My health journey started the day I was born. In the early morning hours of February 9th, 1976 my mother went into labor. My father drove my mother one and a half hours to Ephrata Hospital for my delivery. This long of a drive wasn’t normal in 1976. The ordinary thing to do was get mom in the car and drive to the closest hospital ten or fifteen minutes away. My mother chose this far away hospital because a doctor there agreed to her birth plan. She wanted a birth without violence after reading Dr. Fredrick Leboyer’s book “Birth without Violence”: dim lights, everyone speaks in whispers, baby goes from birth to mother’s belly immediately, waiting to clamp the cord, followed by nursing and a warm bath of 98.6 degrees to mimic the body temperature I was accustomed to inside my mother’s belly. The local hospital down the street wouldn’t agree to deliver a baby this way. So, my mother stood her ground and said no thanks to delivering another baby like some barnyard animal with her legs in stirrups, harsh lights, and a doctor that wouldn’t listen to her.
My birth went exactly as my parents had planned. My mother tired but happy as they gave me my warm bath. But as I enjoyed the water, they discovered a small balloon-like bubble between my legs. Curious, they poked it and urine came out. This was the start of something gone horribly wrong.
A specialist was called in and plans were made for my family to travel to the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital the following day. My mother and I would remain here for several weeks. I had a condition called a ureterocele (a deformed, enlarged, and partially dead kidney with a duplicated collection system, where two ureters drain their respective kidney instead of one) which would require two major surgeries in the first month of my life.
As soon as my mother was given the news her mind immediately flashed back to seven months earlier when my older brother, Jared, went to the pediatrician for his routine eleven-month checkup. While there, the doctor informed my mother that “today we will give him his MMR shot”. Being young and naïve she never thought to question what the doctor said, assuming he knew best. She held Jared while he was injected and comforted him while he cried and then returned home.
Later that day while playing with Jared he was kissing her face and some of his baby slobber got on my mother’s mouth. At that moment, she had an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of her stomach. She said aloud to herself “MMR…measles, mumps, and rubella…Oh no, I think I’m pregnant and I never had rubella (also known as German Measles or three-day measles).” Nor was she vaccinated for rubella when she was a child. All the stories she had heard about pregnant women contracting rubella and the resulting birth defects flashed through her mind. She immediately called her doctor and relayed her concerns. She was assured that there was nothing to be concerned about and even if she had told him she was pregnant he would have given Jared the MMR shot anyway. Shebwas still concearned and continued to research the subject, she now knows that the MMR shot is a live vaccine meaning that it is made using weakened, but live, viruses. In some instances, the virus can be detected for a short period of time in the vaccinated patient and that can sometimes lead to others being infected with the vaccine version of the virus. Those instances are thought to be rare. Shortly after that, my parents moved to a different state and seven months later I was born with a serious birth defect.
My mother now had an 18-month-old baby boy at home and a sick baby girl in the hospital. The doctors could not give my parents any insight as to what my future would look like. They did not know if I would ever have full control of my bladder, if I would have further complications with my kidneys, or if my kidneys would be strong enough to withstand the stress of a pregnancy of my own one day. They simply did not know. And neither did my mother.
Her mission was to give me as normal a life as possible. I’m happy to say all these years later that she succeeded. She was always evolving, learning, and growing when it came to health and natural cures. All she had was her gut instincts, the library, and her determination to find a better way. There was no internet or smartphone at her fingertips.
I remember fresh milk from the local dairy being delivered and placed in a metal box on our front porch. We had a big vegetable garden in the backyard where I learned how to plant and grow my own food. We lived in a neighborhood where wild blackberries grew everywhere. There were several cornfields all lined with mulberry trees, which we often used as our playground and they made great locations for fort building.
We drank water as our main source of hydration. I had to drink a lot of pure cranberry juice due to my ongoing kidney issues (I was not always so happy about this). The woods were filled with wild blueberries and raspberries and we knew which berries were ok to eat and which ones were poisonous. Our parents took us to local farms to go strawberry picking every year; we even went to a Christmas tree farm to pick out and cut down our favorite tree for Christmas every year.
Life was so simple when I was a child. A lot of our food in the warmer months came from our backyard. We shared extras with friends and neighbors and they did the same. We made tomato sauce and canned it for later with our tomatoes and peaches. We froze sliced strawberries and made Rhubarb pie and homemade preserves out of all our different berries.
Mom always had healthy food in our home. We still ate our traditional Italian meals always served with an olive oil and vinegar salad. We joined the family for Sunday dinner and holidays at my Italian grandmother’s home. In our home, we had whole wheat bread instead of Wonder bread and we ate granola instead of sugary cereals. Juicy Juice and Adam & Eve were the only juice brands allowed. Even then, my mother would water the juice down without us knowing it. For dessert, we had dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate and Breyers ice cream was the only brand I ever remember seeing in our freezer. Mom told us it had the most natural ingredients in it (this is not the case today). On special occasions, we had the occasional bag of cheese puffs and chips or cookies and cake.
My paternal grandparents ate the typical American diet. In their kitchen, there was always a full bread box, muffins and pastries, cold cuts in the fridge, and never a meal without soda and dessert to follow. But still, my nana and pappy had two large gardens, a cherry tree, a crab apple tree and a one-acre Apple orchard on their property. This was the norm for us. I assumed that all families grew their own vegetables and fruits in their backyard.
As we all know grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren and both sets of mine succeeded in doing that. But over at Nana and Pappy’s, we had an unlimited number of snacks and sugary treats. My pappy was the head of the local lion’s club that ran the local pool where Jared and I spent most of our summer vacations. Now, my mom was a single mother of two. She was a teacher and had the summers off so she’d run the snack bar at the pool. The delivery men loved my pappy as did most people that met him. They would give him boxes of candy and ice cream bars to take home for the grandkids and tell him they got damaged after falling off the truck. And this is where my sugar addiction began. Never being allowed to have massive amounts of candy at home, Jared and I would eat as much as we could whenever we could, like most children do.
During trips to the grocery store, I remember my mother saying, “I don’t know what’s on these shelves, but it’s not food. Food doesn’t last that long. Someday everyone will realize how bad packaged food is for our health. People are going to have diseases and cancers we never heard of.” Everyone thought she was batshit crazy, but now all our family members go to her for health advice and tell her what a genius she was back then for seeing through all the marketing bullshit that was being thrown at us from the food industry.
We eventually stopped drinking milk in November 1984, shortly after my younger brother Andre was born. We had been going to a dairy farm to purchase raw milk for a few years before that. My mother was drinking it thinking it was good for the baby inside of her. When Andre was born, he had severe gas pains after breastfeeding. After my mom stopped drinking milk Andre’s pain went away. And eventually, we did away with milk completely. However, we still ate cheese and yogurt and the occasional bowl of ice cream.
A few years later, my mother and stepfather came home from a weekend retreat and cleaned the house out of all bad food and replaced it with big bags of whole grains, barley, buckwheat and oats, tofu, a Vitamix blender, (no one knew what they were back then) and cases of steam distilled water. We were all hopped up on sugar from the parents being away for the weekend so we were in shock and going through serious sugar withdrawal. Soaking grains overnight and calling it oatmeal, we used the Vitamix to make flour from whole grains, to blend the soaked oats into a batter for pancakes and biscuits. Now we know that grains were never meant to be consumed by humans and we were overloading on gluten, even though fresh grains were better than processed grains they still contained gluten and rice and oats were spiking our blood sugar without us being aware.
Mom went from cooking healthy with a twist of Italian to tofu, vegetables, and soaked grains. We didn’t know what to think, she meant well and was always learning and evolving in the nutrition world. She was inspired to live an even healthier life after a church retreat had a nutritionist teach them how to eat per the Bible (very close to Kosher). This meant only eating split-hoofed animals that chew their own cud (cow, deer, ox, elk, sheep, goat). No pork was to be consumed. All fish must have both fins and scales, no bottom feeders from the ocean (avoid shrimp and all shellfish). Another rule to follow was “don’t boil the kid in its mother’s milk” which meant do not eat milk and meat together and do not eat two different proteins together. Eliminate simple carbohydrates (sugar, processed flour products) and do not overcook vegetables. They were also taught that the people were commanded to let the fields rest every seven years. Let the weeds grow to replenish the soil with minerals and nutrients.
I ate like this while I lived at home and of course I ate other food when I was away from home and in college, I finally could eat as I pleased. I enjoyed healthy food but being broke and in college, subway, pizza, Ramen noodles, beer, and liquor were often my main source of nutrition. I spent a year at a travel and tourism school in Pittsburgh before returning home and finding a job at a local hotel/resort. One day a friend and I decided to give up red meat and chicken. I only ate seafood, cheese, and yogurt as my main source of protein along with beans, fruits, and vegetables. Eventually, I ended up moving to Florida to live with my boyfriend at the time. He was a chef so we ate well, but when we first got to Florida only he was working which made our budget tight. We’d eat the food he could bring home from Outback Steakhouse so I was forced to eat meat again.
Throughout my 20’s I ate like crap. I either worked at a restaurant where we got a shift meal as part of our pay or I worked in a bar and didn’t get off until late at night and often fast food or the gas station were my only options when hungry. I didn’t think much about my health during those years. I was young, I looked great, I felt great—I was invincible. I partied and ate junk and thought nothing of how it may affect my future. But I always drank water as my main source of hydration. I still loved fruit and salads and sushi fast became my favorite eating out options.
In my late 20’s I was single and living with a roommate in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I began grocery shopping and cooking on a regular basis. I started eating more fresh fruits, chicken, and homemade soups and salads. Since then my health journey has been baby steps in the right direction.
I did my first report on “Ingredients in America” during Esthetician school, while in my late 20’s. This is when I realized how deceitful the industry is. Parabens, processed flour, sugar, and artificial flavors and colors were my main concerns then. I went through my shower products, read the ingredients, and was overwhelmed at how many chemicals were in all of them. I was still young, but I thought, “I can’t live like this.” Over the years, I have slowly eliminated chemicals from my bathroom and my kitchen. I’ve become very good at spotting and knowing what the toxic ingredients are in my supplements and food. I have done many different cleansing protocols over the years. I now make it a habit to do several times a year along with fasting and intermittent fasting. Yet, even today with all my research and knowledge things slip past me occasionally. I try my best to have a healthy balance in my life and that’s all any of us can really do. Each year that passes by my eyes become more open to how deceitful the food industry really is, I continue to search for the truth and enjoy the journey of continuously educating myself in a vast array of different subjects.
Finding your Balance – What works, what doesn’t
No one has the same needs, wants, or goals. Many people want to eat healthier but they have no idea where to start. Most of us eat the way we were fed when we lived with our parents. After all, they raised us. That’s what we know and that’s what we have become accustomed to.
Eating used to be for survival. We would work together to hunt for our dinner and prepare it, using every part of the animal we possibly could; the organs, the bones, and the meat. We would grow our own vegetables and figure out ways to store them for the colder months. We ate what was in season, not what we were craving. Food is no longer for survival but for mere pleasure and oh, what glutinous fools we have become! Now the average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to the supermarket and is about a week old by the time you purchase it. The food is picked before it is ripe and either ripens on its way to market or is ripened by using ethylene gas. We should try to buy local organic food and cook our meals from scratch. Everyone can do their part to put pressure on Congress to put in place food safety acts and GMO labeling.
My mother tried to use nature as a cure whenever possible. These practices are common knowledge to me, but I have discovered that the average person has never heard of these home health cures, what foods to eat when feeling ill or how to eat to prevent future illness.
A very influential man in my life has convinced me that it is time to share the knowledge I have acquired over the years with not just my friends and my clients, but also with the public. I ask that you try not to feel overwhelmed while reading this book. Please don’t feel like you must clean out your house and completely change your lifestyle overnight. For some with medical issues that may be exactly what you should do; others may want to use a slower approach to acclimate to the changes. Everyone’s health journey is unique.
Start by going into the kitchen right now and pour yourself a glass of water and tomorrow drink one glass more than you drank today, eventually drinking half of your body weight in ounces each day. Before you are finished reading this book I hope I have given you enough information to make you want to start your health journey by eliminating a few toxic foods from your life and replacing them with a few new healthy foods, eliminating toxic chemicals around the house and replacing them with natural cleaners and hopefully adding a few new supplements to your daily routine and keeping track of the amount of water you drink.
The easiest purge is the purge of toxic household chemicals. Food purges will most likely be gradual. When you have adjusted to some changes and you like the results, delete a few more bad habits or unhealthy foods and add in a few new beneficial choices. Each week try a new supplement or superfood until you find the ones that go down easy.
Start making healthy choices by reading your ingredients and understanding exactly what you are putting into your body. Most food found on the shelves and in the freezer is not 100% food. It has been processed and changed in many ways before it gets to our tables. Additives were added for freshness, flavor, color and shelf life. You will gain a new understanding of how labels can be very misleading even in products that say 100% natural or organic when the nutrition label in the back says otherwise. BY law only 10% of the ingredients must be sourced from nature to say, “All Natural” on the front of the package.
Now it’s your job to understand and decide if those things are beneficial, neutral or detrimental to you and your family’s health when consumed on a regular basis.
Daily, we encounter some or all the following: chemicals used in cleaning, in coloring our hair, in fertilizing the lawn, smartphones, video games, iPads, laptops, computers, smart televisions, microwaves. Ultraviolet lights are used in nail salons and in tanning beds where people lie directly under these lights. We are surrounded by satellites, telephone poles, underground electric grids, radio waves and sound waves. All of this is absorbed into our systems, causing slight and sometimes dramatic changes to our own personal vibrations. We are made of 65% water and are very sensitive beings. Daily, we consume a variety of chemicals which the FDA (food and drug administration) often refer to as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe). Add to this all the Genetically Modified food that is in our produce section and in so many of the processed foods on our grocery shelves and freezers.
Now consider that one product may contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, soy lecithin, TBHQ and other products most of us cannot even pronounce correctly much less have any idea what they even are but we eat them anyway. Do not be fooled by the front of a box that says “all natural” or “healthy”. If one food product contains 3+ additives that are only safe if consumed in small doses and we consume three or more packaged foods a day and they all contain harmful additives, are we still maintaining a safe level of harmful chemicals in our diets? In addition to that we take in all the harmful chemicals in toiletries, make-up and dental products that are absorbed through our skin and mouth in our bathroom, and chemicals absorbed through our skin from our kitchen soaps, detergents and cleaning products.
People think that they are at the hands of the corporations, that they must buy what is put out there for them, but it’s the opposite. You must stop buying the garbage and the companies will have no choice but to follow the law of supply and demand by marketing healthier food. Remember that people changed the power of the tobacco industry, we can also change the food and farming industry if we choose to.
Your Friend in Healing