Root + Revel

The Story Behind Root + Revel and How I Healed My Body With Food

This is this story of my health issues (PCOS, leaky gut + hypothyroidism) and how I healed my body with food and natural lifestyle changes. | rootandrevel.com

Welcome to Root + Revel, a digital platform dedicated to living naturally without sacrifice. I’m Kate Kordsmeier, the founder of R+R, and I thought it apropos to kick things off here by telling you about myself, my health issues and the long journey that inspired me to create this site. You can read the About page for a simplified version, including R+R’s mantra, but the even shorter version goes like this: I healed my body with food! Here’s the full story:

This is this story of my health issues (PCOS, leaky gut + hypothyroidism) and how I healed my body with food and natural lifestyle changes. | rootandrevel.com

My Love Affair with Food

I feel like it’s important to start at the beginning. Before you click away thinking I’m some dirty hippie who doesn’t wear deodorant or some health nut who only eats kale, let me be clear: first and foremost, I am a food lover. I was lucky enough to have parents who refused to let me be a picky eater, who introduced me to new foods and flavors every day and a mother who cooked dinner for our family almost every night. My mom taught me that cooking is caring, that food brings people together, that a delicious meal can turn any bad day around and that the best memories are made around the table.

Though I didn’t often cook with my mom while I was growing up, I must have learned from her through osmosis. When I went off to college, my own personal journey in the kitchen began. Just like my mama said, some of my fondest memories are of my college roommates and I taking turns cooking dinner for our group, trying out new recipes and sitting around our hand-me-down kitchen table eating and laughing.

By the time I graduated, I was completely obsessed with food. I can remember waking up on Saturday mornings eager to try out the latest Ina Garten recipe (I credit her for teaching me most of what I know about cooking). I can still taste my first bite of truly chef-driven cuisine (thank you, Kent Rathbun…your lobster shooters were life changing). I spent all my time studying cookbooks and eating at as many independent restaurants as I could afford.

This is this story of my health issues (PCOS, leaky gut + hypothyroidism) and how I healed my body with food and natural lifestyle changes. | rootandrevel.com

Getting Paid to Eat

Eventually, I decided to make a career out of my love for food and became a professional food writer. I spent the next five years eating my way around the world, exploring cultures through their cuisines and trying intoxicating foreign ingredients whose memory always lingered long after the last bite. Foie gras in Bordeaux. Otoro tuna in Japan. Truffle tagliatelle in Tuscany. Fish sauce and Issan sausage in Thailand. Smoked eggplant and lamb in Istanbul. Live scallops plucked directly from Australian waters. Grilled pork and noodles on the streets of Vietnam.

Now I know what you’re thinking: I must weigh 300 pounds. But the truth is, for most of my life, I’ve looked pretty healthy from the outside. I’ve always been fairly slim, exercised a few days a week, ate light when I wasn’t eating for work, and learned the very valuable skill of tasting, rather than gorging, early on in my career. And I generally focused my eating on real, whole foods, rather than processed, packaged junk. For all intents and purposes, I was healthy. Or so I thought. Everything started to change about two years ago.

Knocked Off Kilter

It started with digestive issues—namely, embarrassing conditions like constipation and unexplained nausea and vomiting. I was referred to a gastroenterologist, who recommended I have a colonoscopy… at 27 years old, no less. After the procedure, she diagnosed me with IBS-C and put me on a slew of extreme prescription medications, none of which solved my digestive woes and all of which came with less than desirable side effects.

In an attempt to get to the root of my issues and solve the problem naturally, I decided to go cold turkey on prescription medication, including going off birth control after more than a decade on the pill.

What followed was unexpected, to say the least. In the first six weeks of going off the pill, I gained 12 pounds. My face broke out and became littered with red, bumpy acne and my period only came every other month. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I knew my body was telling me something was wrong.

I made an appointment with my gynecologist, who dismissed my concerns and chalked all of my health issues up to aging, ensuring me that, “Every year, you just need to eat less and exercise more.” She ignored me when I told her about my family’s history with thyroid issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and how closely my symptoms mirrored those conditions. She even suggested I just go back on the pill until I was ready to have kids, which not only wouldn’t solve my digestive issues, but would merely mask my other symptoms, rather than solving the problem. Infuriating.

I went home and began reading about holistic and integrative medicine, and found an amazing holistic doctor with her own practice that just so happened to be walking distance from my house. I quickly made an appointment, and just like that, all the pieces of my puzzle began to fall into place.

My Life-Changing Diagnosis: PCOS, Leaky Gut and Hypothyroidism

I spent two hours talking with my new doctor. Finally, someone was really listening and trying to help me. We talked about how conventional Western medicine is heavily prescription-based and primarily focused on treating people’s symptoms with medication, rather than finding and healing the root cause of those symptoms. That resonated with me.

She ran a slew of tests and blood labs and then, a few weeks later, came the verdict: my hormones were completely out of whack. Well, this explained my irregular periods, but what about everything else? After all, hormones are just women troubles and what makes us PMS, right?

Wrong! Oh so wrong. As I was beginning to learn, hormones affect every single human (yes, men have hormones too!) and every single function our bodies perform every day. Hormones help us regulate our blood sugar levels and energy, they control our moods and our metabolisms, and they help our bodies digest and detox. And my hormones were in such distress that nearly all of these functions weren’t happening the way they were supposed to.

To put this in concrete terms, I was diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which also caused insulin resistance and subclinical hypothyroidism.

RELATED:  How I Cured PCOS + Leaky Gut Naturally!

How I Healed My Body With Food and Natural Lifestyle Changes

This is this story of my health issues (PCOS, leaky gut + hypothyroidism) and how I healed my body with food and natural lifestyle changes. | Rootandrevel.com

A journalist through and through, I began furiously reading and studying everything I could get my hands on about these conditions and how our hormones and our bodies really work. I was shocked to learn how much diet and nutrition not only play a role, but could actually help get my body back in balance.

It sounded so simple… too simple. How could I have downplayed how much food impacts our bodies for so long? Of course, we all know that what we eat affects us, but I’ve always mistakenly thought of that effect as being weight-specific—as in, eat healthy and you’ll be skinny; eat poorly and you’ll be fat. It never occurred to me that eating certain foods could actually help me balance my hormones, and in turn, give me more energy, clear up my acne, return my regular cycles, regulate my bowels and, yes, lose that mysterious weight.

But sure enough, I saw massive changes in just a few short weeks based solely on what I put in my body. So, I then started paying attention to what I put on my body, and quickly found that the food I ate and the natural products I used (and the toxic products I tossed!) helped me live a near symptom-free life—all without expensive medications carrying a roll-call of scary side effects.

With just some good-for-you foods and natural remedies I started to feel like myself again. Or rather, an even better version of myself.

RELATED:  How To Heal Leaky Gut + Cure IBS Naturally

The 80-20 Lifestyle

This is this story of my health issues (PCOS, leaky gut + hypothyroidism) and how I healed my body with food and natural lifestyle changes. | rootandrevel.com

I’ll admit, when I first learned my body was such a mess, I panicked. Not only am I a food writer whose job it is to report on the most delicious foods (which, let’s face it, are often deep-fried and smothered in cheese, or full of saturated fat and sugar), but I’m a food lover who believes strongly that life is not worth living without fried chicken, French fries and champagne (that may be my “death row meal”, actually).

Turns out, there was no need for panic. This journey has taught me that balance is the key to health and happiness. I now live my life by the 80-20 rule: be as healthy as you can 80 percent of the time (i.e. Root), and learn to let go and celebrate life the other 20 percent (i.e. Revel). In food terms, this means that if you eat three meals a day, seven days a week, then four of your meals can be freebies! Or another way of looking at it is to eat healthy during the week and indulge, without guilt, on the weekends.

Getting rid of the guilt is key! Perfection isn’t healthy, and it’s boring. Who needs it? Instead, what we need is pounds and pounds of fruits and vegetables. For a society that eats as much as we do, we are incredibly malnourished and nutrient deprived. In fact, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that eating well isn’t about cutting out all of life’s pleasures. It’s not about sacrifice or going without, and it’s certainly not about counting calories.

No, eating well isn’t about taking away; rather, it’s about adding good in. It’s about giving your body the nourishment it needs so that you can tackle the day, feel good and bounce back when that burger comes a-calling.

Yes, I’m addicted to green smoothies and try to eat a mostly plant-based diet, but I also treat myself to burgers and pizza and one-too-many glasses of red wine every now and then. And that’s exactly what Root + Revel is all about: striking the balance between good and good for you.

While food is a huge part of the Root + Revel lifestyle, I don’t stop there. In the past few years, I’ve found that nourished living extends to many parts of life, from embracing natural skincare products and DIY beauty recipes to traveling to and learning from cultures around the world and creating a safe, welcoming home, full of music, books and charm, sans toxic chemicals and harmful products.

So take a look around, settle in and enjoy. You’ll find that everything looks and tastes as good as it will make you feel. Cheers!

P.S. You can see the step-by-step process I followed to heal my PCOS, Leaky Gut and Insulin Resistance Naturally here!

Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

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22 comments on “The Story Behind Root + Revel and How I Healed My Body With Food”

  1. I haven’t been diagnosed with PCOS yet because the doctors say I do not have enough of the symptoms. Weird hair growth, hard to lose weight, abnormal periods apparently is not enough. I am hoping I can somehow heal myself so I am glad to have found your website 🙂

  2. Hi there! Thanks for sharing your story! I was diagnosed with pcos 3 years ago and immediately changed my diet and started an exercise program and was feeling great and then …. my hubby and I decided to build our home , which included the adventure of living in a tiny cabin for 6 months with our 4 beautiful babies (10,8,6,4) no running water , a small hot plate, bbq and a whole lotta love! Needless to say my diet went out the window! We lived on bbq, take out and whatever we could cook over a fire ! Fast forward to now and we are happily living life in our beautiful home , but I am still struggling to get back on track with my health! I love the thought of 80/20! Any other tips in how to stay or in my case get bavk on the band wagon ????
    I was also wondering if you use essential oils in any of your body products or to help regulate hormones ? I’m having a really hard time finding a product I’m happy with for quality . Thanks !

    • Wow, what an adventure Joleen! So glad that all worked out and, yes, I imagine that would be quite stressful! I make a lot of my own body products – you can check out the DIY Beauty section of this site, and see some other posts on PCOS for natural ways I help regulate my hormones. As far as getting back on track – be gentle with your process and focus more on what you’re INCLUDING (i.e. adding more veggies, green smoothies, etc.) than what you’re trying to exclude. Hope that helps! 🙂

  3. Are there any anti-inflammatory diet delivery services you recommmend?

  4. Hi Kate,

    Interesting read. Glad yo healed yourself through time. May I ask you kindly to let us know, what did you study to become a guru in holistic health?

    Looking forward to read more:-)

    Namaste

  5. Hello! I’m just curious, what did you do about birth control after going off of the pill?

    • Hey Rebecca! Great question. There’s lots of different options besides synthetic hormones for birth control. We personally use condoms, but there are a handful of other choices if you prefer something else. I should do a post about that 🙂

  6. Wow, I’m so glad I found your story! I can relate to so much of it! I’m working with a naturopath, but all she really did was give me dozens of supplements and put me on a very restricted diet. I think the anti-inflammatory diet makes so much more sense. I am curious, did you stop drinking wine during your entire healing phase? So disappointed to not join my coworkers at Friday happy hours anymore! 🙂

    • Hey Karlie! So glad to have you here. I’m sorry your naturopath was so strict. While I do think that you’ll heal faster if you can be pretty rigid in your treatment plan, it’s not necessary to find healing overall, and I think you may lose something even more important: your sanity 😉 I did go 100% alcohol free for 1 month (during my Whole30, which you can read about here: https://rootandrevel.com/15-things-i-learned-from-whole30/), but other than that I did not give up wine or any alcohol. I tried to limit weekday drinking to just 0-2 glasses and would allow myself to have a weekend night of just doing whatever I wanted. But everybody is different and responds to alcohol differently, so I do encourage you to find what works best for YOU 🙂 Hope that helps!

  7. Please help me find a hollistic doctor to help cura my daughter. We live in Puerto Rico but have family and access to travel . Thanks a lot, Milly Garcia

  8. Awesome article, I heard your interview on The Creative Penn Podcast. I love food and I’m a writer, but I actually resonated with your health issues and therefore stalked your website 🙂 I was actually wondering how you identified your holistic doctor that was able to put you on the right track?

    • That’s so awesome, Jasmine. Thanks for the kinds words and so glad to have you here! So to find a holistic doctor I just did a google search for “holistic doctor Atlanta”, which is where I live. I was able to find a few people that way and then I looked into their practice and website, etc., to make sure they were the right fit. I wanted someone with an MD in medicine, but who took a more natural approach to healing, rather than just throwing prescription medication at me. Where do you live? I’d love to help you find someone near you!

  9. Hi there! How did you heal your leaky gut? Did you take any supplements or do bone broth? I know gluten and wheat are terrible for this. I’m curious of how you healed it. Did you have any food sensitivities from it?

  10. Hi I love this article and really can relate. I have weaned myself off everything but thyroid replacement and I am learning to simply eat better.Pills nearly killed me along the way because some like one that starts with a z and is given for IBS left me feeling like I had swallowed glass. Let food be my medicine so far as is possible. Once in a while we need meds and then I take them after I have tried it my way first.

    • Hey Amy, thanks so much for the kind words and sharing your story. So glad to have you here as part of the R+R community! I know exactly which IBS medicine you mean–amitiza, right?! That one was BEYOND HARSH on my stomach. I hated it! Totally agree, food is medicine and nothing has been as effective as real, whole foods for me! Good luck and please keep me posted on your healing journey 🙂

  11. Hi. I came across this site at age forty with the exact same diagnosis as you. I am currently on medication and looking on line for information on healthy diets to get off the medication eventually. I found through research that there are many contradictions between diets for insulin resistances verses hypothyroidism etc… I am finding it very hard to find ingredients that seem safe for one but not the other. How did you get round these issues..
    Thanks

    • Hi, Sonya! I’m so glad you found R+R. Welcome! Yes, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about nutrition. I’m a firm believer that a diet centered around real, whole foods rather than processed foods or foods with any additives/chemicals, etc. is the best place to start. From there, I follow the anti-inflammatory diet, which basically means that I eat mostly fruits/vegetables, gluten-free grains, and lean protein, like seafood. I really watch my sugar and simple carb intake, as well. Are there specific ingredients you have questions about? I’d be happy to discuss further with you. Just let me know what you’re struggling with! Best of luck to you! I hope you’ll stick around and begin your healing journey here–subscribe to our newsletter for FREE resources, exclusive goodies and discounts, and lots of healthy, natural livings tips and tricks 🙂

  12. It takes a very creative person to make lemonade from the lemons she was tossed
    i have never thought the thyroid gets enough attention.

    Good luck and i look forward to futuer editions.