The Power of Nutrition
I can't quite recall the day that our paths crossed, but at some point I received a lovely comment from @nutritionsprout (a.k.a. Caitlin Fay Smith) on one of my Instagram posts, and I was compelled to take a look at her feed. I came across this post, where Caitlin shared a beautiful message of hope that resonated with me:
"I've gone back and forth about whether to post this or not and I admit this is a brave post but one that I hope encourages even just one person on their healing journey (whatever that means to you). Our bodies have an incredible potential to heal with the right emotional and physical support. I also originally created @nutritionsprout with the intention of sharing positive wellness and creating a platform of honesty and self-love. THE POWER OF NUTRITION : This was me a year ago and this is my skin now: It has been a journey but I wouldn't have learnt as much as I have about myself had I not had this season in my life. I maybe wouldn't have pulled closer to God and I certainly wouldn't have learnt what it means to appreciate oneself (still a daily lesson of mine) as well as learn great respect for the power of whole foods. I still have tough days but it has taught me to not be fearful but have faith and believe in the body's ability to heal. My respect for the power of food has grown immensely, since seeing the change in my own healing just through nutrition (no BCP or Roaccutane) and I am so excited to continue to learn and share."
It was encouraging to see someone who, despite the challenges that she had faced, did not give up hope but rather chose to believe in the body's amazing ability to heal when it is nourished with whole foods and supported by the right emotional and physical support. Not only are her food photographs beautifully styled and shot, but in amongst her photos you'll also find words of encouragement, nutrition-related resources, and snippets of her own testimony and her journey with food as medicine. I decided to ask her if she would like to be featured as a #gamechanger here on Taste & See and thankfully she was more than happy to share a bit of her story, as well as some beautiful photos, here on the blog :)
So, can you tell us a bit about who you are?
Hello, my name is Caitlin Fay Smit. I am currently completing my certification as an integrative nutrition health coach. This is a fairly new concept in South Africa, but very big in America, Canada and Australia and I'm excited to see how health coaching is going to grow within South Africa as well, adding a whole new level to wellness and the health care system. When I am not developing recipes or studying I love spending my time creating, be it photographing, writing or whatever else brings stillness. Family is very important to me, I love being in nature, I'm an advocate for kindness, whole foods and keeping nutrition simple but appealing.
What triggered your personal journey with food, health, and healing your body naturally?
I had a very sudden onset of adult acne at the late age of 25. Growing up on a farm I have always had an interest in food, however, it was never with as much appreciation and passion as I have developed over the last 4 years and this is largely (with gratitude) due to my challenges with adult acne and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In seeking answers I felt a sense of frustration with conventional medicine, as answer after answer my options were always the same. The birth control pill or Roaccutane to 'clear my acne' and then there was a host of other prescriptions I was offered for my polycystic ovarian syndrome. Conventional medicine has a very important place in our healthcare system, however for root cause I don't always believe it should be the first answer. All of this never sat well in my heart and I was convinced that since my body fell out of balance that there must also be a way to get it back to balance and find the root cause of what was causing my acne and PCOS. I turned to food as medicine.
Has your journey inspired you to do anything you never thought you'd do?
My journey was exactly that, a journey. A myriad of different roads but all of them kept taking me back to wanting to know more about my body, food, and a holistic approach. This lead me to want to study, I searched for a course that was going to not only give me access to nutrition knowledge but also an understanding of self and how to support myself on a whole (I didn't know if such a course even existed). This is when I stumbled upon an online school known as IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) and the rest is history :)
What are your top tips for staying healthy (physically, emotionally, and mentally)?
- Move often but move mindfully, sometimes less is more. It's important for us to be active but it doesn't always mean killing ourselves in the gym. I try to listen to how I feel that day and sometimes a walk in nature is more sustainable and nourishing for my body or some restorative yoga. It's all about being aware of how you feel that day.
- I am an emotional person, I find that the best way to support this is to make time for stillness often (either by listening to music I enjoy, reading a book, writing or getting into nature with my husband). We all have the intuitive knowing of what makes us feel most supported, it's just about starting to recognise such things. It's a muscle we strengthen.
- Mentally, I would say that this is pretty tied into the other two, the physical and emotional. These elements of ourselves all flow into each other and I feel that if we are moving consciously, eating mindfully, getting good sleep, spending time with those we love, and doing things that support us then we can lead a balanced, healthy and happy life.
What is your favourite go-to meal after a busy day?
Roast veggies with a sprinkle of cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil - honestly this is the easiest and most satisfying meal if you've had a busy day. It takes a quick chop off some vegetables and then simply pop in the oven and put your feet up. This can then be paired with anything your little heart desires: it can be placed on a bed of rocket with a dollop of hummus on top, it can be eaten just as is with a squeeze of lemon, it can be mixed with a little bit of pesto or into some pasta. I'm a huge fan of a simple but delicious whole food meal.
What is your favourite recreational activity? What do you enjoy doing to wind down?
Walking in nature with my husband, hands down the best way to restore my tired bones and mind!
Do you have any tips or advice for others who are struggling with hormone imbalance?
This is a big one and I could talk for ages about this one but in short ... Don't give up. There are answers if you seek them. My quick key points are:
- Support your liver.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods to support your gut, like kimchi, sauerkraut and fermented vegetables.
- Support your adrenals. Drink less coffee, get more sleep, stop glorifying being busy. Resortation and rest are so important for hormonal health.
- Consider your diet: how much sugar you consume, how much caffeine you drink, how much sleep you're getting, how you manage your stress, If you're over exercising and under nourishing,
- Are you adding to your toxic load through the products you use/eat? Often these products (household, cosmetic, foods) contain chemicals that just add to our body's already hard working detoxification system and when you are struggling hormonally I believe that our liver needs all the support it can get. Choose clean products.
I am very passionate about the power food and our body's healing abilities. Health is really about tending to all aspects of ourselves and I really can't wait to share more of my journey with women as I support them in finding their own personal balance. Our health is as much influenced by what we put on our plate as by what is happening in our external lives as well.