Matt's HealTH Story
How Matthew Cress went from chronically ill to wonderfully healthy.
After 25 years of health struggles, he is no longer the sick kid, but a happy and healthy adult.
These are the main struggles he went through:
Debilitating allergies & chronic colds
Traumatic medication-resistant acne and other skin disorders
Mood and mental disorders, mainly ADHD, anxiety, & dyslexia
Now, all of those are in remission thanks to a specific diet and lifestyle!
Below, you’ll find his healing story.
Matthew, How did your allergies get so bad?
My allergies caused my nose to run every single day of my life for 25 years. My allergies were debilitating and so incessant that I would cry out of frustration. I hated my nose and I wanted to rip it off. Going outside made me sick and it would get even worse with the changing seasons.
I took antihistamines daily and I carried tissues everywhere with me. I was labeled as the “sick kid” in school because of these allergies. It was horrible. I would lay in bed with tissues up my nose just to make it stop for a little.
Thankfully, I was able to resolve my allergies through an elimination diet. My nose doesn't run anymore and I no longer hate when the seasons change!
Allergies - A talk with Matthew’s mom
My allergies started shortly after I was born, I had never known life without a runny nose. When I got old enough, I asked my mom what had happened.
Mom: “Matthew was practically born sick. When I had him, I didn’t have much money. I bought the cheapest formula out there that I could afford. I clipped coupons every week for him. He was raised on soy formula.”
“Eventually, he got croup (an upper airway viral infection), and when he coughed it sounded like a barking dog. I took him to the hospital and the croup went away with medication.”
“That’s when the ear infections started. When he was about 2-3 years old he had 7-8 consecutive ear infections. They put him on antibiotics for 10 days, which would clear his ears. Then within the next 7 days, he'd get another ear infection.”
“Once the ear infections stopped his allergies started. He had no food allergies, but he was allergic to absolutely everything outside. He was sick with allergies or a cold K-12”
“I remember one year for Christmas he asked me for a new nose because of his allergies. That was hard for me.”
My heart goes out to anyone dealing with skin problems. There is nothing more traumatic than having a visible problem on your face and body. People treat you differently and you think to yourself “are they looking at me, or what’s on my face?” You feel dirty when you know you’ve obsessively washed your face. Skin disorders are truly awful.
Matthew's skin problems:
Medication resistant acne: whiteheads, blackheads, and deep cystic acne. Face, back, neck, and shoulders had it the worst. The acne lasted for 10 years.
Keratosis Pilaris (aka chicken skin) all over my upper arms.
Warts on the bottom of my feet.
Cold sores & canker sores. These came often and were not a pretty sight with my acne.
I was in and out of the dermatologist’s office all the time. They never helped. I had to figure everything out all on my own. I struggled with skin disorders for 10 years and it got really bad for 2 years (see right). It wasn’t just on my face, but all over my back, neck, and shoulders too. Intermittent fasting, eliminating grains, and low carb helped immensely. My skin really started to glow when I combined those changes with an ancestrally consistent skincare regime.
ADHD, Anxiety, & Dyslexia
These mood & mental health disorders come from my family. They were passed down from generation to generation. Poor food choices made it even worse.
My grandpa had anxiety so bad that he’d end up in the hospital because he would literally “worry himself sick.”
My mom has ADD (bad with distractions) and is lightly medicated for depression. She has already worked through her PTSD and anxiety. She’s a real warrior. I watched her actively work on all of her traumas so she could “break the chains of brokenness in the family.”
My dad struggled with addiction. He died before I could get to know him. Drug abuse and alcoholism run on that side of the family.
My ADHD, anxiety, and dyslexia made school hard. Learning to spell was horrible and I was put with the “slow-readers.” I was also labeled as the “sick kid” who was constantly blowing his nose. I remember in the 5th grade a classmate pulled out his trumpet, blew into it as hard as he could, and said “who am I” with a tissue in his hand. Everyone laughed at me, I turned away in shame. Not long after that, I started developing anxiety from being bullied. I was jumpy and was really emotionally sensitive to everything. The only subjects I was good at were math and gym in school.
My mom and I circa 1995
My mom visiting me in France
My happy spaces
Gymnastics - Growing up wasn't all bad!
Life was hard, but there was one thing I excelled at and it was gymnastics. At the age of 19, I was the National Tumbling Champion in 2011 and became an elite gymnast the following year.
3-4 hour practices 5 days a week helped my health by:
Channel my ADHD for better focus
Improve my dyslexia (my grades improved greatly in high school!)
Gave me some muscle
Encouraged detoxification from my poor diet and environmental toxins.
My nose ran slightly less from colds and allergies.
And, for the first time in my life, I had real friends. My quality of life improved immensely!
These health improvements didn't go unnoticed. I used working out as a tool to help me on my healing journey later on.
My skin was the only thing that didn’t improve through working out. With my toxic diet, hormones from puberty, and sweat, my skin understandably didn’t improve.
Me tumbling at nationals in 2011
Healing - A start
🎓 Getting sicker and fatter
I went to college for pastry & culinary arts, then transferred to a nutrition program in Lyon, France. I didn’t learn much of value during my nutrition schooling, just “government nutrition” that the State wants you to learn. When I tried following what I was taught, my symptoms got even worse and I started getting fatter. That’s when a light went off about how powerful (or detrimental) food can be.
💡 A healthy light at the end of the tunnel
My mom eventually told me “stop eating carbs at every meal. Do you want to get your abs back? Go to the gym and eat meat and vegetables.” This was my wake-up call.
I did just that. I lost the fat, got my muscle back, and I was feeling better (even though I had only scratched the surface of health).
How ironic to become a dietitian nutritionist only to get better after doing the opposite of what I was taught. 🤷🏻♂️
Soon after, I started intermittent fasting, and 2 months later for the first time since puberty, I had no acne on my face!!!
10 years of acne GONE!
Started healing and
My Healing Journey
Intermittent Fasting & The Ketogenic Diet
My experience: I started with intermittent fasting and soon after I incorporated a ketogenic (low carbohydrate) diet.
I slowly (reluctantly) eliminated all grains and high carb vegetables from my diet and had to break how brainwashed I was about cooking without fat. I grew up in an athletic household that was proudly low fat. All I ever knew was low-fat cooking!
Using ketogenic amounts of butter and olive oil was harder than eliminating bread and oatmeal for me.
What improved: My mood and skin improved greatly but I was still blowing my nose with every season change and catching a cold every so often. The intermittent fasting was the key to getting my skin 80% better. Keto helped the most with my mood and stabilizing my energy throughout the whole day. I wasn’t needing snacks for the first time in a long time.
Diet duration: 2 full years.
The Carnivore Diet
My experience: Frustrated with my still “less than perfect health” that I was expecting from keto and fasting. I slowly started eliminating the few vegetables I was eating. I decided to go all in and only have meat, eggs, fresh French cheeses, water, tea, and coffee. Basically, I worked my way down to a zero fiber diet. I wasn’t consuming a lot of fiber coming from keto, but the transition to zero fiber took about 2 weeks of adjusting for my bowels.
I experimented with eliminating dairy for about 3 months, but it didn’t change anything once gone and when I reintroduced it I felt better. I was curious if my skin would get even better without dairy, but it didn’t. My body tolerates dairy, thankfully! That being said, I have access to the highest-quality French dairy out there.
I also found that there was a certain fat-protein balance that I needed to maintain or else I wouldn’t feel well. Too much fat and I would feel sluggish. I also needed to work out at least 4 times a week to feel my absolute best on the carnivore diet.
What improved: MY ALLERGIES DISAPPEARED! For the first time ever, I went from winter to spring and didn’t get any allergies. Life was fantastic and I was on top of the world!
My allergies and histamine problems have not come back ever since. My chronic colds are also completely gone.
Diet duration: 1 year
🌙 My Grandpa passed away...
My world fell apart. My grandpa was rapidly declining and I was stuck in France due to French visa paperwork. My mental health crumbled right before me and my skin was getting worse.
Depression set in, anxiety came back, and my ADHD was resurfacing. I had an uncomfortable nervousness-knot in my stomach all the time. The strong emotions and nervous energy ruined my digestion - despite my diet. This was a hard reality for me to accept.
My diet stayed pretty much the same throughout this whole process, but the carnivore diet wasn’t helping me cope with my emotions and I was spiraling out of control. I needed change.
My takeaway: Healing is never linear and it is not easy. Life will throw you a curveball and it’s up to you to show up for your health and well-being. Diet alone can not fix profound sadness, it can only help. You must give your day-to-day life as much structure, love, and attention as you would give a toddler. Diet, supplements, journaling, talking to loved ones, basking in the sunshine, being physically active, going for walks in nature, positive affirmations, and kindness towards myself and others healed my sadness. It was easy to sulk in bed, stay home, and close myself off from the world, but that made the sadness worse. What made the biggest difference was changing my everyday life.
The GAPS Diet
(Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet)
My experience: Here I tried to heal my sadness through diet alone. The GAPS diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride was my next step forward. What drew me in was the similarity to the carnivore diet, the ancestral flair, and it introduced new ways of eating that I wanted to try out. Her books are great and I openly recommend them to anyone on a healing journey.
Looking back, I should have introduced her lifestyle recommendations earlier, that would have helped me heal faster.
I didn’t start the diet like most who do GAPS. First, I introduced ferments, not meat broth. I also introduced organ meats here. I didn’t eat many organ meats, but they were necessary for me to try. Eventually I was eating meat, eggs, fermented vegetables, meat stock, dairy, water, and coffee. The GAPS diet did help some but I craved something different.
What improved: My mood improved slightly. I started working on my lifestyle here and that’s what lead me to my next chapter.
Diet duration: I was purely GAPS for 6 months. My current diet is a version of GAPS with added supplements and lifestyle that work for me.
GAPS, Lifestyle, & Targeted Supplements
I started reading more mental health books, listening to more healing stories, and researching with all my spare time. I learned about the power of lifestyle and started nutritional supplements that propelled my mental health forward. I tried a lot of supplements that didn’t work, but I eventually found a good mix.
Supplements that helped the most:
Antioxidants: Selenium, iodine, vitamin C, and zinc.
Magnesium, oral and topical.
Herbals: St. John’s Wort tea, Mucuna Pruiens, green tea, and Passionflower.
Amino Acids: L-glutamine, DLPA, and NAC
Vitamins: A, D, B1, and B6
I did not take these supplements all at once. They were timed for what I was working through at the time. I also spent a lot of time and money on ineffective supplements, but being open-minded to new experiments kept me on track for my healing journey. I experimented with supplements for at least 2 years before I found a blend that helps me the most.
Now, I dont require daily supplements and my supplement case acts more like a medicine cabinet that I use when needed. I use selenium, iodine, and vitamin c the most.
This section had the biggest impact on my mental health. I learned that no one was coming to save me. It was my job to change my negativity, burnout, sadness, and poverty mindset. Also, as I got rid of my horrible attitude and introduced a specific skin care regime my skin improved.
Lifestyle changes that helped the most:
Self-help books: Louise Hay’s book “You can heal your life.” This is where it all started. Her other work is fantastic. She is the one who taught me that every thought I have makes a difference. How you talk to yourself matters. Today, I combine the teachings of Louise Hay and Abraham Hicks to keep my thinking at its best.
Guided positive affirmations & meditations: for confidence, prosperity, and tapping into my happy, healthy inner-being.
Journaling: This is where I did my hardest work. Journaling was meditative. Here was where I confronted my demons and praised all my progress.
Sunshine: Getting the sun in my eyes daily. Basking in the light and the warmth. Saying nice things to myself under the sun.
Working out: I started weightlifting and biking again. My week was noticeably better if I worked out at least 4x per week. I biked or walked almost every day though.
Healthy and keeping it that way!
Now my allergies are gone, I have clear skin, my mood is great, and my digestion is easy and consistent.
I have been healthy for long enough now that I can even "cheat" without having any major side effects.
I can confidently say that I am HAPPY and HEALTHY... Finally!!
My goal with Cress Dietetics is to guide you on your healing journey. It is hard doing it all alone. I wished I had someone to help me through my dark times. Take advantage of my knowledge and experience to fast-track improving your overall health.
Working with me will give you:
An individualized diet protocol: You’ll get food lists, recipes, and meal guidelines. You’ll understand why you need some foods and why others need to be omitted. You will never be left guessing about what you should do.
An optimized supplement program: You’ll get supplement recommendations that will fast-track your healing or optimize your performance. Minimal supplements are encouraged here!
Lifestyle guidelines: With recommendations for sleep, detoxification, mindfulness, working out, and other therapies that help you get healthy.
For those that want more, you can either book an appointment with me or reach out if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon,