Dr. Terry Wahls: her story and her research

I was first introduced to Terry Wahls MD‘s work through Jenny, my friend and Food As Medicine collaborator. “For a truly inspiring ‘food as medicine’ story,” she told me, “you have got to check out her book, The Wahls Protocol.”

In the book, Dr. Wahls shares her story of her own journey that began in a zero gravity wheelchair with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Through the use of her Wahls Protocol, within a year’s time, she was able to walk through her hospital without a cane and even ride a bicycle.

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The Wahls Protocol was not only an inspiring read, but it was also very informative. Dr. Wahls discussion of diet was different than most that I had read about. The focus is mostly on using nutrient-dense food to maximize your health outcome. Even though I am not dealing with MS, her book taught me to look at optimizing my health rather than focus on treating my chronic disease.

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Through my journey of making this documentary, I met one of the doctor’s Wahls Warriors, Beth Schultz of the blog, Real Food Inspired Me. Beth’s journey of healing involved years of dealing with MS and Lyme Disease before finding the Wahls Protocol. Now, Beth is singing victories in gaining back her life from the mountaintops as she continues on her journey armed with the practices of Dr. Wahls.

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Next week, we are traveling to Iowa to meet Dr. Wahls and interview her about her story and her research. We will also be attending her Wahls Seminar. Join us on Facebook and Instagram for photos and updates about the journey to Iowa.

The adventures of sticking to a restrictive diet while on the road

I love journeys!  Anywhere that involves a passport or car full of camping gear gets me really excited.  I think it’s the prospect of adventuring into the unknown and knowing I’ll come out on the other side with stories, life experience, and happy memories that easily get me ready to embark on a quest.  When I began my food journey, I had no idea it was going to be an adventure so similar to the traveling kind.  It started as going into the unknown and I came out with so many tales to tell.

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This weekend’s tale was a very literal food journey as we traveled 516+ miles on our production, which definitely was a quest while being on a restrictive diet that manages my Crohn’s Disease.  It took some planning (see our last blog post about road food preparation) and creativity, but I managed to come home with a happy belly!  Here are some food highlights from the road:

One of the joys of traveling during the summer is stopping for farmers markets!  It’s the perfect time to stock up on fruits and veggies on the road, and also scope out what’s going on in that community’s food culture.  We hit a farmers market at dinner time in Manzanita, Oregon, and they were definitely food-focused with organic and food sensitivity conscious vendors.  There were gluten-free desserts (but I can’t have sugar), crepes made with organic fillings (but I can’t have grains), and BBQ with pastured meats (but I can’t have nightshades).  I did find one vendor who was selling shrimp boats, which was shrimp (hold the sauce for me) in an avocado half, and that was absolutely perfect!

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Next stop: Bend, Oregon to check in with one of our participants we’ve been following since she started her food journey.  Since we last checked in with her, she’s started to find community with other people who are also healing with food.  When we stopped in, our participant and one of her friends from the healing community were making gut-healing gummy snacks together.  Her friend is Beth of the blog Real Food Inspired Me, which is definitely inspiring to read about her journey!  We totally appreciated being sent on the road with some snacks that held us over while dinner cooked on the campfire!

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Another one of our strategies while traveling besides packing snacks, was to camp and cookout over the campfire.  When I was a girl scout, we used to make something called Hobo Stew, which was a meatball, potato, and veggies wrapped up in a foil packet and cooked over the coals.  We did a version of that with salmon, yams, mushrooms, and zucchini.  It was decided that this was one of the best campfire dinners ever!

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This journey wasn’t without a roadblock along the way.  While dining with some new friends, my dinner came with some peppers cooked into my plate, even though I thought I did a good job communicating to the server what I didn’t want.  Other people are better about sending food back until it’s right, which is how it should be, but we were in a time crunch and I didn’t have the energy to pick that battle.  Luckily, I came prepared with activated charcoal so that I wouldn’t have to deal with itchy rashes for the next 2 weeks.

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So, enjoy the journey be it the traveling or eating kind.  Don’t let your disease hold you back from the adventure!  Weather a logger blocks the road and makes you 30 minutes late to your appointment after camping, or you eat something you shouldn’t, remember that it’s part of the journey!  Use your creativity, patience, and planning to get to where you need to go.  And, most importantly, have fun along the way!

-LE

Low income patients access nutritious food by way of trolley

There are a lot of topics that surround the matter of treating chronic disease with nutrition that go way beyond the simplicity of what we put into our bellies.  This week we are interested in food access.  What do you do when you can only afford the very foods that are keeping you from good health?

Tuesday, we visited the Good Samaritan Clinic in Portland, Oregon to find out how they are making access to fresh and organic produce and food staples a reality for many of their low income patients.  Every Tuesday, My Street Grocery of Whole Foods Market rolls in the clinic’s parking lot where patients can spend vouchers that have been prescribed to them through the Food Rx Program.

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The idea came about when registered nurse, Debbie Mckissack was counseling a diabetic patient.  The patient responded to Debbie’s nutritional counseling by saying, “that’s a rich man’s diet.  I can’t eat those things and pay for them.”  Around that same time, Debbie had been introduced to Amelia Pape with My Street Grocery.  The concept of connecting her patients to My Street Grocery led Debbie to apply for a grant, which has led to the weekly market day.

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Amelia told us how the collaboration has not only brought access to a population that needs it, but the relationships between patient and provider alongside the staff at My Street Grocery has created a community spirit around food, which has made the program truly successful.  Social worker, Scott Dillinger said that along with improvement with several health markers, depression decreased among participants in the program.  “A lot of people who use our market are socially isolated, and just getting out and coming here every week has built this sense of community and has helped perk people’s spirits up.”

The Food Rx Program has been successfully funded by grants for 3 years now.

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-LE

The St. Patty’s Day Green Menu Recap

It’s the morning after St. Patty’s Day, and the wreckage in the kitchen looks like we partied hard!  Dishes are stacked in the sink and zucchini noodles are caked onto the floor.  We made our way through 8 green recipes (see our last post to get those recipes) for a healthy celebration of March 17th.  Here’s how they turned out:

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It was so much fun, we’d like to declare this an international holiday to celebrate every year!  But, what should we call it?  International Green Eating Day?  March 17th’s Celebration of Green Vegetables?  Please share your ideas with us!

-LE