Food & Garden
Holistic Nutrition & Regenerative Health with Kyra de Vreeze
Kyra de Vreeze gives us a glimpse of a slow life in the Netherlands and how she found herself there. Kyra herself is a trained naturopath and in this editorial she shares her passion for holistic nutrition and her innate love for plants and the natural world.
“Food is information. It sends messages to the body about (un)safety and authentic pace and time. Where it is grown, when and how all affect us. Food grown here (locally) now (in season) tunes the body to the here and now. It is nourishing on a deep level, both in nutrients but also way beyond. It provides us what we need to be nourished at this very moment, in this very place. Food grown in a regenerative way will make it much easier for a person to flourish on.”
– Kyra de Vreeze
First of all can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about where your dedication to sustainable living comes from?
Hi! My name is Kyra! So nice to meet you : ) I live in a tiny rural hamlet in The Netherlands but I was born on and have my roots firm in the rocky earth of a small Caribbean island called Curacao. This is where I spent the first handful of years of my life, on a large plot of land overlooking the kunuku (countryside) and the sea. My father had designed and built the home himself. It was tiny, modest and off grid. The electricity came from a small windmill. Our fridge and stove ran on propane. We did not have light switched nor did we have a washing machine. We did not have computers or a tv. The sun would set around 7 pm every evening at which time the world would turn pitch black and the magic of the starry sky and the milky way appeared. This start of my life has deeply impacted me. To be surrounded by the elements constantly, in deep contact with Earth. My purpose in life is to connect everyday more and more deeply with my nature, Earth and all who reside on her. To really live ‘ I am Nature’. And when I temporarily forget, to re-member this Truth with buoyancy.
Where did your interest in naturopathy come from and how were you convinced of it’s effectiveness?
When I was 7 years old I read a childrens book called ‘Juniper’ and from that moment on I knew I wanted to become a ‘nature doctor’. After highschool I did a gap year in Australia and this is where I met a lady who was a naturopath. Things immediately clicked and I realized Naturopathy held what I always thought being a ‘nature doctor’ was. One month after my return to The Netherlands I started my 5 year education as a naturopath. I have always believed in a holistic Earth-based way of healing and living and had seen the powerful results in clients. But the true conviction came through embodiment, when I had my very first personal experience with its potent powers, self-healing diagnosed infertility.
How do you think our modern lifestyles have taken us further from natural living and affected our health in ways we might not consider?
Our indoors, screen filled, rational, work focused, industrialized, urban and global minded life has changed how we interact with every facet of our existence. Our connection to Earth and being outdoors, our connection to the Sun, light in general, to physical work and rest, to soul, to food, to others, and much much more. The modern structure of our life has resulted in a sense of disconnection. People are feeling anxious, depressed, burned out and lonely. They feel disconnected from themselves and each other. They feel so disconnected from the truth that they too are animals and Nature that I now hear many humans say ‘we are a plague that harms the Earth. We need to protect the environment from humans. Earth is better off without us.’ This is the ultimate proof of our disconnect. We have verbally placed Nature outside of us and are fencing it off.
Do you feel eating a more plant focused diet can help with health?
I was a vegetarian for 25 years, including 3 years of eating vegan. At the same time I had and have always advocated ‘body knows best’, deeply and honestly listening to the cues and wisdom of the body. It was easy for me to listen to my body, except for when it came to eating plant-based. I had dogmatized vega(n) eating and become stuck in my conviction that this was who I was and what was healthiest and best for me. Through my dogma I failed to listen to the signals my body was giving me: it wanted me to include more animal products and meats. I ignored the cues for a long long time. Coming up with all sorts of rational sustainable health excuses. Until last year when I had gone through many layers of unlearning old stories and beliefs and re-membering universal Earth Truths. I had to conclude: I can not but start listening unconditionally, live Truth to the fullest and thus do what my mind feared most but my body and soul demanded: start eating meats again. It was a challenging process but it was exactly what I needed. My body healed what it wasn’t able to finish healing before. My vitality returned in ways I had not felt before and my hair started to grow thick and full. I realized the real reason I started eating vega(n) was out of fear. It was an unconcious fear based decision. Fear of death, fear of pain, fear of being a ‘bad’ person, fear of being out of control, fear for the state of the world. Eventually I realized this and how this fear based mentality was holding me back, in a state of perpetual survival. It did not serve me any longer. So I let go of it. And it has been monumental.
And what about eating seasonally and locally?
Food is information. It sends messages to the body about (un)safety and authentic pace and time. Where it is grown, when and how all affect us. Food grown here (locally) now (in season) tunes the body to the here and now. It is nourishing on a deep level, both in nutrients but also way beyond. It provides us what we need to be nourished at this very moment, in this very place. Food grown in a regenerative way will make it much easier for a person to flourish on.
I believe eating locally and seasonally, in deep connection to our food and surroundings, is essential to living a well nourished life. And when we thrive, so does everything around us.
Do you have any tips for people who are looking to eat more sustainably with less budget?
Growing (some of) your own vegetables, herbs and fruits is a great start. We used to live in an appartment with a balcony. This is where I started growing our own food, on about 7m2. We grew kilos of tomatoes, leafy greens, carrots, peas. We grew our own strawberries and herbs. I used the pots I had an was gifted. The only investment I needed to make were the organic open-pollinated seeds but the produce we harvested was so much more valuable than the monetary cost of the seeds. We since moved from the appartment in the city to a rural home on 1/10 th of an acre. Between april and november I grow about 70% of all of the vegetables we eat in the most organic (regenerative) way.
When it comes to meat I believe in respecting the wholeness of the cycle of life, in eating the full animal. Chicken breast and steak are very high in demand and very expensive but bones and organs are used very little and thus fairly inexpensive to buy. Bones and organs are some of the most nutrient dense cuts though. From these I make our own bonebroth and liver pate.
“I do not really believe in self-sufficiency as no man can live or thrive on their own. We need true connection, support and attention: a tribe, a clan, a small community. I might grow most of my fresh food. But I am not able to grow our grains or raise our own meat. For this I need community.”
– Kyra de Vreeze
How can simply slowing down our lifestyles help with health?
Wow. Where to start! As a therapist I see many women struggling with this. We are taught to want everything men have also. A succesful career. Goal oriented. A go go go mentality. Our rational mind often leads or dominates our day. But at the same time we want to start a family and be mothers. The juggling might cause overwhelm. We feel we need to manage our household like we manage our job. Our life ends up more practical than magically soul ful.
I observe how this affects women on many different levels. Clients come to me with low energy, low libido, difficulty getting pregnant, hair loss, tiredness, anxiety, feeling empty, burn out, menstrual irregularities, inability to find connection to Self, the body and others such as their partners and much more. Reconnecting to the body instead of solely the mind, to receiving instead of taking, to a slower pace aligned with (our) nature and Earths cues instead of the rush of this modern society will impact health and wellbeing GREATLY.
How important is gardening to your own personal health and well-being?
Working outside with my hands is essential nourishment and medicine. The soil, the garden, Earth, teaches me about Truth daily.
What does self-sufficiency look like for you?
I do not really believe in self-sufficiency as no man can live or thrive on their own. We need true connection, support and attention: a tribe, a clan, a small community. I might grow most of my fresh food. But I am not able to grow our grains or raise our own meat. For this I need community. For me this looks like a beautiful dewy web. The threads are the connections between people from our direct community. Many of these might grow food. The surplus harvested can be gifted to others in the community who have little. When someone has too much wood they might exchange it with someone who does not have enough to get through winter but can offer something else. One might have the skills and experience another could use. My neighbour could knit me a sweater and I might offer her canned goods. A hand on a shoulder or a chat and a homecooked meal for a village elder. The web gives life buoyancy, capacity and resilience. It offers belonging, wonder and sparks of magic. It allows for the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
How did you approach pregnancy in a sustainable way?
Hahaha, well I simply bought very little baby stuff. The items I did buy were second hand. Like wool baby clothes and a linnen baby carrier so I could have my girls close at all times. We cloth diapered and paired back in general.
And now looking forward, what is some of the work you do to raise conscious children?
Small children are like parrots and pick up on your energy. What they see you do they will repeat. How you feel is how they will feel. I live my life the way I feel is most connected and aligned. I thus lead by example. Furthermore I believe kids are much more wise than adults. They have not yet received the conditioning we’ve had. There’s so much to be learned from children. I do not need feel i need to teach them anything but more so to guide them towards becoming the full expression of themselves.
Finally, what are your top three tips for anyone wanting to look more holistically at their well-being?
I have two to share today!
1.Body know best. Your body is wise beyond words. It speaks in sensations. It feels safe when you listen, affirm and respond to these. If you have not yet developed a sturdy relationship with your body, start here now.
2.Matter follows consciousness. Every thing begins with a thought, a belief, a convictions, a story which then turns into repeated action which then tuns into concrete matter, like a partner, stuff or symptoms and dis-ease. Want to change the matter in your life? Start changing the stories you’re telling yourself.