Amie Valpone is the author of Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body and editor-in-chief of The Healthy Apple.
In my 20’s, I never understood why everyone was ‘going green’ and using cleaning products that weren’t filled with chemicals or choosing organic lettuce when the conventional (non-organic) lettuce looked exactly the same or choosing non-toxic makeup or mouthwash without chemicals. I just didn’t get it. There was no education behind any of these products or detoxing back then- it was more about saving the planet and not about what these chemicals were doing to our bodies, so nothing clicked for me until I had my wakeup call.
In my early 20’s, I ended up on disability and spent the last 10 years trying to heal my body from Lyme disease, PCOS, chronic hormonal imbalances, Candida, Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth, mold toxicity, heavy metal toxicity and so much more. That’s when the light bulb went on in my mind and I started to realize what all the chemical products, foods and drinks were doing to my body. I had no idea many of the foods and drinks I was eating were filled with pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals, mold and more. I also had no idea they were the cause of so many of my health issues and were making my health issues even worse. I was toxic, something Western medicine doctors did not and still do not understand. My liver and organs were full of chemicals and toxins, such as the ones listed above, but all the doctors did was hand me a pill such as antibiotics, water pills, steroids and pain killers to cover up my symptoms, which made everything much worse and exasperated my symptoms.
During this time, I was food shopping weekly and would look at the advertising for products, believe their claims, buy them and used them without any thought on my behalf. Who was I to question the authority? I remember saying to myself, “The government would never put food out that could hurt us.” Boy, was I dreaming. I was thinking as most of us do and was listening to what I was being sold and told. Most of us have enough decisions to make on a daily basis and I didn’t have the energy to wonder if these ads were just trying to sell me a product. Did these companies really care about my health? I wasn’t thinking about whether or not these advertisements were true or not, I believed them. It’s something most of us do. It’s something all of my clients do. It’s not our faults; we’re brought up listening to everything we’re sold via advertisements and we believe the majority of this information because our brains are wired to believe all of this and trust the ads and products that we ingest or put onto our skin.
Well, my wakeup call finally got me to take a step back and ask myself, “What’s in here?” “What are the ingredients?”, “Where is this food grown?”, “Are they a family owned company?”, “Do they really care about the customer or are they just trying to push a product to consumers to make money?” And that’s when I started to dive deeper into the world of understanding why to choose organic food, understand where my food was coming from and detox my body from the toxins that were lodged in my organs.
Now, most of us don’t live on a farm. Quite the opposite. We’re busy, we have schedules, we have deadlines and we have places to be. We have a lot on our to-do lists so taking the time to research every single company probably isn’t what we’re all planning on doing. So, here’s what I suggest. Find products that you (and your family/children) enjoy, contact that company via social media or email on their website and get more information. Find out what their process is, where their food comes from, if they are family owned, and if you’re gluten-free or have other allergies or intolerances- I suggest you make sure they’re making their products in a facility that is decided ‘free’ of the allergen food. I did this ten years ago when I discovered Nature Path’s cereal in a small health food store in Manhattan. Now, this was way before gluten-free was popular and no one knew what it meant. I was just starting on my journey to understand how ingredients such as gluten could affect my health, so I reached out to them and received an incredibly authentic and transparent letter back. I’ve been using their products weekly since then because I trust them. And to me, that’s what this is all about. Trust, honesty and transparency with the brands you use and put into and onto your body. Get to know your brands!
To this day, I feel like I can still reach out and ask questions to any brand. We have a right to know what’s in our food and that we’re taking care of our bodies by choosing organic, non-toxic products to ensure our bodies work efficiently. This is what I’ve done with many companies whose food products, beauty products and personal care products I love. Your health is in your own hands. I wish I could say otherwise, but what I learned from a decade of struggling and getting a lot of incorrect information from doctors, experts and foods is that you have to be your own best advocate. We are all different; our bodies are all very, very different. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa. Trust yourself and trust what your body is telling you when you eat a certain food or use a certain product and you don’t feel right. That’s intuition and that is what will guide you back to being healthy. That’s exactly what I did to get back to perfect health. Listen to yourself, trust what your body knows that your mind has yet to figure out and listen to your gut. This will guide you and lead you to the healthiest choices you need to make for your well-being.
AMIE VALPONE, HHC, AADP is the Editor-in-Chief of www.TheHealthyApple.com; she is a Manhattan-based Celebrity Chef, Culinary Nutritionist, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Writer and Motivational Speaker specializing in simple gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free ‘Clean’ recipes. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.