When someone is a project manager for client-facing teams that do a lot of travel, it’s a given that there’s lots to juggle. For Taru Merikoski, who was living in Finland and doing project management for an HR and recruitment company, that lifestyle, combined with having chronic digestive problems, was “not pleasant.”
According to Merikoski, “when your gut is not in balance, it drains the life out of you. Whenever you eat, your body pauses for the whole digestive process because it takes so much energy to process food. When it comes to energy, you’re not left with much else.”
It was a dark time: “I wasn’t very active, outside of work, which made me feel worse,” she remembers. “I just barely managed the long hours.”
After seeing “tons” of different specialists, she was given the vague diagnosis of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
“I did all the nasty tests they could do, but nothing showed any signs of inflammation or anything that would be treatable,” says Merikoski. “I was just handed a huge leaflet listing about a hundred different foods that you’re not allowed to eat if you have IBS.”
Merikoski was left to do a lot of experimenting, so she could uncover the right nutritional approach. And it was hard work (“like banging your head against the wall”). But it also sparked some ideas about what her new calling might be.
When she had the opportunity to move to the United Kingdom two years ago, it was the push she needed to make helping others with cryptic digestive issues her profession—“I started studying nutrition and I haven’t looked back,” says Merikoski.
Today, the WeWork South Bank member has three professional certifications in nutrition. Her company, ArcticNut, provides personalized coaching to people with fickle digestive issues. Her clients benefit from Merikoski having been her own nutritional guinea pig. She helps them skip the trial-and-error stage of creating a nutrition plan and go right to eating things that nourish them and don’t cause digestive distress.
“I feel so privileged to be part of the changes clients make,” Merikoski says. “You can see how much healthier and happier they are after they’ve been in the process for a while.”
Photo credit: Marjolein Van der Klaauw