My name is Victoria Piemontese and as the Nutritional Coach here at Full Metal CrossFit I thought it would be appropriate to introduce myself and share a bit of my nutritional journey with all of you.
Nutrition and health are a very big passion of mine, although it hasn’t always been. As any child would, I loved processed food. My diet consisted of rice, potatoes, Nestle Quick Strawberry Syrup milk mix, Rice Krispies, popcorn, bagels, chocolate and anything dessert! This “great” diet of mine turned out to be not so good. At a very young age my parents where continuously told by my family doctor that I was not on the growth chart. I wasn’t growing at all, and it wasn’t until the age of 10 that I began to understand how it was affecting me. I was not growing and was told I wouldn’t make it to 5 feet by my doctor. (Jokes on him, I’m 5 2” 1/2). This is when I started seeing a dietitian. I had to try adding in new whole foods each week, record what I ate daily, and use measuring cups at a very young age to ensure I was eating appropriate portions. After months of this my nutrition and I started to get better. I was still eating many processed foods like frozen chicken ﬁngers with French fries and many desserts ﬁlled with sugar, but at least I was eating some sort of protein!
Flashing forward to age 16, life started to take a spin. I quit dance which I had been doing competitively since I was 8 and decided to start going to the gym and change my eating habits to stay “healthy and ﬁt”. The big thing was that I started to get really bad stomach pain where I would have to crawl up into the tightest ball on my couch, just waiting for the pain to go away. I was falling asleep in class at school, bloated to the point where I looked pregnant, couldn’t ﬁt in my school uniform and was scared to eat. After a visit to the doctor we came up with some conclusions.
- We realized I hadn’t gone to the washroom for 3 months! I was put on every medication to try to get things moving and clear my system of the toxins, which had built up in my body. Unfortunately, this was formulated by my not so great choice of eating a low carb diet that I thought would help me keep my dancer body after I quit… not the brightest idea by 16-year-old me.
- I had my ﬁrst visit to a gastroenterologist and we realized that I couldn’t stay on medication forever because my digestion system would rely on it. I had now been using multiple laxative medications for almost 2 years.
- I decided it was time to see a dietitian for the second time.
I was put on the Low FODMAP diet which is an elimination diet removing High FODMAP foods such as beans, legumes, gassy fruits or vegetables, sugar and highly processed foods, gluten, and lactose. The elimination happens in stages, eliminating one thing at a time to see what would cause gas, bloating, constipation or any other types of symptoms or discomfort. I was now again recording my food in a food log and using measuring cups for food portioning all over again. I could only eat 1/2 cup of fruit at a time, had to add in grains to every meal, only eat certain foods, and track how each food made me feel. This started to give me a negative relationship to food having to be so strict, careful, measure and scared that one thing or too much of something would make me feel sick. The good thing about this diet was that I realized that gluten really seemed to bother me the most. So simple, I’ll just eat gluten free and I’ll feel better! Well, that worked for a little while.A few years later it all happened again but much worse. I was sick, constipated, bloated and in extreme pain. I felt like I was going to pass out. I would fall asleep during the day and have a hard time concentrating. I even went to the emergency a few times because I just couldn’t handle the pain and wanted it to stop. It took yet another visit to the doctor and he ﬁnally allowed me to get tested for both a gluten allergy and Celiac Disease. This test would be able to determine if I was actually allergic to gluten, or have a sensitivity to gluten, or have Celiac Disease. To take this blood test and have accurate results, I had to have gluten in my system and a lot of it. Since I was eating a gluten free diet, I had to eat enough gluten equivalent to 8 slices of bread a day for two weeks before I was able to take this test. I had to force myself to eat and feel sick from gluten. A couple weeks after having this test done, the results came back and I was Celiac, no wonder I was having all of these symptoms!
For those that don’t know what Celiac Disease is, here is a quick summary. “Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disorder. The immune system mistakenly targets ‘friends,’ like foods or even healthy organs and tissue. When a person has celiac disease, the body’s immune system overreacts in response to gluten, damaging the small intestine and reducing its ability to absorb nutrients.” Resulting in a gluten free diet for life.
I was now told to eat a 100% gluten free diet. This turned my whole life around as well as my family, friends, lifestyle and social life. With the help of my mom I had to buy new utensils, pots, pans and a toaster. Reorganizing, sanitizing, and removing as much gluten from the kitchen in my house as possible for it to be a safe environment for me to prepare, cook and eat food in. Even a small crumb or accidental touch of gluten will make me feel sick. I even did a celery juice cleanse to supposedly “heal” my gut…yeah that didn’t work and was just a big fad diet. But things were going well, until I got a call from the doctor. I had to conﬁrm my celiac blood test with a stomach biopsy. I had already changed back to a gluten free diet and started to heal and now I needed gluten in my system once again for them to be able to see the damage it had caused to my stomach. I forced myself to eat gluten everyday until my test. Sick and in pain for almost two weeks. When I was ﬁnally tested for the second time and it came back positive, it was over. This was the biggest relief of my life. I would start to feel good and like myself again. And I can now say happily that I do.
This whole journey created an unhealthy relationship with food for me. Constantly thinking about food all day and night. Thinking about how much to eat or about what I ate. Wondering if it would upset my stomach, make me feel sick or bloated. Guilt for eating something bad, or too much food and then feeling too full and sick. Knowing for sure if something is 100% gluten free and safe for me to eat. This is something I still now struggle with and am learning to change. I now know it’s okay to eat a cupcake in the middle of the day instead of an apple sometimes. Or that if I want to eat something sometimes to just do it, and not overthink it. There is such a big connection between our three brains, one in our head, one in our gut and one in our heart, and they all contribute to our bio-psychosocial health, which I have experienced ﬁrst hand.
When Dennis asked me to become the Nutritional Coach here at FMCF I couldn’t have been happier. This Box and everyone in it mean so much to me, I can’t wait to give something back. I could not have gotten through all of this without coming here and the support of everyone around me. I have now completed my Precision Nutrition Certiﬁcation and am ready for some action. “This course is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It has now given me the knowledge, systems, and tools I need to really understand how nutrition inﬂuences a person’s health and ﬁtness. Plus, the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice”.
This is why I want to be a Nutritional Coach; I want to help people feel good and back to themselves. I want to help change the way people think about food and teach them how to Eat to Live.