Growing up in Ottawa

I was born in St. Jean Quebec, the last of 4 children (and also born a twin) to Belgian immigrant parents from Antwerp, who fled post-war Europe for greener pastures in Canada. French, English and some German were spoken at home.  My father, a Ph.D. Economist, was a public servant in the federal government and my mother stayed at home.  My mother was an amazing cook and my dad was the quintessential gourmet.  No food was too fancy or too exotic for him.

My twin sister attended U of T to study medicine and later went on to do public health.  My only brother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at age 14 and led a very sad and unproductive life. I remember visits to dreary mental hospitals where I saw him sedated and unable to speak clearly.   He also endured horrible shock therapy. It was early in his illness that I realized that drug therapy offered no hope of improvement, and I began to distrust the efficacy and rationale of drug therapy. My brother also suffered from painful eczema most of his life. I noticed there was minimal attention paid to this problem. One day in June of 1983, while I was on a full time mission to Switzerland, I received news that he had commit suicide.

Discovering Orthomolecular Medicine

Already at 17 I was becoming interested in whole foods cooking and natural therapies.  As a young teenager I loved to bake breads with whole grain flour.  A little later I was teaching the women at my church how to make Tofu from scratch!  In 1975 I started a part-time job as an assistant to Helga Zach, a well known German-trained Physiotherapist. Her focus of practice was spinal adjustments and massage with various types of heat, she had amazing success and numerous government dignitaries and famous business people were among her many clients. Looking back I realize that she was actually a Chiropractor, RMT and Physio, all rolled into one!  In 1976 we were featured in an article in the Ottawa Journal, a key local newspaper. In the 3 years I worked for her I grew to see how powerful and effective drugless therapy could be.

Early in 1980 while I was a student at the University of Waterloo, I was invited by a member of my church to attend a lecture at a large hotel in Toronto, given by a Utah-based natural health practitioner, Dr. John R. Christopher.  He was the premier Herbalist in North America at the time, and many popular herbal supplements were based on his formulations. I was totally amazed by the principles he was teaching. I moved to Calgary in 1980 and sat beside a fellow on my train trip who told me all about Anne Wigmore and her discovery of the healing powers of wheat grass.  Again, more amazing facts about whole foods nutrition for me to ponder!! Soon after arriving in Calgary I spent much more time at health food stores and whole food markets.  I became a keen follower of Dr. Bernard Jensen and registered for Terry Willard’s Iridology course at the Wild Rose College.  There was no turning back. When I was 23 I became the manager of health food store at the Sunridge mall in Calgary.

After my European mission I worked for a travelling Herbalist in Alberta and I wanted to learn more about the root cause of mental illness, especially Schizophrenia. In 2005 I was introduced to Dr. Hoffer’s book Dr. Hoffer’s ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children, and I found out about his work with niacin and Schizophrenia.  A year later, while reading Dr. C. Pfeiffer’s book about Schizophrenia that I realized my brother probably had a serious gluten digestive problem.  I don’t believe niacin would have saved my brother.  He needed a gluten-free diet.  His eczema was a symptom of celiac disease. My brother’s illness was not Schizophrenia at all, it was celiac disease.  His illness was completely preventable.

ADHD Changes My Life

In the late 1990s, and with the help of several wonderful midwives, I gave birth to what I thought were 2 healthy children, however, they were both later diagnosed with ADHD (combined type Inattentive/ Hyperactive). They also had co-morbidities and learning disabilities. After 2004 I read up as much as I could about diet and supplements for ADHD. It was clear that the medications that we had tried were not dealing with the ADHD well enough and the side effects were very unpleasant. I had learned to distrust medications anyway.  I was also concerned about long term damage to the brain. Later in 2006, I wanted to share what I had learned about vitamins, minerals, amino acids and lab testing, and started a support group for parents of ADHD children. This group was sanctioned by the Character Community Organization of York Region. I also attended workshops and conferences about ADHD and natural therapies.  I am convinced that, in many cases, ADHD is probably caused by heavy metal toxicity and food sensitivities.

Back to School at 50, Cancer at 51

In 2008 I was thrilled to return to school part time to study my long time passion at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto.  As if things weren’t already difficult (school, kids, marriage and part-time employment) in early 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer.  I was lucky enough to avoid toxic treatments including radiation, chemotherapy and tamoxifen.  I’m proud to say that I was thrown out of my original Oncologist’s office at a local hospital because I refused Tamoxifen.  I later found out through another, more informed Oncologist, that I didn’t need it anyway.  Sometimes it pays to be stubborn.  With no threat of a recurrence of cancer, I try to eat well, deal with my stresses, exercise regularly (including walking and rebounding) and drink green smoothies daily.

In 2010 I became certified in Live Cell Microscopy through Lynne Hinton’s program and I have also studied Electrodermal Screening (Biomeridian Stress Assessment) in 2011.  In addition,  in order to better understand Functional Medicine’s approach to metabolic syndrome, I received Metagenics First Line Therapy training in early 2013.  I also participated in Caroline Dupont’s vegan food prep class in her home in 2010.

Other programs/seminars include:

  • Vanguard Neurology – Dr. David Perlmutter – 2011
  • Metagenics – Clinical Breakthroughs in the Toxicity-Disease Connection – Dr. J. Bland – 2011
  • Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine: Integrative Medicine for the Treatment of Anxiety, Mood & Eating Disorders – 2010
  • Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine: Integrative Medicine for the Treatment of Depression and Bipolar Disorder – 2010
  • Holistic Health Research – The Healthy Brain from Conception Through Aging – Toronto – 2008
  • Orthomolecular Medicine Today – 3 day conference in Toronto – 2007
  • Great Plains Laboratory – Autism, PDD, ADHD & Behaviour Disorders – Comprehensive Biomedical Approach Conference (Kitchener) – 2007
  • ADHD & Learning Disabilities For Parents & Teachers – (Drs. Till Davey & William Ford) Toronto, 2004 – ADRN
  • Dr. Bernard Jensen’s Certificate of Merit in Iridology – 1984

A Word About Breast Cancer

Being a breast cancer survivor, I get a little emotional when I speak on the subject of breast cancer.  The particular issue that concerns me with current breast cancer patients is how they obey their MDs and seem to not ask some very important questions regarding how they can improve their recovery while on chemotherapy drugs.  I have spoken to women who are concerned about natural supplements during chemotherapy, as their medical care providers caution them against the use of green supplements containing antioxidants. But the evidence shows that greens and antioxidants actually help support their recovery and does not necessarily interfere with their drug therapy. I have also spoken to women who take anti-estrogen drugs to prevent breast cancer after a double mastectomy. Does this make sense? There are serious risks associated with these drugs, and I am concerned that women are blindly taking dangerous medications without doing their own homework. This is why I feel I need to encourage women to ask questions and do their own research when it comes to their cancer treatments. Please note that I am not an official “Cancer Coach”, but I do discuss cancer when the interest arises during my consults with women.

The Kitchen is My Playground!

I have been interested in whole foods cooking since my teen years. In 1993 I bought my first grain grinder. I have been grinding my own flour since then. Lately I have spent more time trying out and creating fun and tasty nutrient-dense recipes with an emphasis on leafy greens. I am also discovering and loving the power and smells of essential oils. Join me at one of my fun food prep classes, such as “Intro to Holistic Cooking”, “Green Smoothies”, “Gluten Free Cooking”, “Cooking with Coconut” or my “Do-It-Yourself Natural Skin Care” class.  Please call me at 905 235 6391 for more information.

Catherine Devos - Weight Loss
Me in my heavier days at BYU-HC

Weight Loss

Have you been struggling to lose weight for quite some time? I don’t pretend to be a weight loss expert, but I was overweight in my 20s and lost it over several years and kept it off. Let’s talk about how Green Smoothies can help you lose weight quickly, boost your energy, and increase your level of wellness!

More About Me

For a more complete resume, please connect with me on LinkedIn. I am also proud to be a member of the Canadian Association of Holistic Nutrition Professionals (CAHN-Pro).  I am a past member of CSOM and the CHFA.

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