Healthy To A Hundred: Sue Van Raes of Boulder Nutrition On 5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine
Published in
13 min readSep 25, 2022


Pleasure: I believe pleasure is the greatest healing force accessible to us. Yet, so many of us have guilt and shame concerned with having too much pleasure, or giving ourselves permission for pleasure. I think that if we could reframe pleasure as an integral vitamin (vitamin P) we all need for health and wellness, we would create much more health, vitality, and longevity.

The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sue Van Raes.

Sue Van Raes is a functional nutritionist, food psychology specialist, and integrative health expert who is dedicated to helping women who are stressed out about food finally make peace with their plates. After her own life-long struggle with food and her two decades of private practice, she discovered a surprising pathway to food freedom and body compassion. Sue draws on her personal and professional experience providing a body, heart, mind, and soul approach to repairing our relationship to food and our bodies so you can stop stressing and start living.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Sure! I would love to. I was born and raised in Canada where I spent my childhood intensely dedicated to my passion, competitive gymnastics. Consequently, I had to learn how to fuel my body well at a very early age. My experience as an athlete and my severe (and undiagnosed at the time) hypoglycemia, starting in my childhood, led to my passion and desire to work in the field of functional nutrition and food psychology, one that I still inspires me today. I graduated with a biology degree from UBC. I moved to Boulder Colorado in 1995, and after a few years of further education, including gaining my Masters Degree in Holistic Nutrition, I began my private practice, Boulder Nutrition. It is here that I continue to specialize in functional nutrition, food psychology, integrative health, and women’s wellness, yoga, and nature retreats.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

I started including embodiment practices (such as yoga, meditation, mindful movement, and breathwork) in my private practice and on my retreats many years ago.

Embodiment being the practice of being in real-time with our experiences and the ability to live our lives with an increased awareness of present moment sensation and feeling within our bodies — where we can fully incarnate our experience of life. Similarly, embodied eating is a body-centered resolution with how we eat, being in real-time with our eating, and being keenly aware of the nuances within the full experience we have with our food — tracking our bodily cues, sensations, feelings, thoughts, and stories around our eating.

Soon after, I saw a whole new level of healing happening for my clients. For example, one of my clients kept coming up against her own inner wall of resistance with food and exercise. She would stress eat to then over-exercise to compensate for the extra calories. Eventually, as per my recommendation, she started practicing yoga at a local studio where I taught a couple of weekly classes, and eventually signed up for a yoga teacher training. There, she deepened her yoga practice, and with every free moment she had from her busy college schedule, she would head straight to the yoga studio. She explained to me that when on her yoga mat, she felt more at home in her body than any other place. While she continued to work with me, she also continued to deepen her embodied and spiritual journey with yoga. Her healing took a great leap and what had felt like impossible roadblocks around food and exercise, soon melted away. The main takeaway I learned from her was that embodying what is in the present moment in our bodies, within our eating and our lives, is a gateway to greater health, longevity, and healing.

Now, embodied living and eating is a primary aspect of my work, as well as my own personal anchor to feeling the most like myself, the most resourced in my center. Embodiment has become the most effective way I know to fill up my own cup.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am very lucky to have had some incredible mentors and teachers in my journey, both in the field of nutrition and health, yoga, spiritual practice, as well as entrepreneurship. The person who has helped me the most recently is my business coach. She is a rare person who has really been able to recognize my greater mission — especially with how I blend food and nutrition with psychology and spirituality, as well as supporting me within in the entrepreneurship side of my work. She has both helped me in creating more flow and organization within my business (such as systems and strategies) as well as giving me the inner scaffolding that has guided me in how to both go deeper with my work, by going deeper into my own sense of sovereignty and inner knowing within myself. She has helped me strengthen my connection to myself, as well as given my work a greater clarity and precision.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Thank you! Sure.

  1. Consistency: I have been working in my business for two decades now. People know me for the work that I do in the world because it is unwavering. For example, I have been writing a weekly newsletter/email since the beginning. It started on hot pink stationary that I would deliver around town, and has gradually evolved into a robust email list where I deliver my weekly email blast each Friday morning. Connecting in this way has become a huge labor of love for me. My community of subscribers often tell me that they look forward to my email landing in their inbox each Friday morning.
  2. Diligence: Being an entrepreneur has many benefits as well as many hard moments. I have had to overcome my own obstacles along the way. From learning new technology, to trusting my intuition with my clients, there is a level of diligence that I can see has been incredibly valuable to my longevity in my work. I have had many moments of having to overcome obstacles (internal and external), ask for support, or do endless amounts of research, so I can keep on moving forward.
  3. Inner work: For me to support those that I do in my private practice, lead local and international retreats, write my next book (coming out winter 2024 with New World Library), and all the likes, I have had to really deepen my relationship with myself. This involves my regular spiritual practice (yoga and meditation), continual self-study, self-care (lots of rest), keeping up with current research, and working through my inner obstacles such as resistance and overwhelm. I like to think of my business as my greatest teacher (alongside parenting).

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity?

I would love to. I have been in the field of health, wellness, food, and the like for two decades. I have sat with folks going through so many different health issues and really explored the root of their health and imbalances. I have experimented with my own health aplenty, and I have discovered many foundational elements in the process (some of them surprising me). This has truly been my life’s work, my greatest passion, and my dharma or purpose.

In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I look at our health and well-being as a great tapestry woven together with so many different colors and textures. What we often think of as wellness can be just scratching the surface. For example, a lot of people become highly focused on food, and the “what to avoid” according to the latest trendy eating style. I see wellness as so much more than solely what we eat. I see wellness as our relationship to self, how we do things being even more important that what we do — how we eat, how we think, how we rest, and how well we know our selves from the inside out. Mostly importantly, I feel that pleasure, joy, and connection are some of the most important colors of our great tapestry of health and well-being.

Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.

Yes! Absolutely. My search is twofold: First, it has taken me deeper and deeper inward. It is here, with our inner wisdom, that I know we have access to our greatest power. I see this through the quality of our thoughts, our ability to love ourselves unconditionally, and the practice we gain in self-trust and self-referral. Second, I love to travel. When I travel, I have a great passion of seeking out how different cultures live (and eat) around the world. The retreat aspect of my business has brought me back to Costa Rica, to the Nicoya Peninsula (one of the seven Blue Zones), annually for the past 15 years. I have witnessed, experienced, and studied what it is the people do there to create health, vitality, and longevity. Each year when I return, usually feeling better than ever, it has become my mission to take Blue Zone life home with me and integrate what I can into my daily life. Over the years and with a lot of practice, I have done just that. For example, I may not be able to watch the sunrise and walk on the beach each morning during the snowy winters here in Colorado, but I can bundle up and take an exhilarating morning walk with my dog to start my day, set my circadian rhythm with morning sunlight, and boost my energy and mood before the work day begins.

Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Living and eating close to nature: When we live close to nature, such as in the Blue Zone I know best, our primal needs are met, and we feel like we are not only connected to nature, but a part of nature. For example, watching the sunrise and sunset each day connects us to a healthy circadian rhythm. Eating close to nature, attunes us to the season, and creates reverence for the beautiful local foods in their seasonal abundance. We find deeper nourishment with foods that are rich in diverse colors and nutrients, tended to with our own hands (or of those in our communities), and cooked with ritual that has been passed down through our families and communities.
  2. Connection to a higher power: There are many spiritual and soulful practices worldwide, but what I find is most important is that they are customized to our greatest values, and our relationship with ourselves, and are sustainable regenerative for our planet.
  3. Community: Feeling part of a greater community is a very basic human need that often goes unmet in our Western world. In traditional Costa Rican life, community inclusivity is inherent. There is a great sense of belonging that meets a very primal need we all have.
  4. Joyful movement: When I watch the Costa Rican’s play soccer on the beach each afternoon, go fishing, garden, or walk on the beach each day to and from where they need to be, I am reminded of how joyful movement is integral to our well-being. In our culture, movement can become so robotic and drab. We can often find ourselves exercising out of obligation rather than joy. Joyful movement is not only so healthful and energizing to our bodies, but also a wonderful ingredient for a healthy mind and soul.
  5. Pleasure: I believe pleasure is the greatest healing force accessible to us. Yet, so many of us have guilt and shame concerned with having too much pleasure, or giving ourselves permission for pleasure. I think that if we could reframe pleasure as an integral vitamin (vitamin P) we all need for health and wellness, we would create much more health, vitality, and longevity.

Can you suggest a few things needed to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning?

As I mentioned, for me and based on what I have observed in many cultures around the world, I stand by connection to ourselves, feeling like we belong to a like-minded community, and feeling a sense of contribution and purpose in the meaningful work of our lives, as integral to living a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning.

Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?

I absolutely believe it is both! Yet, it is also clear to me after observing myself and my clients over the past two decades, that the choices we make within how we live, eat, connect, and enjoy life are strong enough to override (almost) any genetic disposition.

Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?

For me, there are a couple of ways I work with challenge to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health. First, I always see life as my teacher. I try to look deeper into what lesson I can learn or take away from any situation, even the most challenging. Second, I believe in building resiliency. Humans have experienced so much hardship overtime — some that are hard to even wrap our heads around. Each time I go through a challenging time, I think of myself as building a resiliency muscle that I know will continue to be with me, and that I know others who have come before me have demonstrated just how strong and resilient humans are.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“If the problem is within, so is the solution.”

I see folks all the time trying to solve internal problems with external solutions. For me, and what I have observed in my private practice of two decades, I have noticed that most often, we must dig deep and go to the root or our inner worlds to reveal what we most need for our health and happiness. This has helped me to look deeper, to the root of my problems (body, mind, heart or soul) and begin within.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Authenticity. I wish for people to be able to be authentic with themselves within what we need to be satiated, healthy, strong, and happy, as well as authentic with how we relate to others in their lives. I feel that in our world today, we are often looking to external sources for what we need and what is acceptable. If we could live with our authenticity guiding us in all we do, including trusting the organic intelligence of our bodies and our inner wisdom, cultivating more self-trust and self-love, I think we would all be more well-resourced, nourished, and sovereign, with so much more to give back to our circles of life.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?


Instagram: @BoulderNutrition

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

Thank you! It has been an absolute pleasure to be here with you!

About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 best-selling author, syndicated columnist, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC. He has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been featured on Fox News, The Wrap, and has worked with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Food Network, WW and Bloomberg. Savio has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad. His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. Savio pens a weekly newsletter in which he delves into secrets to living smarter by feeding your “three brains” — head, heart, and gut — in the hope of connecting the dots to those sticky parts of our nature that matter to living our best life.



Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC), Journalist, Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor