We were looking for people who have transformed their lives for the better, making healthier choices along the way. The goal was to find someone who inspired us, and inspiring doesn't even begin to describe our winner, Erin.
Erin is a bright, beautiful and amazing 16 year old woman who, two years ago, was diagnosed with dysautonomia. Her mother nominated her, and had this to say about Erin's condition, "This illness affects the autonomic nervous system which controls such basic functions as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, sweat, pain and digestion regulation. She went from being involved in multiple competitive sports to being unable to exercise or climb stairs at school and required part time enrollment the past year and a half."
Erin started having digestive problems, then she would lose concentration and before long could not even walk up stairs. Being a swimmer, soccer play and getting ready for basketball tryouts, these symptoms were not only frustrating but scary. Thankfully it didn't take doctors long to recognize what was challenging her.
Upon learning what she was faced with, Erin took on her condition head on. She was NOT going to let it stop her. Her mother, Jackie, told me that through it all Erin never once complained, never once let it get her down. Erin was put through a series of tests and given medications that would make her sick and was told that many of the foods she loved she could no longer eat.
When talking to Erin, she told me that she took those lists of foods very seriously. She was very strict with her diet, she truly viewed the new foods she was allowed to eat as her prescription - "food as medicine." She not only began experimenting with new foods, but she gained a new passion for helping people. Erin recently completed training, coursework and certification to become a therapeutic nutritional counselor and holistic health practitioner....at 16!
Erin has found a new love - sharing her story and helping people learn to love healthy food. I was so proud to join Erin, her family and friends for a lovely evening, learning about healthy cooking and fabulous conversation. Erin and I started the evening as strangers, but I'd like to think we left as friends. I left feeling energized and inspired by her story, her incredible drive and love of life. Erin feels that this happened to help her get to this point, a point where she has a path and future making the world a better place. I have no doubt she will do amazing things! I'm proud to have met her and thrilled that she was our first ever Healthy for the Holidays contest winner.
Stay tuned for the next blog post where I'll share the polenta recipe (I'll be making it again this weekend for another event!)