Jenna’s Story

As a dietitian and nutritionist, I believed I was a health-conscious eater for many years. I ate whole grain bread products, Kashi cereal, and lots of granola/protein bars. I drank skim milk (which eventually transitioned to lactaid and eventually almond milk when I became lactose intolerant). I ate lots of salads. I followed the food pyramid pretty faithfully and I exercised a lot, so I was always able to maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness throughout college and my early 20s.

However, something was still not right. Towards the end of college, I developed lactose intolerance, gas and heartburn. Lactaid pills, Gas-Ex and prilosec did little to help me – in fact, it seemed that the more I took all those pills, the worse my symptoms became if I missed a day. Although I had seasonal allergies (pollen, cats, dust mites) most of my life, suddenly new foods were making my mouth and throat itchy and painful… raw carrots, raw apples, raw celery, certain types of nuts… and even dogs started giving me hives after I pet them. In the next few years, I became allergic to even more foods such as soy, peanuts and others, all of which were confirmed through skin testing and bloodwork. Collectively these allergy symptoms are known as Oral Allergy Syndrome and it’s a debilitating form of low-grade chronic illness that affects lots of people. I was told by my allergist that the only treatment was to avoid foods that made my throat itchy. Being the dietitian and foodie that I am, this was devastating news.

I did lots of research and concluded that I must have “Leaky Gut Syndrome”, which is a condition in which the gut lining has been damaged. I asked several specialists about this and they told me “Leaky Gut” is no more than a theory and that there’s not enough evidence to prove it is true.

Years later, I was introduced to Holistic Nutrition Consultant Gena Mavuli and my world was turned upside down. She introduced me to the Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet and the world of Weston Price. I learned how processed foods and refined grains can negatively impact the bacteria in our gut, which directly affects our immune system because 70% of immune cells are located in the gut. I have been able to integrate new functional foods such as fermented veggies and bone broth… I’ve switched to raw dairy (because it still has all the beneficial enzymes and live bacteria intact). I have always had a sweet tooth, so I make all my own desserts from real food ingredients with natural sweeteners such as dates, raw honey or real maple syrup… they are delicious!

I have been following the principles of the GAPS diet and Weston Price lifestyle collectively for almost two years, and in that time I have successfully all heartburn symptoms, 80% of my IBS and gas symptoms, and at least 15 out of 30-something allergies. My vitality, energy levels and overall sense of well being have skyrocketed and I have even found my own personal empowerment along the way. I’m so grateful for meeting and working with Gena, and for my health journey!

Jocelyn’s Story

Jocelyn BurgenI am fairly new to exploring the traditional diet, but at my current age of 23 I am confident that it is something that I want to be part of who I am for the rest of my life. When I think about food and nutrition, eating traditionally is something that makes sense and feels right. When I consume pure, whole, good foods I find that I am more optimistic, I have more energy, my mind is calm and I am productive.

When I was in high school, my mom provided a wonderful background for healthy eating, but I didn’t understand what the point of focusing on nutrition was. It wasn’t until after I graduated college, had gained a decent amount of weight and started to face the “real world” that I found value in what I put into my body. It almost feels like a right of passage to discover what kind of food and lifestyle works best for me and I have realized that what works for someone else might not work for me. Luckily, I live in an area where local food is abundant and treasured by the community, which is how and why I started my exploration into a traditional diet.

In my opinion, it is really important (if not the most important thing) to have a strong support system when it comes to molding a new lifestyle. I have found my close relationships to be extremely supportive whenever I get excited about introducing a new traditional food into my diet. My most recent exploration is making bone broth. Sean, my boyfriend, was a little skeptical that it could really be so good for you. Despite that, he enthusiastically drank a mug when I poured him one. He was pleasantly surprised by the rich, delicious flavor and after reading about what it can provide him with, he is on board. Trying new foods is something that we have always done together. There is something to be said about cooking wonderful foods with other people, and I would say that cooking together is a core component of our relationship.

I am excited to see where this journey takes me, as it really is just the beginning. I already see the immense value that an ancestral diet has to offer and I plan on continually adding more traditional foods to my diet as time goes on.

Eileen’s Story

My real food journey began several years ago when I was first introduced to the idea via an online radio program. Along with a few other changes, I learned for the first time what it meant to truly eat healthfully. After eating the WAP way for abMoses Lanatiout three years and now free of Lyme disease, my husband and I decided that it was time to start a family. We included many of the recommended preconception dietary recommendations including salmon roe, raw milk, bone broth, liver and also a high quality royal jelly by Premier Research Labs. Two months later we were stunned to find out that we were already pregnant.

Though I was under a great deal of stress throughout most of my pregnancy while my husband was dealing with a severe reaction to a new tick bite, the traditional diet combined with high-quality supplements by PRL and the grace of God, I went into labor at exactly 42 weeks. Our plans for a home birth with our midwives went out the window when I was diagnosed as being preeclamptic that same day. Twenty-four hours later our healthy baby boy was born via cesarean section weighing in at 6lb. 14oz. We were so thankful that he was allowed the two extra weeks gestation that would have never been permitted by a medical doctor because of my condition.

Moses Gabriel immediately started gaining weight and has never lost an ounce since his birth due to his robust health and his ability to latch right away. He went from being in the 50th percentile at birth to the 90th percentile for height and 95th for weight by eight weeks and has remained there. He is now a delightful, curious and engaging fiften-months-old who enjoys life to the fullest. Along with my breast milk, some of his favorite real foods include salmon roe, Kerrygold Butter, raw milk and cheese, pastured eggs, bone broth, a variety game meats and fish, dried sardines, nori, stewed fruits and fruit smoothies with greens.

Gabrielle’s Story

I used to think I had a good diet and was in fine health. Unexplained stomGabrielle Kleinach pains led me to try out a gluten-free diet, and I realized how dependent my diet was on wheat. In the process of looking for more information online, I discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation.

The idea that the rapid changes in the way we feed ourselves since the Industrial Revolution are affecting our health in unforeseen ways made perfect sense to me. Since then, the way I nourish my family has been in a constant state of experimentation and improvement.

I came to realize that my health was actually suffering, but I had simply stopped paying attention to it. I now feel stronger, happier, more in touch with myself, and more alive than at any other point in my adult life. I don’t suffer the embarrassment of frequent acne, diarrhea, and incontinence. I don’t crash at 8PM. I am more patient with my family, more content, and I accomplish more.

I now feel like I have tools that really work to support my family’s health and well-being. Best of all, these tools are sustainable: for my health, for my finances, and for the health of my planet. I love the skills and the knowledge that I’ve acquired: I’m no longer dependent on food and medical industries that I can’t trust. I’m in control of my health.

Elissa’s Story

At age 60 when my mother died I was obese even though I Elissa Hirsch_2had been a vegetarian for 40 years and did not eat junk food. When I first went to an integrative nutritionist my goal was to become a poster child for vegetarianism. She help me lose weight using a protein shake that was soy based. She recommended an abundance of supplements to address the deficits in my profile. She used a lot of tests, urine, stool, blood. Each time I would take that urine test I would hope to ace it but each time my results got a little further afield. I was losing weight and feeling better so did not understand why my testing profiles were not improving.

I did learn a lot from this first nutritionist. But at the same time several health issues were not resolving and were even getting worse. It is rather like having a relationship with someone who is not Mr. or Ms. Right. You learn from that relationship so that you can recognize true love when it occurs. My frustration with the first nutritionist sent me looking elsewhere and I found Beatrice Levinson, an excellent GAPS practitioner. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Beatrice said if I wanted to get well I needed to eat meat, and not only meat but organ meat, and bone broth. I was in shock. For 40 years my identity had been that of a vegetarian with a disdain for people who ate meat. Now she was telling me I needed to become one of those people. I bought the GAPS book, read it through, and took the plunge. through Beatrice I learned that for 40 years I had deprived myself of essential nutrients and that my health issues were due to having a leaky gut. Healing the gut will heal the body. I had also been on birth control pills for 40 years and taken NSAIDS for pain.

As a baby boomer, I was not breast-fed and was a colicky baby so I have probably been in need of the GAPS protocol since birth. I have always struggled with my weight, not being drawn so much to sugar as to fat, which I understand now was what my body was craving. But I denied myself because it was the era of low-fat eating. I have 40 years of abuse to overcome. I will very likely be eating according to the GAPS protocol for the rest of my life, but this is fine with me because I absolutely love it. I have learned to make bone broth and am learning to ferment. I am lucky to live in an area with a provider of excellent kraut so it has not been imperative to take that on immediately. I was already eating differently from most people and that of course did not change. I still ate differently but I was following a new set of rules. I look forward to my strange breakfast of bone broth with bits of sausage, vegetables and a soft cooked egg floating on the greens.

I still think of meat as medicine but slowly I am learning to prepare it in interesting ways. I may never be an excellent meat cook, but I’m good enough. I do not miss sugar or concentrated carbohydrates because my body is getting what it needs. I am taking very few supplements now compared to over 30 a day because the nutrients in my body needs are available in the food I am eating.

The nightly cramps I would get in my legs have vanished. It took a while. They became slowly less frequent until now I cannot remember when I last had one. It must be six months. My digestion is so much better. I am not going to say I never fart, but I do not have to worry about being in meetings or having people over forElissa Hirsch dinner. The tooting just doesn’t happen. My gut is healing. I am eating so much fat, it is incredible that I have not gained weight. I have more energy. My traditional medicine doctor at my yearly check up said that most women as they age become less healthy. I am becoming more healthy so whatever I am doing, keep it up. I told her I was trying to tell her what I was doing but she didn’t or couldn’t hear it. It is outside the paradigm she has been taught. It should not be, but it is so.

I think it is important to have a wise guide when you enter the land of alternative medicine. I feel I have found the “yellow brick road” and that I will continue to acquire knowledge and improve my overall health, vigor, and immunity as I “practice” how to live cleanly and intentionally. // PS I forgot to mention that fitness is very important. I have found a fitness practice that works with my lifestyle very well. It takes one half an hour and I can do it at home. You do it every day because improvement is in small increments. So I am strong now and flexible and of course that helps. In the beginning I had so much inflammation it was very difficult to do this daily program but now I look forward to it.

Leah’s Story

In January 2013 I decided to start a preconception diet, since I was getting married in February and knew we would start trying to conceive within the year. I already followed a fairly healthy diet but I implemented some changes based on the WAPF pregnancy diet. The biggest change was drinking raw milk (16oz/day on average). I also increased my egg and butter consumption, began eating organ meats (I cheated: there was an awesome local restaurant that had chicken liver mousse on the menu), making bone broth, and drinking kombucha and milk kefir.

At the time of starting the diet I had been suffering from endometriosis for 3 years. The main symptom was excessive bleeding, both in amount and frequency; at this time my very heavy periods were lasting around 20 days/month.

After just a few months of this new diet, my period was only 10 days long and for the first time in at least 4 years, I was allergy-free that season! April, May, and June continued to show improvements in my cycle, getting down to around a week in duration in mid-June. Around this time, my husband and I decided we would start trying to conceive in July. But when my period didn’t come at all that month we realized there was no need to try because I was already pregnant!

In retrospect I realize that infertility was likely a symptom of endometriosis, I feel very fortunate to have healed myself with food, and not have to suffer through infertility, as many families do. I had been under the care of an OBGYN for management of endometriosis, including having a laparoscopy and D&C to remove the scar tissue that was building up and causing excruciating pain. Unfortunately the only treatment option my Dr offered was to have this surgery every few years, as needed, and use hormonal therapy to control symptoms, something I wasn’t willing to do.
My daughter is now 21 months old and my period has yet to return due to continued breast feeding (yay – this is a much welcomed break).  She has been so healthy and is thriving on a WAPF based diet.
Also, I’ve been seasonal allergy free for the past 3 years, both fall and spring.  Once, I started to have the scratchy throat that was the familiar start to weeks of allergy symptoms, but after increasing my consumption of raw milk to 16oz/day again, the symptoms went away.
I’m not sure what exactly was lacking or damaged prior to beginning the WAPF diet, but I do believe that drinking raw milk changed my life.