Dr. Kristen Mitteness
My Story: Because Everyone Has One
I told a more in depth version of my story on Kevin Bergen's podcast, The Main Ingredient. Check it out here!
I love meeting people who like food and evolutionary nutrition as much as me. I had an awesome opportunity to hear one man's story about how he reclaimed his health eating paleo. I freaking love those stories. And then he told me that no one would listen to what I had to say about nutrition because young and healthy people don't have a reason to change.
*Insert that horrendous reversing noise here*
Yes, I am very proud of being "young" and "healthy". I am so fortunate that my parents were those "weird" ones who decided we would stop eating gluten and drinking milk. I'm glad my gymnastics coach told us not to drink pop during season resulting in me deciding to stop drinking it forever when I was 12.
But, that doesn't mean I don't have a story. So, here is goes.
I've always been active. I started running track when I was 9 and absolutely loved it. I started gymnastics in kindergarten and continued until I was 16 with minimal success, but it kept me limber and taught me body awareness. I dabbled in basketball and softball, but pretty much sucked. We ate well, but not perfectly. On Thursdays when my dad worked late, we knew we were going to McDonald's.
Off to college I went where I ran track for Bemidji State University. And thank goodness I did, because an unlimited buffet for dinner most nights and Boon's Farm on the weekends resulted in a few extra pounds. And then I decided I need to go on birth control. Mostly for peace of mind, but also because I had never had a regular menstrual cycle EVER. I don't care what you think about Planned Parenthood, but I am forever grateful for their services. I decided to go with the NuvaRing. For the next 6 months I became a crazy person. I'm fairly certain I could have been diagnosed with a personality disorder. Turns out, it's called hormones. And way too many of us have to deal with this. I actually can't believe my boyfriend at the time didn't dump me sooner. So, I finally decided I couldn't put up with it and stopped using the hormonal birth control.
This resulted in no menstrual cycle for two years. Honestly, I wasn't too bummed about it. Dealing with a period every month sucks. I figured I was just too active. Then I was reminded that this probably is not a good thing. So, the testing began. Some people said my body fat was too low so I did underwater body fat testing. I was at 16%, which is low for a female, but normal for an athlete and not low enough to stop menstruating. Some people said I worked out too much so for six weeks I gave up all forms of working out except walking. I really missed going to the gym and didn't notice any changes, so I went back to the gym. I got my thyroid tested and my female hormones tested. Everything was "normal" except my testosterone which was one point too high. The doctor said I was fine. I told her I clearly was not. She told me to sleep with my window shades open so the moon cycle could help my body regulate itself. Now, I'm pretty open to alternative suggestions, but really?
Finally, my mom asked if I would be willing to see her naturopath. I agreed because at this point I really had nothing to lose. She immediately diagnosed me with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). She slightly altered my diet, suggested progesterone cream and gave me a few supplements to help support my ovaries and my detoxification pathways. Three weeks later, holy s!@#, my period arrived. If you don't know, PCOS is thought to affect nearly 10% of females in the US and Canada and is one of the most common causes of infertility in women today.
I played with taking myself off the supplements, but I ended up needing them for about a year before my body learned to fully regulate itself. As always, the healing process takes time. But, let me tell you, I've had a regular cycle for almost 8 years now. I've experienced first hand how dietary factors affect everything.
I know I'm prone to ovarian issues. My mother has cysts on her ovaries after she had my youngest sister. We all are prone to certain illnesses, but we have the ability to turn these genes on or off. I understand that, which is why I choose to eat as well as I can. It's why I choose to avoid processed foods, dairy, grains and sugars. Yes, I'm "young" and "healthy", but I know the ramifications of making unhealthy choices. I see illness around me all of the time. I don't want to be sick and have a poor quality of life for the last 10 or 20 years of my life. I want to feel well then drop dead fast. I want to give my future children the best fighting chance I can give them when 1 in 6 children is now being diagnosed with a development disability and our world is becoming dirtier and sicker every day. I want to provide this information and inspire as many of you as I can because I think we truly deserve to be healthy, we just don't always know how to get there.
My story has ups and downs and it always will. That's life. I'm enjoying the ride and I hope you do, too.