New Diet Brings New Life for Officer

Officer Cassi Shaffer of The Ohio State University Police Division is always on the go. That’s the way she’s wired. Cassi serves on the OSUPD Crisis Action Team, she’s an assigned dignitary protection officer, and she spends a bit of time on the division’s bike patrol. On certain nights, she runs OSUPD’s Community Police Academy and Rape Aggression Defense courses, which often require her to participate in scenario-based role playing.

In the fall of 2016, her ability to continue in her role as an officer was suffering, causing her to question her future.

“My job is physical. If I can’t meet the minimum standards of what law enforcement requires, it could unfortunately affect my ability to be a police officer. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

In 2007, Cassi was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which causes inflammation in the digestive system. 

“It was just very uncomfortable.”

Throughout the years, Cassi treated the disease with moderate medication and simply got by. She supplemented medicine with diet tricks she had read about on the internet, but in Fall 2016, her condition was as bad as it had ever been. She had lost nearly 25 pounds in just six-weeks, her skin color had turned pale with a grayish tint and she was told her eyes didn’t look right. Physically, Cassi’s bench press was a third of what it once was and she didn’t have the energy to ride a bike, which is one of her favorite activities outside of work.

“I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything,” Cassi said. “Coming to work was taking everything I had. I told myself, I’m losing this battle for some reason, so I need to go back to the doctor.”

Cassi’s doctor discovered that the officer was severely iron anemic and was suffering from malnutrition.

“My doctor asked me how I was doing and I said I felt fine. She said to me, well your numbers don’t say that you’re fine. I guess I believed I felt fine because it was a norm for me to not be well.”

The doctor placed Cassi on a much more aggressive medication plan and suggested she see a dietician.

Cassi found a dietician through the Your Plan for Health program at Ohio State. Cassi laid out everything, from her eating habits, sleep schedule, stress levels, to her medication, and they came up with a 30-day plan.

The dietician helped Cassi first identify what from her diet might be causing her symptoms and eliminated them. Foods like bread, pasta, potatoes, red meat and processed foods were cut out of her diet.

These items were identified as inflammatory foods that triggered her symptoms. The dietician helped her identify anti-inflammatory foods to eat instead. Fish would serve as the base of her diet, with the addition of Greek yogurt, walnuts, raisins, fruits, cooked vegetables and occasionally chicken. It was early 2017 when Cassi implemented her new diet.

“Within six weeks, it was a 180-degree turnaround. One day I woke up and I didn’t even think about how I felt or how tired I was. I wasn’t thinking about how many hours I was going to be at work. I was just all of a sudden, fine. I realized after running around for 10 hours, I wasn’t tired and it just kept improving from there.”

It was the first time in her 10-year battle that she felt well and her bloodwork came back within normal figures.

“The dietician made a huge difference because she gave me an identifiable track to stick to, when before I was experimenting and it didn’t work. That paired with my medication made the difference. I felt like I was on top of the world.”

Cassi’s doctor and dietician continue to help her stay strict with her diet and the results have been staggering. Cassi has noticed improvements in her resting heartrate, her memory and physical strength. She is back to working out and taking long rides on her road and mountain bikes.

“To think back how I felt is mind-blowing. I felt like I couldn’t win. I tried so many things. Forever and ever I tried to do it myself. I’m the most pig-headed person you’ll ever meet, but that one step of getting help made all the difference.”

In 2017, Cassi was selected as OSUPD’s Officer of the Year for going “above and beyond was expected” in her dedication to the division’s mission.

This was the same woman who a year earlier, didn’t know if she could continue in her position.

“I’m really thankful for the support I had from everyone, my wife, my fellow officers and really the community overall that I work with. Their support kept me focused and kept me working at it to try and get better and see light at the end of the tunnel. I knew if I kept working at it, my health would get better and I’m so thankful it has.”


Are you looking to improve your health? Visit yp4h.osu.edu(link is external) to learn more about the university's Your Plan for Health program.