The food that heals a life
By: Daniel Whittaker
Rampant allergies plagued me as a child, and they seemed to have no discernable cause and no end. They were the source of my greatest irritation and for my self-isolation from other children. In grade school I was continually felling the need to hide away from other kids and to avoid the company of others because of endless sneezing and a continual runny nose. I became a recluse. I withdrew and took to sitting still in cold places to read, which afforded me some measure of relief, though brief. My condition left me tired and irritable and after years of suffering, I decided something had to be done.
I was taken to a doctor who determined that I was allergic to all of the 50 items on the scratch test that I was administered. I was given antihistamines and decongestants and sent home. For one short week, I was symptom free. Suddenly, a wonderful new world opened up to me. I discovered that I was liked by the other kids and that during recess, there was a world of laughter and playing that terminated all too quickly. At the end of the week, my symptoms returned with a vengeance and I again withdrew to quiet, cold benches at the periphery of the school yard. Sadly, I quickly exhausted the medical options, as I was to find that medications had no lasting effect.
It was at this point that I took matters in to my own hands. I began reading health magazines and nutrition books in search of some cure for my malady. I learned that the reason medications did not work for long was that they were neither the cause, nor did they alleviate the cause of my symptoms. With further reading, I quickly came to learn that food contained both the ingredients to make sensitivities and allergies worse as well as containing the ingredients to protect us from the very same conditions. As I read it, it was simply a matter of learning to include the proper foods and avoid inappropriate foods in the diet in order to enhance the body’s innate immunity and to realize relief.
I at once put myself on a diet of fresh, whole foods in order to allow my body to recover from whatever it was suffering from. I then started testing foods to identify those for which I had a reaction. A small list of foods was the result. I immediately stopped eating the foods on my sensitivity list and started increasing my intake of high nutrient foods. To my great pleasure and surprise, and for the first time in years, I was able to go days without sneezing, then weeks, then months, and now years.
This experience motivated me to see food in a whole new light. I have come to see our food choices as one of the primary determinants for bringing about better health. This childhood experience also had a dramatic effect in shaping my life path. I have become a fervent advocate of understanding and sharing the profound role that food has on our health. I have found an enduring passion for attaining and sharing an ever deepening understanding of the factors that can promote better health, which has since become a driving force in my life.
In order to learn more and be afforded the opportunity to share what I have learned with others, I took an apprentice position at a not for profit involved in food security and food education. I realized a strong desire to teach about food and health and have since returned to school to pursue higher education degrees so that I might have a greater influence in teaching about food and health.