Cancer changes everything. Such was the experience of Alison Tierney, found of Wholesome, LLC and board-certified oncology nutritionist.
It was during her freshman year in college, Alison’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. During her senior year, her grandfather was diagnosed with liver cancer and her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Alison’s passion for nutrition began long before her loved ones were diagnosed with cancer. A competitive athlete in high school, she was fully aware of the correlation between nutrition and performance. Her passion became her life’s work upon her mother’s diagnosis and as more loved ones were diagnosed with cancer.
Taking it upon herself to research her family history, Alison discovered several family members had had cancer. This made her more determined than ever to do what she could to help others deal with a cancer diagnosis. Putting actions behind her words, Alison began her journey further into nutrition through her schooling and subsequently starting her own business.
Alison’s professional path resulted in her becoming a registered dietitian and board-certified in oncology nutrition. She founded Wholesome LLC in 2015.
Alison did an internship at a well-known national cancer center followed by being hired on as an outpatient dietician.
It was at that time she discovered the power of a plant-based diet. The more research she did the more she saw the correlation between plant-based eating and helping her patients achieve their health goals.
Incredibly passionate about doing all she could to help her patients, she worked all day, followed by grabbing as many books and articles to consume at home. Her desire to read, watch and listen to anything she could get her hands on became a running joke between she and her husband, a pharmacist. Seeing how passionate she was, he fully supported her, and continues to do so, in any way possible to help as many people as possible discover the benefits of a plant-based diet.
After developing an oncology nutrition program at a local academic cancer center, Alison pursued Wholesome LLC exclusively as her business.
From Nutrition Nerd to Plant Based Eater
Alison grew up eating a relatively healthy diet, but not one void of chicken or low-fat dairy. Occasionally eating a small amount of red meat, never consuming fast foods, and eating fruits and vegetables, Alison dealt with health issues she assumed were simply a part of life’s roll of the dice.
As she dove further into the research of plant-based eating, she decided to practice this on her own to have firsthand experience.
Her first step was to give up red meat. The results were so incredible, she gave up all meat and never looked back.
Living in Wisconsin, the dairy state, there were challenges with dairy. She’ll be the first to admit, that dairy was the most difficult to kick. Giving up dairy was slower but now that she has, she is a full-fledged plant-based eater.
From infertile to baby bump
For quite a while, Alison and her husband were dealing with infertility. Not sure if they would ever conceive, within three weeks of going plant-based, she did conceive.
As a seasoned researcher, Alison did extensive investigation on the pros and cons of eating plant-based during pregnancy. She discovered that not only is plant-based eating good for a pregnant woman, it resulted in an extremely healthy pregnancy for her.
Now over three years of age, Alison’s daughter is being raised plant based. Alison knows there will come a day her daughter will deal with other food choices at school, parties, and sleep overs. She is prepared to guide her daughter to choices that are healthy, yet, not restrictive.
Shout It from the Rooftops
With the success of pregnancy, the birth of a healthy daughter and seeing the results her patients were getting, Alison felt like shouting from the rooftop about plant-based eating. Yet, with all of this, she realized she was not able to practice the way she wanted in her current position.
That’s when she started Wholesome LLC.
Wholesome provides individual counseling, seminars, eSeminars, in order to promote a healthy diet. The overall goal is to manage and prevent chronic diseases.
With 30 percent of cancer deaths related to poor nutrition, Alison finds herself being more committed by the day to doing all she can to raise awareness about nutrition. Poor nutrition is related to more cancer deaths than smoking. Death from smoking related cancers is approximately 25%.
Only 5 – 10% of cancer diagnoses are genetic related. Yet, people resist adopting healthy eating. Much of this has to do with all the advertising by food manufacturers that convinces people of lifestyle choices that are not in their best interest.
Knowing she has a big job to do in educating her patients and the public, Alison is quick to point out that it is not just nutrition that factors into one’s health. Exercise and stress reduction are also key to a healthy lifestyle.
Although Alison is board-certified in oncology nutrition, she is multi-passionate in nutrition and her expertise goes beyond cancer and involves helping others with the management of chronic diseases such as: heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and autoimmune diseases.
A huge part of what Alison does for her patients is get them started on healthy nutrition. Many are concerned about what they are giving up. She reframes this by helping them to see that rather than what they are eliminating, they determine what they can add.
She says, “Determine how committed you are to making the change. Take time to clean out your kitchen, including your pantry, cabinets, and refrigerator. Decide if you’re going to commit 100% or ease into it. Know that your family may not be fully supportive, so you need to get a support system in place.”
Fill your kitchen with healthy choices such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, and other nutritious choices so you can select these over unhealthy choices.
Realize not everyone is going to be supportive of your decision, but it is your decision whether you let this dissuade you.
Set the example of what is possible. Others are likely to follow when they see the positive results like glowing skin, weight loss, increased energy and overall well-being.
Look for support groups in your area. Check Meetup groups. Start your own if nothing exists.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. Be careful how you frame your words. Avoid words like, “Cheat. Bad. Failure.”
It is about progress, not perfection.
Give yourself grace and realize this is a process. A process that has turned into an amazing journey and life’s work for Alison Tierney. One she invites you to join her in.
Contact Alison Tierney