BS, Health Promotion and Wellness, Psychology Minor
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
My relationship with food has been “rocky” to say the least… I absolutely LOVE food, but I once had the belief that food didn’t love me.
I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I have NEVER been the person who could “eat whatever they want.” Growing up, I never looked the way I thought I “should.” Even though I was active in sports from the time I was in 5th grade until I graduated high school, I never felt like I looked like an athlete. I remember middle school and the first couple years of high school being the worst. I hated shopping for clothes and I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.
Food was my enemy because it made me overweight – at least that was my thinking back then. I even went through a period in high school when I had very disordered eating habits. Looking back, it was much worse than I ever acknowledged to myself or anyone else…
I would avoid going to the cafeteria for lunch so I could not eat. When I did eat, I would pick at my food so it looked like I was eating, but really I wasn’t. I would eat as little as possible for a few days, maybe a week, and then say, “SCREW IT!” and go on a binge. That cycle repeated over and over for several months.
At the time, I had little to no idea what I was doing to my body. As a teenage girl, I just wanted to be thinner because my belief was if I was thinner I would be happier, more people would like me, I would have a boyfriend, and my popularity would increase. Up until recently, I put all of my self-worth into what my body looked like. If I was thin, then I was worthy of love, affection, and all of the things I desired in my life.
To be honest, I don’t remember what snapped me out of this horrible cycle. All I know is that I was fortunate enough to know that starving myself was not the answer to my body image issues.
However, I still thought I needed to “restrict” what I ate and follow a low-fat diet. I followed the old exercise more, eat less approach.
Of course, the problem with this approach was I couldn’t do it for more than a few days at a time; maybe a few weeks if I really pushed myself to the edge.
RESTRICT → BINGE → FEEL BAD ABOUT MYSELF → REPEAT
I thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t stick to my diet. “I must be weak,” was what I thought. “I have no willpower.” 🙁
This behavior continued through college, except instead of starving myself I would exercise myself into the ground with endless hours of long, boring cardio workouts. That was strike two against my metabolism and hormones – which now I know are the keys to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight… By the way, all those hours of cardio coupled with my college shenanigans netted me about a 30-pound weight gain! So much for that approach.
Strike three came after college. I focused on counting calories. Like many, I thought of weight loss as a simple mathematical formula: calories IN vs. calories OUT. Besides that being a poor approach in and of itself, my food choices were terrible. While I met my calorie or “points” requirements, I was literally poisoning my body with Frankenfoods (food like substances) like Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches, Smart Ones, Subway, and of course, my number one nemesis for so many years, Diet Coke.
At this point, the side effects of my “diet” were much worse (or perhaps noticeable) because I was working a stressful, full-time job – sleeping until noon was no longer an option. I was exhausted all the time. I was moody, depressed, and my emotions were out of control. I also started to suffer from digestive issues and my sleep patterns were a mess.
I tried to get a grip on things by going to my doctor for advice. Her response was…special. With a shrug of the shoulders, she said, “that’s just how it is.”
WHAT?! That’s crazy! Needless to say, I got the heck out of there and started looking outside Western medicine and what I was taught in traditional nutrition textbooks.
That’s when my journey toward a whole food, real food supportive nutrition plan and lifestyle began…
I began to dig into information on gluten, hormones, metabolism, stress, digestion, supplementation, sleep, and more.
The first BIG change I made to my diet was getting rid of Diet Coke – that was NOT easy! I did survive though, and now I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.
Next, I started to pay attention to gluten. It took me about 2 years to get it completely out. The difference in how I feel now that I no longer eat gluten is truly AMAZING. The biggest change I noticed was in my emotions – I no longer have a tendency towards depression. I was depressed for many years and never made the connection that what I was eating was contributing to it.
From there, I began to question EVERYTHING that I had known to be “healthy.” I decided that if what I was doing wasn’t working then I needed to do something else. Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
My focus switched to the QUALITY of food that I ate instead of the quantity. I chose high-quality grass-fed beef and wild salmon over the conventional meat and frozen fish that I used to eat. I made sure that the basis of my meals were protein and vegetables. This was a BIG DEAL because as a child I was one of the pickiest eaters ever! I would eat carrots and sometimes broccoli; that was the extent of my vegetable intake. After learning how beneficial vegetables were to my health and ability to lose weight, I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new vegetables, as well as ways to prepare them. Who would have thought veggies could be so good?!?!
As I was discovering the answers to my own main health complaints, I decided that I wanted to be a resource for others that were not getting the help they needed from conventional Western medicine doctors. This is when I sought out my certification to become a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner.
“FDN is an emerging field and growing body of work that bridges the gap between clinical nutrition and functional medicine. It is a type of detective work that seeks to identify and correct the underlying causes and conditions that lead to an individual’s main health complaints. FDN is not diagnosing or treating any disease nor practicing medicine.”
– Reed Davis, founder of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition
By eating REAL food, getting to bed on time, managing stress and working out properly, I started seeing the results I’ve always wanted. 🙂
My journey involved several 3 to 6-week “detoxes” where I completely eliminated inflammatory foods as well as foods that were triggers for me, and anything that was close to resembling a baked good. These “resets” taught me SO MUCH about the foods that worked for my body, how I was using food in my life, and my relationship to certain foods. The information that I gained from eliminating inflammatory foods, and then strategically reintroducing them was invaluable.
I truly believe for anyone to gain the knowledge they need to build their own supportive nutrition plan, they need to take a period of time dedicated to elimination and then go through a reintroduction period. It is the only way for you to know what foods are working for you and which ones are not. It is not until you get certain foods completely out of your diet that you can identify how they are affecting your health and your weight.
Eating a real whole food diet void of processed foods has helped me achieve and maintain a healthy weight, PLUS it has provided me with food freedom.
Now when I choose to eat something I would not normally eat such as ice cream, I can have a small amount and then move on. I am not “haunted” by the unfinished pint of ice cream in the freezer, obsessively thinking about it and then eating it in a matter of 1-2 sittings. I am able to make conscious choices about what goes in my body and have a level of awareness around food that was never present before.
Through many years of practice, I can identify the difference between physical hunger, and psychological or emotional hunger. I can pause and ask myself, “What are you truly hungry for right now?” Often times it is NOT food; instead I find that I am tired, need connection, or am feeling overwhelmed and/or stressed and think that food will allow me to feel better. And it will in the short-term which is why so many people reach for it. In today’s fast paced, stress filled world food has become how we deal with our emotions and our way to comfort ourselves, instead of a way to nourish our bodies.
I no longer view food as the enemy because I know the right types of foods to eat. I provide my body with nutrient dense food so that I can feel and perform at my best. I still enjoy eating and love to cook but the types of food I cook are very different.
Instead of using exercise as a way to compensate for my unhealthy eating habits and focusing on working out to attain the “perfect” body, I move my body in ways that feel good to me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I no longer obsess about how many calories I am able to burn in a workout. I workout because I am blessed with a capable body that is able to move. My focus has shifted to what my body can do, rather than what my body looks like.
I no longer take an “all or nothing” approach to nutrition and fitness. I used to believe that if I didn’t have at least 1 hour to dedicate to my workout, then forget it, it’s not worth doing just part of it. As I write that, it sounds absolutely absurd but I don’t think I am alone in this. How many times have you said, “I only have 10 or 20 minutes to work out so what is the point?”
Or taking the all or nothing approach to nutrition…”I already messed up today so I might as well eat what I want the rest of the day!” I would bet that you have had a similar conversation with yourself many times. The most common being, “I’ll start on Monday!”
Through nutrition, supplementation, consistent exercise, and yoga, my cravings, digestive health, sleep, hormone balance, moods, and energy have all improved.
Changing what/how/when I eat and working out on a consistent basis hasn’t always been easy and effortless, but it has been WORTH IT! I now eat and move in a way that I can do for the rest of my life. It’s no longer the restrict and binge roller coaster and then workout to burn it off.
Eating a diet based around whole nutrient dense foods and working out consistently is no longer something I HAVE to do but rather something I CHOOSE to do because I love and respect myself.
I am grateful for the path that led me here, even the crappy parts – they’re what taught me the most. I am grateful for the knowledge and awareness I have gained. Living a healthy lifestyle is a journey, not a destination.
I am still on my journey and I still don’t have certain things mastered and I likely never will. Instead, I practice PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION and strive to be the BEST version of myself every day!
Most importantly, I know I am worth the time, energy, and money that go into eating a real, whole food supportive nutrition plan, working out consistently, self-care, and loving myself.
YOU are worth it too!
Meet Janell YuleJustin Yule2017-06-02T20:57:22+00:00