I’ve been connected with Marisa of @theholisticseedling for a while now on Instagram. I’m always inspired by her recipes and impressed with her depth of knowledge about candida. She has a new e-book out this month that I’m excited to dig in to read. I’m thrilled to feature her in the Candida Stories series this month!
1. Can you tell me a bit about your health journey and the symptoms you experienced?
I started experiencing digestive issues about halfway through my first year of University. I developed flatulence, extreme bloating, and cramping after eating, as well as, the absence of a bowel movement for longer than 4 or 5 days. I started to put on a lot of weight and my cognitive function started to decline. I had difficulties concentrating and I couldn’t sit still or focus on one task without reading the page over and over again. I just wasn’t able to absorb anything I was trying to learn. I started to experience severe anxiety, mainly excessive worrying, which made my digestion issues much worse. I never had bowel movements unless I took something to help me go, fiber supplements didn’t do anything for me. I also regularly suffered from frequent colds and sinus infections.
Throughout my studies at the University of Calgary I spent the majority of my days in the medical clinic. I went to every health practitioner you could think of, which ranged from doctors, dieticians, gastroenterologists, etc. I went to emergency several times because the pain in my tummy was so severe, I truly thought my appendix had burst. Every time tests were run, I was always given the same answer “All of the tests came back negative, it appears you are in good health and that this is just your IBS flaring up.” I would leave each visit in tears. I couldn’t understand how I could be in so much pain and there wasn’t truly anything wrong with my digestion. I was told that if I tried the low fodmap diet, increased my fiber and water intake, and took stool softeners when I needed to that I would be fine. However, I was not fine, and my health started to decline even further.
In my last year of University, I couldn’t play hockey, I was so sick I almost couldn’t finish school. I would go to class, then come home to lay in my bed with a heating pad because my belly was permanently bloated. I could barely eat anything without getting a reaction, which led to severe food anxiety. I became super malnourished and skinny. I didn’t get the help I needed until I sought out a Naturopathic doctor in my hometown. He performed a live blood analysis test on me. The test showed that I had a leaky intestinal tract and severe candida, fungus, mold, and parasitic overgrowths in my GI tract. My red blood cells were all clumped together, which meant I had very poor circulation. I also had symptoms of a fatty liver and my immune system wasn’t functioning optimally at all. I was told to reduce certain foods and take specific supplements for about 6 – 8 months. This was extremely hard to do on my own when I went back to school. I struggled to maintain this diet without any support and I never truly got rid of the overgrowth on my own, it came back about a year later.
2. What was your personal catalyst for change? What was the tipping point?
The tipping point for me was rooted in the lack of support I received from the medical system. The medical system made me feel like a hypochondriac, as if no one truly believed how much I was suffering inside. I knew that there must have been something going on inside of me because something just didn’t feel right. I just didn’t understand why no one was able to help me get to the root of my IBS diagnosis. I was so tired of spending all of my days at the doctor’s office. I hated having to miss out on going out with my friends and playing sports. The fear of getting a flare up took over my life. I eventually got to a point where I was willing to do whatever it took to get better, even if I had to do it myself.
3. How did you eventually heal & what do you do to keep yourself healthy these days?
I became so invested in doing my own research about nutrition and gut health that it soon became a passion. I decided to take a leap of faith and follow this passion, so I enrolled in the Natural Nutrition Program at CSNN where I obtained a diploma in Natural Nutrition. I learned how to address my body system imbalances in a natural, holistic way, which truly changed my life. I still had leaky gut and candida overgrowth while I was in school, but I had the support of my Naturopath, teachers, and fellow classmates at this time. I learned that in order to overcome such health concerns, I had to do more than just follow a diet for several months. I learned that the candida diet is more than just a diet, it requires a complete, sustainable lifestyle change. The diet just kick starts a new health journey, which seemed incredibly daunting at first. However, it is possible with the right amount of support and people in your corner. I am beyond grateful that my IBS is now manageable and that I am free from candida overgrowth. I still love to do the cleanse yearly as I feel so good afterwards.
I used to keep a food journal, which helped me figure out what food culprits were causing my IBS flare ups. I took this list to my Naturopath and all of the foods I suspected came up on this food sensitivity test. I omitted these foods for several years while on my new gut healing journey. However, over the years I found that my flare ups were a result of not just what I was eating, but also due to an imbalance within my nervous system. I started seeing a therapist who brought to my attention that due to the trauma I experienced in my past, my nervous system felt more comfortable living in the sympathetic state (fight or flight response) and that this was truly the root cause for my digestion issues. My healing journey included cognitive behavioural therapy which helped me reframe my thoughts so that I could overcome the constant triggers in my life that were throwing me into a state of survival. I still struggle with this to this day. However, I have learned tools to help me manage my IBS triggers. I practice gratitude, diaphragmatic breathing, journaling, walking in nature, and spending time doing things that feed my soul.
My healing journey has not been linear, it has consisted of many ups and downs, steps forwards and then far backwards. I now use many tools to help manage my stress and anxiety, which helps me overcome my flare ups. I know which foods to stay away from when I am stressed. I also found a supplement regime that compliments my symptoms. I wouldn’t say I am ‘IBS free’, but it is definitely manageable now and doesn’t control my life anymore.
4. What’s the biggest lesson you learned in healing yourself?
The biggest lesson I learned throughout my healing journey is that it is extremely difficult to get better on your own. I found that finding the support I needed is what truly helped me get to where I am today. In order for true healing to take place, I learned how important it is to nourish all aspects of your being, which includes the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical realms. Changing your diet and lifestyle is the first step, but changing your mindset and adopting a spiritual practice is truly the heart and soul of a healing journey. The work that I did and continue to do through using positive affirmations made a very big impact on my mental health and digestion as a result.
5. How can someone learn more about you and your story/offerings?
You can learn more about me through my Instagram account, @theholisticseedling. Feel free to reach out to me through direct message if you ever have questions about candida. I also have a website www.holisticseedlingnutrition.com. My candida guide e-book guide just launched this month, which you can find out more about and purchase through my Instagram. The e-book contains everything you need to know about candida. Specifically, in regards to what candida is, how it is diagnosed, common symptoms, contributing factors that lead to an overgrowth, and other body system imbalances that can arise from an overgrowth of candida. I provide insight on how to eliminate candida and why certain symptoms on the cleanse pop up. It includes tons of candida friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinners, snacks, and treats as well.