Growing up, I never used to think that the food I ate would have a direct impact on symptoms like headaches, anxiety or fatigue. After all, being young, my metabolism was high, I worked out every day, and my parents always cooked pretty healthy meals, especially because we had a backyard garden. So I thought things were going pretty well.
This all changed when I was first diagnosed with “IBD / lactose intolerance” — a vague diagnosis, to say the least. At that point, I started to eliminate all things dairy, which was a huge change for me.
Then came the bigger and more hard-hitting diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis several years later. I realized that not only should I avoid dairy, but also wheat, soy, eggs, and pretty much all processed foods. By making the transition to avoid these foods and add in more organic veggies, fruits, and whole foods, I began to listen to my body to understand what it needed to heal. I also became tuned into other foods that agreed or didn’t agree with me so I could continue fine-tuning my diet to what my body’s exact needs were. To say the least, this was an extremely powerful turning point for me.
But then, tragedy hit. My dad passed away (nearly 5 years ago now) and that really shook things up for me. He passed away from sudden heart failure (heart problems run in his side of the family), but it was completely unexpected and absolutely devastating. This loss affected every aspect of my life. It threw me into a state of high anxiety and depression, but also motivated me to pay even closer attention to my own heart heath.
Between digestive issues and anxiety, I definitely was starting to feel like a different person. Here was a typical conversation in my head on any given day:
“Why is my heart fluttering? Oh yeah, I’m stressing myself out over my to-do list and worrying about things I don’t need to. Oh shoot, now my digestive system is acting up. Okay, breathe Kristin, breathe…” Not exactly the things I thought would be pressing on my mind at 26 years old.
Knowing I’m living with a chronic and potentially very dangerous disease, paired with the fact that life really can change at the blink of an eye, I started really thinking about what I put into my body, what I stress (and don’t stress) about, and how I live my day-to-day life. These are the main reasons why I’m on a completely customized diet fit for my exact needs, and why I will be on it for the rest of my life. It’s cured me in so many incredible ways. And it’s also why I always make fitness a part of my daily routine — heart health being a priority there.
I’m learning more each day about what my body needs to function well and as a result am more and more disgusted at how today’s junk food is so terribly bad for us. I’ve become truly angered by how large food companies advertise their foods as “low calorie” or “healthy snack” or “gluten free” — applying highly over-exaggerated buzzwords to what is essentially still junk food. I’m lucky I can now see through the B.S., but I know there is a long uphill battle to fight to encourage food companies to become truly honest. But the best thing we can do is be clear about what we’re putting in our own bodies. From reading ingredient labels to learning how to cook at home. These are all skills and tips I provide to my clients to help them take control of what they put in their body and starting feeling better by eliminating the bad and adding in more of the good.
Read more about my story and if you’re interested in kickstarting your own health journey as I did, check out my health coaching programs and then get in touch to schedule your free initial consultation!