Many of you have read my personal journey of how I overcame years of Fibromyalgia symptoms by eliminating food additives from my diet; and I hope you will also take the time to read the guest post below from one of our readers, Cris Potter. We are incredibly grateful that she has taken the time to put into words her very own journey with food additives in an effort help others. It’s amazing what she went through over the years, and we are so pleased that she found a solution for herself! Please share with anyone who may benefit!
Hi, I’m Cris Potter, retired social worker, and wellness enthusiast extraordinaire. I live in Oceanside, California, a community in San Diego County, with my husband, Dave, and our two kitties, Lily and Freddie.
I love learning, gardening, cooking, crafts, yoga, biking, and lots more.
My health woes began in 1958, the year I was born.
Don’t worry, I’ll summarize…
Lifetime of insomnia, fatigue and migraines
Throughout the years, I’ve faced a lot of health challenges, but the most debilitating has been chronic insomnia. It began when I was an infant. I am certain of this because my mother, a typical well-intentioned mom, brought me to a doctor because she had never witnessed me sleeping. I was under a year old, and she had literally not seen me sleep. At night, when she checked on me, I was in bed, singing. I sang a lot, according to mom. I suppose it was better than crying.
Throughout my childhood, I can recall that night after night, I lay in bed and listened to an old clock chime on the hour and half hour. It was a pretty chime, but I grew to dread it. I still remember thinking, “Oh no, three gongs, then one at the half hour, and oh no! . . . there goes four . . . ,” and on it went. By the time I was in grade school, it was clear to me that the remaining five members of my family were enjoying a night of sound sleep, something I knew little about.
When I mentioned my insomnia to my mother, she repeated the same thing the doctor had told her years before, “Some people need more sleep than others. You’re fine.” Not surprisingly, I was frequently exhausted as a child, and although I wasn’t diagnosed as such, I struggled with a learning disorder. My mother couldn’t understand why my three siblings easily made good grades, and I often didn’t pass. She was afraid of holding me back a year in school because I would be in the same grade as my younger brother. She feared I would be bullied and called ‘flunky’ for the rest of my days. So summer school was a must for me. It was awful, and it didn’t help me read any better!
When I was in the third grade, my father, who was in the military, was transferred to Japan. My siblings and I received numerous vaccines. Every week for several months, we went to a military hospital for a shot. At about the same time, I began to experience a lot of dental issues. My mouth was filled with silver fillings. Within a few months of those events, I started to experience what I called, “The ants.” I felt as if there were swarms of ants crawling just under my skin. It was terrible, but not as bad as the chronic headaches that I had also developed. I was eight years old.
During those years, I became an outstanding day dreamer; and I continued to live in my inner world throughout the long nights. If you’re beginning to feel sorry for me, please don’t. In spite of my health challenges, I had a lot of fun. I was close to my siblings, and I had friends and a great ‘banana bike.’ I loved that bike! I really only had one problem – my health, or lack of it. Okay, maybe two problems – my poor health and my learning woes.
At school, I struggled along as best I could. Then, in the summer between sixth and seventh grade, a miracle occurred. I discovered that if I snipped a slit into a piece of white paper and isolated one line of text at a time, I could read pretty well. From that point on, everything improved for me academically – but not physically. I complained to my mother that I felt terrible most of the time. I can recall thinking, on more than one occasion, that I must be dying. My mother consoled me, took my temperature and told me that I was fine. But I knew it wasn’t true.
When the headaches got really bad, mom took me to several different doctors. It was clear to me that the doctors had no idea what I was talking about. Some of them actually scolded me for wasting their time. Since then, I haven’t been a big fan of our medical system. I have seen herbalists and naturopaths in the past; but the more I read about wellness, the more I decided to go it alone. Ironically, as a State of Alaska retiree, I have the best medical insurance money can buy. Yes, I would seek medical care in the case of a broken bone or trauma; but, other than that, I am not interested.
From my early teens and throughout the remainder of my life, I have been on a mission: To discover what was ailing me, and to resolve it. At some instinctual level, I knew it was the food. Knew it. The information seemed to be encoded in my DNA . . . I never doubted it, and I didn’t believe anyone who told me otherwise. Even so, it was a long and tedious road to wellness. Probably the biggest barrier to getting the fresh foods I craved was that my family had moved to Juneau, Alaska, when I began Junior High. There was very little fresh, whole food available.
I did my best, however; and, as a teenager, I grew wheat grass for smoothies in an indoor window box. I experimented with many different diets, supplements and health programs. I also started a program of daily exercise, a practice that I am still committed to. Even when I was terribly fatigued and had a roaring headache, I went to the gym. It helped me psychologically as much as it helped my physically. At times, I improved somewhat, but I still reverted back to insomnia, headaches and fatigue.
When I was in my early 20s, I moved to Anchorage, a much larger city. There was better food available, and I continued to study whatever health-related information I could get my hands on. I also enjoyed my life, worked full-time and got married to a great fellow, Dave. He shared my views on health, which was a good thing for both of us. Although I often didn’t feel well, I never gave up. I knew there was an answer; and I knew that, eventually, I would find it.
In the early 80s, I decided to have my amalgam fillings removed. I had eight of them, and I’d become concerned about the mercury they contained. I was fortunate to find a good dentist who could perform their removal safely. The fillings were so toxic that they had to be disposed of as “hazardous waste.” I continued to experiment with green smoothies, fasting, cleanses, etc. Little by little, I started to feel better. Even so, I still had plenty of setbacks. It was pretty frustrating.
My dietary changes
Around the late 90s, I came to the conclusion that the only way I could be assured of feeling well was to eat a strictly organic diet. Just about any commercial product, from condiments to canned goods, produced debilitating migraines and insomnia. I didn’t know what was in the food, but I knew that whatever it was, it was not being labeled. And I knew another thing: It was toxic.
I started making all of our food from scratch and using only certified organic ingredients. In time, I became a pretty good cook. Since retiring in 2005, and moving to California, I’ve made a lot of new friends who share my views on health and wellness. Some don’t, however, and that’s okay. When I connect with these folks socially, I bring my own food. I explain to them that, due to health challenges, I simply cannot eat commercially made food. If they don’t understand it, they at least accept it, and that’s good enough for me.
Research confirms my suspicions about food
It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve found scientific evidence for what I’ve known for years: That the commercial food supply in the U.S. is poisoned. Dr. Russell Blaylock is probably the best source of information on MSG (monosodium glutamate), which causes many health problems. MSG is in many processed foods, and it is not labeled. It is known to cause ADD, migraines, insomnia, fatigue, and many other health problems. I could go on and on, but if you haven’t already seen it, I’d recommend you watch Dr. Blaylock’s video entitled, “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.” He also has a book on Amazon by the same name.
I’m also a big fan of Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has a great website, Mercola.com, and provides a free weekly newsletter. Dr. Mercola is focused on disease prevention, and he has a lot of excellent information on his site. These men, along with countless other professionals and citizens are working hard to get the word out to the public. Oh yeah, I don’t want to forget Christy Pooschke, whose website you’re currently on. I love to see young people like Christy spreading the word!
As a Californian, I am watching the debate to label genetically engineered foods (Prop 37) with interest. I have been an advocate for labeling for years, and I belong to numerous consumer groups that support labeling, as well as organic and sustainable farming. I never miss the opportunity to email or phone my representatives to express my views. My fingers are crossed that if Prop 37 passes, it will raise public awareness. I am hoping it will also set a precedent, and we can push for labeling of MSG, as well.
Since the 1970s, I have seen a steady grass-roots movement towards greater awareness of our food and how it is impacting the health of our nation. One thing that has surprised me from the onset, though, is how hostile many folks are about the notion that their food is unsafe. Because my health issues were so extreme, I was willing to try anything, and I do mean anything, to become well. I guess some people don’t like the idea of change, and that’s okay. Another big issue, I think, is our cultural conditioning to ignore our health, turn it over to a doctor, and take a pill. To my way of thinking, that is a prescription for disaster!
No MSG for me!
One thing people have asked me over the years is: “How can you be certain it is MSG that is the problem?” It is an excellent question, and one I will answer now. I became aware of my severe reaction to MSG during the 1970s, when it was in Chinese food and more frequently labeled. Many times, when I developed a particularly devastating migraine, I checked the labels and found MSG present. I became aware of a cascade of events that followed a large exposure. It started with a headache that rapidly worsened, and I frequently felt an uncomfortable itching just under my skin. As the day progressed, I braced for the night I knew was coming. Sleep would be out of the question, and I often had an odd urge to move my body. It wasn’t unusual for me to take off running at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning when I had been exposed to MSG. It may have been dangerous to run at this hour, but it helped me recover faster.
As time went on, I became very familiar with the sensations that followed exposure to MSG. When I began to notice the tell-tale signs of MSG exposure, but I could no longer find MSG listed on food labels, I thought perhaps a similar product had been put on the market. I read labels religiously, and in fact, I recorded everything I ate for a number of years. I didn’t realize at that time that food companies could legally add unlabeled MSG to products by diluting it to 98%. When I learned that MSG had been added to baby foods for decades, an inner alarm started to sound. I felt pretty certain that MSG had been the primary culprit in much of my suffering.
I say MSG was the ‘primary’ culprit because I know that nitrates produce a similar reaction in my system. Most of the time, however, nitrates are labeled and easy to avoid. In my long journey from sickness to health, I did a lot of research on the food production in the U.S. My health challenges and my intuition told me it wasn’t ideal, but I found out that it was far worse than I could have imagined. The more I read about genetically modified organisms, nitrates in meats, not to mention the growth hormones, antibiotics and gmo foods that are fed to cows, I realized that I didn’t want any of it in my body! As I mentioned earlier, I have only one guarantee for feeling well, and that is avoid all commercially made products. Because I know that there is no truth in food labeling in the U.S., 90% of what I eat has no label at all! Yes, I do eat organic chicken, cheese, and occasionally organic bread and pasta (imported from Italy); but for the most part, I make everything from scratch, and purchase only organic produce.
The good news
A word of encouragement here . . . You can be well. Yes, it takes a lot of work and commitment, but the results are absolutely worth it. In my mid-fifties, I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life. Yes, I’ve had a couple of ‘MSG smack-downs’ over the last few years when I’ve gone to restaurants. As a result, I no longer eat out. On the rare occasions when I am socially obligated to eat out, I bring my own food in a baggie and do the old ‘switch-er-roo.’ Yes, I actually swap my organic food for what is on the plate. Having suffered for so many years, I absolutely refuse to have one more minute of sickness! Now I enjoy sound sleep every night and don’t get migraines any more. I’ve got tons of energy, too. I honestly believe that our bodies want to be healthy! We have control over what we put into our bodies, and we can bring about change. Every time you purchase food, you vote with your dollar. In a capitalist, consumer-driven society, spenders are king. Spend wisely.
Just caught your story on facebook. I also eat organic and bring my own food. I started with issues later but same problem. MSG is pretty much GMO so I am hoping as you are that labeling in California and eventually here in Florida passes. Thanks for sharing your story!
Thank you for sharing your Story Chris, My Name is Constance Meyers I live in Country Western Australia ..My Husband and I also take a Product which has made a Remarkable Improvement in our Health.
May God Bless you..
Constance Meyers. …
Thank you for comment, Constance. I’m wondering if there are additives in the food in Austrailia?
Thanks for your comment, Andrea. I suspect there are a lot of people affected that don’t realize what’s happened to our food supply.
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I healed myself with a proper diet as well.
I was sick for 8 years and eventually hospitalized in 2010. I had a severe digestive disorder called Crohn’s which caused nutrient deficiencies, and I was underweight, pale, anemic, tired all the time, etc . I had two surgeries in 2010 after my intestinal tract ruptured and an infection with a bacteria called C.Difficile (spl?) was discovered. When I left the hospital, I chose to take my health into my own hands. I had been following doctors orders and taking many prescription meds for years, and obviously it wasn’t working. I was told I could eat whatever crap that I wanted to and that my condition would never change regardless. Now, I am vibrantly healthy though and take no meds! This has been the case for the last 2 and 1/2 years, my being very healthy. Med-free 1 and 1/2. All I had to do was change my diet as well. I started out on something called the specific carbohydrate diet, and it called for eating real food, nothing processed, and even removed grains, dairy, and starches from my diet due to digestion issues. Since I have added back in starch, grains(except those known to contain gluten), and some dairy with no problems. I have only made improvements since. I’ve taught myself to cook, and now I eat organic most of the time and order pasture raised chickens and eggs from a local farm. I seem to be happy all the time, and I’m just so glad that I changed my diet and quit eating processed, artificial, and chemical filled foods. It’s been an amazing 2 years, and I have no doubt that my future will continue to be, as long as I take care of myself. Anyway, it was great to read your success story as well. I encourage everyone to leave the junk food behind. It’s not worth the temporary pleasure of so called “good” tastes or convenience. p.s. I also get Mercola’s newsletters, support GMO labeling, and exercise daily.
Now I am studying to be a health coach as well and also aspire to be a personal trainer, and yoga instructor, and to help others take control of their health.
Wow, what a story, Alyssa. It’s wonderful to hear that you are doing well. I agree – nothing tastes as good as healthy feels! I’m not even tempted by junk foods these days. I do eat organic home-made cookies once in a while, however!
Thanks so much for taking the time to share! Food is so amazing, and I’m glad you’re feeling so well now! If you’d ever like to share your complete story with our readers, please contact me at Info@GroceryGeek.com for more information 🙂 I know a LOT of folks suffer from un/misdiagnosed digestive issues, and I’m sure many would benefit from your story 🙂
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An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend
who was conducting a little research on this.
And he in fact bought me breakfast because I stumbled upon it for
him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for
the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this
matter here on your blog.