I can't tell you how much I am enjoying the stories being shared here on Making the Switch. I find special encouragement in ones like Kimberlyn's. Doctors offered her little hope nor much of an explanation for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). So she took it upon herself to learn all she could to heal her body. One thing I hope Making the Switch is doing is connecting readers. When we first learned of our son's issues, I was desperate to find parents of kids with similar conditions. I Googled night after night hoping to find answers, connections, similar stories. If you suspect or have IBS, I hope you are encouraged by Kimberlyn's story. Oh and one fun side note; Kimberlyn is a graduate of Elon University in North Carolina. Back in the day it was Elon College and where my grandparents met when they were students over 65 years ago.
Processed Food and the "Freshman Fifteen."
I grew up in a very busy household. My parents both worked fulltime and to keep our energy levels at bay, mom threw my two brothers and me into every activity she could find. We were always on the go and like most busy families, we ate whatever could be made quickly. This meant that most meals were processed foods—from a box, bag or the freezer. I never had any complaints because I didn't know any better.
Once I got to college, it took no time at all to gain the dreaded 'Freshman Fifteen'. I was overwhelmed by the amount of junk food that at my fingertips any time of day. My cravings for junk food had taken over and I lost my ability to stop eating once I was truly full. It wasn't until that summer that I realized how much weight I had gained. Since I had never really dieted prior to that, I just started trying different diets I read about in magazines. I would try one diet and if I didn't see much progress with it, I would switch to another.
Paying the Price with Iritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
During my sophomore year of college, I started to have terrible digestive issues that often lead to me curled up in pain in my dorm room. After several doctors' visits and a few hospital visits, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I was given medication to help alleviate my symptoms but it only made the pain worse and after receiving very little advice on how to manage it, I realized I needed to do my own research if I wanted to get better.
While learning about IBS, one of the first things I found out was that nutrition plays a huge role in triggering symptoms. Was I paying the price for the way I had eaten for the last 18 years? Not one doctor questioned the foods I was putting in my body, nor did they recommend any foods to eat more or less of. I was questioned about my stress and anxiety levels but never my diet. Instead of taking the time to figure out the cause of my IBS, I was given medication and a pamphlet as I walked out the door.
From the research I was able to gather on the internet, I slowly started making better food choices. I was eating more fruit and vegetables and less soda and sweets. I lost my freshman fifteen weight and my symptoms were much more manageable. Not only did I feel like I had my life back but I also had a new found love for nutrition.
Figuring it Out on My Own.
After college, researching and learning about nutrition became a pastime. I started taking affordable cooking and nutrition classes through my local Parks & Recreations program. It was through one of those classes that I learned my initial beliefs that low-fat and sugar-free foods were 'healthy', were wrong. I was informed about just what's really in those processed foods that claim they are good for you and I started learning about the benefits of whole foods, real foods. I was fascinated by this discovery. My knowledge about nutrition had been turned upside down.
I remember spending hours each night after work reading anything I could find about whole foods. I transitioned my diet and my kitchen from pre-packaged 'diet' and 'health' foods into fresh, organic whole foods and noticed within weeks that I had much more energy, I felt satisfied after each meal, and most importantly my IBS had completely disappeared.
It was during one of my many hours researching that I came across a great program to become certified as a Holistic Nutrition Educator. I gave it a great deal of thought and decided it was time to make my passion my living. I enrolled in the program and am now proud to say that my job is to educate others about whole foods. This past spring I started my own company called Nutrimorphosis. I write weekly blogs and offer services that help people better understand that eating whole foods isn't just another diet trend; it is a lifestyle change that improves your quality of life.
Taking it One Step at a Time.
I think back to where I once was in my knowledge of nutrition and use that to help others make the transition to a holistic way of life. It's not an overnight transition for most people. It has taken me three years to get where I am today and I still see room for improvement. These tips helped me succeed in making a healthy lifestyle change and I still follow them:
Write a Food Journal
Write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day. Also note the amount consumed and time of day. At the end of each week, look for patterns. Are you snacking too much throughout the day? Are you drinking soda each afternoon? Use these patterns to change your eating habits.
Write One New Goal a Week
Look at your food journal, what is one thing that could be improved upon? Can you replace your nighttime snacking habit with a cup of herbal tea instead? Try this for the week and if you found you were able to achieve this in one weeks time, maintain this goal and add another for the following week. If you found it challenging, make it a continuing goal for the next week.
Never Stop Educating Yourself
Nutrition is constantly evolving. New information comes out on a daily basis about different foods and nutrients. Keep yourself informed and you will not only be healthier for it but you will also keep yourself interested and motivated to maintain this healthy lifestyle change.
Try New Foods
The best way to keep interested in whole foods is to try new foods. Whether at your favorite grocery store or your local Farmers' Market, there are always new items to try. It can be a different type of fruit, veggie, herb, seasoning or grain, just grab one and see if you like it. The more you can expand your palette, the more options you have to cook with. If you have new ingredients to work with, you'll never get tired of eating healthy and recipes can be endless. There are too many delicious ingredients at our fingertips to ever be in a meal rut!
Kimberlyn, 27, is the Founder of Nutrimorphosis in Sacramento, CA. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Elon University in Elon, N.C. and a Nutrition Educator Certificate from Bauman College Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in Berkley, CA. She stands behind the motto “Eat Healthy. Live Happy.” and feels her mission in life is to teach others how healthy eating habits are the key to happy and healthy lifestyles.
Making the Switch, spotlights everyday people journeying on to better health and well-being by choosing pure food over processed. For some, it has been gradual. For others it was a complete about-face.
Putting the modified diet focus of this blog aside, Making the Switch is open to all. The point being to bring personal stories to light that encourage young and old to get back into the kitchen to cook real food. In the words of Jamie Oliver, “make only a few small changes and magical things will happen.” Whether it’s weight loss, improvements in a child's behavior or the regaining of health, magical things will happen.
WHAT'S YOUR STORY? Consider being featured on Making the Switch! Click here and drop me a line telling me a little about yourself. Someone is waiting to be inspired by YOU!