I have a very limited recollection of what I ate in college. I remember my roommates and I had a moving cart we were “borrowing” from our dorm that we used as a pantry. I can picture the boxes of graham crackers, cereal, Easy Mac, cinnamon swirl bread, and gummy candies filling up the cart. I vaguely remember huge smoothies in the morning, eating stir-fries for dinner in the student center, and Subway or pizza after parties. I grew up eating a pretty balanced diet of home-cooked food, but off at college, I survived on the processed stuff. That is until I my mom called me during my senior year and told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mom had passed away from cancer when I was 8 years old, so the connection among the 3 of us suddenly felt very real.
I had this very bold intuition that said, “From now on, you will only eat fruits, vegetables, and brown rice.” So that’s what I did, for probably about a week until I got tired of eating the same things and wasn’t sure how to navigate eating with friends on my new plan. After that I started to read up on various diets, but was more focused on how they affected my weight, not my health.
My mom’s youngest sister has been into the concept of food as medicine for as long as I can remember. She was, and still is, my go-to alternative medicine guru. So several years (and various diets) later, when I decided I wanted to learn more about “health food,” I contact her and asked her for a list of authors and cookbooks she loved. She turned me on to Paul Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. Just about the same time a family friend told me about a nutrition school she had heard of that she thought I would love. I was tired of diets and fads and buying protein bars and powders with colors and flavors not found in nature. I wanted the truth. And I found it.
I found a school that believes that everyone is unique in their nutritional needs. A school that every week brought in a different guest speaker who would passionately describe their Vegan lifestyle, citing research and evidence as to the health benefits until you became a believer. That is until the following week when the guest speaker would show you, unequivocally, why eating meat is an essential part of a healthy diet. The school wasn’t trying to make its students crazy. It was trying to show us that there isn’t one diet that is right for everyone. And that being healthy is about more than just the food you eat. It’s about your satisfaction with your overall life: career, relationships, physical activity, creativity, and spirituality.
I am passionate about food. I haven’t gotten into growing it yet, but I enjoy shopping for it, cooking it, and eating it. I hate counting calories or feeling like I’m depriving myself. So I eat lots of whole foods: fruits, veggies, grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. I try to eat organic foods as much as possible, especially when it comes to meats and dairy. I make much of the food I eat because I know what goes into it. Although I love to splurge on nachos, pizza, and cake balls, I’m always conscious of the quality of the ingredients, aiming to eat only high quality foods.
I don’t believe in diets, I believe in health. Focusing on heath means treating yourself like you would treat your best friend. Nourish yourself with the highest quality food, people, jobs, adventures, endeavors, experiences, and joys. Because you deserve only the best in this ever-changing, constantly shifting, endless rollercoaster of life!