I Can’t Afford To Eat Healthy

Three years ago when I started juicing celery in the morning for my thyroid instead of taking a medication, I had no idea how much my life would improve as a result.

Before I threw away the meds and changed my eating habits, I was over a decade into long-term, chronic autoimmune disease. The experience of ongoing doctors visits, blood and hormone testing, out of pocket prescription drug costs, the inability to work full time, the pain and suffering, the loss of friends and social life, the draining of financial resources, the downsizing, etc, etc, etc… was way more expensive than my current, average grocery bill.

Personally, I had to be on a very strict budget when I started switching from a highly processed, meat, sugar, and salt based diet to a whole food, plant based diet. I had to count every penny – often shopping with a calculator to ensure I didn’t go over budget. I also had to make sure I wasn’t wasting any of the food I was buying while meeting very strict dietary requirements. This meant making a commitment to old school cooking from scratch.

What I’ve learned over the past three years is this:

Eating a healthy, plant based diet costs way less than insurance co-pays and out of pocket prescription drug costs.

Dedicating myself to cooking and eating healthy, whole food, plant based meals has restored my metabolic health and drastically improved my overall quality of life.

Being able to fully participate in my life allows me to be more productive in all areas, naturally improving my ability to make an income, which helps me afford healthier foods.

I never again want to be the girl on the living room floor crying because my body hurts too much to move. I’ve spent way too much time doing that. I love being healthy, active, and pain free. I love the freedom of not being tied to a prescription drug. I love the life I’m creating because of the food I’m eating.

People have actually asked me, “How can you afford to eat the way you do?”

My reply is this:

In my experience, I’ve learned I can’t afford not to.

Scroll over the picture below to check out my and my hubby’s before and after pics. We started eating better together in 2017. Together we’ve lost approximately 100 pounds (and have kept it off for almost two years), I’m medication free, both of us have our cholesterol back to healthy levels, my hubby no longer snores, and we both love our new way of eating.

Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more food inspiration – Unprofessionally Plant Based

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Hitting My Head – Day 3

I’m continuing to nourish myself today with water based foods and recipes. While I wanted comfort yesterday, today is all about cooling my head down and flushing out my injury.

I’m also tired, so instead of trying to write, I made a video diary.

Here you can check out a soup I’m making in addition to an update about how my healing process is going.

Hitting My Head

I got hit in the head today. It was just one of those things that happen in life. The hatchback of our SUV came down on top of me with a pretty hefty clunk.

If I had health insurance, I would have gone to the doctor.

But I don’t.

So I went to my kitchen instead.

I’ve learned to stock my kitchen as a food pharmacy – for everyday use as well as emergency care. I also recently did a workup for a client who wanted nutritional support to help heal from a head concussion.

I pulled out the Personalized Eating Plan I’d made for that person and have immediately begun to apply it to myself. I feel good about the fact I do have a working knowledge of how to use food and nutritional support to help me heal. It was also incredibly convenient to have a ready-made care plan to put into action.

That being said, it’s always interesting to play the risk assessment game when it comes to my health and the health of my family. Not having insurance makes the decision to seek medical care complicated. I want to take care of myself and my family. I also want to be able to eat, pay household bills, and keep the heat on…

Situations like today are the ones that always make me stutter when it comes to health, healthcare, access to healthcare, and so on.

So many people are left choosing between one life essential and another.

I’m not quite sure why we do this to each other as a society.

But I do know it’s why I am so dedicated to using Food as Medicine. It’s the medical frontline for myself and my family when going to the doctor is simply not an option.

Follow my blog to see how I use food as medicine and take care of my health on a regular basis.

Describe Your Kitchen

Food is the heart of life – which makes the kitchen the heart of the home.

When I was studying macrobiotics, one of the key principles I learned was:

Government begins in the kitchen.

This is so true. How we nourish and feed ourselves determines how we participate in and govern the rest of our lives.

What happens in our kitchens is of vital importance.

With that in mind, describe your kitchen…

Is it warm or cold?

Messy or clean?

Abundant with fresh fruits and vegetables or arid with overly processed junk food?

Do all your appliances work?

Do have any fun gadgets that make cooking easier, faster, and more fun?

Is there a place to sit and have meaningful meals with meaningful conversation?

How much time do you spend making your kitchen the wellness factory of your life?

Setting ourselves up for success in life begins with how we nourish and care for our physical bodies.

All Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, and Creative work we do needs a healthy body to ground into. If we expect to have the physical capacity to participate in our existential activities, we need a kitchen and a food lifestyle that supports our best health.

So, go hang out in your kitchen. Warm it up, make it cozy, and turn it into the wellspring of vitality that nourishes every other part of your life.

You deserve that.

Follow me for healthy, plant-based food and recipe ideas.

Exploring Sugar, Its Effects On The Body, And How That Relates To Autoimmune Dis-Ease In The Body

I cried when I realized I couldn’t eat donuts anymore…

When I say I cried, what I really mean is –  I had an all out kicking and screaming, laying on the floor, bottom lip out, temper tantrum. (No, I wasn’t a little kid – I was well into my 30’s.) I followed that heroic scene up with a whole lot of denial, anger, and depression. I ate three extra donuts that week. And Mac and Cheese. And a bagel. And some pizza. I’m sure there was more, but you get the idea.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit the extent of my dismay at being told I had a gluten allergy – but there it is.

I’d been suffering through pain on a daily basis for over two years at that point.

Migraines

Muscle Aches

Sensitivity to Light

Joint Pain

Extreme Exhaustion

Back Pain

Knee Pain

Dry, Itchy Skin

Gross, Brittle Hair

I felt like a mess, inside and out.

Every time I went to see my primary care physician about these symptoms, he reminded me my thyroid hormone levels were stable, so there was no medical reason for me to feel sick anymore.

He said, and I quote, “Your thyroid levels are fine. I can’t find any other medical reason for what you’re describing. I’ll prescribe you a migraine medication. Take that and good luck to you.” He was a bit put off by my insistence, as if I were a hypochondriac or a cry baby.

I walked out of his office thinking – Good Luck? Seriously? How many years of medical school and your best answer for what’s going on with me is a migraine pill and a Good Luck wish?

Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

To his credit, I’m sure he was just as frustrated as I was. I’d been to his office over and over, complaining of exhaustion, achy-ness, and a general feeling of ‘blah’. He’d run a battery of blood tests that all came out normal according to main stream medicine.

For autoimmune diseases, most doctors have no explanation, they don’t understand the root causes of these illnesses, and therefore, they honestly don’t know how to help their patients. It’s been only recently – as in – this past year – that I’ve noticed doctors in the mainstream start to talk about Epstein Barr Virus, Plant Based Diets, Meditation, Spiritual Practices, and other whole system approaches to healing and health.

In my case, the medical doctor I was working with was old-school, and a gluten allergy probably never once crossed his mind – – let alone the idea of adopting wellness lifestyle practices that include plant based eating, exercise, mindfulness, and spirituality.

The conversation I had that day – moreover – the doctor’s moment of outward irritation at not being able to help me –  sparked the beginning of my Spiritual journey into food. I went home and immediately began to research homeopathic doctors in my area.

A few weeks later, with the help of a new, homeopathic doctor, I received the news about my gluten allergy. Once I got over the initial drama of being told I had to change the way I ate, I embarked on over a decade long odyssey into the metaphysics of food that I’m still researching and putting into practice every single day.

First and foremost, I wanted to understand why I was reacting to food so adversely in my body. The simple answer to that is: Most of the food I was eating wasn’t actually food. It was drugs (sugar, ultra processed grains, chemicals, and food dyes) made to look like food.

It became a huge source of empowerment to realize I wasn’t simply allergic to donuts, I was combating drug addiction within my body because of the sugars and ultra-refined carbohydrates I was eating.

They were wreaking havoc on my system, making me feel sick and stealing away my quality of life.

You know the meth and ecstasy drugs that are designed to look like skittles and gummy bears? This is exactly what’s done to food.

Let’s take sugar for example. Studies show that sugar stimulates the same brain centers and produces many of the same chemical reactions in the body as cocaine. If you wouldn’t do a line of coke off your kitchen table, why are you eating sugar?

Crazy, right?

Let’s think about that. Why do we eat sugar and other processed foods?

First and foremost, we eat them because they are convenient. We also eat them because they are loaded with addictive chemicals and drugs. Sugar is in most processed foods in one form or another. In fact, there are over 40 different words used on food labels for sugar.

As sugar addicts, our brains become hardwired to seek out the very chemical (sugar) that creates the dopamine reaction in our systems that make us feel – at least temporarily – good.

We all know about the sugar high, right?  It’s called a high for a reason.

Like any drug – the initial ‘high’ feels good. In our stressed out, over stimulated, pain-induced lives, that ‘feel good high’ is hard to give up.

That’s why changing the way you eat isn’t just about changing the way you eat. It’s about withdrawing from the drug addiction you’ve developed from the food you’re used to eating.

Replace the following words on any food label from:

  • ‘sugar’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘aspartame’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘maltodextrin’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘high fructose corn syrup’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘red (or yellow, or blue) food dye’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘any long word you can’t pronounce and know is not food’  to  ‘drug’

Go ahead. Grab a packaged food or two from your kitchen and experiment. How many times do you say the word ‘drug’ when you’re reading off the ingredients on your boxes of cereal and jars of spaghetti sauce?

My guess is, way more than you thought you would.

That’s why it’s so hard to go on a diet and modify the way we eat. We simply have no idea what’s in our food or how it’s affecting us.

Failing a diet or giving in to a craving isn’t just a moment of weakness brought on by your inability to maintain self control. If it were really that simple, the diet industry wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar a year business.

There is so much more to it than just ‘putting the donut down’ –  Especially in the beginning of your food awareness journey.

Not only are you eliminating your traditional comfort foods and desserts, you’re also detoxing from the drugs and chemicals in those foods.

This process takes time, patience, love, compassion, and grace. It really is a “12 step program” that requires a Spiritual relationship with food.

When we talk about the Spiritual Awakening of our time, what we are referring to is being aware of the connections between who we are and what we do. We are connected Spiritually to every act we commit whether we are conscious of it or not.

Eating, something we do multiple times a day, is the ultimate example of that. We are Spiritually connected to the food we eat.  Everything we consume as humans for the benefit or detriment of our health has a Spirit- or energy. Drugs, be they synthetic or plant based, also have an energetic force – or – Spirit. From a quantum perspective, the Spirit, or energy of the food or drug we take into our bodies, creates a resonating pattern of energy in every bone, muscle, joint, tendon, and cell. In fact, it reduces down energetically to affect even the amino acids in our DNA.

We do, literally, become what we eat – physically, mentally, and Spiritually. Our brains help us out. They create dopamine receptors that consciously seek out the foods we have become accustomed to consuming.

It’s as if we grow energetic antennae that tune in to the things we’re putting into our bodies. If we hardwired our systems to seek out sugar, that’s what our bodies will crave. If we’re hardwired to seek out lettuce – salad will make our mouths water.

It is that simple and that complicated.

The only way to make lasting, long term changes to your diet is to bring Spiritual Awareness (or mindfulness, if you prefer that term) to your food choices.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to ask yourself the following question every time you choose to eat something:

“This is the healthiest choice I can make right now for my body.” 

Then, trust yourself.

Your Soul (Spirit, Higher Self, Connection to the Universe) will automatically become aware of what you’re doing. On day one, a donut may feel like the best choice you are capable of making. But it won’t always be like that.

Down the road, your choices will become better for you. The more you practice this exercise, the more your body begins to pay attention to and resonate with your desire to be healthy. Your body and brain withdraw from food chemicals, dyes, and additives. You develop new ‘energetic antennae’ that are more attuned to the life force of healthier foods. Your body begins to repair and rebuild itself. Life gets better and healthier, one bite at a time.

Mine did.

Check out these articles for more information about the effects of sugar on the brain:

http://mic.com/articles/88015/what-happens-to-your-brain-on-sugar-explained-by-science#.gfugUtpVN

http://www.macrobiotics.co.uk/sugar.htm

How To Build A Grocery List

Today was grocery shopping day at my house. I typically go once a week, filling my cart with all the plant-based goodness I need to juice, eat, and snack on until the following week.

I started making grocery lists when I began transitioning from a meat based diet to a plant based one.

When I began my transition, I started with one meatless day a week. My grocery list contained the ingredients I needed for that day. Once I got those items, I simply shopped as usual for everything else.

I did that for the first month, which helped me get used to buying, and actually eating more plant foods each week.

From there, I shopped for two meatless meals a week, then four… and so on.

This helped me naturally and organically shift from buying animals and animal-based products to buying plants and plant-based products.

As I worked with through this process, I stuck to what I knew I liked in the fruit and vegetable isles. I also cooked things that were familiar – like pasta with extra veggies, salads, soups, and burritos.

This helped me easily create and document a new way of eating.

Now, a typical grocery list for me is filled with plant and plant-based products I know I’m going to eat each week.

Here are some things to keep in mind when changing your diet and building your own plant-based grocery lists:

1. Start with what you know you like and will actually eat. Plan for one or two meatless days a week. Do this until your meatless days become an enjoyable part of your regular weekly eating routine.

2. Add in dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables for calcium as you are ready. Do this while simultaneously taking out milk and dairy products.

3. Add in rice and beans for protein as you take out animal proteins. (Rice and beans together create a complete protein).

4. Use frozen and canned fruits, berries, and beans to help save time and money as you transition.

5. Arrange, display, and organize your pantry, fruit table, and refrigerator so that plant based foods are readily available and easy to eat every day.

Building a grocery list was one of the easiest ways I found to keep me on track and help me learn to eat more fruits and vegetables. It can be a great tool for you to use as well while you transition to a more vibrant, healthy way of eating.

Want to learn to eat healthier but don’t know how? Check out my food lifestyle workshops and coaching sessions, and eat your way to better, more vibrant health!

Why Food Quality Matters

These days when I’m not cooking food, I’m learning about it – and the many ways it effects the whole human system – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I remember the first time my sinuses where overwhelmed with the scent and flavor of a tomato I’d eaten almost 12 hours earlier.

How does that even happen?!?

I’ve researched the three brain theory of the human body. Basically, there are three centers in the human body that work like ‘brains’. One is in the head, the other in the heart, and the third is in the stomach.

Call me crazy – and many have – but that 3rd brain knew exactly what I’d eaten and was beginning to put it to work in my system.

How do I know? Because I could feel, smell, and taste the food – a tomato in this case – as my stomach’s ‘brain center’ decided what nutrients it had to work with and where to send them.

Equally, if my tomato has pesticide on it from conventional growing methods, my body also recognizes those and sends them off to various places like the liver to be dealt with.

Food and the body communicate. They have to. It’s how this whole staying alive thing works. Every single thing you eat becomes a bone, a muscle, an organ, – a tumor, a pimple, or arthritis.

The body can only respond to what you feed it and how you treat it. And no matter what you mentally tell yourself about your health, your body will always bring you back to reality.

The body doesn’t know how to lie.

This is why it’s vitally important to make healthy food choices. Would you eat a moldy piece of bread or a rotten apple? How about food that’s been sprayed with chemicals or animals that are diseased?

Of course not. When you can see your food getting sick, you know if you eat it, you’ll get sick, too.

The type and quality of food you eat on a regular basis makes you who you are – literally. This is why becoming conscious of that you eat is so important.

Eating foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce, don’t recognize as a whole food, or know is a chemical, has a multitude of adverse health effects.

Equally, eating good quality, organic, non or lightly processed foods allows for the body to get maximum health benefits from your diet without any garbage or disease getting in the way.

You are what you eat in so many ways and on so many levels. This is why reconnecting with food is so important for long term healing and health.

Eat the best quality food you can afford. Always.

Follow me on Instagram for more food inspiration.

What it’s really like to choose between medication and car insurance

This popped up on my Facebook screen yesterday and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since.

I wrote it right around the time I quit my teaching career. Long story short, I was in a place in my life and illness where I had to make a decision. I was too sick to work, but not quite sick enough to collect disability.

I could either stay in my job to keep the health care I was depending on to manage illness, or quit it and heal.

I obviously chose the latter – not without its consequences.

Poverty is humiliating and I knew if I was going to heal, I had to go there.

Everyone knows poverty is hard. Just pay attention to how you feel the next time you pass a homeless person.

Being poor strips you of your dignity quickly.

I remember the first time I had to apply for heating assistance. The process was shameful.

Even friends and family have a difficult time really understanding what it’s like to have to choose between life necessities and prescription medication.

A few years back, my husband and I hit a deer with our car. We didn’t have insurance so I called my father to ask for a small loan to help us get through that moment. At the time, he couldn’t get past yelling at me for not having car insurance.

So there I was, in the middle of the road, in the middle of winter, poor, cold, and being admonished because I chose to forgo car insurance for thyroid medication.

I don’t blame my dad for his reaction because honestly, if you’ve never had to live out the consequences of those kinds of economic decisions in real time, you simply have no idea how to relate, much less help.

We are all struggling right now. People are getting sick. They’re loosing their income. They’re loosing their health care. They’re scared. And they know exactly how they feel while passing that homeless person.

No one wants to be poor because poverty is humiliating.

Staying Healthy Without Healthcare

I personally don’t have healthcare. It’s something I haven’t talked about until recently because, to do so, I had to get over my own feelings about it.

I know full well how uncomfortable this topic makes people. But, my reality is the same for millions, so it’s ok to talk about it and how I’ve dealt with it.

To me, it doesn’t matter anymore why I don’t have access to affordable healthcare, I just don’t. I’ve accepted that that’s the world I live in and have moved on to the business of taking care of myself and my family accordingly.

It was terrifying at first, but since I had no other choice, I sucked it up and started doing my research.

I learned that supporting my family’s health without using modern medicine or being under a doctor’s care meant two things:

1. Going back to my roots

2. Expanding my knowledge of health alternatives.

I started figuring out how to use food as medicine, making myself my own human experiment in alternative health practices.

I read about macrobiotics, plant based diets, raw food, and juicing. I watched health documentaries, took online classes, researched herbs, made friends with vegans, and otherwise dove deep into the world of what, exactly, a healthy relationship with food and my body really means.

Over the past four years, I’ve come up with a reliable system for listening to my body, defining my symptoms, researching what nutrients I need, and figuring out what foods and herbs I can use to nourish and support my wellness.

Not having the luxury of a primary care physician meant taking ownership of my health and eating habits. While this has been empowering on many levels, it hasn’t been easy.

We live in a world where unhealthy food and eating practices are the norm, and sound nutrition advice is buried under advertisements, gimmicks, and marketing. That being said, going old school can be done. It just takes patience and dedication.

There are ways to be and stay healthy if you don’t have access to affordable healthcare. Follow me to learn more about how I do it.

Check out my Instagram page to see how I work with food on a daily basis.

Eating for Weight Loss VS Eating for Health

Eating for Weight Loss is a completely different focus than eating for health.

When I was focused only on weight loss, I was constantly focused on calories, portion size, and scales. My entire eating plan was designed around numbers.

Yet, there was no plan for once those numbers were reached.

Once the scale says what you want it to say, then what? There is no plan after that when the focus is solely on losing weight.

Once I switched my focus to being healthy, weight loss came naturally. So did increased energy and exercise. In addition, the muscle and joint pain decreased and I was able to stop all medications.

Check out my video diary to hear more about Eating for Weight Loss vs. Eating for Health.

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