Interview with the nutritionist Magdalena Pashova - Part 1

"Your health isn't a matter of luck or fate, but a conscious choice"

Magdalena Pashova is a holistic nutritionist. She calls herself "a food therapist". In her practice she consults her clients either by meeting them face to face or via Skype. Her main goal is to inspire people to take better care of themselves. She has a diploma from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. You can see her articles and recipes for delicious and healthy meals in her blog Naturelita. From this interview you are going to learn why people look for the services of a nutritionist despite the abundant information in the Internet, why milk is not a good option for people suffering from calcium deficiency, what is the connection between the eating habits of Americans and the condition of their health care system and where a doctor can specialize in Nutrition.

1. Hello, Magggie! Why did you decide to study Nutrition?

I wanted to have a profession which is a convergence of all my interests - healthy eating, psychology, writing, meeting people, creative activities. I found all these things in my work as a nutritionist. I think that if a job is monotonous and there is no variety in it, I will get bored quickly. I like my work because it is connected with alternating activities. It fills me with energy and a desire to learn and to develop my skills and knowledge. The most significant thing according to me is the opportunity to convey my positive energy to other people.

2. What is the nutritionist's role? There is so much information in Internet and people can find answers to their questions there.

Yes, in Internet there is so much information that it has lost its high value. Even if a person discovers contradictory experts' opinions, he or she can filter this information and derive only this that makes sense for him/her. What really matters is the way you convey the information when you meet them and how well you motivate these people to take good care of themselves.

3. What approach do you use in your job?

My approach is holistic - I strive to help people learn what food is healthy, but also to learn to perceive their body as something invaluable and to love themselves. I teach them how to recognize their body signals and how to respond to these signals.  Taking care of yourself means not just eating the right foods but also having a rest when needed and dealing with stress successfully.

Another important thing in my approach is implementing changes in my clients' lifestyle gradually because if things happen abruptly, people will respond negatively to the changes.

4. What are the other factors, except healthy food, which contribute to a achieving the desired results?

I tell people that 50% of results deoend on what we eat and 50% depend on how we eat. My goal is to help people learn to eat mindfully.

5. What does "to eat mindfully" mean?

The majority of people eat while talking on the phone or driving. They don't feel the taste and aroma of the food. They don't feel the pleasure of eating. When we don't eat mindfully, we don't know when to stop because our mind is busy with something else. If we don't chew up our food very well, we hinder the digestion process. When we eat under stress, the blood flows to the peripheral tissues of the body which makes digestion ineffective. In fact when a person eats consciously, they don't need a big quantity of food. You can neither overeat nor feel hungry all the time.

6. What would you say to those who think that nowadays there is no chance to eat mindfully because people are so busy that they often miss the lunch break or eat while working at their desks?

I am not optimistic that things will change drastically in the outer world. I believe that people should try to do whatever possible to ensure having meals in quiet and calm surroundings and if it is not possible to have lunch in such an environment, then they should aim for at least one meal a day eaten mindfully.

7. What is your opinion about omitting breakfast? I have noticed that many people who omit breakfast are overweight.

Yes, there is such a connection. I always advise people to have breakfast. When a person eats healthily, they wake up hungry. Those who say that they don't feel hunger in the morning can be sure that there is something wrong in their eating habits and their body is dehydrated. When you omit breakfast, you omit waking up your metabolism. It is not an accident that the word "breakfast" come from "break the fast" - the body has been fasting the whole night and you have to stop the fasting.

When you omit breakfast, this is unnatural for the body and it tries to store in the fat cells as much as possible from the nutritional substances present in the food which you eat during the rest of the day. This is the reason why people omitting breakfast are usually overweight.

8. What should people eat for breakfast?

It doesn't have to be anything similar to the popular English breakfast - eggs, bacon and beans. It can be a cup of yoghurt with oats, a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit. Breakfast should correspond to your lifestyle. If your work is connected with heavy physical activity, you'd better eat a bigger quantity of food. If you spend the whole day in front of the computer, you don't need a large portion because you burn almost no calories during the day. The bottom line is that you have to have some kind of breakfast to wake up your metabolism.

9. Some people,  like me, for example, eat small portions at small intervals of time. Other people eat large portions two times a day. Which is healthier or this is something so individual that there isn't a strict rule?

Yes, it depends on the individual to a large extent. Everyone should listen to their body. However, it is important to learn how to recognize our body signals. Many people force their body to go through long periods of hunger because this seems more comfortable. They just wait till the end of the working day to give their body some food. Another example for unhealthy eating is trying to subdue a negative emotion with food even if you are not hungry. 

We really need to put our health at the beginning of our list of priorities.

Interviewer: Мariya Dim

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