If you develop a solid belief system based on truth and knowledge, you can never go back.
People ask me a lot why I do what I do – or how it all started. I am not really sure. Maybe it was my upbringing, parents that cooked from scratch and purchased organically grown food before anyone knew what that meant. Maybe it was when I saw the documentary ‚Food Inc.‘ – maybe it really only started when I was told that my 8 month old baby had food allergies – having never eaten the foods on the list.
What I am certain off though, whatever opened my eyes, I am grateful for it and I will never go back. I never want to go back.
Sometimes when shit hits the fan it is a blessing in disguise.
So, lets go back to 2007/2008, my first daughter was born July 2007, healthy as one can be. It all went great, I was so young, I had no idea what I was doing but it went great: breasfeeding, sleeping or not, we traveled with her, had lots of visitors, living in Calabasas – Los Angeles area. At 4 month old I did notice a rash on her cheeks, we traveled to Switzerland for four month, I continued to breastfeed, worked at the hospital and at 5-6 month old Daddy started feeding her solids. Potatoes and carrots. We were told that is best. The nurses who looked at her when I asked about the rash, now spreading all over her body, ‚it is normal – baby are rashy creatures…‘ – never mind that she also had issues pooping. Oatmeal baby food with dairy powder was recommended. Needless to say that that didn’t work. I wished someone would have just told me to stop feeding her. I had plenty of milk. To reset her system.
Back in Los Angeles we went to see our favourite person: our trusted Chiropractor. She already helped us during pregnancy because Selina was breech until 38 weeks gestation. She took one look at the baby and said: ‚your child has food allergies‘. I never even knew that was possible at that age, I also did not know anyone at that time who had food allergies. Boy did that change quickly. The baby was tested and the list came back – as long as the Mississippi River – at least it seemed like it. Because I am very determined when I do something (as in breastfeeding in this case), I cut out ALL the foods out of my diet as well – to heal the baby and in turn, I healed myself as well. We did great, we started to thrive. Turns out food proteins are passed through the breast milk to the baby. Important information to have.
Fast forward a few month to when I first saw ‚Food Inc.‘ – the first documentary bringing to light what was happening with the food system in the United States. I knew that my baby having allergies was not normal, it was not how we grew up, it also did not make any sense and I needed to know why. I watched that documentary and that was the beginning of who I am today. It started my determination to learn about everything that is in our food, how we grow it, how we process it. How our bodies work on a cellular level and how nutrition influences everything. How agriculture influences our global system. How corrupt our governments are. How the companies making pesticides are the same ones who produce chemical weapons for wars. What can possibly go wrong? I learned about genetically engineered foods. And I started to understand what was happening to my baby. It quickly escalated though: how many babies were affected by this shit storm of a food system? Learn about Food Inc. here.
During my second pregnancy I signed up for a holistic nutrition counselling program. It gave me great little insight into what I could be doing and how I could be helping people. After our second daughter was born in 2009 I kept researching more and learning more through my own determination. I became the expert in my friends group, was asked for advice, told everyone about how important it was to eat organic, stay away from GMOs and conventionally grown foods. I am sure I annoyed the shit out of many of them. I am not sorry though and I am certain they do not want to me appologize. Together we had great opportunity to grow, raise healthy babies and learn what needed to be known. History repeated itself – little Leandra got a rash… I knew much quicker what to do though and since that February in 2010 our house has never ever seen any dairy milk and wheat products anymore, no white sugar and we went completely and all in organic.
Bevor I am telling you about the behavioural issues of my second daughter and how that again, completely changed our way of eating, I need to tell you about my own health issues and my healing journey. My system was way more imbalanced that I ever thought or knew.
I breastfed my second kid for two years, and after that things started to unravel. Acne, severe digestive issues, hormonal imbalance, brain fog, not wanting to get out of bed…. I decided to sign up for an extensive nutrition program, the Nutrition Therapy Institute, in Denver CO, to be come a Master Nutrition Therapist. If not to ever work in the field, but to help myself and everyone around me. During that time I learned about lab testing, gut health, supplementation. You see, I was bloated all my life. As a teenager I could not go to the bathroom more than once per week!!! (insane, right???) Happens to more people than you think. I sometimes ate an apple and felt terrible for a day. How did that make sense, apples are healthy!?!? Back to the lab testing. I did allergy testing and nutrient level testing. Turns out it is all connected. My allergies were clearly aligned with a glucose sensitivity, the low levels of Selenium and my inability to digest fructose. Boom. Turns out that only because you are skinny you cannot eat every crappy food on the planet. Shocker. I also had no gut microbiome. I have only had antibiotics ONCE in my life – as a teenager, never took any meds, not even Aspirin, but I was on the Pill for about 10 years. So my gut was suffering. Supplementation, a total adjustment to my diet, no more gluten, dairy, corn, soy… all nutrient dense foods, lots of green juices, fermented foods, supplements…. all the things. I got better very quickly. Found my baseline. Adjusted where needed. Finally my acne went away. No more looking like a teenager. The best thing about figuring out myself: it gave me a testimony that everything is connected. Everything.
The problem with gluten
when a child enters your life, it is time to learn. it is not the time to teach. – Sadhguru
My kids were born in the USA and grew up there. My second daughters first language is English. They grew up in MY CHOSEN family and community in the Denver area. We all had the same believe system when it came to food, the lifestyle choices and mostly also parenting. My best friend and I raised our children and ourselves while our husbands were gone a lot and family lived in different countries or even continents. In March 2005 it was time for our family of four to move back to Switzerland. I had no idea what would hit me. Expectations from those waiting for us were high, I felt like a fish out of water and did not know how to integrate myself again. Reverse culture shock is a real thing my friends. The food was a whole other ballgame. I knew what worked for us over in the US. I was met with weird comments about how strange our diet was. I had no idea what worked here in Switzerland. I was told that ‚you know, we are much healthier here – our food is much better – we really like everything with Spelt flour – our butter is great…… you do not need to get everything organic, it is safe when it is produced in Switzerland…. it is ok when teachers give kids chocolates and gummy bears… cakes for ever birthday celebration…‘ and even though I fought it for months and I knew better…. at some point I gave up. I no longer cared what people fed to my kids. I stopped making separate food arrangements for us, for them. I was tired, exhausted, out of place and I completely gave up. They started eating bread, veggies with butter, treats, sugar, everything ’normal‘ Swiss people eat. Stuff that is around everywhere. In the land of bakeries and chocolatiers at every corner…
And then it happened. Every night – for months – my little kid turned into the devil. Every night we had a fight brushing teeth, she would not go to bed, scream for hours, hit me – (actually beat the shit out of me – a much more honest interpretation) – it is rough to write this. Me giving up. Seeing my kid like this. It affected our family life. It made us even more exhausted. I knew this was not her. I knew she could not stop herself. And still I was too tired to figure it out and take care of it. It kept going like this. She would start throwing a fit in the middle of the day as well, hard to calm her down. Staring at her crazy eyes and knowing this was not her. She was not herself. To add to this, you must know that about 9 months after we moved to Switzerland she was diagnosed with selective mutism. A social anxiety disorder that kept her from speaking to people in public and/or people she did not know. It was the perfect shit storm. She must have been emotionally drained, overwhelmed and exhausted.
After dealing with this for a few month, or probably about one year… it was just bevor summer break. The first summer break we got to fly back to Denver, back home, back to see my people. This was about 1.5 years after we had moved back to Switzerland. I needed to go back to see how it all felt. I needed a ‚reset‘. I also knew I had to take my daughters health back into my own hands. I had to take care of us and take over our control over our nutrition again. I knew her behaviour issues were due to gluten, sugar and dairy. I knew it could be the culprit to her outbursts, I knew I had to try. So I sat the family down and I told them that we would be ALL going off of gluten, dairy and sugar again. And that we would start while on vacation in Denver and then just keep going once we came back to Switzerland. Some of you might think now that I am crazy changing diets while on vacation, but honestly, easiest thing ever: we lived like this over there for 5 plus years already. It is super easy to get gluten and dairy free foods everywhere you go – my friends eat like that… I wish everyone could have seen the difference in my kid. From day one of being off of gluten I had my baby back. No more outbursts, no more hitting, bedtime was a breeze. She was the kind, funny and huggable person again. I knew there was no going back. I would have quit my job to feed her if I could have not convinced her day care mom and other people involved in watching my children to feed her the way I knew was right. A ’seemingly small‘ change with incredible impact in a Childs life. Again, how many children suffer from this and nobody knows?
One time in the three weeks at my best friends house in Denver my husband accidentally fed her the wheat spaghetti instead of the gluten free ones. Honest mistake. Two pots. Not asking which ones were the right ones. And the devil was back. One time. Luckily you know right away and you do better again the next day.
Once back in Switzerland and daily life, we involved everyone in her healing. Education is key. Your child’s health is worth the hassle to explain people about allergies and sensitivities. I pre cooked food, delivered gluten free pasta to the day care ladies house, explained the same thing over and over again. Got the school and the teachers on board. It is possible. It must be. There is no other way. The ’seemingly small‘ change or work involved is not so small I must admit. But imagine you get your kid back, see behind the curtain – only because you eat for your health and brain and leave out the triggers? Doable.
I truly believe that keeping her body healthy through foods, supplements, healing her gut, is also what helped her get over her anxiety disorder. It is all connected. Dr. Natasha Campbell-Mc Bride from ‚Gut and Psychology – Syndrome‘ – even mentions selective mutism in her book because the gut is connected to the brain.
Another testimony of holistic health and how everything is connected. Literally everything.
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions about my story – or our story – feel free to reach out.