I didn’t come to nutritional healing as a fresh-faced twenty year old with a bowl of berries in hand, bright and eager to feed the world fresh fruit. Rather, I came clinically depressed, irritable, exhausted, covered in acne, full of snot, pot-bellied, and absorbed in my victim mode. I was by no means the ideal version of myself.
Major change doesn’t typically happen overnight and it took me many years of effort to put my life on the right path. I imagine you are somewhere on that continuum too and you are here because you want something more for yourself, but are struggling to make a shift. If it helps to know this, you are not alone.
We are faced with many challenges to our health and well-being on a daily basis. How we approach those challenges is what determines our quality of life. But if we don’t have energy, let alone support to face those challenges head on, we get stuck, and eventually one problem creates another, and then another, building a second self, until we no longer know what the root cause of our unhappiness or illness is anymore. Does this sound familiar?
That was my experience from a very early age. Growing up, I suffered the mental challenges of depression, body dismorphia, Bulimia, lack of self-worth, shame, and the negative, confusing effects of childhood sexual abuse. Physically I struggled with digestive distress like a painful, distended belly after eating, acne, excruciatingly heavy menstruation, chronic sinus infections, migraines, mood swings, an inability to concentrate, and I would fall asleep at school, work and even while driving.
Exhausted, overwhelmed and terrified, I initiated minor attempts at suicide when I was 14, 18, and 22, twice when I was 24 and my final and most committed attempt at 26 landed me in a psyche ward for three days, medicated and monitored every 15 minutes.
I sought help in all kinds of therapy those years; Counsellors, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, eating disorder groups, EMDR, Rosen Method, and out-patient programs in two different hospitals with very well-meaning, professionals. I was also pumped with a variety of anti-depressants, Lithium, antibiotics, you name it, and I was told I would be medicated my whole life. But nowhere in that time, between the age of 6 when I started to really hurt, and 26 when I left the psyche ward, or between 26 and 37 when I struggled with Post-Partum depression, Hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue and emotional instability did anyone, including myself, address my nutritional status. It was no ones' fault but I certainly learned the long, hard way that even though my emotional life was triggered by past trauma, it was also hugely affected by what I put in my body, but we never addressed that.
Your experiences are going to be different from mine; far more simple, or more complex. But the desire to live a truly healthy life that reflects our passions and values is universal. And our greatest resource is our health, so establishing a healthy lifestyle is vital, and I want that for you just as much as I want it for me.
I learned a lot of things about my health the hard way. I suffered in so many ways, trying every diet and cleanse, over-eating, under-eating, over-working and exercising excessively. I was relentless in my search for good health but nothing seemed to make a lasting positive impact on my life. It wasn't until a friend of mine who was studying to be a Doctor of Chinese Medicine shared a book she was reading called Healing With Whole Foods, that I started to explore the idea that what I was ingesting could have an impact on how my body expressed itself. After much trial and error and many years, I finally made the correlations, and accepted that dairy was the main cause of my acne and chronic sinus infections, eggs, cocoa, pork and bananas were at the root of my migraines, and grains and lectins were a catalyst in my ability to balance and manage my hypothyroidism, fatigue, brain fog, mood swings and distended stomach. But even then my progress was slow because I was too wrapped up in the web of Bulimia, shame and emotional eating to be able to look at food as a tool for greater health, and even adversely as disease. And even though removing adverse foods was helping me physically and I was experiencing some emotional relief, I still largely battled with my mental state.
Because my desire to beat depression and Bulimia (which I embodied between the ages of 10 and 38) without life long medication was a serious and relentless goal though, I continued researching, seeking and testing ideas that reflected well-being, and I learned that so many of my mental problems were triggered by the effects of some foods. Hands down, without a doubt, my moods are affected by what I eat, and frankly, if I’m in a bad mood or I’m down in the dumps, it’s impossible for me to move forward in my life, or inspire my son to explore his. So keeping my moods in balance is vital to me, hence maintaining a healthy diet, at minimum, is non-negotiable for me as well. But ultimately, my choice to study nutrition and to help others get healthy and happy didn’t come as much through the positive changes I experienced as a result of my food choices, it came through my son’s experiences.
As a newborn, my son would have explosive yellow poops that would shoot up his back, soiling his clothes and hair. He was underweight, colicky, and didn’t sleep well, but his doctor kept telling me he was fine and that his digestive system would work itself out by 4 months. It didn’t. After many blood tests stating he was healthy with no disease, his Gastroenterologist suggested I cut dairy and soy out of my diet, because maybe he was reacting to them through my breast milk. So I cut out my beloved soy lattes and cheese, and remarkably, my son had solid poops within a couple weeks of me doing so, and he immediately put on weight, shifting from a fragile little thing to a robust, chubby-limbed cherub. And that was solely through breast milk! Oddly enough, by omitting soy, my post-partum depression was better balanced too. After that, my self-serving interest in the correlation between nutrition and healing became a broader one, and as my long battle with Bulimia was eradicated with two final years of concerted, consistent therapy with a really good Psychiatrist who thankfully didn't medicate me, my relationship with food shifted from fear, to curiousity. I signed up for my nutrition certificate (Alive Academy in Canada) and never looked back. My son has also further reinforced my efforts and commitment after his massive, itchy rashes that once regularly covered his back have been eliminated with the consistent removal of soy and some dairy products.
You may be thinking UGH there is no way I am cutting dairy and gluten out of my diet, (and you may not have to) I felt the same way! But when we hit a wall, we can choose to climb over it, bang our heads against it, or resolve to never get over it. What matters is that by investing in your health, you give yourself the opportunity to evolve from feeling discontent and tired, to energized and inspired. Making the choice to climb the wall is brave, and it may not be easy or pretty at first, but you and your family are well worth the effort and you will benefit from your commitment, no matter how disorientated your path (like mine and others) leading up to this may have been.
I falter and struggle. I stress over money, I cry easily, sometimes I wish I was a better friend, better mother, better daughter, better sister, better ex-wife, and even though I am a Nutritionist, there are many days where I hate cooking and grocery shopping, and the last thing you will see from me is a sunny fruit-filled photo on Instagram! Some days I crash and burn!
But, and there is a BIG BEAUTIFUL "BUT" here, I am completely on the other side of Bulimia and clinical depression and despite faltering and struggling here and there, my life is no longer dictated by depression. Through seeking help from Naturopaths and therapists, and years of working hard to find and create the best balance for my health through nutrition and lifestyle choices, I have succeeded at picking up my life and living it on my terms. In recent years I have come out ahead of Hypothyroidism, the repercussions of Chronic Lyme Disease, ongoing bouts of SIBO, Fibromyalgia, and the tiresome regulation of all kinds of food and chemical reactions as the result of auto immune flare-ups and an over active immune system, possibly created by a lifetime of stress on my system. I have never given up on making my life the best it can be and although it is not quite where I want it to be, I am close, and that is a far cry from the anxiety attacks and suicide daydreams I suffered in my twenties when I should have been grabbing the world by it's horns. My son is a healthy, happy boy, which is also vital to me, and when I do crash and burn, it’s because I am a normal, working, single parent, and I am then reminded to make some adjustments and make different choices.
And that’s what it comes down to; choices. If I want to be healthy and happy, I have to be responsible for my choices. And to know what choices are best for you, if you choose to work with me, we will look at your history and your current state, as well as where you want to go. It may require a simple shift, or eliminating a certain food, or it may come down to a complete overhaul of habits and choices. Either way, change doesn’t always come easy, or swiftly, I get that, but I will help you achieve your goals efficiently, and with care. You are a unique individual, worthy of investing in yourself so you can connect to your life on a deeper level. I promise you that you will have more energy for yourself, your family and for fulfilling your dreams once we have worked together on your nutritional status, history, barriers and goals.
I have been in some very dark places, I know how hard it is to see the light and make healthy changes when you feel like garbage. The vicious cycle of poor physical health dampening your energy and moods, and low moods and energy weakening your outlook on life, and therefore your ability to be motivated to get healthy is an exhausting path. What came first, the chicken or the egg, the bad mood or the bad diet? Doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is that you are here seeking a healthier, happier life. Take that next step! I would love to help.