August 9, 2013

Cleaning Up

(Side note - I have my photography reputation to uphold here, and would like to note that these photos are just from my phone :) Also, this post is the start of a pretty big difference in this blog. I understand if you come here for yummy cookie recipes, but you might not be seeing that for awhile. If you'd like to follow me as I try to eat healthier, I hope you continue reading this blog!)

Sometimes you get to a point in life when you're just stuck... and you know you need to make some serious changes. Those changes seem impossible, so you wait for awhile. Maybe you wait days, weeks, months, even years, putting off something that's just not very convenient.

But then you realize that your health is more important than anything - for me, it was realizing that I was more important than food. I am in the process of starting to view food differently, as a way to fuel my body instead of just something I crave. It's not about walking into the grocery store at the beginning of every week and thinking, "What do I want to make this week? What am I hungry for?" Instead, I need to train myself to think, "What does my body need this week? What are things I can eat that will give me energy and good health?"

I have had psoriasis for about 15 years, and probably longer than that. Basically as long as I can remember I've been itching my scalp, being embarrassed as I watch little pieces of my skin fall all over my clothes, the floor, everywhere. I also have it on my elbows, chest, knees and back. It's painful, itchy, embarrassing and something I've been living with for a very long time.

Of course I've tried many things to get rid of it - I've been to dermatologists, doctors, endocrinologists... and no one has been able to make it go away. Nothing has worked.

A few years ago, I experienced some hormone imbalances as a result of the topical steroid lotion I used on my psoriasis for years. As a long term side effect of the medicine, my thyroid and adrenal gland functions were totally out of control. I had many blood tests done to diagnose the problem. I decided to stop using the lotion and haven't used it again in years. That was a really big step for me, because it was the only thing I found to control my symptoms. But it was working from the outside in, and ended up making me really sick. I needed to heal myself from the inside out.

My sister has been telling me for years that a big change in my diet could help me. I just didn't listen until recently, when psoriasis wasn't the only symptom I was experiencing. I starting having big problems with my energy levels, I was tired all the time, gained a large amount of weight in a very short time, had problems with my fingernails (a sign of malnutrition) and began having signs of anxiety such as chest pains and heart palpitations.

So after encouragement and support from my husband and family, I made an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor/Nutritionist. A few weeks ago, I met with Rhonda Ehrgood from Tree of Life Health Ministries in Gap, Pennsylvania. She ran a lot of tests and found out that my kidney and liver functions were congested, and there was protein in my urine (sorry that's gross) which means I'm not digesting my food properly.

She put me on a 2-3 month dairy, sugar and grain-free detoxification program, with a 7-day intensive detox called Core Restore, focusing on the liver (I start that in about a week). I can only eat organic fruit and as many vegetables as I want, and grass-fed hormone free meats and eggs. The goal is to totally clean my body out of all processed food and make it healthy again. She suspects that I have some food allergies or intolerances, so after the 2-3 month detox, she wants to slowly introduce some foods (like milk) back into my diet to see how I react to them. From there (with a lot of patience and work) we should be able to pinpoint the foods I can't eat.

It's difficult, because I'm not sure what the rest of my life is going to look like in terms of what I can eat. It's hard for me to live in the unknown, but I also think right now it would be overwhelming for me to think I can never eat bread or ice cream again. It's comforting to know that I'm working with a professional, and we're taking this day by day, trying to give my body the nutrients it needs to heal itself.

I'm on Day 3 of the new grain-free dairy-free eating plan, and I can't say it's been easy. It's been a struggle, and I will elaborate in future posts. I like the idea of journaling/blogging this experience. I think it will help keep me accountable, hopefully help someone else, and also be encouraging to look back someday and see how far I've come.

I am so thankful for everyone's support. I have an incredible husband that doesn't care how much money all this costs, or what we have to do. He just wants me to get better. He has been helping me with food prep, cleaning the mountains of dishes and general calming of nerves and anxiety. His encouragement has been my strength when I have none, and for that I am so thankful. My parents have been a strong support system for me. My sister sat down with me for hours to help me plan meals and make a grocery list. She helped me clean out my kitchen and go grocery shopping. She has been amazing. My boss sat with me for an hour while he listened to everything about what's going on, and has been supportive of me missing work to drive 2 hours to my nutritionist appointments. Everywhere I look, I have support. And it's a bigger blessing than I can even write into words.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me!


  1. You're off to an amazing start. Your writing is so heartfelt and easy to read! You have a great talent and a great motivation...and I'm sure you'll be a motivating force for many. You go, girl! You will surely help yourself -- but just as surely you will help many others. :-)

  2. Good luck Jenna! I'm interested to hear what you try, I've had a lot of the same symptoms developing slowly including hypothyroid and I've really started to wonder if cutting out wheat/dairy/sugar and processed foods would help, of course I'm half hoping they don't because I don't want to give up those foods;) I hope you are able to find a healthy balance for yourself! xo

  3. Jenna, I am constantly amazed at your strength and wisdom. I am so proud of you and I vow to support you in these lifestyle changes. You and Ashley have encouraged me and Daddy to think differently about food and family celebrations. We can enjoy being together and have healthy, life giving food at our get togethers. I know you can do it because you know where your strength comes from. I love you more than you can imagine and look forward to walking this walk with you! <3

  4. Hi Jenna!! Just read all of this post and I am wondering where you are in this journey? I hope and pray that this finds your healthier and burning up the learning curve.

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