Growing up, I was always fascinated by mixing up my own potions and lotions. My parents had to put labels on every container in our fridge because pouring a glass of “juice” always turned out to be a surprise. You never knew if you were going to actually get a glass of orange juice or rather a fermented concoction of green mucky herbs.
Upon finishing elementary school, I moved to Italy with my parents, where I attended high school. My dad always suffered daily from multiple health ailments while living in Canada, but seemed to feel his very best when we would take our annual summer vacation to his hometown in Southern Italy. Years later, I discovered that his daily walks by the ocean played a crucial role in bettering many of his health imbalances due to the abundance of iodine rich air he was exposing himself to which is responsible for regulating the thyroid. The iodine in the ocean enters the air through the crashing of waves. Once in the air, the iodine particles combine with water and enter our bodies when we breathe. It also makes its way into the nearby soil, land and vegetation. This is also a contributing factor as to why people living close to oceans have better health and live much longer.
Making my shift into adulthood in another country far away from family and friends, wasn't necessarily an easy transition, especially when the only sure company I was guaranteed was the dreaded and unwanted kind. The kind of company that completely depleted me of the little self-esteem I had left during that time of my life. I’m talking about every teenager's nightmare – Acne. Some days I would die of heat simply because I would wear long sleeved shirts during the warmer months in an attempt to cover up the inflamed red spots on my back and arms.
Looking back on this time, I remember spending the whole first year re-evaluating my diet, lifestyle, cleanliness and skin care routine in hopes to draw a conclusion as to why this was happening and how I could fix it. During my visit back to Canada, I decided to book an appointment with my family doctor to get his opinion.
My doctor’s immediate recommendation was to start taking the birth control pill. I couldn't believe my ears – I was only fourteen years old and back then I didn't know all the information I know now. But I did know that oral contraceptives were synthetic hormone’s which overtime disrupt the natural way our hormones are meant to function and interact with one another. I now know that such choices could indeed be the precursor for many of the so-called “mystery illnesses” that I see in my practice today as a holistic practitioner. In fact, one of the major reasons as to why I got involved in this industry was because I was on a quest to seek answers to my health-related questions and I will be using this platform to share my findings with you so that we could all benefit.
"One of the major reasons as to why I got involved in this industry was because I was on a quest to seek answers to my health-related questions and I will be using this platform to share my findings with you so that we could all benefit"
I wasn't pleased with my doctor's band-aid solution for my acne. I knew that synthetic hormones were not the solution for the root cause of the issue on hand. Luckily, I came across a dermatologist in Italy who recommended that I try two gentle, naturally derived remedies made of oatmeal and rice milk. Much to my surprise, within two weeks my skin began to heal.
During this period, I learned that the underlying cause of acne is always inflammation and I went on a mission to figure out what was triggering this response. Was it food related? Hormonal? Emotional? Mental? Hungry for answers, I began to experiment. I eliminated some of the traditional inflammatory foods such as gluten and dairy and noticed an even bigger difference in my skin. However, the biggest change for me was when I learned the principles of Ayurveda – the ancient Indian science of life.
Ayurveda’s view on the occurrence of acne is due to a “pitta (fire)” imbalance. Ayurveda categorizes people, food, and even illness by which dosha (energy) is most dominant. There are three: Kapha (water + earth), Pitta (fire + water), Vata (air + space). After finding out that I am a Pitta/Vata constitution, I learned that acne is a very clear pitta imbalance. Pitta foods such as pepper, tomatoes, dairy and vinegar were found in typical Italian dishes, and I was consuming many of these foods frequently. I knew I had to make dietary and lifestyle changes in order to prevent my skin from becoming more inflamed. It was at this point that I realized I needed to take all contributing aspects into consideration – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
After applying this concept and finally seeing results, I concluded that the human body cannot fully heal simply by focusing on its component parts alone, but rather, it's the system as a whole which determines collectively how the parts behave.
It was thanks to my acne that my passion for health and wellness sparked. Living in Italy truly allowed me to nurture this passion in the most holistic way possible as the small town that I grew up in still believed in using natural remedies, herbs, and homemade tinctures for healing. Most of Italy’s soil is still rich with minerals such as fulvic acid, which has been heavily depleted in North American soil over the years due to chemical alterations. The ocean is filled with healing salt and an overabundance of iodine to make everyone's thyroid happy, and the people packed with sunlight and radiance. This country is a huge part of what has shaped me to be who I am and where I am today. It has given me a different perspective on health and life, and I want nothing more than to share that wisdom so I can help others.
"This country is a huge part of what has shaped me to be who I am and where I am today. It has given me a different perspective on health and life, and I want nothing more than to share that wisdom so I can help others."
Upon returning to Canada, I attended York University and earned my degree in Health Studies. I dedicated the last two years to taking prerequisite courses to become a registered nurse. I knew that I wanted a career where I could help people, especially people that were sick so, at the time, nursing seemed to the best option for me. However, things took a turn when I began research on aspects of the Canadian health care system that could be improved. I decided to look into the food the patients were being served since a big part of my job would have required me to feed them – I wanted to know exactly what they were putting into their body. I really didn't understand how; Jell-O, Gatorade, canned soup, and microwave ready corn was going to nourish the ill.
This infuriated me and made me begin to question if I wanted to be the person feeding their illness. Instead of helping these patients heal, I felt I was contributing to their ailment more than anything.
I decided to forgo a different path soon after I came across the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. After attending an interview with one of the program advisors and learning more about what the program had to offer I knew I was on the right path. Their mission was in alignment with everything I've ever believed in. Every course in the program integrated and honored the physical, emotional, environmental and spiritual aspects of an individual’s life. I was finally learning to use food as medicine instead of pharmaceuticals.
After completing training at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, I decided to further pursue my dream and opened up my own holistic practice - Naturally Elisa. Throughout my practice, I am dedicated to helping my clients return their bodies to a balanced state using holistically based treatments and nutritional programs. At Naturally Elisa, I strive to promote the body’s natural healing ability. I believe that we were all meant to thrive in our lives and that is what I aim to do every day. Living in Italy taught me how to dream. Returning to Canada helped me bring my dreams to life. Everything I learned throughout my journey allowed me to heal myself and now I want help you heal.