At the tender age of 13, I found out about a familial link to colon cancer, and was so impacted by the news that I immediately went to work on my diet. I decided to transition to a plant-based way of eating, which would end up becoming a 15-year journey throughout various iterations of vegetarianism, everything from vegan and gluten-free to pescatarian and dairy-free, and a least a few of my own creations in between.
Although each one of those diets provided its own powerful learning experience and growth opportunities for me personally, physically, and as a nutritionist, I have finally arrived at my very own version of eating; one which does not include a label.
After 15-years on a plant-based diet, obsessively researching food of all kinds, I have finally arrived at a healthy, satisfying relationship with food. I've learned to eat intuitively -- giving my body exactly what it needs, and not being judgmental about it.
The years I’ve spent mastering the art of a truly satisfying plant-based diet have taught me how to feel completely satiated and balanced, how to provide my body with all of the essential nutrients it needs to thrive, and how to make it easy and fun. Now I want to help make it work for others, too, with various needs and in all different stages of life.
I am absolutely thrilled to have finally found my "sweet spot" among a world of endless options, and I want to encourage my clients and readers to develop their own plan of eating, too. One that makes them feel whole, alive and well. Not one that makes them feel confined, restricted, judged, or limited.
(Can you tell? I'm a little anti-diet minded.)
In 2008 I attended CSUSM in sunny San Diego, California for a B.S. degree in Kinesiology, with an emphasis in Health Science. Following graduation, I was hungry for more, and enrolled in T. Colin Campbell's Plant-Based Nutrition program via Cornell University, a 12-week certification program all about the correlations between the way we eat and our risk for chronic disease.
Upon completion, I knew it wouldn't be long until I applied for a Master's Degree program, and soon after arrived at NUNM in Portland, Oregon in the early summer of 2016. I was drawn to this program for its farm-to-table emphasis, functional food / food as medicine background, and strong ties to the naturopathic medical community.
It was there, in that speck of time, that my light truly began to shine. In the kitchen, surrounded by healers, talking about food, health, self-care, community, and education all day long. I had found my happy place.
During my studies in Portland, I volunteered with "Taking Care Portland," a local cancer survivorship program. I learned to cook large-scale meals for groups of cancer patients, survivors, and their families who would come to our events in search of community and healing. We would educate them in between courses about the ingredients used, their effect on the physiological processes related directly and indirectly to cancer care, and how they could incorporate them into a part of daily life at home.
Towards the end of my degree, I accepted an internship with the Brian Grant Foundation, a non-profit organization advocating for research and education about Parkinson's Disease, and specifically the relationship between the disease and food.
By this time I had already known that certain foods either promote or soothe inflammation, but through my internship studies, I learned specifically which foods exasperate the symptoms of PD, and which foods suppress them. I also learned that eating for brain health should begin at an early age.
It suddenly shocked me -- people (including doctors!) don't often know what to feed someone with a neurological disorder....or someone with almost any other common disease, for that matter.
Most importantly, I learned that food has a much greater purpose than delivering us energy to survive... It can provide us with all of the nutrients we need to thrive.
I believe whole-heartedly in the miraculous power of food. It transforms the human body and experience. It is social, emotional, familial, and physiological. Our health and wellness depends on it, yet most of us have no idea how to eat to thrive, or why we should.
My mission is to help close that information gap.
As a student of the sciences, I have also always been referred to as a “creative,” and my artistic outlet of choice is photography. With this business, I decided to marry my two loves, and create a space where I can share beautiful photos of food and experiences as well as write about the nutrition topics that can benefit our lives.
From my plate to yours,
Leesa Morales, M.S.