Is your “normal” normal?

by in Food & Nutrition, Wellness May 6, 2014

It is nearing the end of Day 2 and I want to touch of 2 topics tonight; my personal journey with food (gluten) and my children’s challenge this week.

I am asked ALL OF THE TIME – “how do you get your kids to eat healthy?” The truth is that it boils down to 3 things for us:

  • I take time to educate them on what is in processed food and the effects those foods have on your body – “you can eat that slim jim if you choose to but before you put it in your mouth, let me tell you exactly what it is!!”
  • We keep introducing the same foods over and over, even if they say they don’t like it – “yes, broccoli again!”
  • As often as we can, we eat as a family and I make the SAME meal for everyone – “Yes, we are ALL having shrimp & veggies.”

My 9 & 11-year-old children are joining us this week and have to committed to gluten-free eating. For them, the hardest part means no Goldfish, pretzels and snack bars that they are used to. BUT, we left the decision completely up to them (I am not willing to fight a battle everyday in addition to brushing hair and teeth and getting in bed on time ) and they chose 100% on their own to try this week’s challenge.

The picture below is of my son’s lunch this morning; including turkey & cheese rolls, sliced strawberries and a “mix” of Chex cereal, GF chocolate chips, coconut flakes and walnuts. My daughter took the same lunch, except she has leftover organic chicken wings from dinner last night. They both had a GF Lara bar and cantaloupe for snack.

kids GF lunch


On to my journey over the past year and a half.  Some of this may be TMI; but if I share my story and it can help even ONE person, it is worth it!

I have always been a relatively healthy eater (post-college 😉 ); whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts…..and actually for about 2 years prior to Christmas of 2012, I was a vegetarian. I was a Triscuit lover – loved my cheese and crackers!!

But in January 2013, I knew something had to change.

I had spent the holidays in 2012 (Halloween through Christmas) as we all do, overindulging on food and drink; having a great time but really not feeling all that well. I was getting headaches off and on, constant digestive issues, stomach cramping, bloating and overall puffy feeling, skin rashes and serious fatigue. I would always find an excuse as to why I felt the way I did…one too many glasses of wine on the weekends, too much coffee, not enough sleep, stress. And while these things may have contributed, the way I felt was definitely not “normal.”

After studying for my nutrition and wellness certification, taking CECs focusing on food allergy and intolerance and reading A LOT, I realized that I had been dealing with these symptoms for MUCH longer than I could really remember in detail. Some (unexplained skin rashes and headaches) as far back as far as high school.

But, it took hitting bottom and being forced to advocate for my own health for me to truly realize what was going on; and even then I didn’t fully comprehend it at first.

In January of 2013, I had a strange red and raised spot the size of a quarter appear on my chest. I could not keep my hands off of it, it itched so badly!! Within a few days, my skin began to itch and burn EVERYWHERE but with no rash at all. Over the next five months, the daily itching would bring me to tears. My skin felt like razor blades to the point that I couldn’t shower and definitely couldn’t shave my legs. I was absolutely exhausted, taking naps each day and not being able to sleep at night.  My regular workouts had become increasingly more difficult – the same ones I had should have been progressing with. I was trying to run a business and couldn’t remember meetings or plan ahead for the next hour, let alone week or month. I was bloated all of the time, ultra gassy and had diarrhea daily. I was grumpy and snippy with my family and would count the hours to climb in bed at 7 pm, just to sit still and not itch or ache.  This was definitely not normal!

Here is the thing – I don’t like doctors. I think that MOST  (not all but most)  of them are  making educated guesses with our health, are not open-minded to actual WELLNESS and see way too many patients during the day to deliver quality care. BUT, last year I was desperate!! I needed help and turned to my primary care physician, ultimately leading me to see; 2  primary care docs, a gynecologist, a dermatologist, an allergist and 2 thyroid specialists, a holistic doctor and an acupuncturist.  CRAZINESS!!

Long story short, I saw this spider web of doctors through the month of July and here was my diagnosis:

“we all really don’t know what is going on with you.”

My thought process:

“How can this be? Something is really seriously wrong! I can’t live like this.”

So, back to square one and being an advocate for my own health. Through all of this, I read and studied and read some more. Something had to change. I was trying to coach people on health and wellness and LIVING; and I was not healthy, not well and certainly not living the life I wanted. This was not my definition of normal, nor should it be anyone else’s.

In April 2013, I cut out gluten 100%. I chose to eat  more lean protein and veggies. I cut back on dairy and eliminated soy…..and guess what?!?!  For MONTHS I still felt poorly!

But little by little my symptoms were disappearing. I had more energy; started sleeping soundly through the night; my digestion improved; bloating diminished; I lost 10 lbs; my mental clarity improved; and the best of all my skin itching and burning went away!!!

It has been a little over a year since I have been 100% gluten-free. Today, I feel amazing and my body is not fighting itself to digest garbage that it doesn’t know how to!

I wanted to share this short version of my story because if you learn nothing else this week, just concentrate on becoming more aware of how your body feels on a day-to-day basis and after you eat certain foods. It may be that gluten isn’t an issue for you at all, and if not, that is fantastic!  But, become more aware.

Tell me, is your “normal” normal?



  1. Awesome story and thank you for sharing!!

  2. […] I blogged last year about my journey with choosing to eat gluten-free and why I was not just following what seemed to be this new “fad” diet  –  Is your “normal” normal? […]

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