, there is no one size fits all approach. If there was, we could just google what the heck is going on and have the perfect answer. No two people are the same and while one person might need to be gluten free, another might not. A diet that lets one person flourish may leave another feeling sluggish. You really have to get in touch with yourself and reflect on what’s making you thrive and what’s not.
Do you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share?
Yes! I’d love to share my gluten free and dairy free Alfredo Chicken with Zoodles!
If readers want to learn more about you, check out your amazing recipes and resources, or follow you on social, where are the best places to go?
I also have a few free resources that I would love to share:
- For those wanting help with their digestion (bloating, gas, IBS or heartburn), click here for a free 7 Day Meal Plan To Heal Your Digestion.
- For those looking to lose weight, click here for my free guide, “The 5 Must Haves For A Flat Stomach”.
- For those interested in non-toxic makeup and personal care products, click here for the HEAL Clean Beauty Guide, where I share my favourite non-toxic skincare and makeup products that really work!
Alright guys, that’s it! A huge thank you to Mandy for taking the time to guest star here on the blog today, and I hope you were able to get a few valuable nuggets to take away from this. Check out all the resources she shared, and if you have any questions or comments, go ahead and leave them below.
For now, that’s a wrap for this Women In Wellness Mini Series. I might bring a few more guests on the blog in the future, and certainly know plenty I’d love to share with you. In the meantime, have a wonderful day, and I’ll be back (yes, back from vacation!) on Wednesday with a delicious fall-inspired recipe for you. I hope you’re hungry! ?