You are what you eat. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way. The very hard, very painful, very long way. For a large period of my life, I was told left and right there was nothing wrong with me. The “best” doctors across the Eastern seaboard told me I was crazy. Mayo Clinic told me I was crazy. Even though I was lying on a hospital bed hooked up to morphine to relieve my intense, mysteriously undiagnosed bodily pain I had for years, my colleagues thought I was crazy too. No one believed in the pain I was feeling. No pill could solve my problems. But I didn’t give up. I took matters into my own hands; became the CEO of my health, stopped taking painkillers from doctors and ate my way to back to good health.
My entire life I struggled with stomachaches and IBS. Then, when I turned 25, I started experiencing chronic leg swelling (20-30 lbs. of water weight every day by 3:00 PM) and severe digestive issues while pursuing a marketing and advertising career in corporate America: VOGUE, Ralph Lauren Corporate and the NBA. I never let anyone know what was going on besides my family. I felt gross, embarrassed, bloated, foggy-brained, confused and frustrated. Instead of listening to me, doctors wrote prescriptions for countless pills that didn’t work. How was a 26-year-old girl to go on a date with swollen legs and chronic pain when all she could wear were spandex and gulp down water pills instead of cocktails?
One evening in 2007, I was rushed to the St. Vincent’s Cancer Center in NYC with chronic low white blood cells. They performed a bone marrow biopsy only 10 minutes after I’d walked out the door from my job. I was told to start making appointments at Sloan Kettering- that they were 99.9% sure I had leukemia. I exhausted all the doctors in NYC, NJ, Connecticut and Philadelphia, and had countless MRI’s, CT scans, endoscopies, colonoscopies, X-Rays, blood tests, genetic tests, bone marrow biopsies, etc., only to be told that there was nothing wrong with me. I ventured out to Mayo Clinic in 2010 to hear all over again that there was nothing wrong- all the while my health continued to deteriorate. My general practitioner even told my sister that I was insane, and needed to take drugs to stop the madness. In December of 2011, I contracted parasites, pathogens, and numerous cases of bacteria overgrowth, was put on steroids and painkillers—and disability from my job. The worst part? My colleagues at work thought I was kidding and Human Resources would call me on the phone to tell me that they didn’t believe me. The leg swelling got so bad I could barely move, I had myositis in my leg muscles and they found huge cysts on the tops of my feet, which stayed for three years. No one could figure out what they were, what these cysts were or what was going on inside of me.
Clearly, the Western doctors, for all their degrees in the world, nor my corporate job that did not support or believe me, were going to help me get any better. So I changed doctors, quit my job and I changed my own life. I sought alternative options. It wasn’t until I began working with an Integrative Medical Doctor and studied what Integrative Medicine was that I learned I was suffering from heavy metal accumulation in my body’s tissues and that I was born without the gene to absorb folate, a key vitamin in detoxification. I was confused as to why Mayo Clinic and all the hospitals didn’t find the heavy metal problems. I soon learned that Western medicine only tests for heavy metals in your blood and my blood’s heavy metal levels were great. It was the heavy metals in my body’s tissues that were affected. A urine test showed I was off the charts on every single heavy metal. I had to have the mercury fillings in my teeth removed and replaced with porcelain fillings, a huge process that required a vacuum so that the heavy metals were not drawn to my brain. I started chelation (a process to draw the heavy metals out through an IV) along with taking chelating agents such citrus pectin, vascular homeopathic drops and vitamins. Fast forward two years later and I was diagnosed with bacteria overgrowth in my small intestines (and put on a Low FodMap Diet), Leaky Gut, an IGA deficiency, Hypothyroidism, Adrenal Fatigue and Candita. I was on 40 supplements (3x) a day – yes over 100 high-quality supplements a day was a full time job along with Epsom salt baths, mineral masks and SO much more. I had to go through a few months of The Elimination Diet to see what my body was reacting to. I learned how heal through the foods that my body accepted and absorbed. When it rains it pours- but I always stayed strong and positive and never gave up!
And as “crazy” as it may be, my painful experience led me to one of the greatest discoveries in my life: healing through food. It also led me to one of my greatest joys in life- helping others heal through food. I went back to school to learn more about Integrative Medicine and holistic nutrition. Using acupuncture, yoga, meditation, herbal medicine, and fresh, organic, unprocessed food, I healed myself and remain symptom free. I’ve been lactose intolerant since I was a kid but also cut out gluten in college when I became sick from eating foods such as bread and soy sauce; no one had any idea what gluten was back then. I am still unable to consume gluten and dairy, as well as soy and sugar. These past few years, I discovered I am allergic to sulfates and cannot digest packaged foods. Therefore, I eat fresh, whole foods and follow a Clean Lifestyle. This is how I healed.
The foods I ate on my path to health- and that I still eat today-are all fresh, nothing processed or packaged. I eat lots of vegetables, lean organic proteins and healthy fats. Going out to eat at restaurants can be difficult as there are so many hidden, unknown ingredients. So, I make 99.9% of my food from scratch at home. Anything from hummus to veggie chips, smoothies to soups to spreads, pretty much everything! I love cooked, soft zucchini, bok choy, spinach and green beans. The food processor was my best friend for a long time because I couldn’t digest whole foods. I even made organic vegetable and fruit pâtés in the food processor with fresh herbs, sea salt and pepper! Wheat grass and organic veggie juices or “ green juice” are an instant shot of nutrients and taste amazing. I am completely sugar-free, dairy-free, corn-free, gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free and cannot eat anything out of a can or a box. Ginger and lemon tea? Lots of it with hot water! It is great for detoxing. My favorite healthy fats come from avocados, nuts and seeds.
I made other changes to my lifestyle aside from my diet. Sticking to my chelation schedule (IV) was key to getting healthy. But I also made some “unusual” but important changes as well: detoxing my makeup, clothes, shower curtain, cleaning supplies, plastic containers, water bottles, pots/pans, food and everywhere else where there are metals and chemicals lurking that make us sick. You can read more about this on my How to Detox, Beauty Detox, Natural Cleaning Products and What Detox Means to Me Pages. I was religious about taking parsley pills and other homeopathic remedies such as digestive enzymes, probiotics and vascular enzymes because my entire vascular system was retaining water from the heavy metals and the cell walls were holding onto water (note: all of these remedies were prescribed for me from my medical doctor).
These food and lifestyle changes truly made me whole again and now it’s my full time job- helping others feel good and finding the real solution to their ongoing pain. I share my approach to and passion for ‘Clean Eating’ by focusing on natural whole foods and ingredients that are good for you and your body through this website. This is where I provide readers with balanced, accessible and engaging information on the most basic components of good health. I work as a Culinary Nutritionist and Celebrity Personal Chef in Manhattan, helping clients ‘Clean’ up their diet and get on the healthy-eating bandwagon using fresh, whole allergy-free foods. For several years I stayed positive and held my head high, even though I was frustrated and felt like no one was listening to me. Do I still have days when I have a stomachache? Yes, but my passion, my pride, my yearning to find an answer and help people just like me and never give up is what keeps me going!
My painful health experience led me to one of the greatest discoveries of my life–healing through food. It also led me to one of my greatest joys–helping others heal through food. Food and lifestyle changes truly made me whole again.