The IIN community is comprised of over 100,000 unique individuals from all over the world, but we all share similar stories of what IIN means to us and how it changed our lives. No matter the circumstances that brought us here, we’ve learned the journey toward health isn’t linear but rather filled with ups and downs that challenge us to grow into people who are capable of sparking real change in ourselves and others. In this series, you’ll hear from IIN students and graduates who share their inspiring stories about how IIN transformed their health, from physical to spiritual health and everything in between. These stories have the power to unite us in continuing our mission to spread the ripple effect of health and happiness, one Health Coach at a time.
Farah Samhoun is a 38-year-old Lebanese living in Beirut, Lebanon. She majored in education and worked as a teacher for 17 years. In 2020, amid the pandemic, Farah made a change in her life to follow a recently realized passion for wellness, cooking, and food as medicine.
What was your relationship to health growing up?
“When I was growing up, my grandma had a major role in my eating habits and I was a chubby child. Our culture revolves around food and eating, where people show love with feeding, even if this means force feeding.
“My father passed away when I was 12, and I resorted to food. Based on my cultural beliefs of food, I started eating to fill the void of missing love. I reached a point at the age of 16 where I weighed 172 pounds. I am only 5’1”, and at that point I hated how I looked, was embarrassed to be at the beach with friends, and struggled with how difficult it was to buy clothes that fit me. There came a point when I resented food and completely stopped eating.
“I limited my meals to snacking on veggies and having just a few spoonfuls of whatever meals were present in the house. I did all of this in secret, without anyone knowing, and the extra weight kept going away, though I barely noticed how quickly it was coming off. When I realized that I lost around 20 pounds, I liked the results. This was when undereating became my new relationship with food.”
How was your life impacted by this way of eating?
“I maintained this lifestyle for so many years, and with age, my eating was based on snacking, having tiny meals, avoiding eating full meals while bingeing at other points, then starving myself as a response –it was a vicious cycle. I often consumed coffee and Red Bull and smoked cigarettes. They worked as perfect appetite suppressants and became my definition of a meal. This was combined with little sleep and constant naps whenever I was left unattended. I have now come to understand I probably had adrenal fatigue.
“My friends and family kept asking me about my habits and how I was able to sustain them. I kept making excuses, saying “maybe it’s my body type.” Looking back, I of course knew nothing about bio-individuality (the IIN concept that means that we all need different foods and lifestyle practices to live our healthiest lives), and so I was never able to fully explain why these habits were working for me at the time.
“Additionally, I had more than one primary food area (the things off our plates that affect our well-being) that was fulfilled at the time: my career, relationships with friends and family, and home cooking (I always enjoyed cooking for others and watching them eat as long as I was not eating myself). Spirituality was also helpful; my yoga, meditation practices, and the genuine sense of belief that I was safe and protected were all strong.
“When I sit and reflect now, I realize that I was not experiencing any real joy; I was in survival mode and thinking this is what my life would be like, instead of having joy.”
Was there a turning point in your life when you realized things needed to change?
“I kept up these habits with pride, until my niece was diagnosed with cancer in February of this year. Considering it was a very rare type of cancer, we did not only resort to traditional medicine but also visited a functional doctor. The functional doctor recommended a diet full of the foods she needed to heal, as well as what to avoid. This was when I first encountered the idea of food as medicine.
“This is when I came across IIN and was totally intrigued by the concepts of food as a source of healing, lifestyle factors, bio-individuality, and primary and secondary food.”
How has IIN transformed your understanding of health?
“Since I joined IIN, primarily to be able to help my niece, I have found satisfaction on so many levels – primarily the understanding of health and its correlation with food and lifestyle, and specifically my health.
“I started changing my eating habits bit by bit, or bite by bite, actually – I started having three real meals a day. My cooking has become healthier, and now I cook for myself as opposed to just for others. Now I cook nutritious meals for healing.
“I share my health tips with my sister and niece. Sometimes in the hospital during my niece’s chemo sessions, my sister and I watch lectures together that are also interesting for her. I am currently helping my sister create better eating habits as a result of our circumstances, and we brainstorm together on superfoods and foods for healing. We also juice and make smoothies together, and I share some of the recipes I am learning. I definitely sleep better now as well – I meditate before I go to sleep and enjoy a more sound and deep sleep.
“Reflecting on the idea of joy, I am now on an inner journey of true joy that I want to spread for others, and IIN helped me achieve this at one of the most difficult times of my life.”
Health transformation will not look the same from one person to the next, and that’s what IIN is all about – encouraging you to dig deep to figure out who you truly are and what makes you truly happy, fulfilled, and healthy! Our Health Coach Training Program has transformed the lives of over 100,000 people, and YOU could be next! Learn more about what makes our innovative curriculum so life changing by downloading our free Curriculum Guide today.