My Health Journey

Or the story of why I know nutrition stuff

Avodado and veggies on a cutting board.

Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash

I’ve been on a health journey all my life. I was always a bit chubby, and I went on my first diet at 8 years old, when the pediatrician told my mom to help me lose weight. So we started calorie counting. I remember when I was in elementary school, I kept a little notebook in which I wrote down what I ate and how many calories were in the food. It didn’t help me to lose weight, but it did help me learn something about nutrition, and get the message that there was something wrong with me. How I wish I could go back in time and give that pediatrician a piece of my mind.

I steadily gained weight until age 14, when my parents signed me up for Weight Watchers. My dad joined with me and supported me by making my brown bag lunches and walking with me in the evenings. I lost 30 pounds by following WW’s low-fat calorie-restricted plan and exercising daily.

My weight fluctuated during high school and college. Several times I rejoined WW, attending SO many of their meetings and journaling SO much. As the years went by, twice more I lost 30 pounds.

When I was in high school, my mom was diagnosed with diabetes. She changed her/our diet, eating tons of green veggies, switching entirely to whole grains, trying out soy milk instead of dairy. I enjoyed eating this way and was often the chef, as my parents were busy at work. We also took long walks together. My mom worked as a research analyst years ago and that was her favorite hobby, too. She devoured nutrition articles and shared them with me, so I learned along with her.

As I approached 40, my weight crept up. I buckled down, eating small portions of low-fat foods like WW taught me and working out regularly at the gym. It had no effect. I had days where I’d eat homemade vegetable soup and turkey slices, work out at the gym…and gain weight. I became so disheartened.

Then I discovered The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking about food. My interest was piqued when I saw her on TV talking about how there are foods that we consider healthy (such as turkey and black beans) that for those over 40 often cause people to GAIN weight. I will go into more detail about this in another post, but for now, let me just tell you her basic idea is that instead of calories in/ calories out, Lyn-Genet talks about how our bodies are chemically balanced. Many diseases, including obesity, come from inflammation. So in order to lose weight, you have to learn how to reduce the inflammation.

I jumped on board. “The Plan” is challenging, as it is an elimination diet. I had to cook a ton and prep piles of veggies. I learned about my body and found things that work/don’t work for my body that I never would have guessed. One of the surprising things I learned is that FAT IS GOOD for you! Lyn-Genet encourages people to pour olive oil all over everything and eat lots of avocado. Nuts and seeds are an important part and cheese is smiled upon. She says if you want to include milk, make it whole milk. All of this was new to me – and it worked. My health was great and I lost weight. And unlike WW, I didn’t have to go hungry.

Click here to read about which fats are healthiest for your family

Olive oil

Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

Meanwhile, we determined that my daughter’s years of stomach aches were likely caused by a gluten sensitivity. Not good news for someone whose favorite foods were mac and cheese, pasta, cheese pizza, and cupcakes. And, to make things more challenging…she is VERY picky (complicated further by the fact that one of the things I learned from following “The Plan” is that I gain weight when I eat rice) Thus began my obsession with grain-free baking. Click here to check out my Grain-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe.

Also around the same time, my mother’s health began to decline. As I struggled to help her, a dietitian friend of mine recommended I listen to Dishing up Nutrition, a podcast by the people at Nutritional Weight and Wellness. She suggested I listen to the show they did about helping the elderly by fixing their diet. It was life-changing! I loved it so much, I listened to episode after episode. Their message of whole food nutrition paralleled what I’d learned from Lyn-Genet. Their nutritionists and dietitians teach that we need to eat a balanced diet of protein (especially from animal sources), plenty of healthy fats including butter, and that our carbs should come from mostly vegetables and a bit of fruit. They recommend avoiding grains altogether.

This way of eating is their answer for helping people with all sorts of health issues. Not just to lose weight, but also to help those with diabetes, asthma, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and even mental health issues like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and fuzzy thinking. They have great thoughts on the best way to feed kids, too (hint: it’s the same as for everyone)! If you are interested, you can check them out at Weight and Wellness. At their website, you can check out lots of good recipes as well as their podcasts on how good nutrition can help many different health conditions Click below if you’d like to listen to a great episode about how one woman lost 90 pounds and has kept it off for four years.

So as you can tell from all of this, I love to do research. I’ve spent tons of time trying to figure out what is best.

What’s the answer to healthy eating?

I believe a whole food, clean diet of unprocessed foods that contains plenty of healthy fats and animal protein is the best way to eat for everyone.

My journey continues- my weight is still an issue, and I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroiditis, which ain’t helping.

I listened to an episode on Dishing up Nutrition about thyroiditis. In it, they recommended The Auto-Immune Solution by Dr. Amy Myers. Here are some more links to books I have found helpful on my health journey:

And here are some of my favorite recipes that can help you feed your family this way:

Low Carb Spaghetti Squash Lazy Lasagna

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Skillet

Chicken Soup 2 Ways

Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

Non-toxic homemaking and self-care

I’ve learned over the last few months that we are all exposed to way too many toxins in our environment. Please read my articles on this topic:

Why you need a non-toxic home

Why your family needs essential oils

7 simple changes to have a more non-toxic home

I will keep researching and learning, and share what I learn with you. Do you have any recommendations for what I should read/watch/listen to next? What has your journey been like? Comment below!

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  1. Thank you for sharing your health journey, I found if very inspirational! My body performs best when I don’t consume meat or dairy. I’ve been talking about becoming vegan for years, but I always had an excuse on hand. My family is huge on eating meat and dairy, I began telling myself that it’s too hard to cook two separate meals every night. After reading this post, I realize my “reasoning” is nothing but hogwash! It’s time for me to step up and focus on my health.

    I just ordered a book, The Yoga of Eating by Charles Einstein. I’ve heard nothing but good things about his book. He doesn’t preach on diets or what he thinks you should eat. Instead his message is eat for your body. What works for one person may not work for another.

    I also love reading books by Dr. Neal Barnard, his focus is on a plant based lifestyle. His words just make so much sense to me.
    Thank you once again for sharing your story.

    1. Yes, I really believe that this is a very individual journey. The same things don’t work for everyone! Have you read any of Michael Pollan’s books? “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is one of my favorites. I also really like the message in “Body Love” by Kelly Leveque. And yes, your point about cooking two meals is a good one! I am working on an article that gives tips on how to make meals that are flexible and suit the whole family so the cook isn’t so stressed out.

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