My life began to change when my body began rebelling from all the standing, lifting and cooking while performing by job as a personal chef. Osteoarthritis set in and I had to give up “The Eclectic Chef”. It was heartbreaking because I loved my job. Thus began the multiple joint and other surgeries, recoveries, and downward spiraling health. Add to that losing my father and losing our home in the economic downturn, and I was a mess!
I tried several avenues before I came to the realization that none of them were working. I believe it was a car accident in February of this year that turned the tables. After beginning to feel better to some degree, the accident set me back again. I did NOT want to backtrack anymore! I needed to move forward and began a whole-body healing process.
The process I have embarked on is not a “diet” it is a lifestyle change. As we all know diets don’t work so why bother starting something that is going to fail. But I know now from my research and my current experience that making a positive change in one’s approach to eating will bring a lifelong transformation in health.
Having little success on my own I sought out a nutrition specialist utilizing the diagnostic method Applied Kinesiology. In April I was referred to Dr. Richard Carlson at Carlson Chiropractic who practices an advanced version called Nutritional Response Testing. One of the first questions he asked was how I visualized my life in five years. In my mind it wasn’t pretty! Based on my last five years I was going to be a mess. Five years ago the year began with pneumonia, followed with two surgeries and over the next three years I had a total of six surgeries (two of those joint replacements, one a wrist fusion) along with narcotics for pain and multiple rounds of antibiotics. I was suffering from joint pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis, muscle pain from fibromyalgia, digestive problems, dry skin, weight gain, brain fog and a reduction in energy. With joint pain, a fused right wrist and a left wrist with no cartilage, my career as a chef destroyed and on permanent disability, I was quite pathetic, feeling sorry for myself and very unhealthy. So I made the commitment to follow a new lifestyle.
When I received the test results my liver, gallbladder, digestion, and thyroid were in rebellion. Then he dropped the bomb. In order to begin the healing process I needed to remove from my diet all grains, all dairy and refined sugar. I also needed to focus on eating food that was organically grown and pasture-raised as much as possible. I was told it could take one to two years to fully restore my health.
Wow! I highly suspected that at least wheat and some dairy needed to be removed from my diet, but I wasn’t prepared for ALL grains, ALL dairy and sugar. My first thought was fruit, but fruit was okay so long as it was on the lower end of the glycemic index (to be discussed at a later time.) Of course most people ask what is left to eat! Well there are lots of vegetables, meats, fish, poultry and of course fruit. Along with nuts, seeds, healthy fats, herbs and spices. Actually not so bad after all! I can do this! So began my new journey toward a healthy relationship with “real food”.
My adventure had begun and so did my studies. I LOVE books because they have lots of stories, answers, history, research and of course recipes. So I started doing my research and started bugging Dr. Carlson and his staff for resources. He sent me to the websites of the Weston Price Foundation, Dr. Mercola, and the books “The Great Health Heist” and “Whole 30”. This led me to complimentary books “It Starts With Food”, “Eat Fat, Lose Fat”, “Know Your Fats”, “Nourishing Traditions”, “Wheat Belly” and “Wheat Belly Cookbook”, “Cooking with Coconut”, “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook”, “The Paleo Solution”, “The Paleo Diet” and “The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook”, “Grain Brain”, and a bunch of blogs about the Paleo lifestyle, the Primal Lifestyle and Whole 30 (see authors and books listed under Resources.) I bombarded myself with information and the details began to make more sense. There was solid research behind this new approach and my eyes have been opened and continue to be.
Over the next three months as I began to feel better, lose the brain fog, gain increased energy and the pounds were seemingly melting off my body, I knew that I had found my new purpose in life. I know I can make this lifestyle extremely tasty and satisfying by modifying my own recipes and creating new ones to share with others like me.
Today I have the opportunity to share my culinary expertise, my love of cooking, and my knowledge and perspectives of real food with you and your family. Food that is unprocessed, unadulterated and not genetically modified. Food that doesn’t harbor hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. We will be healthier and happier by removing those foods that make us ill, create disease, and don’t provide the nutrients our body truly needs. Yes there is life without grains, with little or no dairy and refined sugar. Join me as we cook real food together to revitalize our lives, replenish our bodies with nutrients and vitamins, and for those of us who have health issues, restore our health. Let’s eat well so we feel well!