It all started with my desire to educate.
I was in college about to earn my teaching credential when I became very ill. I cancelled my spring break plans and stayed at home to rest instead. It turned out to be strep throat, and boy, did it knock me out. I was put on several rounds of antibiotics, not knowing that I was resistant to them and only complicating my illness. I was eventually able to go back to "normal", but nothing was ever quite the same.
Soon after recovering from my strep infection, I was diagnosed with a list of other problems that I had never experienced before, and some I had never even heard of. These included things such as PCOS, Celiac disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, IBS, familial hypercholesterolemia, chronic migraine, brain fog and mood disorders. Doctors told me that this would be my new normal. But I was only in my early-20s and I wasn't ready to accept this as my fate. So I turned to food as medicine to heal myself. My doctor told me that food and lifestyle modifications would't really make a difference. She was wrong. She kept trying to prescribe me various medications, but I refused. I instinctively knew that real food as medicine was a better option.
Now, maybe food and lifestyle modifications didn't solve all of my problems, but they sure made them easier to deal with. So I vowed to learn as much as I could about nutrition. I taught myself a lot and did a lot of research to discover what the one right human diet was (hint: it's different for everyone). At first I tried a vegan diet. That only made things worse for me. Then I tried a Paleo diet, and I started to feel a lot better. I did a few rounds of Whole30 and a few months of an autoimmune protocol. I currently eat whatever makes me feel good and avoid things my body tells me aren't beneficial to it.
One summer early on in my teaching career I was working as a reading intervention specialist at a high-end reading intervention clinic. My young clients included a diverse group of students from all grade levels with various learning disabilities. Some of these kids were far below grade level in reading because of their inability to focus on reading tasks. One morning I was working with Colin, a nine-year-old boy with ADHD who was having the hardest time concentrating. He kept crawling under the table and getting out of his seat. In my nicest teacher voice I asked him to sit down. I looked him straight in the eyes and asked him what he had eaten for breakfast that morning. His answer of soda and candy shocked me. Who would let their child eat that for breakfast? No wonder he was finding it difficult to concentrate that morning. And I'm sure that breakfast wasn't just a one-time event. It was then that I realized Colin probably wasn't the only student with attention issues who eats meals like this. Maybe kids on the ADHD and autism spectrums act, in part, the way they do because of what they eat. I knew I was onto something with this thought.
The following school year I had a boy with autism in my class. One day his mom came to me to inform me that she was going to try some dietary interventions with him to see if she could improve his behavior. She removed gluten, casein, food dye, and processed junk from his diet. This boy was almost non-verbal and rarely made eye contact. But after only three weeks of nutritional interventions, he was talking and making eye contact like he had never done before. To say I was intrigued was an understatement. At that point, I decided I needed to educate others about how diet and lifestyle modifications could improve cognition, behavior, and overall health both inside and outside of the classroom.
In the spring of 2011, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's health coaching program. Through this program, I learned over 100 dietary theories, and learned some skills on how to work with students to improve learning and cognitive performance beyond the four walls of a classroom. While the program was great, it left me wanting more. So I eventually became a functional nutritional therapy practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association as well.
I began Real Food Education in the summer of 2017 to inspire individuals and families to adopt personalized nutrition and lifestyle plans to heal their guts and improve cognitive performance so they can get to the root cause of dysfunction and restore wellness within themselves. I envision a world where every man, woman and child is living their best life because they embrace food as medicine and their health as their number one priority. I provide in-person services in the Boise area as well as virtually online. When I'm not working with clients, you'll find me hiking the trails of Idaho, cuddled up with a cat and a good book, and of course in the classroom where I still work with students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. My work here is just getting started, and I have a long way to go. Thanks for stopping by and joining me on this journey.
It's time we take back our health with real food
"The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison."