It was 1998 and I just got engaged. It was nighttime, I was lying in bed, and there I was again, in sheer agony lamenting over my distended belly with tears rolling down my face. I told my fiancé I couldn't continue like this because it was affecting my quality of life. It was right there and then that I promised myself I would find a way to fix my situation.
I had seen doctor after doctor, including specialists, to find out why I couldn't eat anything without experiencing all sorts of problems. I had gone through a series of tests to determine what was wrong with me, but my doctor couldn't figure out what was causing my symptoms. He told me it was likely I had a mixture of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some mysterious condition I had made up in my head.
That night in bed I realized I could no longer depend on my doctor to fix what was ailing me and had to take my health into my own hands. I read everything I possibly could on IBS. I quickly learned about its connection to stress, diet and nutrition. For the first time in a long time, I started to have hope that I could solve my digestive issues just by changing the way I ate.
It didn't take long to start feeling better. Six months, and many courses of probiotics later, I was on the mend. I avoided dairy, and tried every diet plan under the sun to see what felt the best for me. I did Weight Watchers, the Zone diet, Atkins, Fit for Life-I even became a fruitarian for a while. Yup, I was the Diet Plan Queen. Once I learned that our daily diet is our medicine-we take it three times a day, everyday-I cured the stomach issues that had ailed me for so long.
As I started to learn more about our food system and how processed foods contained ingredients that were unhealthy, I started to make waves at my job. I had been working as a Product Manager at a packaged goods company and was now questioning 100-year-old product formulas. I wanted to reformulate product lines to remove the preservatives and artificial additives they contained. But most of all I wanted to help change our society's broken way of eating.
This was back in 1998 and my ideas didn't fly. I was ahead of my time…
My desire to change the way we look at food labels inspired me to go back to school to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.). The knowledge I acquired at school propelled me forward and ultimately led me to start Naturally Savvy. I like to say it is my life, online.
(The interview above was from 2010 when I was on Good Morning America Health. I talked about Brain Boosting Foods For Kids. It's fun to watch these older interviews as I was pregnant in this one with my now almost eight-year-old daughter!)
When I was growing up, junk food was a hot button issue in our house. My mother outlawed junk food when I was a teenager, because she was trying to maintain a healthy household. My father, on the other hand, was a classic yo-yo dieter. He lived to eat and especially loved his junk food.
Before I became a mom, I vowed never to deprive my children of sweets. But once my kids came along, I suddenly understood where my mother had been coming from.
Twelve years ago, I attended a family gathering with my husband, my then three-year-old son, and 13-month-old daughter. We had just arrived and my son saw a table covered in candy. My immediate maternal reaction was to say "no way" and "absolutely not," -and point him towards some coloring books.
However, three-year-olds can be rather persistent. And it didn't help that my father, his junk-food-loving grandpa, kept begging me to "let him live a little. Because kids are supposed to eat candy." So I decided to "let loose" for one night and I let my son indulge in neon green gummy bears, sprinkled chocolate bars, and one very long colorful candy kebab.
As I thought about it, I realized it wasn't so much the junk food itself I had an issue with, but rather the type of junk food. The junk he was eating was filled with artificial colors, artificial flavors, and ingredients I couldn't even pronounce!
As a parent, and educator, who lives a healthy lifestyle, I struggle daily with maintaining a balance between allowing my children to "live a little" and staying true to my beliefs.
I learned a long time ago that eliminating junk food completely from my children's diet wasn't realistic. Knowing deprivation wasn't the answer, I set out to find healthier options to the junk food everyone else was eating, and introduced these alternatives to my family. It was my search for healthy junk food that inspired me to write Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional snacks, Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart, and Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid's Lunch Box.
The endless research we do here at Naturally Savvy, along with the writing and publishing, further fuels my passion for this lifestyle.
As with any journey there are trials and tribulations along the way. I'd
love to hear where you are on your healthy living journey and how you
are making a difference in your life and those around you.