“I don’t want to alarm you, but that rash is usually a sign of lupus.”
I didn’t know what lupus was, but suddenly the butterfly-shaped rash on my face gave me cause for concern. After undergoing tests from three different doctors, the results confirmed my physician’s fear: what I had thought was an allergic reaction to new makeup was actually a symptom of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease that was causing chronic inflammatory destruction to my skin, joints, and kidneys. The doctors told me that the cause is unknown, there is no cure, and I will likely be on dangerous medications for the rest of my (shortened) life. For a junior in college who hoped to go to law school and had never had any previous health problems, this news was difficult to swallow.
Following my diagnosis, I returned to Davidson to finish my junior year while taking medications that were ineffective at controlling my symptoms. Some online research pointed me toward a family physician based out of New Jersey who had reportedly put patients with autoimmune diseases into permanent remission by putting them on a strict plant-based, low-salt, no-sugar diet. The idea seemed crazy to me, but I decided to try it at my mother’s insistence. I completely overhauled my diet for what I thought would be a temporary trial run.
The benefits of my new diet were almost immediate. The rash on my face, which had been there for months, cleared up completely, and I was totally symptom-free in only two weeks. Additionally, my daily headaches disappeared, I slept better, and I no longer suffered from PMS each month. I suddenly wanted to know more about the connection between food and health and started reading everything I could on the topic.
After working one year at a law firm in Nashville and spending all of my free time reading about nutrition, I decided that a career in law was not for me. I finished out the year at the firm while taking night classes and preparing for basically doing three more years of undergrad classes to apply for a dietetic internship. It was going to be a lot of work, but I was excited that I had finally found my passion.
In the midst of completing my dietetic classes at Lipscomb University in Nashville, I reconnected with an old Davidson friend during a summer trip. During that week of spending time together, we realized that we were perfect for each other and decided to start a long-distance relationship, Nashville to Winston-Salem. A few months later I found myself applying to dietetic internships in North Carolina, and was placed at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. After starting my internship, David and I got married, bought a house, had a baby, and I passed the RD exam all within about 13 months.
Since the baby came earlier than we had planned (whoops!), I have decided to use my education by blogging for a while so I can stay home with her.
I also take on clients for one-on-one counseling as the opportunities arise and teach plant-based cooking classes at Southern Home and Kitchen here in Winston. Please check out the classes and sign up if you’re in the area — I’d love to see you there!
If you have any questions about my story, please do not hesitate to contact me!