I had a successful career at a Fortune 500 Company that I loved. I married the man of my dreams and had two adorable little boys. We had just bought a new house. Life was good.
Suddenly, my life took a dramatic change in course. Despite my commitment to health and fitness, my physical body decided to quit. While I thought I was doing all the “right” things – exercising daily, competing in recreational triathlons, eating whole grains and low fat foods – I was shocked when I woke up one morning with sudden onset neuropathy in my left leg.
After undergoing back surgery with the goal of relieving the compressed nerve in my spine, I soon found myself facing a devastating challenge. Something was terribly wrong – I could no longer walk, my legs just wouldn’t move.
The number of symptoms continued to grow— the paralysis led to chronic pain; my irritable bowel syndrome led to unhealthy weight loss. I was covered in skin rashes, had daily headaches, and remained awake most nights with restless leg syndrome. My restricted movements were matched with weakness and numbness. Eventually my vision became blurred, dizziness set in and I was consumed with chronic fatigue. I was eventually diagnosed with, fibromyalgia, degenerative facet joint syndrome, a spinal hemangioma, another disc herniation (this time in my neck), neuropathy, and chronic pain syndrome. If that wasn’t enough, I was now ‘allergic’ to everything. I lost my job and was put on permanent disability.
During this incredibly challenging time, my three-year old son was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (an autism spectrum disorder). By the time he was four years old, but prior to the autism diagnosis, he had multiple diagnostic labels including a speech disorder, apraxia of the body and mouth, sensory processing disorder, selective mutism, panic disorder, anxiety, and significant cognitive delays (slow processing speed).
Our conditions, although different in presentation and severity, shared a hidden connection—a vulnerability in our body. We had triggered an immune response and inflammatory process in our body leading to a cascade of symptoms that when added up presented as a debilitating disease.
But, what made us so vulnerable? And, considering our ongoing commitment to therapy and interventions, why couldn’t we recover?
To find out what happened to me, my son and the rest of my family and how we all recovered from a myriad of chronic disease, I invite you to view our story in the award-winning documentary film Secret Ingredients.
Kathleen DiChiara is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition ® Practitioner, Bio-Individual Nutrition Practitioner, Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, Nutrition Educator and Author of the bestselling book, The Hidden Connection. She received specialized training in the biochemistry and specialized diets for autism, allergies, autoimmune and other chronic conditions and is a professionally trained chef. Kathleen is currently studying cellular biology and the mitochondria. She mentors and teaches healthcare practitioners all over the world through online courses and individual case studies. She is board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.
After years in a successful career as an Investor Relations executive at a Fortune 500 firm and as a recreational triathlete, Kathleen’s health took a devastating turn. This successful corporate executive went from an active, vibrant wife, mother and professional to suddenly requiring surgery, emerging with paralysis that then spiraled into several disorders including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, severe degenerative arthritis, IBS and a myriad of other ailments. Around the same time, her son was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
These events served as inspiration for Kathleen’s career change and commitment to reeducation. She had no choice but to heal herself and her family. Her son’s recovery from autism (medically undiagnosed at age 11) provide the inspiration to teach others the keys to unlocking the mystery of chronic health conditions.
For eight years, Kathleen has served as the President and Chair of the Board of Directors for Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN), a non-profit agency that serves over 40,000 individuals with special health care needs in the areas of health, education and advocacy.
She is also the Founder of a grassroots organization called Nourished2Learn™ that bridges the gap between the foundation of nutrition and academic performance by teaching children, parents and administrators the importance of nutrition in public schools.
As an allergy-free lifestyle expert, Kathleen represents the local branch of the national non-profit organization, Gluten Intolerance Group, with a vision of support, acceptance, and respect for all persons living with gluten-related disorders, including celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Kathleen also proudly leads the Northern Rhode Island Chapter for the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF).
Kathleen is the President and Founder of Rhode to Health, Inc, a corporation dedicated to teaching and empowering others in Rhode Island (and beyond), to embrace the self-care model to dig us out of the healthcare crisis. She also serves as a Board member on the Rhode Island Department of Health’s, Board of Chiropractic Examiners, as well as on a number of local advisory committees.
Kathleen works with clients all over the world and lectures frequently, both locally and nationally, on nutrition and its influence on conditions like Autism/ADHD, Autoimmunity, Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Pain, Gastrointestinal Imbalances, Chronic Diseases and degenerative conditions. She also lectures on the connection between nutrition and the microbiome, including how to harness the intelligence of our microbes as part of our healing process.