Jen Wright joined our team this year and has an amazing story as to why and how she became a nutritionist. She specializes in families and children and has a bunch of great recipes, some of which can be found here!
How did I get here?
I didn’t graduate from college at 20 with the dreams of becoming a nutritionist. In fact I didn’t even know that existed. I graduated from college with a diploma in Early Childhood Education with the intent of going on to become a teacher, but life happened. I got a summer job at a municipal child care centre, working with children and I loved it! So instead of going back to school I stayed….for 13 years actually. I had a full-time job, with benefits, vacation and suddenly a husband, 3 children in four years and a dog. For a very short period of time I even drove a minivan!! What more could you ask for? Things were going well, I was managing, juggling everyone’s schedules and life. Some days were better than others.
When my oldest was 3 or 4, I noticed she didn’t handle sugar very well. She would get a little hyper (more than most kids) and often quite angry after consuming it. So we didn’t do sugary snacks or candy all that often. I had fixed things and the world was good again. But later that year she started school, and sports and birthday parties. So even though we didn’t eat much at home, the world seems to think children require a treat for EVERYTHING!! All of a sudden the behaviour got worse. So I started documenting when the flare-ups happened. Oct, Dec, April, and July. Can you see a pattern? This is when we bombard children with treats and parties. Halloween, Christmas, Easter and summer vacation. Co-incidentally it is also when children loose the normal routine of life and are on holidays and up late.
Fast forward a year…She also suffered from constant ear infections and her ear drum would often burst, and she had 90 percent hearing loss in one ear. Needless to say they like to prescribe antibiotics for this, on top of that they are usually a bright pink liquid! That July, she had 4 ear infections back-to-back with antibiotics. This was the where the world came crashing down, she would fly off the handle in anger, crave the medicine, stopped sleeping (at all) would scream and cry. We were exhausted and the doctor’s answer was “it’s a phase, she’ll outgrow it”. Well I had heard this for almost 2 years now, and we were at our breaking point! My sweet, little 6 year old was breaking. She was in so much pain inside her body and no one knew why! So being a type A personality and a Mom, I went on a search to FIX IT! So I googled it…Many different searches, many hours, why not, I was up anyways. The one thing that kept popping up in my searches was the effects of food colouring in children. It was all there!
• Mood swings
• Unexplained anxiety
• Inability to sleep
Perfect! Now how do I fix this? I found this diet called Feingold, it is based out of the United States. But at this point who cares. The overall concept of this diet was to remove all foods and drink with food colouring and preservatives from your diet. At the same time I found this diet, I also found a doctor to listen. She, at 6 years old and 35 pounds was diagnosed with depression! Of course the solution I was given was to put her on a low dose of Prozac!! WHAT?!! Clearly she wasn’t listening when I explained the reactions I got with antibiotics or any type of over the counter medications. I was not under any circumstances putting this little child on medication for life! The list of side effects was crazy. This is when the light came back into our world. That afternoon I ordered the package from Feingold against doctor’s advice. My thought was removing chemicals from her food could not possibly hurt her. Prozac??? I think not!
Online it gave you the basics, so that night I attacked my cupboards with a garbage bag and threw out anything that had colour in it! I might have looked a bit crazy, it was a lot of money being throw out, but remember I hadn’t slept in weeks. I could have given it away, but in my mind that day it was poison! I wasn’t letting anyone consume it. So for 3 days we ate plain pasta, and meat and veggies and water. Waiting for the package to arrive in the mail. This was the day our lives changed, after 48 hours of no chemicals, my little girl fell asleep, and the next morning woke up smiling!
This was not an easy road at the beginning because we live in a world of convenience. Juice boxes, granola bars everything is pre-packaged. So now I am making everything from scratch. Sounds easy, but I still work full-time, have three kids who have extra-curricular activities. I was now spending my weekends baking, and organizing. I was often saying to my kids, “No I can’t play with you, I have stuff to do”. So my daughter is getting better, but I am starting to burn out! We stayed this way for two and a half years. I went a little crazy, as all mom’s do, trying to be perfect! In the end I had to quit my job, I wasn’t helping anyone. I was too stressed out to enjoy my family. This was the second major ah-ha moment in my life. Money and a Job isn’t everything if you can’t enjoy it. So we re-balanced our lifestyle and I was home. Everything became wonderful again. My children were happier, and healthy again. Never again have we had an ear infection, she has recovered all her hearing back now and very rarely are we sick. During the early years, my kids were so sick, they caught everything, pneumonia, chest infections, strep throat you name it we had it and usually more than once. I joke that I paid for hospital repairs in the parking fees I paid over those first 5 years.
So after 2 years of being at home, I started to go crazy again. Did I mention I am a type A personality? I wanted to help others while being mom too. I knew there were other moms out there that could help rebalance their lives. I also knew I needed a change from my previous career. In September of 2013, at 35 I had enrolled in school at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition! Nutrition had become my passion and I was excited to learn more, and possibly help others.