"A little quick background into why I do what I do and why I'm obsessed with talking about Food.
8 years ago I began working as a massage therapist. It was a long road that brought me to massage but part of that was working and training as a chef and running kitchens, as well as doing marketing for a food company and then onto a spa.
I love massage and bodywork. It’s the connection that it gives me to people and the way I can be useful in someone’s recovery. Then 4 years ago just a little after turning 40 things changed for me and my health. Not that I have ever been incredibly healthy even though I had been on every diet known to man. It began just after I finally recovered from months of a nasty intestinal infection, which had caused muscle pain, stomach cramping, kidney issues and highlighted my incredible joint pain. During that time, I had tons of medical tests, being poked, prodded and scanned. I was so medicated I hadn't been allowed to drive and even got my first experience with colonoscopieS (I emphasize the s) and an endoscope. I ended up recovering without any real cause or reason for recovery. But that took months. And with all the steroids it also left me 50 lbs. heavier.
So it was right after that my husband, Michael, and I took a vacation that we'd had planned for a year to Las Vegas. And I'm so glad we did. We had a great time but the day after the trip, Valentine’s Day 2011, after we'd had a lovely dinner with my parents celebrating our return from a great vacation, and as we walked away from their house I looked at Michael and said "I finally feel better. The cramping has stopped. I think I'll be okay."
A lesson that you should watch what you say. Because Within a few minutes we were in a car accident. I was parked at a red light and was hit from behind. The driver doing about 50 mph, and witnesses said her brakes didn't go on until after she hit us. My husband was fine, a tad sore but okay. Our puppy didn't even realize there was a problem. But I knew immediately something was wrong.
The next day as the swelling increased in my back I began losing movement and feeling in my right arm. Even as I was getting worse each day I was contacted by my rheumatologist. He had been just one of the many specialists I had been sent to while sick. So 10 days after my car accident, without movement in my arm and so dizzy I couldn't focus my amazing mom drove me to the doctor’s appointment that changed my life. My rheumatologist told me that I had early onset osteoarthritis. He found it in all my joints, knees, hips, shoulders, ankles and feet but especially my hands. He told me I would need to stop working and to look for alternative forms of pain relief because medication would never alleviate my pain completely. It was a couple months later that I was able to fully process what he had said.
My other doctors including my gp and my neurologist, didn't believe I would ever go back to work full time. The neurologist even said I should just expect that being dizzy and having headaches would be with me for the rest of your life. That's when I started to listen to my inner voice that said "This will not be my life".
I truly believed that I had inside me the ability to get healthy and heal. I had seen clients in tremendous pain recover despite what they had been told by their doctors. There were several clients who we had worked together to develop strategies to heal. That is when I took myself on like I would have any client.
I started doing research on each of the medications I was taking, I studied the foods that should and shouldn't be eaten by people with arthritis and I started to see a chiropractor who believed I could get well. Sometimes just having someone else say you have a chance to get better means the world.
Everything I read said that gluten, a nasty little protein in wheat, rye and barley, should be avoided by those with any form of arthritis. Four months after the accident I gave up gluten and within 2 weeks all of my pain started to get better. At the suggestion of a natural minded doctor I stopped taking pain medication, and suddenly my head cleared. Soon after we began weening me off the antidepressants until I was completely medication free. No more dizziness and no more headaches. That was the first time in many years I was medication free.
My arm was getting stronger and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I still wasn't able to see clients.
Then in September (7 months after the accident) my parents and husband came to me and suggested that I close my massage business. At the time I owned a practice and had 2 other therapists working at my office and I was struggling with being an absent owner. I really didn't want to give up on my healing work so my parents offered me a little house on their property to see clients when I was ready. It was the drop in stress I needed to move forward.
It also made me consider other professions. I needed something where I could still help people but I wasn't using my body to do it. A good friend suggested I might look into studying hypnotherapy. After researching the success rates of hypnosis I dove in and began classes. My eating was getting even better, still gluten free, and still researching more health alternatives, I began eliminating refined vegetable oils, eating organic and adding in more supplements.
It was working, I was getting better each day. In October, I told a few clients that I was up for working and I opened my new office. That little house became my work sanctuary. And my clients love the quiet seclusion of it. Within a week of returning I was working full time again and at the same time I was a full time student with my hypnotherapy training.
It was during my hypnotherapy training that I gave up refined sugar. Kind of a funny story, I was doing an online session with a classmate and I was telling her I was still having some pain in my hands. I'd read that I should stop eating refined sugar. Sitting at my computer, with the camera on with the backdrop being my kitchen counters, she asked what was in the beautiful crystal containers I had on my counter. I couldn't help but laugh... In these beautiful cut crystal jars was sugar... brown sugar, dusting sugar, in total 4 different types of refined sugars.. Not my healthy healing local raw honey that I use to relieve allergy symptoms which was in a plastic container in the cabinet... not the organic pure coconut sugar, that I had hidden on the top shelf in its plastic bag.
That's when my addiction to sugar was revealed, and just as quickly released. Not that it was the last time I would struggle with sugar but usually it was quick lapses and then right back on the horse. We did a hypnosis session where I threw out all the junk from my kitchen and only desired fresh healthy food. That night I emptied those containers and cleared out my cabinets. Within a few weeks my acne cleared up, my pain that had been 80% relieved after giving up the gluten went away completely and I lost 25 lbs. Soon I was completely pain free. I completed my hypnotherapy training and began a program to be certified as a Holistic Nutrition Specialist. I truly believed what Hippocrates wrote - “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
This is where my new healthy food passion exploded. I knew that I could heal myself with food and I wanted to share this with everyone. I can be known to share it a bit too often actually.
I said a quick background... I guess I missed the boat on that one. So to take me to the point. It was after I became a certified Holistic Nutrition Specialist that I developed a little acronym for the way I think people should eat. It comes from the idea that I believe the closer to natural and real food you get the better you feed yourself. I believe that God gave us all the food we needed to survive. Not packaged Franken foods or food processed to a point that it has calories but no nutrition.
I think food is either healing you or hurting you, there aren't any foods that are neutral to the body…
Well, okay iceberg lettuce... yes, iceberg, it won't make you sick but there aren't enough nutrients in it to call it healthy. But eating is more than just what you eat. You have to consider why, and how we eat. I'm not talking about a DIET. I'm talking about what's in your diet. NOT starving yourself or consuming yourself in losing but instead of gaining health.
So my little acronym is S O U L eating. Soul food."
For more information on S O U L eating and living click here!
Excerpt from a talk given by Johnann Johnson at
Live Oak Church of the Brethren
Annual Women's Luncheon 2015