Chelsea’s story (in her own words…)
I have struggled with food issues since before even my foggiest childhood memories were formed. As a five-year-old, I was routinely snacking on fast food as an after-dinner treat. By the age of 12, I was a women’s size 16. And in my senior year of high school, I hit my all-time high of 285 pounds and wore a size 24 dress to prom.
When I went off to college in the summer of 2006, a lot of things changed, but mainly my eating habits and my activity level. My diet now consisted of creative alternatives to what was available in the cafeteria, and I was for the first time in my life without a car. When I came home for Thanksgiving break in my freshman year, I stepped on a scale and learned that I had lost 10 pounds without even trying. I made a concentrated effort to keep that trend going, and by the end of my first year of school, I had lost 60 pounds!
A move to Chicago in my sophomore year made me lose another 40 pounds. And in the summer after my junior year, I was down to a healthy 160 pounds! I had a tummy tuck in June of 2009 and wore a bikini for the first time in my whole life. To this day, I can’t look at pictures from that vacation and not smile when I think of what it took to get to that point.
After that summer, I went back to college to finish up my degree. Pretty immediately I started having digestive issues that sent me to the bathroom in a panic every time I ate. By my 21st birthday, I was convinced that I should be seeing a doctor about my problems. I made the appointment, and in October 2009 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
My doctor put me on corticosteroids to control the extreme inflammation in my GI tract, and when it was no longer safe to take those, he switched me over to a long-term immunosuppressant that he described as “a cancer drug that you will be on for the rest of your life.”
“But I didn’t have cancer!” I thought to myself.
Things just didn’t add up for me. Regardless, I took the drugs he prescribed for a full 15 months, gained 30 pounds back in the process, and vowed that I would find another way to treat this problem. That’s when my love affair with kale began. As 2010 came to a close, I researched foods that help to boost the immune system, since that’s essentially what I was up against. I tailored my diet to include a rotation of these amazing foods, and once I was committed to this new lifestyle, I got off the drugs!
December 31, 2010 was the last day that a so-called cancer drug entered my body, and I’ve felt healthier every day since. You know, it’s amazing when you really think about a story like mine; food was once going to kill me, and now it’s saving my life.
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