70 million Americans suffer from digestive diseases*. symptoms of a broken belly range from constant fatigue, upset stomach, bloating, and even fear of eating to name a few. This is how I fixed my own Broken Belly and it was completely life-changing.
It was Broken, so I fixed it!
Having a broken belly sucks. I've been officially broken since 1994. 7th grade I found out I have Crohn's disease. If the tests weren't embarrassing enough the real confidence booster was when the Doctor said I had to sit on a post-surgery doughnut at school. Uh, sorry Doc. I'd rather sit at home with Ben and Jerry's and razor blades. By the graces of God, my dad's job had us moving around so any broken belly mishaps could be remedied by packing up everything and leaving the country.
Twenty years later, I found myself living in Chicago trying to date and have a normal social life with this not so pleasant disease. Do you know how many times I cut a good date short because I didn't feel well? At my wits end, I found out about this Doctor that does food allergy testing. What the hell, I'll try anything. After all, five colonoscopys before 30, countless drugs later (and one drug where CANCER is the side effect. Really?!) and an endless supply of embarrassing tummy troubles I would have tried anything non-conventional.
This brings me to where I will remain for the foreseeable future. The test results? No more corn, cane sugar, dairy or any grain except rice. You read that right. No grains of any kind- forget the gluten hype, I couldn't have barley, quinoa, oats, farro- nada! WTF?! Do I really need to start making my own ketchup? How do I navigate this new diet when aside from cardboard EVERYTHING has dairy, corn, sugar or grains in it?! Anyone can sustain life on a diet of water and carpet fibers but how the hell do I live like this? It took about 4 hours in Whole Foods turning around each label- did you know that companies have 387 different names for corn and sugar? Christ almighty I'm going to starve to death. Dairy, wheat, and sugar were in my daily diet. How had I not exploded internally yet? Well, I paid for the test and cashed in my 401K re-stocking the pantry so I was all in. I cut it all out for six months. I'll tell you about my 1st cardboard birthday cake in another post. I found out that corn of any kind sent me to the ER with a Crohn's flare while dairy, sugar and grains gave me the unmentionable side effects. So after the 6 months I kept to it, right? Nope. I kept the corn and ER visits off my list but added the rest in. I just sucked it up and felt bad because lets be honest, who wants to be out with annoying "I have a food allergy" person?
3 years later I'd had enough and cut it all out, again. No one was more excited than my boyfriend (now husband). No more entire gorgeous Saturdays when we couldn't leave the house, or not go out after dinner with friends because I felt bad. In the 6 months I was off everything, I learned some tricks about making food without all the standard American diet ingredients but it took the second time to really make the food taste good! Total game changer this time. I could make food taste as close to the real thing and I had no idea avocados could be so darn versatile! I wasn't creating the recipes, but I was sure as heck tweaking them so I could eat.
I took my clean living lifestyle and enrolled to be a Holistic Health Coach. Why not the Registered Dietitian route? Because I'm not here to tell you to eat 40g protein for dinner or eat light ranch dressing aka a chemical shit storm. I've sold pharmaceuticals for 10+ years so I know doctors and medicine. Western medicine can be a wonderful thing, and pill popping is easy, but it doesn't always work on its own- or in my case, at all. I want a platform to pass along everything I have learned about eating real food for people that have digestive issues. No one knows what its like to live with tummy troubles more than me! I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2014, am off all my Crohn's meds for years now, and want to help you live the life that you want. Never mind I lost 12 lbs in the process, have way more energy, sleep better and am a more pleasant person to be around. I have learned a way that allows me to have my cake and eat it to too---literally! I'm here to help navigate this difficult transition and make it easier, less stressful and more delicious.
*U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/digestive-diseases-statistics-for-the-united-states.aspx