I was always fascinated with how the human body works, from movement and physical mechanisms, to the synergy between all organs and connection to the brain. Isn’t it crazy how certain bowel discomforts can cause lower back issues, which can then create muscle spasms and pinched nerves that result into inexplicable knee pain? And there you are, thinking there’s something wrong with your knee. Having experienced years and years of terrible cramps, bloating and all sorts of digestive issues, I had to dig deep to figure out what was wrong with me as every doctor I went to gave me a different diagnosis and possible treatment.  And that’s where my journey to becoming a nutritionist really began.

I was coming back from yet another doctor’s appointment, having been poked and probed with God knows which number of pins & needles that month, waiting to have my samples sent to the UK for some sort of ‘new testing’ (I was born and raised in Croatia, so that is where I did all my procedures). I was sick and tired of going through the same thing over and over again for almost two years, just to be told how nobody knew exactly what was wrong with me and that I should go in for more testing. I decided to go forward with an endoscopy and have them take a biopsy of my gut.

And finally, after another waiting period, I was diagnosed with celiac disease and an overgrowth of candida yeast in my stomach & intestines. The news were actually a freakin relief! I FINALLY knew what was causing all the excruciating symptoms and now I could go & deal with it! The only problem was, my body was so inflamed and infected, everything I ate was causing a reaction. From carrots and zucchinis to egg whites and tuna. Once again, every doctor had a different idea on what I should be eating and taking to help me heal.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease which causes damage on the villi in the small intestine when a protein called gluten is ingested. Gluten is a general name for certain types of protein found in a variety of foods such as wheat, rye, barley, kamut, etc…and it is the reason why those certain foods hold their shape as it acts as a sort of glue to hold the particles together. The biggest problem today is the fact that gluten can be found in so many different products as it is a great conservans as well (dried cured meat, soy sauce, corn tortillas, dressings, blue cheese, soups).

The disease doesn’t have a real, permanent cure, other than managing it by enforcing a 100% gluten free diet for the rest of your life. As with every autoimmune disease, it can retract a bit over time as you work hard on lowering inflammation & healing your gut with good bacteria. That doesn’t mean you can start eating gluten again, but it does mean you are as close to healing as a celiac person can get.

That’s why I started researching, exploring, testing, experimenting on myself to see which foods work & which don’t. I started with getting rid of my candida overgrowth by removing all types of sugar in my diet, including all fruit & starchy carbs. Candida feeds off of simple carbohydrates, so I kept my diet full of leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fermented foods, and loads of white fish. I also started supplementing with Omegas, Vit D, Probiotics & Spirulina, upping my antioxidant intake & fighting off the bad bacteria by replenishing my gut with good bacteria.

I didn’t have any real, textbook knowledge about any of this, other than my own research & experimenting. After 8 months of staying strict with my protocols, I was happy to report I got rid of the very persistent candida! That was the moment when I realized I wanted to dive even deeper into the field of nutrition and potentially help others going through the same struggles as I have.

After browsing through several different schools, I settled on enrolling into the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), which also offered online courses (as I was living in Spain at the time). I read a bunch of amazing reviews and learned how my diploma was actually going to be widely recognized, enabling me to work from any part of the world. I was really eager to get started and gain more knowledge.

The whole experience was really amazing and it completely changed my life. I learned so much about not only food, nutrients and products, but also the emotional and psychological aspect of our lifestyle and how it can impact our hormones & overall health. Did you know that everyday stress & lack of sleep can be even worse than eating a ton of Reese’s and hamburgers every day? Neither did I, but after going through the 1-year-long course, I completely changed the way I think of the word “diet” and its definition.

I also learned how everybody is different, and responds to all kinds of influential factors in a completely different way. No diet or lifestyle is the same, and something that works for me, doesn’t necessarily mean it would for you too! That is the approach I’ve been implementing when coaching my clients today, and I always make sure to treat each and every person as a completely different individual, taking account not only what they are eating, but also everything else in their lives – from their personal relationships & job surroundings, to sleeping habits and exercise patterns.

So, there you have it, a perfect proof how everything happens for a reason! If I hadn’t been through all the crazy testings, I would have never thought of focusing more on myself and experimenting, and therefore, I would have probably never even thought of turning this into a career and adding it to my Yoga teacher certificate and Master’s in Law Diploma. Let this be a reminder to you that life can surprise you in every second of any given day 🙂

If IIN sounds interesting to you, feel free to check out their sample class , find out everything that’s included, and apply to take their next available course date! I promise you, you will not regret it!

XOX, Karla Tafra

Yoga 💕 Nutrition 💕Fitness

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