A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
My story is a journey that spans over 17 years. It’s very difficult to decide exactly what to share, how to get my point across without over-sharing and what to just skip over completely. Hopefully what I’ve shared below strikes a perfect balance.
Until about the mid to late 90s I was always in good, physical shape. I was thin with an athletic/sporty build and I was strong.
Sometime during the early 90s I started experiencing major stomach/intestinal issues. I would eat something and get sick within 20 minutes (think south end sick, not north end sick). I started having severe heartburn and was even tested for ulcers. At the time, Zantac was only available for prescription, and my doctor thought it might help my ongoing stomach issues. My doctor had no idea what was making me sick. My diet was well-balanced and consisted of fruits, veggies, meats, good carbs and healthy fats. Never once did she think there might be something IN my food that was making me sick.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve met the military man of my dreams and I’m married to him! I started noticing that I was getting headaches more frequently, I was having hormone/female issues and I generally just didn’t feel good most of the time. Because my stomach issues were worsening, I always had to know where a bathroom was every time I left the house in case I got sick. I’m fairly certain I went through every Air Force doctor on base and not one could find anything wrong with me. Yes, I had symptoms; a lot of them, but every test they ran, came back negative for diseases/syndromes or I tested in the normal range on other tests. Everyone was puzzled and I was frustrated. And still, no one thought to question if my food was making me sick.
When my symptoms started to affect my sex drive and my fertility, I got ticked and started making as much noise as I could to get ANY doctor to listen to me. Something wasn’t right. A healthy, strong, twenty-something woman with “nothing wrong with her” doesn’t just start losing her sex drive (especially when married to a man who looked like the love child of a young Tony Danza and young Don Johnson), nor does she start experiencing menopausal type symptoms. Every doctor I saw told me I was depressed and wanted to give me pills. I’d get upset and tell them I wasn’t depressed and didn’t need a pill, I wanted my sex drive back and I wanted my health back and I wanted answers.
As the years went on, the hormone issues got worse as did the intestinal/stomach issues. I suffered from migraines on a regular basis and when I didn’t have a migraine, I had a regular headache, I saw an increase in female related problems including infertility, my skin hurt to the touch and I was tired all the time, my stomach was always upset after eating. It didn’t matter what it was, and I was suddenly allergic to ALL raw fruits and vegetables after never having an issue with any foods in the past. I was also experiencing severe insomnia vs. the regular mild insomnia I’d dealt with off and on since birth.
Aaaannnd so I went back to the doctor. And once again, “nothing” was wrong with me. And no one sought to find answers and instead more drugs were shoveled down my throat which Lord knows didn’t help matters at all. For every drug they gave me I needed one to two more to combat the side effects of the first drug. And still- not one doctor thought to look into what was in the food I was eating.
In 2003 I suffered a severe back injury. I was placed on partial bed rest for a year by my back surgeon and told that my injury was inoperable I’d just have to live in chronic pain. During that time the steroid medication coupled with the other health issues brought my already malfunctioning body from 135 pounds to 195 pounds. All on a 5 foot 6-1/2 inch frame. The hormone issues were getting worse, the headaches, insomnia, stomach/digestive and sex drive issues were plummeting out of control- but not one doctor would listen to me. Not one would try to get to the bottom of it, they’d just shovel more drugs at me, and I had more medications than all four of my elderly grandparents combined.
In 2006/2007 I met a nutritionist that also had a passion for Eastern Medicine. Using food, natural/homeopathic and herbal remedies to allow the body to heal itself. I followed her advice and started to feel a little better and lose a little weight, but inevitably, my body would gain it all back and I’d feel like crap again- every.single.day. The non-stop carb cravings were the worst!
She taught me about the evils of fake sweeteners like aspartame, and “natural” ones like High Fructose Corn Syrup. I learned quite a bit about nutrition, and food choices, and empty, nutrient deprived foods that weren’t really food at all. I really learned so much from her and am eternally grateful. I started noticing that anytime I ate something with HFCS in it, I would become violently ill within 20 minutes of consuming that “food”- Pieces of the puzzle were starting to fit together so I started eliminating foods that contained HFCS. That was my first step on this long journey to regain my health and wellness. I became a champion for avoiding HFCS.
My nutritionist introduced me to a Dr. that was helping women with hormone issues and after extensive blood work, we discovered that my body stopped producing its own Testosterone, Progesterone and Cortisol. This doctor couldn’t believe that a young, seemingly healthy woman was experiencing such a deficiency of major hormones, but said it was something he was seeing more of and couldn’t figure out why. This explained many of my symptoms but didn’t provide us with answers as to HOW it happened. So I began bio-identical hormone replacement. This was the second step of my long journey to regain my health and wellness.
If our doctors received decent nutrition training while in med school we wouldn’t be in the health crisis we’re in. And my hormone doctor would have figured out that GMOs and growth hormones and antibiotics in our food supply was one reason I was experiencing so many health issues. Doctors receive on average 23.9 classroom hours of education nutrition. This is just more evidence that we need to take nutrition advice from celebrity doctors with a grain of salt unless they are registered or licensed nutritionists/dietitians as well. That’s my opinion, but I’m finding I’m not alone in that line of thinking.(If you absolutely HAVE to get your health and nutrition information from a TV/Celebrity Dr. Verify it with lots of research. Figure out if that advice works for you. Speak with your doctor about it, too. Most of the “medical advice” from TV doctors are meant to be a general or blanket diagnosis and if it’s one thing I have learned it’s that not everyone falls under that blanket and the advice could cause more harm than good.)
Jump ahead with me to 2010- My dear friend (re)introduces me to Melaleuca. My husband developed asthma midway through our marriage, and cleaning the house was proving more and more taxing on his lungs. It was almost like he had to leave if I was going to clean the house. I started experiencing very itchy and sensitive skin. I found I was becoming allergic/sensitive to more and more health and beauty/personal care items and after doing a bit of research on chemicals and the lack of labeling laws or regulations on what companies can disclose or keep private pertaining to ingredients, and I started wondering… what if some of these chemicals are causing (some/or all) of our/my health issues? (Light bulb moment!)
We made an educated decision to switch our entire household over to Melaleuca products. Every personal care item, laundry, cleaning, dish washing, supplement/vitamin item was now all from Melaleuca. Within 3 months my husband didn’t need ANY of his asthma medication and the doctors have since been unable to find any evidence of asthma in him currently. Within 3 weeks I was able to stop taking most of the medications that doctors had me on. This was the third and ultimately the most important step I’d made so far on my journey to regain my health and wellness. This step, prompted me to start finding out everything I could about labeling laws and what chemicals and ingredients were in my personal care and cleaning products was the catalyst that pushed me to start doing the same amount of research and digging to find out what was in the food I was eating.
With everything I had learned about the chemicals and the toxins they put in our cleaning products, (that we use with our children nearby) beauty and personal care items, and our laundry products I became appalled. How could these companies knowingly use neurotoxins, registered pesticides, carcinogens, and endocrine disrupting ingredients? How could they be so careless and only profit driven? Then I wondered “What if the food I’m eating is contributing to the remainder of the health and hormone issues I was dealing with?” (Light bulb moment #2) Coming to that realization that there could be something in the food I’m eating was the 4th step in my journey.
I used to be one of those people who believed that I didn’t need vitamin and mineral supplements, that I got all I needed from the foods I ate (um, wrooong!). I also believed that anything sold at the grocery store had to be safe to consume (wrong again). I also believed that organic food was a rip off and those farmers were jacking up prices because they were greedy. Then I learned that conventional food actually costs more to grow than organic food costs, but government subsidies (aka your tax dollars) make it possible to sell for cheaper than organic food. But either way, you’re still paying higher prices than you think, it’s just coming out of your taxes.
It took a couple of years, even after I had read countless articles, blogs, and websites that had all the research evidence staring back at me. Even after I knew the truth, I tried to run from it because I didn’t want to make the changes I knew I was going to have to make. But slowly, logic and truth prevailed and I took the next step to do something about it. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew it was something.
Shortly after recognizing the need to take my head out of the sand and make some serious changes for my health and the health of my husband, I started hearing about GMOs.
GM-what’s? GMO is an acronym for (Boo-hiss) Genetically Modified Organisms. I’ll explain more about those (HERE and HERE). I started researching what has been done to our food supply since approximately 1992, which was about one year before I started having health issues, and how systematically, within months of a new genetically modified food hitting grocery store shelves, or another growth hormone or series of antibiotics being injected into our livestock (which ended up in nearly every (non-organic) dairy cow, beef cow, pig and chicken product we eat), I would develop a new health issue, or an existing one would worsen… it started to become clear to me that I was slowly being poisoned to death by my food…and so are you.
You have to ask yourself. Why would a healthy, strong, young woman with no history of health issues suddenly have more health issues than an ailing 90-year-old? Why on earth would this 20-year-old that never had a female problem, hormone problem, or a food allergy, or anything other than mild insomnia suddenly become infertile, have several female and hormone issues requiring surgeries and hormone replacement therapy, lose her sex drive, be exhausted, sore, tired, achy, and sick ALL the time??
Late in 2012 I’d had enough. I had watched so many documentaries showing the evils of GMOs and evidence revealing the health issues they caused (all of which I had) and so I decided that we were going organic in our household and instead of just avoiding HFCS and highly processed foods, and aspartame, we were going to avoid artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, MSG, HFCS and GMOs. I also decided to go organic eliminate as many processed foods as possible over time (as it would take my dear Stud Muffin some time to get used to this new way of eating) and if any processed foods were purchased, they’d be free of GMOs and/or organic. Our use of processed foods was lower than most households however I needed to get real and get honest and start showing that crap the inside of my trashcan!
Within 1 week of switching over to organic I could taste food again. It tasted GOOD! Food hasn’t tasted good since at least 1996. TSM agreed. Also, we got full faster. TSM said he actually can tell when he is full, when before he couldn’t so he would keep eating and snacking and he ate his way to 250 pounds! He blames my good cooking. Alright, fine- my cooking IS good but it was more the fact that he was eating foods that shut off his body’s ability to sense it was satiated.
Within 3 weeks of eating organic and GMO free foods we noticed our pants weren’t as snug and my yoga pants started falling down when I walked. My headaches are all but gone, and we both felt better. Food tastes good, veggies taste better, fruit tastes better, we don’t eat as much because we’re getting more nutrients. We’ve both lost weight. I’m down 12 pounds already.
We’re now about 2 months into being fully organic and GMO free and I’m excited for what lies ahead. Our health and wellness is of utmost importance to me. Oh, and guess what? My hormones are starting to make a comeback on their own! I still need bio-identical hormone replacement, but the time span between implants is getting longer and longer.
I know too much to allow myself to be continually harmed by genetically modified ingredients in my food. I just won’t do it. Despite the fact that reports out there state that organic food isn’t healthier or more nutritious or that it doesn’t taste better, I know different. If it isn’t more nutritious or better for us, then why are TSM and I eating half the amount of food that we used to yet we’re full, we stay fuller longer, we fell better and we’re losing weight? Oh, and we feel good, too. I say companies who are in bed with Monsanto and the FDA do most of those reports. I say that because of personal experience. Common sense says it does have a higher nutrient content because it’s food the way God designed it. I’m eating less, I’m fuller faster and longer, I’m losing weight and I’m NOT exercising, I have energy, my hair and nails are growing again… yeah- I’d say it is more nutritious. My body is getting happier every day.
The more I learn and read about GMOs the more My passion is to share what I’ve discovered with others. Yes, it’s a fair amount of work and it can be time-consuming but I’m worth it, and, so are you! Because we’re worth it, I’m willing to carry out that effort to talk about this subject so that I can educate others and have some fun doing it.
If this is the first time you’ve heard about GMOs or you just happen to be new to the anti-GMO crew, I would like you to know that it is never ever my intention to overwhelm you or even paralyze you with resources and posts about healthy living! There is so much information out there and new information and studies are emerging practically daily. When it comes to GMOs and eating Real/Whole foods not one of us “has arrived”! I know I am constantly reading, researching, discerning, filtering, and learning. While I agree that it can be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. My advice is just do the best you can with the information you have and move forward making small changes at a time. And always, always listen to your inner voice and do what you feel is right for you and your family!
I hope this blog will inspire you to desire to know what is in your food as well as an eagerness to get to know the companies that supply the food you’re eating and the brands you’re buying. Whether you are already eating organic, or are new to the sustainable, organic, local food movement you are welcome here and I hope that the recipes, humor and information that I so zealously share with you will bless you.
Kristine- Real Food Girl: Unmodified