Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a psychologist and a mom and now a radio show host, a public speaker and a magazine columnist. The truth is, I am now also a Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Nutrition Instructor, as well as a Certified Integrative Energy Healer, and student of several other osteopathic healing modalities (e.g. Craniosacral Therapy, Lymph Drainage, Visceral Manipulation, and Neural Manipulation). However, becoming a chef and a food and garden photographer was a very unexpected development. Most surprising, with the one book that I have written (though it took almost six years to write and photograph), I am now a multi-award-winning author, having received some of the highest honours possible as an author, including a starred Publishers Weekly Review and also a 2016 Gourmand Best in the World Cookbook Award, amongst other prestigious honours.
I realize this is quite a list. However, it’s important to explain that the reason I am all of these things is not because I am a “superhero”, but because of my intense craving to not leave my children motherless. And, now that I have been given a second chance, I am passionate about offering what I can to others, so that they don’t have to needlessly go through the same challenges that I had to live through.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
YUM: Plant-Based Recipes For A Gluten-Free Diet.
What inspired it… Well, it’s all pretty crazy, because while I’ve always been a great cook, historically I never really liked to cook! Especially growing up in a very gender-typed family, I grew up associating “cooking” with “women’s work”. As a strong and opinionated woman, it is not difficult to appreciate my lack of affection for the activity. This all changed, though, when I became extremely ill and debilitated and didn’t know if I would live long enough to keep my daughter from becoming motherless before she graduated high school. It is pretty incredible how motivating the desire to stay alive can be and how potent the desire to be there for others can be.
It was in 1997 that the test began. It was really scary—my immune system was kaput—gone! Every pathogen possible ravaged my body and my poor respiratory system had difficulty offering me the breath of life. It was a long and winding road, filled with multi-organ inflammation and dysfunction, including my joints, skin and neurological systems, as well as my respiratory and digestive systems. I was in pain in every cell of my body, with the toxicity within me (due to natural, as well as pharmaceutical inputs) ravaging within me. It was ugly.
After over a dozen years of profound struggling, I accidentally discovered that at the root of my debilitation was my body’s disapproval of some of the food that I ate—most notably, gluten, dairy, and potatoes. Once this awareness came to the light, my health finally began to turn around. It was a long journey, but an important point along the way was when I decided to shift my perspective about my food restrictions to focus on what I “could” eat, instead of what I had to live without. I thought of it like a painter’s palette to create new art and as a creative challenge.
At first, the process seemed grim, but being the persistent solution-seeker that I am, nothing could stop me on my mission. After years of experimenting, I successfully created insanely yummy and healthy plant-based food concepts that everyone in my family could love, even without gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs, potatoes, and many other foods that can give lots of folks a tough time.
This was not my plan, but it was my Destiny—and one that I would never want to change. Because of my suffering, I now have been able to create a gift for others—the resource that I wish I could have found when I was so sick. I want to optimally help others prevent themselves from having to go through what I did, if possible. If it is too late for that, I want to help those who are struggling find respite, ease and joy in their lives again.
Many others are like me—the symptoms are there and may have been throughout their lives. For example, I had migraines, rosacea, asthma, digestive problems and anemia since childhood, but never knew that the food I was eating was causing it. The crazy thing is that I know that I am not unique in this. Countless people have gas, skin rashes, headaches, heartburn, etc. and think that these symptoms are just a necessary part of living—when oftentimes, they actually may not be. Knowing this, I am committed to share what I have learned so that even children can avoid this dark and lonely path and instead live vibrant and healthy lives. This is what YUM has been created to do.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I do. Because I live so much “in the flow”, I find that if I don’t capture inspiration when it is offered to me, I lose it. Because of this, I’ve had to discover butterfly nets to capture the ideas when they choose to flit about (even in the most inconvenient times, like at 3am or while walking to work!). I have found that postit notes and a pen above my head in bed and the dictation button on my phone, where I can email my thoughts to myself, are my best friends. Taking photographs of special moments is another strategy I use to hold a moment in time, later to be deconstructed or poetically expressed.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Oh my goodness, SO many! Artistically for my photography, I have been very much moved by Ottolenghi. Kris Carr has been a shining light of love and hope and courage, as Viktor Frankl was also a similar reflection, but in a much different voice. Revolutionary thinkers, such as Functional Medicine and Integrative Physicians, such as Dr. David Perlmutter, Dr. Alessio Fasano, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. William Davis, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Dr. Natasha Turner were all instrumental for me along my personal journey. And on a soul level, Dr. Rachel Remen, Dr. Tara Brach and Dr. Daniel Amen have held a candle of hope and confirmation of my vision. Truly, I could go on and on about “inspirers” of mine, but I will stop there for now.
What are you working on now?
Currently I am excited about my new website (www.TheresaNicassio.com) that offers even more wellness resources, drawing upon my 30 years as a therapist and wellness professional. It feels like an important next chapter in my journey. Public speaking and taking on several magazine columns, like the two with Blush Vancouver Magazine is another opportunity to give to my community. My new radio show, the Dr. Theresa Nicassio Show on HealthyLife.net is taking my message to a whole new level, with a global reach that is quite humbling.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
You know, my favourite method for promoting my books is opening my heart with people, whether in person or online via social media. I can’t believe how many people write emails and social media messages to me, as well as talk to me when I am at public events. It is extremely magical. In many ways I know that my tool for connecting is my book, which offers hope and love and compassion. However, the most important medium of my message is simply my willingness to love and deeply care about the people whose lives I am meant to touch.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I have two recommendations:
1) Write because you have something you want to share with others that you think will touch them in a meaningful way, but don’t be attached to the outcome.
2) Focus on the who, what, when, where, how and why of your message—-beginning and ending with the “WHY”. I think new authors are often focused on the “WHAT” of their writing or message. The “What” is really just two-dimensional. However, the “Why” is where the passion resides. If there is no passion, there is no reason to write and without passion, there is no reason to read what is written.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“Say “Yes” and then figure it out later.”
This is a great way to confront fears and learn to embrace the unknown and move out of one’s comfort zone.
What are you reading now?
Because I am needing to learn about the world of online marketing, I just started to read Martin Crosbie’s book about the ins and outs of selling ebooks.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I also have several other forthcoming books up my sleeve that I am brewing up plans to eventually launch into the world one day. All are still in the non-fiction genre that are a combination of being inspirational, psychological and philosophical. The most important work I will probably ever write is my book, “In Search of Your Golden Buddha.” However, I am also looking forward to offering an insider view of my life’s journey as a psychologist in my book “The Secret Life of a Therapist”. I also am looking forward to one day birthing my book “PIG-Out”, which will offer practical tools for more joyful and kind living through pleasure, inclusivity and gratitude.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Rachel Remen’s “Kitchen Table Wisdom”, Tara Brach’s book “Radical Acceptance”, Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays With Morrie” and Johanson & Kurtz’s “Grace Unfolding”.