“Fibromyalgia to Pain Free!”

Shan Swain - originalToday we are pleased to share with you the guest post below written by one of our clients, Shan Swain. We hope that you find her return-to-health story to be an inspiration. Please share with anyone whom this may help! We are so incredibly happy for Shan that she is feeling so much better these days! Food is an amazing thing!

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Shan’s Story…

“It has been 9 months since I have started my new food journey. I must give you a little health history prior to this. About 15 years ago, I was beginning to have joint pain – it wasn’t bad at first but as time went on it increased. Between the cold weather and other health issues, exercise started to become more and more painful. I went from walking to not walking because of the pain. I would have to organize my schedule according to my pain level. In a matter of 5 years I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The only thing they could do for me was physical therapy or medicate for the pain. So I begin to seek my own relief, like going for a massage (which I intently did for 3 to 4 years). Also, heat seemed to provide some relief and acupuncture helped for a short time. But even with trying all of this, my pain was still there and worse as the years went by.

In January of 2012 my daughter Courtney told me about an article she had read about someone who had lived for years with Fibromyalgia but was currently pain free. She told me that the gal’s name was Christy Pooschke and that she had a website full of information at http://www.CompletelyNourished.com. So I read Christy’s whole return-to-health story on her website, and in her story I found the light! I could relate to everything she was saying about her health issues, it was my story! The light was that Christy had discovered a solution to the PROBLEM – not a fixer upper or a band-aid, but a true, real solution!

I was a skeptic at first. It was hard for me to put my mind around all that I needed to change with my diet. I called her with no hesitation, and we scheduled a time to meet. In the mean time, we chatted on the phone about some of my history and food journaling. As the time was approaching for us to meet, I was beginning to have some doubt that this could possibly take my pain away. It seemed to me that I would be in this pain forever. But I started to go through my cabinets and switch out some of my foods that I have always eaten. I had no idea that these things could’ve possibly been causing my health issues all these years!

When the time came for Christy, my daughter and I to meet for our consultation…I still thought it wouldn’t work. But Christy put us at ease and said “these changes take a little time, so don’t overwhelm yourself.” She went through some of my foods and explained that it’s the ingredient information that matters because so many of the additives in our foods can make us sick. As we continued, she challenged me to start switching out my food for more additive-free foods and to cook my own food at home. Christy’s “Eating Additive-Free” Cookbook & Shopping Guide was a huge help in that regard because it is filled with recipes for the “typical American” types of foods my family already enjoys!

When we finished our consultation, I began to go full speed ahead and switched out everything in my cabinets for real food and clean food. This took time and required my attention as to what I really was eating. It was shocking to find out that something as simple as canned tuna fish often contains hidden MSG! One of MSG’s most commonly known side effects is headaches but also for me the effects of MSG were bloating, aches and joint pain, and chest pain that felt like a heart attack. A few times I thought I was having a heart attack, which led me to get an EKG…but my heart always tested out just fine.

I started to go out to eat less often and began cooking more at home. This gave me satisfaction to continue this new journey. Within 2 months, I started to feel a difference! The days and weeks went by, and I had less and less pain. I am not even aware of the joint pain anymore…unless I go out to eat. Then, soon after I eat I can either get a headache or joint pain which I know is from an additive in the food. It’s amazing how I can tell a difference immediately! I have been so careful (with help) when I grocery shop for clean foods. I make sure that I purchase real food ingredients. For example, now I make sure to select peanut butter that contains just peanuts and salt. Nothing more!

As for my activities I am trying to work in some simple exercises and walking. This has been amazing because the walking has been easier and fun! I’ve also been able to thoroughly enjoy several vacations with my family since recovering from my Fibromyalgia pain – and that has been an absolute blessing! I also love outdoor activities, and maybe I will try to bike again. In the mean time I am totally enjoying the flavor of my new foods, my new menu ideas and how much better I am feeling. This is now 9 months into my new food requirement. And I don’t say that lightly, it is a requirement for me to avoid food additives if I want to feel good. I have also lost 30lbs., not that it was anything I was working towards, it just happened as a “side effect” of avoiding the additives.

My final thoughts…if food additives are causing folks like me to be so sick, what other problems are people having that might be a result of their diets?! Let’s be sure to inform those who are in need.”

Very Thankful,
Shan Swain

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Additive-free diet ends lifelong battle with insomnia, fatigue & migraines (Cris Potter’s Story)

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!

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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!

Consumer power

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.

3 Sources of Food Additives that May Surprise You!

(Originally published on NaturalNews.com. Written by Christy Pooschke.)

“It is commonly known that fast food, frozen pizzas and candy bars are filled with taste enhancers and other food additives. But did you know that  food additives are also lurking in products that would seem at a glance to contain just one ingredient? Ironically, some of these items may even be things you are using to prepare foods from scratch at home in an effort to avoid the dangerous additives in pre-packaged meals. Following are some food items that seem so self-explanatory that you may be purchasing them without even checking the ingredients list.

Tomato Paste

Many varieties of tomato paste contain a surprising number of ingredients. Be especially wary of flavored or seasoned varieties of tomato paste. For example, one popular brand’s “Italian Herb” variety contains all of the following ingredients: “tomato puree (tomato  paste and water), high fructose corn syrup, salt, dried onions, partially  hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean and/or cottonseed), spices, hydrolyzed corn  gluten, soy & wheat gluten proteins, grated Romano cheese made from cow’s  milk (cultured milk, salt, enzymes), garlic, citric acid, yeast, soy  flour.”

Of course, varieties that are not flavored or seasoned  often contain food additives, as well. “Natural flavor” is one additive that is commonly added to tomato paste, and it can disguise dangerous ingredients like MSG. Manufacturers are not required to reveal the components of their “natural  flavorings” on food labels, so be sure to read carefully and select a brand of tomato paste that contains only, “tomatoes.” (Note: If you prefer to purchase tomato paste contained  in a glass jar, instead of a can, visit a natural food store or shop online for jarred options.)

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is another food that you may logically assume contains just one ingredient – peanuts. Unfortunately, most common  commercial brands also contain health-depleting ingredients like sugar, corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oils (i.e., trans fat). Ideally, purchase brands that are unsalted and contain only, “dry roasted peanuts.” Many regular grocers may not carry plain, unsalted peanut butter, so you may need to shop at a natural food  store or shop online for this item. Many regular grocers do carry at least one brand that contains only “peanuts and salt,” though, if you don’t mind the salt but prefer to avoid the corn syrup, trans fat, etc.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar offers an array of health benefits. It eases heartburn, joint pain and joint stiffness, improves skin complexion and bowel function, breaks down fat to aid in weight loss, etc. To  reap these benefits, purchase raw (unpasteurized), organic and unfiltered varieties only. You may need to visit a natural food store or the health section  of your regular grocer because this type of vinegar is usually not sold in the  regular vinegar section. Read apple cider vinegar labels very carefully, as there are varieties that contain additives like coloring and flavoring agents. If you look closely, these  imposters are actually labeled on the front of the bottle as “apple cider flavored vinegar” because they are actually comprised of white vinegar (made from corn, not apples) with artificial flavors and colors added to make them look and taste like apple cider vinegar.”

Sources for this article include:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trans-fat/CL00032 http://www.naturalnews.com/036308_natural_flavors_MSG_aspartame.html http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/ http://www.globalhealingcenter.com

About the  author:

Christy Pooschke is author of “Eating  Additive-Free” and founder of CompletelyNourishedCommunity.com – a holistic health community featuring hundreds of delicious, natural recipes suited to a variety of dietary restrictions (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegetarian, soy-free, MSPI, etc.). Christy was inspired to help others reduce their reliance on processed foods after resolving her own Fibromyalgia symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes. Want more great tips and recipes for eating an additive-free diet? Subscribe to her natural  foods blog, join her online community of 1,600+ members, and get yourself a copy of her book – “Eating  Additive-Free: Natural Cookbook & Shopping Guide“.

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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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