3 Months A Nutritarian and 95% Free Of CFS

It seems like a lifetime ago that I started my commitment to follow Eat To Live 100% and I never could have anticipated that just 3 months later, I would live and feel like a normal person.

Last year was beyond a nightmare for me. CFS is generally progressive and can be caused by any number of underlying issues or food sensitivities.

This time last year, I was unable to work and struggling to run my own photography business to make ends meet. I typically would wake up between 9 and 11 feeling like I had been kicked in the head. If I tried to get up earlier and drink coffee to open my eyes, it would trigger PVC arrhythmia that has sometimes sent me to the emergency room. My insurance of course, didn’t cover enough diagnostic testing to see a cardiologist. At night I could NEVER sleep and would toss and turn whilst munching on melatonin.

How I longed to go to the gym or take my bike out. I would shuffle though a few errands and then drift back to Facebook, because at least I could sit down. My muscles were weak and my joints swollen, so a simple walk would frustrate me and cause me pain. I gave everything I had to my photo shoots, and tried to keep up a social life but by the evening I felt so tired I had nothing to say to my friends. I didn’t want to call people and be negative so I stopped calling them at all. Some days I would get bursts of energy, spend it all and then pay it back for days later. I clung to every sporadic surf session, walk and gym visit with a mixture of hope and despair. My friends offered me jobs and I would constantly be calling out because I was in bed all day, weak, feverish and sometimes with extreme nausea. I lived to sleep but it never satisfied me.

I had read every book on nutrition and thought I was doing my best. Gluten free muffins, Kashi cereal for breakfast, brown rice pasta for dinner and even salads at lunch time. To me, there wasn’t much more I could be doing. Maybe I needed more Abx for Lyme disease or an underlying infection. I ran a gamut of blood tests with my PCP which showed immune markers. Even though my insurance didn’t cover any further visits I decided not to pursue any single diagnosis because at this point there were numerous problems with my blood work and health that indicated something was wrong on the holistic level, rather than an individual disease.

What I didn’t realize was that the pain I felt often after eating was my body telling me my digestive system was seriously out of balance, which was destroying my immune system. The sugar I used to feel alert was feeding a massive overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria. 3 months on Abx for Lyme had destroyed my immune and digestive system including filling my body with dead cells that needed to be cleared out. A toxic diet when I was younger had left permanent damage. Using an elimination diet, Eat to Live’s guidelines for the foods I CAN eat and a few juice fasts when I felt toxic, I have a life again.

At first I resisted posting too much because I was so afraid I would wake up and feel awful again. I religiously stuck to my grain free, nightshade free version of the plan and took things one day at a time. I forced down green smoothies. I took my Vitamix on a ski trip. I ate 5 papayas a day in Hawaii. I made mistakes and reacted violently to eggs and dairy in processed foods. But I kept picking myself up.

Today it is 3 months since I started my journey. I truly credit my success to finding like minded people on Facebook and checking in every day to stay motivated and keep a clear idea of what my health goals are.

I naturally wake up between 7 and 8 now and have no trouble falling asleep… usually at 10 or 11. I start my day with affirmations and a gratitude list, because despite the cold weather I enjoy being awake for the first time in years. I have 3 jobs now and am back in graduate school which was a huge gamble because I applied when I was just starting my new diet. I am able to keep up with everything and take my dogs running on the beach. The swelling in my knees took the longest to heal but has made the biggest difference in my life as I can be as active as I like. I am back at the gym regularly and look forward to biking daily when the weather breaks. I waste time on Facebook still but it’s optional, I can see my friends just fine.

Changing the way I eat and treat my body has changed my whole world. Now nothing is impossible to me. I want to run 5ks, surf around the world and take long hikes with my dogs and there is no longer anything holding me back as long as I stick with my dietary program and make sure I get a fair amount of rest. I’ve learned to say no and to treat myself right.

I just went to see a new PCP and my blood work came back perfect. Best part – NO AUTOIMMUNE MARKERS! My new doc is a Functional Medicine doctor and has many patients who have changed their life though diet. Apparently gluten, dairy and food additives found in processed foods can mimic any number of diseases and cause massive inflammation. Anemia I had when I was eating meat is now gone – B12 and D3 are good bc I supplement often with Emercen-C drink.

My typical diet is super simple: unlimited fresh fruit/green smoothies for breakfast. I figured out how to make almond flour crepes but the strangest thing is when I eat dry foods such as baked goods and pasta, I find them too ‘dry’ and get uncomfortable with a  stomach ache. I am so used to fruits and vegetables!

Lunch: unlimited Salad, Steamed Vegetables, Fruit, nuts, seeds, beans

Dinner: Sometimes skipped to allow fasting, steamed veggies/smoothie or veggie soup.

Can’t say I feel deprived at all as being in bed every day when I should have been at the beach is deprivation. Eating foods that my body likes is just the right thing to do, regardless of what everyone around me thinks and eats! My new challenge is learning to let things go and let people be right when they challenge plant based diets – but given how much Eat To Live helped me it’s hard not to get passionate! At just 3 months in, I am so excited to see how I feel in the future!


Clinical Evidence! Diet & Fasting Heals AutoImmune Conditions

One of my favorite books, other than all of Dr Fuhrman’s was The Lupus Recovery Diet by Jill Harrington. It’s very simple, to the point – half success stories and half guidelines and clinical evidence. Her main point of reference is Fuhrman, which is how I found her because she was posted somewhere as one of his success stories.

When you are sick there is plenty of free time to read, so that’s what I did all last year.

Whilst I love Fuhrman his guidelines on AI diseases are spread out and limited to certain areas of the books – so I enjoyed Harrington’s book because it was ALL about diet – specific to autoimmune disease.

I respect what McDougall does, however because I am allergic to the grains/starches he promotes and prefer Fuhrman’s high nutrient approach I stick with the Eat To Live Diet.

However, he is a good doctor and has great newsletters. I found these linked in Harrington’s book:

Newsletter One: http://www.drmcdougall.com/newsletter/may_june1.html

Newsletter Two: http://www.drmcdougall.com/newsletter/may_june2.html

The following excerpts are from Newsletter Two. I have gone through and made notes, because McDougall fails to point out something very interesting. The best results came when ALL GRAINS and ALL DAIRY were removed from the diet.

McDougall’s suggestion is to simply start dairy free and maybe take out wheat and corn at 2 weeks but I don’t think they should be left in at all. Furhman suggests to remove gluten regardless and incorporate more blended, raw foods, but to also try an elimination diet following a water fast.

Dr Fuhrman’s immune protocol: http://www.alternativeratreatments.com/joel-fuhrman-autoimmune-protocol.html

Here is Dr Klaper’s elimination diet protocol, however they almost always start with rice. Rice was already giving me stomach aches and bloating so I knew not to do it. But it can be modified. Note that they mention nightshades which are a huge problem for me – they trigger fibromyalgia. http://www.alternativeratreatments.com/food-elimination-diet.html

My own elimination diet started with NOTHING which meant it took longer but I identified unusual foods such as yeast, tomatoes and potatoes that were causing problems. I did it twice and got the same results, 5 months apart.

According to Dr Fuhrman (Fasting and Eating for Health), legumes, alfalfa sprouts and peas can aggravate Lupus. As everyone is different and IgG testing is inaccurate (Dr Fuhrman) then perhaps it’s worth everyone doing a food by food elimination diet that starts with 3 days water, 3 days apples, 3 days apples and romaine, 3 days apples, romaine and bananas etc etc to truly rule out issues. It’s a hassle but I was so sick I was ready to eat nails if it made me better. So I did it this way. Problem foods such as grains or dairy should not be reintroduced for at least a month to allow healing to take place. Dairy really shouldn’t be brought back at all because it’s health implications are enormous. The reaction when foods are reintroduced is so terrible you will just know. It’s also important to keep a diary and take a good probiotic.

I know from my own research that all grains in fact have their own glutens and lectins which can sometimes mimic the glutens in wheat. I thought I was going crazy because Gluten Free is so common, but Quinoa, rice etc are seen as happy, safe foods. Which for me they aren’t. Quinoa is a seed but if I eat it I get slammed with a migrane and stomach pain. Sharp pain.

This article looks at the safety of Quinoa, but I thought the comments at the bottom were the most telling. Just like product reviews, you can always trust the public to settle an issue. http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/is-quinoa-a-safe-gluten-free-food-alternative/

That being said, for a healthy person grains are fine. But if you have health issues, which don’t improve on a GF plant based diet then perhaps they should be a consideration, along with certain beans, nuts and seeds that are known to cause IgG allergies.

Ÿ In 1979, Skoldstam fasted 16 patients with rheumatoid arthritis for 7-10 days with a fruit-and vegetable juice fast, followed by a lactovegetarian diet for 9 weeks. One-third of the patients improved during the fast, but all deteriorated when the milk products were reintroduced (a lactovegetarian diet) (Scan J Rheumatol 8:249, 1979).

Although only a small amount improved during the fast, 7 days is considered short for a water fast for RA, let alone fruit and vegetables. Watch Fat Sick & Nearly Dead to learn more about juice fasting and autoimmune disease.

Ÿ In 1980, Hicklin reported clinical improvement in 24 of 72 rheumatoid patients on an exclusion diet. Food sensitivities were reported to: grains in 14, milk in 4, nuts in 8, beef in 4, cheese in 7, eggs in 5, and one each to chicken, fish, potato, and liver (Clin Allergy 10:463, 1980).

Note that only 4 were troubled by dairy but GRAINS were problematic for 14 of them! McDougall doesn’t comment much on this because his diet is starch based and promotes grains, but that is a huge percentage of the group! The meat allergies keep coming up and are an antithesis to the Paleo Diet’s claim that meat is right for everyone.

Ÿ In 1980, Stroud reported on 44 patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with the elimination of food and chemical avoidance. They were then challenged with foods. Wheat, corn, and beef were the greatest offenders (Clin Res 28:791A, 1980).

Wheat and corn again! Thank goodness I don’t eat beef.

Ÿ In 1981, Parke described a 38-year-old mother with 11-years of progressive erosive seronegative rheumatoid arthritis who recovered from her disease, attaining full mobility, by stopping all dairy products. She was then hospitalized and challenged with 3 pounds of cheese and seven pints of milk over 3 days. Within 24 hours there was a pronounced deterioration of the patient’s arthritis (BMJ 282:2027, 1981)

Like me, the patients regress when the problem foods are reintroduced.

Ÿ In 1981, Lucas found a fat-free diet produced complete remission in 6 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Remission was lost within 24-72 hours of eating a high-fat meal, such as one containing chicken, cheese, safflower oil, beef, or coconut oil. The authors concluded, “…dietary fats in amounts normally eaten in the American diet cause the inflammatory joint changes seen in rheumatoid arthritis.” (Clin Res 29:754, 1981).

In Newsletter One, this is explained. Oils affect the permeability of the gut… making it “Leaky” which causes particles to enter the bloodstream that shouldn’t, thus adversely affecting the immune system. 

Ÿ In 1982 Sundqvist studied the influence of fasting with 3 liters of fruit and vegetable juice daily and lactovegetarian diet on intestinal permeability in 5 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Intestinal permeability decreased after fasting, but increased again during a subsequent lactovegetarian diet regime (dairy products and vegetables). Concomitantly it appeared that disease activity first decreased and then increased again. The authors conclude, “The results indicate that, unlike a lactovegetarian diet, fasting may ameliorate the disease activity and reduce both the intestinal and the non-intestinal permeability in rheumatoid arthritis.” (Scand J Rheumatol 11:33, 1982.)

Perhaps why a lot of people feel better when they fast, but get sick as soon as they break it.

Ÿ In 1983, Lithell studied twenty patients with arthritis and various skin diseases on a metabolic ward during a 2-week period of modified fast on vegetarian broth and drinks, followed by a 3-week period of a vegan diet (no animal products). During fasting, joint pains were less intense in many subjects. In some types of skin diseases (pustulosis palmaris et plantaris and atopic eczema) an improvement could be demonstrated during the fast. During the vegan diet, both signs and symptoms returned in most patients, with the exception of some patients with psoriasis who experienced an improvement. The vegan diet was very high-fat (42% fat). (Acta Derm Venereol 63:397, 1983).

Ÿ In 1984 Kroker described 43 patients from three hospital centers who underwent a 1-week water fast, and overall the group improved significantly during the fast. In 31 patients evaluated, 25 had “fair” to “excellent” responses and 6 had “poor” responses. Those with more advanced arthritis had the poor responses. (Clin Ecol 2:137, 1984).

Ÿ In 1985, Ratner removed all dairy products from the diet of patients with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, 7 out of 15 went into remission when switched to milk-free diets (Isr J Med Sci 21:532, 1985)

Ÿ In 1986, Panush described a challenge of milk in a 52-year-old white woman with 11 years of active disease with exacerbations allegedly associated with meat, milk, and beans. After fasting (3 days) or taking Vivonex (2 days) there was no morning stiffness or swollen joints. Challenges with cow’s milk (blinded in a capsule) brought all of her pain, swelling and stiffness back (Arthritis Rheum 29:220, 1986).

Ÿ In 1986, Darlington published a 6-week, placebo-controlled, single-blinded study on 48 patients. Forty-one patients identified foods producing symptoms. Cereal foods, such as corn and wheat gave symptoms in more than 50% of patients (Lancet 1:236, 1986)

Over 50% reacted to grains! That is a HUGE number!

Ÿ In 1986, Hanglow performed a study of the comparison of the arthritis-inducing properties of cow’s milk, egg protein and soy milk in experimental animals. The 12-week cow’s milk feeding regimen produced the highest incidence of significant joint lesions. Egg protein was less arthritis-inducing than cow’s milk, and soy milk caused no reaction. (Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 80:192, 1986).

Ÿ In 1987, Wojtulewski reported on 41 patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with a 4-week elimination diet. Twenty-three improved. (Food allergy and intolerance. London: Bailliere Tindall 723, 1987).

Ÿ In 1988, Beri put 14 patients with rheumatoid arthritis on a diet free from pulses, cereals, milk, and non-vegetarian protein foods. Ten (71%) showed significant clinical improvement. Only three patients (11%) adhered to the diet for a period of 10 months (Ann Rheum Dis 47:69, 1988.)

Ÿ In 1988, Hafstrom fasted 14 patients with water only for one week. During fasting the duration of morning stiffness, and number and size of swollen joints decreased in all 14 patients. No adverse effects of fasting were seen except transient weakness and lightheadedness. The authors consider fasting as one possible way to induce rapid improvement in rheumatoid arthritis (Arthritis Rheum 31:585, 1988).

Ÿ In 1991, Kjeldsen-Kragh put 27 patients on a modified fast with vegetable broths, followed by a vegan diet, and then a lacto-ovovegetarian diet. Significant improvement occurred in objective and subjective parameters of their disease (Lancet 2:899, 1991) A two-year follow-up examination found all diet responders but only half of the diet nonresponders still following the diet, further indicating that a group of patients with rheumatoid arthritis benefit from dietary manipulations and that the improvement can be sustained through a two-year period (Clin Rheumatol 13:475, 1994.) Patients dropping out with arthritic flares in the diet group left the study mainly when the lactovegetarian diet (dairy products) were introduced (Lancet 338:1209, 1991).

Ÿ In 1991 Darlington reported on 100 patients who had undergone dietary manipulation therapy in the past decade, one-third were still well and controlled on diet alone without any medication up to 7 ½ years after starting the diet treatment. They found most patients reacted to cereals and dairy products (Lancet 338:1209, 1991).

Grains and dairy again. Gluten free may not be enough for some people.

Ÿ In 1991, Skoldstam fasted 15 patients for 7 to 10 days. Almost all of the patients showed remarkable improvement. Many patients felt the return of pain and stiffness on the day after returning to their “normal” eating and all benefit was lost after a week (Rheum Dis Clin North Am 17:363, 1991).

Fasting is pointless unless it is followed by clean eating, unfortunately.

Ÿ In 1992, Sheignalet reported on 46 adults with rheumatoid arthritis who eliminated dairy products and cereals. Thirty-six patients (78%) responded favorably with 17 clearly improved, and 19 in complete remission for one to five years. Eight of those 19 stopped all medications with no relapse. Favorable benefits appeared before the end of the third month in 32 of the patients (Lancet 339:68, 1992).

78% improved when ALL grains were removed, not just wheat.

Ÿ In 1992, van de Laar showed benefits of a hypoallergenic, artificial diet in six rheumatoid patients. Placebo controlled rechallenges showed intolerance for specific foodstuffs in four patients. In two patients, biopsy of the joints showed specific (IgE) antibodies to certain foods (Ann Rheum Dis 51:303, 1992).

IgG are sensitivities, IgE are severe allergies.

Ÿ In 1992, Shigemasa reported a 16-year-old girl with lupus who changed to a pure vegetarian diet (no animal foods) and stopped her steroids without her doctor’s permission. After starting the diet her antibody titers (a reflection of disease activity) fell to normal and her kidney disease improved (Lancet 339:1177, 1992).

Ÿ In 1995, Kavanaghi showed an elemental diet (which is an hypoallergenic protein-free artificial diet consisting of essential amino acids, glucose, trace elements and vitamins) when given to 24 patients with rheumatoid arthritis improved their strength and arthritic symptoms. Reintroduction of food brought the old symptoms back (Br J Rheumatol 34:270, 1995).

Ÿ In 1998, Nenonen tested the effects of an uncooked vegan diet, rich in lactobacilli, in rheumatoid patients randomized into diet and control groups. The intervention group experienced subjective relief of rheumatic symptoms during intervention. A return to an omnivorous diet aggravated symptoms. The results showed that an uncooked vegan diet, rich in lactobacilli, decreased subjective symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (Br J Rheumatol 37:274, 1998).

I would be more interested in this study if they reintroduced vegan cooked foods first, instead of jumping straight to omnivorous. It’s possible that raw diets help because they are grain and legume free.

Having suffered from RA since I was 13, I was astounded when after a month on the elimination diet, the pain started slowly lifting from my knees. I had a lot of trouble walking last year and I was on an elliptical machine today with no pain. I do however notice that dietary lapses cause symptoms to return, in addition to temperatures below 20 degrees.

The main conclusions from the article & studies:

– Oils, meat and other fatty foods cause damage to the gut which is the center of our immune systems. A low fat, vegan diet based on non processed plant foods provides the best chance of recovery. Plant oils are not OK when isolated.

– The best results were seen when not just wheat, but all grains were removed from the diet. These can always be reintroduced later but lectins and glutens are known promoters of leaky guts and these can be found in all grains and some seeds.

– Dairy is a repeat offender and terrible for RA and other immune problems. Beef is common too.

– Most people need to stick with the diet to retain the health benefits.

– Everyone has DIFFERENT triggers which is why individual elimination diets are the best defense, followed by a long term, unprocessed diet comprised of the allowed, vegan foods.

– Eat To Live can easily be modified for grain free eating as in the 6 week plan, only 150 calories are supposed to come from grains anyway. The focus is green vegetables. I think a big reason why raw diets help some people initially is because they are grain, potato and legume free which are common allergens. Dr Fuhrman has written articles against the raw movement claiming they are too restrictive, too high in fat and can even cause hair loss when done improperly.

– Grains can easily be replaced by squash, (sides) bean flours (baking) and beans. (veggie burgers) I make grain free pasta with a zucchini spiralizer, which was maybe $30 on Amazon.com. Whole Foods also has bean pasta.

– As Leaky Gut and nutrient malabsorption are associated with auto immune conditions, supplementing as directed by Fuhrman with DHA is essential. Eat To Live’s emphasis on nutrient dense foods, rather than simply the avoidance of trigger foods, is essential to make sure the body is getting what it needs to repair itself. Green juices are mentioned which when made fresh at home are way better than any multivitamin or superfood.

I’m no doctor but I do enjoy reading & finding studies that back up what I have found in my own experience. Juice on! 🙂

Full Story & 6 Week Recovery Report!

I wrote the following on the plane 2 weeks ago! Enjoyed a vacation filled with surfing, hiking and beach walks which was beyond my expectations. This is truly the best thing I have ever done for myself! So… here’s the back story: 


“Six weeks ago I started a drastic elimination diet for the second time, with the goal of being able to take the trip I booked to motivate myself.

I have been sick for nearly 20 years and until this year, doctors were unable to find anything wrong. To sum it up I have an angry letter I pinned above my computer that I wrote to God in November that states – “I want to live my life instead of surviving it”. 

I’m happy to say I’m writing from the plane having been 80-90% improved most days this week. I had so much energy today I not only packed, but didn’t get affected by the 10 degree cold (usually my joints flare) and I cleaned the house AND the basement!

Although I have been posting, I ran into someone this week who mentioned it might help others to talk more about what I’ve done. I resisted posting in depth early on because I wasn’t sure if it would work. Now I know it’s not a fluke because I haven’t felt this much better, consecutively in nearly 20 years. 

What happened:

Exactly a year ago I was in Hawaii.

I had just been fired from my job because I was incredibly tired from morning until night. Tired all day and unable to sleep at night is most accurate. The amount of caffeine/sugar I needed to even function had impaired my ability to groom dogs without making mistakes. It was impossible to stay focused. I loved my job but also suffered constant outbreaks of strep throat, chest infections and a gamut of conditions from pushing myself too hard that made finding another one seem like a wasteful idea. I needed to get better.

At age 30, after spending 18 years self-medicating arthritis, (developed age 12) persistent depression (unresponsive to Rx), sinus congestion, ADD, OCD, PVC arrhythmia, palpitations, anxiety, migraines, inability to sleep, fibromyalgia flares, unexplained rashes, chronic and debilitating fatigue, constant infections, pre diabetes, ‘hypoglycaemia’ and CFS (doctors were approached on many occasions but simply told me to rest more or prescribed drugs with damaging side effects) I had been defeated. A few people also told me it was in my head so I tried the Wayne Dyer approach and there was no progress. It’s also hard to think positive when you feel like you need to be put down.

I simply couldn’t hold a 40 hour job by drinking coffee and loading my system with sugar any more. However if I didn’t take them, I couldn’t get my eyes open. I was scared to fall asleep driving. I couldn’t live with, or without stimulants. I had raged internally as the years went by and my ability to do simple things like go to the gym or ride my bike started to slip through my fingers. I needed a new body.

Having booked and prepaid my trip to Kauai in January 2013 before I got the axe at work I decided to go anyway. Maybe the tropical air would be healing, I thought. The crash when I got there was terrifying. My entire body was so heavy I couldn’t move or enjoy any outdoor activities. I slept on the beach as much as I could and started reading. I have friends on the island who brought me soup and watched me sleep through a camping trip.

In my waking hours I looked up everything I could about fatigue and absorbed every story I could find. No matter what I did I had to beat this because going on disability and losing my dream home were not viable options. With a ton of pets, I couldn’t just check out and find somewhere cheap to live. 

1. Exhaust Medical Options

My first step was extensive blood work when I came back from vacation. My panel the year before had ‘been fine’ apart from the infamous incurable Epstein Barr Virus (MDs are rarely helpful with fatigue) and this time Lyme came up. I jumped on the opportunity of a cure-all and enthusiastically took 3 months of Doxycycline.

What I wasn’t expecting was the change in attitude from my doctor when 3 months were up and I was still exhausted. She ran extensive tests (expensive too – over $3000 in OOP cost to me) and instead of taking my calls mailed me the results. 100% positive for Connective Tissue Disease, varying positives for a few other auto conditions and high cortisol. Sent a letter asking me to go for more tests that I knew I couldn’t afford. I tried calling a few times to discuss the ones I already took but there was no response. My insurance wouldn’t cover a Rheumy/specialist as the blood tests had used up all my benefits. The lady at Horizon suggested I wait until the new year. As it was now May, I wasn’t sure I could survive that long. 

Having established that there was no immediate cure for Connective Tissue Disease, only steroid based management and at this point not even sure where I stood with the Lyme Disease I decided to try the natural approach. After all thanks to my insurance company I had until January to try anything before I could afford further testing and medical treatment.

Having addressed a bad case of arrhythmia 2 years prior brought on by Wellbutrin (it doesn’t contain stimulants, she said) with a 2 week juice fast inspired by Joe Cross’ Fat Sick & Nearly Dead movie I revisited a controversial cure.

2 – Diet

My introduction to the work of Dr Joel Fuhrman came in 2007 through a close friend. Thrilled with a week on greens, she gave me a copy of his book Eat To Live. She excitedly told me about a friend who had eliminated migraines. I had no idea food had any affect on health so fascinated I read it right away and did see great energy benefits by adding greens to my diet and quitting meat (I used to be on the candy/flour/ burger diet) but working in the restaurant industry made any strict adherence impossible. Plus when you are addicted to foods the withdrawal doesn’t mix with working with the public. I drifted through various yo-yo ETL cycles but only every managed a moderate version of the plan. Potato chips, french fries and candy were all still part of my daily routine. 

However, I did have the book memorized. As soon as these 2013 health diagnoses started mounting I was well aware that my situation was exactly what Fuhrman talks about in his books. The reason my doctor couldn’t help me wasn’t because she sucked, but it was because my entire system had gone to hell and treating any one ailment may have masked the symptoms but wouldn’t have restored balance to such a broad spectrum of problems. I remembered that he had helped many patients with similar problems such as mine like Lupus, Fatigue and even some Lyme patients.

In the summer I embarked on a 2 week juice fast, (mean green – kale, celery, apples and lemon) followed by an elimination diet. (foods added in one by one, every 2 days) All my symptoms subsided after a short herx period and a simple diet of fruits and vegetables. No processed foods or sugars. Nuts, legumes, grains and most seeds created GI problems and flares when reintroduced.

Feeling fantastic, still not convinced about the science of nutritional healing, I decided to give in and enjoy vegan pizza. The pain was immense and immediately crushing brain fog, depression and sugar cravings returned.

For some reason I just couldn’t get back on the diet. In denial. I decided it could be the Lyme returning but a Lyme Specialist wasn’t in my budget. I was determined that there had to be a way where I could still enjoy my favorite foods in moderation. Dairy congested me immediately so I knew it was bad and gluten/rice caused intense cramps but I felt so depressed and miserable I kept eating bread products and sugar anyway. The only reason I didn’t gorge on dairy was ethical.

The result of this ‘moderation’ was spending Labor Day in bed with massive joint swelling, once again not wanting to go to the ER because of cost.

As they say in AA, half measures were getting me nowhere so after much research on GI issues I began to understand that my gut was most likely damaged from large amounts of alcohol, my poor diet, my ignorance to my own gluten sensitivity, the Lyme, the Antibiotics (PCP didn’t warn about the importance of probiotics). I also knew that the Lyme could still be hanging out, along with a Candida overgrowth characterized by a sugar addiction that would have me doing disgusting things like eating boxes of chocolates in one sitting and eating candy from morning until night. I used to eat entire boxes of Ferrero Rocher in one sitting, or a jar of Nutella. 

I knew I needed to get back on the fruit/vegetable diet that soothed my symptoms and also detox and heal my system so I could potentially reintroduce nuts and seeds as a protein source.

Bill Clinton reversed Heart Disease with plant based. Venus Williams reversed Sjogrens with a raw vegan diet. Now it was my turn.

I picked my herbs/vits from journals online and Dr Fuhman’s immune boosting suggestions.

I ordered Herbastat, Haritaki and Samento to help kill the bugs. (nothing to do with Fuhrman – not on his plan)

To help my system heal I ordered L-Glutamine, D3, Zinc, B12, DHA/Omega 3, D-Ribose and an Iodene supp which is commonly deficient in vegans. Turmeric also goes in my soups which is an incredible anti inflammatory.

I ordered Primal Defense Probiotics and S Boulardi to help heal my digestive/immune system.

3 – Cold Turkey

I decided to start it all at once because I knew there was no point trying to heal the digestive system while poisoning it. Having just injured myself by eating inappropriate (but amazing) food over Thanksgiving, and having a break in my work schedule in December, I decided it was now or never. I was spending most days in bed, a shell of a person.

Fasting would have been too much on my system, but thanks to my elimination diet in the summer I knew what foods were benign.

For two weeks I was bedridden, taking my herbs and studiously adhering to a variety of whole, blended or souped fruits and vegetables. During the detox I felt so much worse so I found message boards to complain on. Everyone told me to keep going. I took it one day at a time, every ounce of me wanted chips, candy and pizza but I knew this time I couldn’t fail.

My digestion was so terrible I blended anything I could and can’t stress enough the importance of CHEWING FOOD PROPERLY. 

An acceptance letter to TCNJ for graduate studies came in the mail and I pinned it up to stay motivated. I also stumbled across an incredibly low fare for the trip I am taking today and booked it with insurance of course. The idea of both overwhelmed me so much, but I remembered feeling good in the summer, better than I had since I was a small child. It was a huge risk to plan on anything when things had gotten so bad.

There was no sudden event or realization when the detox was over, I simply started spending more and more time out of bed. By the third week I was awake and feeling alive again. I switched to an all juice diet for 5 days with no detox symptoms which made me feel good about backing off the herbs I was taking. I tried reintroducing potatoes and within hours I had symptoms. Nuts and legumes still gave me stomach aches. Processed food knocked me out for a few days.

I didn’t go all organic but I did stop drinking tap water to help myself detox.

4 – Acceptance

I am learning to love my new diet instead of fighting it. I make great soups (using minimal Himalayan salt and coconut oil) and deal with my protein phobia (of all the things I have put into my system I don’t know why too many vegetables is a worry) with kale, green beans and bee pollen.

My average day starts hot peppermint tea with lemon (flush!!!) followed by fresh fruit, apples, bananas and avocados – I can blend them with greens or even just have a green romaine/apple juice.

Lunch is a salad with fruit/vegetables and dinner is almost always a soup or heavy vegetables like squash. 

I don’t buy anything with a barcode (without having a reaction!) and if I have to eat out I’ll get something super plain like steamed vegetables. Salad dressings seem to be an allergen so I stuck with lemon and minimal oil.

As I have been mostly unable to work it’s been on a budget. Costco is a fantastic resource, as are Asian markets. My local Stop  n’ Shop has an expired produce stand that is excellent. Blaming the cost of healthy foods is just an excuse, I can assure you that medical care is much more expensive. Avocadoes, Kale, Apples and Green Beans are all inexpensive when bought in bulk. One doesn’t need exotic super foods, acai berries or wheatgrass shots to regain health!

5 – The Results

I am only 6 weeks in but the reason I don’t mind giving up processed foods is because I literally feel like a new person.

Chronic fatigue had affected every part of my life to the point where I could no longer work and had spiraled into a myriad of health issues. If anyone has seen The Lord Of The Rings, you will remember when the King Of Rohan is cursed and becomes weak, unable to think for himself.

I literally couldn’t get through a day without feeling overwhelmed. I avoided people and friends because pretending to seem engaged when I was exhausted, was exhausting. I would snap at the people I loved and I couldn’t even think positive because it felt like there was a fog in my brain. This summer I cried watching people bike past my house because I felt so sorry for myself.

I didn’t want to live, so I killed myself. I changed my life and who I am. I stopped and listened to my body to find out what foods I could eat instead of binging on the ones I couldn’t. I bought an array of books to change my mindset and help me love myself enough to stick with this. 

It doesn’t matter whether I was toxic and malnourished as Dr Fuhrman would suggest, allergic to harmful components in grains, nightshades and lectins as the Paleo crowd advocate or just so emotionally wounded that stress created this.

In 6 short weeks a laundry list of symptoms has been resolved by around 90% and growing depending on which days I adhere to my healthy diet. Now it’s the new year I don’t need a specialist after all, just a new PCP to help monitor blood work. I had to stop by the doctor to get a shot and it was fantastic to answer no when asked if anything else was bothering me.

I will continue to post and this is just my journey, if others do not believe in natural healing that’s totally fine – I just tried this as a last resort and thankfully it was a success. I am not advocating for anyone else to refuse or ignore medical advice and everyone may have their own route to wellness. I just hope everyone is as lucky as I am and that they can find their way.” 

And at 8 weeks – at the time of posting:  

Fatigue: 90% Improved – only issues have been associated with deviance from the diet

Insomnia: Gone

Brain fog/confusion: Gone

Digestion problems: Beans & seeds are now OK! 

Joint Pain: Gone (took over a month) 

Exercise ability: From trouble walking to heavy cardio such as surfing and intermediate hiking.

Headaches/Migranes: Not one since detox period ended. 

Fibromyalgia/Skin Sensitivity: Gone, but flared when potatoes/tomatoes were reintroduced

Immune System: One sinus infection from dirty sea water, resolved in less than 3 days

ADD/OCD: Keen to keep house organized and clean, better focus

PVC/Arrythmia: Gone

Dependence on coffee: Gone

Other benefits:

Immediate tanning, instead of burning in the sun. 

10lbs weight loss

Reduced muscle pain after exercise. 

Sharp memory, eyesight & smell

To be continued… 


Back in love… with EXERCISE!!!

Most people who turn into giant sacks of autoimmune disease and fatigue know the hardest part is not being able to do the things they love any more. 

Well, I’m pleased to report that not only am I feeling great 2 days into my vacation in Hawaii (though airplane nuts, hummus and dried fruits were not my friend) but I managed to go surfing today… for 3 and a half hours. I’m so giddy with happiness I want to go dance along the edge of the cliffs and tell everyone that my body is experiencing a miracle. I have missed this feeling of total relaxation after a long workout for so long I want to pinch myself. 

Unfortunately, I know only too well that this is no spontaneous recovery cased by Aloha Spirit because the last 2 times here I was really sick and had to spend most of the vacation in bed or sleeping on the beach which infuriated the hell out of me to the point I didn’t want to come back. 

But as luck would have it,thanks to changing my diet I am a new person and I truly am getting a second chance at life.

My trip here took over 20 hours because I wanted a cheap flight and I was suitably cranky after subsisting on $2 bananas and nuts during my journey. The nuts reminded me why I can’t eat nuts. It was hard to avoid the familiar smells at the airport, but I know cookies, potato chips, candy and sandwiches are to me as icebergs are to the Titanic.

When I landed I went straight to Costco and got crates of papayas (local), organic greens, local bananas, a crate of green beans and pineapple which has been a great high energy diet for my trip. The extra sugar hasn’t been as issue but I’ve been very active so far. Not perfect Eat To Live but I don’t have a stove so it’s raw or canned for me. Met friends for dinner and had a great salad… so local it still had blades of grass in it. I decided to eat those too. 

At this point for me it’s about just avoiding anything that blows up my GI tract and creates bloating. That’s the last thing left to truly figure out. I bought dried apricots and had to give them away because they hurt me to the point I could have passed for a puffer fish. Since my run in with the yeast I haven’t had any fatigue, mental or immune issues. Just lots and lots of energy. I need less sleep every night. 

Been doing a lot of reading too (think Louise Hay, Rhonda Byrne etc) to try and help my mind adjust to this new and wonderful change in my life. I want to make sure I’m not only physically fit, but that I become mentally and spiritually fit enough to stick with this diet and channel all the energy it creates into positive, creative and fulfilling avenues. I am fully aware that my diet and negative lifestyle got me sick in the first place and I will never let that happen again! 

So This Is What Energy Is

Well I always did wonder how people manage to get things done, work jobs, keep the house nice etc etc.

I woke up this morning literally BUZZING with energy… I drank coffee/alcohol for 15 years to try and self medicate my health situation but nothing can compare to this feeling of unlimited energy with a calm, clear, collected mind. Cleaned the kitchen and now I’m working on reformatting my iPhone which is something I have been putting off since it broke 6 months ago. 

Yesterday I managed to get over my roadblock of not being able to read (it used to put me to sleep like many others with extreme fatigue issues) and really enjoyed some great books about thinking positive… something that I have been doing a lot lately.  

The North East has been hit by a foot of snow which normally would make me panic because snow takes so much energy to clear but this year I’m not worried – just enjoying my green juice and getting ready to go out there and take some pictures for the magazine I work for. 

My energy, like everyone has been cyclical the last few weeks but it seems lately the peaks and highs are getting better and better and there are much longer windows of productivity.

However, I do not consider myself ‘cured’ or ‘in remission’ because I did the same thing in summer (detox diet) and got sick again as soon as I decided I was cured and could go have vegan pizza. My health is returning conditionally, after a probable lifetime of dietary intolerances and I’ll probably have to eat this way for the rest of my life. 

The hardest part of course, will be sticking with this as I have failed before. I find health food stores to be even more dangerous than conventional due to the number of ‘health promoting’ processed foods they have. Bought a block of Daiya cheese at “Deans” yesterday which literally made my stomach growl so loud that my dogs were scared. Thinking back, a lump of plastic made of pea protein, chemicals and synthesized plant nutrients really isn’t whole food and it’s undigestability should have come at no surprise. Coconut yogurt (plain) was fine so I am hoping to get more seeds back into my diet if things keep going well! 

Here’s what I am doing so far: 

16oz Peppermint Tea with lemon to wake up 

16oz apple/romaine juice (really cheap as these two things constantly show up in the expired produce cart at Stop n Shop) 

16oz banana/greens smoothie

Giant salad with lots of avocado (I’m skinny!!), apple and spring greens/kale

Daily thick soups with any vegetables – no nightshades. Bee pollen and hemp hearts added.

Steamed veggies/squashes if still hungry.  

Can’t afford organic apart from leafy greens but it’s working regardless.

Supps: 2 Pbx, D3, Omega3, Cal/Mag/Zinc, Iron, B12, Ribose & Zinc

Healthy New Year!

Started my Eat To Live New Year going strong with a large salad from Fins and a berry smoothie. Happy to say, the way I am feeling lately I could have cared less for champagne and a rich meal. 

When I started my 100% vegetable/fruit diet just over a month ago my goal was to be able to function during a week away in the tropics that I booked to motivate myself! Happy to feel less scared about the thought of the trip, or starting school when I get back because I am feeling so much better. I leave in a week and am feeling stoked!

So as I’m already on a pretty healthy diet – for New Years I’m only making a few changes. 

1) A Salad EVERY DAY! 

2) A Green Juice, EVERY DAY! 

3) A Green Smoothie, EVERY DAY! 

4) Clean the juicer, EVERY TIME! 😉 

I also don’t allow myself ‘cheats’ because as a yoyo ETL’er for 5 years – I quickly learnt that moderation can lead to boxes of chocolates and also that my health got worse, instead of better when I wasn’t getting out of the way and just letting my body heal. 

I had to cut out legumes, tried adding peas back and quickly puffed up. On great probiotics but I may have to wait a few months before I can diversify – or maybe I can’t! 

I haven’t had the luxury of running blood work (which didn’t show any major problems in the first place other than immune disorders and EBV/Lyme) but so far – one month later – my energy is up about 60-80%, depression/mind fog is gone (after a lifetime – must have been grains) and I even managed 2 days skiing/snowboarding (Vitamix came for the trip).