I have the utmost respect for my clients for an abundance of reasons. They put in so much work to honor their health, which is often a much less glamorous type of self-care. But a really big reason is that I’ve been in their shoes. While I knew I wanted to be a dietitian since high school, I came across functional nutrition as a necessity rather than a curiosity. Like a lot of functional practitioners, I’ve been through it with my own health. I say this to my clients all the time: I know how much hard work goes into your healing because I did it too. I was you. I AM you.
It all started with my gut. When I was in college things started feeling… unsettled. Picture this: I was 22 years old, eating a plant forward diet, teaching spin classes and working out 1-2x/day, and taking what I thought was great care of myself. My strict healthy diet was something I took pride in at the time, not realizing that I was displaying disordered eating behaviors as my “healthy lifestyle” was really just an unhealthy relationship with food. All the while my gut was a mess, and that was just the beginning.
I would have a balanced meal full of nourishing foods, and afterwards I would be so bloated that I looked 6 months pregnant. I was tired all of the time despite sleeping 8 hours per night, and I was more anxious than I had ever been in my life.
I went to a few GI doctors, did a few stool tests, was given a few rounds of antibiotics. These would typically provide some relief, but always just temporarily. Fed up and frustrated, I started looking for answers on my own. I found functional medicine and dove right in, using my own body as a case study.
My body continued to give me clues to what was going on. I got cystic acne for the first time in my life (coming from someone who had crystal clear skin as a teenager, I knew something was up), I developed crippling anxiety, my appetite was through the roof, I started getting dark hairs on my face, and my periods were WONKY, to say the least.
I was preaching wellness, but I was not well.
After some functional testing, I was able to uncover a few major pieces of the puzzle. To name just a few, I was dealing with an H. Pylori infection, a parasite, candida overgrowth, SIBO, anxiety, and had a brand-spanking-new PCOS diagnosis. Cute, right?
It took some time to navigate, but after a boatload of education my gut is feeling so much better and my PCOS is well-managed.
As much as functional medicine changed my life, I couldn’t help but also feel like it was a bit… rigid. I felt like everyone was preaching practices such as labeling foods as “good” and “bad”, eliminating entire food groups (lookin’ at you, gluten and dairy), and other restrictive behaviors. For me, healing my relationship with food was a huge part of my overall healing journey. I learned that I CAN manage my PCOS holistically without following a special diet. I found that abundance over restriction was always the way. I still get to enjoy my meals and live my life.
I share this not to brag, but to prove that you are not alone. I see my own health journey as such a blessing. It opened my eyes to the world of functional nutrition and it has allowed me to share that with so many women struggling with their own health. The answers you’re looking for are out there.