How I became interested in the science of our food

Elizabeth Health Professional

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My name is Elizabeth Foley and I am a Ph.D. candidate at Florida State University studying Nutrition and Food Science. This may come as a surprise, especially since I’ve spent the last 4 years of my life learning about food and all of its nutritious (or not so nutritious) wonders, but I didn’t always care about nutrition. In fact, up until I was about 17 years old, I thought people who watched what they ate were wasting their time because all you really needed to do was exercise! I would find out, very soon, that my hypothesis was indeed false.

 

The summer of 2010, at 17 years old and about to start my senior year at a gifted high school, I sustained a significant head injury while riding an ATV in Greece. For about 6 months, I was dumb as a box of rocks. I also started to experience severe GI distress due to a food allergy I didn’t even know that I had. I went to physician after physician but no one could figure out what was wrong until eventually, I was barely eating anything because everything made my stomach hurt.

 

Soon, I started college at the University of Miami, took a leap of faith, and changed my major to Exercise Physiology. I was determined to figure out how the body worked so that I could fix whatever it was that was wrong with me. Unsurprisingly, it was my intro to nutrition class during my freshman year that would change my life. After about 1.5 years of neurology and gastroenterology appointments, it was actually one of my favorite college professors that figured out part of my problem. I was allergic to corn. The answer to the majority of my gastric symptoms was fairly simple: stop eating corn. But corn is in just about everything that is processed, and not being one to pay attention to nutrition, this information meant that I had to 1) watch what I ate and 2) change my entire diet. Suddenly, I could only eat fruits and vegetables, meat, and very few processed foods. That was also when I saw my brain start to heal in a way it previously hadn’t. A whole new world opened up to me.

 

My major taught me about nutrition and exercise myths, how to use exercise as medicine, and why nutrition plays a huge role in health at every stage of life. The better my diet got, the better my brain began to work; the better my brain worked, the more I wanted to know about my chosen subject. My university offered an accelerated master’s track, where students could take graduate-level courses along with undergraduate courses to receive their master’s degree in one year instead of two. Because I came into school with college credit, I managed to graduate with my bachelor’s in three years, and my masters in one.

 

Originally, my goal was to receive a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology, but my masters, which combined both exercise physiology and nutrition, was the catalyst that shifted my focus from exercise to nutrition. Because I have aging family members, it became my mission to understand how the aging process worked and how individuals could retain their quality of life as they age. My advising professor at FSU is an aging expert, and under him, I’ve participated in numerous clinical studies about aging populations and functional foods (foods with known medicinal benefits). I have seen and experienced firsthand the beneficial effects of even the smallest lifestyle changes, and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with you! 

 

Elizabeth Foley is an FSU Ph.D. Candidate in Nutrition and Food SciencePosts and blogs created by Elizabeth on the Wealth Meet Health community are for informational purposes only and are not meant to take the place of your relationship with a health professional. For personal health considerations, please consult a health professional directly.

3 Comments
12-05-53k

what a good article and information thank you for sharing 

joywaves

I hope you post more about nutrition for the aging-in-place elders. 

#cmgr

Hi @joywaves! Thanks for sharing with @Elizabeth what resources you're looking for more information on. Is there anything else you would like to see more of here? Always happy to hear feedback and so we make sure we're meeting your needs. Smiley Happy