Let’s start at the very beginning. As a child I was a “beigetarian,” at least that’s what my sister-in-law terms it. What is that you ask? It’s a diet made primarily of grains and dairy and a few fruits, all that fit into the beige food group. Fast forward to high school and college when I started to become aware of the environment and decided to become a vegetarian. Although I gave myself a new title, my diet didn’t really change much. I still didn’t eat vegetables, except for the occasional carrot. I must have thought the orange color was close enough to beige to be okay! Luckily I was young and didn’t feel the effects of my limited diet. Oh how I took my health for granted!
Following my big brother’s footsteps, I became passionate about the environment and spent a couple of years in Central and South America, studying environmental biology and volunteering. It was an amazing time in my life but at the same time there was a battle starting to occur within my body. By the time that I came home I was starting to have chronic GI distress, vertigo, no period, migraines and fatigue. Along with my memories, I had also brought home a parasite. And it probably didn’t help that I wasn’t getting many nutrients from my grain and dairy diet. My fatigue became debilitating, I had strange food cravings, pain, nausea, poor sleep, weight gain and a long list of symptoms. I tried a slew of medications and saw specialist after specialist but didn’t get relief. I had to quit my job, I started to get depressed and it didn’t help that I was told by my primary care physician that all these symptoms were in my head. Although I truly respect Western medicine, in this instance it failed me.
I had always had an open mind when it came to alternative healing so I dove headfirst into a holistic lifestyle. After a couple of years of slow progress I got my life back, and maintaining my health became a passion. After accidentally eating chicken nuggets that I though were tofu nuggets (and loving them!), I decided it was time to add some meat back into my diet. And ironically when I stopped being a vegetarian I started eating vegetables! I adopted a “whole foods” strategy to eating and I learned first hand that you are what you eat. As I changed my diet my body changed too. I learned which foods (especially sugar) triggered my migraines. Exercise, dealing with stress and sleep were also important pieces to the puzzle. Of course I couldn’t treat my body like I had when I was younger and I lived with some restrictions, but it was worth it.
Fast forward another 5 years and I joyfully became pregnant with my now almost 3-year-old daughter, Maya. Along with her, came hormonal changes that seemed to have triggered all over again my GI distress and migraines. While I was pregnant I ignored the GI issues and chalked them up to the pregnancy itself. But my issues didn’t go away after Maya was born. I eventually followed my gut and came to realize that the foods I was eating were causing my problems. I already had a “healthy” diet but I’ve come to find that what is “healthy” for one is not for all. So, I embarked on an all new food journey. Along the way, I’ve come to realize that gluten, soy and dairy are not my friends. Once I took those foods out of my diet my GI tract started to heal and I was no longer hungry all the time. It feels like my body is actually absorbing the nutrients I’m eating. And as my GI system healed, my migraines slowly started to get better too! Migraines are a very complex thing and are affected by so many factors but I credit my diet and lifestyle, along with acupuncture with getting them under control.
Now I consider myself gluten, soy, dairy and sugar-free although I don’t get too caught up on the titles. I will occasionally splurge but what I find important is that I have an awareness of what these foods do to my body and the opportunity to make educated decisions about what I want to eat. Following this diet takes more preparation and occasionally I miss the foods I don’t eat anymore but feeling good is more than worth it! And believe it or not, I don’t usually feel deprived. I still have so many delicious, filling and satisfying foods to choose from. In my private practice I hope to help find a unique diet that is right for you and share tips on how to make it doable and enjoyable.