Meet Holly Bradich, Registered Nutritionist practicing in the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Ontario, Canada. She owns Mindful Vitality. I reached out to Holly to see if she would be interested in answering a few interview questions for me. I did this because there are many misconceptions in the natural health industry and everyone’s health journey is inspired by something different. Whenever you decide to work with a practitioner it’s important to know 1) they know what they are talking about because they have the background and the credentials to support them 2) they use an evidence-based approach (aka science and literature) to support you. With not 1 but 2 undergraduate degrees as well as the designation of Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (ROHP) and Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP), Holly uses this approach in her practice.
Tell me a few things about yourself?
I’m a chocoholic (yes, nutritionist indulge too!) I’m obsessed with dogs, even though I don’t own one now, but plan to get a doodle in the next few years! I’m a science nerd: I love reading the latest science journals especially on the microbiome (gut health) I love to cook…and tend to dance and sing while doing it – something my boyfriend finds highly entertaining!
What is your area of expertise?
I focus in digestive health as I’m passionate about the gut brain connection – we can optimize our mental health by healing our gut! The gut is the root of all inflammation – as someone with chronic pain that is well managed, a huge part of that is my diet – I love educating patients with pain so they can feel motivated to make the changes necessary to reduce their suffering and get back to living their life! I’m also very experienced in helping clients transition to special diets such as gluten-free. I’ve noticed a lot of women in my life and on my social media struggling with menopause and perimenopause – they’re frustrated by the lack of information and support and they want an alternative way other than medications so I’ve recently started to really focus on this as there seems to be a massive demand. I want women to know that they have control over their hormones and that their hormones affect their mental health! I want them to feel their have the power to take their life back – to stop suffering and start living again!
How did you get into nutrition and the natural health industry?
I’ve had gut issues since I was a baby and doctors couldn’t help me. As I got older I started doing more research of my own and starting spending time with family, friends and coworkers who were in the wellness industry and I learned a ton from them. About 10 years ago I started seeing a naturopath and found a huge improvement in my overall health including mental health, energy, gut health and pain – it inspired me to learn more and eventually go back to school for nutrition.
Did you always want to be a Registered Nutritionist?
Not at all! Ask my family…my mom will roll her eyes because every time I talked to her I wanted to be something different! First it was a therapist (hence my undergrad in psychology), then it was a graphic designer, a hairstylist, a dietitian (hence my undergrad in nutrition). At the end of my degree in nutrition I had a meltdown because I didn’t have the grades to get a dietetic internship and I was 35 and in a TON of OSAP debt so I wasn’t about to do a masters degree…I decided to just start working and see what came my way. I ended up working at a health food store for 3 years, I also worked in long term care as a dietary aide and an obesity and diabetes management clinic.
I’ve had so many jobs, but two things always stood out to me:
- I wanted to help people heal naturally
- I didn’t want to work in the western medical model
I had started following a lot of nutritionists on social media and I started thinking to myself, hey, I can do that! So I did!
What are 1 or 2 supplements you think can benefit most people?
A lot of practitioners in the wellness industry would say probiotics – I used to say that as well, but really, every body is different, and some people (like myself) who are prone to allergies and have an overgrowth of bad bacteria in their gut should avoid probiotics and fermented foods until they balance out their gut and immune system. This is why it’s so important to work with a practitioner. There are also a lot of herbs that I could say are beneficial, however, if you take any medications there will most likely be an interaction…again, another reason to see a practitioner – it’s not worth wasting your time, money and energy on supplements that may or may not work for you and could cause serious side effects. I would say the two supplements that are safe for most people and would be beneficial would be omega 3 (whether it’s fish oil or vegan) and vitamin D. Vitamin D affects so many processes in our body from our mood to our immune system and bone health, and in Canada we don’t get enough sun exposure year round so many of us are deficient. Yes, milk and other foods are often fortified with vitamin D but if you’re dairy-free you probably aren’t getting enough.
You love to cook. What are some of your favourite things to make?
I love baking – mostly because it’s a necessity as someone who’s GF, nut free, dairy free and yeast free! Plus the GF baked goods out there are usually full of crap! Every week I usually bake two items; an every day item such as blueberry muffins (which I usually have with free run eggs for breakfast) or yeast free bread and then a treat such as chocolate chip cookies or squares…because everything in moderation! When it comes to cooking I love to make curries and roasted veggies!
What is one misconception you think people have about Nutritionists and the Natural Health Industry?
That we are woo woo and don’t base our practice and protocols on science. Unfortunately there are a lot of natural practitioners that aren’t science based, so it gives the rest of us a bad reputation…however, as a nutritionist with a BSc. in nutrition and a BA in psychology, I’m very much science based, and I work alongside a naturopath who is also very science based. We try to communicate that in our marketing so people know that we are different, we are trustworthy and your protocols will be safe and effective.
What is something people assume about you once they hear you are a Registered Nutritionist?
I think they assume that I’m judging them for what they eat, and they also assume I eat super clean all the time…neither could be further from the truth! I respect everyone’s choices when it comes to eating because every body is different and there are cultural, religious, financial and social reasons for the way we choose to eat.
I eat meat, which I get slack for on social media, but as someone who can’t digest vegan sources of protein, it’s my only option, and protein is so important!
I’m also all about everything in moderation. One thing I learned in psych classes is that, much like a child, if you tell an adult not to do something (such as eat sugar) they will crave it more! Sure, maybe you could last a week or so without your favourite treat, but odds are you’ll end up caving and bingeing so it’s really not worth it, both for your physical and mental health. I came to this conclusion because I’ve been there myself. I tried every fad diet and detox out there when I was younger and I made myself really sick – I lost way too much weight and I was not myself – I got horrible carb cravings and end up bingeing, and because of that I now have chronic acid reflux – I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
What was the biggest challenge you faced on the path to becoming a Registered Nutritionist?
Figuring out how to run my own business and how to make it profitable (which I’m still working on!) Most school programs don’t teach you these skills so you end up having to teach yourself, which is a stressful trial and error situation…as someone with no business background you really have no idea where to start!
I’m so lucky and grateful to have an amazing mentor and colleague Dr. Kristin Spark, ND as well as a few other amazing women I found through social media that have helped tremendously with marketing. I’m going to be starting an online marketing program this fall so I’m pretty excited for that. Marketing as a healthcare professional and for wellness clinics can be quite different from marketing other mainstream products or services so I’m excited to learn more and to eventually help other practitioners who need guidance in growing their business!
If you’d like to learn more about Holly or work with her visit her website at www.mindfulvitality.ca