When you meet Dr. Elana Roumell, you are immediately drawn to her invigorating energy and authenticity. She is a key contributor and adviser to Needed, providing great insight to product development and formulation. Dr. Elana is a Naturopathic Doctor, driven by a lifelong interest in health, medicine, and alternative options. She is especially passionate about pediatrics, and is committed to helping parents keep their children optimally healthy.
How did your nutrition journey start?
In short, I became interested in health and nutrition because of my brother’s sudden death at an early age. I witnessed a tangible transformation in the souls of my parents. They went from carefree to fearful and hesitant. In an effort to protect my parents from losing another child, I set out on a mission to learn everything I could to better my own health. It’s possible that I took “exploration” to a whole new level. I am not kidding when I say I have read up on and dabbled in nearly every nutritional philosophy: blood type, raw food, vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, paleo, keto… The list goes on, and you get the point.
Through my experiences, I’ve realized how noisy the nutrition space can be. I’m highly educated in this area, and sometimes even I feel confused. So, I am really committed to helping empower people to understand nutrition, what they need, and how to meet those needs effectively.
What do you find the most rewarding and the most challenging about being in charge of your family’s nutrition?
By far, the most rewarding thing is being in control of how I can feed my family. There are so many things that are out of our control: polluted air, toxic relationships, contaminated water. But, we get to choose what we feed our families, where we shop, how we shop, what we buy, how we pair our food, and how we prepare it. That makes me feel incredibly lucky.
It’s challenging because it takes a ton of energy, planning, and time, but I know the long-term benefits to my family are worth it. Yes, it can get expensive, but this is an investment that will save money on future medical costs.
Of course, there is no magic food that will address all of the nutrition needs of your child, but what are some of your go-tos and why?
In my opinion, food is medicine, so I feed my daughter superfoods whenever I can. She eats fresh, wild cold-water fish, rich in Omega-3s, fermented foods that provide probiotics, and tons of veggies for fiber.
What role do supplements play in your approach to nutrition?
I have tried so hard to create nutrition plans for patients, so they could avoid taking supplements. They can get expensive, and it’s hard to be compliant when you need to take them every day, sometimes more than once. But, the reality is that food, alone, isn’t going to cut it, and supplements are necessary for optimal health. So, now I have shifted my context a bit. Instead of striving for no supplements, I want to find the most efficient ones.
What are your go-to daily supplements?
I take a prenatal, but I don’t feel that it provides me with everything I need, so I add on separate vitamin D, magnesium, choline, and milk thistle. I also take a desiccated liver capsule and collagen.
What dream product do you wish existed, but can’t seem to find?
An all-in-one prenatal, so you don’t have to combine multiple supplements like I do! The easier it is to manage supplementation, the more people will comply. An all-in-one prenatal would ensure people aren’t overwhelmed by tons of pills.
We are interested in exploring nourishment at the intersection of food, family, community. Can you tell us a story about an especially nourishing meal that you had alone or shared with others?
I make a tuna and sardine casserole that I love to serve. It’s a comfort food, and it brings up childhood memories of eating a warm and filling casserole. But my version includes sardines, which are packed with healthy Omega-3 rich fats, so it’s extra nutritious. I love watching my daughter dig into it and enjoy the flavors, textures, and richness. To me, it’s a really fun example of how a meal can truly nourish me and my family, by tapping into health and history.
What are some of the ways that you share your take on nourishment, nutrition, and overall health with your broader community?
I love to share my knowledge and experience with others. Through my personal and professional experiences, I have so many practical tips that are workable in every family. Every Monday, I meal prep for myself and my family, and I share it on my Instagram feed. And, believe me, this is not a highly styled or super organized event! This is real life as a working mom who juggles a lot, but who prioritizes healthy food. The pictures aren’t perfect, and I often make mistakes, but I want others to see that we are all just trying to do our best. I don’t want to intimidate anyone with pretty photos or drawn out recipes. I also hope to inspire others that if I can do it, they can do it.
Aside from nutrition, there are so many easy-to-navigate tips and tricks when it comes to medical care for kids. As a doctor, I feel relatively calm and in control when my daughter is sick, but I see other mothers and fathers get so stressed and worried - always assuming the worst - when there kids aren’t well. This is why I created Med School for Moms, which empowers parents to be the household medical expert. By integrating conventional and alternative practices, I provide parents the tools to relieve their children in a safe way. But, it’s realistic. Parents learn to master some common acute illnesses, understanding the proper protocol to treat at home, but are also taught when it is appropriate to head to the hospital or seek additional medical guidance.
What books have influenced your personal nutrition education the most?
Two of my favorites are Dr. Catherine Shanahan's Deep Nutrition - Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food and Food Rules - A Doctor’s Guide to Healthy Eating.