Healing Disease via Diet: Eczema, Ulcerative Colitis, Gall Bladder Issues, Leaky Gut, Food Intolerances

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Natural Health Month at Kitchen Stewardship

I’m happy to introduce you to two real food authors, all of whom found relief from something (often many things) via food. (If you missed the other interviews, here’s some stuff about fibromyalgia and natural detoxing and here’s the author of the fighting acne book and the diabetes care book.)

I know you’ll love hearing their stories:

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KerryAnn Foster of CookingTF.com

author of Family Friendly Allergen Free

  • What circumstances led you to your current health and wellness mission?

Funny enough, it all started with a cat. We adopted a wonderful cat, named Blue, that we eventually found out had an ‘incurable’ disease. He had to be put on expensive, difficult to administer medications. It required twice-monthly trips to the veterinary ophthalmologist that was over 50 miles away. We had to pick up frozen meds and get them home and into the safety of our deep freezer before they could thaw.

We were told he’d have to have them the rest of his life and he likely wouldn’t live a long time.

While out shopping one day, we met a woman who told us that if we changed his diet to human-grade, species appropriate food, he could very well recover and beat it. We figured it was worth a shot and we moved him to human-grade cat food immediately, along with some supplements she recommended. Within a couple of months, he was off the horrible medication. He went on to live another eight years with no other health problems.

At the time, we were dealing with infertility and a diagnosis of PCOS. A light bulb went off for us- if it had worked for the cat, surely it would work for me? So we immediately began moving away from packaged and processed food and I lowered my carbs. Within 6 months we were expecting. I found the real food movement while pregnant with my oldest child and we never looked back. By 2005, I was blogging and running multiple e-mail lists for real food and children’s health.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with celiac disease and intolerances to dairy, egg, soy, corn, apple and cashew. We discovered my children had celiac and were also dairy intolerant. My reaction to even the smallest trace of gluten was violent, leaving me flat on my back for weeks. I dropped 60 pounds in the first ten weeks after becoming ill. At the time, there were few websites dealing with food intolerances. Most of the few that existed were loaded with packaged and processed replacements or nutritionally void baked goods.

  • How does your work address needs that you see in today’s health care system?

The lack of knowledge about food intolerances among doctors and dietitians is astounding. Most doctors dismiss food intolerances, and most dietitians who are supposed to advise patients how to eat with celiac disease are handing out incorrect or outdated advice. Because I’ve lived through these intolerances, I’m well familiar with how to handle them and how to make flavorful, enticing meals that are naturally free of the difficult allergens.

Family Friendly Allergen-Free is written for people who have only 30 minutes of hands-on time or less per meal, and all of the recipes are free of gluten, dairy, egg and soy. All of the recipes are made using easily found ingredients, and each week has a dinner that is suitable for dinner guests.

Freezing instructions for batch cooking are included for every recipe that can be made ahead to save you time, and sanity. Cooking three meals a day for months on end can be tiring; I understand, I’ve cooked 98% of the meals I’ve eaten from scratch since my diagnosis in 2006. I don’t like to spend any more time in the kitchen that I have to in order to get a solid meal on the table and I know that you don’t want to, either.

  • What do you wish more people knew about health?

Intolerances are very real, and they aren’t minor. If there are signs of inflammation or a disease on the outside of the body, the inside of the body is likely in worse shape. When I became ill and my children and I went gluten-free, I had many people denigrate my decision for my children, because they weren’t nearly as sick as I was.

I heard statements such as “it’s just a little redness” for bright red anal rings and “it’s just a little eczema” for severe, weeping eczema over 75% of one child’s body. I was accused of being controlling and depriving my children because I refused to feed them bread and pasta. Much like the ridicule you face when you go to real food and stop eating processed foods, only ratcheted up many notches.

As a result of ‘depriving’ my children of gluten, they caught up to their peers in physical growth and weight, stopped wetting the bed, their behavior problems stopped and much more. They both had their eczema disappear. My son’s speech delay and speech impediment disappeared. Those aren’t little things.

  • What could individuals add to their life to improve their personal health?

When dealing with children, hidden nutrient-dense foods can be a boon to convincing them that strongly flavored foods are a normal part of their diet. I hid liver, kale, beans and many other powerhouse foods in our meals for years before my children discovered them. It has been a wonderful vehicle for my children, because once they got over the surprise, the shrugged and accepted the item as a normal part of their diets. I have learned to hide these foods in main dishes, breakfasts and even baked goods without their knowledge.

Some of my children’s favorite meals contain hidden foods, and I include those recipes in this eBook. It works with picky kids and picky husbands. 😉

KerryAnn Foster blogs at CookingTF.com. She writes real food, gluten and dairy-free recipes that are kid-happy and husband-friendly. She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, Jeff, and their two children. KerryAnn has written multiple books, eCourses and eBooks, as well as the longest running traditional foods Menu Mailer available, now in its sixth year. She founded Nourished Living Network, a network for real food bloggers, in 2011. She has eleven years of traditional foods experience and is a former Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader. Read about KerryAnn’s journey to health through celiac disease, food allergies, obesity, adrenal fatigue and heavy metals.

Starlene Stewart of GAPS Diet Journey

author of Baking with Coconut Flour


  • What circumstances led you to your current health and wellness mission?

I came to the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet because my husband was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I’d heard of GAPS before as I had seen it mentioned on the traditional food groups I was following. I had never given it a second glance until my husband’s diagnosis because 1) I didn’t have a child with autism and 2) I wasn’t about to restrict my diet and give up grains and gluten. No way!

Then we learned of the U.C. and I knew the answer was GAPS. In reading the book to start helping my husband, I soon learned that I could possibly benefit from this diet. I had been experiencing a great deal of anxiety and depression for a few years and I hoped that GAPS could help. I never anticipated that my feet would stop hurting, my back would stop aching, and I’d be able to get off asthma medication (those are just a few of the improvements I experienced in less than a year).

  • What do you wish more people knew about health?

All my life I heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” It was one of those things that I never really thought much about. What does that mean, really? In my late 20s I thought it meant if you eat fat, you’ll be fat. But after all the years of eating low fat we see that the population is still suffering from diseases and health problems.

After my three year stint with low-fat dieting, I refused to change my diet or deprive myself of any foods. Diets don’t work so there was nothing I could do about being obese. Of course my aches and pains were age related, because after all, I was 47 years old (not really that old I’ve decided since my health has improved!).

When I started on GAPS, I experienced many positive changes in my health. I was so excited to share the secret with everyone but I found that most people are where I was all those years. They don’t want to change what they eat. I wish that more people knew that “You are what you eat” means the food you are putting into your body is giving your body the fuel and materials it needs to heal itself. If you eat junk food all the time you are going to reap the results of ill health. If you eat nutrient dense traditional foods, you are going to reap the reward of great health.

  • What has been hardest for you on this path of natural health?

I have seen so many changes in my own health but the greatest miracles are the children who are being cured of autism. It is really difficult for me when I meet people whose children are on the autism spectrum and they are not willing to look at GAPS, not even for a minute. They have listened to what their doctors, television and everyone else has told them, that there is no cure for autism.

Or they excuse their child’s behaviors away with labels like “quirky”. While it is wonderful to love your children no matter how “quirky” they are, do parents stop to think that their child may not want to be “quirky” – always sticking out in the crowd like a sore thumb? It is hard to keep my thoughts to myself so I do share information once or twice but after that I keep quiet. I don’t want to alienate people, and I realize that GAPS doesn’t work for everyone. But it would be wonderful if they would at least look into it, give it a try for 30 days, just to see if they can make a change.

I tell myself I’ve planted a seed and hope one day that person will water and nurture the knowledge. I know it is hard, but the possibility of recovering one’s child far outweighs any difficulties.

I console myself with the knowledge that there are many people who are willing to take a chance and I meet new people every day through my blog GAPS Diet Journey and social media. It is a great feeling knowing that I can share recipes and information to others that are on a similar journey.

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Starlene’s book, Baking with Coconut Flour, has definitely taught me more than a trick or two, most notably some wonderful demonstrations of how to adapt wheat flour recipes to use coconut flour, which I did not even know was possible. On my list:

  1. make Starlene’s banana muffins
  2. try adapting my pumpkin muffins to be grain-free
  3. try Starlene’s sandwich bread
    1. make French toast for the first time in YEARS
  4. buy more coconut flour…

I can’t tell you how excited I am to dig in more deeply!

I also think a good read is The Eczema Cure – if you don’t know where to start with dietary changes, definitely grab this one!

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Tropical Traditions and the bundle sale from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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3 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Goldnrod says

    You mention Eczema in your title, but I don’t see where it is addressed in the article. I have a friend who is suffering terribly, so am searching for help.

  2. kotn says

    I was nine years old when I was diagnosed with food intolerances (Triticum [wheat] family, eggs, soy, citric acid, peanuts) to which have lately been added carrots, potatoes, and rice. Having worked in professional pastry kitchens for a good part of my adult life, I know there’s a point where the really bad stuff is triggered. Getting your kids off those foods and any others they may specifically not tolerate is just good sense. At least they can have that stuff sometimes then, and not suffer the pain we must endure when even a minuscule amount of whatever offender slips past. I recently started a detox phase (it’s spring, after all) with an organic detox liquid sold here in Europe. No idea if it’s available in the US but it’s well-respected and very safe. I’ve used it before too with good results. But I have total wheat intolerance now. Not a trace of it in any form goes unnoticed. Well, this contains maltodextrin as the final ingredient. Trouble is that maltodextrin can be made from any number of things, not even just grains, in fact. All the label says is that it’s the product of organic agriculture. It wouldn’t be there if it didn’t serve some function, right? Wheat, as an inflammatory agent, has no purpose in a detox aid, to my way of thinking. But on came all the reactions within 18 hours of ingestion – and that was only 2/3 of the recommended daily dosage.

    I’m presently ending an forty day fast during which time I’ve had only a glass of water kefir with chlorella, a glass of milk kefir, and otherwise just water daily for the duration of the fast. The kefirs are homemade. I also brew kombucha and make fermented veggies of all descriptions. I’ve only started this since the end of last year but already there is marked improvement in my digestive tract. It’s very important to return the gut microbial culture to a healthy, vital state. Please add these things to your own diet.

    I’m currently close to ending a forty day fast and have lost any bit of overweight I had prior its start. My vision was fine before but now it’s really sharp.

    Just this week I’ve started pulling oil with cold-pressed virgin coconut oil to give final impetus to the cleansing of the fast. This was implemented because I’ve only just started to experience hunger so this is when the organs have reached deep tissue purging.

    At 50, my hair is returning to brown from having started going gray at 46. I wash my hair with baking soda and ACV and have for some years now. I wash my skin with hot water, sea salt, and a scratchy linen cloth. It’s worth doing. Soap will never leave you so clean, I assure you.

    There’s so much more we can and should do to promote our health and wellbeing. Eating weeds is another great thing. Nettles, dandelions, wood sorrel and a whole host of others make wonderful salads and vegetable side dishes that are both free and highly nutritious. We’re fortunate to have cow pastures nearby where we collect them all spring, summer, and autumn. Our food costs are extremely low for a family of five adults.

    Putting conscious effort into life makes it all a lot easier and freer. We have the choice.

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