Hi, I’m Dena and I’m so glad you’re here!
I love cooking, eating, and sharing food with others! I believe food and health are gifts from God to be enjoyed and stewarded. But it wasn’t always that way.
As a young woman, I struggled with my weight and – like so many teens – I became consumed with eating, exercise, and body image. For years I struggled, but only in the physical realm.
Then, one morning on the floor of my college apartment, God revealed to me through His Word and His Holy Spirit that my obsession with eating and fitness was not only unhealthy, but was a form of idolatry. This revelation was a life-altering one, and set me on a course of repentance, redemption, and relearning about nutrition and health, both from my university studies as well as from God and His Word.
I went on to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition, and became a registered and licensed dietitian. I began my career as a clinical dietitian in the outpatient clinics of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where I enjoyed meeting and counseling countless individuals from all over the world to become healthier, even during cancer treatment.
In 2009, I resigned my position to become a stay-at-home-mom. My husband Rick and I now have two children – a daughter and a son – and I love that I can be home with them during these early years!
In 2012, at the encouragement of friends and family, I wrote an e-book and, in 2013, I began blogging in hopes that I could inspire others to enjoy and honor God by celebrating and stewarding His gifts of food and health! I never imagined I’d author a book and launch a web site, but I’m so thankful for all that I’ve learned through the writing, researching, and blogging process.
Interestingly, my own health took an unexpected turn in early 2014, when I began experiencing a variety of health symptoms that were increasing and intensifying to the point where I knew I needed to get help. My occasional IBS symptoms and irregular periods worsened, and I also developed headaches, extreme fatigue, and even heart palpitations.
I delved into the scientific literature and quickly became convinced of two things: (1) the myriad of symptoms I was experiencing were all interrelated; (2) l had to address the root issues of stress, hormone imbalance, and gut health if I wanted true and lasting healing.
Lots of research, prayer, and consulting with a few health practitioners helped me connect the dots in my own health history. I realized that years of low fat dieting, calorie restriction, birth control pills, and thyroid medication had effectively built a house of cards. Over time, weak points in the structure struggled to carry their load and, when the stresses of being a new mom and building a business set in, my body literally couldn’t handle it.
I began learning about traditional, “real food” diets, and incorporated pastured animal fats, fermented foods, and high quality supplements critical for gut health and hormone balance. Adequate sleep, daily Bible reading, and a weekly Sabbath have been vital parts of my healing as well.
Now, more than two years later, I’m grateful to say, I have my health back! In many ways, I’m healthier than ever! My husband and kids would agree, and have even experienced significant benefits to their own health during this time as well. We’ve learned how to fight off colds and ear infections naturally with herbal remedies and essential oils; we’ve seen near complete healing of eczema and GI symptoms with the GAPS diet protocol; we’ve seen first-hand how a real food diet protects us from sunburn; and we’ve experienced the power of prayer in our physical health. There’s so much more to tell, and I hope to share more on the blog as time goes on, but I’ll conclude with this.
The more I share this most recent part of my health journey with women I meet, the more passionate I become about spreading the message of hope and natural healing with so many women who are tired, overwhelmed, and facing chronic health issues in their own lives or in the lives of their family members.
If that’s you, please hear me.
There is so much healing available when we return to a diet and lifestyle that reflects God’s design and relies on His power. Eat real food. Prioritize sleep and rest (they’re two different things!). Enjoy your family. Read God’s word and pray like there’s no tomorrow. And keep putting one foot in front of the other in your journey to better health. One day, you’ll get to the other side. And, when you do, I can tell you from experience that it will have been worth every step!
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About Back To The Book Nutrition
Back To The Book Nutrition offers a fresh perspective on eating and health. That perspective is gained by going “back to the book” – God’s book, the Bible – to remind us that we are at our healthiest when we are looking to God and the whole, nourishing foods He created to feed us.
On the blog you’ll find tons of healthy recipes made with nutrient-rich “real food” ingredients that are simple, less processed, and organic and local when possible. Some of my personal favorites are Apple Ring Pancakes, Brussels Sprouts Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, Rosemary and Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin, Slow Cooker Beef Roast, Chocolate Dipped Coconut Cream Popsicles, and Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (dairy and gluten free…but they’re so good, you’d never know it!).
I share the occasional family favorite dessert (World’s Best Banana Bread, anyone?) or cookie recipe (Super Soft Peanut Butter Cookies), but I’ll also tell you which ingredients to use to make “splurges” like these a little healthier.
You’ll also sometimes see posts that give practical tips (like these Top 10 Time Saving Kitchen Tips or these tips for How to Handle Picky Eaters), address a nutritional topic (like why saturated fat is good for you, or whether we should be drinking raw milk), share DIY recipes, or delve into the the spiritual side of food, health, and body image.
If you’re new, welcome! Take some time to browse around, share your comments or questions at the bottom of any post or via the Contact page. Consider subscribing to the blog to have the latest post delivered to your inbox! Of course, I’d love to connect with you on social media as well. Find me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Research Partnership with University of Houston
2017 marks the beginning of a new partnership with post-graduate nutrition students from University of Houston . Students from the UofH Dietetic Internship will help research and compose blog posts on current topics in
holistic nutrition and functional medicine. Read the first article, written by Marla Ramos on the topic of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) here. I look forward to sharing more helpful articles from this group of top notch students in the future!
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