My story is slightly different than what you might find in the nutrition blogosphere. I have not battled a debilitating dysfunction my whole life, one which I finally cured through healthy eating. In fact, my dive into nutritional health was never about me. My story started with my daughter.
First, I have to come clean and admit it took 17 years before I actually decided there really might be something “going on” with my daughter (I know, I’m still waiting for my “World’s Best Mother” trophy). She had complained of stomach aches/heartburn stuff forever. We visited the pediatrician often. He said she was fine, she certainly looked fine and for the most part acted fine. I did think it was weird to put a little kid on antacids but everyone takes antacids, right? I guess I just never realized that everyone on antacids started when they were little, who knew. I loved our pediatrician, he knew everything. If he said she was fine then she was fine.
As the years went on, the heartburn stuff never went away and the antacids didn’t really help. It was typical for us to go out to a restaurant and have my daughter leave the table halfway through dinner so she could go outside and get some air. She always thought she was going to throw-up. We stopped going out to dinner, it just wasn’t fun for her or the rest of us.
Jump ahead, she’s now 17 years old and getting ready to head to college. She’s still complaining about the pressure in her chest and not feeling well. Just to be clear, she didn’t complain that much, she’s very stoic, too stoic. Anyway, I started to worry about her being away and not feeling her best so I decided we needed to get this figured out once and for all, get an expert involved. Off to the Gastroenterologist we went.
First thing the doc did was put my daughter on a prescription antacid and told us to check back in a month. We checked in, no real change. I suggested a scope, you know, let’s just do it, once and for all, get to the bottom of things.
The scope, it’s invasive, anesthesia is involved so it’s scary, basically not fun. We didn’t learn much from my daughter’s scope. One thing we did learn was that her esophagus looked great, no signs of acid reflux, that was good. The doc said she was fine but would probably need the antacid her whole life. Then, as an after thought while she was walking away, she said her small intestine was red and inflamed but that it was nothing. That was it, the end of the whole procedure/meeting. My daughter was fine, at the age of 17 she would need prescription antacids for the rest of her life and her small intestine was red and inflamed but nothing to worry about.
Three things, first, my daughter wasn’t fine when we went in for the scope and NOTHING had changed between entering the hospital and having the scope so “fine” seemed odd. Second, antacids for the rest of her life, what?! They don’t even help and she’s only 17, again what?! Third, “red and inflamed” even to me, who, at the time knew nothing about gastroenterology, thought that didn’t seem “fine” and it did seem like something I should worry about.
Now what? We had no answers and we had just seen the expert. DEAD END. I had no idea what to do or how to help my daughter. I was feeling really frustrated, and a little scared. One of my friends suggested a nutritionist. I didn’t even know what a nutritionist was, didn’t matter, I made an appointment. That appointment was the first step to where I am today. I don’t feel like I can say thank you enough, thank you to everyone and everything that guided us to that appointment.
As it turned out, my daughter had some food sensitivities. Not food allergies, the much more subtle and easily overlooked sensitivities. Certain foods were interacting with her body in a negative way, causing all kinds of inflammation and dysfunction. Stuff we never even considered as dysfunction. The biggest and most debilitating for my daughter was the chest pressure. Once we identified the foods that were causing this and eliminated them the chest pressure went away, so did her dandruff, intestinal gas, skin issues, excess weight, smelly feet. It was crazy. I was hooked. I needed to know everything I could about food and the body.
This is getting long and there is a lot more to this story but I’ll end with what actually pushed me to look into getting a degree. I met a women in one of those boot camp exercise classes. We started talking and somehow she started telling me about her 8 year old son and how he was depressed. I have no idea how this conversation started, I’d never met the women before and I have never seen her again. Anyway, she told me her pediatrician was putting her son on antidepressants. This shocked me, he was 8 years old. I mentioned that she might want to meet with the nutritionist I had just met, perhaps there was something else she could do before trying antidepressants (there has been a LOT of research about food intolerances and neurological dysfunction). She didn’t have any interest, she liked her doctor and believed he knew best. Just remembering this conversation shakes me. Antidepressants seems pretty extreme for an 8 year old. Now, I don’t really know anything about these people and maybe antidepressants were their best option. I only wish the best for them and hope all is well.
When I was having that very brief conversation all I could offer was “you might want to see a nutritionist”. It was defeating. I couldn’t explain why I thought it might be a good idea, all I knew was how a nutritionist had helped my daughter. I really didn’t “know” anything. I didn’t like that feeling. I wanted to help or at least be a resource to point her toward options that could eventually help.
So, here I am today. I think in a better position to help. Most medical doctors are wonderful, caring people. They treat disease and in many emergency situations save lives. A nutritionist is NOT a medical doctor and as a nutritionist I have no interest in replacing your medical doctor. I want to help you figure out how to make your body function at its best. If you don’t feel your best, if you feel unwell, your body could be on a path toward disease. Examining diet and lifestyle is potentially a simple first step away from disease, toward wellness. If you don’t think you can do that on your own, find a holistic nutritionist that you feel comfortable with and work on it together. You’ll be surprised how simple changes can be life altering.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. If you think I could be of service to you please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Amy White MS HNC
I am a holistic nutrition counselor and believe real food is the true path to wellness. If you are interested in learning more about me and how I can help you, please see my story.
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