This is a pretty great question, I think: What is nutrition counseling? I’d never heard of it before, but at the urging of one of my former co-workers, I met Certified Integrative Nutrition Counselor & Educator Venessa Rodriguez last night for tea.
I’m pretty open to alternative therapies when it comes to health, wellness and eating disorder recovery, but I didn’t know what to expect from this initial conversation. You can pretty much throw me into any movement therapy class or art therapy class or cognitive behavioral therapy practice, and I’ll go at it full force. Especially when I can’t afford to go through insurance companies to maintain my recovery. I’ll take yoga or try breathing exercises or positive self talk – anything to rid my brain of the constant torment over food and exercise that exists even after someone is recovered from ED.
When Venessa walked in the room, I instantly noticed that her hair was healthy, her skin was clear and her energy was bright and open. This is kind of what you want to see when you’re meeting with someone who is going to help you with your lifestyle and diet. After introductory chatter, I asked Venessa what inspired her to pursue this kind of career. She explained to me that after helping her mother through her battle with Stage IV breast cancer in 2005, she saw the benefits of good nutrition and the power of using food as medicine. I was so moved by her life experience, and I also just wished that I had gotten this message (and been able to retain it) when I was a teenager. I lost so much time dealing with my ED, and I grieve that every day.
I’ll be going through a 30-minute consultation with her soon and will report back, but basically 10 years of anorexia and bulimia totally wrecked my digestive system, and I’ve been dealing with acid reflux to the point that I can’t eat anything without extreme pain. Then I don’t want to exercise. Then I feel worse. Then I eat again. Then more pain. And the cycle continues.
These are the things that people don’t tell you when you’re 14 years old and newly anorexic. That you’ll live with the consequences when you’re a married professional and you’re actually trying to enjoy food again.
Venessa and I talked about how common it is for your relationship with food to be a direct result of parents’ relationships with food, and how attitudes and preferences are passed down for generations and generations. We’ll be working to edit my diet, while keeping in mind that anything restrictive is a big trigger for eating disorder patients. Her focus is the quality of the food, not the quantity. My focus in this effort is not weight loss and will never be weight loss. I just want to feel good again.
She also spoke about the idea of gratitude when you eat. Gratitude for the food that you have been given and for what it is going to do for your health and your energy. I think that is something I’ve been searching for my entire life. When I watch my husband eat something delicious and his eyes roll back in his head and he has that come-to-Jesus moment, I’m jealous of that joy he experiences. I’m hoping Venessa can help me find that joy that I lost when I was so young. I’m hopeful. I’ll always be hopeful that I’ll love food again.
Click here to read more about Venessa and her company Unveiled Wellness.
Tags: anorexia, bulimia, Chicago, digestion, eating disorder, eating disorder recovery, ED, ED recovery, food, health, nutrition, nutrition counseling, nutrition counselor, Unveiled Wellness, Venessa Rodriguez, wellness