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My Story

From donut-munching stress monkey to Mediterranean Diet nutritionist — I’ve come a long way!

Fifteen years ago I was a health disaster waiting to happen: Working in windowless offices and stressful jobs — first in investment banking, then financial journalism — I rarely exercised, and sugar, coffee and adrenaline were my primary fuel sources.

I was plagued by chronic sinus infections, skin problems, excess weight, exhaustion and an immune system that was so weak that I caught every bug that came my way. Doctors prescribed antibiotics, cortisone creams, nasal decongestants and antacids, but the root causes of my ill health remained a mystery. I never made the connection between my lifestyle and my poor health, and presumed I simply had a “fragile disposition.”

My wake-up call came when a routine smear test revealed early-stage cancer of the cervix. Aged 33 with a three-year-old child, I knew it was time to make some changes. I consulted a nutritionally oriented doctor, Dr. John Briffa, and with his help I took my health into my own hands for the first time in my life.

Very soon I began to notice improvements in my overall health – more energy and fewer sugar cravings, clearer skin, weight loss, and no more infections! So impressed was I by the powerful effects of my dietary changes that I decided to leave journalism and train as a nutritionist.

After years of eating mostly convenience foods, I also decided to start preparing my own meals. As I overcame my fear of cooking I discovered that preparing healthy, tasty meals from scratch was far easier, less time-consuming and more enjoyable than I had imagined.

Moving to southern France in 2001 fanned the flames of my growing culinary interest; it was during the 11 years I spent living and eating among the French — and cooking with some exceptional French chefs — that I came to know and love the Mediterranean Diet.

I now live in Boulder, Colorado with my family and have found that it’s quite possible to live like a Mediterranean, even with Italy, Spain, Greece and southern France far, far away.

Professional experience and training
Since graduating from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (London, UK) in 2000 I have worked in private practice, advising adults and children on nutrition and health. I am also a registered Foresight practitioner supporting couples with fertility problems.

I am a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology and the nutrition expert at Integrative Oncology Essentials, a web-based information resource for people affected by cancer. I also write a blog at PsychologyToday.com called Nourish.

Prior to becoming a nutritionist I obtained a B.S. in Government and History from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Certificate in Counseling from Birkbeck College, London University. I am trilingual in English, French and German.

Conner Middelmann