Food for Thought

By: Kyle "Rescue" Wagner

Mia “Veggetti” Lewis likes to keep learning.

After raising five children and working in the beauty industry for two decades, Veggetti – or Veg for short – shifted her focus to the healing properties of food, attending the Natural Gourmet Institute in 2013, and soon after joining First Descents to start providing healthy fare on programs. In 2018, Veg was named FD’s chef manager, and during the pandemic, she decided to put in the 200 hours required to become a yoga teacher, too.

But Veg wasn’t done yet. On November 16, she added Nutritional Therapy Practitioner to her resume after graduating from the 10-month certification program at The Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA).

“To me, how we treat our bodies is so important – whether that’s movement, the food we eat or how we handle stress,” Veg says. “When I completed my yoga teacher training during the pandemic, I learned a lot about the mind-body connection and how we can carry so much in our body that we may not be aware of, so getting my NTP certification was just a deeper dive into our body’s physiology.”

nutritional therapy
FD Chef Manager Mia “Veggetti” Lewis

The program at NTA is based on a nutrient-dense, whole-food, foundational and bio-individualized approach to nutrition, with a strong focus on ancestral and traditional foods. Veg learned foundational principles of how nutrition impacts the body, as well as the necessary shifts that can be made to bring the body back into balance.

Since the First Descents community will be a major beneficiary of Veg’s newfound understanding of the mind-body connection as it relates to food – not to mention more of her delicious cooking – we asked her to share more about this growing field.

What is an NTP qualified to do?

An NTP is trained in the area of holistic nutrition. Our goal is to balance the body’s chemistry by addressing nutritional deficiencies, supporting healthy lifestyle choices, understanding the importance of nutrient-dense foods, and even seeing how social and personal factors influence your health.

An NTP supports all of these areas through mindful listening and an bio-individuality approach. The 6 Foundations Nutritional Therapy Practitioners work to support are: Nutrient-Dense, Properly Prepared, Whole Food Diet, Digestion, Blood Sugar Regulation, Hydration, Minerals and Fatty Acids. As well as lifestyle, sleep, stress and movement.

Can you share some insights into what a holistic approach to nutrition is?

The main goal of holistic nutrition is to educate and offer recommendations to individuals on ways to support the entire body through proper nutrition, lifestyle, and self-care. These things all work together and it’s really about getting to the “root cause” by getting to know the whole person and coming up with solutions and recommendations that work for them and their goals.

What are some things you learned that will be particularly useful for FD participants?

There are a lot of dietary restrictions on programs, but there is also so much more going on in the lives of our participants from stress to side effects of medications to changes to their bodies. Getting to know participants and figuring out the best way to nourish them on programs has always been a passion of mine – and now with this training, I hope to make the experience even more individualized. I also am excited to pass this knowledge along to my entire chef team and equip them with some resources.

nutritional therapy
Veg says eating the right foods is just one of the keys to good health.

One of the most common symptoms we find on programs with our population is digestive issues. This is a broad category, I know, but if we can home in on some of these symptoms and understand the full picture, we may be able to help alleviate some of the issues or even just spark some curiosity. Ultimately, our chef team is not only there to prepare amazing meals, but we are there to listen and educate to best support the needs of our participants.

Are there any tricks or tips you learned that you’d like to share?

I’ve learned SO much in the past 10 months, but I will keep it to three key things – probably the most important ingredients for optimal health:

1. Sleep
2. Hydration
3. Breath

You probably thought I was going to give you a cooking tip or a suggested meal, but these three things are so critical for balancing our immune system and overall health. That’s where I believe we should all start. One simple way to begin that is to start your morning with a warm glass of lemon water. Lemon water upon waking stimulates your metabolism, hydrates your body, eliminates toxins and aids in your digestion and immune system, just to name a few.

Create a nighttime routine. Taking a bath, removing electronics from your room, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths can help alleviate stress, and could help promote a restful sleep. There are also apps that can guide you through a calming meditation that I find helpful.

Ultimately, you are your own person on this journey through life; your body is uniquely made just for you. Love your body, take care of your body, and the rest will follow.

1 thought on “Food for Thought”

  1. Veg! Thank you for ALL you do to bring the healing power of adventure and nutrition to the First Descents community. With gratitude, Wolf

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