Meet Dr. Emily Elliot

August 26, 2019 in Meet the Women - No Comments

My friend Syd runs with some really interesting and diverse women and Dr. Emily Elliot, a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor and yoga teacher, is no exception. We connected through Syd and I was immediately drawn to her sunny disposition and to be honest, hearing that she once suffered from (and most importantly, healed from) the same chronic sinusitis I do (and am still battling). I was curious to hear more about her wellness journey and mindset, knowing that she would doubtless inspire others on their own path to optimum wellness. Pull up a chair and bask in Emily’s light.” -Michaela

Your journey to becoming a naturopathic doctor really started after you were facing some health issues yourself and sought treatment from a naturopath. Through your own experiences, your interest in the field was peaked and your professional life swerved from a background in marketing and public relations to where you are now—healing and encouraging others. How can others hone into what their bodies are trying to tell them, whether it’s from a physical standpoint or maybe being stuck in a career or relationship that no longer serves them?

I believe that the key to healing is to start with a commitment to change even just one thing at a time. (More changes at the beginning are welcome, but this is a good starting place for many!) Usually, the change that needs to happen first is the one that is ‘screaming’ at us and our intuition knows where to start, (e.g. when I eat gluten, I have so much bloating and discomfort, it is just not worth it.)  After successfully changing something important to you, the momentum starts to pick up. As our bodies and minds start to clear and energize with each change (e.g. improved nutrition, better sleep, more movement, etc.), we have the capacity to see more clearly the other things in our lives that might be not in alignment. As a second example, a ‘first change’ might be leaving a job that feels heavy and out of alignment, saying no to events/social groups that don’t feel right, etc.  Trust yourself, you know the way.

You’re based in Toronto which is incredibly diverse in that you can find a balance of green spaces within urban chaos and a plethora of goodies from farmers markets and slow food purveyors throughout the city on a daily basis. Do you have any advice for people living in places or circumstances without access to these amenities or people who might be too busy to access these amenities that are really essential to well-being, both mentally and physically?

I always like to start with the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ for health changes. So, for example, we can often start with the basics – sleep, stress management/movement, choosing whole foods and spending time in nature. And then I strive to find solutions that are somewhat flexible and realistic. So, for example, if someone is not currently exercising much, using an online program like ‘yoga glo‘ is an awesome resource. (Note, this is not sponsored!) With programs like this one, you can customize your time available to exercise, preferences for type of movement and then literally turn the app on anywhere at any time – (freedom!).  

Often, I find that the availability of health resources is not the issue (especially in this online world!) I find that the challenge is more about creating new routines where these changes are sustainable and turn into a lifestyle.  Usually, once people stick to a habit for 40sh days, they find that it starts to stick. As much as fancy amenities and restaurants and services are great, often the small and simple changes are the ones that are going to make the biggest changes.  Consistency is king. 

Plant-based meats…they’re everywhere! It seems like you can’t turn on the television or visit a drive-through fast food restaurant without seeing mention of a “ham”burger. How do you make smart, informed decisions that work best for your body and avoid the potential pitfalls of falling prey to the different trends that have recently hit the mass market?

The thing we need to be the most mindful of is that even ‘vegan’ and ‘plant-based’ (though they sound inherently healthy) foods can still be filled with ingredients that are inflammatory, processed and hard to digest. So, for example, canola oil can often be found in these seductive sounding plant/vegan products and that oil is very inflammatory and hard on the body.  Also, just because plant-based options exist, many are still processed fast foods. The more a food is processed, the less natural nutrition that remains. With this in mind, I would say to always look at foods to see how close they are to their original form. (So, the fresh salad lunch looks much more like it did when it was pulled from the ground than the plantbased burger that no longer resembles e.g. a carrot, a mushroom, a walnut). 

In terms of other trends like supplements, herbs and superfoods,  I would always recommend seeing a Naturopath. Natural treatment plans truly are SO individualized. Just because B vitamins might work for your friend’s low energy (and low B12 blood work reading), this treatment may not work for you and you may need to be treated for something entirely different regarding energy.  Naturopaths have extensive training in individualized medicine and will be considering many possibilities behind your low energy.

Michael Pollan famously said, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” which is something to keep in mind every time we shop for food, plan for food, or start to put a piece of food into our mouths. It’s more easy than not to make this happen in the summer (at least here in the northeast) with such an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables being plentiful, but how can you be mindful of this come winter? Is there anything you would tack onto Pollan’s statement?

I am absolutely aligned with Michael Pollan. I would also add that I strive to eat a variety of fruit & vegetable colours each week. If you look in my grocery cart you will see every single colour of the rainbow inside. This helps our bodies to receive a diverse range of healing plant food properties (and also makes it really fun and beautiful to cook!) Have you ever made a rainbow ‘smoothie bowl’ or a rainbow veggie bowl? It truly is the epitome of joy to sit down and enjoy a colourfully artistic meal.

While I prefer the most natural and whole forms of food when it is possible, there are nutritional ‘super food’ products that we can supplement in our smoothies, etc. when the environment is not as plentiful. Your holistic provider can customize your supplementation plan specific to you.

There are unfortunately still misconceptions out there about naturopathic medicine. Is there anything you want to clear up?

I am in love with this question. I think it is important to share that so much of naturopathic medicine is backed by science. Yes, there are parts of the medicine that have been passed on through ‘traditional uses’, yes, there are parts of the medicine that rely on spirituality, emotional components and ‘the unseen’ part of medicine, but I think it is important for people to know that there is so much research and integrity behind naturopathic medicine that people should be aware of. 
When you are under the care of a naturopathic doctor, the practitioner is rigorously considering things like dose, duration of use, interactions with other medications, side effects and your health history, so you can rest assured that these medicines are not ‘strange’ or ‘unknown’. In addition to all of this scientific backbone, the energetics and spiritual side of the medicine will be considered, making this medicine very unique (and beautiful!)

In a world of possibilities, what would you do with your life if failure wasn’t an option? What advice would you give your younger self just starting out or yourself at a trying time in the past that you’ve since overcome?

If failure wasn’t an option, I would pack it all up and move across the world with my husband, flying from country to country and doing healing teachings online.

If I could give advice to my younger self just starting out, I would tell myself to take deep breaths and to know that it will all always work out. Sometimes it is not the way that you think it should work out or you want it to work out, but the universe always has the highest possible outcome in store, and to learn to trust that! 

What traits do you value most in your circle of friends? What traits do you most value in yourself? 

I value friends that have follow through and are dependable, who are so willing to be their AUTHENTIC wild selves and are who are always desiring to love themselves as they are (while also striving to be better and to pursue their dreams.) The traits I value in myself are compassion and empathy. 

And lastly, I like to wrap up with a few rapidfire questions:

Movie or concert? Concert (especially country concert!) Summer or fall? Oooo, summer for sure!  Iced tea or hot coffee? Hot coffee (feels meditative to me!) Heels or flats? Gah, my practical side likes flats but my glam side enjoys the occasional heel! Ashtanga or yin yoga? Ashtanga! 

Keep up with Emily (and find some really helpful tips and dashes of motivation) by following her on Instagram at @dr.emilyelliot.nd. Her website is also a breath of fresh (healthy) air and a great resource for livimg your best, most healthy life.


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