At the moment...
I'm married to my best friend, and the mother of a beautiful little girl. I am a voracious researcher, amateur chef, party planner, mentor, and friend. I love to help others, and hope that my journey will make the path easier for someone coming along behind me. I'm a woman who has struggled with chronic pain, obesity, exhaustion, fibromyalgia and chronic myofascial pain syndrome, TMJ, gallstones, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and on and on the list goes. When my daughter was 2, I read a statistic that obese women are 3 times more likely to die of breast cancer. I pictured myself on my death bed having to tell my daughter that I chose a cheeseburger over her. The next day, I changed my life...well, all of our lives, actually. I started reading. I figured out how to source meat, eggs, fruits, and veggies locally. I switched us to organic food. I started to read labels. I threw out a lot of food and gave away the rest. I had lists of ingredients to avoid and would not buy anything that I could not identify. Grass-fed beef. Low-pasteurized, grass-fed, organic, whole milk. Grass-fed butter. It was terrifying. I was at a frightening weight and I was adding a lot of fat to my diet. It went against everything I had ever been taught, but I knew it was right. Our country has never been so sick, and never so fat, since adopting a low-fat diet. I had to have faith that going back to the original food source was the answer. I was outraged to learn that cows are not supposed to eat corn. I am from the Midwest!! Corn-fed beef is glorified here!! How did our society get so far from the natural order of things? We are now forcing animals to go against the way their bodies are designed to function in order to produce more food, more quickly?! It is insane. So, there I was with my whole milk and my butter enjoying food like I have never enjoyed food in my life. I would look across the table from my husband at every meal and say, "This is what ______ is supposed to taste like?!" Without all of the chemicals and salt, you can actually experience the food itself. We were no longer part of a science experiment. By the way, I lost 15 lbs. the first month. I have lost 80 total so far, and my husband has lost 50. So much for losing weight by eating low-fat;)
Once I felt confident with the food element of our new journey, I branched out to products we were using. I switched our shampoo, soaps, lotions, make-up, nail polish, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. I had to research ingredients to avoid and then do my best to avoid them. It is much more difficult than it sounds! I was very discouraged at this point. I felt as if everywhere I turned someone was trying to kill us. I used to believe that if it was sold then it was safe. Marketing people do a very good job of making poison not only look edible, but actually trick you into believing it is natural! My eyes were very much open at this point. Just Google fluoride if you want to see what I mean by all of this. We all need to realize that our skin is our largest organ. It absorbs everything that touches it. Choose wisely! Two years later, we only use coconut oil as moisturizer. We switched to a healthy shampoo, deodorant, soap, etc. We have streamlined a lot. We use Dr. Bronner's liquid soap for our hand/dish soap. We make our own laundry and dishwasher detergent. We clean with vinegar and baking soda. We still have a lot to learn, but we have come a long way.
Our next challenge came almost two years ago when I had to go gluten free. I had six months to adjust to that when I also needed to remove dairy and nightshades. My beloved butter and whole milk had to go, along with tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc. A year after surviving the loss of some of my favorite foods, I realized that I was still reacting strongly to something. I was itching for months. My sinus' were swollen. My ears hurt. One night, in March of 2013, I woke up at 3am and had to use my inhaler. My airway was closing up and it was terrifying! The next day, I started an elimination diet. I was not too fun to be around that month;) I saw very clearly that I was reacting to corn. Oh my God! The list was getting longer. I took out corn, but was still reacting to something else. The itching had stopped, but not the sinus/ear discomfort. I went to a doctor and had an extensive allergy test. The list became longer. Eggs, gluten, dairy from any animal, corn, tomatoes, buckwheat, oats, cane sugar, yeast, alcohol, MSG...and feathers. My sinus/ear issue was caused by the feather pillow I was sleeping next to! Oh, did I forget to mention the one that strikes fear into the heart of every woman? And the absence of which strikes fear into the heart of every man? Yep, I'm allergic to chocolate! Luckily, one of the first things we did at the very beginning of our journey was radically change the type of chocolate we consumed. We eat very dark chocolate. I think that if we had gone from eating milk chocolate to carob, I would not fare so well, but going from dark chocolate to carob is not nearly as bad. I might actually enjoy it! I'll let you know. My journey now involves a starting over, of sorts. Sourcing food, reading labels, researching ingredients, etc. are all skills that I learned at the beginning of my journey back in May of 2009. I need to apply those skills to the new foods I have to avoid. I need to revamp recipes, figure out how to maneuver parties, restaurants, and social events. I am up for the challenge. This foodie wants to eat!