Coaching from Letitia of Peace of Food in Boston!
So we’ve done some video interviews with Boston Vegan Fashion experts, Sudo Shoes and Pansy Maiden but what other cool folks are around town? We’ll be uploading a video with a local vegan media company shortly but first, allow us to introduce the lovely Letitia Richards of Peace of Food Wellness. Letitia is a holistic health coach in the Boston area who helps people find their way to better health with an emphasis on the Plant Based Diet! Woohoo!
I’m excited to announce that I will be starting the Black Vegetarian Society of Massachusetts!!! Its in the beginning stages and I’m super excited to get this movement going. My passion is to spread the news of health & wellness and I’m not going to stop. Black people we are dying at alarming rates due to lifestyle choices and it is time YOU take responsibility for your health and your children’s health!!!! Stop being a SLAVE to your taste buds, STOP being a SLAVE to “tradition”. If you are interested in joining this movement comment on this thread or email me at [email protected] xoxo
This was one of the first interviews we conducted on the trip and we had yet to really work out our video situation. Plus we met at True Bistro and we’d rather eat then futz with camera stuff anyhow.
This was a pleasant sit down. Enjoy!
Kristin: [ 0:00:01.6] Do you want to state your name? Then you can tell us about your business and what you’re doing.
Letitia: [ 0:00:06.0] Yes, sure. My name is Letitia. I own Peace of Food Wellness. I work as a nutrition coach. I mainly help women lose weight by introducing them to a plant-based diet. It’s worked. Many times I will start off with clients and words “vegan” or “vegetarian” scare people a little. They think, “I don’t want to just eat salads. It’s so boring. I can’t give up cheese. I can’t give up dairy.” There are always excuses but it’s funny how when you put your mind to something you can really do it.
I use myself as an example all the time. I didn’t grow up on a vegan diet. I grew up on the SAD [Standard American Diet]. It was the regular meat and potatoes diet maybe with a side of vegetables. They would usually be canned vegetables or vegetables that have been cooked to death.
When I think back about where my diet and lifestyle was and where I am now it’s a complete change. I know that if I can do it then I can inspire other people to do it. Especially women or color or the minority community. Unfortunately, many people often look at eating healthy as a “white” thing. That is stupid and ignorant. I don’t understand why people say things like that. I still hear those things to this day when I tell people that I’m vegan.
I am showing people that being healthy is a human thing. Being vegan is great not only for your health but for the environment and the animals. I teach people how to be one with the earth. I know it sounds “hippie-ish.” [:-)]
Kristin: [ 0:02:14.4] It’s not.
Letitia: [ 0:02:16.7] It’s really true. When I changed my diet I never thought it would bring me to where I am today. I started for health reasons. I wanted to see how I could feel better.
Kristin: [ 0:02:31.5] Can you talk a bit about that and how you came to veganism?
Letitia: [ 0:02:38.4] Yes. I didn’t sit down and say, “I want to be vegan.” It was something that happened out of nowhere. I was on vacation in Miami. I was eating badly. I didn’t feel good. It was hot. I thought, “Why am I feeling this way?”
I thought, “Maybe I should change the way that I eat and it will affect how I feel.” I started to research vegetarianism and veganism online. I didn’t research veganism but becoming vegetarian and eliminating meat from my diet. I did it gradually. I stopped eating meat, though I hung onto fish and dairy. I thought, “Where will I get my protein?” The more I got into it, I began to look into the animal rights side of things. I didn’t know that this [factory farming] is where our meat comes from.
I had no clue. When you’re growing up you picture someone milking a cow in a little red barn. You picture cows and chickens roaming around.
Ethan: [ 0:03:59.4] It’s like, “Old MacDonald had a farm.”
Letitia: [ 0:04:01.4] That’s right.
Ethan: [ 0:04:01.9] Most think it’s no big deal.
Letitia: [ 0:04:03.6] I never knew about the whole factory farming and diary industries. I did more research on my own. That’s how I got to where I am today.
Kristin: [ 0:04:24.6] How long did that whole period take?
Letitia: [ 0:04:27.0] It’s been years. I’ve been vegan for five years. I was vegetarian before that for about a year or so.
Kristin: [ 0:04:37.7] It was pretty much all on your own? Were there any people that you connected with through your research that influenced you?
Letitia: [ 0:04:43.9] No. I had an ex-boyfriend whose sister was vegan. She came to live with us when she graduated college. She definitely influenced me. She was someone that I could go to with questions. She wasn’t there a lot.
Ethan: [ 0:05:04.6] Were you vegetarian at the time?
Letitia: [ 0:05:06.0] Yes. That helped. She introduced me to juicing. She was there. Other than her, there was no one else. My family thought I was crazy. My friends thought I was crazy.
Kristin: [ 0:05:26.9] Have any of them come around since then?
Letitia: [ 0:05:28.7] Yes. It’s interesting. I was the crazy one back then. Now I’m the go-to person for nutrition and health questions. My niece and my sister are both vegetarian now. It’s amazing how things come around full-circle. At first I was preachy about it. Then I learned that it was a big turn-off. I would say, “Don’t eat that.”
Kristin: [ 0:05:58.3] With everyone I’ve ever talked to about it I feel that every vegan goes through those stages. You’re preachy. Then you stop talking altogether. You don’t even want to talk about it. There are all of these different phases that we go through. I think it’s part of the transition and learning about everything.
Letitia: [ 0:06:16.6] That is so true. Back then I was always the butt of the jokes. They would say, “Are you going to eat a leaf?” Now I will bring my dishes to family parties or holidays. They will say, “This is vegan?” People do come around eventually on their own time. It’s been an interesting experience. I love it.
Kristin: [ 0:06:56.2] How did the whole business idea come about? I know you said that you wanted to help people. Was there a specific instance where you said, “I know that I need to do this?”
Letitia: [ 0:07:05.0] Yes. After high school most kids struggle with what they want to do with their career. I don’t know why society thinks that right when you get you of high school you have to know what you want to do.
I had tunnel vision. I said, “I’m going to be a doctor. That’s the only thing I want to do.” I never wanted to do anything else but to be a doctor. My second year of college I changed my mind. I didn’t know where to go or what to do.
I was a biology major. I was trying to figure out my life. I thought, “I don’t want to go to medical school. I don’t want to do this. I still want to help people.” It took me a few years to figure out what I wanted to do and find the right type of school to go to.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. I found that school. I had no clue how I was going to pay for it. I didn’t know if I was going to go to New York for classes or take them online. Everything worked out.
I found a way to pay for it myself. I didn’t have to take out loans. They came out with a distance learning program the year that I started. I did everything online. I could still work full-time. It was amazing.
Once I got into health and wellness I thought, “Why can’t I combine them with my career and do something along those lines?” When I found that school it was crazy how it fell into my lap. I went to that school. That is how Peace of Food came to be.
When I was taking the classes I didn’t know if I was going to start my own business or if I was learning the information for my own good. I came up with the idea. At first I thought of “helping families lose weight” or “helping families to eat healthier.” I had a broad target market.
I thought, “I’ll work with anyone.” The more I got into it I thought, “I don’t want to tell people to eat meat. I don’t want to tell people to eat eggs. Why can’t I combine it with my lifestyle of veganism and show people an alternative way to eat?” That’s how it’s come to be now.
Kristin: [ 0:09:43.6] How long have you been working on this business structure?
Letitia: [ 0:09:49.2] I’ve had my business for about a year and a half now. Most recently I’ve begun to tweak it and gear it more towards veganism. My last few clients have been interested in becoming vegetarian or vegan.
I thought, “Why don’t I just do this?” I’ve personally gone through the whole experience. I am more passionate about it and can help people move towards vegetarianism or veganism.
Kristin: [ 0:10:24.2] When you started to talk about it you said, “It’s working. People are seeing a difference.” Can you talk about specific clients that you’ve had that have seen a big difference?
Letitia: [ 0:10:32.8] Yes. One specific client came to me. She was ‘iffy’ at first. She said, “I want to be a vegetarian but I know I can do it on my own. Maybe you can give me a couple of tips.” I said, “OK.” I didn’t want to push her into becoming a long-term client. She was having trouble. She felt like she didn’t know what to eat. She said that all she was eating was bread and pasta. She couldn’t figure out what else to eat or cook. She needed my help more than she thought.
Kristin: [ 0:11:12.6] There are other things besides bread and pasta?
Letitia: [ 0:11:15.1] Yes, I know. I began to coach and work with her weekly. I introduced her to different fruits and vegetables, different ways of cooking, juicing and smoothies. I showed her different ways to approach cooking and eating in general.
I introduced her to a simpler way of living. People make things more complicated than it needs to be. I introduced her to a healthier way of eating as well as coaching her in other aspects of her life.
We deal with nutrition coaching on a holistic level. I deal with, “Are you happy with your career? Are you happy in your relationships?” You can have the perfect diet. If everything else in your life is messed up you can be sick or stressed. I worked with her along those lines.
She’s lost weight. She said she eats fish once in a while. I told her not to be too hard on herself. If she feels the need to eat some fish or cheese once in a while that’s fine. To look at where she started and where she is now is amazing. She lost about 10 to 15 pounds.
Kristin: [ 0:12:54.7] What was the time frame for that?
Letitia: [ 0:12:56.7] We worked together for three months.
Kristin: [ 0:13:02.1] That’s great.
Letitia: [ 0:13:03.8] You can see the difference in her overall. It’s not just the weight. It is a mindset and the way that she looks at things. It is knowing that there are other ways of eating and other options. I think that is the biggest thing. It is education. Many people don’t know.
There is so much information out there. I think it’s overwhelming for people. They don’t know, “Is this diet right? Should I eat this? Because I’m buying this from Whole Foods does that mean it’s healthy?”
Kristin: [ 0:13:43.7] I think the idea that it is a diet and not a lifestyle change is an obstacle for people, too. It’s a quick fix to lose some weight. Then they go back to something else.
Letitia: [ 0:13:52.2] My biggest thing is the whole gradual change and not just a diet. It doesn’t work. Studies have shown that you will gain the weight back sooner or later. It’s definitely about a lifestyle change.
Ethan: [ 0:14:12.7] In terms of the diet it’s not enough to become vegan. You can be a pasta, bread and French fry vegan. That will not do you much good.
Letitia: [ 0:14:25.8] People have to understand that there is a healthy vegan and unhealthy vegan. You can have French fries. There are pizza places. There is ice cream. It is moving back to a back-to-nature way of eating.
That’s how I think of it. It’s a simple way of eating. You can have some of your junk food some time. Most of the time you should try to eat the stuff closest to nature.
Kristin: [ 0:15:01.9] How does the coaching process work? Do you go into people’s homes? Is it all virtual?
Letitia: [ 0:15:07.0] It’s mostly one-on-one. It is in their homes. I don’t have a standing office as of right now. I can do it over-the-phone. I haven’t done over-the-phone coaching yet. I’ve done in-person coaching and group coaching. I do monthly seminars. I take people on health food store tours.
Ethan: [ 0:15:36.7] You walk them through the supermarket and say, “This is good. This is bad.”
Letitia: [ 0:15:40.3] Yes. I walk them through. People don’t know the different vegetables in the produce section. They know the basic stuff. That’s it. That is crazy. That’s how it is. People think they should buy iceberg lettuce, a cucumber and a tomato and they’re OK. There is so much more.
Ethan: [ 0:16:08.8] Kale!
Letitia: [ 0:16:10.9] People don’t know what kale is. I will show it to them. They will say, “That’s a garnish. I worked at a hotel. They would use that in the buffet as a garnish.” I said, “You have wasted it.”
Kristin: [ 0:16:26.7] One of my friend’s parents has these lizard things. I don’t know what they are. They feed them kale. When she found out that I eat kale she said, “We feed that to the lizards. How can you eat it? It’s gross?” I said, “Have you tried it?” She said, “No, but we feed it to the reptiles. Why would you eat it?”
Ethan: [ 0:16:52.0] Those lizards must be really healthy then. ;-)
Kristin: [ 0:16:53.9] That’s all they eat.
Letitia: [ 0:16:55.5] That’s crazy.
Ethan: [ 0:16:59.7] Where did you grow up?
Letitia: [ 0:17:01.3] I grew up in Brockton.
Ethan: [ 0:17:04.8] That’s not necessarily a hotbed of vegetarianism. [No offense Brockton. Jab! Stick and Move!]
Letitia: [ 0:17:07.9] Not at all. There is definitely a lack of education when I think of health classes or school lunch.
Kristin: [ 0:17:40.6] Yes.
Letitia: [ 0:17:42.9] There was no hope for eating healthy unless your family taught you to eat healthy.
Ethan: [ 0:17:53.8] Is the program that you did online a certificate program or a degree?
Letitia: [ 0:17:58.9] It’s a certification. You are certified as a holistic health coach.
The rest of the conversation moved towards our excitement over the new restaurants in Boston.
We also ordered some cookies warmed up with some ice cream on top as we finished our meal at True Bistro.
Thanks for Hanging out with us, Letitia!