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Are you looking for some expert advice and tips on health, diet and fitness? Or do you need some weight-loss inspiration to finally make a change? You’ve come to the right place!
‘Health Talk’ is an interview series where dieticians, nutritionists, wellness coaches and health bloggers talk about a myriad of subjects related to health, nutrition, fitness and weight-loss.
I got in touch with Louanne Hafner, a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and a Nutrition Consultant based in Pennsylvania. She is also the creator of Lemon Blossom Wellness, a health blog where she shares valuable information on natural health and wellness. Her goal is to educate and empower others to take control of their health. Louanne talks about her amazing journey and also sheds some light on topics like the carb controversy and many more in this fun interview.
Let’s get started!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Louanne Hafner and I’m from Scranton, PA. I have a very sweet husband of 6 months! We met in college and he has always supported my goals and dreams. Shortly after I graduated from college in 2016, I discovered the field of natural health. Since then, I have become a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner (CHHP) and a Nutrition Consultant. It’s a passion I never anticipated for myself, but I love learning more and more each day, all while improving my health. I spend all my free time outdoors – I love hiking, fishing, and wildlife photography!
What inspired you to study Nutrition?
Three years ago, I had a bit of a health scare. I was having odd symptoms and I knew something was wrong. After sending me for bloodwork, my doctor assured me that I was fine. But I wasn’t convinced. My boyfriend (now husband) was seeing a Naturopath at the time, so I went to see her. Through her non-invasive, natural methods she found that I was headed down a path toward cancer. Specifically, my lymph system needed some serious support. She recommended natural solutions such as specific changes in my diet, herbal supplements, and switching to natural products. My health completely changed with her plan – I started feeling better than I ever had. At the time I had just graduated from college with an accounting degree, but I knew I wanted to help people the way my Naturopath helped me. With her as my mentor, I began to take online classes. I have now completed three programs at the Trinity School of Natural Health, and I plan to deepen my education further.
What is the role of a Nutrition Consultant? Is there a difference between a Certified Nutritionist and a Certified Nutritional Consultant?
As a Nutrition Consultant, I have studied how our nutritional choices affect the chemistry of the body its organ systems. I’ve also studied how nutritional needs differ between men, women, children, the elderly, and those with certain medical conditions. Although I am not familiar with the specific curriculum for Certified Nutritionists, I believe they are more well-versed in creating specific diet plans. My certification is more about educating others on the importance of nutrition and why their choices matter.
Tell us about your blog, Lemon Blossom Wellness. Why did you originally create it? What is it about?
Lemon Blossom Wellness has been in the making for years, and I didn’t even know it! For the past few years, “start a blog” has been on my New Year’s Resolution list, but I never knew what to write about. After I realized how passionate I truly was about natural health, everything fell into place. Lemon Blossom Wellness is my channel to spread information that has changed my life (cheesy AF, I know!). I want my blog to empower others and help them realize that they don’t have to wait until their annual checkup to take their health into consideration. The little choices that we make are the habits that we build, and our health very much depends on them! I share information on the little changes we can make to improve our quality of life, nutrition information, and general wellness guidance. I also have a few natural quizzes that I’m super excited about, like “Which Herbal Supplement Should You Take?” and “Find Your Perfect Smoothie Recipe!” Although I just started blogging in March, I’m really excited about what I’ve learned so far and what Lemon Blossom Wellness can become!
What’s next in your career?
My next big goal is to start seeing clients one-on-one to address their health goals in a holistic, non-judgmental environment. I understand that health issues can be a topic that many are self-conscious about. It is so important to me that my clients know they are never going to be judged, no matter what we discuss in our sessions. My only focus is to look at their health objectively, like a puzzle, and never to shame or belittle them. I have just started playing around with the details of the virtual consulting programs I am going to offer, so it’s still in an early stage!
Let’s talk Nutrition!
What does ‘healthy eating’ mean to you?
The first word that comes to mind is balance. I am a firm believer that, if your favourite food is French fries, you cannot completely cut out French fries. Are they objectively good for you? No! But cutting them out completely is not realistic, and you have a better chance of being consistently healthy in the long run if you don’t completely demonize certain foods. I also believe the goal of healthy eating should be to just eat real foods as much as possible. For example, I recently looked at the ingredients in my husband’s Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches and saw high fructose corn syrup – Why would that need to be in a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich?! After seeing that I decided to start making him homemade breakfast sandwiches with real eggs and bacon. Making little changes like that and cutting down on the highly processed chemicals, to me, is a huge part of healthy eating.
What is the one nutrition-related myth that you would like to bust?
Ohh – great question! The one that instantly comes to mind is that salt is bad for you. Biologically speaking, without salt we would die. With that said, salt has a bad reputation. This is because so many common food items are overly processed, and that often involves a lot of salt. By default, a large number of people consume too much of it and are told by their doctors to cut back. Upon hearing this advice, many believe salt is inherently bad. Not true! It’s the processed junk “food” that contains an obnoxious amount of salt that’s the true enemy, not the salt itself.
According to you, what are the three foods that should be avoided at all costs?
I don’t believe in truly cutting out any food completely. However, I will definitely give three recommendations to highly limit!
First, and this won’t be a popular recommendation, is orange juice. I think this is a sneaky one because many people view it as part of a good breakfast. However, the sugar level it contains is just not good. I would recommend taking it out of your morning routine and viewing it more as a treat for a special occasion (Can you say mimosas??).
Second would be highly processed “meats” like bologna, sausage, or hot dogs. To tell the truth, these items gross me out, but I know they are very appetizing to many – my dad could eat bologna every day! Despite how your taste buds feel, the additives in these products are the best reason to stay away from them.
Finally, I would recommend staying away from store-bought salad dressings. If you are having a salad, it’s likely that you are trying to support your health with a healthy serving of vegetables. However, when you top those veggies with store-bought salad dressings, you are adding in highly processed oils (don’t get me started on canola oil) and sometimes even high fructose corn syrup – no thanks! Mixing together a little oil and vinegar and adding herbs isn’t too much of a hassle, and it’s definitely worth it to avoid the alternative.
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in recent years. Are they really that bad?
Say it with me… Carbs are not evil! So many fad diets rely on drastically reducing one’s carbohydrate intake. By the way – stay away from those fad diets. However, I believe that knowing your carbs is more important than cutting them. Simple and complex are some buzzwords that you may see when doing carbohydrate research. A donut would be an example of simple carbs. Eating a donut would give you a quick burst of energy and a crash, all while providing zero nutritional benefit. Oats are an example of complex carbohydrates. They provide a much more sustainable energy source, while also providing beneficial nutrients. The key is to know which carbs to include for the best energy and nutrient support.
Let’s talk about fats. We know that trans fats are the worst type of fats but, there’s a huge controversy over saturated fat too. Is it unhealthy?
I do not see saturated fats as unhealthy altogether, as natural fats are always a better option than processed, manmade fats. It’s important to note that coconut oil is actually a saturated fat and, as many know, it has some amazing health benefits. For someone who lives a relatively healthy life and does not have any medical conditions, I believe saturated fats are okay in moderation. When we are looking at someone with circulatory or heart issues, that’s when we may want to discuss what percentage of their diet is made up of saturated fats.
What are ‘healthy fats’? What’s the best way to incorporate them into your diet?
I give you permission to laugh at me for my following statement: I am passionate about healthy fats! Unsaturated fats are typically thought of as the healthy ones. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a polyunsaturated fat, supports brain development and neurological function, whereas eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is important in cardiovascular function. I just love that healthy fats are important across all organ systems. A great way to ensure you are consuming enough healthy fat is to incorporate cold water, fatty fish in your diet. If you’re like me and you don’t like fish, you also have some other options. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax, avocados, and olives are all good sources for healthy fats. You can also take a cod liver oil supplement.
Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in the body. What are the common signs and symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies?
Yes, definitely! It’s important to be aware of common signs of deficiency:
Dry hair, dry eyes, yeast infections, and trouble seeing in the dark are signs you may need more vitamin A. Good sources would be sweet potatoes, eggs, carrots, and sunflower seeds.
Deficiency in vitamin B can be characterized by memory loss, weakness, fatigue, headaches, hair loss, and dizziness. Be sure to increase your intake of leafy green veggies, salmon, whole grains, and avocados to get more vitamin B.
If you have achy joints, shortness of breath or your wounds take a while to heal, you may be low on vitamin C. Berries, citrus fruits, cabbage, parsley, and green peppers can help you increase your intake of vitamin C.
Iodine is important to support a healthy thyroid, a commonly imbalanced gland. Signs of iodine deficiency include weight gain, swollen salivary glands, fatigue, depression, and cold hands and feet. To increase iodine, eat more seeds, saltwater fish, lima beans, kelp, and garlic.
Magnesium is vital across all organ systems, so it’s one we want to pay attention to. Insomnia, poor digestion, irritability, and anxiety can all be signs of low magnesium. If you find you need to increase your intake, make sure to eat dairy, peaches, bananas, leafy greens, and watermelon. Herbs such as alfalfa, chamomile, chickweed are also good sources.
Iron is an essential mineral that can be toxic in larger doses. How much iron does an average adult need per day? What are the best sources of dietary iron?
Iron is actually one of the top mineral deficiencies worldwide. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 8mg for men and 18 mg for women per day. It increases to 27mg for a woman if she is pregnant, as her body needs to make extra blood. Eggs, liver, lean meat, and whole grains are the best sources of dietary iron.
Can supplements make up for a poor diet?
Although I am a supporter of herbal supplements, I believe firmly that they cannot make up for a poor diet. I also believe that exercise cannot make up for a poor diet. Although it may be able to prevent weight gain from a poor diet, the internal, biological effects cannot be out-exercised. Ultimately, eating for health is key, and there are no quick fixes.
Finally, if you could give the readers a piece of advice regarding health and nutrition, what would it be?
My advice would be to take your plan one step at a time. For example, if you are working to become a vegan for health purposes, don’t cut out meat, cheese, and butter all at once. If you want to decrease your sugar intake, don’t cut out all sweets.
One. Step. At. A. Time. This patience will help you stick with your plan and be consistent in the pursuit of your health goals. Instead of beating yourself up for the steps you have yet to take, be proud of yourself for the steps you have already taken.
And, that’s a wrap! Thank you very much, Louanne for being a part of ‘Health Talk’. This was so much fun. Wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.
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