We’re so excited to feature another Guest Blogger, Jamie Falahee from Heal Love Be. She speaks candidly about her struggle with food allergies, and provides a detailed account of her journey towards health. If you struggle with similar problems, we encourage you to contact her (see bottom of page) with questions.
Q&A with Health and Wellness Blogger, Jamie Falahee
What motivated you to change your lifestyle?
As a child, I always had allergies. I was clearing my throat constantly and took allergy pills and nasal sprays. I thought that I was unlucky to have allergies and that it was just the way it was. I also developed reflux in college, so then I was taking allergy pills, nasal spray, and reflux medication. Additionally, in college I took pain reliever pills almost every day for headaches (and I’m not just talking hangover headaches here)! I thought this was normal and that I was healthy! I worked out inconsistently and tried to eat “healthy.” I ate chicken and turkey instead of red meat most of the time, drank skim milk, ate low-fat cheese, and ate fruits and veggies.
I started to become concerned with this pill-popping and diet regime in my senior year of college. I was taking courses in speech-language pathology learning about strokes and how it affects language and reading some of the causes of strokes and heart attacks, increased consumption of meat being one of the dietary causes. Then, my roommate, Rachel, gave me a VHS (yes, a video! haha) called You Can’t Improve On God by Dr. Lorraine Day. Dr. Day developed cancer and cured herself by making ten healthy changes in her life including transitioning to a vegan diet, participating in daily positive mind exercises (e.g., gratitude, etc.), getting enough sunshine, and exercising among other things. Could this actually be true, I thought?! I decided to temporarily give up meat (i.e., red meat, processed meat, poultry), but would continue to eat eggs, dairy, and fish. At 22 years old, I became a pescatarian, and I never went back. Of course, I have “cheated” here and there since then, but for the most part, have stayed the course. It was easier than I thought it was going to be, and I liked it!
From 22 to 26 years of age, this was my diet. I stopped my allergy pills, nasal spray, and reflux medication, and only used them when I had a “flare-up,” which was more often than I would have liked. Around 25 years of age, I started to get sick ALL the time. I had sinus infections and felt stuffy and had constant sinus headaches. I took antibiotics to help the sinus infections (per doctors’ orders), but it wasn’t fixing the problem. I would ask the doctors what I could do about my chronic sinus problems, and their only suggestion was medications. I was so frustrated and upset that the doctors were only suggesting temporary treatment of my symptoms instead of helping me to prevent my symptoms from happening in the first place!
This is when I started to do some health research on my own. I read a book called Secrets of Self-Healing by Dr. Ni, and he recommended eliminating dairy from my diet because it is very mucus-forming. So I tried it. I decided to give up dairy and eggs. Within 2 weeks, I felt so much better. I wasn’t getting nearly as many headaches or post-nasal drip as before! So, now I was practically vegan I realized. I was only eating fish. Little did I know, I wasn’t being the healthiest I could be, though. I thought, since I didn’t eat all meat and dairy anymore, I was eating healthy. But this was not true. I was still eating lots of processed imitation meat products. Then, in 2009, my sister-in-law, Sarah, recommended a book to me. It was called The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and this book changed my life! It discussed the importance of a whole-foods (i.e., not processed) plant-based diet, and how it can drastically change your health. So, I gave up fish, and I started eating less processed food, and more whole foods. But my health journey didn’t end here!
My husband and I, for various reasons, moved five times in the past three years from Chicago, IL, to Charlotte, NC, to Cullowhee, NC, to Deerfield Beach, FL, to Jackson, MI, to Whitmore Lake, MI, which is where we are now (and are staying!). All of these moves, job changes, and life changes were so stressful which did a number on my health, and my hormones became unbalanced. After much research and experimentation, I found that I had candida overgrowth and a gluten intolerance which were also affecting my hormones! So, now I don’t eat gluten anymore. Not eating gluten has made me feel so much better and given me so much more energy. I currently am working to get my hormones balanced by eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, gluten-free grains, beans, lentils, and nuts as well as exercising and using stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, and massages. So, that’s my health story so far.
How are you dealing with these setbacks?
I try to look at the journey and be proud of how far I’ve come. Most days, I’m motivated by how much better I feel. Some days I get frustrated, though, because it is a lot of work to change your lifestyle. The best way I’ve found to make changes is one step at a time. If you’re interested in giving up sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy, etc., try to just give up one at a time. When you start to feel so much better and see results with the way you look as well, it will help to motivate you to keep going.
How do you stay motivated?
It becomes easier and easier the more you get into the healthy lifestyle because you will slowly be making these positive changes and won’t even realize that they are becoming habits until they just are. That’s not to say that I’m perfect. There are days when I don’t eat as well or get off track with my stress level, but the most important thing to do when this happens is get right back to your healthy lifestyle as soon as you can.