thoughts on “that other door”…..and leaving doors open

Kincade age 4
Kincade age 4

After my Mesa class, a young couple talked to me. Georgia had gastric bypass but had gained the 150 pounds back, with many health problems, and Kyle was also overweight. They were looking for answers.  Georgia said,

“As you were telling your story about your little boy on so many drugs, including Prednisone, we couldn’t help but think how awful the alternative would have been.”

Her eyes filled with tears.

“My sister died at the age of 23 after continuing down that path, for years. When she was little, she was on tons of antibiotics and steroids. I don’t know if my sister died of asthma or of Prednisone. When she died, she weighed over 500 lbs., so bloated from steroids.”

I have said, many times, that my readers’ stories haunt me. They very literally haunt me. Often I fall asleep mulling over the stories I’ve heard. Beautiful, miraculous ones. Terrible, tragic ones.

I occasionally get emotional, when I speak, telling my son’s story. About how he was a Failure to Thrive baby, on one course of steroids after another, in hospitals, in breathing tents, a gas mask strapped to his face every four hours, constantly sick and on antibiotics.

He’d been born at almost 9 lbs., and by 15 months had fallen below the 5th percentile for weight. He was blue and listless and coughed non-stop, and he was constantly choking on green and yellow mucous.

The photo here is of Kincade’s 4th birthday, just two years after we eliminated dairy, processed meat, white flour, and white sugar. After we made greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds our new staples.

Last June, my 6’3” baby boy, Kincade, pitched a 5-inning near-shutout (12-1) against Skyline in a huge stadium with a thousand screaming fans, in the state tournament. He was named MVP of the team, he led the state of Utah in RBI’s, and he lived his destiny.

So I had all of this on my mind. I lectured in Boise, Tucson, and Mesa in less than 48 hours, and when I flew home, my baby boy picked me up at the airport. As I put my stuff in his car, I noticed the wadded-up McDonalds bag on the floor.

emotionalbankOne thing I figured out a long time ago is that when I walk in the door from work, and haven’t seen my kids all day, even if the first thing I see is that they didn’t do their chores—I spend some time enjoying them and talking about what matters to them. Bring up whatever’s frustrating me, later. (Or never.)

Really big research studies have shown that solid marriages have five positive interactions for every negative ones. That makes sense, right? Stephen Covey made the concept famous of making deposits in the emotional bank accounts. You can’t make a withdrawal if you’ve got no money in the bank.

So Cade and I enjoy the ride home, and I learn all about his date the night before. We listen to his favorite songs. Kinda loud, but I tell him they’re awesome.

Shortly before we get home from the 45-minute drive, I tell him, “You know Cade, it’s weird that you don’t even know how many people have heard the story of what happened when you were a baby. I have told it to tens of thousands of people.

“How terribly sick you were. How many, many nights I thought you would die. How many times I prayed to God to just let you live through the night.”

I told him about Georgia’s sister, and how chilled I was in Mesa, to think about that other door. The door I DIDN’T walk through. The one where I would have just continued blindly feeding my baby chemicals to eat, instead of addressing what was causing his problem in the first place.

medicine xBuying into Dow Chemical’s marketing slogan begun a couple of generations ago, which is the biggest lie ever: “A BETTER LIFE THROUGH CHEMICALS!”

I tell my boy that I am so thankful I didn’t go that direction. That instead I dug deep for answers and made changes to save his life that seemed radical and hard, at the time.

I said, “Kincade, when you were a baby, I learned that you have a fragile immune system. I know this. I was there. You were too, but you don’t remember. You don’t come to my lectures, so you don’t know this:

“But sometimes after I explain how desperately ill and underweight you once were, and I get to the part about you being interviewed by TV stations and offered a baseball scholarship—a room full of hundreds of people break into applause!

He says, quietly, “I came to your lecture once, Mom. Remember? You had me stand up in the audience when you told the story.”

“Yes,” I say. “They are so excited that you didn’t turn out like Georgia’s sister. They are hopeful that their own scary health problems from eating junk food, can go away too.

“And I am telling you, kid, that after all you and I have done to give you the health you enjoy now, if you go to a lifestyle of eating food from a drive-thru? You will be sick. You will suffer. It’s pretty much a guarantee.”

“I have done everything I can to build and nurture your immune system. But the hormones in the burgers you eat at McDonald’s? They will mess you up. They will change your hormones.”

Cade says, “Aww, Mom. I eat fast food, like, twice a month! I eat a salad every day at work. I really do eat healthy. When you go out of town, I hardly eat any food at all!”

open door[That’s a whole other topic. How if I’m not there to feed him, he just goes hungry. What the….? I resist the urge to Go Squirrel and chase down THAT conversational bunny trail, towards another Lecture.]

That’s really the end of the conversation. I don’t feel the need to drive the point home any more. I resist the urge to move onto what ELSE was probably in that McD’s bag—french fries are on my mind.

For today, though, I have said enough.

There’s always another conversation to be had. I try to think carefully, with an adult child. How to talk about it so he won’t be offended or oppressed. How to talk about it so the door is open with him. For a later convo about his health and his nutrition.

And just in general: open doors are good.

Cade pitches state finals today

This is my boy Kincade, graduating from high school this month. He’s a delightful kid to have around, loving and funny. He’s also the starting pitcher today at Timpanogos High School, in Game 3 of the state playoffs. He’s 6’3” and throws 90 mph. He’s injury free and healthy as an ox. This is the collage I am printing as a graduation gift to him, highlights from his senior year.

Eighteen years ago, he was below the 5th percentile for weight, and taking multiple drugs including steroids, bronchodilators, and frequent antibiotics. He was in and out of doctors’ offices and emergency rooms because he couldn’t breathe. When we eliminated sugar and dairy, and began eating greens, raw vegetables and fruits as staples, his asthma symptoms decreased quickly and finally disappeared. He gained weight and began to thrive quickly. I will never go back. And I will be forever grateful for this discovery.

Hope and pray with me today that he pitches well in the spectacular $2.5 million Kearns stadium and that the scouts are out so Cade might be offered scholarships. I’m so proud of him. And so thankful that I was able to find the answers to avert a health disaster and allow my son to fulfill the measure of his creation.

 

Reversing Crohn’s disease

I saw this post from Melanie yesterday, in response to an old blog of mine. I thought it warranted front-and-center attention. It’s especially on my mind after a convo after my Lehi, UT class last night with a mother of a young (20-ish) Crohn’s patient who eats no fiber.

That’s the problem with Crohn’s patients, is that high-fiber foods are what they desperately need, and also what irritates their inflamed gut tissues. I’ve reconsidered my statement that Crohn’s is difficult to turn around after talking to a few docs in recent months who say with proper treatment, Crohn’s is one of the easier conditions to treat. I am not a practitioner, and I recommend sufferers get competent, EXPERIENCED, holistic help—such as from Dr. Gaetano Morello in Vancouver, who works with people remotely via phone.

Here’s what Melanie had to say, which folks with this and other inflammatory gut diseases may find encouraging:

“I just wanted to comment on your comment about Crohn’s disease being difficult to reverse with diet. I know in some severe cases, it might be, but I wanted to give a story of success and maybe hope for some people. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s in July of last year. The doctor wrote me a prescription for a steroid and told me to take it INDEFINITELY! I handed her back the prescription, and said “No, this is not going to be my life. I will not take steroids!”

And after two days of intense research and crying, I threw myself head first into a raw, organic, grain-free vegan diet. If it didn’t fall into that category, it didn’t go into my mouth. I lost about 35 lbs. (which I needed to) and within just 2 weeks I was able to go off of both of the prescription meds I was on for the reactive arthritis caused by the inflammation in my body due to the Crohn’s.

Within about a month, all of my Crohn’s symptoms (intestinal cramping, anal fissures, cracked skin on my hands, too frequent bowel movements, hair falling out) were either much lessened or GONE! When I went back for a check-up in October (I had a bet with my doctor – if I wasn’t better by then, steroids it was!), my small bowel series of xrays indicated that I had NO bowel strictures, no inflammation, no irregular fold patterns, no wall thickening!

The doctor said it looks like I’d never had Crohn’s in the first place and that I was in the clear! I will admit that after the ‘all clear’ I thought I could add some things back into my diet – cheese, some fish, rice – and I started getting pain in my joints again. So, now that I eat about 90-95% raw, I am maintaining my good health, and my husband and I are currently trying for baby #2 – something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to have with Crohn’s!”

Thank you for your story, Melanie. Of course, Jordin Rubens (The Maker’s Diet) is a fantastic example of a man who was nearly dead of Crohn’s at 19, and now 20 years later is extremely healthy simple because he changed his diet. I know soil organisms and probiotics had a HUGE place in his healing. Those topics are covered in Step 8 of my 12 Steps to Whole Foods.

I need to gain some weight! Part 2 of 3

But some of the uber-thin are actually not digesting food and are quite unhealthy. They might be eating as much junk as the overweight people are, but because of chronic gut issues, they are not absorbing nutrition—not even calories, but certainly not minerals and many vitamins as well.

Last week after a tennis match, both my doubles opponents wanted to ask me questions while my teammates waited in the car. One of them told me about her daughter-in-law, who is in her 20’s, but exhausted, pale, sick, and underweight. She has open, pus-oozing sores all over her head that are stuck to her pillow in the morning. My opponent said to me, “She’s trying to heal with steroids–luckily her father is a doctor.”

I withheld my opinion on most of that, but I did say, “Steroids heal exactly nothing. What they do is suppress some symptoms, only temporarily, while knocking out the immune system.”

If you want to gain weight, eat healthy, exactly like I’m teaching in 12 Steps, with an emphasis on higher-calorie whole foods. Not dead, denatured, refined-oil,   If you want to boost protein, do it with vegan protein powder, and high-protein unprocessed plant foods like legumes and nuts rather than animal products like meat, eggs, and cheese.

Boost your good fats, with avocadoes, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed oils like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, flax crackers (Ch. 7), etc. Avocadoes might be nature’s most perfect food, so eat 2-3 a day if you want, as guacamole or in sandwiches. Eat lots of young Thai coconut meat–make it into pudding, smoothies, chocolate mousse, ice cream. Make yourself a 4th meal, between breakfast and lunch, or after dinner, that is a high-calorie protein shake with lots of almond butter and raw chocolate and frozen bananas! Make kefir or yogurt (Ch. 8) with whole, organic, preferably unpasteurized goat or dairy milk. Freeze it in ice cube trays and make frozen yogurt with it in your BlendTec. Eat a handful of Brazil nuts every day—great selenium as well as good fats and calories.

Don’t forget to eat a big bowl of GRANOLA for breakfast—I have a baked recipe as well as a live/sprouted recipe (both delicious, but the raw/live one is more time-intensive but the most delicious thing ever). If you make the baked one, add a big spoonful of raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds, soaked overnight.

Britni, do you have the 101 Healthy Lunches book? I love a baked potato (with the skin) with tons of garlic aioli sauce on it, yummy. Plus a big green smoothie, and put some flax oil in his. You can get plenty of calories without resorting to meat, dairy, or processed foods. There are coconut-milk frozen desserts (sweetened with agave) that your husband will love. Or you can make your own (see Ch. 11).

Of course, food isn’t the only issue when it comes to weight loss or gain. It’s the biggest one, but there are two other biggies. About that, tomorrow.

TEXAS, part 4 of 7, Amy’s Story

Amy was our key volunteer organizing our Austin, Texas event. I felt terrible that somehow I did not get to talk with her, as I arrived only 10 mins. before the event. (My GPS said the flagship Whole Foods Market, that I really wanted to see in the few hours we were in town, was only 7 minutes away. I didn’t know to account for traffic, and it took 25 mins. each way!) After the event, Amy didn’t have time to wait in line and I never actually met her. I wrote her an email to thank her for all her efforts and tell her we are sending a present, and this is what she wrote back:

Almost four years ago my husband ran into a health issue that “regular” doctors couldn’t help him with.

It started with only a small part of his lips and spread to both his lips and the area around them over the next couple of years, while we tried everything that we could think of and everything the doctors said to do.   It got to be so that he couldn’t laugh or smile, and he was so embarrassed to be in public.

He is a youth pastor, so having to speak in front of people often is a part of his job.   We went to 13 specialists.   They kept sending us on to other people.   They got angry or annoyed with me when I told them everything we had tried, asked questions, and tried to understand.

I kept asking, “But what’s the problem?!   How can we keep this from coming back?   Isn’t this just masking the symptoms?” I got so tired of just another prescription for some steroid that I knew could be causing other problems.   The final straw was on a second visit to a doctor who was apparently pleased with my husband’s “progress”, and we were horrified.   He was the farthest from well he had ever been.   The doctor was writing him another steroid prescription refill, and we said no thank you.   I told him we already tried that and the solution was only as lasting as the end of the prescription.

We didn’t know what else to do, but we knew that any other answer was better than another prescription.   I became obsessed with reading any kind of nutrition information I could get my hands on, became best friends with health food store workers, and my husband was willing to try anything!   I couldn’t believe the amount of information available.

I called my grandmother who has been making me crazy morning drinks when I visited her my whole life and the people I knew from my church that didn’t wear regular deodorant and told me one time they would give me a kefir starter before I knew what that was!   Luckily, they were so excited to share everything they knew.

We went to a homeopathic doctor they recommended.   The doctor was not frustrated by my questions, and when I asked for suggestions on what to study the doctor gave me greensmoothiegirl.com!

I was so encouraged by what a regular person you are.   I thought, “maybe I don’t have to be a social outcast!”   I am so thankful for you.   I would never have the courage to try things, but following your blog and watching all your videos makes me think I can do anything!   I had so much information whirling around in my brain but no idea what to do with it or where to begin.   You gave me things to DO!

I have also taken your advice, and I spread the good news with everyone I can.   I share my green smoothies even with my students (I teach art at a small elementary school).   One time I told a 4th grader that the MSG in his Cheetos were a neurotoxin.   I explained to him what it was, and the next day he told me he asked his mom if he could throw their Cheetos away.   He wanted to taste my green smoothie!

I have 6 siblings and my mom, and all but 2 of my brothers drink green smoothies regularly now.   My mom has struggled with weight loss all of my life.   She has lost about 40 pounds and is still losing!   She felt inspired by your class [in Austin] to do a green smoothie cleanse for a week!

When we first started making all our dietary changes I tried to lay low because I didn’t want people to think I was weird, but you helped me to see that that was doing them a terrible injustice.   I love what good nutrition has done for my life and the people I love most!   I want everyone to know that they can be healthy and strong.

My husband’s lips are well.   Our homeopathic doctor treated him for a mineral deficiency, using lots of greens mix, and a change in diet and nutrition.   We saw results within 2 weeks, he was completely well in 2 months.   I couldn’t believe it, after four years of battling!   Despite the pain and misery for my husband, we are so thankful for his illness.   It made us take responsibility for our own health, and forced us to educate ourselves and learn to listen to our bodies in a way that we may not have otherwise.

I recently started taking correspondence courses at a natural school of medicine to get my CNC (certified nutritional counseling).   Thank you so much for the work that you do and for sharing your life with so many people!   You have helped to make my family’s life so much better!

Introducing the Cornia Family: GreenSmoothieGirl Makeover [part 4 of 4]

Our third selection is the video that moved me to tears as I watched it. You know how I feel about young moms. You knew I’d pick a young mom. This was our most difficult choice–but BlendTec and I were unanimous with each of the three picks.

Samantha Cornia is only 25 years old and has four children. Everyone in her home struggles with MRSA infections–staph that is immune to antibiotics. That’s because they’re constantly on antibiotics and other prescriptions, like steroids.

You’ll hear more of her story as we release segments of their journey, on YouTube and here. Her 3rd child was born with all her organs outside her body. When my baby was very ill, a woman named Ginger Ford whose son had the same syndrome, spent a year pumping breast milk while her baby was in the NICU having many surgeries to get his organs put inside his body. She gave all of that breast milk to me. (I was under a lot of stress and was very underweight, 115 lbs. at over 5’8″. My own milk disappeared and my baby refused most foods and was allergic to the rest, like Samantha’s baby.) Largely thanks to her, my baby recovered and thrived. I told Ginger that if I could ever do anything for her–anything at all–I want that opportunity, because she helped save my baby’s life in a very intimate way.

As I watched Samantha’s video, I wrote in my notes, “She reminds me of me. When I was her age.” Very ill. So tired of drugging my babies and watching them struggle. Desperate for something else, something better than drugs and fatigue.

What a crucible for powerful change that awful place in my life turned out to be. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we climb out.

Samantha’s youngest is 14 mo. old and has massive food allergies and won’t eat. He’s on lots of steroids and recently had an upper GI and colonoscopy–his esophagus is swollen and raw and he cries constantly. He falls asleep at night clutching his throat. He is a heartbreakingly gorgeous little boy, and you will fall in love with him on film.

I am ecstatic to work with the Cornia family of Lehi, Utah. They are big soda drinkers, and until attending my Junk Food Dude book reading last weekend, they’d never had a green smoothie.

They don’t generally eat whole foods. Samantha’s parents struggle with obesity, and she was raised on what she calls “Mormon Mom casseroles.” When a friend suggested a few years ago that she visit GreenSmoothieGirl.com, she said, “Green Smoothie Gross!”

Now Samantha finds herself in a very different place in her life. Devastating health problems have humbled her, and she finds her mind and heart open to change.

(Make a mental note of that. Those who mock you now, for taking a whole-foods path, may be on your porch begging for mentoring a few years from now. When they’re ready, they know where to go.)

Please stay tuned for more from the Cornias, and watch their sweet video here.