My mom and grandma raised me on real food. Thanks to our African and East Indian heritage, our home was always filled with simmering stews and soups, warm baked potatoes and okra, curried veggies and whole-grain rice, and tons of fresh, crunchy salads.
We always had vegetables and fruits growing in the backyard. We rarely ate meat. Processed junk food like macaroni, canned soda, potato chips, or sugary granola bars—this stuff just wasn’t part of our routine. I don’t think I ate a single bite of junk food until I was in my early teens. That’s when everything changed. The first and last time time my lips tasted Kraft Dinner was when I was twenty-nine-years-old—a ridiculous pregnancy craving that came back up just as fast as it went down. Clearly, my soon-to-be-born babe inside wasn’t impressed.
In high school, like many teenagers, I started working and earning a bit of my own money. I wish I could say that I spent my money on educational books, or that I donated my money to noble charities. Not exactly. I spent my money on Diet Coke, Mars bars, Big Macs, and dishes of gravy-smothered poutine. Immediately, my body reacted to these toxins. I developed intensely painful PMS symptoms and terrible, embarrassing acne. Of course, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is it because of what I’ve been eating?”
I stopped eating junk food and, just like magic, my bloating, cramps, and zits disappeared. That’s when I realized what my mom and grandma already knew—the food you put into your body has a direct impact on how you look and feel. This is common sense, of course. But sometimes, we have to experience it in order to believe it.
I graduated from high school, went to university, and pursued a career in environmental studies. Later, I went on to complete my master’s in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University. I specialized in researching toxicity in the air, water, and soil, and studying the link between pollution and chronic diseases, including cancer.