I grew up on what my parents eventually turned into a small organic farm, which gave me a good education in plant-based eating, choosing quality produce, and simple preparations.
I cooked throughout high school and college, starting with my very first job as a dishwasher in a hotel (I couldn't even drive then, maybe 15 years old?) and working my way up the line in various hotels and bistros in the New Jersey and Florida.
As friends headed into chef careers, I stepped back and reconsidered because of the night hours (I figured I'd eventually have a family, and I've had a steady sidegig as a drummer in a handful of bands since the teenage years; a part of my life I didn't want to give up for a career). So I went to grad school to pursue writing, got a degree in English Language and Literature (studied some medieval women's food writing, which was interesting) and taught college English for 3 years.
I hated it. I went back to food through food writing, merging both loves. My girlfriend (now wife) and I experimented with vegetarian eating, and I started writing for vegetarian magazine. I'm no longer a vegetarian (was for about 10 years), but am grateful for having gone down that path. It forced me to look beyond main ingredients to fundamental cooking techniques and flavor foundations in cuisines around the world. I threw myself deeply into Indian cooking, Mexican cooking, Chinese cooking, Japanese, Thai, Italian, and other cuisines, honing in on what makes each unique. That was some of the best culinary education I got outside of professional kitchens. Plus, I read a lot. I devour cookbooks for lunch. And I cook about 4 hours a day on average, experimenting, developing recipes, making family meals, etc....
I still eat healthfully, but everyone has a different definition of that. I eat about an ounce of chocolate on most days, drink wine or another alcohol almost every day, and absolutely love the texture of fat in my mouth. To my mind, none of that is unhealthy. It's a matter of balance, I suppose.