Do you ever wonder what your purpose is in life? In what way does your presence on this Earth add value to it? In the past, I’ve pondered on these questions many times and I know I’m not the only person who has. Maria Brito, who is now a Holistic Nutritionist, thought these same exact questions just a few years ago and in no time found her answer. Being of service to others and helping heal herself as well as others was something that had been of importance to Maria since she could remember. After graduating from the Academy of Healing Nutrition and being offered an amazing opportunity to move to Los Angeles, California in the summer of 2020, she has been on a beautiful, life-changing journey of being a holistic nutritionist, continuously building up her community of clients, focusing on clean eating, using traditional chinese medicines, and investing in healthy living! I had the chance to chat with Maria about everything from what a holistic nutritionist does, her favorite clean meals, to the organs in the human body that has intrigued her the most, and so much more!
Maria may live on the West Coast currently, enjoying the sun-filled California life but she is an East Coast girl always, being born and raised in a Dominican, New York household. Growing up, Maria was not the healthiest person. For years she’d dealt with being overweight, weight fluctuations, and even depression. Her mom always kept health in mind, buying bread and oils that weren’t the absolute best but were much less damaging to the body than most. Maria attributes her mom’s knowledge about healthier food options in playing a huge role in why today she is so adamant about improving her health as well as the health of her friends, family, and clients. When Maria’s uncle, who practiced Islam and had a very strict, healthy diet, transitioned due to pancreatic cancer, it made Maria want to dive into holistic nutrition even more. So many questions would arise; What was his food being cooked in and/or with? Where was he getting his food from and what energies were being put into the food while it was being prepared? She just couldn’t understand how someone so healthy could transition in that way.
When you eat cleaner, you feel better. I can remember reading Queen Afua’s book, “Sacred Woman” last summer and learning about how the energy that is put into our food, in turn, goes into our body. For example, you’re constantly ordering out and the person who is cooking your food hates their job and doesn’t care about being at work. There’s no love, no happiness, and no good vibrations being put into that meal but you’re getting ready to eat it and that negative energy is unknowingly being passed onto you. Maria and I talked about this for a while and we’re not saying never eat out again but it’s super important to cook your own meals because you then are aware of all the love, energy, and ingredients that have been put into it. Eating clean is important to Maria for so many reasons. She noticed how her body felt when it was fed properly. She’s currently doing a personalized detox, not a juice cleanse, so she’s still eating solid foods but just giving her digestive system a break and eating more soups and doing less food combining. She feels amazing and full of life! The food you eat should not deplete you or make you feel sluggish.
I’m a big foodie and you can find me talking about food and trying new foods all the time! I asked Maria what her favorite clean meal was and without hesitation, she told me she loves a good salad! A fulfilling salad would be roasted sweet potatoes, roasted chickpeas, kale, avocado, and red onions. With a vegetable like beets, Maria mentions adding seasonings like paprika, black pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt to bring the savory to something sweet. She loves beans and prefers to buy ones that are not canned. Many canned beans have many preservatives and are high in salt so that they can stay on the shelves for long periods of time. Recently, Maria purchased an insulated mug that she puts her oatmeal in for the mornings when she’s on the go and it’s been heaven sent!
Accountability is key while on this journey of holistic healing. For the most part, Maria is very lenient with her clients but often reminds them that they have to take responsibility for the choices they make because at the end of the day, they are healing for themselves and no one else. If you don’t take the necessary steps to change your eating habits, food choices, etc. you’ll never get the results you want. Maria says so many people get comfortable with our problems, we’ll use genetics as an excuse, or go see a thousand doctors instead of doing the work to truly heal. Listening to our bodies is also a very big thing that a lot of people do not do. You have to know what works for you, not the girl you follow on Instagram, not the guy who’s Tik Tok you watch, but you. It’s all about balance and being informed, not just social media informed but actually reading multiple resources and learning about holistic nutrition. While spending so much time in Barnes & Noble, Maria recently got a membership card with them because she’s constantly buying books, becoming more knowledgeable in ways that will help to benefit herself and her clients in the long run.
There are some holistic nutritionists who deal with specific diseases like endometriosis, which Maria loves because people are able to go to them and the nutritionist is very knowledgeable and well-versed in that area so that they can easily provide the necessary help the client needs but Maria focuses on the body as a whole and works with anyone. Everything is natural with her and she doesn’t like to use too many supplements because most of what the body needs can be found right in fruits and vegetables. She’s studied Chinese herbs which tie directly into traditional Chinese medicine. Western medicine is what most of us have more of a background in, the oh-so-interesting pharmaceutical industry of the United States. We could really go there about Western medicines but please know there are some good Western doctors that genuinely want the best for us and for us all to live healthy lives. Eastern medicine, which is the category that traditional Chinese medicine falls under, keeps things clean and focuses on all parts of the body, using herbs and plants to reverse/cure certain diseases and viruses.
There are seventy-eight main organs within the human body, five of them being our brain, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys which are vital for survival but they all play such an important role in how we function. Maria has been most intrigued when learning about the liver. The liver is such a multifunctional organ. It regulates our weight, sugar, hormones, and this list doesn’t even stop there. It does so much for us! The gallbladder, kidneys, pancreas, and liver have all blown Maria’s mind at how they each balance one another out and need one another to function properly. Sometimes women who have fertility issues can link that back to their kidneys. Their kidneys may not be as healthy as they need to be because they are a key part of the process of carrying and giving birth to a child. Maria is so glad she’s able to spark these conversations within her community. I am constantly learning something new whenever I go on her Instagram and read her posts. People of color aren’t having enough of these conversations and we’re often the ones with the most health-related issues.
Moving your body can be anything from exercising, dancing, singing, or even doing a big stretch. We often have a lot of stuck energy in our bodies and deal with other people’s energies on a daily basis, so moving your body can be a big factor in how you see yourself. Letting those emotions flow and letting them out is never a bad thing. Maria tells us to let it out, yell, scream, cry, take some time alone, and invest in that emotional part of our health as well as physical. Investing in our health goes beyond what we eat but also including buying air purifiers in our homes and using non-toxic toothpaste/laundry products. Once we start living organically in one part of our life, the body as a whole will want to follow suit. Problems happen, that’s inevitable in life, but making those necessary changes will help you to view health differently, gives you a broadened, more positive outlook on how to handle the issues that will arise, and ultimately you’ll feel better as a whole and things will fall into place.
As much as Maria loves living in Los Angeles, she knows New York will always be home and there’s definitely a ton of work that needs to be done within the holistic space. LA is huge and its homeless population is unfathomable. Maria is one of those people who wishes she could help every single person but often wonders how she could possibly help people on the West Coast with little to no resources and such a big problem. In NYC, of course there were homeless people and people well under the poverty line but since there are much smaller neighborhoods and sections throughout each borough, she could easily go to schools and centers within The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens to teach people about holistic nutrition. The United States has made healthy eating such a non-factor, with stores like Costco, Sams, and etc which Maria understands those places are beneficial to a lot of Black people, people of color, including immigrants because their families are big but buying food in bulk is not good health wise, by any means. Stores like that don’t even exist in most other countries, which says a lot about the U.S.
Traveling, teaching more people about holistic nutrition and all the ways they can invest in their health is a dream of Maria! She’s also getting closer to thirty and by thirty-two she’d love to start settling down with her future family. Staying in the U.S. and having her own holistic facility is the ultimate goal. This wellness center will provide so many amazing options for people, including acupuncture and courses on holistic nutrition. It will be a place for people to go take care of themselves, from the inside and out. I know for sure all of Maria’s dreams will come to fruition in no time. She’s already making daily strides to better herself, her community, and her loved ones. From clean eating with fruits and vegetables to investing in your health, to expanding your knowledge on traditional Chinese medicine, Maria has the tools to really help bridge a gap in our communities on a topic that is somewhat unknown. I’m so happy for her and hope you all follow her along her journey!