My Health Journey
My health journey was one of pain, frustration, and revelation of what it truly means to be intentional with and honor God with every part of my life, to walk in full surrender to Christ, and to find freedom.
Sophomore year of college (spring 2014) was the dramatic turning point in my health journey. I found myself very physically unhealthy after getting food poisoning which triggered IBS-D (irritable bowel syndrome with increased diarrhea). On its own, this trigger may not have affected me as intensely as it did if I would have had a stronger foundation. However, several years of hormonal imbalances leading to what’s termed hypothalamic amenorrhea (or a loss of menstrual cycle) was compounded on an overall SAD (Standard American Diet) diet and lifestyle growing up. I ate decent, but loved my fill of dairy, refined carbs, and sugar. Along with other lifestyle factors, my gut was set up for bad bacteria to take over.
What seemed like an overnight occurrence, I wasn’t able to digest certain foods well – ones I had been able to eat without issues even just a week prior. My new normal after eating became intense cramps, bloating, and gas. Beyond that, diarrhea became a part of my routine every morning.
At this point, I had taken interest in studying nutrition and had made some changes to my dietary patterns. To be honest, I thought I was doing the whole “nutrition thing” well (looking back, I definitely was not). With the onset of IBS I cut out dairy, gluten, and processed foods but it was around that time that I shifted to a paleo/keto-ish, high meat/fat, and very low carb diet. I weighed every ounce of food I ate and feared fruit. All of this led me to a place of very low body weight/fat and ketoacidosis. My digestive system was worse and so were my hormones. Sure, my overall diet was comprised of whole foods and a lot of vegetables, BUT, I was not absorbing the much-needed nutrients because my gut was such a mess.
Beyond eating, my exercise routine was pretty intensive – running about 25 miles a week and heavy weight training six days a week. While those inherently aren’t bad, they were not helping my situation or creating a conducive environment to heal, especially hormonally.
I also noticed that I began to isolate myself as much as I could. Never had I felt so horrible for such a long period of time in my life. I was unhealthy, hurting, tired of eating, and sick of being sick.
The doctor and GI specialist directed me toward pharmaceuticals and conventional treatments focused on symptoms rather than pursuing the root cause. After about a year of IBS frustration and being dissatisfied with conventional medicine, I first realized the necessity to surrender this to the Lord, and then began to investigate it from a holistic and integrative perspective on my own and with the guidance of a holistic Registered Dietitian.
Over the next two years, I made slow progress and my GI tract began to heal.
In working with the RD, I went through the LEAP program (a personalized elimination diet), which allowed me to remove my problem foods and reduce the inflammation in my body to help create an opportunity for healing. I started focusing on my gut health, digestion, and replenishing the good bacteria. It involved a process of trial and error, so to speak, to figure out what worked for me.
Several of the food changes that were critical in my healing beyond the elimination diet were:
- starting my morning with a fruit and veggie smoothie
- taking digestive bitters (to help stimulate my body’s digestive processes)
- choosing organic
- lightly steaming or blending my vegetables
- eating naturally fermented foods like traditional sauerkraut
- traditionally preparing foods (think soaking, sprouting, fermenting)
- allowing ample time between meals for digestion (usually 3-4 hours)
- taking a probiotic
- slowing and sitting down when eating
- becoming more in-tune with my body, hunger cues, etc.
During this period of time, my eyes were opened to 1) how critical gut health is, and 2) how much of an impact what we put in, on, and around our bodies has on health.
Food wasn’t the only factor however. It took an overhaul of my entire lifestyle. My body was so internally inflamed and I realized how every system of the body are so intimately connected. Once I started getting a handle on the IBS and rebalancing my gut, I had to turn to my exercise and overall toxic load.
I removed the toxins from what I put on my face and body, cleaning supplies, etc., and began using essential oils. Regarding exercise, slowly (and begrudgingly) I transitioned from long runs and heavy lifting to shorter runs, HIIT, and bodyweight strength and flexibility workouts. However, I soon realized even this was too much stress on my body while trying to heal. Finally, I became okay with walking and bodyweight exercise only.
Finally, I had to own up to the damages I brought onto myself and address my underlying hormonal imbalances, pursuing the rebalancing of my hormones and restoration of menstrual cycle (which was nonexistent in total about six years).
Let’s back up a moment, because I need to highlight a very important aspect of this = my mindset.
At the time of my IBS, I claimed to be living surrendered to Christ. I professed Him as Lord and desired His will for my life. He revealed to me though that I was not doing that with my physical health and lifestyle choices. Rather than seeking what God had to say about it, I was looking to the world and what the culture was saying. I was seeking to glorify my body rather that glorify Him with food, exercise, and desire to be healthy.
It consumed me. It became an idol, distracting me from going deeper with Christ and inhibiting me from fully carrying out the Kingdom mission and His plan for my life individually. I realized the necessity of declaring victory, by the power of the Holy Spirit, against the enemy who was stirring lies of comparison in my mind between myself and others.
I have experienced in my own life what it means to have years where I was rather ineffective for the Kingdom because of my own decisions, because of following the world and what the culture said was best in terms of health, eating, and exercise.
Yet through it all, God was faithful. When I surrendered the entirety of my life to Him, including my eating and health, He worked through the disorder and chaos of my life. My prayer became “Teach me what I should eat and how to take care of my body. I need your help in healing because I can’t do this on my own and don’t want to follow the world anymore.”
The Lord is for restoration and redemption. He took me on a journey of healing and opening my eyes to His original design – how to eat and live according to Biblical truth. I discovered the ways in which He created us to live an abundant life – to thrive and be physically well. God is wanting us to surrender every part of our lives to Him, and the Holy Spirit led me in that to a place of freedom.
He is faithful to bring about good from the most hopeless situations.
It was through my circumstances that He brought clarity to the call He has placed on my life.
Through my journey, I have become deeply aware of how impactful physical health is on overall well-being, the health of others, and the earth. Nutrition and lifestyle go far beyond physical health. The entire body – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally is connected. And beyond ourselves, our lifestyle choices are so powerful and impact all of God’s creation.
My passion for nutrition and wellness, food as medicine, and helping others thrive as God intended and created them to deepened, which led me to study nutrition and wellness on a deeper level and get a MS in Nutrition for Wellness.
Throughout grad school, He answered my question of “how do I use my love for nutrition and wellness to build the Kingdom?” God revealed to me the bigger picture of how they are intimately connected and stirred in me a passion to wake up the Body of Christ to this reality; to equip believers to physically thrive for the purpose of furthering His Kingdom.
For those who are in the thick of similar circumstances, I hear you. I understand to some extent what you’re going through, but most importantly I know what it takes to move past that and get to a place of abundant living (even if not completely healthy) by pursuing His ways.
Interestingly, I eat healthier and am healthier now than ever before. Please hear me though, I am not perfect. And I still have some residual hormonal imbalances that are in the process of balancing. Although I deliberate with my choices, and yes there are foods I don’t eat, my very purpose for which I do so has drastically changed.
I am very intentional with my choices because my purpose in caring for my body is rooted in
honoring and glorifying God with every part of my life.
The Lord has taught me the beauty of a simplified life.
Would you join with me as I continue to explore and discuss how nutrition and wellness is relevant to life as a follower of Christ through a simple and intentional lifestyle? To begin, I invite you to go through my 3-day devotional Rooted, where I go through 3 key pieces of the foundation of why our lifestyle choices do matter as a Christian. Download for free below!
get my 3-day devotional - Rooted