WHY I BECAME A NUTRITIONIST
My journey in wellness has been a long and winding one.
Growing up my diet looked like this: start the day with 4 pieces of white bread with butter and cinnamon sugar or a bagel with cream cheese. Lunch was something like a hot dog with a big ass bun and a big side of potato chips. Dinner was macaroni and cheese or pizza. Ice cream or cookies for dessert. There were snacks of course too.
I didn’t really have a sense of food being good or bad for you but I do remember when my mom first got diagnosed with breast cancer she suddenly had all these bottles of supplements and flax oil in the fridge and weird concoctions. That was my first connection that the food we eat might be making us healthy or sick.
Losing my mom to cancer was a pivotal point in my life. I went through many waves of intense depression, anxiety and hopelessness. In my twenties, I wanted to be healthy. I abided by the food pyramid, avoided fat like the plague, ate those god awful Olestra potato chips (the kind with the warning right on the label that says ‘may cause abdominal cramping or loose stools’. I had egg whites for breakfast with a couple sprays from my ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray bottle, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread for lunch and some pasta for dinner. I worked out hard core at the gym several times a week. I started taking herbal stimulants like Ma Huang and “Fat Burner” type stuff I would get at GNC.
I thought I was doing the right things. I was trying to look like those girls in Shape magazine or Muscle and Fitness Hers. However, I did not. I felt terrible. I was about 10 lbs too heavy for my frame (which at 5’4″ that is a lot), I had crazy energy crashes in the afternoon, acne on my face, chest and back that I could not control no matter how much Proactive I used.
It took many more years before I realized how this crappy cycle of processed carbs, overexercising, and indulging in worry and fear really created my adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism (read that story here). By the time I felt bad, I felt reeeeaallly bad. So I tried everything. Vegetarian, Veganism, Paleo, Keto, and my favorite, the Fuck-it diet (the one where nothing is working anyway so you just eat the damn pizza and worry about it tomorrow).
“I thought I was doing the right things. But I felt terrible. I had crazy energy crashes, acne that wouldn’t go away, and serious mood swings.”
I felt so overwhelmed and totally not sure what to do. I would wake up exhausted that even 4-5 cups of coffee wasn’t enough to keep me chipper. My anxiety was through the roof, energy crashes were so hard, mood swings common, and I was so irritable all the time. Even worse, I was so worried that the way things were going I might get cancer and die young like my mom. I knew I had a problem and I had to find answers.
I started researching everything I could about my symptoms. It became clear to me that I was dealing with adrenal fatigue, candida, and low thyroid. I would spend hours researching the internet for solutions to this and how to help myself heal.
My Journey into Yoga and Herbalism
In all of this I started practicing yoga and found so much peace and solace on the mat. It was the first time in my life that I really connected to my breath and felt that deep connection to my spirit in those sweaty classes at Yoga Tree in San Francisco. I decided to pursue yoga teacher training. I found a lot of spiritual answers there and loved having a spiritual-based movement practice but I didn’t get all the answer I was looking for. I was following the Vegetarian diet as encouraged by the Yogic philosophy but really wasn’t feeling better on a daily basis – except right after yoga practice.
Then I discovered herbalism. I went head over heels for the healing power of herbs. I started downing herbs like it was my job. I loved adaptogens and healing tonics and herbal remedies but it still felt kind of allopathic to me. Take this herb for this symptom. I knew the symptoms were not the real problem in chronic illnesses. It was an imbalance in the body that started the cascade of symptoms. I knew that it started with food. That is our primary communication with the world and the fuel we need to give our body to run properly.
Why I became a Nutritionist
As I dove into nutrition research I immediately regretted it. It was so confusing with so many contradicting theories, studies, and diets. I started finding trusted resources – people who had a balanced view on nutrition that was rooted in ancestral wisdom. This is how I discovered the Nutritional Therapy Association. After scouring their website (and silently saying to myself“Yes, yes!! Oh my god they are speaking my language!) I knew right away I wanted to do this course and use what I learn to help myself and others feel better. I really resonated with their principles of real food, ancestral wisdom, and bio-individuality.
I knew I wanted to help other people heal. I knew how much it sucked to feel crappy all the time, to be overwhelmed and confused by which diet I should be on or trying to decipher the symptoms of my body. I knew how hard it is to try to function in the world with crippling anxiety and fatigue.
I do this because health is the most precious thing we have. I don’t want anyone to have to go through the heart wrenching sadness of losing their parent to cancer or disease. I am fed up and angry at the system that I believed (and my mom too) that the government has our best interest in mind and if we just follow the dietary guidelines we will be healthy. I don’t want anyone to jeopardize their health because they don’t have good information on what to eat. I want to help give people a clear plan to feel their best. It starts with food.