About 17 years ago, I found myself drowning in nutritional debt.
I was drowning so badly that I could barely digest anything, I had no energy, my hair was thinning and, at 20 years old, my metabolism was spiraling downward faster than I'd like to remember.
I couldn’t even go to a yoga class without experiencing what felt like uncomfortable bricks sitting in my stomach. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of a long journey with very poor digestion, food intolerance, hormonal imbalance, and low energy.
By this time, I was already an out-of-the-box thinker when it came to Western medicine, so I went to see several smart naturopathic doctors. (Seattle is a pretty big mecca for naturopathic medicine.) After blood work and other expensive diagnostic techniques, they all told me I was "fine."
And I remember thinking, No, you just don’t understand me. It is not normal to feel this way!
I was beyond frustrated with doctors and starving for someone to provide real help and to understand what I was going through. (To be completely honest, it’s a slight bias I still hold against doctors today.)
I felt completely invalidated by the help that I sought. Even though I wasn't truly rejected by my doctors, I got less than what I wanted and needed in terms of guidance, support, understanding, and relief from my symptoms. And, as many of you know, that rejection can lead to obsession.
And with that, a health nut was born.
The Trouble with Being a Health Nut
I want to let you in on a little secret I've learned, not only from my personal experience, but also from talking to hundreds of women from all over the world about their health. "Health nuts" can be among some of the unhealthiest people I've encountered as a nutritional therapist.
Now, that may sound like a very judgmental comment, so let me unpack it.
Many health nuts (my prior self included!) are born out of a desire for something they are lacking in terms of health—something they want desperately but are having trouble achieving.
This obsession can create the motivation to try extreme diets and obtain results by any means. Many often put their health in grave danger by doing so. Some may try a ketogenic paleo diet (a very low carbohydrate way of eating that is typically reserved for those living in extreme temperatures like the Arctic where lush, carbohydrate-rich vegetation is not possible) or a vegan diet that deprives them of their body's instinctual cravings for much needed protein, or even a supplement regimen so toxic it could actually damage their liver.
Others may fall in wellness overload, consuming a diet full of so many oxalate-rich health foods, that they are actually poisoning themself without knowing it.
Many health nuts may try all of these and more in quick succession as they bounce back and forth like a ping-pong ball from one dietary extreme to the other, never actually knowing if it is helpful or harmful for where their body, especially where their digestive system is at.
This inconsistent way of eating can further feed the obsession for health, because now the inconsistencies in your eating has your body really confused. Your body can’t tell your extreme diet of caloric, protein, or carbohydrate restriction from actual starvation or harsh environmental conditions. The body's interpretation of these drastic dietary changes lands somewhere between intense stress and the possibility of death, which often first manifests with the absence of normal digestive function and an obvious lack of energy. Not exactly the ideal scenario for someone seeking health.
More often than not, the body sends signals that the forced regimen is not working. Imagine these like the warning lights on the dash of your car. But instead of low tire pressure or low gasoline, they show up as things like: constant cravings, poor sleep, anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, digestive bloating or discomfort, infertility, and even depression (as you're being forced to live with things you don't want). Health nuts are so determined and focused on achieving their goal, they are blind to the fact that their eating path is actually creating more problems or making the current problems worse, leading them further and further from health. While it doesn't always happen this way, that is the exception, not the rule.
If you are reading this, and you are a “health nut,” ask yourself this: is it because you are not seeing progress, reaching your health goals, or using your health obsession as a means of escapism to fill up time and thoughts in your head and avoid something else in your life?
I've found that when even the biggest health nuts start feeling better and seeing results, they often lose their obsession and rigidity around food. When they notice that they can still achieve higher levels of health by relaxing a bit about what they put in their mouth, their health often actually increases, and the obsessiveness about food slowly fades away.
My Own Self Sabotage
Getting back to my story, my obsession for getting healthy was sabotaging my health and I didn't even know it. Someone once said that "success in life is based on the amount of uncomfortable conversations that you have," and I think a lot of the time those are uncomfortable conversations you must have with yourself. In my case it was my painful Oprah-like "aha" moment that I was causing my own pain.
Why was I blaming doctors for not understanding me when I didn’t understand myself, or what was going on inside my body?
I didn’t understand how my eating habits were shaping and forcing my body to adapt its way of functioning from long-term health to short-term survival. And I didn't understand what I could do to change it. Surely, I’m the only one who should be an expert on me!
But I felt so stuck. I thought I was destined to feel this way forever.
Seeing the Light
It wasn't until years later (6 years to be exact), after exhausting research, nutrition schooling, and self-experimentation that I actually started to understand me. My body.
That understanding and education allowed me to tap into something way better than my previous obsessive and health nut ways. Instead of picking an extreme diet and administering it like a prescription drug that disregarded what my body was trying to tell me, I started understanding what my body actually needed and went from there. It was a radical shift in my thinking and approach that made all the difference.
And when I made that shift, things really started to change.
While the whole process was by no means a fairy tale (years of wasted time, money, energy, pain), I did get my body back on track. In hindsight, it wasn't really a mistake because I actually learned from it.
Do you want to really understand your body?
If you're suffering from low energy, weight gain, digestive issues, hormonal chaos, and/or diet obsession, I bet your body is starving for you to understand it instead of ignoring it and perhaps suffocating it with things it doesn't want.
Because if you understood your body, you would have the knowledge to make changes and feel better.
That’s where the change and good stuff happen.
I know what it’s like:
...not wanting to get dressed in the morning, because you're fighting your bloat or your body's constant discomfort.
...feeling like your life is on hold, while you wait to find the missing pieces of your health puzzle.
...feeling so limited every day, and as if you can't do anything to your full capacity.
...feeling overwhelmed with nutritional information (+supplements) and confused about what is helpful or harmful for where your body’s at (hint: it's different for everyone)!
...wondering if you'll ever escape it all.
And life doesn’t have to be that way. I’m living proof.
But only if...
You can commit to putting in the time to understand, and use that understanding to fuel change.
So your body has a fighting chance to respond!
Where Your Story Can Intersect With Mine
I put together something pretty special called the Metabolism FastTrack eCourse because I don’t want a single person to go through the trial, error, research, and misery that I experienced on my journey.
It’s a 6-week eCourse (a combination of education and testing) where you’ll get all my best methods to understand your body, your personal barriers, and blind spots so you can help it change. Because real change only happens when you understand the why behind what you're doing, as that knowledge empowers you to change your habits.
...all my favorite tools and strategies for getting results
...all the same education that I use with my one-on-one clients (without the higher cost of working one-on-one) ($2,200 value)
...bonus #1: Your Personal Nutrition Assessment ($97 value)
...bonus #2: Hair Analysis Lab Test — results only, consultation not included ($175 value)
...bonus #3: Omega Fatty Acid Testing ($129 value)
...bonus #4: How To Build a BulletProof Gut Masterclass ($133 value)
...7 Day Risk-Free Cancelation: if you are unsatisfied with the course at any time during the first 7 days, I'll give you a full refund of the purchase price.
Don’t be surprised if it changes the way you think about food and how you fuel your body for life.
At the end of the day, you can make this process long and hard, like I had to [insert crying emoji], or you can make it much easier. I wish I had a resource like the Wealthy Metabolism eCourse 16 years ago so I could have pressed the [easy button] to have everything laid out for me to start understanding my body and what I had to do to change it.
If you feel like you're giving 100% of your efforts, but not getting any results, this is for you!
I want you to not just solve your problem, but deal with what made the problem in the first place: not understanding your own body and what it needs!
Get started today [enrollment closes soon]
Are you a past or present health nut? Please share in the comments!
that is pretty funny! I work at a health food store and my co workers (and I) are always talking about our health and misery and how we can eat this way and that and fix this and that!! We are so unhealthy!!
It's so important that we nourish our bodies with good, wholesome, real food!
I learned a long time ago that food won't save you. We are a nation of neurotics thanks to fad diets. The purpose is to keep our minds off of the really important stuff that is ruining our lives.
Robert W. PhD, Chemical consultant
I guess I am lucky not having all or some of the described nutritional issues. My problem is a chronic diarrhea which I have had for 20 years. I am 87, in good health, plenty of energy and a little underweight. For the last year I tried to eat healthy but all that healthy green just goes through me.
Recently I tried to work food into smoothies which helps but the real change I see, ever since I use Dr.Gundry's Prebiotic and ActivatedYou Probiotic. It is now 3 weeks and digestion has improved, but I still have a long way to go. Another problem is my complete lack of stomach acid which I compensate for by taking betain hydrochloride capsules.
To neutralize all that acid I take sodium and potassium bicarbonate after digestion should be done.
I am eager to find a solution for my situation. Thanks
Wow. I have read some of your posts in the past, but this one I so agree with. I have so many friends who are constantly taking "super food supplements" and doing elimination diets. They are so unhealthy. Their skin looks terrible. They have no energy. And yet, they think they just need to go harder at their crazy diets. I just want to yell at them to lighten up! Get your exercise. Eat real, whole foods. For the vast majority of people, life is not that hard!
You had me until I read " or a vegan diet that deprives them of their body’s instinctual cravings for much needed protein," You do realize amino acids are made from carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen (PLANTS!) right??? Ridiculous.
Not. That's like saying because horses can derive protein from hay, we can. Most of us can't. When I was on a vegan diet, I felt like I was swimming underwater -- everything slowed down and movement felt just a little harder. I watch my vegan friends having to eat ALL THE TIME; some of them have a fierce sweet tooth, as did I when I tried vegan.
I like to eat and be done with it for a few hours.
If I were on a vegan diet, my diet would be greatly lacking. I get severe and serious digestive issues after even just 2 days of eating any one of these: soy, nuts, peanuts, whole wheat, oats (all organic of course). These foods are highly allergenic and inflammatory, far more than eggs and meats (organic and/or GMO-free for eggs, grass-fed for beef please).
Of course, everybody is different; everybody has to figure out what works for them. The bottom line is: If you have digestive issues, you first have to look closely at what you're eating.
I am a vegan and I go non stop all day long. I do agree that we can overboard with taking these so called "wonder" vitamins and supplements. I did go off my vegan diet for two weeks and ate chicken( I was told I should eat meat for protein, and felt very tired. I have brought grass fed dairy back into my diet in the last year and still have tons of energy.
While you can get complete proteins from plant-based food combinations, for some people it will not be in sufficient amounts before they feel full. Animal foods are a more efficient way to get needed protein, especially when first getting out of nutritional starvation mode, when your body may not easily handle large quantities of nutrient rich plant foods.
Don't be so hostile! Veganism doesn't work for everyone. It made me so very ill. Paleo has restored my health. Judge not...
just to say I love your website.I am training to become a nutritional therapist and should graduate in July hopefully.You made a lot of the subjects I didn't understand so easy to grasp.I love the easy way you explain and the comparison you give (eg the washing machine cycles..).Thanks a lot ,
Hi, im 28 years old, I have been having troubles for so long. Today i got told by a friend to read butter nutrition.
Omg this is just me too a tee. I have been to so many doctors. Bloods coming back normal. I have put on 20kgs in 3 months and have no idea how, i can bearly eat and bloat so bad, i have energy and dont even want to get out of bed. This article made me tear up, hit the heart and soul alot. Thank you for this, i dont feel like im losing my mind. Thank you, Thank you x
Glad you enjoyed it Sharna <3!
Hello, does your approach apply also to Hashimoto's, or just to slow metabolism without any autoimmune condition? Thanks.
My approach is not specific to any disease or condition. My job as a nutritional therapist is to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function properly (vitamins + minerals + macronutrients) and to help create an environment for healing.
Robert W., how is your digestion now? I know of something that might help if you haven't gotten help already: tea made from caraway seeds. Simmer a teaspoon of the seeds for about 15 minutes in a mug's worth of water, add sweetener, and drink (it's delicious). For one lady I knew with constipation, one mugful cured her! It's VERY constipating.
I can definitely appreciate this! I have relentlessly pushed myself to do an EXTREMELY low carb diet and was having massive anxiety. The good part of that is I finally was able to pin point the foods that were giving my grief. Once I added back some fruit and some non-grain carbs, I felt SO much better.
My sentiments exactly. I have been down the same exact road. I bought heavily into veganism, vegetarianism, taking tons of supplements blindly, lots of caffeine, exercising to failure, and lots of sugar. I was that annoying defensive vegan lol. Yet I was so so unhealthy mentally and physically. Somehow I didn't connect the dots for many years. I'm now on the path to healing and I wish more people said this! Thank you for bravely posting! We are swimming upstream for sure but it's a fight worth fighting.