"We were Costco kids (well, back then it was PriceClub): bologna sandwiches with lots of mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, the works. Both of my parents worked and I was the oldest of four, so sometimes it was up to me and I’d make anything easy: hot dogs, Kraft mac n cheese, lots of Ding Dongs and Twinkies, anything processed. And I think that all came to revisit me after I had kids. I think I really needed a detox to sort of cleanse myself of my Twinkie life and strengthen my body before I had my first baby. At the time, I was hard at work building my business and probably ate half a sandwich a day. I was really thin, my system was probably still all clogged up from a life of poor nutrition, and my body just wasn’t prepared to take on childbirth.
It took my diagnosis after my third child to really kickstart my health journey. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and determined to figure out what was going on in my body. I first went to a holistic doctor. She was great, but still referred me to a lot of other doctors for specific things. I understand where that comes from, but couldn’t help feeling like no one person ever got the full picture. So I sought a lot of info on my own and was drawn to the world of nutritional healing. I got into elimination diets and raw foods, I was vegan for a period of time and then vegetarian. Things that are so common today — certain diets and detoxes — would never have come up back then, at least not in my circle of friends.
In a way, my diagnosis was a blessing in disguise, because I don’t think I would have ever experimented had I not been forced to. I’d never been a dieter and starting to relearn some of that was very challenging. I ran into so many fun discoveries along the way — you can make vegan cookie dough with maple syrup and cashews and it tastes amazing!? — and also a realization that perhaps our bodies have limits.
As Americans, I think we often have a mindset of being able to eat whatever we want. We have access to almost too many options, not all great. I think it’s good to really reflect on slowing down, eating from a place that’s not selfish but that’s mindful about how and what you choose to eat. I really think about where it all comes from now. It was almost a spiritual food journey for me — one that taught me so much about self-care.
I like to say I healed myself from Hashimoto’s, or at least that I’m in remission, which supposedly isn’t a thing (depending on who you talk to). It took me 6 years to find a medication that worked for my symptoms and then all of a sudden it started working against me. That’s when we realized my juicing was working. My doctor was baffled, but I had been getting my blood tested over time and we both saw how all the organic juices (+ many lifestyle shifts) were making me stronger. I had also started regenerating my own soil at the time and noticed that food can’t heal us nearly as effectively if we don’t offer our food healthy soil for its own growth and nourishment in return.
I really dove into that world and learned to surrender to a lot of things. I like the thought of surrendering to forgiveness, especially forgiveness of yourself. Any one of these things — diet, reflection, forgiveness — and especially all of them together, can really reduce inflammation in your body. I experienced it firsthand. I’m still very cognizant of what I put into my body and I know I’m extremely sensitive, so I have to be careful and will often return to a cleanse if it feels like I’m flaring up. Bloating and lethargy are signs that it’s probably time to cleanse. I’m grateful for all of those years of experimenting because I really know my body now — I can tell how my body reacts to something in a way that I wasn’t able to before.
At the beginning of my journey, when I’d share some of these things with friends, I got a lot of blank stares and huh? Sadly, a version of my journey is becoming more common so it’s less surprising to people these days.
I still feel like I’ve got to go to the doctor — I have a recurring gut flare problem I sometimes need support with, though I have finally figured out that my gut flare travels to inflame whatever part of my body is experiencing pain or imbalance at the moment. Sometimes it’s my ovaries, sometimes sciatica, and it’s all excruciating. I’ve discovered that if my ovaries are hurting, I have to treat that like a gut flare: give my system a break by moving to a low-inflammation life, from my diet to my yoga practice.
So many of my friends that get pain (especially in the gut) will go into a doctor’s office only to hear nothing is wrong with them and they just need to rest. It’s usually that or constipation. And constipation is just another sign from your body indicating you need to give your body a break! We should talk about these things more to save a lot of money and stress. I think it’s important for us to just open up more dialogue about what we’re all really experiencing, there’s so much we can all learn together.
I would also just encourage people to be proactive. It doesn’t have to be a 100% all in effort. We have to live. I nearly had a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store once when I was feeling caught up in the all or nothing — my kids don’t like this food, I’m vegan, my husband is on Atkins. I was frozen. It was so stressful. Sometimes you just have to do your best, practice self-forgiveness, and jump back in when you can."
Desiree is a world-class tea formulating expert and an integral part of Agni’s tea sourcing and production process. She is a permaculture designer with a mission to heal our earth’s soil. She’s been gardening since she was 8 years old and has been applying her love of gardening to the world of tea for 18 years: working with businesses and importers on sourcing and growing incredible herbs. Her goal is to find ways to grow more of these herbs domestically in healthy soil.