Expert Advice From Holistic Nutritionist Tamar Cohen

It was with great anticipation and excitement that I would come to have my first sit down with re-known Bay Area Holistic Nutritionist Tamar Cohen.  I was hopeful this would be the first of many with Tamar.  She has an enormous wealth of knowledge and credentialed expertise in the field of Holistic Nutrition.  For more on Tamar and her background check out her site Tri Holistic Nutrion.Upon her suggestion we met in Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto” at Mission Heirloom.  Mission Heirloom takes all natural to a whole new level.  No surprise it would be birthed here where whole foods, organic, locally grown, non-gmo culinary delights have given root to much of the nation’s vegan, raw, super healthy, super foods and holistic uprising.DSC00309Mission Heirloom in Berkeley seen here.Tamar’s insights, peaceful nature and depth of holistic nutrition far exceeded my expectations. Here’s our exchange.SB: Tamar how did you get started with your holistic lifestyle and your background? How did you get involved and come to love holistic living?TC: I was searching for a new career, and at the same time I was training for triathlons. I started looking for ways to fuel myself in a holistic way. There are many sports nutrition products on the market that cater to athletes, and I didn’t like the ingredients in them. That is when I started making my own, experimenting with flavors, macro-nutrients- the percentage of calories from protein carbohydrates and fats. I started researching online, and in the process I decided I a want to study this further, learn more, and be able to make this a profession. That’s when I found Bauman College for Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts. the training that lead me to that path.SB: Now did you feel a significant change when you ….You must’ve felt something or a noticeable difference?TC: Absolutely. In the first couple of years that I was training I was using non-steroidal anti-inflammatories on a regular basis, Advil, Celebrex and even Cortisone. I was having a lot of joint problems and knee problems. I had a neck injury and finally after two years of training and taking medication I started studying and realized I need to change my diet. So I switched to an anti-inflammatory diet. I haven’t had to take Advil since 2007 – no medications whatsoever. I was able to compete in distances like the Half Iron Man, a bike Century just by adjusting my food. Basically I’m eating foods that reduce inflammation, and avoiding inflammatory foods. I completely changed my diet. It made a huge difference. Plus there were other aspects of my life and health that improved like my hair was shinier. My skin looked better. My weight. So there were lots of changes.SB: And now for someone who is thinking about getting healthy what are a few pointers to go from a really unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy lifestyle?TC: I would say the number one thing is ditch the sugar. Sugar is prevalent. It’s in everything. It’s really in everything. Sugar is a serious health problem and it is related to so many issues. And the other thing is obviously increasing the consumption of vegetables. So people are not eating enough vegetables. They’re eating too much sugar and they’re eating way too much processed food. These three changes will get people on the right track. And then from there of course you go into balancing your fatty acids and making sure you’ve got all of your micronutrients, but essentially if you eat more vegetables and you cut out the sugar and you cut out the processed foods you’re doing a lot.SB: And lastly I know your philosophy and the way you work is very specific to each and every person so obviously it is more specific than just diet. Can you elaborate?TC: Yes, there are specific foods that help specific issues. If someone has blood sugar regulation there are specific foods that will benefit them. For example bitter melon or cinnamon help with blood sugar regulation. If someone has hypertension celery is very helpful. I make dietary recommendations that are very specific to the client. I don’t give people the same guidelines. Everyone is different. I’ve got clients who are vegan, clients with food allergies… Etc Obviously I have to make accommodations for specific needs.I call myself a Nutrienist rather than adhering to any specific diet trend. I don’t adhere to any specific diet though my personal tendencies are paleo. Essentially I am looking for the food that is most nutrient dense. If someone is going to be eating grains let’s make sure they are eating the best kind of grains and getting the most nutrients out of it. If you’re eating dairy let’s make sure you’re getting the best possible dairy. And the same goes for legumes and meat. I help my clients find the most nutrient dense and the best options for them.SB: Anything else you ‘d like to add?TC: I think moderation is key. I think people need to decide for themselves how to balance their life. When someone is making the switch to a healthy lifestyle it always makes sense to allow yourself to make mistakes. Use Moderation if you want to go eat out. Eat whatever you want once in a while and the rest of the time you’re good. Allow yourself time to incorporate new changes. It’s not something you do over night. If an person been eating unhealthy for forty years it’s going to take time to change.To see Tamar’s range of holistic products click here.Be on the lookout for more expert advice from Tamar on leading an optimal and balanced nutritional life.  

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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