I am a widow and a mom to 3 amazing and accomplished daughters; I was born at the onset of the processed junk food era and have struggled with food, my weight, my body image, and self esteem for most of my life; I was a pediatric ICU nurse for many years; I love everything about water…I love to drink it, watch it, listen to it, and be in it; I’m a book hound, an avid world traveler, an adrenaline junkie, a lover of yoga/ hater of cardio, a (mostly) vegetarian, and a seeker of knowledge of all things health related.
My Struggle with food
I grew up on ‘innovative” foods. These were foods designed to be colorful, convenient, frozen, fit in lunch boxes, and processed to the point that they couldn’t spoil. They were full of chemicals and preservatives….and sugar. As a kid, I drown my anxiety, and the early onset of puberty, in those foods. Every day I went off to school, braced to face the bullying that awaited me there, and dressed in layers of clothes to conceal the fact that my body looked different from all the other little girls in 4th grade. Every afternoon, hot and exhausted, I crawled into a bag of Oreos to let down my defenses and breathe.
After I graduated from nursing school, I worked 12-hour night shifts in the pediatric ICU for many years. I was always sleep deprived and depended on carbs to keep me going. When daughter #2 was a toddler I decided to be a full time, stay-at-home mom. Then daughter #3 came along and, before I knew it, all the delicious craziness and commotion had turned into 15 more years. During those years I was determined to feed my girls better, cleaner, and safer food than I had eaten growing up, but this was before organic foods were widely available, and before people considered food as “medicine”.
Food as Medicine
When my oldest daughter (who is now 28) was just a few months old she had developed a significant rash on her cheeks, arms and legs and, over a 2 year period, the only thing the pediatrician and dermatologist could offer as treatment were antibiotics and steroids. No one ever stopped to consider WHY she had this rash in the first place! Fortunately, I stumbled across a book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, which stated the vast majority of skin disorders were due to nutritional sensitivities and/or deficiencies. I started adding fish oil and flax oil to my daughter’s smoothies and within 2 weeks her rash (that we had been treating with medications for over 2 years!) was gone. That was the beginning of my journey to improve my, and my family’s health, using food as medicine.
In 2012 my husband of 30 years, Jim, was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and I turned my attention to supporting him over what ended up being 4 years of treatment, including working with a naturopathic oncologist the last 2 years. While the chemotherapy did very little to treat the cancer, it proved incredibly destructive to his body and overall health. The naturopathic treatments he underwent, along with dietary changes, helped to reduce the tumor size temporarily, and reverse some of the chemo-induced toxicity, which afforded him some quality of life the last year and a half. Jim died in August, 2016.
At the time of Jim’s death, my last daughter left for college and the life I had known for 30 years disappeared. I was asked so many times “what are you going to do now?” and I realized I had no f**king clue. I no longer knew who I was or what my life would look like moving forward. I was exhausted, overweight, depressed and felt hopeless. Fortunately, I found my way to my life coach who inspired and motivated me to imagine, and manifest, a new life for myself. In turn, I became a life and holistic health coach so I could help other women get their health, and lives, back on track.
I share my story with you because I know what it feels like to struggle with food and weight, to feel tired and physically depleted all the time, to wish to be invisible, to prioritize everyone else and lose yourself in the process, to experience loss and profound grief, and to feel completely overwhelmed and adrift. I also know it is possible to recover from all of that, and to rediscover yourself in the process.