Holistic nutritionist Marina Cortese is a self-described “personal trainer for your diet” and she really will change your life starting with what you eat. The founder of Nour-ish, her nutrition consulting company, Cortese creates practical long-term programs for her clients that take into consideration each person’s lifestyle, environment, stress level, activity level, health history, goals and diet. We caught up with Cortese to find out more about what a holistic nutritionist does and what tips she recommends everyone adopting for a happier, healthier life.
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
Job-wise, I’m a registered holistic nutritionist with a degree in kinesiology. The toughest class of my degree was human anatomy (cadavers are pretty cool though) and my favourite class was rock climbing/mountain biking/kayaking (insert jock joke here). I started Nour-ish, my nutrition consulting company, in 2011 so that I could make a positive impact in people’s lives. And that’s the most rewarding part of my job – getting feedback saying that I’ve changed someone’s life. That’s a total day maker! I work with people one-on-one and in groups for corporate lunch and learns and I like to think my food philosophy is realistic and my programs are sustainable long-term. It’s pretty great that I get to talk about and work with food all day long! And that brings me to my next point…
I love everything to do with food! I love grocery shopping, going to farmers’ markets, cooking, experimenting with new recipes, writing about food, eating (of course) but I hate doing the dishes. Huge fan of the sun but can’t say the same about the cold. I love animals and am passionate about animal rights. Not annoying passionate (I don’t think) but I do believe that we should treat them a whole lot better than we do now. To support that belief I adopted two idiot cats. They’re the best when they aren’t ruining my apartment. I love nature — camping, hiking, skiing, swimming, etc. Conversely, I also really love city life! My inner nerd loves trivia and playing board games and I’m insanely competitive when it comes to “sports” like bowling and mini golf. I’m exceedingly good at riding my bike into stationary objects. I’m also pretty decent at catching a frisbee (like golden retriever good). But enough about me, I’m rambling. Let’s talk about holistic nutrition.
How would you explain what holistic nutrition is to someone who doesn’t know what it is?
Holistic nutrition is a preventative approach to health & well being that involves looking at the whole picture. Diet is just one part of it. When I do an assessment I look at an individual’s lifestyle, their environment, stress level, activity level, health history, goals and diet. Then I create a program based on all of those factors. You’ve got to be a bit of a detective to find the root of the problem (ie. digestive troubles caused by low stomach acid) instead of slapping a band-aid on it (an antacid).
How can seeing a nutritionist improve a person’s diet and even weight goals?
A nutritionist is like a personal trainer for your diet. They keep you accountable and honest. They’re an extra set of eyes that can help pinpoint what’s missing, where imbalances lie, and they inspire and motivate while you make those positive changes to your diet. There’s no “one diet fits all” and there’s an overwhelming amount of information out there about what’s healthy and what’s not, so it’s my job to weed through all the research & propaganda and find what works best for each person.
What are three pieces of nutritional wisdom that will improve anyone’s life?
1) Keep it simple! Use fresh, quality ingredients. You’d be surprised how much flavour a little lemon, olive oil & sea salt can bring to a dish.
2) Read the ingredients! Just because it says gluten-free, low-fat, etc on the box doesn’t mean it’s a healthy food. Or, better yet, buy foods that don’t have labels (fruits, veggies, meat, etc).
3) Never feel guilty! Eating is meant to be fun but it’s tough to have a truly positive relationship with food. Don’t deprive yourself of your mom’s homemade pumpkin pie during the holidays. Feel good about the fact that you maintain balance in your diet most of the time and indulge (occasionally) without beating yourself up about it.
What are three things you can’t live without?
The essentials (clean air, unlimited texting, water, the internet, family & friends, etc) are obviously a given so that leaves…
1) My passport. The other day I counted with my dad how many countries we’d each been to. I’m at 18 so far. I was super lucky to live in some cool places growing up so I caught the travel bug early on.
2) Home-cooked meals and good wine (yes, nutritionists drink wine too), preferably enjoyed outside, near the water, in the sun and hopefully someone brought their guitar so we can all break out into song later on.
3) My “your apartment is on fire what do you grab?” things: my cats, a blanket my grandmother knit me, a stuffed pig I’ve had since I was a baby and photo albums from before the days of Facebook
That’s three-ish 🙂
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
There is so much to do! From Jays games to ping pong clubs, Shakespeare in High Park to Second City improv, fine dining to holes in the wall, couture on the Mink Mile to local designers on Queen West. I moved here five years ago and I’ll admit I was not a fan at first, but there’s this energy that grows on you. I love it here now!
As a health professional it’s also a great city to stay active in! 9 times out of 10 it’s faster to walk than to take public transit. So there’s that.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
Oh man, this is so tough! River Cafe in Calgary has a special place in my heart. It really kickstarted my love affair with fine dining & good food many years ago. The menu has a rustic Canadian feel, they use local organic produce and meats and I love the sustainable, traditional culinary approach they take with their food. But the Toronto food scene is incredible so it’s a triple tie for second between Le Select Bistro (for their bison tartare & kale salad), Woodlot (for their everything) and Buca (because it’s insanely good Italian food and you get to cut your pizza with scissors!).