My name is Jen Ruel, and I am a C.H.N.C. based in Calgary, Alberta. My story, and the path that brought me into this industry, is not tragic, or shocking, or really that interesting, to be honest. I hear variations of it all the time from the people that I meet, and the fact that it has become so "normalized" to feel this way is exactly why I know it is important to talk about.
In my mid-20's, I started to experience some frustrating digestive symptoms. Specifically, chronic heartburn, regular bloating, and an all-too-frequent queasy, nauseous, and overall unpleasant feeling in my stomach after meals. I was also suffering from what I assumed was food poisoning at least every couple of months, and antacids had literally become a new food group in my diet.
To make matters worse, the acid reflux would often appear as sharp pains in my chest. I felt paranoid, I was extremely anxious, and I had reached a point where I felt nervous every time I ate, as I was never sure of how I would feel afterwards.
I went through every test my doctor was willing to send me for... EKG, Upper Endoscopy, and an excessive amount of blood work. And throughout the entire process, I was made to feel as though I was imagining, or at least exaggerating, my symptoms.
After several months of being on an acid blocking medication, I finally had an appointment with a Gastrointestinal Specialist. I expressed to them that the medication wasn't helping, and the advice I received in return: take more of it. At that time, I knew nothing about the medication, or about what was going on with my body... but as someone who had been healthy my entire life, I found it really hard to believe that was my only option.
I finally decided that it was time to try something new, so I started doing some research into food sensitivities. Once I began working with a Naturopathic Doctor, I discovered that I was, in fact, reacting to many different foods. On top of that, I was also dealing with intestinal permeability, AKA "leaky gut". It felt so good to finally speak to someone who actually listened (instead of making me feel like I was crazy), and who finally gave me some answers.
I went through a specific protocol to narrow down the foods I needed to avoid for the time being, and I followed a plan to slowly repair the damage to my intestinal lining. I added some simple supplements into my daily routine, and I overhauled my old way of eating to include clean, good quality, whole foods... and I started to feel better.
I'm not going to lie and say that it was quick and easy. It was a long and sometimes difficult process, but it was completely worth it, as the changes were significant! My chronic heartburn disappeared completely, the unpleasant feeling in my stomach went away, and I have not suffered from food poisoning since. I also regained my confidence around food, and I was no longer afraid that everything would make me feel sick. I stopped feeling anxious and paranoid, which I didn't even realize was so closely related to the health of my gut. I eventually came to understand that I didn't know how bad I had really been feeling, until I felt good again.
Over time, I became intrigued by the idea of incorporating more of a holistic approach in all areas of my life, and my passion for proper nutrition and the power of whole foods really began to grow. I became obsessed with learning as much as I could so that I could feel even more of the benefits in my own life. Eventually, I realized that this wasn't something I just wanted to learn for myself, I wanted to help others feel the same way.
My next step was to complete the Natural Nutrition Diploma program at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Calgary, Alberta, where I graduated as a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™. Afterwards, I carried on to complete the Professional Plant-Based Certification course through Rouxbe culinary school.
I now work with my clients to help them through the same struggles that I went through, in the way that is best for them. Digestive concerns and multiple food sensitivities are unbelievably common in our modern world, but most of us require guidance and support in order to move away from them.
My approach in my practice, and my beliefs overall, are quite simple.
...in the power of whole foods, which can be as delicious as they are beneficial. Good quality, local, and seasonal food that comes without labels is always the best choice.
...supplements can be a powerful way to supplement our diet, and they can be so helpful in supporting us through specific situations or concerns, both temporarily or long-term.
...there is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and anyone who claims that their diet is the best, is wrong. Not because their diet isn't beneficial, but because as individuals, we each require an individualized way of eating to feel our best. We are all unique... shouldn't we eat like it?
...food trends are simply trends. And fad diets are just fads. Healthy, not trendy, is the goal.
...being too restrictive can have negative side effects. A little wine can be good for the soul, and chocolate (done right) can sometimes be exactly what your body needs.
...the way that we think is just as important as the way that we eat.
And most importantly, I know that it is never too late to make a change. Small, sustainable, and consistent changes can equal huge benefits.
Many people know that they aren't feeling their best, but aren't sure how to change or where to start. I've been there, I get it, and now I'm here to help.