An Interview With Our Nutritionist- Anna Hammalian

I get the opportunity to introduce you to our Nutritionist today! Anna has been a lifesaver for our family starting us on the road to better health, and keeping us on track along the way. I asked her a few questions so she can explain in her own words what she does. One of the questions is on the GAPS diet, which you can learn more about HERE.

annaPhoto by: D’Avello Photography

Anna Hammalian attended Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, CA where she completed rigorous training in the school of Nutrition and Dietetics. The program concentrated in the areas of nutritional science, medical nutrition therapy, community nutrition, food production and administration of food service operations, chemistry, physiology, plus a variety of supporting coursework in related disciplines. She achieved her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics in June of 2009. Anna received her certification as a Board Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) from the Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc. (NTA) in 2010. This training has given her the ability and knowledge to specialize in digestive health, blood sugar management, heart health, and hormone balance using Nutritional Therapy.

Anna is also among the few health care advocates that are Certified GAPS practitioner. As a certified GAPS Practitioner, she works closely with children and adults with Autism ADD, ADHD, Asthma, Allergies, Schizophrenia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, autoimmune disorders and much more. Through Diet, Detoxification and Supplementation Anna has seen beautiful transformations in her clients while healing through the GAPS program.

Q: What exactly is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner?
A: A Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) addresses nutrition from a holistic perspective. An NTP offers a clear alternative to the grain-based, low-fat nightmare that is the official diet of America. NTP’s address weaknesses in the body’s physiological foundations brought on by poor nutrition.  The alternative I offer goes beyond just diet and exercise, offering customized and highly effective natural approaches to each client’s specific needs. Nutritional Therapy can be applied to all areas of health, including: weight management, constipation, IBS, gallbladder problems, acid reflux disease, hormone health, infertility support, autism, depression, mood disorders, athletic performance, allergies/asthma, endocrine support and so much more! We strive to reverse the tragic and unsuspected effect of the modern diet for our clients. We also teach the importance of properly prepared whole foods that are delicious, nourish our bodies, and restore good health.

Q: What made you become a NTP? 
A: After working as a clinical dietitian while attending Loma Linda University I saw the need for more answers. Telling my patients to eat low-fat foods, 6 servings of adulterated grains per day, soy, and sugar-free foods was making the disease process worse. I saw patients decline at even faster rates. I sought out a few of my mentors in the medical field and nutrition field who are holistic oriented; to get a clearer understanding of healing with whole foods and natural remedies as opposed to the food guide pyramid and pharmaceuticals. As soon as I completed my degree at Loma Linda University  and came out from under the food industries umbrella, I started the NTP program and not only did my life change for the better, but every client I come across has a new and clearer perspective of real nutrition and its healing benefits!

Q: What kind of services do you offer?
A: Where Western medicine focuses on treating symptoms, Nutritional Therapy stresses a root cause approach to health. As a Nutritional Therapy practitioner, there are a variety of evaluation methods and techniques used, including a complete review of a client’s health and diet history, a 3-Day Food journal, and a through evaluation of the individual’s nutritional weakness in the body, utilizing the hands-on Functional Evaluation. Each individual possess different nutrient deficiencies, different toxic burdens, different eating habits, and different physiological functions. Therefore, each person needs a customized nutrition plan that will yield quick results.  Through carefully designed bio-individual dietary, lifestyle and supplement recommendations Nutritional Therapy promotes optimal health; along with advice and tips for adequate hydration, rest, and stress management. This will effectively balance body chemistry, and reduce, or even eliminate dysfunction. I also offer group workshops and seminars on educational topics regarding real food nutrition, detoxification, healing the gut and brain through the GAPS Nutritional Program, preconception nutrition and hormone balancing.

Other services:
  • Detailed client history via written intake form and lengthy personal interview
  • Blood chemistry analysis, optional
  • Comprehensive three-day stool analysis, optional
  • Salivary hormone testing, optional
  • Hair mineral analysis, optional
  • Other specialty testing analysis available

Q: GAPS is not well-known, why did you become a GAPS Certified Practitioner?
A: We live in a world of unfolding epidemics. Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD), Schizophrenia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder and other neuropsychological and psychiatric problems in children and young adults are becoming more and more common. I have been practicing the GAPS for the last 2 years, but decided to become certified so doctors don’t think I am crazy. Well, they still do; however, it enables me to work in a clinical setting guiding families through the program.

Q: What are 3 things you wish everyone would change about their nutrition?
A: 1. Eat real butter
2. Cook at home
3. Cut grain and sugar intake by half

Q: If someone wants to make a nutritional change what is the first thing they should do?
A: Look to the Weston A. Price Foundation website to help one understand the truth about whole food.

Q: What is the difference between therapeutic supplements and store-bought vitamins/supplements?
A: Pure, therapeutic remedies/supplements contain the total complex family of micronutrients (just as they are found in nature) with a potency that is highly effective. These micronutrients are indispensable for proper vitamin absorption and maximum utilization. Most stores are not allowed to carry therapeutic supplements because a health practitioner must dose them according to the bio-individuality of each person. This is to your benefit considering you might have to go through several bottles of a store-bought vitamin D vs. going through only 1 bottle of a therapeutic vitamin D given to you by your nutritionist.
Are the ingredient’s vital factors retained? The manufacturing process of store-bought products has been handled poorly and exposed to an undue amount of chemicals.  Along with the added toxic substances, supplements undergo high-heat treatment, which destroys enzymes and phytonutrients that are vital for your health; not to mention the reason you bought that particular product. Supplement manufacturers often add in a variety of fillers to their vitamin and mineral supplements for numerous reasons:
  1. Easier and faster production
  2. More appealing to the eye (colorants)
  3. Easier to swallow (coatings)

Could that supplement you bought be harmful? Don’t be fooled by “organic” or “natural.” Look at the ingredients listed on the label. Can you pronounce them and do you recognize them? Common chemicals and toxic substances found in most supplements that you can buy from health food stores, pharmacies and grocery stores are listed below:

  • FD&C Red #40 Lake, FD&C Blue #2 (links to cancer, ADD, ADHD, headaches and allergies/asthma)
  • Hydrogenated oils (encourages heart problems, strokes, nervous system problems, block the absorption of essential fatty acids, upset blood sugar regulation and more)
    • Soy (high levels of phytic acid that reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women. Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D).
    • Gluten (causes inflammation, intestinal damage, heartburn, constipation, and headaches)
    • Corn starch (headaches, gastrointestinal damage, allergies and much more)
    • Sugar (blood sugar irregularities, headaches, obesity, tooth decay and much more)

These preservatives and chemicals are stored in the liver. Your liver is your largest detoxifying organ. Keep it clean so it can do its job of detoxifying on a daily basis. Just like a recipe, the quality of the ingredients you use affects the quality of the final product. The final product being your health!

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: I have two!
1. Educating people about what real food is, and how we can find true healing and joy from eating the foods which we are designed to eat!
2. Hearing about the leaps and bounds of improvement in my client’s health. When I hear, “My doctor let me stop all my meds.” I am satisfied!

To learn even more (or to contact her) visit her website at www.selahwellness.net

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Watermelon Margaritas

These were by far the most delicious thing I have put in my mouth since we started The Food Plan! I know, I know… alcohol is not technically permitted on The Food Plan, but it is one of the things that Mike and I were unwilling to give up completely [see my post on Happily Ever After to see why]. We have cut back quite a bit though. I need to share the deliciousness, so you can enjoy these too!

Watermelon Margaritas

3 cups fresh seedless watermelon pulp
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (8-10 limes)
1 1/2 cups simple syrup made with honey (see below)
1 1/2 cups 100% agave tequila
1/2 cup cointreau

Put watermelon in a bowl and use a potato masher to smash into pulp. You want to get as much juice out as possible, and you don’t want any large chunks. It makes it a little bit harder to drink. I like the smaller nuggets for snacking on when my beverage is gone. (I also eat the fruit from the bottom of my sangria). Transfer your pulp and juice to a pitcher. Don’t worry about picking out any seeds you do find in your melon, unless you are really anti-seed. Add lime juice, simple syrup, tequila and cointreau. Stir. Refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum. Serve over ice.

Simple Syrup

Honey is so much better for us than processed sugars. We use it as our primary sweetener now, actually our only sweetener. Some people are getting on the agave train, and while that is better than some of the other sweeteners, it is still around 90% fructose. So while that debate rages on, we use honey. The following simple syrup recipe is from my Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet cookbook by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass. As a side note this is my favorite cookbook at the moment, because of the ease of recipes and the variety. It makes delicious foods we can substitute for the favorites we are missing.. like muffins, and bread, and pizza!

1/2 cup water
1 cup raw organic honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Heat water over medium heat. Add honey just before boiling. Stir well until combined. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and let cool.

This syrup can also be served on pancakes, waffles, or crepes. Keep refrigerated, but serve warm.