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Holistic Nutrition, School & Business

What is holistic nutrition?

Holistic nutrition is a method of addressing a persons health by attempting to bring balance to all area’s of the person’s life.

What made you want to study nutrition?

My relationship with food was never a healthy one. I pulled myself through countless diets, struggled with disordered eating, and battled with emotions surrounding my food choices. During my road to recovery, I realized that food played such a huge role in how my body functioned.

I ended up working with a nutritionist that introduced me to healthy meals and intuitive eating and a year later, I was registered at CSNN.

It was never the plan to leave school and help others with their nutrition choices. I took the course for myself so that I could learn how to take care of my body but by the end of the course I knew helping others with their healthy living choices was exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

What was the curriculum like as CSNN (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition)?

Here’s a link to the curriculum followed currently. When looking for a program in your area, make sure it’s with a school that has a governing body associated to it so that your clients can deduct your services to their health insurance companies. The ones here in Canada are IONC and CAHN-Pro.

Post: Canadian School of Natural NutritionVideo: Our Experience at CSNN

Does the program cover any kind of self-advertising/marketing education, assuming quite a few grads become self-employed?

Yes, there is a module that covers running your own practice and marketing yourself. At least that was the case when I took the program in 2007.

Want to pick my brain about everything business? Build an online business that works for you and ignite your professional life by booking a SPARK Session with me.

Video: How to Setup a Nutrition Business

Why didn’t you go the dietetics route?

I attended a couple of Dietetics classes at University and decided it wasn’t for me for the time being. Calorie counting, food guides, and structured plans to fit the masses wasn’t how I wanted to be introduced to nutrition given my personal struggles with food. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, natural nutrition spoke to me more at the time.


What do you eat on a typical day? Do you find that you’re pressured to eat a certain way because you’re a holistic nutritionist?

Pressured is not the right word by any means. I enjoy eating healthy because it makes me feel good. To get a glimpse into the meals, snacks (and desserts!) that I enjoy, check out my series, What A Holistic Nutritionist Eats.

What type of protein powder do you use and why do you choose it over a whole food source?

I switch between Jay Rob’s Unflavored Egg White Protein Powder and Nutribiotic Sprouted Brown Rice Protein Powder. I switch between the two because I seem to have developed a slight sensitivity to eggs, so I limit my consumption to just 1-2 servings a week. I like the unflavored powders because they’re free of potential artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.

I choose to consume protein powder because I’ve found that I have a challenging time ensuring I’m eating enough protein in the day otherwise. It’s quick, it’s simple, and my body seems to like it.

What supplements do you take?

I take AOR Bone DynamicsCarlson Cod Liver Oil, Carlson Vitamin D drops and Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics daily.

How did you heal your digestive problems?

I’ve written a bunch about my digestive issues… and you can find all the nitty-gritty details right here:

I read that you had Candida. How did you heal yourself from it, and what types of foods did you eat?

I struggled with lots of allergies, stomach pains, constipation, candida, etc. They lasted for 5-6 years, off and on. I’d usually wake up bloated and it would get worse as the day went on to the point where I’d be on the floor in sheer pain. I went on a candida diet for 3 months, supplemented with loads of probiotics, wild oregano oil, and caprylic acid. A typical day for me was a breakfast of nuts and seeds with a cup of non-dairy milk, snacks like homemade hummus and vegetables, a salad for lunch with animal protein and a dinner that was usually comprised of animal protein and steamed vegetables.

After that, I found that my pains were in direct relation to stress. As soon as I learned how to deal with stress, they went away! Other things that may help are fish oils, extra fiber (ground flax seed) and proper food combining.

While you’re struggling with candida, you’ll definitely react to ALL candida foods like sugars, fruits, vinegars, etc. Anything you react to (whether you’re really sensitive to it or not) should be avoided.

I read that you overcame disordered eating. What were your challenges and how did you overcome it?

It started off as an interest in dieting as my Mom did, morphed into a hatred for my body, the people around me, and life as I knew it. I let myself fall into a deep and dark hole that took me years to get out of. Fearing the safety of their daughter, my parents enrolled me in the Calgary Eating Disorder Program where they had counselors, dietitians, and specialists on site for eating disorder patients. The program focused on the anxiety, depression and self esteem issues that go hand in hand with healing yourself from an eating disorder. While this program may be beneficial for some, it only fueled my interest in harming myself.

I was given an ultimatum from my parents – stay in the program, or leave home. At 16, I chose to leave my parents house and live wherever I could, as long as it meant I didn’t have to go to that program any more. I dropped out of High School and lost myself for a couple of years.

6 months before my 18th birthday, I decided to go back to school and get my High School diploma. I was in the roughest shape I’d ever been, but something deep down inside of me knew I needed to do it. I got my own place, maintained a steady job, went to morning school, day school, signed up for correspondence, and managed to complete half of grade 11 and all of my grade 12 courses in a 6-month time frame. I graduated at 18 years old along with all of my previous classmates.

Another year or so passed before I decided that the path I was on still wasn’t working for me. I knew what type of person I was and when I stared in the mirror, Leanne didn’t stare back. It was April 3, 2006. I was ready to begin my life and start living in the world again. I went to counseling, began doing yoga, meditation, mended relationships, worked on my self-image issues, confidence issues, you name it. I was on a path to get in touch with the beautiful person I knew I was deep down inside of me. I wanted a change and I made it happen.

From my experience, healing yourself of disordered eating is vastly improved when you understand the impact healthy food can have on your body. Although it’s a long and challenging road, education was my strongest tool!

What words of advice can you give someone who is struggling with an eating disorder?

I’ve been where you’ve been and can tell you that although the journey is extremely scary and overwhelming, pushing through the challenging moments to finally get to a loving place of self-acceptance will be the best gift you will ever give yourself.

I’ve always dealt with feelings of inadequacy. I pour my heart and soul into what I do, eat well, have an active life yet, at times, I still find myself consumed by negative feelings about my body. Just the other day, one of my mentors asked me, ‘Fast-forward 60 years. What would your 90 year old self say are some of her proudest moments in her life?’

I began listing off things that I’m currently proud of accomplishing as well as some of the things I dream for myself for the future – finding the love of my life, creating a tight-knit family, building a successful business, completing a University degree, healing myself from disordered eating, surrounding myself with loving friends, moving out on my own, going to India, traveling to Africa, studying yoga, adopting a child, mentoring teenagers…

Surprisingly, none of the things I listed had anything to do with my body, how I looked when I accomplished something, or what the number on the scale read. Accomplishing my goals, living my truth, being all that I can be has nothing to do with how I look, but everything to do with how confident I am with myself. The last thing on my mind at the end of my days on this earth will be whether or not I maintained my weight, but rather what I accomplished as a result of believing that I deserve to be happy, loved, and successful.

Enjoy your time in this life, be open to new experiences, believe in the gift you have to give the world, and love who you are, because you are worthy of everything.

What are a couple of other resources you would recommend?

Some resources in Calgary that I actively use for my clients are Alberta Health Link, Calgary Counseling Center, Alberta Mental Health

Why are you gluten-free?

I went gluten free in the summer of 2007 after seeing a Naturopath about my inability to pay attention, intense stomach pains, and the slowest digestion known to man kind. He recommended I go off gluten. I had no clue what gluten was, but figured if this change could address my health issues, I was willing to give it a shot.

It was really challenging at first but the disappearance of my symptoms encouraged me to persevere. The change in my diet forced me to step out of my comfort zone, try new ingredients and get creative in the kitchen.

Why did you stop being vegan and how did you make the transition?

Meat had always been something I was afraid of eating because I thought it was going to “make me fat.” So, when I was still a teenager, I swore off animal products and started involving myself in as many animal protective projects and ethical groups as possible. Watching videos of the horrible things humans do to animals, the gross additives that are added to our meats, and researching the damages that pig and cow farms can do to our earth, were only ways to get myself to never want to eat meat again. Almost as if I was forcing myself to believe in something, to instil fear in myself to never want to eat meat again.

Unfortunately the vegan lifestyle became such a control issue for me. I began losing weight, it fueled unhealthy thoughts, and I stayed in this place for years. The vegan diet only fueled these feelings, it did not create them. Looking back now, I understand that it wasn’t so much the vegan lifestyle, but the label of saying “I am a vegan, and I am controlling what I put in my body, regardless of what my body tells me it needs”

I would experience waves of meat cravings, they would come and go, but I would ignore them. I worked at a rib restaurant from the time I was 15 to 20. It didn’t bother me until I was about 19. A couple of months after my birthday, I ordered a rack of ribs and ate them secretly in my car, as if I was hiding my shame. They were delicious. But again, I pushed myself to stop eating it. Not because it didn’t taste good, or feel good, but because I was afraid of what it would do to my body.

It wasn’t until I was studying to become a holistic nutritionist that I learned the real facts – how some of us are meant to have animal proteins in our bodies, the benefits to eating protein, and the dangers of avoiding it, that I finally built up the courage to bring meat back into my life. I began with salmon, moved to chicken, then to beef, and now I generally stick to wild game.

I’ve been eating it for awhile now and love it! I only eat the best meats I can find from local farmers, butchers, and the like. I’ve embraced listening to my body and have learned not to care about what others think. I go through “vegan” days and “meat” days but don’t label myself with anything and it feels fantastic.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that we shouldn’t have to justify our food choices to anyone. We should live for ourselves because ultimately, our body knows best. If you crave meat, eat meat. You can still make great, ethically sound choices when you eat meat. And remember that it will nourish your body and soul if it’s the right decision for you.

How do you feel about the Canadian Food Guide?

I was not taught using the Canada Food Guide as I went the holistic route.

My advice to anyone that feels that the recommendations in these guides may not work for them is to explore holistic alternatives and define what healthy eating is for you. Then, when people ask you about it, or friends show interest, spread the word!

The more of us that are sharing our thoughts on healthy, holistic living, with whole foods and real meals, the healthier our community will become!

Blog & Online Space

When did you start Healthful Pursuit?

I launched Healthful Pursuit as a website for my private practice on October 31, 2010. It was originally intended to be a place where I could acquire new clients, share some of my favorite recipes, and write a couple of health articles here and there. I cut over to blog-style on January 3, 2011 and the rest, as they say, is history!

Why did you call it Healthful Pursuit?

I named the blog ‘Healthful Pursuit’ because I felt it was a good representation of the approach I’ve taken with my own health. For me, being healthy is far larger than just the food I put in my body, so I was very careful not to have nutrition or food be the only thing on my mind when coming up with a name. I felt that Healthful Pursuit was a great representation of my everlasting journey to improve my health, get more in touch with my body, and continue to evolve my thoughts around nutrition, fitness, health, and life.

Do you have a cookbook?

Heck YES I do! I am very proud of my first (self-published) cookbook called, Dessert Freedom. It’s a PDF, digital download book with 20 gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, recipes and 20 health-promoting techniques.

And, my second book, Christmas Dessert Freedom is a gluten-free, vegan & paleo Christmas cookbook, filled with your favorite Christmas classics, all made healthy and guilt-free.

Watch for a third cookbook, coming Spring 2014!

What camera do you use?

I currently use a Canon 7D with a 24-70mm f2.8L lens, sometimes I’ll switch out the 24-70mm out for my 50mm f1.8 when I’m at a restaurant and need the additional f stops.

Where do you take your pictures?

I have a table setup in our living room. It is against a north-facing window, so I get good indirect sunlight.

Where do you purchase the props that are in your photos?

I like HomeSense, Pier 1, garage sales, antique shops, Value Village and my parents house. You’d be surprised how much random stuff they have over there! I’ve also started to get in to making my own props with random items from the hardware store.

Who does your hosting?

I was originally with DreamHost when I began the blog. It was a great service for me while I was starting out and had comprehensive plans that were inexpensive but were a bit difficult to work with when the blog began to grow. A year later I switched over to Synthesis Web Hosting.

Synthesis Web Hosting has been a fabulous partner over the last year and I highly recommend them to anyone. They have continued to be far more affordable than the other guys and are always willing to help out no matter what time of the day, weekend, holiday, or otherwise.

Recipe & Kitchen

How do you come up with your recipe ideas?

I get my ideas from all over the place – inspirations from cookbooks, menus, favorite products, TV shows, or just randomly mixing ingredients together.

Can I make substitutions to the flours in your recipes?

I go through great lengths with my recipes to make them gluten free. If you change the ingredients in the recipe, the recipe is no longer mine and may come out differently.

I encourage you to test things out and let me know the outcome!

Why do you cook with a microwave? I’ve heard microwaving is bad for our health.

There are varying degrees of healthy living. Many of the people that follow Healthful Pursuit are starting off on the road to healthier living. And for them, a microwaved home cooked meal is a step in the right direction from eating out, or skipping breakfast completely.

What kitchen tools do you swear by?

Food processor: I use a Cuisinart Elite Collection™ 12-Cup (3 L) processor although if I had to do it all over again, I would have just held on to my Black and Decker Quick and Easy. That thing was a machine and made nut butters better than my current processor.

Blender: I’ve had my Vitamix since 2007 and love it just as much as I did on that first day.

Ice cream maker: We have a Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence ice-cream maker that works really well, so long as you just leave the bowl in the freezer at all times for quick ice-cream making when you need it most!

Saucepans: I love my MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel set. The benefit to stainless steel, is that it heats up quickly to cook food faster (maintaining more health benefits) and doesn’t transfer toxins to your food.

Frying pans: I purchased my first set of cast iron frying pans at Value Village when I was still in my teens. I’ve had the same set since. The great thing about cast iron, is that it is a clean cooking source and transfers iron into the food you’re cooking, so long as the food contains vitamin C.

Where do you buy your groceries?

My favorite grocery store is Superstore. For online groceries, I use Upaya Naturals, Amazon.com, iHerb, and Swanson.

What non-dairy milk do you like the best?

If I had my way I would drink Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla or Original for the rest of my days. But because allergies are so prominent in my past, I rotate my milks between cashew, almond, hemp, and sesame.”

Real Meals

How do I subscribe?

Read more about the program and view the meal plan layout, features and details click HERE.

To start your subscription, click HERE.

Is the Real Meals Meal Planning Program for me? What is it, exactly?

If you’re new to the gluten-free lifestyle, struggle with dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegan, or grain-free living, the Real Meals Meal Planning Program is for you. If you’re just getting into eating whole foods, or if you’ve been trying to eat healthy haven’t had success because you’re just not sure what to eat all the time, Real Meals is for you.
Real Meals Meal Planning Program is a monthly subscription meal planning service that provides you with:

  • 7-day meal plan specifically tailored for wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, grain-free, nut-free and soy-free diets.
  • Shopping lists
  • Meal plan is developed for 1 person and very easy to multiply depending on how many mouths you have to feed.
  • Simple recipes with leftovers incorporated into the plan. Receive 3-4 breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes and 6-8 snack recipes per plan. The recipes will provide you with enough meals and leftovers to last the whole week, 7 days.

Will I get the right amount of food on this meal plan?

Generally speaking, yes. The average bear will find this plan perfectly fit for them. However, if you are a petite-framed shorter lady and you don’t work out much, you may find it helpful to remove 1 snack off from most days. On the other hand, if you’re a tall man who works regularly, you may need to boost up the snacks a bit.

The meal plan provides anywhere from 1,500-1,900 calories per person per day. The amount changes depending on the recipes developed for the plan.
Tricks on how to add to your plan with success:

  • Add protein to vegetable dishes and snacks. Things like meat, fish, eggs, lentils or cooked beans
  • Cook with additional healthy oils like coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil or add nuts/seeds to your snacks and salads.
  • Throw in some extra carbs by boosting your fruit intake at snack time, load your salads with extra veggies or throw in a couple cooked grains with your snacks.

Will I lose weight on this meal plan?

If you’re coming from a more processed diet, following Real Meals Meal Planning Program will assist you with weight loss as you begin to eat a clean, whole foods based diet.

If you’re trying to lose weight and you don’t in the first month, many subscribers have reduced their snack size by preparing 1 snack per day and splitting it into 2 portions. Also, listen to your body’s hunger cues and try not to overeat. If you’re scheduled to eat something and you’re just not hungry, skip it. Honor your body.

I have food allergies. How should I deal with that on the meal plan?

As a subscriber, you will receive access to a meal plan that is wheat-free, gluten-free and dairy-free.

On top of that, you will be given vegan, grain-free and nut-free alternatives.
Egg allergies: substitute meat for the eggs in many of the breakfasts, snacks and dinners. If it’s a baked good, you can generally use flax eggs (1 tablespoon freshly ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water and left to sit for 5 minutes).

Soy allergies: most of the plans are soy-free, however we do use the odd tempeh, tofu or wheat-free tamari. Tempeh and tofu can be replaced with cooked beans and tamari replaced with coconut aminos.

How much will groceries on the meal plan cost me?

Per person, you can expect to pay an average of $50 per week.

How much does the plan cost and what all do I get when I sign up?

There are 3 formats to Real Meals Meal Planning Program subscription:

  1. Monthly: $15 per month
  2. 3 months: $12 per month (quarterly payment of $36)
  3. Yearly: $8 per month (yearly payment of $96)

Every week on Tuesday at 12pm EST, you’ll get an email from us. Your weekly email will contain a link to your downloadable PDF file. The file contains the hand-created menu for the upcoming week (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner for one person every day), a grocery shopping list, and easy to follow instructions to make preparation as easy as possible.

Will you automatically charge my card when my month/3 months/year is up?

Yes, this is a subscription based service so your PayPal account will continue to be debited on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. Read how to cancel so that you are not charged again.

I’m not satisfied with the meal plan. Can I get a refund?

I stand by my work and am dedicated to providing you with the best possible Real Meals experience. If you are not satisfied with your meal plan:

  • Monthly or 3 month subscriptions: cancel at any time and you’ll never be charged again
  • Yearly subscriptions: we’ll happily refund 100% of your money within the first 15 days

How do I cancel?

  1. Log in to your PayPal account.
  2. Click Profile near the top of the page.
  3. Click My money.
  4. Click Update in the My pre-approved payments section.
  5. Click Cancel, Cancel automatic billing, or Cancel subscription and follow the instructions.

You will continue to receive meal plans until your current subscription has been used up, using the details from the FAQ question above.

Does everyone get the same meal plan every week or can I pick the recipes I want on mine?

All Real Meals Meal Planning Programs are wheat-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. At no additional charge, you’ll receive suggestions on how to make the plans vegan, grain-free and nut-free.

How many people is the meal plan set up for?

Each Real Meals Meal Plan is developed for 1 person making it very easy to multiply shopping lists and recipes depending on how many mouths you have to feed.

Who creates the meal plans?

Real Meals is developed by Leanne Vogel, holistic nutritionist and recipe creator on HealthfulPursuit.com

If I have a question, how do I get in touch with someone?

Hit up my contact page and send me a message!