Vivica Menegaz is a certified whole-food nutritionist, blogger, published author and one of the leading voices advocating for a food-based approach to healing. Vivica was the first one to use the now popular expression “Keto Paleo” to describe her lifestyle and way of eating.
She is the founder of the “The Healing Foods Method’ – an 14 week online nutrition program where she works 1-on-1 with clients to turn their health around utilizing a therapeutic ketogenic diet for healing (keto paleo).
Tracing back to her Italian origins, Vivica is a passionate cook whose love of healing food has been shared with millions through her blog, “The Nourished Caveman.”
While living in Northern California, pursuing her self-sufficiency dreams and practice of nutrition, Vivica’s life came to a turning point when she discovered she was pre-diabetic. The nourishing Paleo foods she had been advocating we evidently not the whole solution to modern health problems. Fueled by this discovery, Vivica dove into research and found the ketogenic diet. It was love at the first bite.
Within the first couple of months, her blood glucose levels dropped, she shed excess weight, her brain fog cleared up and her energy levels skyrocketed. After a year of successful keto paleo lifestyle Vivica’s own health journey took another turn as she was now diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism. Again she had to rely on her studies and practical applications to resolve those challenges, and that is how she became the first holistic nutritionist to successfully utilize a ketogenic approach as the foundation to endocrine rebalancing.
Vivica’s therapeutic approach to food, lifestyle and supplementation, utilizes the healing power of foods and mindset, to address the incapacitating symptoms of many lifestyle-diseases that have plagued our modern lives.
She has made it her mission to help others reclaim their health and quality of life.
Vivica is also the author of 3 cookbooks: “The Ultimate Paleo Cookbook” 2015, together with 9 other bloggers, and “the big book of Fat Bombs” in 2016. Her latest book: “the Keto Paleo Kichen” was released in December 2017.
- A nutritionist, a blogger, and cook book author
- Recently, she has been focusing more on her nutrition practice versus blogging and cooking because it became more prevalent for her since people will go to her especially people who specialize Ketogenic diet
- Keto Paleo is what she has become more known for
- She is also one of the people who started commanding her knowledge of endocrine systems especially for females
- The Ketogenic diet became popular really fast and a lot of people did not do so well on it. So in my take, I see one of the reasons that people just forget to balance metabolism which is address to Ketogenic diet with the needs of you endocrine system
- Women’s hormonal life is a little different than men, and luckily women are so complex. We have a whole other layer of complexity added
- Our sex hormones become delicate imbalance because our environment is imbalance
- Now, we have to deal with the cause of imbalance in our other hormones
- Thyroid hormones alone have at least 5 or 6 different variations of hormones that people don’t even think about, especially endocrinologist don’t consider when they do thyroid panels, they just look at one thing which is kind of relatively relevant in the whole picture but there are so much more to the story
- When you look at adrenal hormone, we also need to look at the cortisol, but there are more than that
- Sex hormones are not just estrogen and progesterone. There are 3 or 4 more hormones involved in that picture
- There is this not so secret hormone anymore. It is becoming a public enemy especially here in the United States and it is insulin and there are a lot of talks on ending insulin and all different ramifications and involvements
- For me, when you talk about metabolism versus endocrine, I think insulin as a metabolic hormone which regulates fat burning and sugar absorption, but it also really bridges the endocrine system and takes us to the whole other side which is all the hormones, which are thyroid adrenals and sex hormones
- We can never forget the regulation hormones and the control center of them. The correct system, which are Pituitary and Hypothalamus.
- Even by the best endocrinologist and the functional medicine doctors do not always take consideration into the full pictures because they can become seriously dysfunctional
- And until you resolve that from the control center – the dysfunctions, you’re not going to get very far
- There are these two parts.
The metabolic and the endocrine.
And there is this control center which regulates both of them
- It’s a really complex and interesting dense on how we bring this all together
- It kind of a love-hate relationship with me because as women, we are kind of ruled by our hormones. We can’t escape it.
- I have many patients come to me with adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction. And this is the world we are living right now
- In America, year 2018, I would say 90% of women has sort of dysfunction thyroid, adrenal, sex hormones or all three of them mostly
- There are multiple reasons about that and one thing that I want to communicate very early to your listener on their healing journey especially for women.
- As far as motivation that can come from better understanding of the larger picture your health and your situation like, where does your health residing
- Addressing hormonal health is always more important that diet.
If you’re done regulating your hormones then you can talk about macros all day long
- A lot of people now are using the Ketogenic diet with great success.
I know that it is really a valuable tool. But gain, why is everybody having such success to the Ketogenic diet? And why is it so popular?
- Because it addresses metabolism
- And it has really the power to heal a broken metabolism
- And what do find mostly in America right now?
People with broken metabolism coming from standard American diet
- Low carb was on for a while, but low carb was not enough, and also the way low carb has done.
- The way low carb has been done by a lot of people is just a lot of substitution.
It is like trying to eat the same way that the way you ate with the standard American diet with a little bit of substitutions here and there
- At the beginning, low carb was pretty ignorant of the quality of the food which is a big topic that keeps coming up as people starts Ketogenic diet
- There are a lot of different ways to do diets, but for a diet to be really healing and including Ketogenic diet, I think it is not just about ketosis that is wonderful
- Ketosis has a lot of benefits for the body, metabolism and hormonal balance, but it also is very important to consider the quality of the food because that is the big component
- I actually eat very simple
- Not boring because I love food and needs to be very satisfying for me
- I am an Italian
- Born and race in Italy, learned how to cook in Italy, grew up in a restaurant so I love food
- Food is the center of my being, but I eat simple and I don’t fast around also, because I am busy
- I eat mostly simple, clean foods. Mostly savory.
I don’t do Keto sweets
- I like my organic grass fed proteins. I am a big fan of Pasteur beef.
I try to support organic farmers at all levels
- The key for sustainability is based in animals has been done the right way. Which means, no factory farms and no artificial pesticides fertilizers
HOW YOU GOT TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
- I am 49 years old. I am going to be 50 years old this year
- Ever since of the beginning of the year I have been in this reflective mode of what does it mean to turn 50 and how?
- And I think I can safely say that I never felt this good in my body – inside and out. I am the strongest and fittest ever been in my life
- I am very happy of where I am now and I want to share that because I think it is possible
- It is really possible to take responsibility for your health at any stage and any age and just get better.
- Healing is possible and I am the living proof of it
- Lately, I have a lot of practitioners that comes to me as patients and we do the work together as they heal themselves
- I feel like in your personal healing journey, there are so much value, because once we learn how to do this process then we can help other people as well
- I grew up in Italy and I was raised in a restaurant and I think I started being a bit obsessed with food, like dieting when I was a teenager
- I remember journaling my food and looking at everything I was eating
- I started to gain weight in high school and I did not want to. And so I started finding the right tools for managing my food and my weight
- I kind of struggling with diet. I have no idea what I was doing, but I was really lucky because I always ate real whole foods
- I was able to manage myself.
I never really had food addiction or had a weight problem
- But when I was at the age of 26 or 26, I was already living in the United States and one day, something happened to me.
- I started having this incredible pain on my right side and I remembered I had pizza that day for dinner. I was in extreme pain and I thought I might broke something
- I have a phobia of doctors and I did not want to go to the emergency room and I just went to bed, feel asleep and woke up the next day, and the pain was gone
- That was my first gallbladder attack and I had no idea what hit me
- Nothing happened for awhile, but few months later, it happened again
- I was referred to a chiropractor here in Los Angeles, which became my first nutritionist.
- He told me I had a bad gallbladder, but I should not have been surprised because my mom and my grandmother had their gallbladder removed.
My mom fought against that for 10 years, which any medicines were not effective. She never changed her diet, never did the detox and eventually she removed her gallbladder and was even sicker for the following 10 years.
Until I have enough knowledge to step in to help her and enable her to manage her condition. She’s pretty okay now
- As I got older, in my mid 30’s, it gets worse
- I got to a point where every time I have a gallbladder attack I have to vomit
- I was taking ibuprofen trying to fight the pain of the gal bladder. I had migraines all the time and terrible allergies
- I was really stressed and exhausted at that time
- My period starts going a little bit crazy.
I thought I was doing fine and I though it was normal.
But guess what? Women put up so much and we make it our normal
- We don’t really start thinking of what really going on
- Few years gone by, in my early 40’s.
I met my first mentor who was another doctor chiropractic
- She really changed my life.
She pushed me to study nutrition
- She also put me through my first detox. We were doing four detox in a year and a gallbladder flush. With that, my gal bladder problems were gone and the allergies starts going away too
- I was a little bit overweight at that point and that got fixed
- I stared working for her as her office manager and studied nutrition and that was the best thing that ever happened to me.
- I worked for her for 5 years
- During those 5 years about 3 years into it, I was eating organic, paleo, low car, super clean and my gallbladder is happy but I started gaining weight again. By then, I was like mid 40’s
- I was probably eating high carb diet without knowing. I ate fruits, all gain free, local and organic
- We baked a lot and made a lot of paleo breads as I was coaching our patients
- In the meantime, I did not understand why I was having whole other symptoms that I did not have before – aches and pains.
I was having inflammation in my joints, started gaining weight, gaining 30 pounds in 2 years, fatigue, and not sleeping well
- So I was trying to figure this out, and then I encounter the Ketogenic diet
- So I started measuring my blood sugar and found out I was prone into pre-diabetes. I was surprised.
- My liver was definitely not a happy camper at that point even after all the detox and everything because of the high sugar. And I am not a big fan of sugar, I prefer savory foods, always did. But it’s also the carbs. I was really carb intolerant and carbs are not just in the fruits, it is even in the vegetables, the starchy vegetable or the flours.
That was kind of a slap on the face because at that point I thought I had it figured out
- 6 months after that, as I started doing Keto and I was really strict Keto for about 6 months, and I lost weight and start feeling great, but then other symptoms came
- I started working and I found my second mentor, Ronda, and she is one of the top people here in United Stated for restorative endocrinology
- I became her patient because I start attending her seminars
- Turns out I have hashimoto and a major hypothyroid
- While I was doing the Ketogenic diet, I think doing so low carb definitely triggered something that was not underlined situation with my thyroid was just there for years and I did not realize what was happening
- And also, I am not the kind of person who does blood work everyday
- But at that point I start working closely with Ronda and just absorbing her knowledge and dove into endocrine systems
- It amazed me how modern medical doctors have absolutely no knowledge of the connections and interactions, independency and what it takes to heal especially the thyroid
- On the quest to fix my thyroid, I became kind of a thyroid specialist and I was doing Keto at the same time so I became a Keto thyroid specialist in away
- Then later on, I decided that I don’t want to be a Keto thyroid specialist because it is crazy complicated
- Three years later, I am great.
My thyroid is good. My adrenals are managed because when I am under a lot of stress, your adrenals will never be a happy camper
YOU GOT DIAGNOSED WITH HASHIMOTO’S AND EXTREME HYPOTHYROIDISM;
WHAT ARE THE FIRST COUPLE THINGS THAT YOU PERSONALLY DID TO YOUR DIET TO HELP HEAL THOSE?
- The first thing I did was taking a lot of supplements
- The kind of supplements I worked with was food concentrates
- The first thing I did to my diet is nourished my body with supplements because the food that we eat is not enough
- Supplements are like Santa’s elves.
You think Santa can do Christmas all by himself? Good luck.
- I do work with concentrates.
Sometimes there are granular concentrates, DNA cytosol extract, herbals and adaptogens.
- People ask me what does it mean to do a Ketogenic diet where you balance endocrine with the metabolic?
For me, it is Keto adapting with the right way and right foods that are nourishing and aking sure toxins are not in the way
- Any detoxification that needs to be done before the healing process, that is where you need to start
- Without detoxing nothing really happens
- We need 2 different kinds of detox
- When I do detox, I focus opening detox pathways in my patients.
Making sure that your liver and kidney are working, and be able to free their body from the toxins that you need to get rid of
- Supporting drainage pathways is a big deal
- I do muscle testings
- I do it by myself.
- I have test kits and sometimes I just use my brain
WORDS OF WISDOM
- You deserve it and you owe it to yourself
- As a woman, I think that we really need to help each other heal
- If we are keeping on the way that we are going, we are not going to go far
- If we want to go back into balance, I think that as an individual, the healing journey at this point is really collective.
- If we want to make a difference in the world, make a difference for yourself and that begins at one little better choice at a time
- Educate yourself and make better choices.