I am one of the few people I know who grew up knowing the true meaning of hunger in a first-world country. My father was a poet, and spent the 1970s teaching poetry and philosophy in various universities around the world. We ended up in Tehran in the late 1970s, where we remained for the entire duration of the revolution and hostage crisis, and lost all our possessions. We ended up in Venice, Italy, when I was two and a half years old, with a sister one year older than me and a brother one year younger.
We were desperately poor, as my parents had no stable source of income. I remember sitting on the damp steps of our house with my little brother and peeling off bits of moldy plaster from the crumbling wall for us to eat. Our mother often turned us out of the house in the mornings and told us to return after sunset to avoid hearing us complain about being hungry all day. As young children, we wandered around Venice and spent our days being sociable with random strangers in the hopes that they might share a bite of food with us.
After four years in Venice, my mom found work at a university in Tuscany, and we moved to a whimsical old house in the countryside, where I was continually struck by fruits growing in the orchards, mushrooms, chestnuts and rose hips growing in the woods, and the wild herbs my father used to cure our various ailments. I learned to forage for food to bring home and share with my loved ones. We had a vegetable garden, and I raised chickens and ducks for their eggs, which I sometimes bartered for other foods at the local store.
The transition from hunger to abundance, albeit in a condition of continued poverty, inspired me to love food and express love and affection for others through food, just as my father did with words. For me, the abundance of nature and the healing power of foods has always been life’s deepest poetry.
The nutritional deprivation of my early childhood, not to mention a set of unusual toxic exposures I accumulated as a young child – for example, living in Tehran during a time when it was common for bombs to explode and tires to be burnt in the streets, and then trying to transform inedible items into food in Venice – led me to experience a set of toxic accumulations and nutritional deficiencies that deeply affected my health.
Sara’s path to nutritional therapy
When I became a mother, it became extremely important for me to nourish my children with love and good food, and motherhood is a journey that has deeply inspired my continued study of nutrition, coming full circle and giving my children the nourishment my parents weren’t able to give me as a young child. Thus, three years after completing my Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance literature, I left academia to pursue my studies in nutrition.
Working to improve my health and raise strong children through a nourishing diet inspired me to pursue a career in nutritional therapy, and my full-time private practice emphasizes restoring health to those who have lost it and fostering optimal health in generations to come, with a deep commitment to the birthright of every baby to be born healthy and all parents-to-be to meet their full fertility potential.
For me, practicing nutritional therapy as a healing art is an expression of my love of food and my passion for sharing food and health with others. To rephrase one of my favorite lines from my father’s poetry (“Life is a celebration not a search for success”), good nutrition is a shared celebration of nature’s gifts, not a quest for perfection.