Sunday, January 8, 2012

Alumna Combines Acupuncture and Nutrition into a Career and a Cookbook

Sharon Gray, MS (’06), LAc, is one of many Bastyr graduates whose own health journey inspired her to join a healing profession. Now she's growing a practice and creating a cookbook that draws on crowd-sourced variations of a single simple recipe.

Sharon Gray, MS (’06), LAc

Sharon Gray, MS (’06), LAc, is one of many Bastyr graduates whose own health journey inspired her to join a healing profession. Her interests led her first to nutrition, then to Chinese acupuncture, culminating in a combination of the two that she uses in her North Seattle practice. She's also creating a cookbook that draws on crowd-sourced variations of a single simple recipe. She stopped by campus to speak about her work.

How did you find your way to Bastyr?

Nutrition was already a big personal interest, because it was a major factor in my healing from a chronic illness. My perspective, though, was more in line with Chinese medicine. I don't believe anything should be standardized in nutrition, and Chinese medicine focuses more on each person's unique constitution. That was important to me.

I thought I needed a degree in Western nutrition to have the credentials to do what I wanted to do. But I also wanted to explore other modalities. I knew Bastyr was renowned for offering that possibility.

Your practice offers a unique combination of nutrition and acupuncture — how did that come about?

I came out here from Maine planning to pursue a master's in nutrition, which was my undergraduate major, and then complete the dietetic internship. I was taking classes on the side in tai chi and qigong, because those were my interests. During one of those classes, Dr Benjamin Apichai suggested that if I wanted to practice with a Chinese medicine focus, I would need to learn the foundations of Chinese medicine. That inspired me to change my direction and finish in the master's in acupuncture program..

The two fit together nicely. It's like a balancing from both the inside and the outside of the body.

What does that look like in your practice?

I do individual counseling and coaching and also classes with hands-on instruction in whole-food cooking. More than anything, I help people listen to their bodies and understand them. I tell clients all the time: “Don't listen to me. Your body will tell you, but you have to do some sorting out first.”

What do people find when they start listening to their bodies?

Acupuncture table in Gray's Seattle practiceSometimes they find that the foods they naturally crave are good for them, like root vegetables, sweet potatoes and squash. These are digestive tonics in Chinese medicine. So a lot of people with digestive issues are relieved to find out they can have these warm, earthy, starchy foods they thought were bad for them, as opposed to the cold salads they thought they were supposed to have.

And sometimes people find the foods they crave are not as good for them. Since I specialize in digestive issues, my clients often find that refined sugar, and even natural sugars in excess, weaken the digestive system and lead to more cravings, creating a vicious cycle. When they start exploring life without so much refined sugar, they find their bodies become recalibrated and the messages are more clear about what their body really needs.

What about this cookbook you're working on?

It's called Nourishment Made Simple. Five years ago I started teaching cooking classes for people who were really intimidated by cooking. Some of them didn't know what a squash was. The class wasn't based on recipes; I was trying to break cooking down to the most simple of elements. One of the dishes I taught was a staple in my life, a “one-pot” baked grain and vegetable dish that can be made in a variety of ways. I taught that as a framework and showed my students how to add their own ingredients to make it their own. They came back with such amazing concoctions, and they became really inspired and confident in the kitchen.

I want to take that project further. I'm building a website where people can see a video, read the guidelines and submit their version of this dish. I'll interview some of them and write the stories behind their recipe. I'm shooting for 100 different versions of this dish, along with illustrations and stories. It'll reflect the message that cooking doesn't have to be complex or expensive, and it doesn't have to be a certain way. I'm not writing a book that tells you what to eat, but rather inspires to you to explore what nourishes you.

Subscribe to Newsletters

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Events

Apr 21 Admissions

Take advantage of this opportunity to speak with an admissions representative and learn how Bastyr can help you build a career that helps create a healthier world.

Apr 22 Admissions

Take advantage of this opportunity to speak with an admissions representative and learn how Bastyr can help you build a career that helps create a healthier world.

Apr 23 Admissions

Take advantage of this opportunity to speak with an admissions representative and learn how Bastyr can help you build a career that helps create a healthier world.

Recent News

David Tolmie, BS ('06), MLIS, combines psychology and technology skills to help students navigate the fast-changing world of evidence-informed medicine.

Coquina Deger, MBA, and David Siebert fill key roles as part of President’s Cabinet

Herbal sciences students cook up foods with love -- and health-giving herbs -- in a popular lab class.

The actor and author joins us for a Q-and-A before her May 22 talk at Bastyr's Spring for Health Luncheon.

Spring 2014: There is a lot blossoming at Bastyr University

Press

Bastyr University Nutrition Faculty Member Receives Prestigious State Honor

The public is invited to a free community event to explore Bastyr University’s teaching clinic

Teaching clinic earns second consecutive year of stellar results in regional patient satisfaction survey

In the Media

FOX Q13: Bastyr University's Ellie Freeman Discusses the FDA’s New Food Labels
Bothell-Kenmore Reporter: Bastyr Center for Natural Health Expands Integrative Oncology Services
Puget Sound Business Journal: Bastyr University's President Daniel Church to Retire

Health Tips

Here are some ways to eat an inexpensive and well-balanced diet consisting of many nutritious whole foods.

Here's how to create a healthy posture to improve your health.

The main benefit of the Paleo diet is that it promotes eating whole, nutritious foods while avoiding refined, processed foods.

While tax season can be daunting and stressful, these are simple, easy ways to help lighten the load.

Behind the calm exterior of a doula is a person who is constantly thinking, strategizing and endeavoring to create an environment to support a pregnant, birthing or postpartum family.