Extraordinary Women – Alyssa Bauman

(GastownGazette.com, October 9th 2014 by Jim Gordon – link)

The Gazette’s “Extraordinary Women” series continues this month with Alyssa Schottland-Bauman, a certified holistic nutritionist, health consultant, and writer. The wife and mother of three started www.nourished.ca five years ago to advise and inspire people who wish to change their diets and eat well. Over breakfast at Forage Restaurant, Alyssa talked about food as fuel, the fight against misleading labels, taking her expertise to local restaurants, and her Nourished Green Juice.

JG: Let’s talk first about your company and what it does.

ASB: It’s called Nourished. I basically help people – women, men, families – clean themselves up by cleaning up their diet. I believe that absolutely everything we put in our body creates– and can create change and better outcomes.

JG: What is the #1 thing you find you have to first help people with when they come to you?

ASB: Mind set. Changing their mind set about how they eat. Helping people think about food as helping them.  People have to ask themselves:  How is food going to fuel me so I can be the most efficient person, whether that’s going for a workout or sitting at my desk in the office. How is the food I’m going to eat going to help me thrive? The aim is to have food help rather than hinder.

JG: Sticking with a numbering system, what is the #1 food you get clients to eliminate?

ASB: Sugar.

JG: And how do you break that down for people?

ASB: It is a real challenge. One of the things I do is to explain what sugar does to our brains, what sugar does to our bodies, and how it wreaks havoc on our organs. I then explain that sugar comes in many different forms and is disguised in many different things. In the majority of food products – notice I say “food products” as opposed to food – there is sugar, often listed as a second or third ingredient. I try to educate people on how to eliminate or at least cut down on sugar.

The World Health Organization just put out a statement that we need to eat no more than 6 grams of sugar a day – and I’m talking added sugar. I’m not talking about fruit sugars.  These are OK as are naturally occurring sugars in foods like yogurt and other dairy products. I’m talking about the sugars that are added to foods to preserve them and to make them taste better.

JG: You educate people, but you’ve got these mighty conglomerates on one side who don’t want us to know what’s in the food they sell. What can people do? It’s rather discouraging at times.

ASB: You need to be aware and you need to make being aware a priority. Food is about fuel, not just about eating. We need to know exactly what it is we’re eating, and what we’re putting in our bodies.

JG: Let’s talk more about companies and their food. I was encouraged talking to you over breakfast that as an expert you do see some light at the end of this dark tunnel of deceit. You seemed to indicate that in the next decade the practice of not labelling all that is in food will be defeated.

ASB: I am confident. We have to become more aware because what’s happening is we’re creating epidemics in our society of cancers, cardio vascular diseases, and obesity.  They’re like plagues, and a greater number of people are succumbing to them. The more aware we become, the more we’ll demand answers from these big industries, and the more we’ll know what it is we’re eating. If enough people take a stance and want to know what we’re putting in our bodies, hopefully sugar will be banned or locked up.

JG: It really is something that must be addressed. The figure of one in three Americans developing diabetes by 2050 (using American statistics from the movie “Fed Up”) is shocking.

ASB: Also, the rise in children with Type-2 diabetes is out of control, and it’s diet related. Children are eating white breads and yogurts filled with sugar, cheeses which contain sugar and far too many processed snacks. Kids are gaining weight and not exercising enough.  Type-2 diabetes in children is a massive epidemic.

JG: It must be challenging when you meet with people, especially people who want to help their children, because we’re all bombarded with commercials everywhere that are so shockingly misleading. For example, there is a product that claims to be rich in “dairy goodness”. What does that even mean? People may think they’re giving their kids the right thing when they’re not.

ASB: It’s all marketing. And there is no scientific data to back it up. The most important advice I can give to parents is to read the labels. Do not read the marketing label. Turn the package around and actually read the ingredients because you’re going to find, for example, in some so-called healthy cereals, that they’re loaded with sugar and all sorts of food dyes that have been linked to ADHD and other childhood problems. There may be a claim saying “made with multi-grain” so make sure yuo turn the box around and look at the labels. And remember, for something to be “high in fibre” it has to contain more than 3 grams.

JG: You must hear the complaint that there’s just not enough time to prepare the good foods. I find myself saying that sometimes and I have no children. You have three children, how do you make it work?

ASB: It is time consuming. But everything that should be a priority is time consuming. Everyone can make some kind of sacrifice. Take the time to make yourself and your family a priority.

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JG: We’re here at Forage Restaurant in the Listel Hotel. You’ve recently expanded your business and have become involved in assisting restaurants, like Forage, and their creative chef, Chris Whittaker, make a great menu even better.

ASB: I came in to work with Chef Chris.  I absolutely love the food, and what he’s doing here where everything is local, sustainable, and made in house. And what is the most sustainable thing: How we eat. In order for us to live in a sustainable society, we have to be sustainable ourselves. And how are we sustainable: By eating whole foods, by getting off the processed foods and staying away from packaged foods.

When I came in I didn’t really have to do much with the menu. Chris and I discussed how we could “nourish things up” and make things even healthier, and that’s what we did. We took out sugar in some of the items and we added more whole foods like kale – which was already on the menu – but we kind of re-introduced it and put it on the menu even more.

JG: It really does make a difference, even the little things. Eating here earlier, I tried the home-made ketchup, and it was wonderful. The reaction to the whole menu has obviously been quite positive.

ASB: Yes it has been. We’re quite excited.

JG: Will you be constantly updating the menu?

ASB: Yes, we will be updating the dining options for the dinner menu – not so much the breakfast menu. Chris does everything local and in season so with the seasons changing, the menu will also change. We’ll keep updating the menu to make the food offered better and healthier.

JG: I also like that the portions are smaller. I’m full after that healthy breakfast. And when I’ve been here at night, it’s more about the sharing of food with your guest(s).

ASB: That’s the beauty of a changing mind set, eating and sharing food as well as conversation.  Putting sharing times together in first place with the food in second place. Having nourishing, healthy plates you indulge in, and feel full faster.

JG: And your plan is to take this model, this philosophy, to other restaurants over the next few years?

ASB: Yes, that’s the plan, to work with other chefs in other restaurants to bring more awareness to eating healthier, and being able to indulge in healthier food. Healthy food doesn’t mean you’re going to be eating strictly salads. You can eat organic, whole foods and enjoy and indulge just as much.

JG: I find that I’m always hungry mid-morning, that’s when I can make bad food choices. You’ve recommended I try juices.

ASB: The foundation of my program is a green juice. It’s actually a smoothie so you’re going to feel fuller. I take kale, water, lemon, parsley, any kind of fruit – I like pineapple – and ginger. I blend it up, making about 4 to 5 glasses. I keep it in my fridge and drink it every morning. We all need more greens in our diet and it can be difficult to get them. This is the easiest most efficient way to get them and it’s tasty.

JG: And you’re not saying we have to give up the coffee – I noticed we had some at breakfast.

ASB: I’m not about deprivation and taking away your “wants”. But you’ll notice if you add in more whole foods like kale, you’ll slowly start to change the way you eat.  As your palate changes, you’ll crowd out the foods you once craved. I have a lot of people who came to me with a sweet tooth, and when I add in more greens they think it’s miraculous that they don’t crave their afternoon chocolates anymore.  Another thing is the 4pm crash. It can be a huge challenge.  Instead of reaching for a coffee, choose a juice or a salad and you’ll have a different type of energy that will be sustained.

JG: Let’s get to some non-food questions. You’re an American, a Jersey girl.

ASB: Yes, a Jersey girl born and bred, and proud of it.

JG: You went to school in Boston. Did you get your degree in this field?

ASB: I got my degree in nutrition and international relations. Then I went into integrative nutrition and achieved the next level there.

JG: How long have you lived in Vancouver?

ASB: Twelve years. I love Vancouver it’s such a beautiful place to live. I miss New York City and the pulse and vibe of it. But I think Vancouver is a great place to raise a family.

JG: Last question, one I always like to ask. Tell us something about yourself that your clients and followers would find surprising.

ASB: Oh, lots of things (she laughs). I guess the main one is I love to dance.

JG: Thanks, Alyssa.


By Jim Gordon

Photos courtesy Forage Restaurant and Alyssa Schottland-Bauman