Whole Foods And Fertility – Natasha St Michael Interview

Bio in Natasha’s words

Natasha St. Michael is all about health, happiness & radiance! We only live once and why not create the best lives possible?

After hosting Raw Radiant Health video blog & website for over two years with over 30 000 subscribers, Natasha felt it was time to expand… to do more, be more and offer more! Her passion is making dreams a reality and taking one’s life as far as it can go.
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With Raw Radiant Health, Natasha focused on promoting a raw food diet & natural health. From her own personal experience of being on a raw vegan diet for almost 4 years, she was able to reverse Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), quit smoking, let go of her sugar & caffeine addictions, clear up adult acne, naturally heal receding gums and regain her fertility.

This was major, and over and over again Natasha was able to see the healing powers of the body from eating a pure, fresh and natural diet, and therefore she promoted it!

But in 2010, Natasha was diagnosed with a severe vitamin B12 deficiency. She had been taking vitamin B12 supplements for over a decade but her body was not absorbing it. She was therefore in the position to choose between staying on a 100% raw vegan diet and getting monthly injections of vitamin B12 for the rest of her life or changing her diet by including animal foods.

After being a vegetarian for over 23 years and on a raw vegan diet for almost 4 years, Natasha made the switch and added animal foods into her daily diet.

Natasha has always been a firm believer in sticking to a whole food diet, cooked and/or raw, but most importantly that one eats as much natural, fresh, whole foods as possible, and avoids processed, refined, junk foods to the best of one’s ability. For Natasha, making this dietary change was a testament of the importance of flexibility, and always putting one’s health first over any dogma or theoretical belief.

Q1. So to start Natasha, could you tell us abit about your background and also why you’ve now ditched the raw food diet and follow a more whole food diet, and natural health lifestyle?

Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say I “ditched” the raw food diet— I still eat raw foods every day, in fact I probably eat raw foods at every meal, but I no longer eat an exclusively raw food diet. The reason for my diet change was after being on a raw vegan diet for close to four years I developed a vitamin B12 deficiency.

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I was taking vitamin B12 supplements (methylcobalamin) while on a raw vegan diet but I wasn’t absorbing the B12 and my vitamin B12 levels plummeted to a dangerously low level. I had two choices: either remain on the vegan diet and take regular vitamin B12 injections for the rest of my life, or incorporate animal foods into my diet and try to raise my vitamin B12 levels back up to a normal level that way.

I have to say, the whole situation was quite disheartening, but at the same time I wasn’t well because of the deficiency, and I had to make a serious decision and quickly.

Surprisingly to some people, I decided to add animal meat and animal products back into my diet to raise my vitamin B12 levels instead of getting vitamin B12 injections for the rest of my life. My priority is my health, and for me I would much rather get all my nutrition from food than getting it from an injectable synthetic substance.

So for the last three and a half years I have been eating a whole food diet that includes both raw and cooked foods, and also includes animal meats and animal products. The general rule I follow is to eat whole, real, fresh food, and preferably locally grown food as well (if I can get organic food that’s great too, but I live Indonesia and finding organic food can sometimes be quite challenging).

As for my background, I am a certified health coach. I coach people with their diet helping them eat healthy, lose weight, and reverse diet-related health conditions. I also have a video blog that I make regular videos educating and motivating people to have a healthier life, and I host a few online programs every month, like a 7 Day Whole Food Challenge, a 10 Day Juice Fasting Program and a 7 Day Raw Food Cleanse.

Q2. What would you say is the main difference in quality of life or body you experience from following a whole food diet rather than a raw food one?

I first have to say that I got A LOT of benefits from being on a raw food diet, the only problem was I was on it for too long!! I think that if I were on it for a few months, maybe even a year, I think I could have walked away with the great benefits from the diet, without having the deficiency I experienced.

Because I was on the diet for so long, I was running into the issue of deficiency, and therefore to compensate, I was over-eating, having cravings, and even gaining weight. Once I changed my diet to a whole food diet and the deficiency resolved itself, the cravings, over eating, and even excess weight went away.

I should mention also why I went on the raw food diet to begin with— in my mid-twenties I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I was infertile, I didn’t get a period for 2-3 years at a time, my hormones were imbalanced, my ovaries were covered in cysts, I had adult acne, and I was chronically depressed.

I went on the raw food diet to heal myself, and I did!! It wasn’t over night, but I was able to heal the acne, eliminate all the cysts on my ovaries, my hormones went back to normal, my period and fertility came back, and my mood started to balance out.

These are phenomenal results, but unfortunately over time I developed the vitamin B12 deficiency and therefore had to make some further adjustments to my diet so I could continue reaping the benefits of a healthy lifestyle but not run into any deficiencies or other issues. Since changing my diet to a whole food diet, my health has continued to improve, it just gets better and better and better!

The benefits that stand out the most since changing my diet from a raw food diet to a whole food diet is: I lost 30 pounds, my skin, hair and nails are shinier, softer and even healthier, it’s much easier for me to build muscle, I no longer get dental cavities and I have much less tarter build-up on my teeth, and I got pregnant easily and gave birth to my daughter Luna Ray :). I would also say the social element, travelling, and eating at restaurants is easier on a whole food diet.

Q3. How easy or difficult was it to make the switch?

The first 6 months was a nightmare!! I hate to say it, but the first 6 months of the diet change was six months of going back-and-forth between the raw food diet and the whole food diet because in my heart and spirit I wanted to be on the raw food diet, but my body needed the whole foods.

It was a big transition for me, it had been many years since I had cooked food, and over 25 years since I had any meat— I didn’t know how to cook or prepare meat or animal foods, and even learning how to cook food again was a new learning experience for me! So that took time, a lot of patience, and perseverance!

Q4. How does a person practically start a whole foods diet, for example what would you suggest on the first day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and how should they get their body used to the change?

A whole food diet is pretty much a diet of whole, real, fresh food. So no processed or refined foods, no junk food, no fast food, no pre-made food, no sugar, no candy, no soda, no fried foods, no hydrogenated oils, margarines, trans-fats, no artificial flavors or sweeteners, no white flour, no chips or crisps, etc.

What you eat on a whole food diet is fruit, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, beans/legumes, animal meats, fish/seafood, eggs, animal products and an assortment of healthy condiments (vegetarians or vegans would omit the animal meats and animal products).

If someone were to want to get onto a whole food diet there’s different ways to go about it, some people like to change their diet overnight and others like to slowly transition onto it. There’s no one perfect way to do it, the best way is the way that you can comfortably and joyfully do it.

So if you want to transition slowly, you can either work on one meal at a time, for example, work on having a healthy breakfast consistently for a couple of weeks, then move onto to improving your lunch for a few weeks, and then onto dinner, etc. Or if you prefer to gradually take the junk food and processed food out of your diet, I suggest every week or two taking one bad thing out.

For example if you normally eat a candy bar every afternoon, for two weeks skip the candy bar. After you completed two weeks of no candy bars, take something else out of your diet for another two weeks, and then another thing.

Ideas for healthy meals:

Breakfast: fruit, green juice, green smoothie, eggs or an omelette, homemade muesli, oatmeal, etc.

Lunch: salad, soup, vegetables & dip, quinoa and vegetables, bean or meat chili, etc.

Dinner: salad, soup, steamed vegetables & poached fish, roasted veetables and grilled meat, stir-fry, whole grains & vegetables, homemade curry & rice, etc.

Snacks: fruit, nuts/seeds, hard boiled egg, plain yogurt, apples and nut butter, vegetables & dip, green smoothie, green juice, etc.

Q5. You recently had a baby, did you have to change your diet before, during or after pregnancy?

The main thing I focused on before, during, and after my pregnancy was to have nutrient-dense food (mineral-rich foods, healthy fats, and good quality proteins). My food preferences changed quite dramatically from when I was pregnant and after. While I was pregnant I couldn’t eat anything sweet (including most fruit, even sweet potato was too sweet for me).

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While I was pregnant I preferred salads, soups and savory food instead, I drank a lot of homemade bone broths (that was the only thing that helped my morning sickness!). After giving birth, and since then, I now have an incredible sweet tooth, so the fruit is definitely back— I love sweet and spicy food! I am still breastfeeding my daughter, so I need to eat a lot of food to keep my energy up!

Q6. If someone wants to improve their fertility what would you say they definitely have to do?

I would say focus on cutting out as much bad stuff as possible. Things like refined sugar, hydrogenated oils, trans-fats, shortenings, soybean oil, high-fructose corn syrup, alcohol, food additives, artificial flavors and artificial sweeteners, MSG, etc. should all be eliminated.

You want to go in the direction of eating as much healthy, nutrient dense foods as possible so you not only get yourself healthy (and fertile), but you also work on building your nutritional reserves so when you do get pregnant, your body has great nutritional stores for you and the baby.

For an added boost to your fertility, make sure to be eating good healthy fats from whole food sources like nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut meat, whole eggs, fatty fish, etc. and also eating foods that are rich in antioxidants like berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.) and beans (red beans, pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans), and organic whenever possible.

Q7. What are the main difference in diets in North America where you are from and Indonesia where you now live?

Huge difference! I think it’s important to mention that the average household here in Indonesia does not own a refrigerator, and the average income is $100-$150/month (and much less in lower populated areas). Considering that, food choices and food preparation is completely different than North America.

Here everyone makes all their food from scratch, many also grow their own food, hunt and forage, and the overall portions are much smaller. Things like meat are very expensive, so the portions are much smaller and might not be eaten every day. It’s completely different to North America, plus it’s a tropical environment, so the local foods here are much different as well.

Q8. Do you still juice fast? If so can you describe the process for example what you drink throughout the day?

The last time I did a juice fast was almost two years ago, right before I got pregnant and had a baby! (I’m currently still breastfeeding, so no fasting while I am breastfeeding).

I do still drink freshly pressed green juices, but no fasting. I do miss it tremendously, especially because I host and support a group of juice fasters online every month, and every time I hear their benefits and breakthroughs I wish I could be joining them!!

Pretty much the process of doing a juice fast is to transition onto the fast eating a very light, water-rich diet for a couple of days before starting the fast (and the same type of diet to break the fast). During the fast I find most people do well drinking 12-16 cups of juice a day (women average around 12 cups a day, men drink 16 cups— depending on someone’s daily activity, metabolism, etc. they might even need more juice, and that’s fine).

If someone is juice fasting for a day or a few days, they can stick with just freshly pressed green juices or vegetable juices, but if they are doing a juice fast for more than 3-4 days, I would suggest making sure there is some fruit in those green juices to ensure they’re getting enough calories and energy and that their metabolism doesn’t slow and ensure they don’t feel weak, tired, or hungry.

Once you complete the fast, you should break it very slowly with light, water-rich foods. What’s most important is not so much the fast itself, but what your diet is after! To really get the benefit of doing a fast, you must take very good care of yourself after completing the fast, and consistently eat a healthy diet, VERY IMPORTANT!!

Q9. What are the benefits of juice fasting to the body and how long should a person do it for?

There are many benefits of juice fasting: healing the body, reversing chronic health conditions, giving the digestive system a break, improving sleep, improving immune system function, stress reduction, decreasing inflammation, calming the mind and balancing mood, mental sharpness, detoxification, rejuvenation, cell renewal, weight loss, decreasing appetite, letting go of food addictions, etc.

How long someone chooses to juice fast is up to the individual. A healthy person can juice fast for up to two weeks, but I find after that if someone wants to continue, they may have to make adjustments to the fast in order to ensure they are getting adequate fats and proteins (there’s amino acids in the green juices, but no fats and it’s ok to go a day, a few days, even a week or two without any healthy fat, but after that, my opinion is someone would need some healthy fats in their diet and perhaps more proteins as well).

The main thing to remember – a juice fast is temporary, it’s not forever, it’s just a few days or a week or two on a liquid diet, so you’re not going to run into any severe deficiency, but if you do decided to do it longer than two weeks, make sure to do your research and inform yourself what you might need or add to ensure you’re covering your basic nutritional needs.

Water fasting on the other hand I only recommend doing it for a day or two, and if you go longer I would strongly recommend working with a health care professional to monitor you and ensure your safety.

Q10. How do you motivate yourself to keep eating healthy and exercising?

I just feel so much better when I am taking care of myself. Life is good! My whole life I’ve dealt with depression, so I have to be very careful to take good care of myself because if my foundation starts to get shaky, the doom and gloom sets in. So for myself, I’ve got to eat well, get movement/exercise in, fresh air, good sleep, and have a social network of friends.

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Once you get started with eating healthy and exercising, and are consistent in the beginning, it does get much easier to continue. It’s all about integrating healthy activities into your daily routine.

I also have to say that after having my daughter it has become even more important for me to be healthy and full of energy, I want to be able to keep up with her and give her my all. That in itself is huge motivation.

Q11. You’ve overcome a number of illnesses in your life, would you say that your diet played a major part in recovery, if so how?

I would say diet and lifestyle. I find diet is key, and when my diet is good, I’m motivated to take even better care of myself. My entire life I’ve had major health conditions (I was born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery when I was five years old, when I was teenager I had pre-cancer of the cervix, when I was in my early twenties I was diagnosed with a rare bone disease of the hip, and later in my mid twenties I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).

I’ve had one terrible health condition after another, and for a while I kind of accepted that as my ‘fate.’ Things really started to change when I shifted my perspective and took 100% responsibility for my life – I took my health and happiness into my own hands, and pretty much was willing to do whatever it took to get myself healthy again.

Q12. On your website you say that behind many people’s health and weight issues, are problems for example in relationships, or a lack of emotional connections with people, why do you think this is?

I look at life and health as three legs to a table, one leg is our physical health, the second is our mental/emotional health, and the third is our spiritual health. If one leg is not as strong as the others, it’s going to throw the whole table off balance. I believe in order to really reach our highest potential everything has to be in good balance including our connection with other people.

Our emotional health is so important and has a great influence over our physical health, and if someone is too isolated or lacks human connection and love, they just aren’t going to thrive.

And yes, some people need less contact with other people than others (I myself can admit that I can be quite an introvert), but even if someone is very independent and likes to spend time alone, they still need some sort of contact, just having one friend or one person to talk to, can make a world of difference.

As for excess weight, many times loneliness and isolation is the root cause of someone’s weight issue or inability to lose weight. Most people over-eat when they are alone, they are less likely to binge or over-eat in the presence of other people. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of using food for emotional comfort, and sometimes having a good friend or a close family member to talk to can divert someone from the fridge and in the direction of expressing and dealing with their stress or issues, instead of going to food to numb their pain.

Q13. I’d like to now turn to your website and Youtube channel, are you self-employed? If so, why did you decide to move to being self-employed?

Yes I’m self-employed. I’m a certified health coach, and a wellness blogger. For the most part of my working life I’ve actually been self-employed. Before I went into the wellness field I worked full time as a fine artist for a decade. In my early thirties I changed my career.

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I was a very successful artist, but after ten years of working in the fine arts, the isolation and unpredictability of that field started wearing away at my spirit, I was always stressed and I needed a change. I changed my career quite gradually, getting my certification as a health coach, starting my website and blog and eventually creating some online health programs I host every month.

There’s times where I miss working as an artist but I find through making videos for my blog that it does ignite my creative side and simultaneously I derive such great joy and fulfillment coaching and working with people, that I am so happy I took the risk and made the change.

Q14. Your old Youtube channel had over 30,000 subs, can you tell us what techniques you feel worked to get you so many subs and how you keep people engaged?

On my old YouTube Channel Raw Radiant Health, I got a lot of subs because I was making videos 5 days a week, Monday-Friday! There’s over 300 videos on that channel! Making a lot of videos and being consistent will definitely help get people to subscribe and follow you, but what is most important is being honest, being authentic, having integrity, and being true.

I also believe that if you are inspired to do something, just do it. You have more to lose from the things you don’t do than what you do!

Q15. Do you use social media for marketing? How do you use it?

Not really. I wish I was more social online, but strangely I don’t like to spend too much time on the internet or on computers!! Maybe it’s because I have to work on my blog every day, answer emails, work on programs, etc. that once I’m done, I’m done.

Also I’m now a stay at home mom too, so I don’t have the same type of free time like I used to, my time is limited, so I have to be efficient and prioritize where I’m putting my time and focus.

Q16. Amongst other services your website also states that you offer a coaching service, can you explain what this entails?

I coach people over the telephone with their diet, health, and lifestyle. I would say 70% of my clients hire me to help them lose weight. The other 30% usually come to me for help to reverse a diet-related health condition, acne, hormone balance and even lifestyle or personal issues like self-esteem, relationships, and career development.

If someone wants to achieve their goals, hiring a coach will definitely keep them accountable and on track, and give them tools, resources and feedback as to how to efficiently and effectively reach their goals.

For clients that are seeking weight loss or help with improving their diet, I have them keep food journals so I can see exactly what they are eating, and together we work on modifying and adjusting their diet and lifestyle.

I don’t believe in putting someone on a generic type diet, instead I find what works best is working together with my clients on improving their existing diet, so they are used to the food, they’re eating food they like, their routine isn’t dramatically changed, etc.

The diet has to be doable and sustainable, especially if someone really wants lasting long-term results. Some people do better with fast and big changes, others need more gradual adjustments—it’s really about the individual, and working together to find what works and what doesn’t.

Along with working on their diets, we also talk about the challenges they have with eating healthy, handling stress, taking better care of themselves, self-esteem, and finding good balance in their day-to-day lives. It’s about the person as a whole, success not only comes from having a healthy diet and lifestyle, but being happy and living a fulfilled life as well.

Q17. Are you able to make a living from your online business and where do you see it in say five years’ time?

Yes, I do make a living from my online business. Over the next 5 years I would like to write a book, perhaps also do some talks or public speaking, and maybe even host a retreat here in Bali, Indonesia. Later on, when my daughter is older, I would one day love to go to cooking school and travel to different parts of the world to learn more about different foods and cooking traditions!

Q18. Can you give your URL and Youtube for people who want to find out more about you and your products?

My Website is www.radiancecentral.com

Summary

It was fun to finally catch up with Natasha. The interview has alot of great tips for those who have long-term ailments.

I particularly found the diet and fertility answers interesting.

It makes sense to live on a whole food diet. Where you get enough of all the nutrients you need, especially if you’re trying for a baby.

I’d advise anyone who wants to change their diet to get approval from your doctor before embarking on a complete change of diet. Find out if there are deficiencies that you need to address and the best way to do that.

Natasha’s story is a real inspiration for creation!

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