Nutritionally Sound in a Malnutritioned Body

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Lara Govendo
Father's Day Dinner

As people with CF, we are used to eating whatever we want. The message has always been to pack in as many calories as possible; it doesn’t matter what the source is. Want to pound tons of cookies, chips, and fast food? Go ahead! Don’t want to count the cost of eating junk food? You don’t have to! All that matters is gaining weight. Now that we’re living longer, the message needs to change.  We do need to think about the source of our calories. We do need to be conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies. We do need to pay attention to the ingredient list on the nutritional values.

The game is different now, and we need to adjust accordingly. Back in the day, I was only focused on gaining weight. Through college I would hit the late-night drive-thru with my friends. Burger King, Wendy’s, pizza – you name it. I ate it. I even made my friends snack packs of mini-Dorito bags filled with m&m’s for study nights. The goal was always to eat as much as possible; it was like a competition. We know that life with CF is different. People have been visibly jealous, vocally saying how they wish they could eat whatever they want and not gain weight. We also know it’s not that easy. 

Baked Chicken

On this side of my double lung transplant, my eating habits have changed. I can’t eat and eat and eat some more. I get nauseous easily. Sometimes my appetite is absent and eating becomes a chore. My body metabolizes food differently because I’m not burning all my calories fighting for every breath. I can only eat so much, I’m not a bottomless pit anymore. My health journey started prior to my transplant. In grad school I had a health coach that taught me about nutrition. I started reading labels and paying attention to the ingredient lists. My plate shifted to more whole foods and away from packaged toxins. The difference affected how I felt in a big way. My health journey over the years since has really opened my eyes to my relationship with food. I’ve had to change how I view eating and shift my habits accordingly. After linking up with my naturopath seven years ago, my perspective has shifted drastically. The first thing he asks me is what have you been eating? When we see food as medicine, we eat in a different way. We no longer operate out of satisfying our taste buds, it’s more about how will the food we’re putting in our bodies affect how we feel.  My naturopath tested me for food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities. I’m actually intolerant of gluten and potato. When I eat these, the level of inflammation in my body increases. Prior to my transplant, eating these foods would make me junkier and more mucus-filled. My breathing was always worse. After transplant, I have more GI symptoms when I don’t adhere to my diet needs.

Sometimes it’s hard to eat according to my diet because of our culture.  As a society, we gather around food. It connects us. Sticking to what’s best for my body isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. Dealing with the aftermath of eating food that causes inflammation, bloating, and distention feels terrible. And it takes time to recover. I’ve noticed that it also affects my mental health, making me more anxious and depressed. It’s wild how food really is information for every one of our cells. Being cognizant of what we are putting in our bodies is crucial when we are already dealing with health issues. Eating differently is a small price to pay for feeling better. Bringing our health back to the basics is essential for longevity. Learning about what’s in the food we’re eating is wisdom. Paying attention to eating more whole foods is a game changer. 

For me, there are so many pieces of my health that are beyond my control. Part of why I’ve revolutionized my diet is because that is one piece of the puzzle that is in my control. If I can reduce my inflammation, have more energy, and know my body is getting what it needs… that is a huge win in my book.

Going against the grain of western medicine that negates nutrition has saved my life. I’m grateful for the people that have been put in my path to radically change my life in ways I never knew before. Growing in this way has shaped my health on a daily basis. It has completely changed how I approach my mindset of how I view food. Holistic health is definitely the lifestyle to adapt. 10/10 recommend! 


 Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER-



Lara is 34 years young and resides in Vermont. She has Cystic Fibrosis and received a double lung transplant in August 2017. A beacon of light for the existence of miracles; Lara enjoys adventures, nature, and belly laughs with her loves. She believes Jesus walks and pants are the devil. Passionate about spreading encouragement, she always lends an ear to those in need.
Follow Lara’s blog on her website: or connect with her on Facebook & Instagram: Lungs4Lovey.







***Views expressed in the CFLF Blog are those of the bloggers themselves and not necessarily of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation*** 


***Please speak with your physician before making any changes to your CF management***


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