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Wild Food Foraging...

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Wendy Tran of Be Well Holistic Living & Fitness

Wendy TranWhy did you become a health counselor?

It was sort of a round about journey. My first career choice was as an interior designer, but I began having health issues in my mid-twenties. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated glucose levels, and low thyroid function. These issues permeated my family tree, and I had to decide if I was willing to take the road less traveled and do something about it, or just follow the conventional route and get on a program of three or four prescription medications for life.  

It was about that time that my husband I moved to Asheville, which is considered a Mecca for alternative health. I began working with an amazing team of alternative practitioners and started eating a whole food diet, consisting mostly of organically grown local foods. The results were amazing. Within a year, I was happier and healthier than I had ever been in my life.

That year, I learned that education, support, and accountability were the keys to wellness and overcoming preventable chronic illnesses. I knew I had to find some way to formally share this information with others, so I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a partner of the State University of New York at Purchase College, where I completed my health counseling certification.

What brought you to Asheville?

Simply, it was the Blue Ridge Mountains! I am a Louisiana girl; all it took was one visit to Asheville in July 2004. The mountains were magical and practically called me by name. Six months later my husband and I packed up everything we owned and moved to the Asheville. I now consider Asheville "home" and it continues to be a place of nourishment for me, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

How is Asheville conducive to your career?

Professionally, Asheville provides me with a community of like-minded people who have decided to take the road less traveled as well. As a health counselor, I am blessed to live in a community that supports local growers and restaurants, alternative therapies and holistic living.

This is very conducive to my role as a health counselor. It’s one thing to educate and support clients in doing the right thing, but another having the resources readily available in the community for them to utilize and make true lifestyle changes. Asheville has all the resources that my clients or I could ever need to be healthy and well.

What is your food philosophy?

“You are what you eat!”  We have all heard it, probably a thousand times. It may be the truest of all truths. All foods have energy, and when we consume foods that are lifeless, processed and void of nutrients, we should not be surprised that we lack vitality, good health and energy to live life to the fullest.

How do you incorporate local products into your business?

I incorporate local foods into my practice in a couple of ways. First, I provide monthly whole-food cooking classes using as many of the local, seasonal foods that are available.

During my one-on-one session with clients, cooking classes and wellness workshops, I provide education on the benefits of locally grown foods. This information includes the holistic health benefits of eating seasonal and connecting and purchasing food from our local farmers, which supports our local economy. Also, local foods may have higher levels of beneficial nutrients and are fresher and taste better than their globetrotting counterparts. Secondly, I provide my clients with tours of locally owned whole-food and natural grocers and farmer’s markets. It is wonderful to have local foods at all different price points in our community making it affordable to eat healthy, locally grown foods no matter what your budget allowance.

In one sentence, tell us how you would describe Asheville’s food scene.

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