Shawn’s story:

My health history can be grouped by the decade and is decidedly not unusual for people to experience:

As a child, I ate a lot of sweets and was subject to frequent sore throats, colds, and flu. I had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy at age 8. Later the same year I developed migraine headaches which continued well into my adulthood.

As a teenager, my diet centered around carbs – pancakes, bread, and crackers, processed junk food – popcorn and chips. This was also a very emotionally painful time, as it often is with teens, with struggles among friends and with family. I became overweight and had horrible acne. By my senior year, I had developed heart burn, reflux and severe stomach pain. I consumed a bottle of antacid every week, but the pain worsened. Doctors suggested I was looking for attention, was on drugs – or both. I was placed on two prescription drugs which caused me to feel loopy and groggy. After trying them a couple times, I refused to take them again.

The heart burn and reflux escalated despite many trials with antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. Finally, at the age of 22, I was frighteningly underweight. Because the original sphincter had deteriorated so badly I agreed to reconstructive surgery to create a new esophageal sphincter to control the reflux. The surgery was deemed successful, however the long tight scar on my belly left me hunched over and eventually led to a back injury one year later. My ability to walk declined quickly due to a lack of successful treatment of pain relievers, physical therapy, TENS, cortisone injections, and yet, no diagnosis. Thankfully, two months later I discovered chiropractic care and over another three months my pain was relieved enough that I could finish graduate school and start a job. One year following my back injury I was finally diagnosed as having two herniated discs. Because the injury was so old and arthritis had set in, the only treatment recommended was physical therapy and chiropractic care.

All during this time I was involved in a very abusive relationship and fell into a dark depression. I ate – anything – compulsively, not even aware of what all I consumed; and, to make up for my binging, I lived on fat-free yogurt and salads. Being diagnosed as mildly bipolar, I was placed on two drugs. After one year on those drugs - and disgusted with their side effects - I dropped the drugs and found a nutritionist who quickly identified my low-fat diet and resulting dangerously low cholesterol to be a major contributing factor to my depression and general ill health. Through diet and specific supplementation, he helped me rise above my depression.

The bad relationship and work pressure continued to wear my body down, however. I returned to my old compulsive eating habits. In my late 20’s, following several misdiagnoses and one very demonstrative escort out of a doctor’s office, I was diagnosed as having fibromyalgia.

Then I met a man who truly cared for and loved me. He saw me as a person and respected me for who I was. I was 31 when we married and at the age of 33, became pregnant. I was nauseated the entire pregnancy. My headaches increased. Labor and delivery was long and hard.  Our daughter struggled to be born, but when she finally came, she was bright eyed and very alert – and drug-free.  

But getting pregnant again just wouldn’t happen even though I charted my hormone levels faithfully. Then, at the age of 37, after several misdiagnoses, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Though I agreed to surgery, after extensive interviewing of cancer-treatment providers across the country, I declined further medical intervention. Rather, I opted to work with a naturopath who focused on me and my diet, monitoring my input and output in order to strengthen my body and restore its nutritional balance. Also, because I learned that emotions play an instrumental role in triggering and in recovering from disease, I worked with a woman who helped me address my emotional and spiritual health. I was healed both physically, emotionally, and spiritually –I had never felt so good!

In my 40s I worked full-time and worked as a trained weight management coach part-time, again following the low fat/no-fat diet plan. I became a care provider for my elderly parents who both had serious health issues. The stress was intense. My injured discs had deteriorated to the point that I required back surgery. I developed heart palpitations. I was exhausted all the time, emotional, and had anxiety issues.

Who would have thought that nutrition  was playing a major role in my physical and mental health ever since childhood, fertility issues and cancer, how I handled stress and how I recovered from injury and emotional trauma?

Early in my 50’s, I was introduced to the Nutritional Therapy Association NTP program.  Through that training I learned an entirely new – traditional way of eating; and, in the years since have experienced a great improvement in my health. Today, I make eating healthy and nutritious foods a priority. Though I am neither a “foodie” nor a “cook;” my husband and I carefully choose and prepare simple nutritious meals. I have learned the absolute necessity of eating a balanced diet specific to my body’s needs and consisting of grass-fed protein, properly prepared carbohydrates and healthy fats – saturated, mono- and poly-unsaturated.

I sleep well, awake ready for the day, have amazing energy throughout the day, and rarely am ill. My weight is normalized and is stable. I continue to develop muscle. Gone are the cravings and compulsive eating habits. Gone is the back pain and fibromyalgia. Gone is the anxiety and the headaches.

Why am I telling you this long story? Because my experience is not unlike thousands of others who have followed the typical American diet loaded with unhealthy carbs, factory-farmed meat, and low fat/no fat. My entire health history is evidence that my body lacked the ability to produce stomach acid to digest my food or assimilate nutrients to support my immune or endocrine (hormone) systems. My health journey isn’t over. The scars of previous health issues remain – literally and figuratively – but I now have the right tools – proper nutrition - to address the issues.

Where are you in your health journey? Can you relate to any of the above? Health issues do not develop overnight, nor do they resolve overnight.

Take charge of your health today. Contact me to discuss the next step on your journey to wellness.

Be well.