Vegan or Atkins? Macrobiotic or Gluten Free? Every year there is a new diet trend claiming to be the best way to lose weight or get healthier. Who is right? Jaime talks to you about health issues that plagued her from a young age, the extreme diets she went through to help with her issues, and how it wasn’t until she stopped following diet trends and started listening to her body that her health improved. After years of dieting, she finally settles on what she calls The Self Sustainable Diet, which has helped her to become the healthiest she has been in her life.
It seems like around this time every year, January, February, March, there’s the new diet of the year trend that comes out. Usually it’s promoted or sponsored by some celebrity who’s lost a significant amount of weight after having babies, or by some doctor who’s come out with some new research. Everybody always promising that you’ll lose weight faster or that you’ll improve your health or extend your life by a certain amount of years. Everyone seems to have the magic solution, whether it’s veganism or whether it’s the complete opposite with Atkin’s diet. You have gluten free diet and then you have the complete opposite macrobiotic diet. And then there’s everything in between: you have vegetarian, or flexitarian or the Zone Diet or the South Beach Diet or the Mediterranean Diet. You have cleanses such as the Master Cleanse promising that you’ll lose those 10 pounds right before your wedding day. And then of course there’s tons of companies who are willing to help you along your journey if you pay them a nice fee, such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig or even Slim Fast. Buying milkshakes from Slim Fast.
So is there a magic solution? And who should you trust? Because it seems like they change every single year with their diets and they can be completely the opposite.
Well, I’ve had quite a bit of experience over the last 40 years when it comes to dieting and I’m just going to share with you a little bit about my diet history, where I’ve come from, why I made the decisions I made, and where I’m at now and kind of the revelation I had after doing all this. In particular, in getting more into naturopathy because I do believe that medicine is thy food, food is thy medicine. Hippocrates, I think, I just said that backwards, but Ido believe that and I came to realize that first hand. So let me tell you my story.
So growing up, and I mention this several times, I came from a big hunting family. I lived in central Pennsylvania and we ate a lot of venison. We ate venison just about every day for the first 15 years of my life, to the point where I was sick of venison. But what you don’t know is that along with venison, I had a diet that was very, very high in sugar and very, very high in processed food.
Because we lived in such a remote area, we didn’t have access to a lot of healthy foods. We didn’t have access to a lot of fresh vegetables. My grandfather had a little garden on our property. My grandfather and grandmother lived with us growing up, which was interesting and a fun time for me being a kid. But we had a little garden but our family wasn’t real big into eating fresh vegetables. We were a meat and potatoes family and the rest was all sugars and processed foods. And because we didn’t have a lot of money, we couldn’t afford healthy foods anyway. So what we would do is we would pile up the minivan and we’d drive 4 hours away to this scratch and dent grocery store where we stocked up on tons and tons of canned goods and processed foods and sugary cereals and sugary drinks, like the little Hug drinks. We had boxes and boxes, crates of those little Hug drinks. Um popsicles, boxes of cereal, BooBerry and Count Chocula, Lucky Charms. My brothers and I could polish off a box of cereal in a day. Candy. Tons and tons of candy. And uh, I paid the price for that diet.
By the time I was 12 years old I had severe acne to the point where I had to go to a dermatologist and of course, his solution was to, prescribe me a giant box or a bottle of amoxicillin which really only treated the symptom and not the cause, which was my poor diet.
I was also very sick growing up. I was sick multiple times a year for every year growing up. I had the flu multiple times a year, when I didn’t have the flu I had a cold or some other disease. I had measles, or german measles, or tonsillitis, sinusitis. I ended up having to have my tonsils removed and when the surgeon came out of surgery he said that my tonsils were so destroyed, it was the worst case he’s ever seen, he had to pick my tonsils out in pieces because I had tonsillitis and strep throat so many times. I was a very, very sick kid.
And on top of all that I was on the fast track to morbid obesity. At the age of 12 years old I was 5 foot tall and I was topping 185 pounds and wearing a size 16 or 18 clothes and it wasn’t muscle. Morbid obesity runs in my family, as do does high cholesterol, heart attacks, and everything else that goes along with morbid obesity, diabetes. And I was on the fast track to that with my diet.
On top of all that I was highly depressed. I was extremely lethargic. I had a lot of gastrointestinal issues and I had a lot of tooth decay.
Well by the time I turned 15 years old, I had a girlfriend that came up to me and she said that she wanted to become vegetarian. It was something she read about and she wanted to be vegetarian and she was looking into PETA and she wanted to join PETA and do it for animal rights reasons. And the irony of all this is her dad was the biggest game hunter in town and I was like, well I don’t want to do it for animal rights reasons, I said, because I hunt and my dad hunts and your dad hunts, I don’t know why you’re doing it. And she’s like, well you can also lose a whole bunch of weight.
Well that was kind of my trigger. See, having a lot of acne and being extremely large, I was picked on quite a bit in school and I was tired of it so I wanted to try and do something to lose weight. So I said, alright I’ll do it with you but it’s not for animal rights reasons, it’s going to be for health reasons because I want to try and lose some weight.
So her parents at the time owned a bar and restaurant, and um, so they had access to commercial foods and we both chipped in $15 and we bought this industrial sized box of veggie burgers, Garden Burgers came out at the time and we split it up. And I remember going over her house and we popped one in the toaster and we ate it and I was like, you know I can do this! I can be vegetarian. This isn’t so bad. And so started the path to vegetarianism.
So from about the age of 15 to 26 I was “vegetarian”. And by “vegetarian” I mean eating a lot of processed foods. Basically I just substituted the venison for Garden Burgers and more bread and more cheese and I was still eating all the processed foods and still eating all the sugars, so it really did nothing for my weight. Ah, it really didn’t do anything for my health. I wasn’t really feeling any better. So it really didn’t do much good for me but I went down that vegetarian path. And several years during that period I was vegetarian I tried out veganism, then I would come back from that because that wasn’t very good, I would start craving cheese or something else. I also did the Slim Fast during that period. I did a lot of times I did the severe calorie cutting, which wasn’t very sustainable because you know, you would cut back your calories one week or I would say after day 3 you’re starving and then you eat 10 times as much the day after that so, I was yo-yo dieting that way. That never really worked.
And by the time I turned 26 I had really no changes in my weight or in my health or anything else and I said, you know what? I bet if I cut out the eggs and the cheese and become vegan that that will do it for me. That will be the magic trick because I was reading about a lot of other people who became vegan and how healthy it was so. Alright. I’ll try it. So I decided to commit to being vegan.
And I took out all the eggs and dairy and substituted all that with tofu products from the freezer section. So I’m still going to the freezer section and buying all these processed foods. I increased my vegetables a little bit, my fruits a little bit, I was eating out less often. Um prior to that I was eating out all the time at like McDonalds or pizza. I was eating out a little bit less because it’s bit trickier to eat vegan. Basically you order a pizza and pull the cheese off, at least that was my idea of being vegan at the time. And I cut back a little bit on sugar and I noticed I felt a little bit better but not much. I still had a lot of issues going on. Still had acne. Still had weight issues, still was depressed.
And then about the time I turned 28. That was when I just had had my daughter and um, and she started having issues with her health. And I mention this in the holistic medicine video where I say where, we had put her on a special diet and what we did was we didn’t know what was wrong with her so we put her on an Elimination Diet. And for those of you not familiar with an Elimination Diet, it’s where you eliminate the major allergens from your diet and then add them back in one at a time to see if it triggers a reaction. So we removed gluten, soy, dairy, egg and a bunch of other preservatives like food coloring and whatnot from her diet. And she was eating a pretty clean diet then. And here’s the thing, because I was cooking for her that way, I cooked for me that way as well because it was easier. And what I discovered was I felt tremendously better. I felt amazing. In particular when it came to the gluten.
When I took gluten out of my diet I had no more depression. I felt amazing. And then I added it back in and I felt awful. And then I took it back out and I felt better. And I did this about 20 times because I didn’t believe it once or twice or ten times, I had to do it at least 20 times before I trusted that my body knew what it was talking about. That the gluten’s bad. I shouldn’t be eating gluten. It does cause a reaction.
So shortly after that another incident happened, which I also mention in the other video, where my daughter had what I believe was a reaction to the MMR vaccine. She lost her speech and in conjunction with a Naturopath, we ended up going on a raw food diet in order to clean up her body completely to help it process the vaccine in the hopes that she would regain her speech.
Because we did that for her, I did it for me as well. And a raw vegan diet, for those of you that don’t know, it’s just fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and then some oils. Everything is raw. Like for burgers and stuff, if you wanted to eat a raw vegan burger you would grind everything up in the food processor, like vegetables and nuts and seeds, just grind it all up in a food processor and then put it in a dehydrator. And that makes a burger. Or you can grind up a bunch of nuts and seeds and you’d spread it all out in the dehydrator tray and make bread. So basically everything you’re eating is fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and like I said some oils in between. And I felt amazing doing that. All the processed food was out of my diet. All of the sugar was out of my diet. And I felt amazing. I wasn’t sick hardly at all. I still got sick, but I wasn’t sick as much. But something else developed too.
One, I had this hyper state of alertness. Now a lot of raw vegans are proud of this, for me, um it wasn’t a good thing.I couldn’t sleep at night. I had insomnia. I was agitated. I was like on edge all the time. And I think that’s because, number 2, I was starving. I was never full. It doesn’t matter if I ate this huge giant plate, this huge giant salad, I was hungry. It never filled me up all the way. And then 30 minutes after that I was like, starving. And I had to eat again. It didn’t matter how many avocados or nuts I ate I was always, always hungry. Which led to number 3, food became an obsession when I was a raw vegan. Because I had to eat constantly, nonstop, it was literally on my mind just like a starving person. I could not think of anything else but food. It was nothing but eat, eat, eat, eat, eat. All the time. I couldn’t go anywhere because nobody had raw vegan foods. I had to bring foods with me and it was always a hassle. So I had a lot of improvements with that, but then there was a lot of downsides to it as well.
So fast forward a little bit and about 7 years ago is when I met Jeremy, and at the time I was raw vegan. I was fluctuating between what raw vegans call high raw vegan diet where you’re eating almost 90% of your diet raw to some where in between, somewhere mid level like 70% raw. And I’m trying to stick with the rules and stay as high raw vegan as I can and I’m fighting this battle where I’m hungry and I want to eat other things and other things sound good to me but I’m not eating them. I’m fighting them off because I’m trying to stick to the rules that somebody made of what raw vegan is. And I remember we went out to dinner for Jeremy’s birthday party. We went out to hibachi and I had my bowl of lettuce with a lemon squeezed on top. Actually it was like just some lettuce leaves and some lemon squeezed on top and Jeremy’s sitting next to me and he has this steak. And I’m smelling it and I’m like oh my gawd this smells so good! And everyone else is eating, you know, shrimp or chicken or steak or whatever and I have my bowl of lettuce and I’m like, I just, I want to eat that so bad. Like, and I did. I took my fork and I reached and I took a bite of his steak and I popped it in my mouth and I was like oh my gawd that is sooo goood! Like, I don’t know if I was missing the B12, which very likely I was, or if it was the fat or the calories, very likely it was. But that piece of steak tasted so so good and I was like, why am I doing this? Why am I setting these rules, why am I following these rules for raw veganism. Clearly this tastes good. Clearly my body needs it. So why am I fighting this?
About a week later, ah he made me a steak. He made us both a steak, both steaks and it was delicious and I felt better after eating the steak. I felt calmer, and I felt filled and I was like, clearly I’m missing something here with not listening to my body. And from then on I started listening a little bit more. I saw some cheese and I slowly started adding cheese back in and I started playing this, not really playing a game but, I started paying attention to when I added a new food back in, just like the elimination diet, did I feel better or did I feel worse. I added cheese back in and I felt better. I added yogurt back into my diet and I felt amazing. That was like a magic food for me. I added eggs back in and I felt a lot better. I started increasing my beans, because when you go raw vegan you don’t eat beans. I added beans back in and I felt worse. I felt terrible. I had a lot more gastrointestinal issues.
So what I discovered after doing these tests on myself is that there are certain foods that make me feel better, and certain foods that make me feel worse. But overall, by eliminating the foods that make me feel worse, which was the processed foods and the sugar and the gluten and by maintaining and eating a balanced diet. And I want to stress that. It’s a balanced diet of eating the other foods that made me feel better, I am overall healthier than I’ve ever been in my entire life.
My weight has stabilized. I have no depression. Knock on wood, I don’t get sick and I don’t have tooth decay. That’s not an issue anymore. Just overall, I mean my complexion is still good, it improved since I’m eating a balanced diet. Everything seems to have stabilized since I started listening to my diet, now that I started listening to my diet. And the irony of all this is that, you know, we as homesteaders or farmers trust our animals to say, our chickens to eat calcium when they need it or that for our goats to eat choice minerals or cows to eat choice minerals whenever they need it but we don’t always trust ourselves to eat the foods that we need.
When we’re craving a certain food, that is our body signaling that it needs, it’s missing some vitamin or some nutrient and that’s what I started paying attention to. Say for example chocolate. Chocolate is a staple in this house. If I start craving chocolate, I get a piece of dark chocolate and I eat that and I feel satisfied. Now on the flip side of that, ah sometimes we get the junky chocolate. I am guilty of getting Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because I just can’t give them up. I don’t restrict myself on any foods really and sometimes I’ll eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but if I’m craving chocolate and I eat a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup which is more processed food than a piece of dark chocolate, I still want more. I’m still craving it because my body’s not getting the magnesium or the nutrients out of that junky chocolate as opposed to the tiny small piece of dark chocolate. That’s where it’s getting the magnesium that it needs. And that’s pretty much the basis of what I’m talking about today. That if you eat real foods and if you listen to your body it will give you the nutrients that you need and your body and your health will stabilize. At least that’s what it did for me.
Now I’m not here to preach to anybody about what kind of diet they should have. That is completely the opposite of this whole entire conversation. What I’m trying to say is don’t worry about following the Paleo diet exactly the way someone has it written or following the vegetarian diet exactly the way someone has it written or following the metabolic diet exactly the way someone has it written because I don’t believe that everybody’s body is the same. I don’t believe that everyone needs the same vitamins or nutrients as everybody else. And I think that if you start listening to those signals that your body’s telling you, that you’ll live an overall healthier life and you’ll find that all these problems that you have will balance out.
So what I’m calling The Self Sustainable Diet is three-fold. Number 1 It is something that you can maintain. So for me, I can eat, I really have no restrictions on my diet. So, other than gluten, I can’t have gluten, and then the processed foods and the sugar I just don’t really eat it because they make me sick. Other than that, I don’t have any restrictions. I eat whatever my body tells me to eat. And that is something that I can continue to do until old age, cuz that’s much better than say cutting my calories back to 800 calories and then starving the next week and having to make up for those calories.
Number 2 is because I’m on this self sustainable, self reliant path, I want to try and make sure that I avoid the doctor. I don’t want to have to go a doctor for when I get sick and that means taking my health as my own responsibility, into my own hands. And by listening to my body and having a balanced diet I am becoming healthier. I can tell you that I haven’t been sick in a very, very long time and again knock on wood on that one. But I am healthier. So my body’s getting what it needs to fight off any kind of infections or sickness or colds and that helps me be more self reliant.
And Number 3, this is the cool thing with getting into homesteading is all the foods that I eat, all the foods that I eat now, or the majority of them, are things that I can grow here. So I’m not able to do everything right here right now, but I know that given the right property and the right experience in gardening and livestock management that I can grow and harvest everything here, except for chocolate. I haven’t quite figured out how to do that one yet. But the majority of foods that I eat I can grow right here.
The Self Sustainable Diet
- A permanent diet
- Improves overall health and immunity
- Can mostly be grown or raised on a farm or homestead
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates