When I was seventeen I moved out of my family home and into a college dormitory, my first experience at independent living. As a teenager I had a hazy and uncomfortable sense that I had yet to find what connected me to the rest of the world. One weekend, during my first semester of college, I found myself rummaging through a basket of used books at a yard sale. I came across a 1975 edition of Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet. Ironically, I bought the book because I thought it was a weight loss guide. It did not take long for me to realize that it was actually an exploration into the production of food in the United States, including the use (and abuse) of our natural resources, the environmental impact, and the inequitable distribution that contributes to hunger and malnutrition worldwide. By the last page of the book I was a vegetarian and on my way to finding the relationships that I instinctively longed for.
This experience taught me an unalterable and instrumental lesson: education creates change. Eating a vegetarian diet taught me to love animals, which in turn prompted me to become a mindful protector of the natural world around me. My path has had some twists and some turns, along with its fair share of dead ends, but in 2006 it brought me to the Institute for Humane Education website. While reading the description of the courses and understanding the mission of the organization I had high hopes to further my education at IHE. I began my M.Ed. coursework in the fall of 2006 and throughout those three years I gained not only a remarkable amount of practical knowledge, but also an astonishing degree of personal insight.
Through the eyes of humane education I have seen that I am not alone. Humane education has taught me that my actions as an individual are meaningful and, consequentially, my lifestyle choices can represent great accountability. Since graduating in June 2009, I have been better equipped to make informed decisions guided by compassion and sustainability. Today, I have the confidence and capacity to question injustice when I witness it in action or in legislation. As a graduate of the Institute for Humane Education I can act as an individual while having the support of an entire community. Although I am done with my classes, I will never stop being a student.
In 2010 I began building my coaching business, Full Circle Food Coaching, in which I practice food psychology coaching. Drawing on the principles of mind-body nutrition, food psychology coaching promotes the transformation of people’s relationships with food and eating. As a coach, I work with each individual on the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of weight loss, body image, and chronic dieting. Although I am not in the business of telling people what to eat, hardly a day goes by where I do not need, make use of, and feel grateful for my IHE education.