Be warned…this is going to be a long post…
Part of the reason I decided to become a Holistic Nutritionist is because I learned first hand how food can transform the human body. The other reason is that I love food.
I have always loved vegetables and healthy eating, but it turns out that what I thought was healthy wasn’t actually what was best for my body.
When I was a small child and all through university, I never gave much thought into what I ate. I didn’t have any food allergies or sensitivities. My family ate home-cooked, healthy meals most of the time, so I was lucky to have this eating style ingrained into my routine.
Entering university was exciting and marked huge changes in my life. It was my first time away from home, and I was without access to a kitchen. Looking back, I cringe when I think about what I ate. Meals served at the resident cafeterias were very carb-heavy. And I had this habit of always eating everything on my plate because I hated to waste food. I’m sure you can guess what happened. Yep, I gained the “freshman 15” weight. By halloween, I couldn’t fit into some of my pants. I was totally devastated. But, that’s what happens when you eat plates of pasta, chocolate bars at 10 pm and beer (and peach schnapps, and vodka…).
It was around this time that I started noticing digestive issues. Sometimes after eating I would get intense abdominal pain that would require me to lie down for a rest. I felt super tired after eating. It’s probably why I felt the urge to nap so often during my university days. (who am I kidding, I still like to nap).
Once I started working full time and earning money to buy better quality groceries, I started to take the time to cook better food. But I still had the same digestive issues.
I would either be constipated and not have bowel movements for a couple of days. Or have diarrhea. It was during this time that I realized I was lactose intolerant. I would still try to enjoy chocolate milk (because it was “the perfect post-workout drink”), or dairy queen blizzards (because it was summer and that’s what ya do). My moment of clarity came when 10 minutes after enjoying a blizzard I had to run to the bathroom because I was in intense pain. I’ll leave the details out..
My stomach pains would come and go, but besides the dairy, I never really thought that what I was eating was a problem. I thought I was eating well!
I finally had enough and scheduled an appointment with my family doctor. After telling him my symptoms, he said it sounded like I had IBS and scheduled me for an ultrasound (which didn’t show any abnormalities). There weren’t any follow up appointments, recommendations or clarity. Basically I thought that my bowel were unpredictable and there was nothing I could do but hope for the best.
I can’t remember the first time I actually learned about the connection between food and how I felt, but it was somewhere around 2010. I was starting to read more food blogs and this is when my interest in nutrition began. I started experimenting with new ways of eating. I was a pescatarian for about 7 years, strictly vegan for 3 months, tried paleo, and gluten-free.
I also moved to South Korea which is where bigger challenges arose. I couldn’t speak the language and the food was different from in Canada. I wasn’t eating that well when I first moved there because I was just trying everything! I didn’t want to miss out on anything!
About 6 months into my first year living there, my digestion got worse. I was so bloated, gassy, irregular and generally uncomfortable. The breaking point for me was being so constipated that I didn’t have a bowel movement for an entire week! Can you imagine? I was so uncomfortable that my brain felt fuzzy, my body was weak and I couldn’t bend forward because my abdomen was so distended.
Since I was in a new country and couldn’t speak the language, I had to ask my boss for how to make a doctors appointment. It was so embarrassing because she had to know my symptoms to know which doctor to recommend.
I finally saw the doctor and told her my situation. She recommended fiber and probiotics and to get things moving again, and an enema. YIKES! I was not prepared for that. It certainly did the trick and I was able to get back on track.
This experience made me think even more about the food I was eating and played a huge factor in why I wanted to become a Holistic Nutritionist.
But, once I felt like I had everything under control, I would try to eat bread (the biggest trigger for me) again with terrible effects. I guess I’m stubborn and didn’t want to give it up haha.
My worst memory was when a loaf of bakery bread came with my organic weekly delivery box. It was made with organic, korean-grown wheat, so I was curious if my body would react in the same way. I was actually really excited to eat it because I had been craving avocado toast for quite some time. So, I ate avocado toast for breakfast everyday for an entire week. By the end of the week my body was in so much pain that I would have to stop in my tracks, clutching my stomach. The pain wasn’t constant, but it was painful enough for me to feel quite sick. It would just come and go unpredictably. I even remember going shopping with a friend and having to sit down because I felt so nauseous.
I was so nervous that something was terribly wrong that I scheduled an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Through scopes, he told me that everything was find and that my instincts were correct – I should not be eating bread.
Flash forward to 2014 and I moved back to Canada to study Holistic Nutrition at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto. From the valuable information I learned, I was able to apply diet and lifestyle changes to my life to bring my digestion back to a healthy state.
I now eat a whole-food, plant-based diet and focus my meal planning around what is in season.
I have learned how valuable food is for our total well-being and how it can have such a huge impact on our lives. A food that is great for one person isn’t necessarily great for another. We are all unique and therefore require a diet that works best for our body. There isn’t one “perfect diet.” We need to listen to the cues our bodies tell us and eat accordingly.
Through my personal experiences and my educational background, I hope that I can inspire you to make positive changes in your life.