Hannah Marie – Future RD

My passion for nutrition was sparked as a high school student. Throughout my life, I have struggled with my weight. I was unfit and unhealthy from a young age; a picky eater leading a sedentary lifestyle. Freshman year of high school, however, I decided to make a change.

I began exercising on a daily basis and altered my diet. I lost 40 pounds within a couple of months, but took drastic measures to do so. I engaged in unhealthy behaviors such as drastic calorie cutting and excessive exercise. My “quick fix” approach to weight loss developed into anorexia nervosa and exercise compulsion.

Malnourished and desperate, I sought the help of a Registered Dietitian who specialized in eating disorders. With self-determination and counseling from a Dietetic professional, I conquered my disorders. I now lead a truly healthy lifestyle, making balanced dietary choices and engaging in exercise as a form of therapy versus punishment.

Unfortunately, severe dietary restriction during the time of my disorders caused the formation of gallstones. Daily functioning became nearly impossible due to frequent gallbladder attacks. My gallbladder was surgically removed, permanently altering my digestive system. I developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome and eventually, acute fecal impaction.

The inability to digest food led to extended hospitalization and homeschooling. Numerous medical tests were conducted with displeasing results. Gastroenterologists explained that my GI tract was unlikely to regain normal functioning and that I would be laxative dependent for the rest of my life. I accepted this fate for years, enduring painful bloating and gastrointestinal distress every day.

My health drastically improved when I completed Rowan University’s Macronutrients course. Studying the profound effect food has on one’s health, I developed a strong interest in medical nutrition therapy. The course changed my perception of traditional healthcare and instilled in me a firm belief that food is medicine.

I ceased taking all stomach medications. In place of laxatives, I consumed the daily recommendation of fruits and vegetables and tracked my fiber intake. I experimented with different varieties of berries and leafy greens and began juicing. To my (and my gastroenterologist’s) complete surprise, my bowels regained full functioning and I now live a happier, healthier life free of unpleasant side effects and daily stomach pain. I have been medication-free since June 2017.

My nutrition education has transformed my life. I have learned that food is fuel, vital in supporting and maintaining one’s health. I aim to counsel others so that they, too, can improve their well-being via holistic measures. I intend to utilize my personal experience, knowledge of nutrition, and passion to help others in my practice as a Registered Dietitian.

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