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How Integrative Nutrition Feeds Your Body and your Soul

Updated: May 19, 2023 12:53
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Hi and welcome to the BAS Weekend Wellness Column! My name is Erynne Elkins and I’m a Well-Being Advocate and Certified Breathwork Facilitator. Every Friday I’ll share a holistic wellness modality available here in the Bay Area. Cheers to good health!

Refreshingly Deep Insights About Nutrition

This just in. The Bay Area has a Nutrition Superhero and she’s got your back. “Something needs to happen. There (are) plenty of other people who feel like they don’t have time to take care of themselves. You’re not alone,” San Francisco’s Certified International Health Coach Sienna Melissa recently shared with me over Zoom.

Photograph courtesy of Akolade Coker @heartspeakproject

Sienna is on an educational mission. “Dairy is not good for you at all,” she stated matter of factly. So what led Sienna to a career in integrative nutrition? Last year, while spending time with one of her closest vegan homegirls, Sienna started watching eye-opening documentaries that expanded her awareness about the importance of a plant-based diet. Incensed by a lack of information not readily accessible to the masses, along with learning about exorbitant marketing budgets allotted specifically for marginalized groups, Sienna felt led to take action. “So many people really, truly believe that milk is good for you because they told us that on purpose. That made me upset. These big (food conglomerate) companies are targeting Black and Latino children. Hell no! How dare they do us like that? We need to be equipped with the knowledge so we can choose better for ourselves,” Sienna declared.

Not too long after Rona (aka COVID-19) showed up and attempted to ruin it for all of us, Sienna followed her truth. She underwent extensive training via an online curriculum with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). “And now I’m a Health Coach,” Sienna exclaimed. She graduated from IIN this past April (2021). “I’m so happy I did it,” she admitted.

So what exactly is integrative nutrition? In my conversation with Sienna, I learned that traditional nutrition focuses on what one is eating. Whereas with integrative nutrition, the concentration is on primary food versus secondary food. Secondary food is what’s on your plate, whatever you’re going to consume. Primary food, however, consists of how much joy you experience, your spiritual health, how you’re feeling about your career, your relationships, etc.

There are 12 components that contribute to one’s primary food. These 12 categories, also referred to as the circle of life, include things like physical activity, home cooking, and relationships. When it comes to one’s secondary food, Sienna encourages her clients to “crowd out”. In other words, the directive isn’t about telling someone what not to eat but rather what is highly recommended to add to one’s diet.

“Now (that) your goal is to eat five servings of vegetables a day, you don’t have any room for the Cheetos. I didn’t even have to tell you not to eat that because you don’t have space for it anyway,” Sienna shared in true genius fashion. “We don’t want to put poison in our bodies. We want to feel good. Your eating habits are going to naturally start to shift as you create a healthier environment,” Sienna added.

Photo courtesy of Sienna Melissa

But what about those reading this who don’t willingly binge on the “bad” stuff or are really okay with their day in and day out, meat and potatoes cuisine? “That seems fine. You’re not eating junk food. You’re not eating candy all the time. You’re not eating out. But you’re not getting vegetables. You’re not drinking water. You know? I’m helping you go to that deeper place into yourself, so the answers become obvious. I don’t know every single thing that you’ve been through. But what I can do is show you how to find the answers for yourself.”

Okay. You’re interested. Good. How does this all work, you’re asking. Your introduction to Sienna begins with an insightful exercise with the circle of life I mentioned earlier. Then, upon successful completion, a half hour “Breakthrough Phone Call” soon follows. After that, the real party jumps off. You now have an opportunity to embark on a four-month, tailor-made journey complete with attentive, weekly check-ins designed to accommodate your busy lifestyle. Plus, complimentary, weekly, online community yoga classes to keep you connected. “We’re all here together doing it. We got this,” Sienna declared.

Photo courtesy of Sienna Melissa

Registration opens this month for July. Email Sienna for more details. “Don’t think of it as you’re paying me. This is for you. How much are you willing to invest in your own health and wellness so you don’t have to pay for your illness later,” Sienna pointed out.

With so many seemingly “self-care” modalities out there, why is integrative nutrition important? “I believe it’s been highly important all along, but no one was talking about it. Now we know how to lean on each other for support and feel empowered,” Sienna answered.

And once Sienna helps us get our primary and secondary foods on-lock, what’s next? “A lot more education is on the horizon for me. I’m thinking of looking into working with the USDA or the FDA. Vitamins and supplements, for example, aren’t regulated. People are putting mystery stuff into their bodies, especially the cheap stuff,” Sienna disclosed. As we ended our interview, it felt as if her superhero cape flowed across the screen as she logged off. Some look to the sky for a sign their superhero is near. Now we have an opportunity to look to our plates instead.

For more information about Integrative Nutrition with Sienna Melissa, visit her website:

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Erynne Elkins Chief Well-being Correspondent

Erynne Elkins Chief Well-being Correspondent

Writer ✨ Certified Breathwork Facilitator ✨ Oracle Reader ✨
I’m also a Chicago native, San Francisco resident, and avid city bicyclist. When I’m not writing my next masterpiece, liberating souls one breath at a time, or illuminating minds with intuitive readings, I’m immersed in classes at City College of San Francisco. I love learning. I’m presently working towards my goal of earning my PsyD to become a licensed psychotherapist specializing in Womxn’s empowerment.