It was Plato, the Greek author and philosopher (427 BC – 347 BC) who said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I can’t think of a better explanation for who I am today.
Growing up, I spent every opportunity outside: sweaty, sun-kissed and fully oxygenated with fresh air pulsing through my veins. It was in nature where I felt most alive, most at peace. Yet this wild child didn’t make the connection between simplicity and nature until life changed dramatically.
As a teen I enjoyed being active, fit and viewed by others as “healthy and strong.” I made conscious food choices and ultimately decided to earn my bachelors in Nutrition & Dietetics. During those years I learned how to navigate the real world and how to apply nutrition in the academic and clinical settings. But I never learned more about life until it became a matter of sickness or health.
At age 26, after 6 years of continuous health issues, I was diagnosed with a “mild” case of lupus. Mild because there was no organ involvement at the time – fortunately that still holds true.
However, I suspect that my current state of health would differ had I taken the commonly traveled path – and I nearly did. Following my diagnosis in 2008, my immediate reaction was to seek answers. I googled and googled until I was googly eyed. To no avail, I found little information with alternative lupus management. Everything resorted to drugs, drugs, drugs – apparently my search skills were unsatisfactory!
With no obvious options, I started conventional treatment: Plaquenil, steroids and other meds to mask the symptoms. Before long, I felt so lousy that I had to resign a secure job as a clinical dietitian. How had I transformed from a flourishing child to a defeated young adult? I continued searching for answers.
A year following diagnosis, I heard about the concept of using a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet in combination with fasting to reduce dependence on medication and, more importantly, to potentially reverse disease. I immediately set up an appointment to seek guidance from an expert in the field. In the meantime I read every book possible, I went completely vegan within a few weeks and I never looked back.
Through my continued research and experience I learned that eating a WFPB diet, free from processed ingredients and animal products, would have a drastic impact on my health. In fact, I realized that the more ‘back-to-basics’ I ate – the better I felt. It seems my simplistic love for nature, as a child, was the hard sought solution to many of my increasing problems as life had become busier and more complicated with age.
Once adapting a WFPB diet with autoimmune guidelines, I painfully weaned off multiple medications and reduced my inflammatory markers with nutrition and fasting. It was awful but necessary. Desperate to regain control of my life, there wasn’t (still isn’t) much I wouldn’t try. Those meds were quickly zapping the twinkle out of my toes and that’s just not a viable option. I have no intention of humoring a miserable existence pumped up on numbing prescriptions.
Three years later I take no regular medication, I have fewer symptoms, I’m able to exercise vigorously while experiencing much more fulfillment. I’ve embraced my vegan existence as a permanent way of life. I thoroughly enjoy the plant foods I eat (generous amounts of vegetables, crucifers, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes in many different varieties), and I value their ability to equip my body with phytonutrients to help combat disease.
I find comfort in knowing that I’m reducing my carbon footprint while teaching others to do the same, and I’m humbled by the concept of being compassionate and consistent in all aspects of life. When we are one with nature, we are truly in harmony. This ethical stance, upon recognition, is hard to ignore.
This became apparent once I was ready to resume a career. I quickly realized I wasn’t able to find a job that matched my new identity. I had a desire to contribute toward a mission that I believed in wholeheartedly, while improving my health and wellbeing. Eventually, it became evident that I would have to create my own opportunity.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Hence the creation of EatUrVeggies.com, where I provide a unique stance as a health professional who has worked in both the conventional and unconventional sectors offering nutritional solutions to sticky situations. With ten plus years of experience navigating my plan of care, I’ve learned the importance of being one’s own health advocate. I’m able to empower individuals by guiding them through this process. I support those looking for high quality outcomes and longevity via my virtual private practice and I love it.
In the meantime, I’m constantly learning and fine-tuning my existence. I’m determined to be symptom-free. As a result, I’ve become a bit of a healing junky in order to arrive at that peaceful place. I haven’t clinched my happy ending yet, but the light at the end of the tunnel is gradually glowing brighter.
After 11 years of daily headaches, they still exist. Food and environmental allergies continue to be a challenge. Pain and fatigue plague many days while winters render my hands useless without baby doses of prednisone, ughhhh.
While I wouldn’t wish my lupus on anyone, and as Kris Carr says “my disease is not a gift because I wouldn’t want to give it to anyone else” – lupus has challenged me to fight for what I deserve, to seek wisdom, to best manage my being, to learn from past and present experiences and to share with those in need.
It is my pain, my lupus and my struggles that have driven me to be the veggie lovin’, tree huggin’, healin’ junkie I was born to be. :-)
Image Source: Rosana Prada/Flickr