We love our neighborhood full of friends who help eachother out and look out for each other’s kids. Amy (& husband, Todd) is one of those neighbors, and she’s got a great story to share about how God led her down the right paths to be healed of some serious health problems.
Normally I’d post this at my Kitchen Kop blog, but I thought this one might be a better fit for my Christianity 101 blog.
1. What is your #1 motivation for eating/feeding your family healthier meals?
My #1 motivation for eating/feeding my family healthy meals is to maintain good health and to give glory to God through treating our bodies right.
2. What started you on your path to better nutrition?
I thought I was eating healthy in the past, but after being diagnosed with asthma and suffering with pneumonia every year for five years, I thought there must be a path paved with more than medicine to help me live a better life. Enter fats, raw milk, and cod liver oil (through the encouragement of a naturopath, Kelly, and others).
I made some initial changes for me and my family, including switching over all our home products to Melaleuca, so we had no toxic stuff in the house. As far as nutrition, I regressed back to regular cheese and dairy. We were completely free of fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils in the home, but still ordered take out occasionally.
In 2006, I got pneumonia again – 4 times! The worst case landed me in the hospital for Holy Week. The doctors and specialists couldn’t figure out what was causing all this. Finally, I was diagnosed with an immune disorder and told that only regular antibiotics would keep me from getting pneumonia. I asked my immunologist, “What about nutrition? Could changes in my eating habits affect my immune system?” After being told nutrition wasn’t that crucial to my immune system, I left the doctor’s office feeling frustrated, but determined to trust God for the proper guidance. To the doctors’ credit, they only know what they are taught. “Less than 6% of graduating physicians in the USA receive any formal training in nutrition.” (Statistic from FOOD MATTERS.)
Yes, medicine has its place, but I also know that God has given us so much in nature to help with our daily living. In ancient times, people lived off the land and used natural herbs for healing. Where was the disconnect? When we ask God for specific answers according to His Will, He delivers… I had been on as much as nine medications at one time and had numerous pneumonia vaccines, with no success. So, my husband and I made the decision to go the natural route. Thank God we did! I cut out wheat, gluten, dairy, corn and sugar for nine months, drinking almond milk instead of raw milk. Our home was and still is void of cereal, except homemade granola once in awhile. Instead we have oatmeal (fermented overnight) or eggs for breakfast. The only sugar allowed is organic raw cane sugar, honey and/or agave nectar. Cutting out sugar was a HUGE thing for me as I had many sweet teeth. Jolly Ranchers were almost another food group for me! After 4-5 days of crawling the walls in search of a sugar fix, my body started to calm down. After two weeks, my physical cravings were gone. I prayed to overcome my mental cravings. A verse from Romans 8:5 helped me along. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” After my first healthy winter in four years, we went back to raw milk because I knew there were absolutely no health benefits to almond milk. Our family eats only millet/flax bread or fermented or sprouted wheat bread, rice pastas and raw dairy or goat cheese. No coffee except a rare cup of decaf. I have always started the day with a couple glasses of water before anything else, and now drink decaf green tea daily.
3. How difficult has it been for you to get over the modern-day “fat phobia” and go back to drinking whole milk or eating butter, coconut oil, etc. with confidence that it’s better for you and without feeling guilty?
Kelly may remember when she told me her family was drinking raw milk and I said, “eeeww, I don’t think I could ever do that!” Of course, now I’m eating (or drinking) my words. A lot of in-depth reading and listening to informed friends has led me to squash my fat-phobia. When I was in my 20’s, I was really hoodwinked about fat and ate fat-free whenever possible. It’s so disturbing how our society has scared women into thinking fat in our bodies is bad. No, we don’t need McDonald’s gross fat-laden products, but we do need good fat to survive. Actually, I was rather relieved when I found that eating butter was so beneficial to good health. Using homemade flax see oil and balsamic vinegar dressing on our salads tastes so much better, especially because I know how good it is for us. What the heck is all that stuff in ranch dressing, anyway?? YIKES!
4. What is your biggest struggle in eating/feeding your family healthier meals?
The financial piece is a challenge. Sometimes when visiting relatives, the kids stray from our lifestyle, but other family members have become very health conscious and considerate of the way we eat also. We have not eaten take-out in 14 months! I have to say that we have had very few visits to the doctor’s office, so we balance out the money spent. This quote from David Wolfe, world authority on raw food and super foods, says, “As a culture, we have our values inverted. We’d rather spend money on rent than the best food ever. We’d rather spend money on a car or house than on feeding our children the greatest super food that’s ever been discovered.”
Since there’s no more ordering out for pizza, which our family really loves to eat…we make our own on millet/flax tortillas with organic sauce, goat cheddar cheese and grilled veggies. The kids love them! I don’t struggle much with this lifestyle because my good health and that precious quality time with my family motivates me to keep going. One weekend, though, I was at my parents for dinner and had to pray for deliverance from temptation. They had my favorite mixed berry pie with the crumb topping from Grand Traverse Pie Company. I stepped away from the crowd and prayed to God, knowing that my flesh wanted it but that I really didn’t need it. Mother Mary of Perpetual Help, come to my aid, I prayed with a few Hail Mary’s. Immediately, I felt peace from my craving. Now, I know one piece of pie would not crush my health. But, the bottom line is that it’s so easy to live for our flesh and do things because it “feels right.” Bad habits are made through poor choices and serving the self. Good habits are created through prayer and serving the Lord. Thank God for His help in times of weakness. We need to bring Christ into every area of our life, including our daily eating. Through the grace of God by fasting, we can overcome our empty desires and unite that sacrifice with Christ for His mercy on the world.”The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6
5. Do you have a tip for how to fit exercise into your life? How do you do it?
Right now, I’m laid up because of my ankle surgery so swimming has been my only exercise. Normally, I get up early to exercise because I want to be back for the kids and before Todd goes to work. My motto is “get it done early.” So, does my hand rejoice when the alarm goes off at 4:45 or 5:00 a.m.? Heck no! To make it easier, I have my work-out clothes laid out the night before. My phone alarm is also me singing, “the joy of the Lord is my strength” (great song if you haven’t heard it). God’s grace is at the helm for sure, so I boast only in His grace. This strategy really goes hand-in-hand with the way I try to live the rest of my life. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Our “self” is very powerful. Only through many, many years of disciplining and training my “self” to get up early have I developed the good habit. My soul is reminded of the benefits each time I step out the door for a run or walk in the pre-dawn peacefulness. Whether it’s winter or summer, I just relish the fact that I have 1 – 1 ½ hours of peace to pray and listen to the sounds of nature – priceless!
6. What is your favorite healthy recipe?
Pesto salmon fillets. Set oven to 375*. Cut up fresh (not farm-raised) salmon and put in Pyrex dish. Brush on pesto liberally (we use a brand made with only goat dairy or homemade). Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how much fish you make. Serve with home made sweet potato fries and steamed broccoli. Yes, the kids eat it!
Also, we love smoothies made with raw milk, organic blueberries/strawberries/ bananas. Add some ice, coconut oil, a little honey and blend – deeelicious!