Interview with Holistic Nutritionist Rachel Avalon
When Teresa first came to Los Angeles, she was in need of a major nutrition overhaul and called upon Rachel Avalon to help lead her towards making a positive change in her diet. When Phoebe came to LA a few years later, Teresa put her in touch with Rachel Avalon and Phoebe thrived on the cleanse she was put on under Rachels guidance. Both girls just loves Rachel’s way; her gentle, compassionate heart, her deep understanding of healing and her incredible knowledge on everything wellness. Rachel is the embodiment of all things zen! We had the pleasure of interviewing her here.
YZL: Where did your interest in wellness and nutrition begin?
Well, my mom was diagnosed with lupus when I was a teen and around the same time I had a benign tumor removed from one of my breasts. Plus, my dad was diagnosed with severe mercury poisoning. So, I started questioning the norm and asking some key questions. I wanted to know how our relationship with thoughts, feelings, foods, and toxins could shape our health. By the time I was twenty-three I had started my own business in the healing arts and was soon invited to lecture at one of the top detoxification programs in L.A. That inspired me, in part, to become a Holistic Nutritionist and develop my own cleanse.
(info on the cleanse can be found here http://www.rachelavalon.com/why-cleanse)
YZL: You place such an emphasis on living Green, what are some steps that we can take in our everyday life in order to help the environment?
Yeah, I do because our health and the health of the planet is so deeply interconnected. It continues to blow my mind how people will focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising, or taking supplements without greening their lifestyle and habits. They have no idea, because of what our culture and mainstream media typically tells them, that it’s so much easier it is to lose weight and establish a new level of vitality when you minimize toxic exposure to common sources like conventional cleaning products, beauty products, plastics, and so on. Fat cells love to hold on to toxins. So, if we want to improve our health and the environment we need to re-establish nontoxic living and there are three incredible ways you can get started with that. The first one is to scale back on, or eliminate, meat and dairy. The U.N. has reported that a plant-based diet is the single most important thing we can do to reduce environmental destruction and climate change. Of course, the risk for heat disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and various forms of cancer are all decreased by this action as well. The second thing you can do is focus on organic food as much as possible which says no to GMOs and pesticides. Many of theses poisons are not only contaminating water sources and soil they are linked to cancer, miscarriages, and birth defects. The third step is to get unnecessary plastic out of your life. Use a stainless steel water bottle (Klean Kanteen is my favorite company.) I bring mine everywhere – to meetings, movies, the beach, parties and when I throw parties I ask guests to do the same. Bring reusable bags to the market and ANY place you’re buying goods. Not only will you help protect the environment and wildlife, you’re avoiding hormone-disrupting phthalates that come with all those plastic bags. You can even switch out plastic produce bags with reusable versions. The other fun way to go green is to host and attend clothes swaps. At least ninety percent of my wardrobe is used. It’s such a fun way to cut down on pollution, landfill waste, and hang out with your friends.
YZL: You’re a vegan, what have been the biggest changes in your health since cutting out dairy and meat? What made you decide to transition?
My energy, digestion, and skin have all improved. I decided to transition because I love animals, nature, and being healthy. The more I learned about how my dietary choices were contributing to inexcusable cruelty, pollution, and wastefulness the harder it was to ignore what my heart was urging me to do. I also met some vegans that educated me on how I could not only enjoy a vegan diet, but how I could have a healthy pregnancy that way. Speaking of a plant-based diet, I really encourage people to read the book, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I just read it this year and was really impressed and moved by it.
YZL: Describe your typical day of eating
Like so many of the clients I work with, I go through phases with what I like to eat. For the most part though, I start my day with a glass of water, have a dairy-free smoothie or a bowl of brown rice with raw nuts, almond milk, and some fruit mixed together. For lunch I’ll have some quinoa or beans with sauteed veggies (some of which we grow), I have an afternoon snack like an avocado or something else that’s raw, and then for dinner I might have a wrap, some brown rice pasta, soup, or a healthy stir fry. There are so many delicious things to eat at home or at our favorite vegan, organic restaurants so I like to try new things.
YZL: What are you favorite foods to eat? Is it important to eat with the seasons?
I love way too many foods to narrow it down! It’s so funny that for years I rarely cooked and now I feel like if I had the time I could spend all day preparing fresh juices, smoothies, snacks, meals, and baked goods. I love the variety that nature offers! Eating in-season is brilliant. You get more nutrients, fresher food and it’s an easy way to support local, organic farms while cutting down on your carbon footprint. Plus, all foods are encoded with energy and as a result have an effect on you. For example the fruits and veggies that are in season during the summer, like cucumber and watermelon, are naturally more hydrating and cooling for your system. When you tune in to these principals you boost your health all around.
YZL: Who are some others in the health and wellness world that you admire and share a similar philosophy with?
Two of my close friends are bloggers, Whitney Lauritsen from EcoVegan Gal and Vanessa Meier from The Green Girl Next Door. They are both the real deal; high integrity and super sweet.
YZL: What are some of your favorite alternative health therapies that you could suggest trying?
Do an epsom salt bath once or twice a month. The
magnesium makes them extra relaxing, detoxifying, and good at alleviating sore muscles.
YZL: How do you keep in such great shape?
Thanks for the compliment. Seventy-five percent of how we look is based on what we eat, so that’s my foundation. I eat clean, delicious food and never feel deprived. As far as exercise goes, I like to walk, cruise around on my bike, and do some yoga.
YZL: For someone just starting their wellness journey, where would you recommend they begin?
Begin with daily rituals centered on self-love and deep breathing. Those two things will take you farther than you could ever imagine. I love teaching my clients how to integrate them and then hear about all the wonderful results they experience whether it’s losing weight, increasing their energy, or feeling more centered and peaceful.
YZL: You just recently had a baby, congratulations! Can you tell us about your natural pregnancy and why that was important to you?
Thank you! I worked with a team of midwives and a doula, did yoga twice a week during the 2nd and 3rd trimester, and of course ate organic, vegan food. It was such an amazing learning process! I had already been coaching women and couples on fertility diets and nontoxic living for years, but to experience pregnancy first hand sparked all kinds of new, holistic tips, tricks, and resources to share. Having a natural pregnancy was important to me because it was the most profound way I could challenge the status quo, express my values, and nurture my growing baby.
I have a lot of daunting statistics swimming around in my head and I also work with clients aimed at healing cancer. I wanted to give my son the best possible chance to be healthy. Illnesses often bring so much pain and heartache, but they can also rob us from focusing on the bigger things in life and of being of greater service.
When we are healthy we can usually share our gifts and love.