Occidental Nutrition | Meet Mary Sheila
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Meet Mary Sheila

As a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Educator, I help people who are suffering from the effects and complications of high blood sugar. These complications can include weight gain, especially in the belly, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, digestive issues, insomnia and brain fog. By addressing these problems through diet and lifestyle modifications, my clients learn how to take control of their blood sugar, lose that stubborn belly weight, sleep better, improve digestion, gain energy and gain their health back. If I had known the word foodie as a child, I think I would have been called one from an early age. I love food and have always loved to eat and cook, setting up a “restaurant” at home as a kid, and having a real one with my husband for a few years as an adult.

Growing up, I will always treasure our large family meals at the dinner table. My mom did not know how to cook before having kids, it was my dad who taught her as he had to learn at an early age in his life when his mom passed away. As a mom now, I marvel at the fact that my mom cooked for 10 people nearly every night.

I now understand that growing up in America in the 70’s meant that we were the guinea pigs of today’s modern day processed food culture. The birth of sugar cereals and processed foods were designed to be cheap, convenient, and irresistible, with a long shelf life. And yet with this food culture came weight gain, nutrient deficiencies, toxicity, mass marketing, and the birth of the diabetes epidemic we are now facing as a society.

I can remember starting to diet as a teenager, as many of us can relate to this being the turning point in our relationship with food. My relationship with food began to change with this new “dieting” mindset, and became one of counting calories and fat. As I have learned through my clients over the years, most of the women I have worked with have been obsessively dieting for the majority of their lives.

I had also been on countless antibiotics as a child, which I now know disrupted my micro-biome, and weakened my immune system enough so, that at the age of 19 I had to get my tonsils removed. As a result of the various infections and antibiotics, by my 20’s, low energy, candida, frequent colds and flus and gut impermeability was my new normal, as it had all crept up on me over the years.

After graduating college from Sonoma State University, I was pulled to West Sonoma County, where I did an apprenticeship on an organic farm, and I started to become more aware of the food I was eating, and started to feel the difference fresh quality organic food made for my health and vitality. I dove in to what I now call Deep Nutrition and started harvesting my own seaweed, mushrooms, and wildcrafted herbs, growing my own garden when I could and incorporated these foods into my everyday life. I also discovered fermented foods and how to make them, which have been instrumental in helping me to restore my gut health, my immune system and my digestive fire. All of these practices became an important part of my lifestyle that slowly but surely restored and continues to maintain my health today.

Education & Experience

Since I personally understood the healing power of foods in my own health journey, and I had always wanted to become a teacher to help others, I went back to school and studied Holistic Nutrition at Bauman College, and earned my Nutrition Consultant certificate in 2007.

Shortly after graduation as a Nutrition Consultant, both my mom and mother-in-law were both diagnosed with a late stage cancer. My grieving led me to finding an outlet as a volunteer at an organization called The Ceres Project, a non profit in Sonoma County that provides meals for people with cancer. Over the years as a volunteer and now a contract worker for them, I have since helped to develop nutrition education classes for them, teaching nutrition in their Transition Program, for their clients who are recovering from cancer treatment, as well as in partnership with local community health clinics, educating those with chronic disease to use food as medicine to support their healing. I also teach and consult one on one for the West County Health Clinics in their Forestville Wellness Center.

Ayurveda

I also discovered Ayurveda, the science of medicine from India, and was privileged to study in Sonoma County with and earn a certificate from DeAnna Batdorff at the dhyana Center of Health Sciences. DeAnna’s knowledge and experience as a practitioner and a teacher continue to be invaluable to me and has shaped my own teaching and consulting practice. As a Nutrition Consultant, taking her 250 hour Clinical Ayurveda Certificate Program, in Sebastopol, California, took my education and ability as a practitioner to a deeper more individualized level, and her teaching and experience has given me more tools and insight to go deeper with the clients that I serve. My training with her included: 

  • Foundations and Diagnostics
  • Aromatherapy, Herbs, and Whole Food Nutrition
  • Treatment, Bodywork, and Applications

Incorporating Ayurveda into my nutrition consulting, has allowed me to weave the emotional and bio-individuality into my work with clients, through the Ayurvedic lens. So much of Ayurveda is about self care, and what we can do to improve our health and vitality on a day to day basis, not looking outside ourselves for a magic pill or the next great diet, but daily acts of self care, and how to bring our body back into balance. The Spring of 2017 begins a new chapter in my teaching career, as I prepare to to teach Ayurvedic Whole Foods Nutrition at the dhyana center.

Bauman College

Shortly after my Ayurvedic training, in addition to my private practice, Occidental Nutrition I began teaching Nutrition at Bauman College, both in the classroom and as a distance learning mentor. My lifelong love of learning and my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher were able to meet in the Holistic Nutrition classroom, which has been an incredible fulfilling journey for me. Being a teacher has helped to keep my own learning strong and varied, as I continue to learn more so that I can share that knowledge with others.

I have since studied with Dr. Dan Kalish, deepening my knowledge and ability to support those with adrenal fatigue, and hormonal imbalance, which is so common these days with the amount of stress and nutrient deficiencies present today. I was also fortunate to study with Julia Ross in her Neuronutrient Therapy program. Julia Ross, MA, author of The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure, has developed a system of using amino acids and nutrition to support clients with neurotransmitter imbalance. Amino acids are the building blocks of our neurotransmitters, supplying the pathways of Serotonin, Gaba, Catecholamines, and Endorphins. I use Amino Acids in my practice to support clients with symptoms of depression, anxiety, food cravings, insomnia, overwhelm and lack of drive or focus.

I have partnered with many organizations in the past 10 years, including:

  • Co-Developed and ran a detox program for Osmosis Day Spa
  • Developed curriculum for middle school students at Salmon Creek Middle School, and ran an Eight week Nutrition Education program for several years
  • Teaching private cooking classes with topics including:
    • Fermented Foods
    • Nutrition For Bone health
    • Everyday Super Foods
    • Nutrition For Immune Health
  • Teaching cooking classes at Ramekins in Sonoma
  • Teaching at The Lotus Feed Yoga and Retreat Center
  • Speaking to business groups and women’s groups around the bay area.

My Philosophy

Here is what I believe:

You are in the drivers seat of your health care. Your everyday choices and mindset can change your life.

Your body is always striving to find balance and health, we are born to be healthy and vital.

I believe the more you know about how food meets your physiology, the more empowered you are to make choices with your fork that support health and wellness.

Your biochemistry/dosha/genetic blueprint along with your environment is unique to you, and the approach for your particular health needs should be too, it’s not one size fits all.

As a Nutrition Consultant I see myself as a detective, (call me “Sherlock Sheila”) and I respect your intuition and innate wisdom and want to help you to discover what works for you, and tap into your Inner Detective.

Holistic Nutrition does not mask symptoms with magic pills and supplements, instead it helps you to get to the root of what is causing the imbalance, supporting you to restore balance, lower inflammation and optimize digestion in your body.

I will work with your doctor and other practitioners and be a part of your team of care. I will be honest when I don’t know something, and dig deeper when there is more for me to learn.

We are what we eat, absorb and assimilate. I believe food is medicine, but not everyone needs the same medicine, we are each unique as a result of our constitution and life circumstances.

Lastly, I believe that balanced blood sugar is a foundational principle to maintaining optimal health and contributes greatly to balanced hormones, our bodies messengers, supporting us to negotiate our environment.

Blood sugar that is not balanced is a root cause for those battling diabetes, pre-diabetes, insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Most of us think about diabetes and pre diabetes as being the main reason to balance blood sugar to prevent or reverse this disease. While this is imperative, the risks of nearly every other degenerative disease that we are plagued with as a society can benefit from keeping blood sugar balanced, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, insomnia, osteoporosis, chronic inflammation, hormone imbalance, and Alzheimers. All of our body systems work better when blood sugar is balanced, and this is critical to reversing and preventing diabetes and gut disorders. Even mood disorders, including depression and anxiety benefit greatly when blood sugar is balanced.My nutritional philosophy will support and educate you to learn how to maintain balanced blood sugar as a foundation. Then together we will dig deeper into to your specific issues.

Please contact me if you are ready and empowered to take an active role in changing your health.