Friday, September 23, 2016

Eating for mental health and well-being



* Disclaimer: In no way is the information that is to follow to be confused with medical advice. I am writing based solely on my own experience and if you choose to use any of the suggestions in this post, you are doing so at your own responsibility. D'accord? Ok, bien. 

** As I have mentioned before, there are just a few posts that I would like to use to share some of the things that I have been learning about over the past few months. If that isn't your cup of tea (or if you are new here - merci! - and are in search of something more poetical), then why not take a dive into the archives? The bar is on the right hand side. Take a look at say, mid-2014. I can't even begin to remember what I wrote then so I bet it will be new to you too.

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Today is the Autumn Equinox. As this beautiful cycle comes to a close and we prepare to start into a new phase, it can be an appropriate time to think about what we want to let go of in our lives as well as what we hope to bring in anew. As our bodies are our vehicle for this wondrous ride, why not start with the obvious? 

So. While this post will touch on mental well-being as a whole, let's acknowledge the elephant trying to hide in the corner. I have lived with chronic depression and anxiety since I was 15, so for over thirty years. Get out of the corner, elephant, we need you and there is no shame in that. It is what it is. Throughout the years I have done an enormous amount of reading on the subject and have tried numerous treatments with lesser and greater successes: cognitive behavioral therapy (awesome), yoga (ditto), acupuncture, reiki, cranial sacral therapy, Ayurveda, working with an osteopath. I finally started taking medications when my anxiety-based insomnia became so extreme that I walked out in front of oncoming Parisian traffic twice in one week. I had to. I was a danger to myself in more ways than one. 

In France, depression is still fairly taboo despite its prevalance. So my doctor never wanted to discuss my long-standing diagnosis but just kept handing over the prescriptions, year after year. And I took them, even despite experiencing the common side effects of weight gain and loss of libido. I didn't really question that they weren't entirely working, only keeping me functioning. I thought that was enough.

When my life fell apart at the beginning of this year, I had to take an honest look at why. And while far from the only factor, that I had let my depression take control over my life during the past two years played a strong role. I was no longer being responsible for my well-being. Granted, I know well what a Catch-22 it can be to invoke self-care while in the midst of a depressive or anxiety state but it was only after arriving in the States that I could clearly see that something else needed to be done. I was again putting myself in danger, not to mention that I was increasingly concerned about my memory problems and struggles with cognitive function. I needed to have a plan. 

I am a fiction reader. So I am no longer sure why I was hovering over the new non-fiction titles at the library this past March but a book caught my eye, "The Brain Fog Fix" by Dr. Mike Dow. It looked pretty cheesy and I openly scoffed at the promise to "Reclaim your focus, memory and joy in just 3 weeks." But as I was drawn to a chapter on depression, I checked it out. There I read that Xanax, the benzodiazepine that I had been taking for thirteen years for anxiety, could shrink the brain as much as that seen after severe alcohol abuse when taken long term. I contacted my mental health co-ordinator and arranged with a psychiatrist to go off it over a six month tapering period (which is now behind me). I also began reading about the effect of food on our gut and our well-being.

In the States, there is currently quite a lot of talk about understanding the importance of the mind-body connection through our gut health, or our microbiome. While normal levels of inflammation in our bodies can help kickstart our immune system into healing, when put into overdrive through poor diet, toxins and the stress present in our modern lifestyle, it can lead to a chronic imbalance which has been shown to be a root cause of a host of auto-immune diseases throughout the body as well as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's and yes, depression

The good news is that there are extremely effective ways of lowering inflammation in the body, one of the simplest being by changing our diet. And so that is what I did. There is a host of well-sourced and heavily researched information out there - Dr. Kelly Brogan's book, "A Mind of Your Own," many articles on mindbodygreen and Dr. Andrew Weil's suggested food pyramid amongst them.  I found the common links and adapted a way of eating that works for me and have had really incredible results with a definitive improvement in mood, well-being, cognitive function as well as memory and this during the most challenging period of my life so far.

So what does it entail? Well, I think that it won't be much a surprise for many of you but here are the basics.


 
The No's: 

No Sugar - I am sorry but it is as addictive as it is destructive and unfortunately, especially in the States, it is everywhere. If you don't believe me, then take a look at the label for something as healthy sounding as "tomato soup." We get plenty of the sweet stuff in our fruits and vegetables already.

No gluten - Gluten can cause an enormous amount of inflammation in the body, even for those of us who are not even close to having celiac disease. I had NO idea that this one would effect me as strongly as it did. Come on, I have lived in France the Land of Bread for the past fifteen years! Turns out (as I now know), it strongly brings me down and makes me tired.

No dairy - Dairy is second only to gluten in terms of its inflammatory effects plus distressor links in the body and digestion. Again, you might not think that you are intolerant but you won't know until you cut it out and feel the difference. Even in France where there are more cheeses than days of the year, one third of the population in Southern France has some level of dairy intolerance.

No processed foods - which can be defined as "anything that comes in a box" or anything that you don't actually recognize as a "food" on the labels list. Why eat that? Please keep an eye out for all of the chemicals, preservatives and the like such as the ever present hydrogenated soybean oils or high fructose corn syrup. Those two may boost the pockets of Monsanto but are terrible for your health. You know this already instinctively. Please really also be warned off anything labeled as "diet" "low sugar" or "low fat" as there are chemical fillers used to replace the originals!

No conventionally grown meat - grass-fed, organic only. Not only for humanitarian and environmental reasons but also because the meat is actually healthier, containing less fat and more Omega 3's. Cloning, added hormones, antibiotics and synthetic parasiticides, texturizers and coloring? No thank you.

No industrial seed and vegetable oils - such as soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, and grapeseed oil. Try olive oil, coconut oil instead.

Limited to no alcohol - Alcohol is a depressant. If you truly stop even for a while, it will change you. This deserves its own post and that just might happen one day.

And the Yes's:

Omega 3's - This has helped me the most along with turmeric and ACV, (see below), not only through foods (salmon, sardines) but also as a supplement that is strong in both EPA's and DHA's the happy/calm inducers. Strength, protein, heart and brain food. I try to buy line or wild-caught. A friend told me years ago that my shaky hands and unsteadiness would disappear once I had enough Omega 3's in my diet. I didn't listen then but he was right. And this is not to be confused with Omega 6's which we already have far too much of in our modern diet.
Beans and legumes - my secret weapon. An amazing source of protein that greatly reduces inflammation (hooray for chickpeas!) also including squashes and sweet potatoes. All are a great source of much needed fiber too. 

All leafy greens - the darker the better but romaine is also great for this. 

All cruciferous veggies - broccoli, red cabbage and the like. Roasted or sauteed, they are now a staple and I truly notice when I am not eating enough of them.

Tea  - whether green, white or black. I switched from coffee and it made a very big difference - an obvious move for anyone with anxiety and yet it took me years to figure that out.
Tomatoes - unless you have a reaction to nightshades.
Onions, ginger and garlic - raw is best but cook them if you need to, just get them in your diet!
All berries - They are so great for the brain but in general you just want to avoid all high glycemic fruits (and all high glycemic foods actually, it messes us up and then some).
Dark chocolate - but 72% cacao or higher with no added sugar.

Turmeric - this is the big one, it costs nothing and it is amazing. Not only is it one of the best things to beat inflammation but it just might prevent Alzheimer's. You will want to have a half teaspoon a day and use it with a bit of black pepper when you can to help the body absorb it fully.
Rosemary - for the same reason. Who knew that it could be such a powerhouse for mental health?

Lemon water - A great start to the day with warm water with lemon. If you are feeling brave you can add the turmeric and a bit of cayenne - just try it once! Not for everyday as it can strip the enamel off of your teeth.
Unapasturized, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar - even better with so much that is good for you it is incredible. I use one to tablespoons in water and mix it with my dose of turmeric and pepper along with some ginger for a "wellness shot" every morning. Poor digestion often goes along with depression and this will certainly take care of that too.

Parsley - it isn't just for decoration, it's a superfood.

Avocado - get those healthy fats. Our brain is 60% fat - did you get that? We need them. And did you see that recent article in the NY Times saying how the sugar industry shifted blame to fat? There is so much about our ways of eating that are out of date and ill-informed. But that is changing.

Olive Oil - the benefits are proven and widespread,  plus see just above.
Spices - the more, the merrier but along with those already mentioned, I love cinnamon and cayenne for their antioxidant power too.

Adding prebiotics and probiotics - see here.

Buy foods that are certified organic when you can and Non-GMO whenever possible -  I hesitated to add this one as admittedly, I can't afford to buy organic all the time myself, although I do prioritize what is essential to me. For the rest, I can't ask enough to really take the time to clean your fruits and vegetables of those mega-inflammatory pesticides as best as you can. Now, GMO's or genetically modified foods have the irritants built in on the inside. Again, no bueno. Happily, food marketing is waking up to the fact that a lot of us don't want that and so are clearly labeling non-GMO food items. Please take a look at Emm's awesome comment down below too.


Additional notes:

Aim for 5-7 portions of vegetables and low glycemic fruits a day. I know that seems like a lot but you will feel the difference. Also, the less grains that I eat, the better I feel but that is just me.

Aim for one portion of Omega 3 rich foods per day. Not only is this important for all of the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant reasons above but to replace the calcium that you would normally get from dairy. Per serving, sardines have more calcium than milk! 

Since coming back to the States, my tastes have shifted away from meat, especially as I know of all of the scary additives and treatments that get the ok from the FDA here. Yes, please keep in mind where you are buying your food and what your local food laws entail. I did eat lamb and pork and even beef in France but organic chicken and wild-caught fish are more to my taste now (and I have to say that even the chicken is pretty rare). You might find similar shifts happening after the initial reset and it can be important to listen to what your body wants. I also mention this as to be clear that my personal experience is not a typical Paleo diet in that it is not meat-centric at all but rather a vegetable-based one that includes carefully sourced protein at every meal.

  

That sounds like a lot to take in, perhaps?

It really isn't that hard. And what is important for it to make a difference in your body is to go all out for thirty days. You can do it! This will give your body the reset that it needs, to start from zero, if you will. If you don't do this then you will not really know what a huge difference it can make for you and within your body - think of it as giving yourself a chance to breathe. From then on, aim for the 80/20 rule in that you adhere to it completely 80% of the time and then give yourself some slack 20% of the time. For me, that comes out as the occasional bits of cheese and glasses of wine and just knowing that I have that possibility makes me know that I am not on a diet but rather am making an important life-shift. Now, I no longer crave gluten, meat, sugar or junk food at all. I mean not at all. And also, I want to add that I adapted what works for me out of the various anti-inflammatory resources that I read. Some say no grains, soy, eggs or corn. I eat all of those things in moderation. I can't afford to buy organic meats and so adapted to beans (which may not work for everyone) as I really need to have a source of protein at every meal. Use the basic concepts but really try not to waver until you feel it taking effect. You will.

So what does this actually look and taste like?

Well, today I started with the wellness shot that I mentioned and chai tea. For breakfast, I had organic oatmeal with cinnamon and berries but it could have also been an organic ricecake with organic (most importantly, no sugar) peanut butter with chia and flax seeds. That was followed by my daily supplements of Omega 3, a calcium, vitamin d and magnesium combo (all so important for depression!), a vitamin b complex, iron and rhodiola. 

For lunch, I had a giant mixed salad of romaine and shredded purple cabbage with baby carrots and tomatoes, sardines, sunflower seeds and topped with a homemade lemon soy vinaigrette and a huge mix of the spices mentioned above (including cayenne for kick and a metabolism boost). And an apple.

Snacking is not usually my thing but I have come to love healthy, air-popped popcorn. No, not the movie theatre or fake butter microwave kind (there is some seriously bad juju in the lining of those packages). Yes, popcorn is anti-inflammatory! I choose clean brands such as Boom Chick a Pop and preferably those with no-GMO's whenever possible.

For dinner, I often make a big batch to last for several days based on the following basic idea: sautéed or roasted vegetables with a bean, legume or starch for protein in a healthy sauce. Tonight that will be zucchini ribbons with chili beans in a spicy fresh tomato sauce but it could also be roasted broccoli with chickpeas in a tahini dressing or roasted sweet potatoes with butternut squash in a maple soy glaze. Any filling combination will do. It is basic, it works and it is cheap as can be! Seriously, most of my meals are in the 30 cents to a dollar range in terms of cost per person. If possible, I do try and have my biggest meal for lunch (especially if meat is involved) and have something lighter at night, an option that I learned in France which just works.

I have never eaten so well in my life. I do not skimp with the portions on anything in the least bit; they are filling and healthy. And I really feel the difference in my body and spirit.

I also see the difference too. Some of you have asked about my weight loss and while I truly adopted this way of eating as one of my practical methods for getting my depression under control, I have also lost over 35 pounds in the past seven months. Now, to be honest, I would say that the first ten was from heartbreak pure and simple. But the rest just came off with the adjustment in how I was eating with no additional real effort. Yes, I walk thirty minutes a day and meditate - and I actually think that both of those are essential too. Again, this is about the big picture of body-mind well-being and I feel so strongly that it is all one big happy family. Peace inside and out is the goal. Am I getting there everyday? Well, if you read this blog then you know that I still struggle with the situations in my life but at least I feel like I am taking responsibility for my health, finally. And I am pretty proud of that.

I hope this is of help and possibly, inspiration. Let Autumn begin, my favorite season...


 (Those of you who have been reading for a while will be surprised to see this "vanity" shot of me. It is the only one that will ever be on this blog. Ever.)


Bonne continuation et bon appétit! 

Heather





57 comments:

  1. YES .. YES .. and YES !!!! In so many ways !!!! Rocket Woman, you are flying !

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    1. I feel like the Wright Brothers trying to get the plane off the ground but I am trying Mr. Bill. And as far as this is concerned, feeling good. :)
      Mahalo!

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  2. Fabulous post Heather!
    You look leaner in the photo and if you feel better, have energy I would say you have come out a winner.
    Keep up the good work and hope you will continue to share your journey with your readers...there may be others out there that can learn from your valuable lessons.

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    1. That would make me feel wonderful, Leslie. Especially if there is anyone who has just given up on depression and thinks that they just have no other options. Research and understanding is changing at lightning pace in that field, which is wonderful.

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  3. Fantastic post, Heather... we are in diet simpatico here with you... :) xxv

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    1. Save that you have a fantastic commitment to working out healthily on top of it! Brava, Madame V. xo

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  4. Wow! Thank you for the info Heather!
    Looking good!
    All the best,
    Shireen

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  5. Wow, Heather! You look so lean and energetic! Well done for researching it properly and following through on this change to your life! You have taken responsibility for yourself! It's so common to put those change of eating habits in the too rad basket and give up! You have inspired me to follow suit for my husband and myself! I guess the overall benefit is the long term goal, rather than a moment's indulgence of your tastebuds over today's lunch! Well done! You are looking and sounding so well!
    Cheers,
    Deborah - Melbourne.

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    1. Well, I do think it is important to let yourself have that 20% of the time. My Sister made me the best dessert for my birthday and I loved it! But I do think that at least for me there is a smarter (heehee) option for my day to day life.

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  6. Yes, I sure understand, I eat all you mentioned....and I do fall off but not long....I need to get out an exercise, fell off, and miss my yoga....and love, bit of a sadness...so bouncing back at it, GRT inspiring post, perfect for me ! XO

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    1. That is great to hear! And we are all wonderfully human. There is no "falling off". Nope. Just different choices.

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  7. 6 months in ICU and rehab after almost dying in Jan 2015; had to relearn everything, even talking and walking, still a work in progress. Only note that to try to explain the intensity of my joy in fresh tomatoes, and the ability to buy, slice, use as well as eat them, and a meditative look outside the window first thing every morning.

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    1. My wonderful friend, please know that I wish that I could give you a big, long hug right now. I am so grateful that you are able to do those things too.
      With much Love.

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  8. Oh wow, congratulations on all you have done! Great information, it's all spot on. I met some of my greatest challenges with the addition of researching metaphysical science (where spirit and science meet). It helped me to know about my existence from an energy source, connected with all that is. Well, I cannot unsee this (nor do I want to!). I think I will print it out and put it on my fridge to give me the motivation to begin! Best wishes to you. ~Nicole in CA

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    1. That is really interesting, Nicole. I have been doing a lot of spiritual work myself and feel how it supports me too. Good luck with your journey as you continue on! Hooray!
      My Best Wishes to you, right back...

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  9. Yes to healthy living. You look fabulous!

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  10. In the photo you look like sixteen! I think that this diet is a lot like the mediteranean diet without the feta cheese and the yogourt. Try the original greek salad to: cucumber, tomatoes, onion, a handful of olives, caper, oregano, olive oil and a bit of salt. I eat this with raw wholegrain biscuits.
    I saw that you lost weight and I thought it was from your mental pain and I was sad, but now I rejoice that most part is from this healthy diet. (sorry for my english, I did not sleep well tonight!)

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    1. Maria, I am so sorry to hear that you did not sleep well. As you might have read, I know all too well what that is like. Actually, I do think that this new way of eating along with meditation has helped. Anyway, your English is always perfect. No worries there.
      And yes to Greek salad!! And feta cheese? Oh my... ;)

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  11. You are so positive and take-charge here! And look at the results: positive. (I'm thinking about what you say regarding how you feel, but the photo is an Amen to it.) You are wonderful inspiration.
    The only way to be sure of what you're eating is to make it yourself with the most basic, fresh ingredients possible. I've been making tomato sauce, using beets and squash to make it sweet; the kind in jars has added sugar. It takes time but the payoff is worth it. Now I need to step up a notch and follow some of the other suggestions you have that are new to me. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. C, I know that you eat very well and take good care of yourself. I am glad that you found some new things that could be of interest too. You give me so much it makes me feel good to give even a teeny bit back. xo

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  12. Wait - I thought this blog was about Provence - where are the shots of lavender fields? JK (just kidding) - you could write and photograph the phone book and we'd still love it/you. In case anyone doubts your story or your dedication - yes, it's ALL TRUE - your eating is incredibly healthy and it's especially impressive now that you are living with piggies who love pizza for dinner (oink)! I can also testify to the weight loss (are you at your skinniest adult weight??) and improved mood/mental clarity. It's inspiring - I'm so glad you posted about it! Of course, you're doing so much more for yourself than just eating well - I think it's all a part of the puzzle and I believe all that good energy will/does create great karma. Also - that is the least glamorous "vanity shot" I have ever seen - I say we take a REAL vanity shot - are you game? : )

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    1. You know I am not!! And besides, you already took the photos that I loved from my birthday...GOOD ENOUGH. hehehe

      Nope, my thinnest adult weight was from when I was traveling (nothing like gastrointestinal issues to make one into Audrey Hepburn thin) and when I was an actress (going to the gym two hours a day!). I really like this weight better!

      Thank you for all that you wrote and for backing me up. I love you, Sister.

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  13. What a great, positive and healthy living post! You look wonderful and have inspired me!

    Thank you ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Oh my gosh, look at your new profile photo! Looks like you don't need inspiration to me. ;)

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  14. Fuck I should put down my croissant! Haha no thankfully this post is not at a confrontational time for me as I've been doing similarly since Monday. I've quit sugar like 400 times and always feel so good. The three days after one quits are difficult and certainly bring out my not so pleasant side. So wonderful of you to open up and share this. Plus I wouldn't call your vanity shot a vanity shot. I might need to unearth some of my old social media photos and show you what a vanity shot looks like. I think my favorite was a photo of me, a white wall, a banana, and a pair of Ray Bans. Caption: "a good source of potassium". God help me. I can't believe how much of an effect cutting dairy, gluten, and sugar has. I think I'll try your ACV cocktail. I read "Grain Brain" in fall of 2013-14? and embraced turmeric with gusto. Even when I'm guzzling wine and eating bread slathered with cheese, I still incorporate turmeric into anything I can! So at least *some* good habits take hold with me.

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    1. I ate tons of bread, cheese, saucisson and guzzled wine for years and years in France so truly I can not say a word about anything! This is just what is working for me right now.

      And dear me, how deeply I thank you for the description of your vanity shot. I do believe that you could give lessons. Perhaps along with your new porn naming (for anyone else please do yourself a favor and go read Stephen's new post)...they could combine into a new profession?
      xoxxoxo

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  15. Thank you for Thee best post I've read on diet ever! You look fantastic.

    I'm allergic to soy, that happens to be in a lot of foods. I didn't realize food allergies cause digestive problems. I thought rash and runny nose. I've adjusted my diet several times. The gluten free journey means cutting out a lot of starch, and that has been a struggle. I was having far too much rice and rice flours to replace white flour. Gluten free is amazing, and worth every bit of struggle to get there. Dairy Free is much easier except for the ice cream.

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    1. Dairy free was far harder for me!

      Naomi at CouldaShouldaWoulda first gave me the heads up that a lot of women in Western societies have a harder time with soy than was previously thought. I actually find that to be true for me too.

      There is good information about food allergies and digestive problems in some of the books that I mentioned here.

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  16. We really are what we eat! In total agreement with all of your dietary adjustments and follow the same plan with only slight variations!
    Darling vanity shot and hoping at some point your heart becomes as light as your body has become! xx

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  17. Well done! I, too, have made dietary adjustments over time, especially in the last 10 years after I found I was gluten sensitive.
    With turmeric, I use just a bit in lots of things--soups, salads, stews--consistently and for a long time. Too much at once makes things orange and bitter.
    I've been exploring the current discussions re wheat. One school of thought says the rise in sensitivity is because the wheat is genetically, not just engineered but malformed, so changed from its original that it now contains compounds that our bodies haven't evolved to absorb.
    Another says that U.S. wheat is toxic because it is drowned in RoundUp. Apparently, just before harvest, the crop is drenched in the stuff--it kills the plants, and in a last effort at preservation, they put out more seeds, thus making a larger harvest.
    Some books I've found interesting, and you may as well: "Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health"--William Davis. M.D.
    "Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain’s Silent Killers"--David Perlmutter, M.D., with Kristin Loberg
    "The 3-Season Diet: Eat the Way Nature Intended: Lose Weight, Beat Food Cravings, and Get Fit"--John Douillard
    (Don't you just love those enormous subtitles? Silly things are longer than the book itself.)

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    1. Emm, thank you SO much for this awesome response. I actually updated the post to scoot people down here to see it! Yes, I have heard a lot of talk too about the difference in wheat in the US and in the EU. I believe it just because of my own experience with wheat in the US in the past!

      And thank you for both the suggestion for turmeric (which I do) and the books. I have been wanting to read the Perlmutter book especially for a while now. The other post that I want to do is about my reading list that I have been plowing through. There is so much out there - it feels wonderful to have access to so much new information.

      :)

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    2. Glad it helped. There is so much more information available now--sometimes it seems like too much--compared to even 10 years ago. As with any of these "I know the answers" books, some of the information will work for some but not all.
      Once people begin understanding how their innards function, and the connections of gut imbalance and illness, it's like lightbulbs turning on. WooHoo!

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  18. You continue to impress me! Amazing work and being and doing so well for yourself! I wish I had an ounce of your drive, will-power, ability to act on what I know would be such a better lifestyle for myself!! Brava, Heather! Carla Caulson also changed her entire health, immune system with I think many of these same tenets-it changed her life.

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    1. Carla was and is a huge inspiration for me, Judi. I just shared the link to the section in her blog linked to her fantastic taking control of her auto-immune diseases just last week. I will include it here for anyone curious:
      http://carlacoulson.com/blog-2/auto-immune/auto-immune-healing-naturally/

      And I know very, very well how strong you are. Please give yourself a lot of credit. Much love to you.

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  19. O goodness,strict regimen.
    monk-like commitment
    an “inspiration”.

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    1. Dr. Edgar (and yes, he is a doctor, friends) with all respect (and I have much for you) I don't see it as strict or requiring anything arduous. It is just a different choice of what I am cooking that is working for me. No judging coming from me about right or wrong, just sharing my experience. :)

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  20. Shut the front door Miss! You look amazing. Mr You Know Who doesn't know what he's missing. It may have been a heartbreaking time for you but look at how healthy you've become. I'm just so happy for you.

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    1. It still isn't an easy time, as you know. A lot still ahead. But thank you. This is one of the areas in my life that I was able to get back under control and do something good.

      You certainly were also a major inspiration for me and are! And it was your Mister who made the above remark about the Omega 3's. Why did I not believe him then???

      bisous

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  21. I would not recognize you! You look very healthy, and the correct weight. Your fearless dedication to rebuilding your life is very inspiring, particularly the approach to managing depression. Your program is really working, and it shows.
    Bon

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie. You are a wonderful lady. Can't wait to see you again.

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  22. Well done to you, you look fantastic. I am a huge believer that sugar is the modern day poison. We simply do not need added sugar in our diets, as you so rightly say there is plenty of naturally occurring sugar to be found in fruits. I stopped eating sugar in all forms a year ago and have never looked back. We have only ever eaten non processed home cooked food and despite living in France I very happily resist saucisson, fois gras and French pastries! I gave up sugar as a bit of a joke, to see if I could do it, nothing more than that, a year later I have no intention of ever eating it again! Loved reading all of this, it all makes perfect sense. Xx

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    1. My Uncle is a very highly respected chiropractor and I remember him doing a food stress test on us in the 70s where we would hold out our arm shoulder height and he would push down on it, we would resist and could. Then he would do the same thing with us holding a big bag of sugar with our other arm and I tell you it was impossible to resist his push. I never forgot that. Granted, I have never had a sugar tooth (cheese and saucisson however?) but I am still really glad to be off of it.

      Thank you for the compliment, Susan. xo

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  23. Wow this is so timely! Many many years ago, Tom, my wonderful Chiro/Kinesiologist/Accupuncturist told me that due to the inflammation in my body, he STRONGLY suggested removing the worst of the inflammatories. You know them all...wheat, corn, soy, dairy, sugar, tomato, potato, eggplant...corn is in EVERYTHING, even, if you think about it...beef. And it's one of the worst, second only to sugar...oh and wheat....american wheat is harvested before it is fully ripe, allowing for an additional harvest, but making it undigestible for many humans. did you know that? I didn't until Tom told me. Did I listen? no. no I did not. Now I find myself post-menopause, grossly overweight, and very very unhappy. I have been thinking about this for a long time (like forever) and really feel the time is coming to take the bull by the horns. And voilà, as if you can read my thoughts, here pops up your post. Thanks for all the good info, and the kick in the pants. And gurrrrlllll.....you look amazing. xoxoxoxo

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  24. Encouragement and happy, healthy, healing love to you.
    TR

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  25. The last 20 yrs I follow this kind of eating (apart from my daily cocktail at 6pm)
    and I'm also convinced that eating moderate (except processed food and sugar) is
    the best for body and soul. Heather, I had to look twice because I didn't recognize that this slim and young looking lady is you. You can really be proud of
    what you achieved. Congratulation!

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  26. Hello Heather,

    Thanks for the timing of this much needed kick in the ass (my own thinking, not said by you at all). You are encouraging me to do something about my unhealthy condition that I stress about but never actually stick with doing something. It sure adds to my self loathing though. I decided before getting your inspiring words, that I was going to put a plan together for Monday. I am going to do it and I'll use your suggestions as well. All that you say, I have found in previous research - but I haven't followed through so I experience success and failure on a constant basis. It's time I just did it. Thank you.

    I'm glad that you are making such progress - you look amazing. I wish you peace.

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  27. Hello Heather - how great to see you taking control of your own health with such wonderful results. We in the western world are so privileged that we can choose our diet from such a vast array. It saddens me to see people eating processed junk and ALL THAT SUGAR!
    The spiritual side of well-being is very important, too. Mind, body and soul in harmony. Wishing you joy.

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  28. Great to read that you are discovering natural ways that work, Heather! I feel very lucky that packaged and processed foods were not accepted in my student house. I have been cooking from nothing but natural ingredients for over twenty years now and I am sure it benefits my health. Coffee and alcohol are another story... ;) Keep it up!

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  29. You're looking good Heather. Thanks for all the wonderful tips. I would probably be glad to avoid all meat but my husband can't live without it. He has had type 1 diabetes since he was 4 so we don't use much sugar around here (except at Christmas time and other special events when I have to indulge in some baking). We try to eat as healthy as possible although there are days when with work and all the other chores it gets to be too much and I pull something out of a packet. But I try to limit that as much as possible.

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  30. Kudos to you, Heather, for making such a huge dietary change. I wish I could do the same... with picky kids in the house I have a hard enough time coming up with things that they deem edible (nothing green for my 12-year-old son). can you maybe share some of your new favorite recipes with us?

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  31. How wonderful that you are doing so well! You look fabulous, but then again you always did, now you are just a healthier version! I love hearing about how people's health changes from new eating habits. Two years ago suffering my own heartache I lost a significant amour of weight from dietary changes as well, no gluten no dairy, etc and I felt a million times better!

    I still occasionally eat bread and dairy but nothing like I used too. Its funny because typically when I do I feel badly the next day.

    I do a lot of yoga, 5 days minimum a week and it has done a world of good for me mentally and physically.

    You have come a long way Heather and I am so very happy for you! I hope that as you continue on your journey that you find peace and happiness.

    A big hug to you!

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  32. You look so healthy and slim! Your post sums up the very best approach to nutrition - it needn't be rocket science. Thank you!

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