Like most kids that grew up in the 90’s, my diet consisted of a plethora of processed foods and snacks. Possibly even more than average because when I was young money was tight, and I was super picky. It never occurs to a child to think about what they eat, it’s yummy or it’s not, simple as that. It’s not usually until a person reaches a point where they’re unhappy with their weight, or they come down with an illness that they start to think about it. For me, the realization that food really makes a difference in your body came in middle school when my little sister was diagnosed with ADHD.
My mom is a teacher, and in her experience she had worked one-on-one with students who also had ADHD, most of these students were on prescription medication to treat the disorder. My mom was not a fan of the impact these drugs had on her students, they addressed the behaviors/symptoms but she felt as if they dulled her students personalities and emotions as well. So, when prescriptions were recommended for my sister, my parents decided to look into alternative means of helping her.
After doing some research they discovered "The Feingold Diet" a diet developed in the 1970's by Dr. Benjamin Feingold meant to alleviate the symptoms of hyperactivity. The diet focuses on eliminating certain food additives, such as artificial food dyes. My parents decided they would try it with her, because if something so simple could help her without having to put their daughter on a prescription, they were all for it. I wouldn't say it was that simple in the beginning, trying to tell a 3rd grader that she can't have some of her favorite things anymore wasn't always pleasant for my parents, and realizing how very many foods contained these additives was eye-opening, but it truly made a huge impact. I remember even I could tell if she had eaten something she wasn't supposed to; she would be off-the-wall-hyper, or as an older sister would say, annoying, and then I'd find out that she had a Twizzler earlier and it all made sense (Red40 had the biggest impact on her). Even now that she's an adult, when she eats something with a trigger-ingredient in it, she can feel how much more difficult it is to focus on things.
Going through this with my family opened my eyes to the real impact the food we eat can have on us. This is when I realized that what you eat really matters, that the story of your food doesn't end when you're done tasting it, that it can effect you long after that.
Shortly after I had made this realization, I had to start working on my eighth grade science fair project. Being the newly enlightened kid that I was, I did my project on the impact of food on the behavior of kindergarteners. My partner and I worked with a local kindergarten class, we asked the parents to note what their children had for breakfast each day, and then we took notes on their lunches, and observed their behavior. The conclusion of our study was that the children who had healthier foods in their day, were more focused and more well-behaved, just as I had hypothesized. Now, I'm sure there were some flaws, we were eighth graders after all, but this project was the start of what would become my never-ending journey in learning about nutrition and it's impact on the body.
Throughout high school I started experimenting with paying attention to what I ate. I fell into all the usual marketing traps, and diet trends. I started trying sugar free products, low calorie products, drinking “breakfast” shakes, drinking lots of milk because at one point the dairy industry was advertising that drinking milk would “keep you slim,” I tried some of the South Beach Diet. It was the classic scenario that so many people are still stuck in today. I began to realize how misleading the food industry can be, and the more I learned, the more determined I became to find some truth, and clarity. Soon, research became second nature for me, I didn't take any information as fact until I had done my own double-checking, and that’s still true today. In my pursuit for answers, my passion became so radiant, that I’ve come to be the go-to friend and family member to ask about anything health-related.
As I continued to learn, my passion for nutrition as a whole grew, and I wanted to share my knowledge with everyone I knew.