Cheers to good health!
In a world of pesticides, pollution, over-processed food and an overabundance of easy access to unhealthy food options, Maggie Davis is an expert and a positive voice in the somewhat complex world of nutrition. “There can be a public misconception that to eat a healthy diet one has to sacrifice taste and enjoyment,” she says. She prides herself in helping people have both, and she often talks to clients about recipes, cooking techniques and food sources.
She is an Advanced Practice Nutritionist/Dietitian as well as a Fellow of the American Dietetic Association and a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition to her clinical work at her Brewster-based business, Live Nutrition, Inc., Davis is the author of Your Whole Life and Good Food for Life: Planning, Preparing and Sharing as well as a consultant to companies developing food products and conducting nutrition research.
Nutrition can seem complicated because of the mixed messages about what healthy eating looks like along with the fact that we each have our own unique nutrition needs. Davis points out, “Good nutrition is about tailoring a specific approach that works for each individual.” When she meets with a new client, she asks a lot of questions about health, preference and lifestyle to tailor solutions that work for them.
When I met with Davis, MS, RDN, LDN, FADA, FAND, in her office, I was drawn to a sculpture of a goddess head hovering above the bookcase with a gentle, watchful eye over the chock-full library. When I mentioned the sculpture, Davis told me, “That’s Hygeia, the Goddess of Health.” Her presence reflects Davis’ belief that the path to better health and overall wellness is most effective with an approach balancing mind, body and spirit.
She described a practical way we can approach portion size. She offered a visual of a pizza, and then as a contrast a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s common for many to eat a few slices of or even an entire cheese pizza at a time. Davis pointed out that a large pizza slice is equivalent to a grilled cheese sandwich and yet we would never dream of eating multiple grilled cheese sandwiches at one time. Davis says good nutrition is often about making balanced food choices as well as becoming more thoughtful about the choices we make, and we can integrate healthy lifestyle choices and reimagine the ways we think about wellness without being obsessive. Davis is the oldest of seven children who, as a family, made excursions to the Cape in the summer. Her passion for preparing good food and gardening developed early on. As a child her mother did most of the cooking and the main flavorings she used were salt, pepper and butter. When Davis became a teenager, making dinner for the family became her job. She loved to experiment with condiments and to cook with the vegetables that her father helped her grow in their backyard city garden, or prepare fish her father caught and clams they dug together.
Davis' high school best friend was Italian, and as Davis experienced the smells and tastes of her friend’s mother’s cooking, she started to realize there was more to cooking than salt, pepper and butter. Then she fell in love with chemistry, and it was her father who directed her to the field of nutrition. She was also influenced by Adele Davis’ books (no relation), especially Eat Right to Live.
When Davis turned 21 she rented a small house on an old tree nursery property and planted her first organic garden. A local farmer came weekly to pick up kitchen scraps to feed his pigs and a friend who raised homing pigeons offered her dried manure to fertilize her garden. She says, “Those were the best tomatoes I’ve ever grown.”
These days, in addition to meeting with clients to help them devise feasible nutrition plans with specific attainable goals, Davis offers informative and inspired workshops on health and nutrition-related topics. This fall, for example, she is offering “Longevity Nutrition: Living in Your Own Blue Zone”; “Plant Based Eating and Homemaking: Making Your Home Environment Chemical Free” and “Prebiotics and Probiotics: Are you Getting Enough of the Right Stuff?” Davis is also one of the founding members of the Essential Oils Cape Cod team, integrating pure essential oils into her practice as well as part of her plant-based philosophy at home.
Davis has witnessed greater interest in nutrition and wellness over twenty years, which has helped fuel her work. Today individuals and families often refer themselves to her for consultation, rather than health care providers making referrals and, happily, most people now have insurance that will cover their consultation. Insurance companies are more aware now of the benefits of nutrition, too.
The lifestyle choices we make matter and our choices affect our overall health and wellbeing. Davis works toward improving public perception about eating healthy and reinforces the idea that to eat a healthy diet one does not have to sacrifice taste or enjoyment. Good eating can be easy, healthy, rewarding and even fun with a little preplanning.