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Meet Melinda, RDN, CDCES

Melinda Penny-Washington, founder and director of Healthy Balance 3, combines traditional nutritional counseling with complementary plant-based therapies to generate full-spectrum healing. Through one-on-one coaching sessions and group classes, she has supported hundreds of individuals to fulfill their wellness goals and improve health outcomes.

Introduced to the field of nutritional science while seeking relief from years of intense gastrointestinal pain, she was finally able to apply it to a diagnosis: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Not wanting to rely solely on pharmaceutical medications, she combined nourishing foods and stress management in her healing regimen, and it worked.

 

After learning to manage her IBS, she went on to earn her Dietetics degree at Sacramento State University, with a specialization in clinical nutrition science and biology, to help others living with chronic conditions. She completed her clinical rotation at Stanford University Hospital and post-graduate work at Iowa State University of Science and Technology.  

Melinda continued her studies abroad to study health and wellness practices of various cultures. She is certified as a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, as well as a Transformational Leader with a focus on indigenous wisdom and guided meditation. She has witnessed the vitality and impact of integrating cultural practices into achieving health and well-being in herself and others, and is committed to healing as a lifelong practice.

The Journey

At the heart of Healthy Balance 3 is a reverence for sacred nourishment.

Melinda Washington often asks her clients what they hold sacred and if they think of food as ritual. She believes in being conscious of one’s choice of food, nourishing the body, and giving it the attention it needs for proper digestion. Beyond suggesting mindful eating, seated with no distractions, she often reintroduces clients to nature to learn about the healing power of plants, whether on a walk together in “near nature” or through an assignment. 

 

Melinda acknowledges we are nature

 

Many who’ve had little success with traditional nutritional counseling and psychotherapy often find breakthroughs with plant medicine based on indigenous healing techniques. Washington refers to it as “the sacred wisdom of our ancestors”, the Indigenous.   She says, “In nature, often the spirit guides the response, and for this reason, we need to project and give reverence for these traditions.” In that way, she’s learned about healing practices including, essential oils, and deep meditation in natural settings.

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Each day she meditates to step deeper into her own confidence to help others and admits that those who teach have the most to learn. Working with many who live with chronic conditions, she shares that often they find enlightenment through sheer survival when they finally set aside time to question how they can improve their lives. She is no exception and learned to heal her own Irritable Bowel Syndrome through meditation when she had reached a tipping point.

Plants and wisdom discovered on the path

 

After visiting Guatemala around Lake Atitlán in her youth, she returned with a desire to learn about her own roots: Choctaw and Creole. She discovered that in the past both Native Americans and enslaved Africans did not have access to doctors and modern medicine, and instead created wellness with plant medicine through rituals in nature. Delving more into holistic studies, she enrolled in a Sacred Future Transformational Leadership course, where she studied under a Maria Owl, medicine woman, working as an integrated psychotherapist in San Francisco and combining clinical medicine and research with plant medicine and indigineous rituals.

 

She expanded her learning by visiting Oaxaca City, Tulum, Gonaives in Haiti, and Denarau in Fiji. In Oaxaca, she researched the magic of mushrooms (or Santos Ninos), and in Tulum worked with women healers in cacao ceremonies. In Haiti, she witnessed the rituals steeped in the long tradition of African spirituality and felt connected and inspired. In retrospect, there was a common thread such as the healing power of touch and clairvoyant dreams woven into her own Native and African traditions. 

 

In Fiji, she sat in ceremony with kava, as storms erupted on shore. The staff at the property where she stayed were of indigenous cultures who traveled from the far islands to work. During a kava ceremony, she asked permission to learn about the history of the people, their lineage, how they practiced health, and their spiritual gifts. One staff member took her on a personal tour of the grounds and shared with her the medicines contained within each plant, both physical and spiritual. Near buildings there was often Cordyline planted for good luck and protection for fellow travelers.