At the end of 2007, about 6 weeks after giving birth to my daughter, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causing me debilitating pain and fatigue. Prior to that, I would have been considered an extremely healthy gal — a dietitian by training, a competitive athlete, never receiving anything short of a glowing bill of health. Now, I was faced with a chronic, autoimmune disease without reliable indicators to predict how quickly it would progress. Can I mention again the newborn? It was a scary time, to put it mildly.
I indulged in a pretty elaborate pity party while the words of my demoralizing (“you should feel lucky you’re not in a wheelchair”) rheumatologist rang loudly in my head. But my baby girl and my Type-A tendencies quickly motivated me to beat this thing by finding the answers I needed. Answers other than long-term steroids and immunosuppressant medications, that is.
After an underwhelming experience with conventional medicine, I explored more progressive medicine options and in doing so, learned about the havoc food sensitivities can wreak on your system as well as the principles of an anti-inflammatory diet. Within a week of following this new plan, not only did my joint pain and fatigue virtually disappear, but the swelling in my knuckles was reduced enough to get my wedding ring back on. I soon found that other chronic conditions I endured for years (e.g. migraines, depression) diminished after taking a more holistic, progressive approach to my health.
I hold a B.S. degree in Nutritional Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and a Masters degree in Public Health (MPH) from UCLA. I am a board certified registered dietitian nutritionist (RD/RDN) and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I have practiced in critical, acute and outpatient care settings in various specialties, including cardiac, digestive and endocrine conditions.
However, after discovering conventional nutrition therapies would not provide me a way out of the life destined to long-term pharmaceutical use (and negative side-effects), I researched and pursued an education on more progressive nutrition principles. I am now a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine, a Foundational Member of the Bioindividual Nutrition Institute focused on the most progressive, evidence-based, and advanced therapeutic diets, and a member of the specialty practice group, Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM), whose core philosophy centers around a holistic, personalized approach to health and healing. On that initial journey, I also founded a national food company offering a product line of anti-inflammatory and organic foods. This provided me with a unique insight on the natural food industry.
I am a health contributor for Thrive Global and regularly consult for the media as a health and nutrition expert, being featured on CBS, Forbes, SELF, Women’s Health, People, Mind Body Green, New Beauty and more. My first book, Inflamed: Discover the root cause of inflammation and personalize a step-by-step plan to create a healthy, vibrant life, was released in June of 2016 and was selected by SELF Magazine as one of “7 Fascinating and Illuminating Health Books That Will Totally Open Your Eyes About Your Health.” I sit on the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization, Growing Great, whose mission is to empower every child to grow up healthy through science-based garden and nutrition education.
I have also spent over 15 years working alongside esteemed clinicians and institutions in research, product management and marketing in the healthcare technology industry bringing the evidence — and the advocacy — for innovative solutions to improve health outcomes including, implantable cardiac devices, integrated (“smart”) operating room suites, and specialty feeding devices for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Most recently, I am working with Crossover Health to completely change the game on on how healthcare is delivered by focusing on people, not payment models.
Seeing my RA symptoms resolve with diet and lifestyle alone — and not previously being aware of these principles despite my background in nutrition — lit a fire in me. A fire not only to heal myself, but to advance my education, and help others benefit from an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. I am angry at the lack of transparent, helpful information available, frustrated by subtleties and nuances that aim to confuse, and irritated by conflicting statistics and stories I read.
Now, I am compelled to share my story — and my education — so others can become their own advocates to clear the air, calm their symptoms, and thrive in their crazy, chaotic, beautiful lives again.