30 years ago when I got well through following radically changing my diet, I eliminated all dairy and gluten containing grains. My journey toward health began with the study of nutrition at the age of 15. I had, all my life, experienced severe health problems; my earliest memories are being held by my mother, beside a vaporizer so that I could sleep. I missed an average of about a month every year from illness; strep throat, bronchitis, sinus infections. While a teenager I developed systemic yeast, this was 1967 and no one knew what it was or what to do about it. My gynecologist advised wearing skirts, eating yogurt (which it turns out I was allergic to!), and wearing only natural fiber clothing.
I was raised on a SAD (Standard American Diet), experiencing healthy vegetable heavy meals at my grandmothers. At home it was cereal for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, with chips or cookies. Dinner was on of 5 dinners us kids generally cooked; spaghetti. Shake and bake chicken, usually Minute Rice, boiled to death frozen cauliflower or chopped broccoli (yuck), pork chops or hamburgers or hot dogs. Mostly canned or frozen veggies. My parents ate butter, we were allowed only margarine. We drank mostly Kool-Aid.
Although I was sick a lot, I was blessed by being in a school for gifted children, reading on a college level by the age of 9. I was reading everything I could get my hands on at our local library and at home. My parents raised us with no television and not only a very extensive library but 4 different sets of current encyclopedias. I was studying health, nutrition, history, science and psychology. My teachers, and later doctors, would help me get info to study. In my early twenties I was able to gain borrowing privileges from our two local universities. I met Rick O’Shea at 27 and was able to study Natural Hygiene and Health with him. Then a friend of mine from Cincinnati gave me some medical texts on the molecular structure of Vitamins and Minerals, applied nutrition and chemistry.
At 20 years old I finally tried a vegetarian diet. By adding way more vegetables I began feeling better, but not by much. I continued studying as much as I was able; vegetarian nutrition through books that were currently available then.
At 24 I developed spastic colitis. I initially was unable to leave the house, medication helped…but I was mostly in a lot of pain. My doctors’ advice? Eat lots of cheese and Jell-O! Yeast continued to be a major issue for me, along with severe strep throat, sinus infections and colds.
During my 20’s I could not keep a job; every three or four weeks I would get a sore throat, sinus or ear infection. As I moved into my thirties I developed arthritis, lack of energy and chronic ear infections.
By the time I was 34 I had developed arthritis in my knees as well as in my hands and hips. At 34 I got an ear infection that would not respond to antibiotics. I experienced a severe hearing loss in my left ear. My children were experiencing many of the same issues; pneumonia, ear infections, learning disorders, hyperactivity, night terrors. After taking drugs for a year to try to clear it up, I finally asked the doctor what could be causing the infection. He told me it was from getting my ear wet when I swam or bathed! He suggested that I put Silly Putty in my ear when I showered!!
At this time, I was counseling breastfeeding mothers through the La Leche League. The night the doctor gave me this ridiculous advice; I was on a counseling call with a young mother whose 2-week-old baby had severe colic and bronchitis. She told me that she was lactose intolerant, but had been advised by her doctor to begin consuming dairy products in order to get enough calcium during her pregnancy and period of lactation. She had followed this advice but was experiencing frequent colds and now her newborn infant was sick also. I advised her to eliminate all dairy products from her diet, and increase her consumption of green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds in order to get plenty of bio-available calcium in her diet. As I got off the phone with her I realized that I too was experiencing these same problems and had not been willing to look to the elimination of dairy to help resolve them.
My best friend, Rick O’Shea, had been trying to get me to eliminate wheat and dairy from my diet for about 9 years at this time. I had continually debated with him that this was absurd! I felt I knew all there was to know about vegetarian nutrition (always a scary position!) and was unwilling to consider any other possibility. However after getting off the phone with this woman, I suddenly felt as though the proverbial two by four had hit me upside the head! I removed dairy from my diet immediately! I felt considerably better within a week, but then woke up one night, threw up violently for a few hours and do not remember much about the next few days. But when I woke up I cannot describe the difference! I felt “awake” for the first time in my life, clearheaded, energetic, raring to go. I also felt profoundly different emotionally. I felt very happy, hopeful of dealing with and solving so many of the things that had crippled me emotionally; (codependency, depression, low energy).
I detoxed pretty heavily for about 6 weeks, experiencing a severe runny nose, my throat hurt, I lost my voice for about 3 weeks. But during this time I felt better than I ever had! Within a few weeks I returned to therapy, got out of a horrible marriage, started my personal cooking service and had the most exciting year of my life! The physical healing led to great emotional healing. My friend and teacher, Rick O’Shea had been trying to gently lead me to this for 9 years! Finally, I could hear what he had been trying to tell me.
At this time, I went on a wide macrobiotic diet, lots of grains, vegetables, and seaweed. I felt 90% better. Within a few years I developed yeast problems again and also was diagnosed with Miniere’s Disease. Back to the drawing board! I finally got all the reading material that Rick had on Natural Hygiene, and sat down to study. It was the most logical approach to health that I had ever studied up until that time.
Within a week the yeast cleared up, never to return. All symptoms of the Miniere’s went away completely within six weeks. And I began to experience something I had never felt before; unbelievably high energy. I woke up grinning, couldn’t wait to embrace the day. Even as I child I had never felt such joy and contentment. That was 30 years ago. People continuously asked me how I found the discipline to follow such a strict diet. I would explain to them that it does not take hard work to do. That the way I feel is so wonderful that it feels effortless to make the choices that I do on a day-to-day basis.
From 1990 until 1998 I followed a diet that was completely vegan (no animal products). My diet consisted of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Although I felt fabulous, the only problem I still had was an inability to gain weight. I had weighed 100 to 104 pounds all my life. In 1998 I met a Clinical Nutritionist who began telling me I should go back to eating seafood. Because he kept insisting, I asked him for information on fats and their effects on the body. He gave me some articles on fats. But I wanted to know MORE! Jeff Novick, head of Nutrition at the Pritikin Center in Miami, suggested I read a book called Fats That Heal, Fat That Kill, by Udo Erasmus. Finally, I found the depth of information for which I had been looking. After studying the subject, and realizing the impact of Omega fats on the body, I returned to eating cold-water fish. Through making that change and moving to the beach where I was able to be more active, I was able to gain 13 pounds!
For several years I followed, and taught, this style of eating; fruits, vegetables, smoothies, seafood. No gluten or lactose foods at all. I felt fine, but was eating about 60% of my calories from fruit. In order to do this, I had to pretty much graze all day. But my clients found that they were healing quickly, losing about 5 pounds a week while consuming 2000 calories a day. I found this was a good diet for people to jumpstart detoxing and weight loss. This diet provided people with a way to become better nourished very quickly.
About 12 years ago, in in 2002, I met some women from Australia who were teaching information available on the importance of saturated fats and proteins. As I had become dissatisfied with the amount of fruits and vegetables I had to eat in order to feel satisfied, I was very excited. Then I read The Omnivores Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. This led me to Nourish Magazine. They pointed me toward The Weston A. Price Foundation. I was wowed. The information on grass-fed meats, coconut oil, the importance of saturated fats and eating broths, convinced me that we needed to return to man’s traditional diet. And there were plenty of people who were saying this over the last 20 years (Dr. Adkins, William Banting) and there was plenty of research to back it up. So after 32 years of eating either vegetarian or vegetarian plus seafood (not really vegetarian!), I went back to meat and, eggs daily, WAY more fat in the form of meats, coconut oils, meat stocks and raw butter. I initially lost a few pounds, and then began to feel wonderful. People started telling me I looked great. My skin began to be better hydrated. And., best of all, I felt completely satisfied between meals, even giving up my late night snack which I had indulged in all my life. I was no longer dependent on eating fruit all day to get enough calories. I could easily go from an early breakfast to a lunch 5 or six hours later…and be completely satisfied in between… no drop in blood sugar at all. The food cravings went away…I simply ate when I was hungry, with enough fat and protein at each meal. I noticed in about a week, that if I did eat just carbs, I felt tired a short time later, my blood sugar fell.
I immersed myself in this research, began eating this way. It was strange at first, pouring a tablespoon of coconut oil into the iron frying pan to cook eggs instead of a smidgen of cooking oil spray. I cook with coconut oil, butter, meat stocks, demi’ glace, beef lard and chicken fat in generous amounts on my veggies, not cooking with olive oil or any vegetable oils at all. And eating almost no nuts. But I loved the results.
So now, at 61 years old, I am in the best health I have ever been in. I practice yoga daily, lift weight 3-4 times weekly, go out dancing a several times a week, enjoy my children and grandchildren, and keep up a very busy practice in Nutrition Coaching.
Four years ago I was admitted to the hospital for some stress related dizziness, an issue that I have occasionally as remnants of the Miniere’s Disease. This had occurred only a handful of times over the years, but because of my advancing age they wanted to run tests this time. After all of the tests the entire heart group came to me room and asked what I ate. I laughed (knowing what was coming) and asked them why. They explained that when the results of the test came back they “knew” that the tests had been mixed with someone else’s’. The tech who did the sonogram of my neck and throat swore to the doctors that it really was a 56 years old woman’s test result. They were blown away by the fact that I did not have ANY plaque in my arteries…none! No bone degeneration on my joints, I blew through the stress tests…they finally gave up on the treadmill..I just kept running. My HDL/LDL ratio was that of a 4 year olds, the healthiest they had ever seen! They were baffled…especially when I told them what I ate! Four hours later we were still talking. The head of nutrition at the hospital came to talk; we talked well in to the night! She, and the doctors were fascinated.
What I am offering you, through my book, website or through working with me privately, is a guide to make changes in your diet and lifestyle that you will want to live with for the rest of your life. This is not a “Diet” as people regularly use that word nowadays. It is simply the way we humans have eaten for thousands of years, the way we should eat daily.