Our chat with Brittany Darling | Nutritionist & Herbalist of Wholefood Healing, Author, Wife & Mama
Tell us how did journey to Wholefood Healing begin?
My journey to becoming a nutritionist started as a teenager. I suffered from gut issues which my mum took me to see a gastroenterologist for, and then finally to see a naturopath. The naturopath was able to resolve all my issues through diet and herbs. Seeing a naturopath, lit a tiny light in my heart! I chipped away at my nutrition and herbal medicine studies and opened Wholefood Healing straight out of university when I was in my early 20’s. I rented a room at Ovvio as my mentor at the time was Anthia. I gradually grew my client base and then created my own space. It has on occasion been a one step forward, two steps back because of the reality of having 2 kids. But now they are both at school and I’m growing the business I always have dreamt of.
Author of e-books Starting Solids and Preconception Nutrition, what motivated you to write about these particular subjects?
When my son Leonard was starting solids, the National Health and Medical Research Council infant feeding guidelines had recently changed. It was now recommended to starting solids between 4-6 months and to introduce allergenic foods (vs avoidance). This was something I only knew because I was in the industry. The published books I read didn’t reflect this new information nor did they align with my wholefood philosophy. Everything just felt very dated. There were a few amazing books I read, including Feeding Baby Green by Alan Greene and Louise Fullerton-Keats Cooking for Your Baby and Toddler. It took me a good 4 years to write Starting Solids and by the time I published it, I had my second child and plenty of first-hand experience. What motivated me was the ability to give other mums the most recent up to date information, in an easily digestible (no pun intended!!) way and as an instant download to be viewed on any device. There is a 6-month e-learning course in the pipeline so stay tuned for that! The motivation for A Holistic Guide to Preconception and Pregnancy started in clinic. I see a lot of children with food allergies, eczema, gut issues; including reflux, constipation, toddler diarrhoea, sleep and behavioural issues. The list really does go on! When a child comes to see me, I always ask mum, what was their health prior and during pregnancy like? How was the birth? Were there feeding issues? Was breast feeding able to be established? How long was the child breastfed for? Did the baby have colic? Etc. What I have come to realise is that so many of these issues I see in clinic, to some degree are modifiable with preconception and pregnancy care. It really is a case of genetics, load the gun and the environment pulls the trigger. That’s why a large proportion of the new eBook is dedicated to preconception care through nutrition and environmental medicine. It’s about ensuring the optimal nutritional status of the mother, which in turn provides the building blocks to support foetal growth and development, reduces the instance of childhood eczema, food allergies and ultimately supports the health of the whole family.
As well as being a practitioner, you’re a contributing author to popular magazines and a go-to nutrition expert for several brands – if that doesn’t sound busy enough, we hear you are also about to release a new e-book. Can you share with us some details?
This eBook started as a single page of bullet points that I would run my preconception clients through. It was brief but it helped jog my memory of all the important nutritional and environmental factors to guide them to better health and ultimately optimal pregnancy outcomes. Oh, how it has grown! I’ve been working with Elle Lynn, a Byron Bay based designer to create something really beautiful and inspiring. I decided to write a more comprehensive preconception and pregnancy eBook because there was nothing out there that encompassed all aspects of preconception and fertility, from a holistic and food as medicine perspective. It doesn’t matter if you have or haven’t started trying or are on your IVF journey, this guide is all about getting you (and your partner) to your healthiest and most fertile. I am a strong advocate for the holistic approach which incorporates evidence based nutritional, environmental and lifestyle factors, alongside the medical model for supporting the best opportunity for preconception and healthy pregnancy.
As a practitioner, what do you find are the most common health concerns people come to you for?
I see both adults and children and the most common concerns I see in clinic are gut, immune and neurological issues.
As Mum to two little ones, what’s your approach to providing wholesome nutrition? And are there any foods that you avoid within the home?
We absolutely don’t drink soft drink or cordial. But I’m pretty relaxed about occasional treats. I always just ensure we choose the best quality available. Eg. Artisan gelato, homemade cakes and biscuits, and my kids favourite pizza with a really good quality long fermented dough. Day to day, I make sure my kids are getting enough vegetables to ensure adequate fibre, prebiotics and of course vitamins + minerals intakes. I put vegetable sticks in lunch boxes, give as after school snacks as well as hidden in baking or dinners (spag bol or rissoles). The next most important thing is that they are getting enough protein and iron. They will often have nuts (also a good source of calcium) after school and the centre of a meal is always some kind of protein (be it animal or plant). I, fortunately, don’t need to worry about fruit. My kids love it. I actually have to hide it from them! I find if I focus on these two elements of their diet, almost all their nutritional requirements are taken care of. Of course, there is also fermented foods, wholegrains and healthy fats which typically appear at each meal too.
As the months begin to get cooler, what are your tips for creating nutritious winter breakfasts for kids and packing hearty winter lunch options?
I cannot think of anything more nourishing and warming than porridge. Oats are a great source of fibre, prebiotics and complex carbohydrates. Add some nuts, seeds or activated buckwheat for protein and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Otherwise scrambled eggs are always a winner and eggs are basically natures multivitamin. They are a great source of choline which is super important for kids developing brains. My kids love their thermos. In winter I pack them rice noodles in chicken broth or miso soup for lunch. Toasted sandwiches are also a favourite of my kids and are usually a weekend treat. I add graded zucchini and sliced mushrooms along with an organic cheese to wholegrain bread. I feel like I should be giving you more inspiring and inventive ideas, but to be honest, we eat simple, quick but nutritious foods.
Can you describe your parenting style?
Ha! I have actually never been asked this nor have I ever thought about it. I guess if “learn as you go” was an approach? My kids attend a Montessori school, so I suppose I adopt their philosophy of “help the child, help themselves”.
Do you feel that motherhood changed you?
Yes, I think I don’t sweat the small stuff as much and I’m so much more productive. Either productive or sleeping less…
How do you find balance between motherhood and work? Any tips to creating balance?
Be present. Don’t mash tasks. My husband is very supportive of my work and my mum and sister are always on speed dial for emergency babysitting. The best thing I ever did was move my clinic to the studio above my garage at home. It has saved me some much travel time and means I can be more flexible with my consulting hours.
For our own curiosity, and as an on-going source of inspiration, we always like to find out as much as we can about our featured guests, can you humour us with the first thing that comes to mind for each the below?
Currently I am...
Drinking... green tea but in all honesty wine
Planning..a holiday in a campervan
Listening... to Angus and Julia Stone
Dreaming... of starting a children’s wholefood-based supplement line
Wearing... mum jeans and a white t-shirt
Watching... Lunatics on Netflix 😂
Reading... research papers
To hear…. More podcasts
To see…. The whale sharks in Ningaloo Reef
To hold… I cannot think of one! Maybe the perfect avocado 🤷♀️
To visit…. Japan
Get daily inspiration via Brittanys instagram page @wholefoodhealing here