This is my story. I never used to think about nutrition – or its effect on my health. I didn’t have time! I was too busy at work managing clinical trials, trying my best to get through each day.
- I kept pushing on, completely disregarding the symptoms of my underlying health problems.
- I ignored that my heart was constantly racing.
- I ignored the sharp stomach pains that often sent me running to the bathroom.
- I ignored that I was unable to sleep and was exhausted all the time.
- I ignored that even during the coldest days of winter, I could wring the perspiration from my shirt.
“All of this will go away when things at work settle down”, I kept telling myself.
It wasn’t until a long-overdue physical exam that my doctor told me I was very sick and needed to meet with an endocrinologist immediately.
The diagnosis of Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder that is characterized by an overactive thyroid gland, came as quite a shock. Even more shocking, however, was that after months of treatment, the medications prescribed were ineffective. I was told that I needed to undergo a radioactive iodine treatment that would permanently destroy my thyroid gland. If I followed this course of treatment, I would be completely reliant on synthetic hormones for the rest of my life. I decided to do a bit of research first.
I discovered that many of the symptoms of Graves’ suffers are alleviated by adopting a healthy diet. It was at this point that I realized I didn’t really know how to eat a healthy diet. I decided to embark on a mission to take back control of my heath and life.
I studied all I could about nutrition and attended an intensive Culinary Program at Boston University, delving deeply into really understanding the profound impact diet has on our health and how food can be medicinal. I learned how food can help us go from feeling like we’re barely surviving to feeling like we are thriving.
Each day, small changes, I began to integrate my knowledge into my meal planning. First, I cut back on consuming gluten and dairy which often aggravated my autoimmune issues. Soon I began to feel better. My energy increased, my stomach pains subsided, and I could resume my daily activities, as well as my workouts.
My family and I removed all processed foods from our diet and focused on eating single-ingredient foods. If it didn’t run, swim, fly, grow from the ground or fall from a tree it was not on our menu. Not only did I see an improvement in my own health, but my husband and sons’ health improved too. My youngest son, who was plagued by many food and environmental allergies, was improving and my husband lost 50 pounds!
I was so excited by our experiences that I decided to start a food blog Zest For Cooking to share many of the recipes I was making for my family. I wanted to make it easy for others to feel empowered and experience their own improved health, whether they’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness or just wanted to feel energized and live a healthy active life. Soon I was teaching small customized cooking classes to help others with their specific dietary needs.
For me, eating well and good nutrition is now synonymous with leading a healthy and active life. And I can’t imagine living any other way!