“Is this organic, mom?” my daughter asks me in the middle of warming up our pasta sauce for dinner one evening. I smile knowingly, because I’m pretty sure she was just joking.
Lately I’ve been shopping at our local Whole Food and Trader Joes, searching meticulously for the label “certified organic” on all produce (including meats, canned foods, and fresh vegetables), and shopping at my neighborhood farmer’s markets to support our local farmers. It’s inevitable that I will at least make two or three stops before my “organic” shopping is done for the weekend. I shop weekly for the freshest produce I can find.
This transformation didn’t happen overnight, though.
It happened because I was compelled to change my eating habits out of an allergy flare-up which never went away. Since I moved out to the west coast I’ve been exposed to over 50 different pollens and molds that I hadn’t been exposed to previously, and it wreaked havoc on my immune system. After a few months of incessant hacking, sore throats, shortness of breath, and over $800 worth of medical bills to boot, I decided to take action into my own hands and try to figure out what I could do naturally to make the nagging coughing disappear. Here’s what I did:
I kept a running list of all my symptoms.
I did this, not just for the doctors, but for myself. I was honestly at a crossroads between listening to three different doctors’ opinions which ranged from asthma and chronic bronchitis to digestive disorders. No doctor was exactly sure (and they’re not expected to know everything on first diagnosis). But I knew that if I couldn’t get in tune with my own symptoms, then I could never fully explain to anyone else or get the help I needed. So I kept my journal, and I documented everything that I was feeling and the changes I experienced from day to day. If my coughing got worse, I wrote that down. If my breathing became more laborious, I documented that.
I familiarized myself with my symptoms.
So, it’s not exactly the best idea to go online to a medical site and try to diagnose yourself. Most likely you’ll end up feeling pretty depressed as you cope with your overdiagnosis of a brain tumor when you really just had a headache. I can’t lie, though. I did check out those medical sites and came up with all sorts of issues I could possibly have. But I restrained myself from making an official diagnosis and scaring myself into oblivion. Instead, I used the opportunity to learn more about possible ideas of what could be wrong, so that I could figure out how I could possibly make it better – naturally. It was all a big, fat – possibly. But it was better than sitting around and doing nothing but waiting to get worse as I doled over my family’s hard-earned money to our walk-in clinics.
I educated myself about natural remedies.
Okay, I didn’t exactly become a vegan overnight, nor did I enroll in a college community course on nutrition. But I used what I had available to me. I pulled out my trusty kitchen books (I call them my kitchen books because anytime I need some info on health I pull down the book from my kitchen cabinet for a quick look-up). I checked out library books. I got online and searched information on what I thought could possibly be my problem (inflammation and allergy flare-ups). And yes, I did eventually get that doctoral consensus that it was, indeed, allergies. That was after I had shelled out close to $800 bucks (and that was with health insurance). So, educating myself is, indeed, on my list of “must-do’s” for myself from now on. Who knows? Just maybe I’ll get better at getting in tune with my body so that I can catch these things before they simply get worse. Thank God for doctors (we need them). But sometimes, we just need to figure out how to maintain and sustain good health so it’s easier on our pocketbooks.
I made a decision to change my lifestyle.
That’s where Whole Foods and Trader Joes comes in. After a few films I saw on Netflix about the farming community and some of the bad stuff that’s been happening out there with our produce, I got furious. Why am I spending our family’s hard-earned dollars on wilted, pesticide-sprayed crops and animals which have been mistreated and cooped up in horrifying situations, to say the least, when I could be supporting my local farmers? So we increased our grocery budget by $20 per week and transitioned to an all-organic home. (Including our soap and detergents when we can- although it’s not always possible). I also tacked on a daily multivitamin, EFA (essential fatty acid- a cod liver and flaxseed gel), a green drink, olive leaf extract, vitamin C (about 1,000 mg per day)…and a few more vitamins. Daily. Within 8 weeks our family noticed a huge difference. My oldest daughter (she’s my tween), my husband, and I all lost weight without even trying. My energy increased. I also noticed the cough subsiding. It didn’t completely vanish, and I still struggle with allergies today, but I’m not nearly as sick as I was about six months ago. I truly believe it has everything to do with our lifestyle change.
These are just a few tips that helped me view my health differently. Sometimes we just gotta take her by the reigns and reel in our own health. Hope this helps someone else!