After a cancer diagnosis changed her life, Linda Curtis set up her company, Holistically Happy You, to help others find health and happiness through food. We caught up with her to chat about how she is turning her experiences into a positive message to share with her clients.August 12, 2021 6:15 pm August 12, 2021 11:09 am
What is holistic health?
So many of us are looking beyond Western forms of healthcare and searching for an approach that encompasses your body, mind and soul.
That’s where a holistic approach to health comes in. Holistic wellbeing aims to care for you as a complete and complex human being, rather than just targeting a specific disease or health issue.
Who better to explain why a holistic approach is so important than our friend Linda Curtis, a holistic healthcare practitioner? Now a successful businesswoman and founder of Holistically Happy You, she’s passionate about encouraging others to embrace a holistic lifestyle too.
But how did that come about, and what lessons does Linda have for those of us who want to give holistic living a go, but are unsure of where to start?
Holistically Happy You
In 2014, Linda got the news that nobody ever wants to hear. “Prior to my diagnosis, I was struggling with emotional and gut issues back home in California, for as long as I can remember” she recalls. “I had no idea that the thyroid played a significant role in both, so when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, things started to make a bit more sense.”
That difficult piece of news set Linda off on a journey of discovery. Despite the ordeal of her diagnosis, seven years later, she has plenty of positives to look back on. She is now a plant-based chef and recipe developer. In 2019, she was certified as a holistic health practitioner, and is currently studying to become a nutritional therapist.
She has also turned her passion into a nutrition health one-to-one coaching business, Holistically Happy You, to help others on their journey.
“I am incredibly passionate about the power of plants and love the fact that I am helping people change their lives by guiding them to make sustainable changes,” she explains. “Just hearing that my clients are feeling more energetic, happier and more vibrant means the world to me.”
Linda’s own experiences have meant she has a special interest in working with those in recovery from cancer. However, she also helps people who are simply looking to transition to a more plant-based lifestyle and need a bit of extra guidance.
Working with cancer survivors
Linda was inspired to get into holistic wellbeing by her own experiences. But she was also influenced by watching other cancer survivors struggle with a lack of support to get back on track once their treatment had ended.
She noticed that after they’ve completed their treatment, a lot of cancer survivors want to make changes in their lives to take better care of their wellbeing. However, there aren’t many resources available to help them do that.
“Many cancer survivors are struggling with depression, uncertainty, lack of confidence, loss of appetite, gut and fatigue issues,” says Linda. “I guide them through wellness and self-care strategies which are tailored for them.”
After long periods of arduous treatments, it can be tricky for some people to make the transition back to prioritising their diet. She aims to help them fall back in love with food.
“Often, they have no idea what to eat, but want to make healthier choices, so I help guide my clients to eat more plants and find that creativity and spark in the kitchen!”
"Holistic wellbeing aims to care for you as a complete and complex human being, rather than just targeting a specific disease or health issue."
East meets West
Western treatments for cancer have come on in leaps and bounds, and thanks to the advances made in scientific research the outcomes for many patients are better than ever before.
But what happens when your treatment is finished and you are discharged? This, advises Linda, is where a holistic approach to health really comes into its own.
“I believe in using an integrative approach. Ideally I like to work with clients who have already finished conventional treatment as this makes things a lot easier.”
At the core of holistic wellbeing is the idea that everyone is different, and has unique needs.
“It’s important to get a glimpse into their spiritual world, or mindset,’ Linda agrees. “When you drill down, what a person thinks will affect how they eat and what they do. So, focusing on where the client is right now is so incredibly important.”
After an initial assessment, Linda may use elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, mindfulness and meditation as part of her approach.
We first met Linda thanks to a mutual interest in medicinal mushrooms, through a Clubhouse talk hosted by Erbology. It’s an interest which she loves sharing with her clients, too.
“I’ve been using medicinal mushrooms for over three years now,” she says. “I recommend that all my clients take them for their immunomodulatory effects.
But it’s not just mushrooms that interest Linda. What’s her best advice for those of us aiming to live a bit more healthily?
Nurture, nourish and eat with the seasons
“Essentially, every time we eat it is a chance to either fuel or nourish our bodies,” she says. “With the food you eat, think: how is that nourishing you, and in what way?”
Linda favours an approach to diet based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. In TCM, there are five basic flavours: salty, sour, bitter, sweet and pungent.
“Certain flavours help to nourish certain organs. Salty flavours enter the kidneys, sour, the liver, and so on. So, when we eat, we can aim to balance these five flavours so that we are nourishing all of those organs.”
Another way to do this is to tune into the seasons of the year. “In summer, we can focus on cooling raw foods like abundant salads filled with leafy greens, asparagus, beetroot, broad beans and broccoli.
“Likewise, in winter – when we turn inwards, along with the rest of the world – we can focus on heavier foods like soups and stews. We can tune into the kidney, nourishing it with tonifying foods with miso, sea salt, tamari, and salted raw sauerkraut.”
Linda’s advice for anyone who wants to live more healthily
In a field as complex as diet and nutrition, it can be tough to cut through the jargon and get to the heart of the matter. We put Linda on the spot for her very best advice to anyone who wants to make some healthy changes.
“The best advice I could give is, firstly, to add more vegetables – bottom line. I would emphasise leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, which are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Try kale, Swiss chard, cavolo nero and cauliflower. Keep it simple. Focus on whole foods such as vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds.”
When it comes to processed food, Linda has a great rule of thumb: no more than five ingredients. But are there any particularly good ingredients to include day-to-day?
“I’d recommend incorporating green tea, turmeric and berries into your daily eating habits. All are antioxidant powerhouses, and I feature them on my dietary checklist which can be found on my website.”
Be kind – and stick with it
“Above all, be kind to yourself and take it slow,” Linda says. “Get out in nature. Be mindful of your stress and how you’re sleeping and protect your energy. Health is holistic. It’s not just about what we are eating but what we’re thinking, doing and saying.
“Lastly, make sure you find joy in those changes. When you incorporate changes that you enjoy, you will have a better likelihood of continuing them long-term, so they stick!”
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