“Fibromyalgia” stole several years of my life. In 2002 (at age 25), my health began to deteriorate. I was extremely weak and fatigued, and I was in so much pain that some days it was all I could do to get out of bed. Among other symptoms, I suffered from digestive distress, sleep disturbances, chest pain, and an intermittent racing heart beat. After more than 15 different prescription medications, never-ending appointments with various specialists and more than a handful of diagnostic procedures, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
I was in constant pain – many days it was too painful even to hug my own husband. On good days, I felt like I was 90 years old. On bad days, I felt like I should be in the hospital. I was in pure misery, suffering from an “invisible illness” for which there was no treatment, no cure and no known cause. In 2005, after much consideration, I resigned – I resigned from my position as Executive Director of the after-school program that I adored, and I resigned myself to the medical “fact” that I would suffer with chronic, untreatable pain for the rest of my life. (Click here if you’d like to read about my illness and recovery in much more detail.)
Fortunately, in 2007 I stumbled upon some books that changed my life forever. Among other things, I learned that there are ingredients in processed foods (e.g., high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial colors/sweeteners) that are making people sick and are often hidden on food labels under innocent-sounding ingredient names like “natural flavor” and “yeast extract.” This information made such an impact on my husband and me that we immediately purged our kitchen of convenience foods and mystery ingredients. We started eating only those foods which we could clearly identify as having come from a plant or animal in nature. And in just a couple of months, ALL of my Fibromyalgia symptoms were gone – completely gone! In fact, I now feel better and have more energy than most people I know!
It sounds so silly, but I never realized before just how good we should all feel. We should sleep well, feel great and have all of the energy we need to do all of the things we want to do. Each of us deserves that! People need a wake-up call – we truly are what we eat, and we need to make a conscious decision about what we are putting into our bodies. I’m not saying we need to spend half of our paychecks on obscure berries from distant lands; but we do need to stop eating FAKE food and return to eating things that are grown in nature rather than invented in a lab.
The Standard American diet is destroying our health! Meanwhile, we are bombarded with unhealthy messages and advertisements for junk food; and eating has been turned into such a “rocket science” that it’s no wonder folks feel defeated before they even get to the grocery store. Low fat? Low calories? High protein? Biggest meal at night? Biggest meal at breakfast? It’s enough to drive a person insane! Unfortunately, what most experts fail to advise is that what matters most is what’s in the ingredients list of what we eat!
Even when folks come to the realization that processed food is bad, they often have no idea how to make changes or what to eat instead! So I have dedicated my life to teaching people how to read ingredients labels, how to shop for and prepare REAL foods, how to use various kitchen equipment, etc.
I know that these changes aren’t easy and there are a million-and-one “reasons” why you “can’t” do it. Believe me! Just five years ago, I was eating fast food, candy, diet pop and frozen dinners. I was the stereotypical American “junk food junkie.” Unless I needed to lose a few pounds – then I was a calorie-conscious crash dieter. (I used to think that calories, carbs and fat grams were all that mattered and that if I wasn’t overweight, then I had nothing to be worried about. Boy was I wrong!!!) Five years ago, I had no idea how to cook! I was also battling a chronic illness and suffering from extreme fatigue, weakness and pain. So, if I can make these changes, anyone can!! There is nothing special about me that somehow made it easier for me to make these changes. After all, I hate doing dishes just as much as anyone else! It’s just a conscious decision that each of us must make – basically, you just have to want to change more than you want to stay the same.
This may sound cliché, but I know that everything happens for a reason. While suffering with Fibromyalgia, it was really hard to see any purpose in the pain. Now, I realize that I suffered for those years so that I could educate and inspire others to take charge of their diets and their health. So many people are so apathetic about what goes into their bodies – I was, too! Eating really shouldn’t be this complicated, and it is unfortunate that things have gotten to this point. It isn’t fair that food companies are allowed to add harmful ingredients to the food on unsuspecting consumers’ plates, and I am determined to do what I can to help people become more aware and make the necessary changes!
Although my particular symptoms were diagnosed as “Fibromyalgia,” you could insert countless other health conditions and get this same story and solution; and I’ve witnessed the transformation in many other people with a variety of ailments and diagnoses throughout the years. So if you’re still eating processed foods, I truly hope that you will consider this information and begin making changes in your own life.