How I became an online nutrition therapist
My name is Alexandra Friedhoff
I was not always that fit and vital! I have intensive years behind me, marked by illnesses that almost killed me twice. Today I am healthy, love my life as an online nutrition therapist and have great offers for you. Born in 1968 in North Rhine-Westphalia, I have been a Berliner by choice since 1999 and live in Berlin Frohnau. I’m happy to advise you there in person, not just online!
Growing old healthily – how does this work?
I never had role models for healthy ageing. My grandmothers and many great aunts grew very old at over 90; but their last years were marked by illness, pain and lots of medication. The men all died way too early.
My parents were not spared serious illnesses either. No one actively strengthened their own health, but relied exclusively on the advice of doctors and on tablets. Nutrition and the effects of meals were not discussed at home.
At least my father convinced me to exchange my beloved sugary lemon fizz for water
My childhood and youth: multiple illnesses and medication
As a child, I often suffered from bladder and tonsil infections and was given antibiotics. In addition, I had migraines from puberty onwards. I knew all the tips that were published to relieve headaches. I was annoyed by every piece of advice I got, because nothing worked for me. If you also suffer from migraines, I’m sure you feel the distress and despair of being at the mercy of these terrible pains over and over again. It’s only been in the last six years that I’ve felt significant relief, which I attribute to my lifestyle change (low carb diet, exercise, relaxation) and the fabulous FitLine supplements.
I was constantly taking antibiotics and using pain killers and triptans (a special headache medication for migraines) like candy. As beneficial as the invention of penicillin was to fight bacteria and disease, it was given inflationarly in the 80s and still is today. It is given so often that many (gut) bacteria became immune to it.
Little was known of all these effects of antibiotics on the intestinal flora at that time. Nor that probiotics (good gut bacteria) and prebiotics (the food of the good gut bacteria) regenerate the gut after taking antibiotics. A connection between the intestine and the brain (they are connected via the vagus nerve and communicate with each other) had not yet been established in medicine.
I had set a vicious circle in motion. I got a tonsillitis or bladder infection, took antibiotics, damaged the intestinal flora, weakened the immune system (which is located in the intestines) and got the next infection. No one considered strengthening my immune system. Nobody asked me what food I ate. Only the neurologist asked about common triggers like alcohol, chocolate or cheese.
In addition, I ate a lot of sweets, subsisting mainly on carbohydrates in the form of pasta, potatoes, bread, rice, and cakes. Sugar (which these carbohydrates are broken down into), as we know today, fuels inflammation in the body, weakens the body’s defences and contributes to the development of the next disease. I was never fat, but I wasn’t really slim either. More like a bit chubby. I loved Mc Donald’s and snack bars.
And then there was my “sporty grumpiness“, I hated exercise even at school. By the way, I also smoked until 1995. If someone told me that I would be working as an online nutrition therapist, I would have laughed.
Here I have listed all the illnesses I overcame and struggled with. Isn’t that amazing? All more or less self-inflicted through poor nutrition and weakening of my immune system! A good nutritionist could have given good tips for all the complaints!
Myocarditis – I should eat healthy – but how?
In 2010, I fell ill with myocarditis, caused by a cold I had caught – the classic! It started harmlessly with cardiac arrhythmia. I had these before and they were called “vegetative dystonia”.
In plain English, “I don’t know what you have, but physically everything is fine. Must be psychological.” Do you know this too? You’re put in the psycho corner just because the doctor can’t find a physical cause? I put it down to stress and ignored it. Until my alternative practitioner felt the disturbed heart rhythm and the extra systoles during a pulse diagnosis and sent me to the doctor.
For the first few weeks I stayed at home and was given lots of painkillers. The doctor had recommended to eat a healthy diet. As he was not a nutrition coach, it remained with this vague tip.
I lived alone and was very scared. I could not sleep at night, my irregular heartbeat kept me awake. The arrhythmias got steadily worse until I admitted myself to hospital.
At the peak of the arrhythmias, my heart cells, which were so out of line, were sclerosed by means of a heart catheter. I was lucky. My heart was beating regularly and I was discharged with a beta-blocker and an ACE inhibitor. The beta-blocker regulated my heartbeat but also made me tired. The cardiologist said I would have to take the tablets for life; I didn’t want to accept that and insisted on tapering them off.
My partner at that time, an athlete, was the perfect companion. He prescribed gentle endurance sports that stabilised my heart function. He taught me the connections between exercise and health and awakened my sincere interest in sports. I understood that regular exercise is not an option but a MUST for a healthy and powerful life.
My fitness improved, I got rid of the tablets, but I still didn’t feel really well. Migraines and bladder infections became more frequent. At the same time, I became more courageous again and looked for new challenges. I intensified my yoga practice, dared to go diving in Egypt and became a non-medical practitioner for psychotherapy.
The latter because I had suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks and depression for many years. The training gave me background knowledge to help others out of a similar situation.
My worst illness – Meningitis – but my will to live won
In 2016, I learned about the importance of microbiome (the bacterial population in the gut) and blood analysis for gut health and vitality and had both done. They showed major deficiencies. Before I could get rid of them, I was stricken with a middle ear infection. If only I had been given a box of all the antibiotics of the past – maybe the infection would have healed without consequence. Or maybe it wouldn’t. In any case, two doctors decided against antibiotics and advised me to wait and see. So within 36 hours, the middle ear infection developed into a severe bacterial meningitis.
After a nightmarish weekend, I was rushed to hospital at the last minute, underwent emergency surgery and was in a coma for several days. Vast amounts of intravenous medication saved my life. When I regained consciousness, I could not speak, read, write or walk unless accompanied.
I had memory gaps. Word-finding problems were part of my everyday life for a while. The medication caused severe side effects and after a week I lost hearing and balance in my left ear, which I accepted with strange equanimity. Since then I have been single-sidedly deaf.
After just one week, I was transferred to a rehabilitation clinic. It was a shock for me to see so many seriously ill people and my biggest worry was about my ability to work.
Would I be able to return to the office? Would I still be as capable as before? Would I eventually be able to hear in both ears again? Giving up was not an option for me. I owe a lot to the power of positive thinking – faith moves mountains.
All the skills like reading, writing and walking came back or I could train them with my tenacious will. I spent five weeks in the clinic and was well looked after. I owe a lot to the psychotherapist in particular. She always encouraged me when I was at my wits’ end and gave me great support.
The food in the rehab was okay, but not nearly what I understand by healthy eating. So I at least had my visitors bring me fresh berries and avocados and ordered protein powder and food supplements to the clinic.
Back to life and healthier eating habits
After five weeks I was discharged from the clinic and recovered at home. At first it was difficult. In the evenings, the experiences often caught up with me and I was afraid of the night. During the first six months, I was a monthly guest at my ENT doctor’s acute consultation.
At some point, I wanted to resume my sports program, despite all the balance problems. I knew that rest was not the answer. Fortunately, I had a treadmill on which I walked slowly on a regular basis.
In addition, I slowly started my yoga practice. I still noticed the surgery scar on my ear. I often had pain after exercising. All in all, it was a very strenuous time and I am proud of myself for having persevered. Despite the doctors’ predictions (“You will never be able to ride a bike again because of the balance disorder”), I have also been cycling again since spring 2020. Remember: you can get a diagnosis, but never trust a prognosis 🙂
You remember the blood and microbiome analysis I had done in early 2016 that revealed such catastrophic deficits? Both experts recommended a low-carb diet alongside supplementation with vitamins, minerals, pre- and probiotics and so I started to look into it more deeply.
A new world opened up for me that turned my nutrition knowledge upside down! I wanted to know everything about the influence of food on my body. Why is it not enough for a diabetic to just avoid sugar? Why do gut bacteria help with migraines? Why does it matter how the chickens whose eggs I eat were fed? Is meat really as bad as people say? Where does the fat phobia of many people come from?
Questions upon questions – besides, the more strictly I followed the recommendations, the better I felt from month to month. The best part: it wasn’t even hard for me, even though I was a “carbohydrate junkie”. That’s how I got into the low carb diet. The deeper I got into it, the more clearly I felt my desire to want to accompany people on their way to better nutritional practices and health.
Today: happy as an online nutrition therapist
I have a lot of confidence in myself again and have travelled to Bali and India. At first glance, I’m back to my old self. Of course I’m not. I don’t want to be. These two borderline experiences with death have changed me. Made me more humble. My parents gave me life, conventional medicine saved it twice. I will be eternally grateful for that.
But what really brought me to life was changing my lifestyle. This includes eliminating unhealthy carbohydrates from my diet, choosing healthy fats and proteins, regular exercise in the form of jogging, yoga and strength training, and various relaxation techniques. Especially important is the regular measurement of important blood values and the systematic replenishment of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
I didn’t know before that I could feel so vital and full of energy. I’ll never put that at risk again!
So I started advising friends and family and I’m sure I got on some people’s nerves with my know-how 🤣 I’ve been a bookworm since childhood and now I devour many non-fiction books and acquire the knowledge of nutrition therapists. I got stuck on the low carb diet. It tasted so good and I felt more vital than ever.
So it made sense to treat myself to further training at the LCHF Academy so that I could officially pass on this up-to-date knowledge.
This was my most important realisation, even if I had to jump off the scaffold twice and invest a lot of my life in illnesses:
Today I live FOR the strengthening of my health and yours.
I gladly pass this knowledge on to you from the bottom of my heart.
No matter how many diagnoses you have already received, no matter how many medications you are taking: as your nutrition therapist, I offer you my hand and accompany you a little. Together we will find out what has made you ill. You will learn from me why the right nutrition is the basis of your health. I love what I do! I am looking forward to guiding you on your way to a healthier future and if my offer appeals to you.
See you very soon – your online nutrition therapist Alexandra