Change your food, improve your health

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Katie Tolley has embarked on a new career as a holistic wellness coach, promoting the value of nutrition for good health.

CAMBRIDGE ­— “The medical system doesn’t keep us well,” Katie Tolley said.
The former pediatric nurse practitioner turned holistic wellness coach didn’t come to that viewpoint without struggle. Now, she wants to share her insights with her community, with the goal of reversing trends in lifestyles and their effects.
“We are a society of chronic disease getting worse,” she said. “Changing my nutrition changed my health. It actually saved my life.”
She started learning about nutrition before her son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at the age of 8.
“We knew red dye, yellow dye, and all artificial food dye played a part. You should have seen the trash bags that left my house that day,” Ms. Tolley wrote on her blog. “I even did some of my graduate research on it. We made changes in our diet, we saw obvious differences.”
Fast forward a few years. More changes were necessary. Things were getting worse not better, so Ms. Tolley hit the books again, looking for answers.
“I had read over the years that nutrition played a roll, sugar, gluten, dairy, etc, but those of us in medicine ‘know’ that food really doesn’t play that big a roll. Everything we were ever taught says so. We are wrong!”
She said few medical schools teach their students about nutrition, and the ones that do have only limited courses. “We don’t do anything with nutrition,” Ms. Tolley said.
Now, though, as she continues her research to improve the health and wellness of her family and herself, “I have learned a lot about holistic nutrition, gut health, brain health, hormone changes, and the epidemic of chronic disease. It goes against so much of what I’ve been taught working in medicine for the past 20 years. I was not taught any of this stuff.”
Seeing her son struggle in school made it a very pressing and puzzling issue.
“It saddens me, and it maddens me,” she wrote. “All the knowledge I learned in nine years of college didn’t help me help my child. What we put in our body matters. We are making ourselves sick by ignoring that one simple fact.”
It starts early, Ms. Tolley said, remembering her experience in the wellness center of a local school.
“The past three and a half years, I worked in a school. How enlightening. To see what these kids have as food choices in their world – home and school, social events, public events, public gatherings – is so disheartening to me. To see how it affects their daily function is devastating to their future,” she wrote.
Ms. Tolley is taking her knowledge public, as she works to help others be happy and healthy. “I want to raise awareness. You don’t have to be sick,” she said.
“You don’t have to know all the nitty gritty about what I know, you just need to know how you feel, look, and function with good food vs. bad food. It’s that simple,” she wrote.
The key, she said, is to begin thinking in a positive manner, and for the individual to envision where he or she wants to go, and then begin working on getting there.
“It’s not that difficult to understand: Food is either real or man-made. Food either fuels your body or it makes you toxic. The really bad part, it makes your gut toxic, your brain toxic, your skin toxic, your emotions toxic, your attitude toxic, your relationships toxic – your life is toxic, and it sucks to live like that.”
“That is why I coach. I don’t just coach for myself. I coach for my health, my kids’ health, my husband’s health, my mom’s health, my dad’s health, my brother’s health, my extended family’s health, my friends’ health, your health and the health of our society,” she said.
Editor’s note: In the next edition of the Dorchester Banner, Ms. Tolley will begin a weekly fitness column, “Change Your Life Challenge.” To learn more about her coaching, visit

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at

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