*Disclaimer: I have not always been healthy, and I have not always known what healthy eating was. This story is about my winding, years-long journey back from the brink of chronic illness to a life of vibrant health, energy, and physical well-being. I hope that when you read this story you’ll see yourself in it somehow, and you’ll see that no matter where you are physically or what you’re struggling with health-wise there is hope for a healthier, more vibrant tomorrow. Now to the story…
Hi, I’m Kelsey, and I’m a sugar addict.
Probably not the first thing you thought you’d hear come out of my mouth in this story, did you?
Well it’s true. Or at least, it used to be true. I developed an addiction to sugar at a very young age. I grew up eating a combination of home cooked meals and fast and frozen food, but I always found myself burying my face in some form or another of the sweet stuff – donuts and 3 Musketeers® bars were my favorites, but I would take ice cream any night of the week.
At the age of 14, I became a vegetarian – I thought what I was doing what was going to be healthy, and this set me on a decades-long path of learning about food. After all, since I was the rebellious meat-free teenager in the house I had to figure out how to cook for myself!
Later on, in my late teens, I started working at a local health food store running the juice bar – this experience opened up a whole new world to me and introduced me to the idea of actually using food as medicine. I began playing around with incorporating supplements into my diet, and I gained a new level of access to a variety of vegetarian foods like soy and seitan (for those of you who may be unfamiliar, seitan is just pure wheat gluten that “rinsed” and formed into a dough that you cook and eat). But I was still just guessing, and didn’t think I “needed” any of this stuff.
It’s good note that at this point I was still addicted to sugar, but new symptoms like chronic fatigue, painful bloating, acne covered face/back/chest were a recent development.
Fast forward a couple years into the future, and on top of the symptoms I was already experiencing (and coping with/ignoring) I began suffering from a sharp, shooting stomach pains. I was about 20 at the time and I remember it seemed to hit me all at once. I was driving to visit a friend one day, and as I got out of the car I was caught by a stabbing sensation in my lower right abdomen. I thought it was a tight muscle from sitting in the car on the long drive, so I tried to stretch it out and went inside to see my friend.
I tried not to think much of the pain and went on about my daily routine, but it didn’t go away. In fact, over the next several weeks it got worse. It eventually got so bad that one night I finally had to do something to end the pain, so dragged myself to the emergency clinic.
To my surprise, the nurses treating me seemed much more concerned than I was – they were saying that they were afraid my appendix was about to burst. That certainly got me nervous. However, as they did their routine assessments, they realized my appendix wasn’t the problem there was nothing more they could do for me there. So they referred me out to another clinic to get an ultrasound (spoiler alert: this was the start of a long chain of unanswered questions, poking, prodding, and testing).
The ultrasound technician informed me they were looking for cysts that could be causing my pain. Well, the scan revealed no cysts anywhere on my kidneys or ovaries, so the ultrasound provided no answers. I moved on to having blood work done every few months – I don’t even know what they were looking for, they never really told me – but over the course of months and years they couldn’t give me any answers or insights as to what was happening inside my body.
This devolution was so incredibly frustrating and disheartening for me – I was still in pain, exhausted, bloated, and breaking out.
I thought I was doing everything “right” as far as healthy eating, but the truth is I lived on caffeine and ate mostly soy protein and gluten as part of my low-fat vegetarian diet. And this medical system that I’d never really had to use it before – the system I had assumed would have the answers if and when I did need them – this system couldn’t give me any answers, and the doctors couldn’t tell me why I was in excruciating pain.
This vicious cycle continued for about five years – again without answers from the conventional medical community and no understanding of what was happening in my own body. I didn’t even know the words to use to ask the right questions.
But as time went on, I decided I was going to figure it out. I couldn’t continue to live in pain, and there didn’t seem to be any other options available. I had witnessed family members being put on damaging medication and going through surgeries and still not getting better, and I was not about to put myself in that position if there was anything I could do about it.
So I made it my mission to find answers. Over the next few years I read and learned and researched. I was convinced that my diet played a major role in what was happening with my health, and it seemed like the easiest place to start, so I focused on that. But I still didn’t know what I was doing.
I tried going pescatarian, macrobiotic, vegan, raw vegan, and raw vegetarian just to name a few. I put so much pressure on myself, telling myself that I wasn’t being strict enough, that if I just cut out this food or that food THEN I would finally feel normal again. If I just did one more colon cleanse or juice detox I could get over the hump. All of these diets and programs promised to save my life and make me feel like a million bucks, yet none of them could deliver on that promise.
Things started to take a turn in my mid-20’s when I began dating someone who had Celiac disease. If you’re not familiar with Celiac, it’s an autoimmune condition triggered by eating gluten. At this point I decided to cut gluten out of my diet for the first time in my life – I wanted to support him in his dietary needs, plus it made it easier to cook for both of us. Interestingly, as the gluten disappeared from my diet so did some of my symptoms. I started to notice positive changes for the first time in almost 7 years – my bloating was reduced and I wasn’t breaking out as much. I was still exhausted, and not quite well, but it was the first ray of light I had seen in what felt like an endless tunnel. I decided to follow that ray of light and see where it took me.
Around the same time I moved forward with this gluten free adjustment, the “big change” happened – I started eating meat again, for the first time in 12 years. I had craved it for years but constantly told myself I didn’t need it. I believed that being vegetarian was the healthiest way to live. But at the end of the day, it was the one thing I hadn’t tried yet in my dietary experiments, so I decided to suck it up and give it a try.
I started out with just a little bit of chicken at first, but as soon as I took the first bite it felt like someone had literally turned on the power switch in my body. I felt the energy spread from my head, down my arms, through my hips, into my toes. I was alive!
I had energy for the first time in I don’t know how long, and the brain fog that I didn’t even know I was living in for years, possibly decades, started to lift.
This is when I had a very very important epiphany:
I realized that at the end of the day our bodies don’t care what we believe is “healthy” – we have very specific nutritional needs as humans, and at the end of the day we absolutely must meet those needs in order to have vibrant health, total wellness, and to heal ourselves from the inside out.
I knew I was onto something. This was the biggest shift I had felt in my health and body ever, and I finally had hope!
It was around that time I discovered the Paleo diet. I happened upon it through some random searches on the internet, and initially I remember thinking it sounded way too restricted. I told myself I could never go full Paleo, but it sounded interesting so I decided to do a short-term experiment.
The small changes of cutting out all grains, refined sugar, legumes, and dairy were exactly what my body needed to shift gears into major healing mode. As I began to experience relief from the symptoms that had plagued me for years it was like I had a new lease on life. And after over 6 years of eating this way I feel better, more fit, and more energetic than I ever have before!
With each day of feeling better I knew I had found my new passion. Learning about the science behind how food effects our body is just as fascinating to me now as it was when I had my epiphany. The phrase “you are what you eat” goes so far beyond a cute saying – it’s quite literal. Your cells are made out of the food you digest, and your body is made out of your cells. Period. Healthy cells create a healthy, vibrant body. Unhealthy cells create pain, exhaustion, excess weight, and general discomfort in our own skin.
I’m all about getting better with age, and I see the Paleo diet and truly healthy eating as being some of the major keys to vibrant longevity. I’m so grateful to have discovered this way of eating and to have found the tools I needed to heal my body and recover from what felt like a hopeless state of disease. My mission and my path is to share my discoveries with you so that you don’t have to go through years of stumbling around in the dark to try to find solutions that hopefully work for your body.
I know that if I had support and guidance while I was on in my own healing journey I would not have had to suffer as long as I did. I want you to have that option!
I’d love to be able to support you on your healing journey so you can save valuable time, avoid unnecessary pain, and start feeling better today! If you’re interested in working together to find the right natural solutions for health and healing for you, click the link below to apply for a free nutrition consultation and let’s see work together to help you achieve your health and wellness goals!