One evening in 2007, I was rushed to the St. Vincent’s Cancer Center in NYC, just 10 minutes after I walked out of work.
Doctors performed a bone marrow biopsy. They told to start making appointments at Sloan Kettering. But no doctor on the east coast, nor any MRI’s, CT Scans, endoscopies, colonoscopies, X-Rays, blood tests, genetic tests, bone marrow biopsies, etc. could detect that anything was wrong with me.
In fact, for the past 5 and a half years, no one could tell me what was wrong with me. Only that I was crazy.
I struggled for five and a half years with chronic leg swelling (20-30 pounds of water weight every day by 3PM) and severe digestive issues while pursuing a marketing and advertising career in corporate America: VOGUE, Ralph Lauren Corporate and the NBA.
I never let anyone know what was going on besides my family. I felt gross, embarrassed, bloated, foggy-brained, confused and frustrated.
Instead of listening to me, doctors wrote me prescriptions for countless pills that didn’t work.
How was a 26-year-old girl to go on a date with swollen legs and chronic pain when all she could wear were spandex and gulp down water pills instead of cocktails?
I visited Mayo Clinic in 2010 in search of answers. Like a broken record player, I was told all over again that there was nothing wrong, all the while my health continued to deteriorate.
My general practitioner told my sister that I was insane, and needed to take psychotropic drugs. Then things took a turn for the worse — as if they weren’t already bad enough.
After having kale from a farmers’ market in December of 2010, I contracted parasites, pathogens, and numerous cases of bacteria overgrowth, was put on steroids and painkillers—and disability from my job.
The worst part? My colleagues at the NBA thought I was kidding. Human Resources would call me on the phone, not to tell me to ‘get well soon’, but that they didn’t believe me.
The leg swelling got so bad I could barely move, and then I found huge cysts on the tops of my feet, which stayed for 3 years. No one could figure out what they were.
I needed a change. So I changed doctors, quit my job and changed my own life. I sought alternative options.
It wasn’t until I began working with an Integrative Medical Doctor that I learned I was suffering from heavy metal accumulation in my body’s tissues.
I was born without the gene to absorb folate — key in detoxification. Why didn’t Mayo clinic find the heavy metal problems?
I discovered that Western medicine only tests for heavy metals in your blood. My blood’s heavy metal levels were great — it was the heavy metals in my body’s tissues that were affected.
So I began the long journey of chelation, the process to draw the heavy metals through an IV.
I had to have my mercury fillings removed and replaced with porcelain fillings, as well as take chelating agents such as citrus pectin, vascular homeopathic drops and vitamins.
But even though I “quit” Western doctors and my corporate job, I also started along a brand new life path. I went back to school to learn more about Eastern medicine and nutrition.
Using acupuncture, yoga, meditation, herbal medicine, and fresh, organic 100% whole, unprocessed foods, I healed myself and remain 100% symptom free nearly five years later.
I was already lactose intolerant as a child, and cut out gluten in college. I am still unable to consume gluten and dairy (except an occasional Greek yogurt), as well as grains, oils, fruits and sugar.
These past few years, I discovered that I am allergic to sulfates and cannot digest packaged foods.
Now, I follow a Clean Lifestyle. What does that mean? It means I eat like a cave woman. I eat a diet filled with lean proteins, health fats and lots of veggies.
Spreading a Clean Lifestyle is now my full time job — helping other people feel good and finding the real solution to their ongoing pain.
I share my passion for and approach to Clean Eating by focusing on natural whole foods and ingredients that are good for your body through my gluten-free blog, The Healthy Apple, where I provide balanced, accessible and engaging information on the most basic components of good health.
I also work as a Culinary Nutritionist and Personal Chef in Manhattan, helping people ‘Clean’ up their diet and get on the healthy-eating bandwagon.
Do I still have days when I have a stomachache? Yes, but my passion, my pride, my yearning to find an answer and help people just like me to not give up keeps me going.
So, I thought I’d share with you a clean recipe and a peak into my Clean Eating Cleanse that I work on with my clients.
Strawberry Coconut Black Rice Salad - Gluten-Free and Vegan
1 1/2 cups uncooked black rice
1 pint organic strawberries
1 bunch of fresh asparagus, ends removed
1 Tbsp. fresh lime zest
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 Tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Cook black rice according to package.
- Rise raspberries; set aside. Cut asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, asparagus, lime zest, lime juice, scallions, coconut, sea salt and pepper; gently toss to combine. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Remove from fridge; fold in fresh strawberries; gently toss to combine. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Serve chilled.
You can use this recipe — and other recipes like it — anytime, whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain energy or just give your body a nice spring clean-up.