My Journey to Alternative Health and my Crazy Diet to go along with it

Title sounds interesting, doesn’t it?  Bet it got your attention.  Probably should have capitalized more of the words, but what the heck, I just didn’t feel like it. If I have to put up with people’s horrible grammar, spelling, and text abbreviations, a few lowercase letters will do no permanent damage in the grand scheme of things.

Once upon a time I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread and drank Hi-C grape drink everyday.  I ate chocolate chip cookies by the coffee can. (My dear grandmother of blessed memory used to bake them and stored them in coffee cans).  Breakfast generally was generally cereal and milk, toast, or eggs.  We didn’t have “sugar cereals” at home but generally limited to Kix, Cheerios, and Raisin Bran.

I had a lot of colds and sore throats.  I was given a lot of antibiotics.  Are you cringing yet?

When I was in college, I was tired a lot.  I was taught growing up to sleep when tired or take a nap.  I didn’t miss classes to nap and I didn’t pull all-nighters either.  But I was tired.  The doctors at the university health clinic gave more antibiotics for my colds.  I didn’t feel WELL.

After graduation, I made an appointment with the family doctor.  What was his professional medical opinion?  I was tired because I missed my college and was probably feeling depressed.  THAT was a medical diagnosis???  To this day I am still incredulous.

Fast forward a few years.  Two things happened simultaneously.  1)  I discovered alternative health and 2) I had began taking on an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle.

One of the changes to go along with my religious observance was learning about the Jewish dietary laws called kashrut.  You may have heard the phrase “keeping kosher”.  Without going into any in-depth explanation the bare bones is:  no milk products to be eaten nor served, nor cooked with meat products.  No pork.  No shellfish.  It’s much more complicated than that.  Here’s a link for those of you who want to learn more what I’m talking about:

(If you look on many products in your fridge or pantry, you may notice on the box or label the letter U with a circle around it.  That is the symbol of one of many kashrut organizations.  It indicates I can eat this product.  If there is a capital D to the lower right of this U with the circle, the product has a dairy ingredient in it, or could be made on a machine that manufactures products with dairy. ) Let’s continue with my journey…

Anyway, one of the women I met on my journey to becoming religious had a plethora of herbs and vitamins in her kitchen.  She was friendly with another woman in the community who had a similar set up in her kitchen. (*note-this has nothing to do with any religious views.  I am mentioning it because that was my first exposure to people who used alternative health methods as opposed to allopathic medicine only).  These two ladies raved about a woman named Holly who was an iridologist.  “What on earth is that?”  I had asked.

An iridologist is someone who is trained to read the lines and breaks within the iris of the eye.  These marks are a mirror as to what is going on inside the body.  After the iridologist reads the marks, a plan of herbs and dietary changes is put into affect in order to strengthen the internal organs.  Follow up visits are needed to monitor ones progress and to monitor the herbal and dietary regimen.  Well, it sounded really quacky to me, but since I looked up to these women and I had nothing to lose but $60, I made an appointment.

I went to Holly.  She analyzed my eyes.  Her diagnosis:  a condition called candida.   You can read more about candida from this fantastic website:  I had never heard of this before.  My addiction to sweet stuff fed the candida which is a systematic yeast/fungus/parasite which is why I was always tired and sick and had sinus problems.

The way to recover from this is to get rid your diet of all sugar, sweet stuff, and flour products.  Then there is the regimen of herbs or other dietary supplements and pro-biotics.  I always tell people learning to keep kosher was simple compared to getting rid of sugar.  Sugar is EVERYWHERE.  Even my tried and true Cheerios had sugar.

I was miserable at first.  Sugar is an addiction.  You have to do the candida diet cold turkey, or you will never recover.   I NEEDED sugar.  I WANTED sugar.  I would put pinches of salt on my tongue, as salty is the opposite of sweet. I would climb the walls. I could think about eating was bread or pasta or chocolate or anything else I had to avoid.

What happened?  I stuck to my new diet.  I got started to get better.  I had more energy.  I had less sinus headaches.  I got sick less.  I FELT GOOD.  Even the skeptics who thought that having someone look at my iris was mere quackery noticed the change.

It has been over 20 years since that original candida diagnosis.  (Huh?  You look 25…that can’t be.  Folks, I am older than I look).  I am not on an herbal regimen anymore.  I still have to monitor carefully what I eat.  When I start feeling symptomatic again I have to reassess what I’m putting in my mouth.  But now I know what I’m dealing with.  When I can afford it or can find a practitioner who wants to barter, I get chiropractic adjustments and massage.  I am a big believer in alternative health.  I use it in combination with standard Western medicine-not excursively one or the other.

So, what do I eat?  I’m not vegan, vegetarian, nor paleo.  I eat chicken, fish, beef, eggs, vegetables (but limited white potatoes), fruit (but limited to apples and pears when feeling symptomatic), nuts, seeds, beans, buckwheat, corn, rice, and soup.  I limit myself with gluten products because believe I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  I avoid dairy because it gives me symptoms mimicking rheumatoid arthritis.  I do slip up on this one because I love cheese and my taste buds win out.  (I suffer for three days afterward.)  I love chocolate, but need to eat it sparingly.

If you have made it to the bottom of this essay,  I will explain why I wrote this post and what it has to do with decluttering and organizing.  For starters, I love to teach and educate.  This is the first time I have not had a classroom teaching job since 1993 (for those of you still curious to my actual age, you can try to figure this out).  I am loving NOT being in the classroom, but I realize I love to share information and this is one vehicle for me to do so.  Also, because of what I eat or don’t eat with the added degree of the ‘keeping kosher’ aspect, my meal planning abilities need to be top notch.  I have a limited food budget which means sticking to locally grown in-season produce and products I can get at the local grocery store.  I can’t use crazy flour mix substitutes or weird ingredients found only in the health food store because they cost too much.  I’m always looking for new gluten-free and dairy-free recipes to try out.  When I find something good, maybe I’ll share and post like the avocado mousse recipe I mentioned in another post.

My goal is to share my experiences and educate.  For any medical concerns or conditions, consult your local medical practitioner.

Have a great day.  Visit again soon.


Published by Karen Furman

Philosophy = Your home should be organized so you know where things are, to the degree that you feel relaxed and not stressed in your space. Method = A combination of Marie Kondo + FlyLady + my own style. YOU make the decisions. YOU decide what to keep and not to keep. I help provide clarity. Attitude = Positive, enthusiastic, non-judgmental

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