Categorized | Health

Health coach earns certification as ‘Food for Life’ instructor


After a rigorous and competitive application process, Puna resident Dena Smith Givens was recently selected to participate in the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s “Food for Life Instructor Training” in Washington, D.C.

Givens is only the second person in the state of Hawaii to receive this certification. The other instructor is Ayla Sarnoff, who resides in Honolulu.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a national nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, particularly through good nutrition, and supports higher standards in research.

Givens offers her first cooking class series, entitled “Food for Life: Kickstart Your Health,” in Pahoa at Mile Marker 12, Route 130, beginning March 9, 2013. The class will meet weekly 2-4 p.m. Saturdays.

The seven class series is designed to help local residents lose weight and improve their health through proper diet and nutrition.

To register for the class, or for more information, go to or send an email to

Other nutrition class series include the “Cancer Project: The Power of Food for Cancer Prevention and Survival,” the “Diabetes Initiative: The Power of Food for Diabetes Prevention and Treatment,” “Kids Health: The Power of Food for a Healthy Start,” and “Food for Life: Employee Wellness Program.”

Givens is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College in New York City where she received a dual certificate as a Health Coach. She is an accredited Holistic Health Practitioner through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP). She also completed the Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University in March 2011.

Givens offers individual and group health coaching, as well as wellness and natural parenting education, through her private practice, Healthful Essentials. In addition, Givens is a freelance writer, motivational speaker, massage therapist, and doula.

A mother of six children ranging in age from tots to teens (including a set of twins), Givens has served as a volunteer La Leche League Leader (breastfeeding education and support counselor) for more than 15 years and has founded and coordinated numerous parenting and homeschool resource groups.

She was a founding member of a natural food co-op in Niskayuna, N.Y. and has also served as an active member in several other food cooperatives and CSAs around the country.

She is now actively involved with her local community farmer’s market every Saturday.

Givens is founder, publisher and executive editor of the grassroots consumer magazine, Primal Parenting, and has contributed to numerous blogs and websites.

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