When I was in 7th grade, my family moved across town and ended up next door to the Schuettes. I was so confused when I walked into their kitchen for the first time! Why was everything in glass jars? Why was the flour in the fridge, and not white? Where was the candy jar? Junk food drawer? Microwave!?! Above all I felt so sorry for those poor kids!!
I was still a little young to understand why my mom removed Kraft mac & cheese from the menu, but I was old enough to make the connection to why I stopped getting ear infections, so I didn’t argue. All through high school I carefully stored away the many conversations I overheard in which Mrs. Schuette, a Certified Nutritionist, casually discussed all the different things she could prevent or heal with nutrition. It was fascinating!
Fast forward to college: at UC Berkeley studying Nutritional Sciences. Dorm food was just so convenient, while shopping at Whole Foods and Andronicos was so expensive! I knew I needed to be eating better, but I wasn’t feeling any ill effects from my diet (so I thought). I still remembered everything I learned about food from my mom and Mrs. Schuette, but I was learning real science in class from the best professors around, how could it be wrong?
Finally I put two and two together junior year when my third injury in as many years kept me from playing a whole lacrosse season. I was never hurt during high school lacrosse! Within the first few pages of Performance Without Pain it all made sense. I may have been adequately feeding my body, but I wasn’t providing it with enough nutrients to nourish my muscles and ligaments. These parts of my body were critical to my sport, but evolutionarily they were never given priority over feeding the more crucial functional systems. Simply put-a diet lacking complete nutrition will only be able to feed your heart and lungs, maybe liver and brain, but your muscles and ligaments will lack nourishment. So I moved out of my sorority (where I was pretty much still eating dorm food), compromised cost and health at trader joe’s and farmers markets (thank you Berkeley!) and filled my fridge with the nutrient dense foods I had learned to love in high school. My roommates could never figure out how I used so much butter and still stayed in shape, why I bought such expensive milk that was illegal in 48 states (and why they could drink it despite being lactose intolerant) or how I didn’t die of salmonella when I put a raw egg yolk in all of my smoothies, but after a season of lacrosse that I not only finished, but was named MVP, they were on board and I knew I needed to spread the word to athletes everywhere!!
I just graduated in May with my Bachelors of Science in Nutritional Science and an emphasis on Physiology and Metabolism, and am so excited to be taking steps towards my career goal of practicing nutritional therapy on athletes. I am currently enrolled in a Nutritional Therapy certification program (the same one my mom graduated from a few years ago) and am deciding among various Kinesiology Masters programs, which will start in the Fall.
Just to bring things full circle, I thought I would add that while having a friend over for lunch recently, I was cracking up at her comments like “wait, you don’t have a microwave?” “This milk tastes so good, but why do you have to shake it?” and “Why is everything in glass jars?” I feel so accomplished and very proud of my mom to have the guts to change our family’s life so dramatically. (And I don’t want any kid feeling sorry for my lack of junk food drawer!)