On a warm Spring day in 2010, my husband and I decided to take the kids to the Zoo to see the Australian animals. We had recently moved back to Boston from Sydney Australia and my husband thought it would be fun (I wasn’t finding anything to be much fun back then). I was struggling with severe IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) that left me in constant pain, bloated, crampy and irritable. My joints ached, I was 40+lbs overweight, permanently exhausted and mildly depressed. A trip to the Zoo with my then 4yo and 2½yo kids should have been a magical family experience but instead it was more than I could bear. I didn’t recognize the person I had become. I had no idea why I felt so rotten all the time or what to do about it. My poor husband was frustrated that I had no energy or interest in participating in anything anymore and my PCP had no answers beyond offering a variety of pharmaceuticals or suggesting I have (another) colonoscopy.
A few days later, after dropping my kids at preschool for a few blessed hours, I wandered into my favorite coffee place and ordered my usual vanilla latte on soy with extra vanilla syrup. There, I picked up a flyer for a nutritional therapy practitioner (NTP) that talked about the Paleo diet. The what diet, I asked? As research and analysis were my tools of trade in my ‘pre-kids’ life as a management consultant, I started Googling and so began this incredible journey.
On the cusp of my 50th birthday I am in vibrant good health, at my ideal weight and symptom free. After initially scoffing at the prospect of eliminating things like gluten and dairy from my diet (perish the thought) – I realized I was at my wits end and had nothing to lose. Cooking anything from scratch was a relatively novel concept for me. I could put together a passable plate of spaghetti (with loads of parmesan of course) and I did cook all of my own baby food. But outside of that I was renowned in my family for being the only person they had ever met who could actually manage to burn water. The learning curve was steep, but I was determined to give this a real go for 30 days and then see where I was at. I started with simple dishes like grilled chicken or steak with lots of salads and roasted veggies. I bought a few Paleo cook books and actually read them. I figured out what a frittata was (my new breakfast was born) and I made my first batch of bone broth (it was disgusting… but I forced it down). There were lots of dinner time fails and I watched my grocery bill skyrocket, but I learned from my mistakes and am nothing if not tenacious when I commit to something.
The first week was torture. I felt like I had the flu, all my symptoms were worse, and every waking moment was consumed with trying to figure out what I was going to eat for my next meal. Then one day I woke up and I realized that I had walked to the bathroom without the joints in my feet screaming in agony. My stomach was flatter than I remembered it being in a long while, I had a bowel movement that wasn’t torturous and I wasn’t cranky and snarling at everyone. I actually felt like I had some energy. I knew my recovery had started and I threw myself into learning everything about what was happening inside my body – HOW could simply changing my diet make me feel SO different?
By the end of my 30-day elimination diet I was feeling like a new person. I had lost 12lbs, I was sleeping through the night and waking up with a smile on my face, looking forward to the day ahead. My IBS symptoms were much improved (it took me several more years to figure out the impact my leaky gut was having on my immune system and that the food sensitivities that I had developed had triggered the inflammation that was stopping me from healing completely). But more importantly, I had my life, my marriage, my passion for raising my kids and making a difference in the world back!
In 2014 I decided to become a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner so that I could coach others on how to solve their health issues using the ancestral diet and lifestyle approaches that had helped me to heal. I repeatedly came across clients who couldn’t or wouldn’t cook for themselves and begged me to “just do the food for them” and so WholeMade Kitchen was born. Along the way, I put my son Ted, who was diagnosed in 2010 with High Functioning Autism, on the same diet that helped me and today he no longer qualifies for that diagnosis. My husband Ben was diagnosed in 2007 with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, an autoimmune condition, and he is also in remission as result of changing his diet and lifestyle.
My mission now is to have the same impact in my wider community here on Boston’s North Shore. Recovering your vibrant health begins with an elimination diet followed by the careful reintroduction of foods to find your personal dietary sweet spot. Understanding how the machinery of your body works along the way is essential to finding a sustainable and personalized nutritional protocol and that’s what the WholeMade Reboot Program is all about. My 8 years of research, along with lots of trial and error, are distilled into an 8-week program that will change your life.
In Vibrant health! -Helen