If you've seen the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living's Whole Living magazine, then you've probably also found their 28-Day Detox Plan in which Whole Living editors asked Sarah Britton to head up the plan. You can also check her post on it on her blog here.
"If you have never embarked on such a journey before, this is a great opportunity to try a whole body and mind clean out! ...The plan is not about deprivation, but centers around a plant-based diet loaded with flavour, colour, and vibrant, seasonal foods."
-Sarah Britton, My New Roots
Interview With Sarah Britton of My New Roots
FS: Was there a specific event that inspired you to become a holistic nutritionist and vegetarian chef?
SB: When I was 22 I moved to an experimental city in the Arizona desert, where I volunteered on an organic farm growing food for the community. It was the first time I had worked outside of a school or office environment, and certainly my first experience with farming. The food was the most delicious I had ever tasted, and we cooked with our produce almost exclusively. I gave up sugar, dairy, all processed foods, and saw a huge change in the way I felt and looked. I also saw how disconnected I was from the earth, the seasons, and the cycles of nature, which inspired me to change the way I ate, forever. Upon returning to Toronto I promptly enrolled in school to study Holistic Nutrition so that I could help others regain their connection to their bodies and minds through their diet.
The chef thing came much later, since when I moved to Copenhagen, I discovered that my profession was not recognized and that I could not practice legally. I decided to try my hand at cooking professionally, and it has worked out extremely well. Luckily my passion for cooking outshines my lack of training! And instead of going to school, I just learn by doing, every day.
FS: How do you define "holistic nutritionist" and what is the difference between what you do and what other nutritionists do?
SB: Although both of these professions deal with food, they emphasize different things, respectively.
Nutritionists, or registered dietitians often work in hospitals or other institutions such as schools, planning meals that meet the nutritional needs of the populations they serve. Other registered dietitians work in private clinics, government facilities or private industry. Certified clinical nutritionists, or holistic nutritionists use an integrative systems approach to healing, not just dealing with the diet. We take into account the body as a whole unit, and using foods, herbs, nutraceuticals, and detoxification protocols, correct any imbalances that may have arisen.
FS: Did your parents teach you about healthy eating and wellness or did you learn it later in life?
SB: My parents made a point of eating dinner together as a family every night, which gave me a deep appreciation for food - but I cannot say that there was a strong emphasis on health per se. Again, my experience at Arcosanti really showed me the profoundly positive effect food has on our bodies and minds, which prompted me to educate myself further. Now it’s my mission to spread the healthy word to everyone around me. I think it is especially important to start at an early age as well. Even though I turned out pretty well after all the hot dogs and ding dongs, I know that educating kids from the start will inevitably benefit them their whole lives.
FS: Why did you start My New Roots?
SB: I started My New Roots because I wanted to share the incredible knowledge I had received through my education in Holistic Nutrition. I discovered so many things that I believed needed to be public information, not just for those who can go to school to study in this field. I wanted to set up a non-biased space for people to come and learn about how to take better care of themselves through diet and lifestyle, as I have seen immense changes in myself since making little, positive changes every day.
I was so tired of being bombarded by self-interested media and half-truths about how to look after myself, and I knew I wasn’t alone. Since my education was almost like a user-guide for my body, mind, and spirit, I thought it was time to spread the word! When I discover something new I am simply too excited not to share!
FS: Who inspires you?
SB: I am very inspired by anyone who follows their passions, even if it means going against the grain. It takes courage to do what you really want.
FS: A lot of people worry that without animal protein, it is difficult to consume a proper amount of protein for a healthy diet. What are your favorite sources of protein?
SB: Do you mean is it possible to get enough protein as a vegetarian? Of course! For some reason this is one of people’s biggest concerns when becoming vegetarian, but the real issue is getting enough iron, B-12 and Omega-3s. Protein is the easy part. Here are my favorite sources:
- raw hulled hemp seeds + hemp seed powder
- all sea vegetables
- bee pollen
- green vegetables, like spinach
- sprouted nuts and nut butters
FS: What is one of the biggest misconceptions about nutrition that you are frequently asked or told?
SB: I get a lot of questions about dairy and calcium, in that so many people believe that if one doesn’t drink milk, a calcium deficiency is inevitable. This is a major topic loaded with controversy, so I just encourage everyone to consider the many ways of getting calcium through non-animal sources. I also want people to consider the high-rates of calcium deficiency in countries like America, where dairy consumption is also the highest. In my opinion, the answer does not lie in consuming more dairy, but cutting back on the foods that actually hinder calcium absorption, such as coffee, soft drinks, excess protein (especially meat), refined sugar, alcohol, and excess salt.
FS: What advice would you give for someone who has never done a cleanse, but is curious and/or nervous?
SB: I think it’s best to start off with a very easy one with solid foods (like the Whole Living 21-Day Action Plan). The most important thing for first-timers is cutting out the bad stuff – sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy, and all processed foods and beverages. If you can eat a whole foods, plant-based diet for a period of time, while avoiding the addictive foods, you’ll see a difference. After a few of these cleanses, you can move on to juice fasting and water fasting, with guidance from a specialist.
FS: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
SB: My ceramic knife. It is by far the sharpest blade I’ve ever used, is chemically inert, lightweight, and retains its edge far better than any steel version. Especially when working with raw food, I appreciate that ceramic knives do not affect the colour, flavour, or smell of food, whereas metals knives do.
FS: I've heard/read conflicting information about which is healthier: drinking fresh juice or consuming smoothies (the whole fruit/veggie). What's your opinion?
SB: I think it all depends on what you’re after. You can actually consume a lot more vegetables and fruits, and therefore vitamins and minerals if you juice them. If you want the fiber in the foods however, smoothies are the best choice. The other bonus with smoothies is the ability to add superfoods, such as bee pollen, chlorella, spirulina, Omega-3 oils, hemp, cacao, maca etc.
FS: Do you have any resolutions or intentions for 2012?
SB: I think I am just going to keep following my heart – it has never led me astray! If there is anything I’ve learned from blogging it’s that miracles happen when you just do what you love.
Find: My New Roots
Images: (1) Mikkel Stange, (2-8) Sarah Britton