My first trip to the Island of Maui was pivotal to my health journey!
Little did I know it at the time!
My health journey began twenty-seven years ago on the island of Maui! It really has been a series of moments over the years, that have given me a thirst for seeking out better health.
Missionary Lifeguard to Maui
In the summer of 1989, I had just finished my first year of college and was asked by a friend of the family, to serve on a missions trip to Maui, Hawaii. The missions team needed a waterfront lifeguard to make their team complete. My support came in incredibly fast and I was off to Paradise!
It was tough living in a beach house (in Paia, Maui), body surfing in the ocean, guarding kids that visited the beach house, and going on beautiful hikes with native kids and teens of the island. It was on one of the best hikes of the summer, that I took that life changing drink of stream water!
The people native to the island drank frequently from these crystal clear streams and had no ailments. I was a bit naive and did not hesitate to take a good drink! Shortly after the hike, I became very ill for several days (as did two other team members). After returning to the mainland, I saw a doctor who ran a few tests, took some guesses and prescribed a strong antibiotic, “just in case”.
It Got Worse, Before it Got Better
Well, I did not get better and over the next three years of college, I developed numerous digestive issues. The first was not being able to digest dairy products. I saw four other doctors in various states during that time and all of them took guesses at my state of health.
In the Fall of 1993, I began to get seriously ill and could no longer digest any food without getting very sick. I craved sugar nonstop (which was unlike me), lost a lot of weight and was told by my latest doctor that I had either spasmatic colon or irritable bowel syndrome. The cure was to start by “trying” a variety of medicine.
As a last resort, a friend recommended to me a naturopathic doctor that lived in Binghamton, New York. I had nothing to lose and got an appointment. It was a rather emotional appointment, as he was able to tell me exactly what was happening (parasites, candida overgrowth, blood sugar imbalances) and gave me strict instructions on how to heal my body.
Over the course of a year I took a parasite cleanse three different times and was put on a very limited diet (no wheat, no dairy, no fruit, no sugar) to decrease the inflammation in my gut. I was also introduced to probiotics and nutritional supplements. As I began to heal, I became fascinated with how the physical body worked and desired to know more!
Learning more about my body, digestion, and food, has been my life story. For many years I refused to think that I could not eat wheat, it’s so natural! However, when I did, my digestive system did not like it and I began to feel sick. I eliminated wheat and that helped a little bit. Eventually I went to eating foods that were gluten-free, which made a huge difference in my health. (I didn’t convert easily, as I juggled back and forth between eating some gluten & some gluten-free.) My body really needed to be gluten-free to reduce the inflammation in my body and allow me to feel better. Over the years I developed environmental allergies as well, and felt less energeric.
Finally I went to a doctor who told me no grain and no dairy! I completely eliminated grains from my diet, and within 3 months time my allergies were gone & my gut felt the best ever! I am not always perfect with a grain-free diet. However, I have been completely gluten-free for 5 years! (Yah!) Food that contains gluten is not even appealing, it’s not hard to pass the homemade wheat rolls at family dinners. Really!! When I found a diet that made me allergy-free, allowed for the best digestion, less bloat, less irritability, and blood sugar levels that didn’t fluctuate, I found myself thankful!
Cooking with a variety of vegetables and grain-free starches is rewarding, fun and without a doubt enlightening! As I age, I feel my body getting stronger and healthier!