For Leora Barak, growing up in three different countries was most definitely not easy. She remembers the difficulties of having to adapt to a new culture and to a new language every time she moved. But looking back, this only made her respect and appreciate people of all backgrounds and their particular ways of life. It also expanded her knowledge and love of languages. And so, the ease to learn languages became her strength, and part of her journey. From interpreting to diplomatic officials to serial criminals in court, language training became part of her life. She then went on to have a family and three children. When one of her children got ill, her path took a different turn. She returned to school to study nutrition and its power on healing chronic disease. Today, as a reputable and well respected Nutritional Therapist, she works out of three clinic locations in Toronto, guiding, teaching and helping others discover that ‘Food is Medicine’. She proudly offers her services in five different languages.
My first job was… a salesperson at Ceramic Décor, a bathroom fixture & tiles store.
I decided to be a Nutritionist because… In 2010, my eldest daughter experienced serious gastrointestinal issues, later determined to be Crohn’s Disease. After months and months of seeing her suffer from severe pain and witnessing the treacherous symptoms of the disease, we were told that the next step would be more “aggressive” medications and, eventually, surgery. As I was not yet willing to take that route, we decided to explore natural medicine a bit further and so adopted a nutritional protocol into her life. Within a few short weeks, she started getting better and her improved symptoms slowly became more consistent. We were overjoyed, but what astounded me most was how simple, everyday foods could have such a significant impact on her improvement. I had suddenly realized that the starting point to her healing was right here, in my own kitchen. I knew that I had to ‘pay it forward’ and help others understand the power of food. And so I decided to go back to school and went on to complete an intensive program at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. And so, today, here I am. I feel blessed to be able to provide my clients with the understanding and use of proper nutrition combined with appropriate lifestyle changes and stress-reducing techniques as a means to address health concerns and even, heal disease.
My proudest accomplishment is… without a doubt, my family.
My boldest move to date was… at 19, when my parents decided to move back to Brazil and I decided to stay in Canada all by myself. I lived under horrible conditions, struggled to fend for myself and went through states of depression. Somehow, with the help of amazing and supportive friends, I made it through.
I surprise people when I tell them…that I’m an introvert. My time alone is precious.
My best advice from a mentor was…from my first boss, who became my second mother and my best friend. She taught me that overthinking doesn’t get you anywhere. She also taught me that to be truly successful in business, you must stay authentic and humble.
“The future excites me because it’s unknown. My whole life I had to learn to adapt and I trust that, whatever comes my way, I’ll manage.”
To me, nutrition is… the strongest weapon we have and the first line of defence against chronic disease.
I would tell my 21-year-old self… that it’s not about that exam that you failed at 19, or that tropical vacation you would take at 23, or that trendy outfit you would wear at 35 or that succulent dessert you’d savour at 45. It’s about the people who will have the most impact on your life, the memories you will make with them, your accomplishments and the legacy you will leave behind. And, yes, you will find the love of your life and you will get married.
The most fulfilling thing about my job… when someone tells me that they haven’t been able to get out of bed for months and that I gave them their life back…
The hardest thing about my job… each of my clients becomes a mission for me. When I focus on their personalized health plans, I sometimes forget my limits and can sometimes sit and research for hours until I find the best, most sustainable solutions for them. It almost becomes an obsession and it sometimes gets in the way of my family life. I know I need to keep reminding myself of my boundaries. But, to no avail – I have to give it my all, that’s just who I am.
I stay inspired by… the power of nature – it absolutely fascinates me. Notice how nature is so patient and yet everything gets accomplished.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… bake more and walk more.
Through it all, I’ve learned that… even in the most unpredictable moments of life, we do, at the very least, have autonomy over our health. In spite of the ups and downs, the good and bad days, the perfect and imperfect moments, if we try to eat well and stay active, think positively and learn to relax, create and maintain healthy social connections, we may just have a better chance of growing old gracefully. And when we do, let us embrace old age and remember that the lines on our ageing face are there because of the people that we’ve met and the places that we’ve been along the way. They each tell a story. They’re what makes us, us.
The future excites me because… it’s unknown. My whole life I had to learn to adapt and I trust that, whatever comes my way, I’ll manage.
My next step is… getting a group of women in their 50’s together, women who have accomplished much in their lives, tackling a variety of topics together relating to women’s health and wellness, inspiring and empowering one another. After all, we, women, need to stick together.