Focus on Food with Heather Schrock


Cover image for podcast episode 9 with Heather Schrock

This is episode 9 from our Mixed Dentition Podcast. Dr. Stafford talks with Heather Schrock, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP). In this episode, they touch on digestion, core principles of a healthy diet, snacking, intermittent fasting, and more!


Just what is an NTP? According to the Nutritional Therapy Association, “A Nutritional Therapy Practitioner is a nutritional therapist certified by the NTA to evaluate nutritional needs and make recommendations for dietary changes, helping clients balance body chemistry and achieve optimal wellness. NTPs are not trained to diagnose or treat pathological conditions, injuries, or diseases.”


You can get in touch with Heather through her LinkedIn Profile.


Listen, read, watch! You can listen right here, or with a podcast app of your choice. You can also read the complete transcript below, or scroll to the bottom of this post for the video.


You can browse all previous episodes on Anchor and Youtube!




Dr. Stafford: Hi. Dr. Michelle Stafford here again with Mixed Dentition podcast and today my special guest star is a friend of mine, Heather Schrock, who is a nutritional therapy practitioner, so welcome. Thanks for joining us today.


Heather Schrock: Thanks, Michelle. Thanks for having me.


Dr. Stafford: First of all, why don't you define NTP?


Heather Schrock: Sure.


Dr. Stafford: Tell us what that means and what you do with it.


Heather Schrock: Sure, so a nutritional therapy practitioner is someone who is certified in holistic nutrition. I studied through a certification program called the nutritional therapy association and got my certification and just learned a ton about nutrition and how the body works, functional nutrition and holistic nutrition. That's what that is.


Dr. Stafford: That's awesome. Tell us a little brief overview about nutrition as you see it and how as a ... I mean we could probably talk all day, you and I about nutrition and society.


Heather Schrock: Yeah. Lots of stuff.


Dr. Stafford: There's a lot to talk about and digest, but-


Heather Schrock: Sure. Well, I'm glad you used the word digest. That's actually perfect.


Dr. Stafford: No pun intended.


Heather Schrock: Yeah. I mean, as I'm sure everybody listening knows there is so much going on in the world of nutrition. It is a huge, huge rabbit hole that you can go down. Most people, when they think of nutrition they immediately think of diet and what am I eating? What am I not eating? Really, the core of my training in nutrition takes it a step beyond that and it's more about how food interacts with your body and about digestion. I'm glad you said digest. So often people are worried about what they're putting in their body and what they're not putting in their body, which, of course, is very important but they're not asking the question, what's happening inside my body? Can my body even process or break that down or absorb it? A lot of times the very first step when I'm working with somebody is to tune up, what I call tune up their digestion. Which means to tweak their digestion so that everything that they are eating, whether it's good or bad, is actually being broken down, processed and absorbed in their body. That's the first step a lot of times, so and then deal with the what later. The what are they eating later.


Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's great.


Heather Schrock: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: Are there any quick tips on how you can kind of tune up your digestion?


Heather Schrock: Sure. There are supplements out there that you can get. Any supplement that has a little bit of HCl, which is hydrochloric acid. Don't be scared by that. It's what's in your stomach already and it's protected by a capsule. Anything that has enzymes in it, but you can also do things like, especially for kiddos, a little bit of pineapple juice has a naturally occurring enzyme in it called bromelain. There's also these lovely little papaya chewables which are also tasty and great for kids. If your kid can tolerate it or if you're an adult who can tolerate it, a little bit of apple cider vinegar-


Dr. Stafford: I've done this.


Heather Schrock: ... with your meal also very good for you for so many reasons but also it just helps tune up your digestion and gets your digestion working and functioning better. Also, beets and beet juice are great for digestion.


Dr. Stafford: Oh, great.


Heather Schrock: Those are kind of my top picks for just adding a little something to your meal to get your body digesting that food better and getting you what I call access to the nutrients that you're eating. Even if you're eating a meal that isn't that great and maybe it doesn't have a ton of nutrients in it, at least you're getting access to the nutrients that are there.


Dr. Stafford: I love that.


Heather Schrock: I was to take it a step beyond that, I would say the next question then, of course, is about diet.


Dr. Stafford: Yes, that was my next question.


Heather Schrock: That is, wow. That is such a big open question and people have very strong opinions about it, right?


Dr. Stafford: Yes.


Heather Schrock: It can be tricky and then also people really are black and white about it, too. They're like, "Is gluten bad for me?" You know?


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: It's like saying, "Is my foot bad for me?" It's like, "Well, I don't know. Did you step on a nail or is it functioning?" You know, it's like, it's just a thing and how it interacts with your individual body. Another really important piece of my training in nutrition is understanding something called bio-individuality, that everybody's different and everybody comes from different ethnic backgrounds. Everybody was raised differently eating different kinds of foods. Everybody's stress levels are different. Stress highly affects how your body is able to process your food. If your body is constantly in fight or flight, the opposite of fight or flight is what we call rest and digest. If you're not ever getting to that rest and digest mode then you're not digesting your food. So again, we're talking more about digestion than the food itself, but it just speaks to how we can be so black and white about very complicated issues. When it comes to diet, there are certainly some core principles that I would ask everyone to really consider and that would be a whole foods, properly prepared nutrient dense diet.


Dr. Stafford: Great.


Heather Schrock: That's like the core principles. You can put almost any paradigm. What most people would call a diet, I call it a food paradigm.


Dr. Stafford: I like that more.


Heather Schrock: You can fit almost any paradigm within those principles, so if you're vegan or vegetarian, you can be whole foods, properly prepared, nutrient dense. If you're an omnivore, you can be whole foods, properly prepared, nutrient dense. If you're gluten free or have several sensitivities, you can fit most of these paradigms into those principles, right?


Dr. Stafford: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Heather Schrock: When I work as a nutritionist, I really am very cautious about changing people's paradigms. What I do is I respect their paradigm and give them the nutritional advice within those boundaries. They may make their own choice based on sensitivities or other things that they realize as they're learning about nutrition with me of things they might want to change about their paradigm, but it's just not black and white. It's not everybody has to be vegan or everybody has to be gluten free. Or everybody shouldn't eat eggs or everybody should drink milk all day.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: I swear I met a milkatarian once. She really swore by milk. She said it cured her cancer and this was milk from a cow that she milked herself.


Dr. Stafford: Oh, [crosstalk 00:06:18]


Heather Schrock: She swore by it, you know?


Dr. Stafford: Maybe her cow was magical for her.


Heather Schrock: It's her paradigm and maybe that was the right fit for her, right?


Dr. Stafford: It worked for her body. Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Heather Schrock: Anyway, that's obviously an extreme example.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: The thing is working as a nutritionist and working with lots of people and lots of different paradigms, it's important to give people the opportunity to learn and make their own choices while giving them the education and the knowledge to make those choices.


Dr. Stafford: That's great. Let's dig a little deeper into those three. When you talk about whole foods and properly prepared and nutrient dense.


Heather Schrock: Right.


Dr. Stafford: I guess maybe give a couple meal examples. Let's say an example of a really nutritionally dense whole food lunch.


Heather Schrock: Sure, yeah, so let's just, for the sake of argument choose an omnivore because most people are omnivores, so we'll use an omnivorous lunch meal. A really nice, properly prepared means that you're preparing the food in a way that most nutrients are as bioavailable as possible. That would be with vegetables, for example, other than some things like lettuce, things like kale, carrots, if you're going to do like a little saute of kale, carrots and zucchini for example, you don't want to overcook them.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: Because a lot of the nutrients come out, but also, eating them raw, people think eating everything raw is the best way, but when you're eating things raw, especially vegetables, they're actually a little harder to digest, so it's kind of six of one half dozen of the other. You can either eat them completely raw and you have all the enzymes in the food, more enzymes are in the food when they're raw.


Dr. Stafford: Okay.


Heather Schrock: Or you could lightly cook them which makes them easier to digest, which means you don't need the enzymes as much and your food is able to access those nutrients and all the wonderful things inside that food a little more easily. It's with vegetables, so let's say a good lunch might be a little light saute of kale, carrots and zucchini with some quinoa. I have an Instant Pot. I love making quinoa in my Instant Pot.


Dr. Stafford: I love that.


Heather Schrock: If you don't, it's still super easy to make and you could just throw all that together maybe with a nice piece of fish. Salmon is great because it is extremely nutrient dense. By nutrient dense I mean it has like per whatever measurement you're taking, per tablespoon, per gram, it has more nutrients and more variety of nutrients, so not only dense in nutrients but dense in variety. Salmon is a great example of a really nutrient dense food.


Dr. Stafford: That's great and your meal sounds actually pretty easy to prepare.


Heather Schrock: Yeah. Definitely.


Dr. Stafford: In my family we have some omnivores and then I try to mostly eat vegan or vegetarian.


Heather Schrock: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: It's pretty easy to make the grains and sauteed vegetables and then meat for the omnivores on the side. I love that.


Heather Schrock: Totally. It's like bowl mentality.


Dr. Stafford: Yes.


Heather Schrock: It's bowls. Bowls are great.


Dr. Stafford: Yes.


Heather Schrock: You start with, like you said, a grain, a vegetable, a protein. Also, if I was to give any tips about how to have meals like that available it would be finding time that you can prepare things in advance.


Dr. Stafford: Yes.


Heather Schrock: A bowl like that, you could make all those things on the weekend and just have some little portions all ready to go, grab and go.


Dr. Stafford: Yep.


Heather Schrock: Actually, that's the reason I thought of that meal is because that's what I prepped this last weekend. Of course, my fiance took my last one today, so thank goodness you took me to lunch today, because I didn't have one left. He said it was really good. At least he enjoyed it.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah.


Heather Schrock: We share. We're sharers.


Dr. Stafford: That's good. That's good.


Heather Schrock: Preparing in advance, obviously and that's kind of like a no-brainer. I know it's nothing that's like rocket science, but one other thing that I add to that is doing it when you come home from shopping. If you're going shopping, you come home and you're unloading your vegetables and your things, take out those carrots as you're unloading them and slice them up-


Dr. Stafford: And slice them.


Heather Schrock: ... into smaller pieces right then and there. Even then you're like one step closer, so do the prep when you're unloading your groceries also is another tip.


Dr. Stafford: That's great.


Heather Schrock: I found that that, at the moment you're like, "Oh, I just want to throw everything in the fridge and walk away."


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: How often do you throw kale, carrots, stuff in the fridge and then you never touch it again?


Dr. Stafford: Yep.


Heather Schrock: Right? Now you've wasted it.


Dr. Stafford: You hate it when you have to throw it away?


Heather Schrock: Yep.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah, worst.


Heather Schrock: But if it's already prepped and it's so much easier just throw it into something, it really helps.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah, that's great.


Heather Schrock: Doing it right when you get home from the grocery store is definitely a tip that I give a lot of my clients and they say that when they do that it just makes a world of difference.


Dr. Stafford: I love that.


Heather Schrock: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: I think the Instant Pot's one of the best things we own in the kitchen as well.


Heather Schrock: Yes.


Dr. Stafford: It's easy to make a huge pot of soup or quinoa, like you were saying.


Heather Schrock: Exactly, yeah.


Dr. Stafford: It can feed you for days if not the whole week.


Heather Schrock: Yeah. Having some certain choice appliances in the kitchen definitely make a difference. An Instant Pot, a crock pot if you don't have an Instant Pot also can be really helpful. Yeah. Having an Instant Pot definitely has changed my world a little bit and this is not a commercial for Instant Pot.


Dr. Stafford: No.


Heather Schrock: It is a pretty awesome tool. I was a late comer to that game, too. I was really reluctant but once I got on board I was like, "Oh, why didn't I do this sooner?"


Dr. Stafford: That's great advice for busy parents.


Heather Schrock: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: For busy parents that are out there trying to make good choices for their kids and having something ready to go so they can make them easily during the week.


Heather Schrock: Yeah, well and that's the other thing about prepping those foods when you get home. You're slicing apples, you're cutting carrots up and then you also have something really easily to throw out as a snack for your kiddos, you know? Throw out a couple slices of apples and throw a little peanut butter on that and you've got a great healthy snack that's not like a pre-packaged, processed food.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah, let's talk about that a little bit more.


Heather Schrock: Sure, yeah.


Dr. Stafford: Let's talk about our society and snacking.


Heather Schrock: Oh, gosh, snackers.


Dr. Stafford: The snackers.


Heather Schrock: Yes. Oh, if I could snack for a living I would if it wasn't an unhealthy thing to do, because snacking is fun.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah. Snacking is fun. The crunch that you get from those snacks, those carbohydrates.


Heather Schrock: Yeah and there's actually something to that. There's neural pathways that are stimulated by snacking. The really, there's blood sugar that adjusts when you snack, you know? There's definitely some physiological and neurological underpinnings to why we love to snack. Then, of course, for busy parents, I know that also snacking can definitely be something that can be helpful, too, with the kiddos, you know?


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: When you're busy and it's something that can calm them or help kids get through something, so I know that it's not the easiest thing to get away from.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: When we were talking about digestion, there's some correlations between digestion and kids that, or grown ups that tend to snack every day or let's say every hour they have some sort of snack.


Dr. Stafford: Okay, crunch on.


Heather Schrock: Yeah. It does actually interfere a little bit with the natural cycle of digestion for humans. It's we're not really meant to be eating constantly, you know? There's certainly some evidence that our prehistoric ancestors didn't have the opportunity to be snacking all day long. So, our systems in the several thousand years since our ancestors were roaming the earth haven't totally adjusted to that kind of response to having calories input into our system that frequently. There's actually a lot of studies that show the reduction of frequency is even healthier. Some new trends, something called intermittent fasting is very popular and I've been looking into that as well and done some research on that as well. The research behind that is very positive, showing great health benefits to going longer between eating. People hear the word fasting and they think, we all this images of people starving and wasting away and that is not what this is. Intermittent fasting, there's lots of ways to do it, but probably one of the most popular ways to do is basically just lengthening the time between dinner and breakfast.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: When you normally wouldn't eat that much anyway. No late night snacking, not getting up and eating right away and giving your body just a little bit more time before you have that first meal. There's some great studies showing that that can actually have lots of health benefits including for the heart, for the brain, for focus, for energy, even some mental health benefits, anxiety, depression. There's lots of things that have been popping up in those studies that sound really interesting.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah.


Heather Schrock: It's not something I've dove totally down the rabbit hole, but I've certainly been looking at it and experimenting with it myself and on myself and with some of my clients that I've been working with and had positive results.


Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's great. Yeah, I've also been reading more about intermittent fasting and some of those health benefits that you mention. Yeah, it's a very interesting world that I feel like we're just now getting the science behind to understand.


Heather Schrock: Yes. Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: I find it fascinating, especially because my grandma, who's now 85, she basically has been doing intermittent fasting for decades because she's like a sweet old lady, right?


Heather Schrock: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Dr. Stafford: She finishes eating dinner by 3:30 at the latest-


Heather Schrock: Yeah, wow.


Dr. Stafford: ... so that she can enjoy her evening and she only drinks water until she gets up and she has breakfast at like 8:00, so her, I mean.


Heather Schrock: There you go.


Dr. Stafford: The whole time I've known her she's been intermittent fasting, but yeah.


Heather Schrock: Wow.


Dr. Stafford: I think a lot of older people do that.


Heather Schrock: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: They don't like to drink right before they go to bed and there's something to be said for that. We joke around with the senior specials at restaurants.


Heather Schrock: Yes, because they're so early, yeah.


Dr. Stafford: Because they're earlier, but they do eat early.


Heather Schrock: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah, it's almost like their bodies are naturally-


Heather Schrock: Yeah, maybe leaning towards that.


Dr. Stafford: Leaning towards it in some way.


Heather Schrock: You know, when you talk about this in the context of children, children's needs are different. Children are also quite resilient so they can withstand a lot more stuff, but still and it's not necessarily saying that you should go out and start intermittent fasting with your kiddos.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: There's something to be said for reducing the snacking and reducing the kind of constant stream of calories going into the body because the body does need, back to that rest and digest. The body needs to rest and digest. If you're putting more stuff into it while it's trying to rest and digest, it kind of activates it again and then it has to figure out how to digest the food that's already in there when you're continuing to add more food on top of it. The really is a necessity to just space our your intake of food and have more food at one sitting and less food in between, which goes against some of the studies that have shown oh, it's better for your blood sugar to snack every three hours or have a small meal every three hours.


Heather Schrock: There's some validity to that but really only if you're struggling with blood sugar dysregulation. Not really for the average person and ultimately, that type of meal eating where you're eating lots of smaller meals, ultimately you would want to start condensing that and pull them farther and farther apart anyway. At least from what I've learned about nutrition and how the body works in terms of digestion, blood sugar regulation.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: It really is best to space those meals apart a little bit more. Also, it seems like kind of a silly thing to correlate it with but it actually can save you money on groceries and you'll be eating less.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: You actually, people tend to eat less when you eat less, right?


Dr. Stafford: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right. When you're eating less often and-


Heather Schrock: When you're eating less often-


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: You just tend to eat less overall, so, less caloric intake could also help with other things.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: Yeah and the quality of snacks, too. You know, a lot of kids, well, most kids, love Goldfish. I mean, who doesn't love Goldfish?


Dr. Stafford: Oh, yeah.


Heather Schrock: Even I see a Goldfish, I'm like, "Oh, those are delicious."


Dr. Stafford: I know, gosh. [crosstalk 00:18:06]


Heather Schrock: At the airport they've got those ones with the extra cheese powder on them. Just stop. Just don't even go there.


Dr. Stafford: No.


Heather Schrock: They're delicious, but yeah, I mean and they are. There is the neurological endorphins and things that are, when you're eating that and it's just, it's fun, it tastes good. It satisfies this, some need probably, so yeah. The Goldfish are tasty but make them part of a meal that's healthy and balanced, where you've got some carrots and some apples, maybe some eggs or cheese, some proteins in there instead of just the constant addition of calories through Goldfish. Or whatever it is, Cheerios or-


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Heather Schrock: Do they still do Cheerios these days? I don't know.


Dr. Stafford: Oh, they do.


Heather Schrock: Yeah. Okay.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah.


Heather Schrock: So, yeah.


Dr. Stafford: As a way of wrapping it up here, can you give us a couple little tidbits for our parents out there? For our busy parents especially?


Heather Schrock: Sure.


Dr. Stafford: Some advice on making positive health changes.


Heather Schrock: Yeah. I mean, gosh. It's so much to talk about. We might have to do another podcast. Yeah, I mean, ultimately the change is modeled by the parents and change is instigated by parents, so when I work with kids I also work with parents. When I work with the parents, one of the things that I talk about is how to change habits, because as much as it's the kid's health that we might want to be working on, it's a lot of time a habit of the parents. It's a habit to use those Goldfish or a habit to come home and throw all your groceries in the refrigerator and not slice them up right then and there.


Heather Schrock: I'll give you one fun little tip before I let you go. There's a great little website or app called 21 HABIT. If you go on there it's based on a study that shows that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. You go onto this little app and you put in what your goal is, so your goal is, "I am only going to give Goldfish to my kids once a day." Whatever you want it to be. Or, "I am going to make my lunch the night before." Even that. "Make my lunch the night before." Whatever the habit is that you're trying to break, use this little app. It's super helpful and every single day it checks in with you and it will tell you if you, you'll say yes or no that I've done this. Thumbs up, thumbs down.


Dr. Stafford: Nice.


Heather Schrock: Just that little reminder helps change the neural pathways in the brain. 21 days to make or break a habit. I highly recommend the app to help you make or break those habits for you and for your kiddos.


Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's great. Oh, thank you for coming on our podcast, Heather.


Heather Schrock: Sure.


Dr. Stafford: I appreciate it. For any of our audience that might be looking to find you, where can they find you?


Heather Schrock: Well, I am on LinkedIn and I do stay pretty active on there, so if you message me through LinkedIn, I'm sure my name will probably show up somewhere here during the podcast, but it's Heather Schrock. The last name is spelled S-C-H-R-O-C-K. You can find me there and message me through there and I'll get back to you.


Dr. Stafford: Great. Well, thanks again for coming on the show and thank you to the audience. This has been another edition of Mixed Dentition. Thanks for joining in. Smile. It's contagious.


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