How we ate BEFORE learning about food additives!

For those of you who wonder what Chad and I used to eat before we learned about natural, additive-free foods, the truth is revealed in the brief video clip below….yikes!

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Following Our Hearts…

on way home from Apache

It was pretty surreal driving home from the dealer with our baby hitched to us for the first time!

If you ever feel that you are “supposed” to be doing something, I highly recommend following that path to see where it leads!!! It’s been my experience that the journey itself is worth it…regardless of whether or not you ever “get” to where you thought you were headed!!!

Chad and I have just barely begun with our most recent “leap of faith” – acting on the “feeling” that we should travel full-time in an RV…and work remotely! It’s only been 5 weeks since our desire to “hit the road” appeared, and I can tell you already that the journey has been SO incredibly worth it….regardless of where this series of events is ultimately headed!

Several friends and family members have reached out to us because they were concerned that something was wrong. Quite ironic, actually, because life has never felt so right as far as we’re concerned. But I suppose that’s what following your heart does for ya, huh? 😉 (In their defense… from their perspective this whole idea just “sprung up overnight.” It also seemed that way to us at first, actually, but in hindsight we can see a whole series of events in our lives that, although we didn’t understand the meaning of them at the time, have actually been leading us to right here for quite some time. That will have to be a whole future blog post of its own!) For now, here’s a bit to catch everyone up to speed on our situation…

sunset on way home with RV

First sunset “on the road” (on our way home from the RV dealer!)

About 5 weeks ago, I announced on our Facebook page that Chad and I were selling our home and our stuff and hitting the road full-time in an RV. The reasons why are too many to mention here, but I hope to blog about them all very soon. Shortly thereafter, I posted that we were not selling our house, after all, and were planning to just travel a lot, basically.

So for the past few weeks, we’ve been pursuing that plan and shopping around for a camper that would serve that “part-time” purpose. I plan to blog about that in more detail eventually, but for now suffice it to say that “Plan B” just wasn’t coming together. Ultimately, we realized it wasn’t working out because it’s not what we truly felt we were being led to do. Intuition is so incredibly persistent, huh?! You can try to deny it, but the heart wants what the heart wants! So…..we’re back to “Plan A” (well, sort of) and things feel “right” again.

With our original “Plan A,” we were just days away from putting our house on the market when we realized that there was going to be a lot of work to do and a lot of time (potentially) to wait before we’d be able to hit the road…because we weren’t going to purchase an RV until after we sold our house…and that can take a while. Again, I’ll be blogging here soon about all of this and all of the reasons that we got started on this path, etc. (so register for email updates here if you’d like)….but for now…here’s where things stand…

Christy at Apache

Hitched up for the first time (at Apache Camper Center)

We purchased our very first RV – a fifth wheel that is big enough (??) for us to live in full-time but also affordable enough for us to feel comfortable purchasing it before selling our home. We picked up the RV a couple days ago and found out we have a ton to learn…but it’s waaaaay exciting!!! We’ve gotten a few of our first RV “accomplishments” under our belt now, so we’re on our way to gaining some kind of comfort level with all of this, I suppose (ahhhh…I hope!)…

  1. We (…err…Chad) drove the 25 minutes through town from the dealer to our house without harming anyone or anything (that we know of…). Not bad for the first time towing such a monstrosity, eh?!
  2. We (…err…Chad) backed it into the driveway without knocking over the garage!
  3. We (…err…Chad) unhitched it without it rolling away…and even got it all leveled nicely!
  4. Hey! Don’t think I haven’t done my part, though…someone had to shop for bath mats and throw pillows (and RV floral does not make coordination easy)!
  5. We even survived our first “tragedy”…yes, even before leaving our own driveway. LOL! Apparently if it’s really cold and snowy, you should not pull your slides in on your RV (“slides” are extra parts of the camper that slide out to make your rooms larger by the way). When it’s cold and snowing outside, ice can form on top of the slide roof. When the slide is in, the slide roof (and its accompanying ice) will be inside your RV, as well…which means water will be on your floor as soon as the ice melts. Luckily this occurred to us before we had the slide all the way in, and we aborted and stuck the slide back out. Hopefully we didn’t damage anything by trying to drag that thin layer of ice inside, though? Oops!

    chad and christy

    Home sweet home (?)

Now, we’re busy preparing our RV. It needs new tires and we have some supplies (and courage…gulp!) to gather, etc. Then, thanks to some wonderful friends who will be moving into our home to stay with our dog while we’re gone, we’ll be hitting the road very soon for a while to verify that we love the lifestyle as much as we feel that we will. If it’s a 100% “go,” then we’ll return to Nebraska and sell the house (and most of our belongings) as originally planned.

IMG_9279

Our current property…for sale soon??

Yes, full-time RVing will mean no longer owning our gorgeous 1-acre, country-in-the-city property that we fell madly in love with and purchased just two years ago. And, no, we have not “lost our minds”! But thanks for checking! (hee, hee!). Funny how your intuition can make decisions that are objectively pretty major not really feel all that drastic at all. Seriously, in this moment it simply feels to us like… “It’s been wonderful living here in this amazing place that we still can’t believe we ever found…Actually, it feels like we’ve always lived here (because this place was so perfect for us when we found it)…Okay, well enough of that…let’s see what’s next…”

If you were along for the ride when we found this property two years ago, and you’ve witnessed our excitement and overflowing gratitude over the blessing of living here, then you may find our current endeavor a bit shocking, I suppose. But rest assured…that level of excitement that you witnessed regarding our current life situation…Well, that’s exactly how we feel about our new endeavor now!! In fact, owning this amazing property actually contributed in its own way to our desire to own no property at all…and to not live in Nebraska.

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Stay tuned for natural recipes and “how-to” videos from our mobile kitchen!

It’s a long story (which I’ll surely blog about later), but the short of it is that living on this property and enjoying all of the nature, trees, peace and quiet, open space and wildlife made Chad and I realize just how much we enjoy (rather, how much we need) that as part of our daily lives. Snuggling on our deck and gazing at the stars on cool fall evenings, laying under our huge shade trees on summer afternoons, and chatting over breakfast on the deck on warm spring mornings made us realize just how much we do not enjoy cold Nebraska winters for one thing! Problem is, if there’s somewhere we’d rather live, we have no idea where that would be…and, of course, warmer places have their downsides, too. So why not just go live…everywhere, right!? 😉

Okay, so cold winters are definitely not the sole driving force behind our desire to hit the road – far from it, actually. But for now….I’ve got an RV to go pack! More to come soon, so stay tuned…

Our “REAL FOODS” Thanksgiving (2012)

Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs & Oven Roasted Potatoes

Holidays and other social events can be a tricky part of life when you battle a bazillion food intolerances! I’m sure many of you can relate, and I’d LOVE to hear how you enjoyed this Thanksgiving – just leave a comment below. :)Typically, Chad and I go to my Mom’s house for Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful event filled with family and friends, fellowship…and never-ending food (none of which I can eat, unfortunately). So how do we handle this holiday? I know everyone has a different solution for this apparent dilemma – and surely many of you just eat what is offered and suffer silently for it. Perhaps others of you attend the function and just skip the food? That’s what we usually do at most events and social functions…but Thanksgiving is a little more food-focused than your average function (LOL!), and we certainly don’t want to cause any awkwardness for anyone.

Apple crisp for dessert!

So, over the years, what we’ve determined works best for us is to bring our own food. This way, no one struggles to accommodate my very specific and complicated dietary needs; there’s no risk of anyone accidentally “poisoning” me (which makes them and me a bit more relaxed); and I’m not just sitting there eating the carrot sticks or a few other items that happen to be okay for me while everyone else enjoys the full courses and feels bad that I’m sitting there with nothing on my plate. I’ve included some pictures here of what Chad and I prepared and packed for our “to go” meal this Thanksgiving (click any pics to enlarge). Okay…Chad actually prepared all of it…and I packed it! LOL! Yes, you read that correctly….I didn’t cook a thing on Thanksgiving! Score!

Entrees and desserts all packed and ready to go!

Alright, so we kept things pretty “low maintenance,” and we both prefer chicken over turkey, anyway; so we feasted on Roasted Chicken Thighs and Oven Roasted Taters….umm, and those might be plain canned green beans. (Shoot us…we like them! LOL!) Oh, and some yummy gluten-free/dairy-free apple crisp for dessert! When dinner was ready to be served, we popped our grub in the microwave (which we normally don’t use…but we decided to “live on the edge” for the day. Hee, hee!) Admittedly, it wasn’t the typical Thanksgiving feast; but there’s no rule that you have to eat the same food as everyone else at the table in order to have fellowship, right? And at a glance it seemed we were partaking in the meal – it’s not like we had a bowl of spaghetti or a piece of pizza or something! 😉

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday; and if you deal with “food issues” at holidays and social functions, we’d love for you to share in the comments section below!

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The effects of hidden food additives on Fibromyalgia symptoms

Fibromyalgia stole several years of my life. In 2002, I came down with what I thought was the flu – but it just wouldn’t go away, and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Nothing they did for me seemed to help. After more than 15 different prescription medications, countless appointments with various specialists and more than a handful of diagnostic procedures; I was eventually diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. For years, I lived in pure misery, suffering from a debilitating “invisible” illness for which doctors told me there was no treatment, no cure and no known cause.

Fortunately, in 2007, I stumbled upon some information that changed my life forever. I learned that there are ingredients in processed foods (e.g., high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial colors/sweeteners) that are making people sick, tired and overweight. Immediately upon reading this information, my husband and I inspected the ingredients label on everything we were eating; and we came to the harsh realization that what we had been putting into our bodies wasn’t really even food. Every ingredient label in our kitchen was filled with mysterious words and chemical names!

Without hesitation, we completely purged our kitchen of processed foods and mysterious chemical ingredients – we threw food away, gave food away, and even sold some of it at our garage sale! We said good-bye forever to things like Lean Cuisine meals, Slim Fast bars, soda, chewing gum, ice cream and fast food. We began making all of our food at home…from scratch. We scrutinized the ingredients label on everything we purchased from that point on; and if it contained even one word that we didn’t fully recognize as having come from nature, we didn’t put it in our grocery cart. We also began to seek out local farmers and purchase as much food as we could directly from them – we wanted to fill our bodies with foods from the earth, not chemicals from a lab.

Within just a few months of these dietary changes, I realized that I was no longer in any pain and my fatigue and all of my other symptoms had completely dissipated, as well. No longer were my arms so weak that I could barely drive. No longer was I too fatigued to get out of bed. No longer was I in so much pain that I couldn’t bear to accept a hug from my loved ones. Actually, I couldn’t remember the last time I had suffered an episode of the abdominal cramping, insomnia, chest pains or racing heart beat that had plagued me for the last 5 years, either. In fact, it seemed that I felt better and had more energy than most people I knew (and 5 years later this is still the case for both of us – as long as we eat a completely additive-free diet)! So I kept reading every book I could get my hands on, and I still haven’t stopped educating myself about avoiding food additives and preparing natural, wholesome foods. The more I have learned about food additives, the more shocked and disgusted I’ve become. And when I read about the array of health problems (headaches/migraines, Fibromyalgia, digestive problems, cancer, chronic pain and fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc.) that are associated with these chemicals, it made me very angry!

One of the food additives that upset me the most is Monosodium Glutamate (“MSG”). Perhaps you are aware of the health effects associated with the MSG that is commonly used in Chinese food. However, many consumers are not aware that this very same MSG is added to all sorts of foods at restaurants and grocery stores, as well. Soups, potato chips, frozen dinners…and even foods that you would assume are just one ingredient (e.g., peanuts or sour cream) often contain MSG. MSG is a highly- processed food additive that is added to foods as a flavor enhancer. By over-stimulating our taste buds, MSG tricks our brains into thinking that a food item tastes good.

Unfortunately, according to experts like neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D., MSG also over-stimulates and disrupts our nervous systems which causes and exacerbates an array of health conditions (Fibromyalgia, headaches/migraines, vision problems, digestive distress, heart attacks, hyperactivity, obesity, infertility, etc.). For this reason, Dr. Blaylock refers to MSG (and artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame) as an “excitotoxin.” Physiological responses to these excitotoxins are not allergic reactions – MSG and Aspartame are toxins, so everyone is sensitive to their effects to some degree.

Of course, it is best for all consumers to limit ingestion of MSG. Unfortunately, labeling laws have made this task difficult. By hiding MSG on ingredients labels under innocent-sounding names, such as “natural flavor” or “yeast extract,” food companies can legally add this toxin to food while preventing consumers from realizing it’s in there. With the many dozens of hidden names for MSG on food labels, avoiding this toxin can be challenging. One way to limit your exposure to MSG is to prepare all of your foods at home…from scratch. Even then, you must be certain to check the ingredients label of every item you use in your recipes because hidden MSG is often lurking in places you’d never suspect, such as some brands of canned tomato paste and canned tuna!

Of course, food additives are not the only factor to consider when treating Fibromyalgia. There are a variety of natural approaches that provide relief for those who are suffering. I am not a doctor, and I am certainly not advising anyone to abort their current treatment plan. However, “we are what we eat,” so I do encourage everyone to scrutinize their diets and to eat as many additive-free foods as possible. I am thankful everyday that I have found a solution that has worked for me and so many others.

Research about the effects of food additives on Fibromyalgia has been limited, but promising results were published many years ago in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy. I hope to see more studies conducted in the future. Until then, I will continue educating consumers about the health-depleting effects of food additives, sharing my personal return-to-health story, and teaching people how to shop for and prepare natural, additive-free foods.

I know that these changes seem overwhelming and there are a million “reasons” why you “can’t” make these changes. Believe me, I felt the same way! Just five years ago, I was eating fast food, candy, diet pop and frozen dinners. I had no idea how to cook, and I was also battling a chronic illness and suffering from extreme fatigue, weakness and pain. So, if I can make these changes, anyone can!! It’s just a decision that each of us must make to take an active role in maximizing our own health and wellness and to make conscious decisions about what we put into our bodies. I truly hope that you will consider the information that I have presented here and start doing your own research to begin making changes in your own life.

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