I'm Heather Borders, a Culinary Dietitian with a private practice in Northeast Florida! My career path didn't start out in nutrition. In fact, I like to say that I'm a recovering engineer; in a past life, I worked for NASA training astronauts & then as a Product Manager for a large medical device company. I love all things Auburn, space exploration, & am addicted to the thought of #vanlife (google it).
Well, it's really my husband's story.
Even though my career has taken several twists & turns, I knew that a career in nutrition was my calling once my husband & I were able to dramatically lower his cholesterol by making a dietary lifestyle change toward eating more plant-based foods. Six weeks after making the dietary switch, with no exercise component, my husband's cholesterol dropped from 311 to 230.
His triglycerides dropped from 305 to 105. He also dropped about 15 pounds. We weren't sure what we had stumbled upon or what changes would stick, but it was obvious that making an effort to deliberately add in fruits, vegetables, beans, & whole grains resulted in a dramatic decrease in cholesterol.
A few things worth noting:
We didn't eat out but a few times over the course of the six weeks either. While we love supporting our local restaurants, we do so sparingly. No matter how benign the dish may seem, there is no way to know how much fat, sugar, & salt is included in the food. We have 21 meals in a week & most people are eating at least half of their meals outside the home. As a Registered Dietitian, it appears that meaningful changes to health don't start to appear once people keep eating out to 5 meals or less per week.
My cholesterol was 233 to begin. After six weeks it only dropped 10 points. It ended up taking at least a year & a half before it moved down to about 150-170 on a consistent basis. This is proof that all bodies are different & will move at their own pace. It also makes a case for being patient & trusting the process.
My husband was mostly plant-based for 9 years & it really confused me that his cholesterol bounced around 210-260. It's a great improvement & his inflammatory markers were even in line, but we just couldn't wrap our heads around why it was stuck in the 200's. In January 2021, he decided to ditch alcohol. He would probably average 2 beers each night, but sometimes he'd drink none. After 5 weeks of no alcohol, he tested his cholesterol again & it was... 179. Gasp. Even as a Registered Dietitian I'm in awe that alcohol had that much of an effect on his cholesterol.
Dietary Change Led to Career Change
After the personal experience of learning a new way to cook & seeing the results, I knew I wanted a life that supported others on their own health journey. I knew that cooking had to be more than just part of the conversation. So I decided to begin teaching cooking classes, showing people how to take simple ingredients and put together dishes that didn't take much time & tasted amazing. I decided to go back to school & become a Registered Dietitian.
Everyone deserves to live out their potential, feel amazing, & be able to taste life. It's a privilege to be invited to be a part of someone else's health journey. My goal is to provide resources & supportive accountability that bring people closer to achieving their health goals & optimal life.
I hope that our paths will cross one day soon in one way or another!