Whole Foods Chef
- Graduate of The Fitness and Lifestyle Management Program, George Brown College.
- Certified Personal Training Specialist (P.T.S) – Can Fit Pro
- Honors Graduate From the Institute of Holistic Nutrition Certified Nutritional Practitioner (C.N.P)
- Honors Graduate from The Natural Gourmet Institute Certified Natural Food Chef
- Graduate from The Matthew Kenney Academy Certified Advanced Raw Food Chef
- Certified Fat Loss Specialist through the Institute of Holistic Nutrition
FROM FITNESS TO ILLNESS AND FINALLY TO HEALTH
Stephanie Tucci’s Journey of Health & Nutrition
Falling into the health industry was neither an accident nor a random decision; instead I believe that every step in my life happened in the exact right order. When I look back, my late teenage years and early twenties were not the best of times. In those years I went through more health struggles then anyone should have to face, and I vividly remember just being in chronic debilitating pain. I remember in the early days of high school being struck with abdominal pain and never understand why; I just thought it was normal. By the time I got to University all I knew was pain. Every day was a struggle because I was constantly worried that I would have another flare up and be back to bed. However through it all, I always tried to push forward looking for answers and not feeling sorry for myself.
Born a natural athlete with a competitive edge, I decided to start training and competing in Fitness Competitions, something I took quiet seriously for a 4 year period. During the time I competed my health was still an utter mess, however it was something I looked at as a positive distraction from the hell I was dealing with. I needed goals to work toward, other than my studies, because I needed my mind to be focused on anything else other than trying to get doctors to listen to me.
After seeing 7 specialists, I said “ENOUGH!” because not only would no one could give me an answer, not one was willing to go the step beyond to help me. Between the ages of 21 and 24 I was “diagnosed” with…celiac (then told otherwise) then gastritis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, then intestinal motility disorder (essentially a fancy term for IBS) and then crohn’s disease (then told otherwise). All the while little old me was waiting patiently for someone to help.
I was told:
“Eat whatever you want because food doesn’t change a thing”
“This is who you are, you just have to accept it”
“If you get pregnant, all your symptoms will disappear”
“I’ll fill out a requisition form for you to speak with a psychiatrist”
I was bitter, I was angry and I fell into depression. Between the many years of being a student who happened to be a serious perfectionist, the stress of being a fitness athlete, dealing with anxiety towards food and emotional stress from many years of chronic pain I knew I needed some guidance.
Finally I ended up in the hands of a couple naturopathic doctors who were able to shed some light on my situation and helped me understand the breakdown of the digestive system, mental health and the connection between our mind and body. I started with removing gluten and dairy, just by doing that I could start to see some light at the end of the tunnel and felt some minor relief. At this point my passion for optimal health became infectious and I decided to enroll at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition after graduating from the Fitness and Lifestyle Program at George Brown College, because I wanted to learn everything I possibly could about nutrition and healing.
My deep rooted passion for food really started at a young age, where my I watched my grandparents really enforce the farm to table practice whole heartedly. I was able to see where food really came from and the beauty in creating and eating dishes from the purest ingredients made with love and passion. During my time as a nutrition student, I knew that the clinical side to nutrition was not where my heart was and that I believed in nutrition through your plate and through the kitchen, I wanted to push food first over supplements.
After graduating I packed my bags and moved to New York City to attend the Natural Gourmet Institute, a health supportive culinary arts program. Considering my personal health history and education background this school had my name all over it. After graduating I had the amazing opportunity to intern at Pure Food and Wine, New York’s premier gourmet raw food restaurant, which was such a great life experience; I was surround by such artistic and creative culinary minds and I couldn’t get enough. I spent more time studying and working for other health supportive chefs which really pushed my culinary skill set and made the nutritionist in me quite happy.
In an interesting turn of events, at this time I was eating more plant based and following a mainly vegan diet for a reason I’m still not sure of. Truthfully I think it was out of interest based off needing to create these plant based meals for chef’s I worked for, however in this time my health started to fall off the bandwagon again. My digestive issues took a nasty turn, my hormones were a mess and I started to develop painful eczema, 3 of the most non- attractive things. As a nutritionist I knew I was still eating complete meals but it wasn’t until the eczema came about that I realized this way of eating was absolutely not beneficial to my personal health.
At this point, I revamped nutritional choices and made the transition into following a more paleo based approach in regards to my diet and my culinary work. Within the first two weeks of making this transition the changes in my health alone where radical; the eczema completely cleared, the mental fog was alleviated and my digestion was on point. Within the first month, there was a positive hormonal shift in terms of my skin clearing, my emotional health was uplifted, my workouts became much more effective and my strength drastically improved. I remember going to bed one night and thinking, “If I knew I could feel this good, why did I never give this a thought earlier?” However I’ve learned that we don’t dwell on the past, and recognize that everything that happens in our life is all part of our own individual pathway shaping who we are. When we look at life challenges in a positive light, we recognize that these challenges were laid out to help us grow and ignite our inner strength and passions.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not perfect, but really who is? Not every day is peachy and along the way I’ve had a few bouts of feeling bad for myself or eating items I shouldn’t have, but it’s part of life and I’m human, not superhuman. I enjoy my wine and dessert (I’ve worked in pastry kitchens, obviously), there are days I don’t want to cook and days hard boiled eggs or gluten free pizza will have to make do for dinner and days where I know getting extra sleep over going to the gym makes more sense. The feeling of being healthy is extremely empowering and life changing, something I wish that everyone around me can have the opportunity to feel and embrace. I’m proud of the balanced life I’ve created, the positivity I’ve created around food and health and the empowering feeling of being a strong and passionate woman.