A dear friend of mine from PA watched me and others from the sidelines for a few years before dipping her toes into her personal health journey for herself and her family. This is a wonderful testimony and a great resource for those of you who are tired of feeling sick despite all the medication you are taking, and want to learn all you can about clean eating and living. I have not personally used all of the resources Lyn has shared below, nor am I a medical professional. Please consult your own health care professionals to get the answers you need medically as you begin to heal from the inside out. Be sure your health care team is 100% knowledgeable on using natural means to heal the body first! Or you will just keep spinning your wheels and wonder why you continue to need more medical attention versus less. Remember to read this post and incorporate it into your daily life to reclaim your health and daily build a stronger immune system!
Lyn Fernandez on Sunday, November 4, 2012
Many people have been asking me about how I eat, so I decided to share my story along with some of my favorite resources!
A little history, first. I never remember having allergies as a child, except for a tightness in my throat whenever I would have imitation crab meat (which wasn't very often ;-). As an adult, I ate so much fish in my 20's, I could have swam away! Marrying Ralph (a classically trained chef) really did it....everything he made was amazing, and my favorite foods were probably salmon, mahi mahi and red snapper. Fast forward to my late 20's, when I started to have scary reactions to eating fish. My tongue would swell up, my throat would close, my heart rate would drop and I couldn't breathe. Blood tests confirmed that I was indeed very allergic to bony fish. I have the most severe kind of allergy - anaphylaxis, and always carry an epipen. Although I can still technically eat crustaceans and mullosks, I tend to avoid them, as I they have given me an itchy throat and swollen tongue (probably because of cross-contamination).
I was diagnosed with celiac disease in early 2004, after becoming very sick for about four months. Celiac is an auto-immune disease, meaning that ingesting gluten causes the body to attack itself. Not good! Since that time, I have done my best to avoid gluten (the protein in wheat, barley, rye, kamut and spelt). Fortunately, there is a lot of support for the gluten-free lifestyle, nowadays! It doesn't have to be a death-sentence. There are wonderful gluten-free flour blends and products, and you can find some amazing GF recipes online!
Although eating gluten-free improved my health considerably, I still had some issues and suspected other food allergies. Two years ago, I had a full allergy work-up and discovered that I was also very allergic to soy. I became very discouraged...soy is in everything! It made sense to me, though, because just like with eating so much fish in my 20's, I consumed huge amounts of soy in my 30's. Tofu, Morningstar Farms and Boca burgers, soy milk....my body had developed an allergy due to overexposure, I'm convinced. The allergy testing actually turned up several other problem foods: corn, dairy, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, tomatoes. I literally became depressed, learning this. What could I eat, anymore? What was left? I began by eliminating every food I was allergic to, for six months. After that time, I began to do "food challenges," introducing very small amounts of one food at a time, to see what my body could tolerate. I was relieved to find that I could again eat corn, tomatoes, walnuts, almonds and small amounts of dairy. I continue to be amazed at how the body is able to heal itself! Blood work confirmed that I still had an anaphylactic allergy to bony fish, and soy was also pretty severe (although not life-threatening). So, the three foods I MUST avoid are: gluten, fish and soy. These are absolutes for me.
I also began to focus on my health in a very serious way, these past two years. I finally lost the weight I had gained while having six babies. That alone did wonders! My energy began to return. At the same time, a good friend began to teach me about eating raw and food combining (eating fruit in the morning on an empty stomach, then separating concentrated starches from concentrated proteins for the rest of the day). I actually completed a 90-day raw food challenge, this past summer. We invested in an Excalibur dehydrator, a good juicer and high-speed blender (VitaMix and BlendTec) to make green smoothies, and I learned how to open a raw coconut to drink it's water :). I have never felt so good! My body detoxed and had so much energy. Raw food has all the nutrients and minerals, and most importantly, all the living enzymes. Eating raw is so easy to do during the summer months, when there is an abundance of local produce in season. I enjoyed eating 100% raw so much, I plan to do this every summer! My friend also taught me the importance of eating a plant-based, whole-foods, organic diet. Through much personal research, I learned about the dangers of chemicals and gmo's in our food supply, the harmful effects of refined sugars on the body and the sad reality of the factory farming of animals. I became concerned with the effects of the Standard American Diet (SAD) on my own health, as well as the environment. I felt a personal burden on my heart.
Thus began an evolution for me. Slowly, I began to eat less and less meat, as I made the connection between what I put in my body, my health, and the effects my choices had on the planet. This is just where I am (and it's taken me years to get here!). Life is certainly a journey, and we each have to find our own path. I don't have any judgment towards others who have different convictions. Most of my family still eats meat....but we make sure it's organic, when they do. All our friends are heavy meat-eaters, and that's okay! I never feel out of place when we get together. They all know I have some major allergies, and are very relaxed about it. In principle, I would love to be a full vegan, but being allergic to soy, that would be very hard to do! I guess I would call myself a gluten-free, soy-free vegan who eats organic eggs and small amounts of organic dairy for protein, and who goes mostly raw in the summer months. Don't you just love labels? ;-)
All that said, eating gluten-free is expensive. Eating organic is expensive. We are a family of eight people...how on earth could we afford to do this? On this journey, I have learned some ways to eat well and not break the bank.
1. Buy local: Through Ralph, we have friendships with many of the local, organic farmers in Lancaster, PA, and often buy direct from them. You can also join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture; ie, you buy a share of a local farm), and shop the local farmer's markets in your area.
2. Buy in bulk: As we dramatically increased the amount of fresh, organic fruit and veggies we ate, I quickly learned that we could not afford to pay the "per-pound" price at the supermarket. We had to find another way.
If you live on the east coast (in the Washington, D.C. to NYC corridor), you can establish a wholesale account with the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and with a minimum order of $150, have them deliver right to your door! I love that when I buy from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op, I'm supporting local, sustainable, organic farmers who are doing the right thing. If you don't need an entire case of something, perhaps you can get together with family or friends and split a case. It might be worth it! Plus, they carry everything from produce to organic meat, eggs, dairy, and even gluten-free breads and baked goods. Here is the info to get started:
You can place your orders by phone, website, by email, and by fax. Telephone your orders anytime, to reach co-op administrative staff please call during our office hours, Monday through Friday 8am until 4pm. If you don’t reach us directly, leave a message. If you want to place an order by telephone, call 717-656-3533 or fax 1-800-996-0383. 717-656-353348 Eagle Drive Leola, Pa 17540Buy fresh buy local, CHEMICAL FREE, Lancaster county products.
*Wednesdays: Deliver to Philadelphia and surrounding areas, New York City, Princeton and Lehigh Valley.
*Thursdays: Deliver to Washington DC, Baltimore, Harrisburg, Hershey, and Lancaster County.
We love to make a trip to Miller's Natural Foods, which is located in beautiful Lancaster county, very near Kitchen Kettle Village. Miller's is like an organic, Whole Foods Market. They sell bulk foods, herbs, vitamins, and organic items. The store specializes in natural and organic varieties and many kinds of food supplements. It's a fun experience going there! Miller's is my favorite place to purchase raw nuts, seeds and dried, unsulphured fruit. Their prices are among the best I've found anywhere. And, you can place orders for cases of organic produce, you just need to call ahead 2 days in advance.
Miller's Natural Foods
2888 Miller Lane
Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505
We also buy cases of produce from Procacci Brothers, an organic distributor in Philly. You don't need to be a business to buy direct from them. They will let you place a cash-order for pick-up. I ask to speak to Lori or Rick in sales, and they are super helpful. I pick up our order from Plant #7, the address is: 3333 South Front Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148; phone (215) 463-8000.
Even if you don't live in the Philly area, I would imagine that with a little research, you can find organic co-ops and wholesalers that are willing to do business with you! Remember that you are building relationships with these folks. It is worth the effort!
3. Cook & bake from scratch: This is HUGE! Once you get away from the packaged, processed foods, you will eat better and save so much money. I have a vast collection of cookbooks: gluten-free, vegan, raw. I love to read through them often and be inspired! You can find so many great recipes online, though. To that end, here are a list of my favorite websites:
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free
(bonus, all of Kelly's recipes are low-carb :)
Gluten-Free and Dairy Free
(I have both of Hallie's books, they are awesome!)
Gluten-Free and Vegan
Gluten-Free, Allergy-Free and Vegan
(Kim's book, The Welcoming Kitchen, is one of my faves. She mostly bakes with oat flour, and without xanthan gum, which I am sensitive to)
Clean, healthy eating (many gluten-free, allergy-free and vegan recipes)
(Such an awesome website!)
(Megan also has some fantastic YouTube videos)
(Kristina's YouTube channel - she is amazing!)
(Alissa's book, Living on Live Food, is such a great resource!)
(Love Ani Phyo! She is two years older than me and looks like she's in her early 30's. An amazing, inspiring woman who is dedicated to a raw, vegan, eco-lifestyle)
(This site has some great, raw Christmas cookies)
(The internet's largest raw, organic retailer! Plus, they are a family-run business based in Maryland. When we order from Natural Zing, they deliver via UPS to our zone in 1 day!)
Wishing each of you blessings on your own journey!
Thank you Lyn for all the hard work you have done and shared with us. I appreciate your allowing me to share your testimony here with my family and friends! May God bless each of you on your own healthy journeys. If you would like to share your testimony here and resources that you have found to be helpful, then please email me your story and I will be in touch!