I was one of the few faces of diversity that stood out at my prestigious private, co-ed and later all-female school on the Main Line. My face was on the cover of each of our school’s Ad Hoc Committee on Multiculturism magazines to illustrate the diverse nature of our student body which in fact was anything but.
As if that were not enough to stick out, I grew up in a family that you could say was unique or maybe even weird when it came to healthy living. We shopped at Whole Foods when it was just a baby named Fresh Fields. In fact, we were their first customers. We had no microwave. Our lawn was a dandelion oasis, as we used no pesticides or fertilizers on our yard. Mom used to invite the neighbors to pick them for their salads. We never sprayed our home for bugs and over time we began to recognize some of the frequent fliers (pun intended)- beetles and other insects who found peace in our chemical-free home. We used innovative contraptions to free them into their natural habitats unharmed. I transported heavy glass and stainless steel (never plastic) containers back and forth from school which housed my strange Persian lunches of stuffed grape leaves and khoreshts. My parents confiscated a cordless telephone brought to me by a friend for a birthday present because they were unsure of the potential health risks. We never used non-stick pans. We were anti-BPA before BPA was even a thing. When it was time for deodorant, I knew to look for paraben and aluminum free. Finally, we used to scrub our apples and oranges with such vigor, no trace of alar or pesticide could be found.
My unique upbringing was the direct biproduct of a father with a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Stanford and number 1 at Tehran University, who engrained in me a deep awareness of and potential ramifications of environmental toxins, including but not limited to our foods, geography and the lay of the land, cookware, cleaning products, toiletries, electronic devices, lawn care, pest control and so forth. Furthermore, as an only child, from an early age, I spent much of my time with my mother who emphasized the importance of fresh, organic fruits, veggies and herbs as well as healing spices in our family Persian cooking. Rarely could you spot a can or box in our pantry.
This coupled with my medical training, passion for healthy eating and making this attainable for my patients and later my specialization in Lifestyle Medicine have all played a crucial role in forming the lens with which I approach healing and overall wellness. I believe that environment is a huge factor when it comes to our health and wellbeing. Because of my unique upbringing and training, when working with my patients and clients, I focus on details of environment, which are not taught in medical school. I feel this is crucial because I have witnessed the potential for environment to create a life of health or one of disease. In this life where so many things are out of our control, why not work with the factors we do have control over?
As a physician and wellness/weight loss coach, one of my goals is to raise awareness about optimizing our environments and making sure that our choices, particularly for elements that we use on a consistent basis, are toxin-free for us and our planet. I regularly discuss these issues with my clients and plan to focus on this as well as other areas of wellness in more detail in my new blog to bring awareness to this commonly overlooked, yet crucial matter. It is my ultimate goal and hope to help empower you to live a healthier, happier and toxin-free life.