Why “Beyond Broccoli”?
While spring ski touring on Teton Pass (just outside of Jackson Hole) back in 2001 I brainstormed ideas about what to call my new nutrition counseling practice. Jackson Hole is a progressive community with respect to health and wellness and I wanted a name that reflected my philosophy and approach in this special place. My formal nutrition education and credentials are traditional, Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science degree in Foods & Nutrition. This roots my practice in science. I also believe it is important to integrate alternative and complementary approaches to health when I believe they will help and do no harm.
As I skied along the snow covered ridge, admiring the town of Jackson sprawling below, I thought about working beyond mainstream nutrition. Suddenly I pictured broccoli – what is more “mainstream” nutritionally than the heralded stalk of broccoli? Everyone knows broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse, but there is so much more to nutrition. In fact, even “mainstream” nutrition goes way Beyond Broccoli. I personally love broccoli and the more we learn about it, the more interesting it becomes. However, broccoli will never be the end all for nutrition because we cannot live on broccoli alone!
Beyond Broccoli’s Inspiration
I love the story of why I chose a career in nutrition – or more accurately, how it chose me. It all started when my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was only 52 at the time and I was devastated. I was living here in Jackson (Wyoming), managing a bar and restaurant and he was living in a suburb of Boston. I went back to visit a few times but was basically 2,000 miles away feeling very helpless. So, I did what I’d done to comfort myself since childhood, I read. I wanted to know what was happening to my Dad. Secretly I hoped I’d find a way to help him.
Nutrition cropped up in relation to cancer over and over. Nutrition was linked to cancer prevention, an adjunct to conventional cancer therapies, and in some anecdotal cases seemed to play a role in remission. The light bulb went off for me. I’d worked in food and beverage through college and to support my skiing habit for a decade after college. I loved food and the idea of empowering people with this basic aspect of daily life. Suddenly there it was, in addition to all of its other roles, food is medicine.
Sadly, my Dad and his oncologist didn’t share my enthusiasm. Dad’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for a single visit with a dietitian and the oncologist believed the supplement regimen he’d prescribed was the only “nutrition support” Dad needed. In fact Dad went to the emergency room three times for what he called “pancreatic attacks” before a nurse offhandedly suggested he cut back on the fat in his diet. That was the last of those “attacks.” Needless to say I was frustrated.
Dad died 8 months after his diagnosis and I was more determined than ever to pursue a career in nutrition. I couldn’t help my Dad manage his illness but I could learn how to help others. My undergraduate degree was in English, so I faced my fear of chemistry classes and got to work. I chose to pursue a program that combined a Master’s degree with the courses and internships I needed to become a Registered Dietitian. I was very interested in alternative medicine but decided to build a solid science foundation first and stay open to learning in the alternative realm as I went along.
My dream was to establish a private practice that combined my passions for writing, teaching, and counseling as ways to educate people about food and nutrition. I also wanted to connect people with food – how to prepare and enjoy it. I also wanted to make learning fun whenever possible. Beyond Broccoli is the realization of my dream.
I’m sad my Dad is not alive to see the career path he led me to. He used to tell me he thought I could do great things. After devoting 22 years of his life to public service with the Massachusetts State Police, I know that his idea of great things meant helping people. Thanks to my Dad I discovered a career path I am passionate about and I strive always to do great things, one client at a time.