Chefanices Williams kept falling back into bad habits when she tried to adopt a healthier diet.
It wasn’t until she started a summer internship at OM Juicery that she was finally able to kick them for good.
The 18-year-old, who is about to start studying nursing at the Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica, now wants to inspire others to do the same.
“Before, I started at the juicery my eating habits were setting me up for failure,” she told The Royal Gazette. “However, since being at the juicery my entire life has changed.
“It made me realise that our health is of the highest importance. If you don’t take care of your health, no one else will. You have to be the person who makes the first step.”
Ramen noodles, big bags of chips, dairy and lots of salty products had been a staple of her diet — and barbecue sauce went “with everything”.
“My diet has changed in terms of water — I hated water,” she explained. “A lot of people don’t realise if you don’t keep hydrated in the summer you can get low blood pressure.”
She now drinks several bottles of water a day but she has also opened up to the idea of trying new foods and found her tastes changed and she started to crave healthier alternatives.
“At the juicery, they use all natural and organic products — I was shocked. I am not usually a person who drinks a drink with all greenery in it. I kept asking, ‘so you’re not going to put sugar in it?’”
“It made me realise that healthy foods don’t always have to be nasty. In every healthy food there is an opportunity to see what it does to our bodies.”
Ms Williams, from Pembroke, pointed to a “common” practice of turning to junk food in times of stress.
“We refuse to think about if we eat healthy, how much more thoughts, how much more other problem-solving solutions we could come up with. Junk food can’t do it for you.
“We lace our tongues with the drugs of sugar and salt and then we get hooked on it and complain about how horrible we feel on the inside, not knowing we caused it ourselves.”
But she also emphasised that a support system is key and encouraged anyone wanting to make changes to get informed and find someone who can hold them accountable.
Ms Williams was inspired to change her lifestyle at the start of her last year at the Berkeley Institute.
A close friend had told her: “You have so much value in our society, yet you make me worried that you won’t be of much value because of your eating habits”.
Attempts to change her diet, however, saw her slowly drift “back into my bad habits”.
Prompted by a desire for self-improvement and reflection, she approached Preston James, owner of OM Juicery, who told her he was looking for summer interns.
“The experience was invaluable,” she said, adding that she also picked up business skills. “I am so thankful. It was so much more than what I got paid for.”
The internship also tied in with her dream of becoming a registered nurse — she leaves the island tomorrow to start her studies.
“I am ecstatic about the experience. I’m ready to learn and I’m ready to take from the experience not only educational and social things, but rather things that could make our society a better one.
“I want to come back with something greater than what I left with.”