Asperger’s, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, OCD and Diabetes are no match for this determined mother!

Please give a warm welcome to Em, an amazing mom in Omaha, NE who will stop at nothing to give her boys the healthiest life she can. I had the pleasure of meeting Em recently, and I’m thrilled that she was willing to share her story with all of you here! I’m sure many of you will relate to her journey…from realizing that her boys’ health was suffering…to struggling for answers…and then putting in the hard work (and finances) it takes to implement the natural solutions she believes in so strongly…

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emberEm writes…

“My life changed after the birth of my oldest son in November of 04′. Born with many issues, one of our struggles became something called MSPI (milk soy protein intolerance). Which, after all was said and done from surgeries to NG feeds (Nasal Gastric feeding tube) left a lot of stress and confusion in our home, where new parents had to maneuver through a new food world. All that being said, when he hit 2 years old, we were told he’d out grow his MSPI and to feed him regularly – Even though he failed a conventional milk challenge with pasteurized store bought milk, we were told to feed him normally and see. By the time he was 4 years old, he had been diagnosed as “Failure to Thrive” for his entire life, had a diagnosis of Functional Abdominal Pain and was just a few days away from being in the hospital. He had no energy, was lethargic really, dark circles under his eyes and only wanted to eat macaroni and cheese and ice cream!

It was during this time that my youngest was born and also diagnosed with MSPI! I breastfed the entire time with him. Though he was so sensitive I literally was allowed to eat less than 10 types of food the entire year. None of these foods came from a box or can – this should’ve been my first clue!

dathenBeside myself with worry over my oldest son, I was talking with a friend who jogged my memory of an article I’d read when he was first diagnosed. The article explained that we begin to crave the things we’re allergic to. So, I took to the internet to find what I could and recipes that I could use if I removed the milk from his diet again. This is around the time I stumbled upon the holistic online community at Completely Nourished. I found a few recipes and promptly removed the milk proteins from his diet. Within two days, he was asking for second helpings of food. I added liquid vitamins that were easily digestible for his tummy (all gluten-, casein-, preservative-free, etc.). Within one week, the dark circles under his eyes were gone, he’d put on 2 pounds and most of his personality changed!

Diagnosed with Asperger’s, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, etc. I pretty much couldn’t think about his future – I knew what all of these diagnoses together meant. Well, just removing the gross processed milk proteins changed a majority of his issues! His tics were so bad that it would take him 5 minutes sometimes to finish a sentence because he’d tic, stop talking and have to start the sentence over. He was beating himself and had just expressed the desire to have coprolalia (This is what people think of when they think of TS). It was really bad. We removed just the milk and in 3 years, I have not seen his tics come anywhere near that degree anymore. Truth be told, now, when his tics are on a downswing, you wouldn’t even notice he has TS! To top that off, he went from 8 medications down to just 5!!

JaxSo, I went back and read Christy’s story again. I followed a few of her recipes and started to slowly cut out all those additives in his food and his brother’s food. We’re still not 100% additive-free, but we’re probably 99% additive-free now. We also made sure that their food was organic whenever possible as well.

Flash forward 3 years and my son was again being tested for Celiac. So, standing there holding him down for yet another blood draw, I realized that rather than keep doing this, it made more sense to just go gluten-free for him. So, we went gluten-free, too. Within 4 days he had what one neurologist termed “withdrawal” symptoms! It was awful really but, by the next day, just like when he was removed from milk, he was almost the little boy I knew at 2 years old!

Which prompted me back to Christy’s story here, where I poured over anyting that I could get my hands on. Then I went went back and got my geek on. I researched for hours sometimes on the internet about foods, GMOs, preservatives, etc.,  After a little over 2 weeks now casein/gluten free, my oldest is being titrated down on the dosage of 2 of his medications with the hopes that he can get completely off of them! My youngest, who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in November of 2012, was originally put on ADHD meds during the day and awful Clonidine at night to help him sleep. Today, after just this short time off of gluten too, he’s now medication free! Unlike my oldest, who you wouldn’t even know had Asperger’s, you will notice my little guys eye contact problem and sometimes his communication issues, but, overall, his whole personality is different. He’s still a little wilder than the neighborhood kiddos, but nothing like he used to be.

em and kidsOn a side note, before I took them gluten-free and as preservative-free and additive-free as I could, I weighed almost 300lbs on the dot. I got whooping cough last year and couldn’t shake it. Went in a second time to the ER and had pneumonia. They sent me home with some antibiotics and strict instructions. Two days later, I got a call from my GP’s nurse. She told me that I was hands down diabetic, but that they needed to perform another test to be thorough. She read off my entire CBC to me and explained what all these numbers meant. While she did say that my illness would give some of these higher readings, it wouldn’t account for how high all of them were or why they were all out of control.

I found out that I had metabolic disorder, my adrenals were running on empty, etc. I sat there and realized that with two parents who had congestive heart failure, one of which had died at 61 years old from it…and my mother at 64 has already had numerous heart attacks, a stroke and 2 stents put in her heart…I had a choice to make!

As I sat there listening to my numbers being read off and listening to my children digging through their Legos in the other room. I realized that I could keep going the way I’d been going or I could die younger than my parents. So, I headed back to the Completely Nourished online community to find recipes and as much information as I could to get myself healthy enough to take care of my boys. To date, I’ve lost a tad over 40 pounds in 2 months! I have way more energy than I have had in years, and I’m emotionally happier and more together than I have been. My whole life has changed!

Had I not found Christy’s site or story here, I have no idea where we would be now. THANK YOU Christy! We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you! And, for anyone out there reading this…KNOW that diet DOES matter!”

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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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From Pain to Purpose: My Journey from Fibromyalgia to Food

“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.

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