The Early Years: I wasn’t always this way (obsessed with nutrition). My family and everyone I knew didn’t really think about food quality back then. We had a poor concept of healthy eating and I grew up on hot dogs, canned spaghetti, sugary drinks, processed cheese, white bread and white pasta and lots and lots of candy– most of which contained artificial additives, preservatives, food colorings and partially-hydrogenated oils. Of course there were fruits and veggies here and there too– but not nearly enough. When I went off to college my eating habits worsened into a diet soda addiction, aspartame in my coffee, fat-free everything and a total lack of so many nutrients that I am not exactly sure how I made it through alive. I cringe just thinking about it.
What We Put in Our Bodies Affects our Health…Who Knew? During my sophomore year of college my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was the first time I had ever experienced a serious health threat in my family and I wanted to know WHY. What caused this to happen? Nobody could tell me. I racked my brain trying to figure it all out. Was God punishing her for something? No, of course not, my dad reassured me. No one knows why these things happen he said. I don’t remember the notion of the tremendous role that nutrition plays in health ever even arising. Please understand that I am not saying that what one eats or does not eat causes cancer. However, as I educated myself about the body, health, and disease, a light bulb went on in my brain and a new curiosity about the subject of nutrition was born.
Nutrition Does Not Equal Supplements: Little by little my interest in nutrition grew. After college I began working at a General Nutrition Center and read everything I could to learn more about these pills and what I believed at the time to be nutrition. I was well-versed in what all those vitamins, minerals and herbs claimed to be good for. It all sounded too good to be true– wow, this herb helps prevent cancer, that vitamin reduces aging; everyone should be taking this stuff! I still remember the day I took my first high potency women’s multivitamin– in the morning with my black coffee on an empty stomach– and thinking what a healthy thing I was doing for myself. Before long I had a whole handful of pills I was popping daily based on what I had read each to be good for. Meanwhile, I was eating store-bought muffins and artificially sweetened yogurt for breakfast, snacking on black licorice and sugar free candies, regularly consuming protein bars with soy protein isolate and definitely not getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Just trying to keep those calories low enough so that I wouldn’t gain weight. I felt awful. I was depressed, having anxiety attacks, experiencing skin breakouts, suffering from back pain and tormented with crazy mood swings and sugar cravings. I thought I was eating healthfully. I could have used a Registered Dietitian back then!
Slowly But Surely it Began to Sink in: It took years for me to make the connection between the type of fuel we put into our bodies and our consequential health. As my diet gradually improved over time, so did my physical and mental well-being. The more I educated myself, the clearer the big picture became. While nutrition has something to do with vitamins and minerals, it is not about relying on supplements. It’s about eating natural, wholesome food. After becoming so emotionally stirred by the movie Super Size Me, it was clear that my passion revolved around health. I decided to go back to school for a second degree and become a Registered Dietitian. I wanted to do whatever I could to reduce the ever-growing epidemics of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. More than anything, I just wanted to help people be their healthiest selves.
My Hopes for This Blog: If more people truly understood the powerful relationship between what they eat and how their body looks, feels and functions, they would make more conscious, wiser choices. Everything from the risk of certain diseases to energy levels to healthy hair, skin and nails is linked to what we choose to put in our bodies. Eating and enjoyment of food is one of life’s most delightful pleasures. Food should not be associated with feelings of guilt, confusion or lack of control. It’s an awful way to live; I know because I’ve been there. With this blog, I look forward to sharing nutrition information, healthy eating tips, and reaching out to as many people as I can in hopes of inspiring them to enrich their own lives.