I’m happy to introduce you to several real food authors, all of whom found relief from something (often many things) via food. I know you’ll love hearing their stories:
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 (link no longer available). 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.
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:
- make Starlene’s banana muffins
- try adapting my pumpkin muffins to be grain-free
- try Starlene’s sandwich bread
- make French toast for the first time in YEARS
- 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!
My favorite way to learn is by reading others’ stories of how they found health, naturally. Laurie Neverman of Common Sense Homesteading has been a reader here at KS forever, and she has pushed my thinking on what detoxing is and what “good” and “bad” symptoms really are. When I reviewed a nighttime detox deodorant and didn’t like it because it made me stink so badly, Laurie called up the company and ordered some!
She knew what I didn’t understand at the time: Stink = detox. I’ve since learned a great deal more, and I’m happy to sit at the feet of those who are (way) ahead of me on this natural health journey. Here’s Laurie’s story:
I firmly believe that our bodies are designed to heal themselves, if we just give them the tools to do it. Our modern medical system is amazing for repairing trauma and many other health issues, but we’ve lost track of many “back to basics” things we can do to improve our health.
Five years ago, I was 30 pounds heavier, depressed, and generally struggling to get through the day. My husband had lost his job of nearly 16 years, and my stress levels had gone through the roof. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and autoimmune disorder.
This meant my body was attacking my own thyroid, causing hypothyroidism. The doctor prescribed Levothyroxin, which I took for a month. During that time I felt even worse. My joints ached, I couldn’t focus – I was miserable. The doctor’s suggestion was to increase the dosage. I declined, and haven’t been back to see him since. (I did later find a different doctor who was more open minded.)
Since I couldn’t tolerate the drugs, I started making small changes in my diet and lifestyle. Nothing drastic – I didn’t really have a lot of energy to spare. Weight started coming off, and I had more energy. My hair got softer, my skin got smoother. I did find a doctor who was willing to prescribe natural thyroid medication, but I hope to one day heal my thyroid. In contrast to the “thyroid death sentence” issued by my first doctor, who said it the disease could only get progressively worse, I have found people who have healed Hashi’s through nutrition and lifestyle choices.
In “Common Sense Health: Detox, Diet and Physical Activities“, I’ve shared ideas for things you can do to remove toxins from your life (Detox); strategies for simple, healthy eating (Diet); and physical activities beyond exercise that have been used by holistic practitioners, such as oil pulling and barefoot therapy. No big investment or complicated format, just start where you are with what you have.
On my website, Common Sense Homesteading, I use the tagline “Using sound judgment to be more self-reliant”. Taking responsibility for our own health is one of the most important self-reliance skills we can have. I encourage you to do your own research, and take advantage of the many resources now available to find the path that works best for you and your family.
The Common Sense Woman
Life After Fibromyalgia
I’ve just been introduced to Christy Pooschke, but as I watched her video “Eating Outside the Box,” I was amazed that someone so young could have such terrible, debilitating health issues, and that docs couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her for years!
Here’s her story:
Fibromyalgia stole several years of my life.
In 2002 (at age 25), my health began to deteriorate. I was extremely weak and fatigued, and I was in so much pain that some days it was all I could do to get out of bed. Among other symptoms, I suffered from digestive distress, sleep disturbances, chest pain, and an intermittent racing heart beat. After more than 15 different prescription medications, never-ending appointments with various specialists and more than a handful of diagnostic procedures, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2005. I was in pure misery, suffering from an “invisible illness” for which there was no treatment, no cure and no known cause.
Fortunately, in 2007, I stumbled upon some information about food that changed my life forever. I learned that there are ingredients hidden in foods that are making people sick! My husband and I were so incredibly shocked by what we read that we immediately purged our kitchen of all convenience foods and mystery ingredients—we threw food away, gave food away, and even sold some at our garage sale!
We said good-bye forever to things like low-calorie frozen dinners, protein and diet bars, soda, chewing gum, commercial ice cream and fast food. We began making all of our food at home…from scratch. We scrutinized the ingredients label on everything we bought. If it contained even one word that we didn’t fully recognize as having come from nature, we didn’t put it in our cart.
Within just a couple months of making these changes, ALL of my Fibromyalgia symptoms were gone. Completely gone! In fact, I now feel better and have more energy than most people I know! Considering how sick I was just six years ago, I am still shocked every time I hear myself say that! It’s truly amazing! (People who knew me back then can hardly believe it when they see me now. And people who meet me now can hardly believe I was ever that sick…“but you seem SO healthy,” they say.)
In the past six years, I have witnessed first-hand the havoc that these ingredients wreak in others’ lives, as well, and I feel a moral obligation to share what I have learned with as many people as possible and to inspire them to take an active role in maximizing their own health. I created my “Eating Outside the Box” video presentation and my website at CompletelyNourished.com to share my return-to-health journey, to educate folks about the dangers of food additives and to help people transition away from processed foods and embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle. I remember how overwhelming it felt when my husband and I first decided to make these lifestyle changes, so I work tirelessly to create the products and services (e.g., “short-cuts”) and to provide the support that I wish we’d had available to us back when we were just beginning to embrace this journey.
This may sound cliché, but I know that everything happens for a reason. While suffering with Fibromyalgia, it was really hard to see any purpose in the pain. Now, I realize that I suffered for those years so that I could educate and inspire others to take charge of their health. Oh, and please realize that although my particular symptoms were diagnosed as “Fibromyalgia,” you can insert countless other health conditions and get this same story and solution. I’ve witnessed similar transformations in other people with a variety of ailments and diagnoses throughout the years…
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