I got used to the idea that I would feel pain after eating food for the rest of my life.
It’s only been within the past couple of years that we as a society have started to really understand how directly the food we eat makes us feel — both inside and out. Before then, it was seemingly harmless to drink Kool-Aid on the regular, writeoff organic fruits and veggies as “weird”, and buy the cheapest meat, grains and dairy that the grocery store sold. Now, we know a lot more about the dangers of sugar, the foods you should always buy organic and the unethical, toxic, and downright disgusting factory farming practices.
So you could say I was really taken back when I was diagnosed over 10 years ago with acid reflux. My first (of many) digestive diagnoses, I had no idea how I got this. I ate healthy. I exercised regularly. I lived a pretty calm and happy life. Now I was being told I had a condition that had no “cure” and the only way to “treat” it was by taking acid blocking medicine (which, as it turns out, does the exact opposite of what you think it does).
Then, just 3 years later, I was diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) a BS diagnosis, in my opinion. On a mission to find out what was really going on, I sought to see every major doctor in Boston for a real diagnosis — and within a year, it came as chronic ulcerative colitis (UC), which, lo and behold, also conventionally had no “cure” and the only way to make it “better” was via steroids and mesalamine.
Not 2 years later did I start to experience serious brain fog, anxiety, and memory loss. At this point, I was really getting worried. What was happening to me?
Let me rewind back to my doctor’s office when I was diagnosed with UC. The very first question I asked him (and I remember this very vividly) was, “What foods can I be eating to make this any better?” He looked back at me with a, “Oh, you’re so sweet and innocent for thinking it works this way, but let me tell you,” look and said, “Diet has no impact on your condition. It’s chronic so the only way to treat it is with medicine.” I stared blankly back at him, meanwhile processing in my mind how in the world that worked: how could it be that the food I was putting in my digestive system — the same system that is inflamed and very unhappy — could not help nor hurt my condition?
It didn’t make any sense. The only advice he could offer was, “When you’re UC is flaring up, just be sure to eat calming foods like milk, rice, pasta, etc.” (I would learn a year later just how ridiculously inaccurate his use of “calming” was.) Naturally, I rushed off to the grocery store and stocked up on the buy-one-get-one-free pastas and rice and got another half gallon of milk. I felt terrible for the next week.
Every day after that appointment, I couldn’t help but think that this all wasn’t’t right. I was sick for no good reason. My food had no impact on how I felt. Yet I was feeling worse by the day.
Several emergency room visits later (thanks mom, dad and Ben for going with me all those times!) I decided to seek an alternate route. I decided to see an acupuncturist who could look holistically at what was going on. I initially went to her hoping for relief from my mounting anxiety, but upon our very first visit she affirmed what I had been thinking all this time: The very food I was eating was making me very, very sick. I explained to her what my doctor said about food, and what he recommended I have when I’m flaring up.
She went on to explain how those foods were pretty much the most inflammatory foods I could be putting in my body with the disease I had. I know this like the back of my hand now, but she explained that grains, dairy, soy and processed sugar were all irritating my system and encouraged me to completely avoid them for the next 30 days.
I raced home, threw out pretty much all of the food I had in my apartment, and started fresh — literally.
In just one week I felt better.
One week! After allll these years. I no longer felt crippling pain after eating an unassuming pasta dish. My stomach no longer puffed out to the size of a basketball after having dairy milk. My brain fog cleared up within a few weeks. A skin condition I had even went away! It was like the best kept secret out there. Color me intrigued…
The studious person I am, I researched everything and anything I could about these “trigger foods”.
- Why are they so irritating to the digestive system?
- Are all grains, dairy, soy and sugar bad?
- Who is affected by them most?
- Are there alternatives to these foods that are safe?
From there, my health journey only got more interesting. Within 1 year I was completely off all my medication — yes, the medications my doctor said I would have to be on for life. I haven’t been back to the ER; it’s been 3 years since my last visit. I now know exactly what foods are good and bad for my body and have crafted a very specific diet for it (a mix of paleo, vegan, and whole30).
I didn’t want to stop there, though, this was so powerful to finally be in control of my health. I started working with some functional diagnostic nutritionists (FDNs) — one of which I’m now partnering with to offer clients lab testing services — and uncovered even more about my anxiety and digestive issues. A few all natural supplements, herbs and recipes later and I was even better.
Today, I rarely ever feel pain and hope to never be back on those awful medications again. (Side note: There is absolutely a place for medication, hospitals, and doctors in someone’s life. I always encourage my clients to still see their doctors and follow their instructions on their own will. In this post, I am simply referring to the fact that what I had was able to be overcome by a primarily whole foods-based diet, which is why I no longer needed those treatments.)
This is exactly why I am now a certified Holistic Health Coach. I know there are millions of people just like me (maybe even you!) who have a similar story and feel how I felt.
After my journey, I realized that maybe I went through all this for a reason — to be able to help others to heal even faster than the time it took me. That’s why I specialize in helping clients experiencing digestive issues, anxiety, and low energy / fatigue. I’ve been there! This has been my all-consuming life and I can’t wait to help others find a customized path to healing based on exactly how they are feeling. No body is like another, which is why, as a health coach, I take the time to get to the root of the symptoms my clients are feeling and developing a customized roadmap to healing for them — a combination of food and lifestyle changes and additions.
If you’ve read this far, first of all, thank you for reading my story! If you can resonate with it and would like to chat about what a one-one-one coaching program would look like for you, book a free consult with me. I would be honored to join you on your journey to wellness. It’s my goal for you to not only feel better again, but to thrive!