Free food isn’t worth health issues

By McKenzie Oviatt | Broadcast Reporter

As a child, I remember driving past McDonald’s and asking my mom what the “M sign” meant. Fast food, processed goods and “kid food” were never allowed in the house. My parents were both college and later professional athletes who took their health seriously. As kids, my brother and I never noticed the difference between how we ate versus other kids our age. At birthday parties, I never found the cake or soda desirable because I wasn’t addicted to the flavor.

This lifestyle followed with me until I came to college. As an athlete on the Baylor softball team, I was introduced to the wide variety of Texan food. I tried authentic Texas barbecue, kolaches and sweet tea for the first time. Initially, I did not enjoy these foods, but I started to learn that if free food is offered, you take it. Living on a budget for the first time was a huge incentive to start appreciating all the free meals. It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that I noticed my health deteriorating.

It began with rashes that resembled eczema. I went to the doctor’s office multiple times, but they only offered creams that might alleviate the symptoms, but nothing cured the root cause. I lived with the eczema and when I went back home for the summer, my symptoms improved. My diet changed due to my mom’s homemade meals and living a healthy lifestyle. In the moment, I never thought my diet was correlated so strongly to my health conditions.

Flash forward to my sophomore year, I would wake up in the middle of the night with nausea and symptoms of food poisoning. For months on end, I would feel too sick to get out of bed. The eczema spread like wildfire. And after eight different doctor examinations, no one found the cure. I was diagnosed with multiple diseases and conditions I had never heard of before.

After listening to multiple podcasts and venturing through the WebMD pages, I decided to go back to the basics. I tried the Whole30 diet, cutting out all processed and sugar-laden foods. Those 30 days helped tremendously, but I still experienced a moderate amount of pain.

Looking for any cure, I sought out a natural pathologist who specializes in allergies. With palms sweating, I pulled out my wallet to pay for an expensive allergy test. It seemed like my bank account suffered as much as my body did as I tried to find the reason behind all the pain I experienced. Finally, the allergy test read that I was allergic to everything aside from four food families. These allergies included all genetically modified foods, processed foods and sugar as well as any inflammatory foods. Devastated, I called my mom questioning why this was happening to me. All the traditional Western doctors I saw denied that the reason behind my pain was what I put into my body. The denial of food as medicine or as a poison completely undermined their medical practice.

Eating a plant-based, whole foods clean diet for six months revolutionized my health. I have not had one stomach pain, cold, flu or grogginess since I changed my diet. I do not think food is the sole cure to all diseases, but I now firmly believe that any disease or health condition can be greatly alleviated with the best medicine — healthy food.

Mckenzie is a senior journalism major from Irvine, Calif.