Meet Noura: Nourish & Nurture Founder

Updated: Jan 17, 2020

Me at Allen's Garden in Toronto, ON

Hello everyone, Welcome to my blog!

It is exciting that my first blog post is here!

I had long thoughts about my first blog, and what it should focus on. I thought: what could be the best topic to start with? Is it general nutrition crash course? Or just talk about women’s health? A nutrition trend? Or share a recipe?

Then, I thought: Oh, first I need to break the ice! Introduce myself to you!

My name is Noura Sheikhalzoor. My name is Arabic. My first name means light. My last name is actually two words: Sheikh and Alzoor.

Sheikh has multiple meanings in the Arabic language, but here it means the leader/owner, and Alzoor, means a garden or orchard. My family is from a beautiful city in Syria called Hama. It is famous for its historic huge water wheels (norias).

Hama Skyline and Waterwheels, by Effi Schweizer [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

I was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I graduated high school with high honours, then was accepted into the United Arab Emirates University. Like many high-schoolers, I was not sure about what exactly I wanted to study in University, but I was sure that I wanted to do something in the sciences and/or in health. When I found about the dietetics program, I was very excited to join in the College of Food and Agriculture. Nutrition brought together the opportunities to be sciencey, health professional, and brought some of the arts and social sciences too.

I remember the years at UAEU were the best. I enjoyed classes and labs. I also had great memories about sleepless nights writing papers for the courses or preparing for exams. I also participated in clubs and activities during the university time. One of those was a contest of knowledge. My College team was the winner over all College teams.

The Leadership Cup

In the last year of my BSc in dietetics, I joined the dietetics internship, which was in the largest hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Clinical Dietetics Department at that time was managed by registered dietitians. Dietitians were from many countries like the United States, Canada, South Africa, UAE, Jordan, and Sudan.

After graduation, I moved to Canada with my family. We settled first in Mississauga, Ontario. Mississauga is a city close to Toronto. Before immigration, I put down two major goals coming to Canada: 1) To work to become a Registered Dietitian, and 2) to get a master’s degree in nutrition. I have always wanted to learn more and more and use my time to obtain knowledge and practice.

I joined Ryerson University program: The Internationally Educated Dietitians Pre-Registration program, which for short is called: IDPP.

Ryerson University 7th IDPP Cohort at St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, ON

The IDPP provided many opportunities for dietitians coming from many countries to be able to practise dietetics in Canada. I met a wonderful group of dietitians in that program from India, Columbia, Iran, Netherlands, Philippines, Lebanon, and Sudan. All of them are now registered dietitians practising dietetics in Canada and in other places in the world. Also, the dietitian teachers and mentors I had through the program were incredible people with passion for nutrition and helping others. I learned lately that the program has changed its name, structure, and processes. If you are an internationally educated dietitian in Canada and interested in practising (in Ontario), check the College of Dietitians of Ontario.

After that, my family moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan: The Land of Living Skies. We lived in Saskatoon (the city of bridges). Ah how I fell in love with Saskatoon, its super friendly people, its beautiful river, and I could not get enough of the beautiful skies that I took so many pictures of.

One Example of Beautiful Saskatoon Sky

In Saskatoon, I went through the adventure (as I like to call it) of graduate studies to achieve my goal of completing a master’s degree. I joined the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) graduate nutrition program. I met the best people there. I worked closely with my amazing supervisor, Dr. Shawna Berenbaum, who was a registered dietitian too! She did not just guided and encouraged my work on my research, but also encouraged and supported my career journey as a dietitian.

My experience at the U of S there was not just in the graduate office working on my thesis. It was actually so rich with so many activities I had over there working, teaching, and volunteering. I worked on campus and off campus on food and social activities.

Here a slideshow gallery you can view:

Recently, I moved from Saskatoon back to Mississauga because my husband is from Mississauga. We first met in Saskatoon and we got married in August 2016. It was a magical day! I am very grateful!

Yummy Wedding Cake on My Wedding Day

I completed my thesis writing while in Mississauga. I also started working at the Thyroid and Hormones Endocrinology Centre. My work focused mainly on nutrition and type 2 diabetes education and counselling. I also worked with women with hypothyroidism, osteoporosis, and Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). My work there inspired me to focus on women’s health and how nutrition and lifestyle could change their lives to the better. I saw results of health improvement firsthand.

Thyroid and Hormones Endocrinology Centre in Oakville, ON

My second and biggest inspiration to women’s health focus was getting pregnant with my baby boy. Pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum period, breastfeeding, and being a mother were also part of a new life learning and humbling experiences. I dealt with many nice and not so nice people during it. I learned that it is very important to have the right information, the right support system, and self-compassion and self-care.

My baby has not completed his first year yet (we are almost there). He is a very pleasant boy. He keeps me extremely busy though. We read, sing, and eat together. I feel we learn different things from each other everyday. He is learning about the world and I am learning about raising a human being who will make a positive change in the world.

We were at the library reading together :)

Life will definitely unfold new adventures too. I look forward to those adventures. And I look forward to working with you in Nourish & Nurture.

Let me hear from you. What is/are your passion(s)? Were there any inspirations that came your way? Is it a person? A life experience? Or something you heard, read, or saw? What do you love so much?

Let me know and let’s keep in touch!

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