You haven’t been sick in how many years?

Since 2006 when I started college and caught a cold/flu virus. Since that time I have made it safely through thirteen years of no colds, flu, sniffles, coughs, throwing up, or fevers. Amen!  I have had food poisoning once in the past 15 years that lasted 3 days–thanks to a not fully cooked quarter pounder about 12 years ago. My allergies–I’m allergic to mold, animal dander and ragweed, have been pretty good since I quit smoking several years ago. I sneeze maybe a dozen times a year now and take absolutely nothing for allergies in the way of meds anymore. All that to say I have had an issue to deal with since June that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

For personal reasons my recent issue isn’t the point of my post–in all honesty you will thank me for this—lol. The real reason I am posting about it at all is because what I’ve discovered may convince others to make a change to their diet and lifestyle.
First of all what I’ve been dealing with is serious, but it isn’t contagious (I didn’t catch it), it isn’t life threatening, and it isn’t a disease. It’s an issue that has popped up in my body that is uncomfortable to deal with, hard to care for, and extremely painful. I have dealt with issues similar to this for several years, and it has finally gotten to the point of being a problem. One that is slow to heal and that even doctors struggle with knowing how to help other than to perform surgery which really isn’t recommended. I’m not trying to lead you on with mystery, but I’m just not willing to share the details on the internet. Suffice it to say it could be almost anything–and whether it heals or not seems to rely solely and totally on my health, diet, and lifestyle. Which of course is the story here and the real purpose of my post.

I’m in both the enviable and unenviable position of being able to reap the benefits of years of healthier living and dealing with an issue that almost solely relies on good health, healing, and lifestyle changes in order to heal and be healed entirely from this awful issue.

For three months I have not been myself. I have been unable to travel much, I’ve missed attending Farmer’s markets every week as I intended to do, we shortened our vacation, limited our weekend getaways, and had to forfeit a couple of friend get-togethers. The good news is my different projects in and around the apartment have been completed, I have done quite a bit of volunteering, and I have fortunately not missed any work. I really had to prioritize everything– summer fun kind of went by the  wayside. Free time was spent resting and when I was rested on the weekends I spent time in my garden or talking with my husband or catching part of a movie with him. My issue has caused me to be uncomfortable, feel helpless, unmotivated, scared, and out of sorts. I have seen my doctor, I have had him tell me what my issue is–I already knew, and I have followed his instructions on how to heal my issue. Again, I hate to be cryptic, but suffice it to say it is an issue associated with my digestive tract. I’ve been working on a healthier lifestyle for almost fifteen years now–this blog was actually created to act as kind of a journal for my journey. I started by trying to remove all of the chemicals in my diet because at the time I had just quit drinking and smoking. After I did that I started incorporating organic food and dairy in our diets. Soon after that I began changing out chemical cleaners/household stuff for non chemical cleaners. I stopped using all sprays, perfumes, dyes, candles, and began eliminating snacks, processed food, and fast food from our lifestyle. This has taken years–in no way can any of this be done overnight. There are a lot of sad moments when you realize how many things you may have to give up to live a clean, chemical free–as much as possible, life. We were never big consumers of this kind of stuff anyways, but we consumed enough. I spent years researching alternatives for everything. Nowadays all of that information is readily available online via good ole Google–thank goodness. It is more acceptable, daresay almost trendy, to do the kind of things I did fifteen years ago. Back then we got a lot of strange looks as well as some pretty negative comments about all the changes we were making. I never doubted once that what I was doing was the best thing for my husband and I to do–so we got over the negative comments and looks fairly fast. lol.

I wouldn’t say good health runs in my family. Based on information I’ve been able to find out about grandparents three generations back on both sides–the average age of death has been 80. Heart disease seems to play a major part on my Dad’s side and respiratory issues and arthritis and chronic pain issues (perhaps related to fibro and also the arthritis) on my Mom’s side. I didn’t know any of this information in 2004, but once I learned of it, I was motivated more than ever to make changes and stick to them. Somewhere around 2009 I began having GI issues related to intolerances. There were a lot of fruits, veggies, and foods I’d been eating for years that started causing me health issues. Though today there is a lot of disbelievers of gluten intolerance–it is a very real thing. I don’t necessarily think that it is 100% just the wheat or the lack of tolerance of chemicals, but more a person’s body/systems/ gut and it’s reaction to modern hybridized wheat combine with all the chemicals in today’s food system and its affect on certain people/immune systems. On top of having to eliminate wheat products, I had to eliminate all the gums–guar, zantham, locust, cellulose and all other food additive gums. Not much left for me to eat after removing everything containing preservatives, thickeners, and wheat. It was quite a shock to my system and I did feel defeated and angry for quite some time. Turns out for some reason my body is also missing the ability to break down short chain carbohydrates (fermentable carbs). So to stay healthy and symptom-free I follow a FODMAP diet. I also take a probiotic called Accuflora and in the last couple of years started taking some supplements after an intense amount of research coupled with consulting with my physician and a nutritionist.

I’ve been taking NOW supplements for four months and can honestly state I don’t know where I would be without them. I’m scared to think how much farther behind I would be in my healing without having something that was keeping my arthritis pain at bay. I’ve been taking glucosamine twice a day for four months and my pain has been cut in half. Now doctors and scientists and researchers say this is unlikely, but for me it has given me a reduction in pain–inflammation, and better mobility. I was low in vitamin b6 but unable to take it due to having IC –thanks to the Now P5P I’ve taken for almost three months my levels are improving! Last but never least I haven’t had an IC flare since I started taking D-Mannose for one week once a month almost eighteen months ago. If you are diabetic you have to be careful with this one. I am not so I’ve been taking it with great success.  I began having symptoms of IC in 2004 and really I believe I may have always had some form of it. To this day I firmly believe it is a low-grade undetected by labs UTI. That’s just my own opinion, but it fits with a lot of issues bladder related that I’ve dealt with in my life. I experienced flares that were pretty painful and at times life altering from 2004-2017. The physicians I had at the time both told me it would go away on its own. My current physician wanted to try a few procedures that had been effective in a small percentage of women. I declined. Eventually several things helped me to become flare free for the last 18 months–it took years, patience, and perseverance to get me to where I am now with this issue.

My supplements cost a total of $210.00 a year and I feel pretty grateful that they are the only thing in pill form  that I take. My diet for quite some time now has been low fat, low carb, low salt, no red meat, high in fiber, fruit, and veg. I enjoy very little caffeine, eat hardly any sweets, and I don’t drink or smoke. I sleep 8 hours a night and if it ends up being less, I take a nap when I can.  I walk year round–usually a brisk walk at least 3x a week. All that to say, I’m happy because the one thing  I’ve worried about since I quit drinking and smoking is my health and what affect both of those things had on it. Maybe I’ll never truly know but for now I’m good! Eating better, taking care of myself, and getting proper rest really works. My doctor is always blown away by my level of healthiness, both physical and mental health, and the fact I am not taking any kind of medication at all at my age (mid-fifties). He’s happy supplements are working for me–disclaimer: I would advise everyone to talk with your doctor before you start any new supplement or reduce or restrict things in your diet. I’m blown away all the time that I am as healthy as I am because most of my life I did not live very healthy, ate junk, and rest? who needs rest?

When I made the changes in my lifestyle they were pretty harsh, but they kind of had to be because I started seeing the light so late. So for anyone out there wondering if eating healthy, eating natural or organic, studying labels, restricting things that are bad for you, and getting good rest really helps– a resounding  Yes all of the above.

This isn’t a sponsored ad at all. I researched this company, its supplements, its reviews, and talked personally with people taking them and then made my decision. As I stated, I also talked with my physician and a nutritionist. I had labs drawn and because of my good health I am able to take supplements as needed. Taking supplements is a serious thing and many can interfere and even cause toxicity. Never take a supplement without consulting with your physician first. Always always remember to do all your homework and be prepared anytime you have an issue and visit with a doctor and be your own health advocate. No one thing is a magic pill-good health takes hard work and constant attention to changes, levels of stress, rest, weather, and your immune system.

So for now I’m getting better slowly but I believe surely. Had my health not been as good as it is I may have needed to take personal leave or just let everything in my life be put on hold until things progressed. The time period for healing what I have can be a year, but I hope to be healed by the end of month 3. If I’ve learned anything in my life it is to never ever take my health and well-being for granted.

One last thing I personally do not use Google persay to find answers to my health questions. I instead rely on https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/  for most of my research and information.

That’ s it for now–be well, take care of yourselves, and eat healthy, good for you, clean whole food and local if at all possible food!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

cabbage-brunswick

cabbage-rolls

Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for cabbage rolls is here 

Years and years ago I used to unwind by watching two hours of Food Network every day. Even though I had been cooking since I was twelve, and I had worked in several restaurants with positions from prep cook, to line cook and sous chef in training, I really truly didn’t know much about food. I worked these type of jobs, not for my interest in cooking or food, but rather to survive at the time because these types of jobs were aplenty. When I got married I learned quickly that my husband, although not interested where the food comes from, is interested and lets his feelings be known, that he wants home-cooked meals and he wants a variety of good home-cooked made from scratch. It’s how he grew up and never having been on his own before we married, it’s all he knew. So while I was unwinding, I was learning, and mentally preparing to learn to become a good cook. Which more than anything relies on really liking food, getting acquainted with how it grows, where it grows and how to prepare it. The chefs on the Food Network in the 90’s really saved my bacon (pardon the pun). In 2004 I started our family on our journey towards a more sustainable life by changing our diet to a more organic diet. I looked to advocates like Alice Waters for inspiration and information. From Alice Waters, I found an abundance of information both at the library, local extension offices and of course the internet. I’ve probably watched 50 documentary’s on food, and learned something different from each one.  Food has a history, food is a part of people’s culture, tradition, and history. Food is a living, growing product needed for each and every one of our survivals. The closest you can get a food to pure is to pluck it from the soil it grows in and eat it. As time has gone on I’ve found several homesteaders who have shown me great products, sustainable living practices, farming & gardening methods, food preservation and so much more.

chef-v-howard-cookbook

Sometime last fall I sat down to catch an episode of A Chef’s Life on PBS and ended up buying all the seasons of the show. Whenever I could find the time I would sit down and promise myself two shows just two shows. I always watched at least three and given the time I would have watched all three seasons right there in my easy chair. Chef Vivian Howard of A Chef’s Life lives in North Carolina with her husband, twins, and parents.  Chef Howard and her husband own two restaurants in North Carolina. The show is about her and her husband running the restaurant and her sourcing the food, from local North Carolina farmers, and cooking up all these unique food dishes with it. Each show is like a super creative history of something locally grown- peas, sweet potatoes, okra, apples, peaches and so much more. I mean three, soon four, seasons full of food information, foodie topics, watching the chef make interesting, and delicious looking food in her restaurant, the inner workings of a restaurant and of course her home life, children, husband, and neighbors are featured. I love love love A Chef’s Life. My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year and without hesitation I said- Chef Howard’s new cookbook- Deep Run Roots. I received it last week- early birthday presents rock. It’s a good-sized cookbook weighing in at 4# so I’ve got a lot of reading and recipe trying to get into.

We are supposed to be getting frost tonight, which mid-October I would kind of expect. A lot of the trees in the surrounding areas haven’t changed color yet. A couple frosts and fall colors will be here. Seems like just yesterday I was sharing recipes for rhubarb a food that signals spring. Last week and this pumpkins and cabbages- foods signaling fall.  Later this week- biodynamic vs. organic.

FOOD INC.

My husband has always been very supportive of our movement toward an all organic diet. I think he may at times have felt I was a bit too gung- ho about nutrition, but eventually he has come to agree eating more whole foods is going to be better for us both short and long-term. I’ve spent years working with special diets, I even created meal plans for the clients I worked for in the group homes that I managed. I’m not a nutritionist, but I have taken classes in nutrition and food safety.

Quite a few years ago I visited a commune.  While at this commune I observed their way of living and the food they were growing. Their produce was bigger than any produce I had ever seen.  They grew vegetables and certain varieties that I had never known. Those living in the commune were healthy-almost a super healthy look; long shiny flowing hair, glowing faces, bright eyes and lots of energy. That memory will stay with me all the rest of my life. I want my husband and I to not only feel healthy, but to also look healthy and living an all around healthy lifestyle.

In the last few years I have discovered a whole realm of people like me who are tired of eating food filled with preservatives, chemicals, and additives. People just like me who are devoted to eating local and living healthy.

This weekend we watched Food Inc. We truly believe that the things we have done have been significant- changing our diet and eating organic. During the movie we looked at each other and knew that there are many more things we need to do. And just maybe, judging by my husbands eyes and shocked expressions, he is all right with my being so enthusiastic.

People know they need to make a change. Often they just won’t because it involves too much work. Watch Food Inc. you will clearly see that any change you need to make will involve much less work than you’ve ever imagined.  The road to better health is well traveled. More and more people everyday begin walking on it to save themselves, help save others, and save our Earth.

Make a difference. Thank you Robert Kenner, Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan.

FoodInc

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