Graduate Author Book Review: Leslie Korn, PhD, NTP
BOOK REVIEW: NUTRITION ESSENTIALS FOR MENTAL HEALTH: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE FOOD-MOOD CONNECTION BY LESLIE KORN, PHD, MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP
REVIEW BY JANINE MARTIN HORST, NTP CGP, NTA LEAD INSTRUCTORIn the initial stages of my personal healing journey, I hoped that making nutritional changes would help me breath without restriction, move without chronic pain, and have the energy to show up in my life without crushing fatigue. When I began to nourish myself with healing protocols like the GAPS diet, a delightful side effect occurred and the cloud of anxiety and depression that had shaped much of my life also lifted. The physical wellness I experienced with nutrition was profound but the mental wellbeing I gained was transformative. I’m sure many of you can relate to how empowering it is to discover that you can shape the way you experience the world with something as simple as the food. If passing on this empowerment to your clients is one of your goals as a practitioner then Leslie Korn’s book Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health, is a resource you need on your shelf. In the first chapter of Nutrition Essentials, Korn writes: “Food is much more than nourishment: Food is medicine. Food is nutrition. Food is ceremonial. Food is sacred. Food is culture and tradition. Food is an anchor to culture and personal well-being. Food is the direct link between environment and human health. It is the avenue by which a healthy environment can provide complete nutrition and a sense of integration and wellness.” Korn’s book is a masterful resource that integrates an ancestral approach to nutrition—what she calls traditional or authentic nutrition—with counseling techniques necessary to help clients break old patterns and beliefs around nutrition so that they can reframe their relationship with food and begin tapping into the healing power of nutritional therapy. Much of chapter 2 of Nutrition Essentials will sound familiar to the NTP as it covers the importance of digestion and healing the gut. Chapters 3 and 9 offer many great motivational interviewing techniques for listening to and assessing your client and empowering them to take steps to improve their diet and health. I love especially how Korn digs into the meaning of food for her clients—what positive and negative associations they have with food—and how they experience food and eating in their life. She follows meaning with a discussion of motivations. The intake form she shares in the appendices even has a section where the client can reflect on what food means for them followed by a section titled, “Motivation for Nutritional Change.” It asks the client to identify both reasons for and obstacles to improving their diet and then directs them to set specific goals for improving their diet and food preparation over the course of the next year. Beginning this discussion right out of the gate as part of the intake process empowers the client to be the director in their own healing process. The meat of Korn’s book is chock-full of tools to help the practitioner assess their client for dietary triggers and stressors affecting their mental health and resources for determining what healing foods, protocols, and supplements are the best fit for their bio-individual needs. The wealth of tables listing essential nutrients for mental wellbeing and suggested supplement dosing as well as dietary sources for each nutrient make my nutrition-geek heart so happy. Pages 265-282 have nutrient protocols specific to a wide range of mental health disorders from depression and anxiety and substance addictions to autism and dementia. This book has found a home on my office bookshelf as a resource I grab regularly to research diet and supplement protocols for my clients with mental health challenges.
ABOUT LESLIE KORN, PHD, MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP
Leslie Korn, PhD, author of over six books, is a clinician specializing in mental health nutrition and integrative medicine. A core faculty member of Capella University’s Mental Health Counseling Program, she served as a Fulbright scholar on traditional medicine, a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School, and a NationalInstitutes of Health-funded research scientist in mind/body medicine. In 1975, she founded the Center for Traditional Medicine, a public health clinic in rural indigenous Mexico that she directed for over 25 years. Author of six books, she teaches and consults internationally for mental health professionals and tribal communities.