North Kingstown’s Katie McDonald has been studying health and wellness for 25 years. At one time she had some serious health issues including severe asthma, ulcerative colitis, shingles and lung infections. After an overhaul of eating habits and lifestyle changes she is now happy and healthy, running a lifestyle program called bnourished, and she’s shared some of her advice here.
What is bnourished?
bnourished is a program that I run to help people make positive, healthy changes in their lifestyles, starting with the food they eat. I try to have a deep understanding of each of my clients because the program can vary so much depending on the nature of the person, their current health, diet and happiness. Everyone is striving for nourishment and a lot of people today try to find it through convenience and junk food rather than cultivating nourishing rituals, such as tea. I tell all of my clients to have tea at least once a day, because it forces you to sit down among your busy schedule and just be peaceful for at least a few minutes with a cup of tea. Not many people realize how much of a difference that can make in your mood. By the time people come to me they are done, and they are suffering. They’ve probably tried all of the easy-ways-out and every get-healthy-quick scheme, but the truth is that no prepackaged food or diet pill can even substitute a healthy lifestyle. I try to get my clients actively engaged.
What are some of your inspirations for helping others?
So many people are ready to accept a low level of health. I have people who come in and will tell me that they just need a little tweaking, but they’re on six daily medications. I cured myself of disease through eating well, and I was just amazed at those results. At the time, a friend of mine owned an acupuncture clinic, and I found myself just oozing with envy, which I soon realized was because I wanted to help people heal, and it became so clear that I could do that through food.
If you had to prepare a healthy meal for yourself in 15 minutes, what would you make?
Salads are a great meal, especially when time is limited, because you can add almost anything to it, and you’re starting with fresh greens, which are very important to good health. I would make a simple dressing, whatever greens I have on hand, and maybe some ginger and some legumes such as peas. It really is that simple to make a healthy meal.
Do you advocate the use of locally grown food in your clients’ diets?
Of course. I introduce my clients to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and I often take them on field trips to farmer’s markets to shop for fresh vegetables. Casey Farm is right down the street from here, and every year they hold a festival called Tomato Day, which is just a celebration of the many varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Every year I participate in that by demonstrating a raw vegan recipe at the festival. Local food is as fresh and nutritious as it gets.
I’ve read through the recipes on your website and found that they all focus on simplicity and letting the flavors of ingredients speak for themselves. Is that a philosophy that you’ve always had about the food you cook?
Absolutely. I believe that mother nature knows what she’s doing, and my job is to get out of the way. So much flavor and nutrition comes from vegetables picked fresh and left as close to that state as possible. I like to think of food in the same way that Michelangelo thought about sculptures. He would always say that the sculpture was already within the block of marble, and all he was doing was trimming off the excess to reveal the beauty within.
What is one simple tip that you can give our readers to improve their diet? I think a good first step is greens. Eat lots of greens, and a variety of different ones. Pretty soon, your body will feel the changes that nutrient-rich foods make on your health and you’ll start craving more healthy food instead of junk food. It’s amazing that it works, but it really does. I’m always amazed by people’s abilities to make a complete lifestyle change and become healthy and happy.