Real Food Testimonies: Meet Beth!
Hello. My name is Beth Lombardi. I am a mother of two phenomenal children, a wife to an incredibly supportive husband, a certified nutrition and wellness counselor with a passion for making my home and my family as healthy as possible… and I have no stinking idea what I’m doing. But, I’m not giving up.
Here is a bit of my journey. My senior year in high school I started to have some pretty weird stomach issues. My doctor took me off of red meat, soda and chocolate. I complied, kicking and screaming. Things got a bit better, so naturally I reintroduced soda and chocolate because red meat is known to be hard on the digestion. Yes, you read that correctly and no it doesn’t make any sense.
My sophomore year in college, I got food poisoning. Some of my previous symptoms returned and I assumed they would go away when the poison was out of my body. Months later, things hadn’t gotten better. I went to a doctor near my school and he put me on an oral medication, I don’t recall, and nothing changed. I don’t think I ever even did a follow-up appointment. While home on Christmas break I saw my mother’s doctor. He did some highly invasive tests and said that he thought I had ulcerative colitis. This started a several year long process of seeing doctors who put me on steroid treatments and sent me to specialists who would say there was nothing wrong moon face, steroid psychosis, and the doses kept getting higher. The only other thing I was told, by my doctor, that might help was The Twinkie Diet. No, I’m not kidding. It was suggested that I remove all fiber from my diet so that my colon might have a chance to heal itself. Fiber is known to be difficult to digest…unlike twinkies.
For years, I went to gastroenterologists who would either tell me I had been misdiagnosed because of the absence of symptoms or re-diagnose me. They would prescribe a medicine but wouldn’t go anywhere near diet. This made no sense to me. However, I was leaving the responsibility solely to them. If they didn’t treat me with diet changes, I wasn’t going to make any. I realize now, that they were being responsible. Ideally, a doctor who works with the digestive tract would be heavily trained in healing foods and (anti)inflammatory foods, etc. That simply isn’t the case. These doctors weren’t trained in nutrition, they were taught it wasn’t their focus, so good for them for not pretending.
Here I am about ten years later, still on the rollercoaster of getting a flare-up, trying a new medicine, finding temporary relief…only now, I’m pregnant. With my first child I had a flare-up that lasted two thirds of the pregnancy. The medicine I had the most success with before the pregnancy was useless. I went through three rounds of the medicine with no change in symptoms. Finally, my doctors (OB and GI) agreed that I should ride it out with the symptoms until after delivery. I was terrified for my baby. I wasn’t sure which was worse for her, the flare-up or the medicine, but I wasn’t comfortable with either of them.
Finally, I birthed a beautiful, healthy baby girl. I held her and nursed her and knew that I wanted to protect her from everything. When it came time to feed her solids I postponed as long as possible. No one could tell me the nutritional benefit of rice cereal, but everyone was sure it was the correct first food. Here is where my whole food journey really begins.
I FINALLY took responsibility for the information. I met with a holistic nutritionist and began my own certification process. It has been a bumpy road and much slower process than I envisioned, but my family of four is better for being on it. About five months ago, I had a son and had no flare-up during that pregnancy. My husband and I are so much more aware of the highs and lows we get when we eat processed foods, we crave and enjoy much healthier foods. My now two-year-old daughter can recognize and ask for all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I have removed my desire for perfect health and now am so grateful that we are all making consistent progress.
To anyone who might be frustrated on their food journey I recommend two things: first, listen to your body and respond. Doctors are wonderful and necessary to our society, but no one knows your body like you do. Secondly, perfection is an unattainable goal (trap). Make improvements, celebrate them and let that inspire you to move further in your journey.
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Beth is a certified nutrition and wellness consultant, married to her best friend and partner in parenting their two incredible children. She lives in a suburb of Chicago. Her days are spent celebrating the imperfection of life through God’s unwavering grace. She has just begun writing about her journey at www.freefromperfection.com