I was really sick, for a really long time. I’m not quite sure how I’m alive today, but certainly grateful to be here.
I have food allergies. I’ve had them my entire life, and in the 36 years leading up to the discovery, not one doctor (and I saw a lot of them) could figure out why I was constantly sick or in pain. Food was slowly killing me, both mentally and physically.
My earliest memories of having health problems begin at the age of six, with symptoms becoming progressively worse throughout childhood, adolescence, and well into my thirties.
A seemingly innocent daily upset stomach evolved into severe digestive issues, seasonal allergies, IBS, asthma, acne, weight management problems, painful monthly cycles, hormone imbalances and mood swings, debilitating migraines, mental fog and inability to reason, to eventually missing days of high school and college, and as an adult, missing days of work or having to go home early due to severe, unexplained pain, usually stemming from what started as simple heartburn, or a four-day migraine with waves of piercing pain so intense, that if I even moved something as small as my eyelid, I would vomit.
Food was never the focus and instead, I was diagnosed with a series of labels that treated symptoms, but never addressed the root cause — hay fever, chronic rhinitis, seasonal allergies, hiatal hernia, hereditary migraine headaches, exercise and cold-weather induced asthma, constipation, and I’ve since forgotten what else.
I discovered my food allergies by accident. I was looking at photos from my daughter’s seventh birthday party and, well, I was fat, plain and simple, pushing 185 pounds at only 5’ 1”. I decided, after seeing myself in those photos, I was going stop making excuses and get myself healthy.
My only access to nutrition information at the time came from the same place the average American obtained theirs — magazine articles, Oprah, and infommercials.
The only diet you’ll ever need is one based on whole, unprocessed foods, simply prepared, and cooked from scratch.
I did everything mainstream media told me to do. I added soy products, focused on low fat dairy and meats, switched to heart-healthy vegetables oils, and started counting calories. I ditched avocados and eggs to avoid saturated fats, and hired a personal trainer.
Within six months I had lost almost 30 pounds, and then it stopped. I was stuck at 150 pounds. I worked out harder, and made it down to 145 pounds. I worked out a little harder, and ate less calories … and nothing.
I was stuck at 145 pounds for three months. I thought maybe my metabolism had slowed down because of my age, and so I began researching diets that might kick start my fat burning mechanisms again. I decided to try the induction phase of a popular low-carb diet plan that left me with nothing but meat, cheese, and vegetables.
It was the most difficult diet I had ever tried, come to find out later, because I was going through withdrawal after several days of not eating refined carbohydrates and sugar, but something amazing also happened.
After the third day, I felt good, and there’s no better way to explain it. I just felt good.
The path to good health is simple, but not always easy.
For the first time in my life I wasn’t stuffy and I could breathe freely, I wasn’t bloated and puffy, I didn’t have a stomach ache, or a migraine headache. My body didn’t hurt anywhere, in fact.
The only thing I had changed at that time was my diet, and I immediately knew food had to be the trigger that was making me sick, but the diet eliminated so many foods, I wasn’t able to pinpoint which foods may have been causing all of my symptoms.
After some research, I decided to seek out the help of a food allergist, and that visit set me on a career path in the culinary and holistic health industry, and a mission to help others, always with two core principles in mind:
- The path to good health is simple, but not always easy.
- The only diet you’ll ever need is one based on whole, unprocessed foods, simply prepared, and cooked from scratch.
When you keep these in mind, it helps the journey to better health through better food just a little easier.
Read more about my health journey at The Orlando Sentinel.