There is No “M” in Sober

There is No “M” in Sober

My alcohol-free journey is unfolding in beautiful and simple ways, right in the middle of the day-to-day difficulties of life (during a pandemic). I’m moving at an intentionally slow pace. Most days, I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing much. But when I look back over the last eight months, I see how far I’ve come on all fronts. I used to hit the day running, trying to accomplish more before breakfast than other people can in an entire day (intermittent fasting until noon was my cheat). The need to prove myself was harsh and fueled by anxiety–a direct consequence of my alcohol use. Now, I prefer a slow start: checking in with myself; setting intentions for the day; honoring my space; focusing on gratitude and peace and hope.

Life is so much easier without the chaos in my brain and body—the below-surface chaos I didn’t even realize was there until it was gone. The fact that I no longer need or want to drink still shocks me—into smiling. I don’t ever want to go back there. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I was a full-blown addict, disguised as a busy mom and super-healthy health coach. It snuck up on me. “Did it?” You might ask. “Really? How sneaky was it?” Well, we all know hindsight owns the market in the obvious. But for a long time, I was a naïve little frog in a pot of warm water, enjoying a glass of wine after a rough day. I failed to accept the water had started to boil, the entire bottle was gone (again), and I didn’t have the strength to jump out.

Why did it take me so long to break free? I don’t shy away from hard things—especially when they are clearly within my ability. Technically speaking, not drinking doesn’t require a specialized skill set. I’ve run marathons (with a hangover), learned to open water SCUBA dive and breastfed a baby while potty training a toddler and functioning on no sleep. Pushing through pain is my thing. What was I so afraid of?

Let me try to articulate my fear.

I was afraid of cutting off my supply. If I admitted there was a problem, it’s a forgone conclusion that I should stop buying alcohol. Maybe even stop drinking it too. That’s a non-action I didn’t want to be forced into. I was afraid to lose control and in denial of the fact that I had already lost control. Every day, I cycled between the tension-building and honeymoon phases of an abusive relationship. I didn’t want to move forward because I was so focused on going back—back to a time when I could take it or leave it, set limits and act in my own best interest. Back to a time when I could drink and feel happy. Back to a time before it all seemed pointless. Back to a time when I followed my own rules. I wanted to control my drinking, not stop drinking. Cutting off my supply of alcohol would also cut off my identity. I was a drinker, not a quitter. I had to make my relationship with alcohol work.

I had FOMO—fear of missing out. I was afraid that life wouldn’t be fun anymore—that I wouldn’t be fun anymore. My pronouns are she/her and I identify as a party girl. I believed, as so many of us do, that alcohol eases anxiety and promotes relaxation. Certainly, I felt better after the first sip. Just one sip opened the valve and released the pressure that had been building all day. That first sip had become the highlight of my day. I’ve since learned that alcohol jacks our brains with so much (feel good) dopamine that a counter assault of (feel bad) cortisol and adrenaline is launched in response. This is why regular drinkers have trouble enjoying social functions without their drug of choice. They need a shot of euphoria to balance the drag. (Both of which are a function of brain chemicals and not objective reality.) The process of chasing a buzz forges a connection between drinkers—the conundrum and the cure. I didn’t want to forfeit my sense of belonging with the other problem solvers.

I was afraid of change. The rut I was in still qualified as a comfort zone. What would be left if I quit drinking? What would I hold in my hands? How would I calm my busy brain? How could I have a pleasant conversation without a bit of a bump? What would I laugh about? What would I focus on? The irony was that life had already changed. My mental and emotional state was chaotic. I wasn’t connecting with people. I hadn’t laughed in a long time. I couldn’t focus on anything but the next drink. Alcohol was once paired with friends, food and fun. Now it was a futile ritual conducted mostly alone. Drinking had sapped all of my energy. The thought of figuring out how to not drink was exhausting. Drinking was easier. Until it wasn’t.

Quitting required a hard stop. Anyone who has tried knows that attempting to drink less doesn’t usually fix the problem. It’s like people who eat less and lose a bunch of weight, only to end up heavier a year later. Because they are hungry. Maybe thirsty too. Willpower is not an effective strategy if you still want what you can’t have. You’ve got to rewire your brain and learn to want something else. A hard stop induces discomfort—often so much that it proves to be impossible to do alone. It requires an alcoholic to do what an alcoholic stopped doing a long time ago—admit there’s a problem, ask for help, and surrender the supply.

Teetering on the edge of the decision is brutal. It’s feels as overwhelming as that hiker who must cut off his own arm to free himself. Except it’s not. You just have to put down the drink. You can keep your arm.

Early sobriety is no picnic either. I tried to experience every symptom of withdrawal and detox as confirmation that quitting was necessary. The charade was over and I was heading home—to myself. When I lay awake at night, soaking my sheets with night sweats, I felt gratitude to have escaped. When I couldn’t focus during the day and was too exhausted to do much of anything, I gave myself permission to rest. I let things go, I called in sick and I didn’t apologize for taking care of myself.

Honestly, I did beat myself up more than I’m acknowledging. But my primary focus from the beginning was to stop doing that. Self-care is not self-indulgent. When I was drinking, I kept going at all costs, hiding my pain and problems. Admitting them might have implicated the alcohol, and my addiction could not allow for that. I blamed others where I could, but I mostly kept quiet in my suffering because I suspected that alcoholism might be the problem.

It feels amazing to finally be able to admit that alcoholism was my problem. That took a minute. It started with a silent surrender. And for months, it was at most a whispered agreement. Now it’s a roar. I still feel some shame, but I’m hitting the override button. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s action despite the fear. My aversions to somberness have proven to be unfounded. There’s no “m” in sober. It hasn’t been easy, but it sure beats drinking myself into mental and physical isolation and agitation.

Sobriety programs usually include making amends. I was eager to make whatever apologies necessary, purging my shit once and for all.  However, I’ve realized that the first apology—my primary amend—would be to me. I have hurt, denied, betrayed, neglected and wronged myself. I own that without shame because it’s my truest story. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t gone there. Feeling whole and empowered, I can now acknowledge the hurt I’ve caused (myself and others) and take action—which is the only amend that really counts.

What is an Alcoholic?

What is an Alcoholic?

What is an Alcoholic?

Despite our society’s belief that most people are normal drinkers and only assholes become alcoholics, alcoholism is more of a journey than a destination. It’s true that some people are predisposed to travel faster due to genetic and biochemical factors such as the way the body metabolizes alcohol and the feeling that alcohol produces in the brain. (If you have a high tolerance or experience euphoric relief, you’re moving faster.) Lifestyle factors can slow the process. A person with a job that has no room for sub-par performance is highly motivated to abstain from drinking during the work week. Someone who lives in an alcohol-free home will naturally drink less than a person who keeps a loaded bar. Put those same people in a different life (or on vacation. or in quarantine) where regular drinking is acceptable, normalized and even expected, and addiction accelerates (alcoholism is a progressive disease).

The cross-over from normal drinking to problem drinking occurs when a drinker learns that alcohol (temporarily) solves the problems created by alcohol. This can happen quickly or over a lifetime, consciously or unconsciously. Have you ever gone to a weekend wedding? Many people over-do it on Friday night (I used to call that a rookie mistake). The women separate from the boys on Saturday morning when the “normal” drinkers sleep it off and the “professionals” grab a hair-of-the-dog and literally jog past the struggle bus to the party. Alcohol anesthetizes pain.

People who drink to relieve stress are especially prone to developing alcoholism. The more you drink on a regular basis, the more anxiety, depression and mood problems linger below the surface. These symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are attributed to external stressors (finances, spouse, kids, Karen, dinner time, trains, roadblocks, elections, things that break, and days that end in “y,”– all problems that are never your fault), and can be quickly relieved by more alcohol. It’s a cycle that ensnares many of us and accelerates as slowly or quickly as our circumstances allow.

Looking at my own decent into the disease, I’ll use an analogy (that I made up–all credit or criticism goes to me). Every person is given a limited, unknown and random number of free drink tickets for the bar of life. The quicker we use them, the sooner the tab starts. Eventually, the bill comes due. My life allowed me to drink more than I might have in a parallel universe. I don’t have to work long shifts or a second job. I didn’t have to choose between alcohol and other necessities. I could buy my gluten-free, vegan cake and drink too. In my mind (held hostage by alcohol), I didn’t have enough reasons to not drink. I felt privileged and entitled to live the good life, and was brainwashed to believe that the good life included fine wine and pricey liquor. I was a normal drinker for many years, abstaining through my pregnancies and moderating as life demanded. But I was always a drinker, and thus was marching at a steady pace into addiction.

But I didn’t know that. Because for a long time, I qualified as a “normal.” The red flags were few and far between. I was as healthy and happy as I thought I could be–stoically dealing with the ever-growing symptoms of alcoholism disguised as WTF Day #389). There were people around me who drank far more than I did. Their existence kept me safe and secure in my own habits. I wasn’t like them! I was good. I was better. At the very least, I was normal. And it’s easy to see how I suffered such delusions. In our society, you are either an alcoholic or you are not. I was high functioning, and therefore had plenty of evidence that I wasn’t an alcoholic. I knew I needed to cut back and I wasn’t happy that it seemed difficult. But I believed that the problem was a lack of willpower. Motivation. Energy. The problem was me (and everyone else’s bullshit)–not the drinking. Every day, I tried really hard to stop what was happening to me and internalized the guilt and shame of perpetual failure. What I couldn’t swallow I blamed on other people. And every night, alcohol both relieved the pain and fueled the flames.

The truth is that alcohol is a carcinogenic, mind and mood altering, addictive, psychoactive neurotoxin. The truth is the problem isn’t any of us. Occassionally, you meet an ex-drinker who is still an asshole. But as a general rule, recovering alcoholics are emotionally intelligent (maybe more so than the general population as overcoming addiction takes a great deal of courage, reflection and humility). The mental illness associated with alcoholism is a side effect of drinking the poison. I know that to be true because with the poison out of my system, that broken and pathetic version of myself is healing. My integrity, joy, productivity and compassion have returned. I’m not pretending to be okay anymore. I am ok. Placing blame on those of us that succumb to alcoholism only offers immunity to the $1.5 trillion-dollar industry that profits from disease. Transferring blame to people instead of the product prevents the “normal” drinkers from seeing the danger.

I quit drinking in April, 2020 because I was miserable. So many things were out of my control (Covid-19 and the subsequent quarantine, financial distress, e-learning for my kids, isolation, etc.—not to mention the amount of alcohol I was consuming). While I have always believed that alcohol reduces stress, and is therefore therapeutic, my daily experience was not aligning with that belief. My stress had become physically and mentally overwhelming. I was so desperate that I made the only change I really could, and did something that I hadn’t imagined was possible (or pleasurable).

I stopped drinking.

Seven months later, I can report that sobriety feels amazing. Even bad days sober are better than good days drinking.

Now, I’m trying to figure out what this means. Am I an alcoholic? What do you think?

Evaluating whether or not you should quit drinking (for a while or for good) using the question, “Am I an alcoholic?” may be irrelevant. It doesn’t really matter. Let’s assume the self-assessment you take on a random website says, “No.” Then what? Do you keep drinking and hope things getter better? [Spoiler Alert: Hope is not a strategy.]

The real question should be, “Is my use of alcohol enhancing my body, mind, life and relationships?”

Even the answer, “I don’t know,” is a call to action. There’s only one way to find out.

P.S. When I decided to quit drinking, I did something very uncharacteristic. I acknowledged that I needed help. That was the best thing I ever did. Within an hour, I had a temporary sponsor and attended a support meeting. I could not have made it without the help of people who have gone through it. There is so much support out there. Contact me, call your local A.A. hotline, find groups online. Find REAL people as soon as you can. Ex-drinkers that are active in support communities get it. They fucking care. They will be there for you for as little or long as you like. You are not alone.

Read More . . .

The anxiety, depression, negative thinking and other psychological symptoms are the effects of heavy alcohol use, not the cause. As bad as the symptoms may be, this is good news. It’s not you. It’s the booze.

Easy Sourdough Bread Recipes

Easy Sourdough Bread Recipes

Colleen: March 68, 2020. 

The Coronavirus quarintine really does feel like Mother Nature is mad and sent us to our rooms. But this isn’t a punishment. It’s a wake up call. We cannot continue to be “too busy” to take care of ourselves, each other and the planet. That’s not going to work. While we will emerge from our homes at some point, we can’t go back to business as usual–lest we find ourselves right back in our rooms–and worse.

We’ve been forced to take a break from the fast-food culture. We’ve cooked more meals at home in the past month than we have in a year. Hopefully, you’re finding some new habits and recipes that will stick with you.

Let me tell you why you should try your hand at homemade sourdough bread. I’ve been making it for four years. It has not gone to my waist–despite the fact that I’m a 46 year-old female. Properly fermented sourdough doesn’t make you fat. The long fermentation process breaks down the gluten and anti-nutrients. It has a low glycemic index and doesn’t spike your blood sugar. Natural, wild yeast boost immunity, reduce allergy symptoms and enhance nutrient absorption. They are both pre- and probiotic. In contrast, commercial yeasts are associated with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, acid-reflux, diabetes and wheat allergies. They are foreign to our digestive and immune systems.

This recipe is no-knead, no fuss and no mess. It takes time, but very little effort. If you don’t know anyone with a starter, I can show you how to make your own in one week. To help you through the process, I’ve created a free step-by-step guide for download, and two videos. I’ve walked many people through the process. I can help you too.

Use the comment section below to ask questions. I’m here and others are too. Join us and let’s bake bread together!

Watch my tutorial videos for No-Knead Easy Sourdough Bread Recipe and How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch. Post questions in the comments. I’m here to help!

Below the videos, you can download a free copy of my eBook: Your Complete Guide for Easy Sourdough Bread Recipes.

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Your Complete Guide to Making Sourdough Bread includes:

cool Commercial yeast vs. wild yeast

innocent The health benefits of homemade sourdough bread

undecided Whole wheat vs. white flour

frown Should you be gluten free?

tongue-out How to make and maintain your starter

cool No-knead, easy sourdough bread recipe 

kiss Three bonus sourdough recipes

money-mouth Shopping list

surprised Recommended resources

Steakhouse Style Vegan Vegetable Recipes

Steakhouse Style Vegan Vegetable Recipes

Make no assumptions when ordering vegetable dishes in a steakhouse. Copious amounts of butter, cream and cheese are standard ingredients. When you’re in a restaurant, ask for vegetables with light seasoning and no oil. When you’re at home, though, knock yourself out. Chose between three steakhouse style vegan vegetable recipes: creamed, spicy or air-fried. Transform basic and boring vegetables into heavenly health food without using oil or sugar.

You know you’re truly whole foods plant based when you prefer to cook and eat at home.

Creamed Spinach (first recipe)

Jump to Spicy Kale Saute

Jump to Crispy Air-Fried Vegetables

Print Recipe
Vegan Creamed Spinach Recipe BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
This rich, vegan creamed spinach has an elegant Steakhouse-style presentation--sans butter, cream and cheese. Plant-based recipes can be as simple and delicious as their artery-clogging counterparts. Easy prep, and done within 10 minutes. Make this with other leafy greens as well, such as swiss chard, mustard, collard or beet greens and kale.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients except spinach until creamy and smooth.
  2. Transfer cream to a skillet. Turn on low heat. Add spinach by the handfuls, stirring constantly, adding more spinach as each batch wilts. If sticking occurs, either reduce the heat or splash with water. Remove from heat as last batch cooks. If using a cast iron skillet, remove from heat before it's finished as it will continue to cook.
  3. Alternately, sauté spinach on low heat in a little water before adding the cream. As the volume decreases, add the cream sauce. Remove from heat.
Recipe Notes

Sticky Blender Solution: Did you know that your blender will wash itself? Yep. Just fill it 2/3 water and a drop of dish soap. Blend until clean.

The volume of this dish depends on how you cook the spinach. If you use the second method, or substitute frozen spinach, the spinach is evenly cooked. If significantly reduced, you may need to hold back some of the sauce (or add more spinach). This is why I prefer the first method, as some of the spinach leaves remain large and fresh looking. Cooking in cast iron skillets is a bit "touchy."  but it can work. A stainless steel skillet would be easier. Either way, keep the heat low and stir constantly.

Print Recipe
Spicy Kale Sauté Sauce BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Turn basic and boring vegetables into high demand centerpieces. The spicy kale sauté sauce layers all five tastes: spicy, sweet, salty, sour and umami. This recipe can be used with other greens or any other vegetable. Drizzle over sweet potato, marinate eggplant or roast with cauliflower.
Course Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
spicy kale sauté sauce
Course Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
spicy kale sauté sauce
Instructions
  1. Remove stems from kale and rip into small pieces. If you like kitchen gadgets, there is a handy helper that makes this fast and easy. It works for small stems too, like oregano and thyme.
  2. Whisk the spicy kale sauté sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Add kale and stir until leaves are coated.
  3. Option One: Refrigerate until leaves are tender. Serve cold.
  4. Option Two. Sauté for a few minutes until leaves are tender. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes

The spicy kale sauté sauce isn't just for kale . . .

Print Recipe
Make Crispy Air-Fried Vegetables with No Oil BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
You can make crispy air-fried vegetables with no oil if you have the right blend of seasonings. This simple seasoning recipe works well on everything. Serve these tasty snacks as finger food, sides or toppers for soup and salad. A micro-spritz of avocado oil improves the crunch factor.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
seasoning for crispy air-fried vegetables with no oil
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
seasoning for crispy air-fried vegetables with no oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the air-fryer to 375 to 400 degrees. Use lower heat for soft veggies like zucchini and tomatoes, and higher heat for firm veggies like root vegetables and squash.
  2. Make crispy air-fried vegetables with no oil seasoning—just whisk the ingredients. Next, chop vegetables into bite size pieces. Thoroughly coat vegetables with the seasoning in a large bowl. Continue to stir until the liquid has been absorbed by the veggies.
  3. Place vegetables in air-fryer. If desired, spritz with avocado oil. Heat for 10-20 minutes (depends on the size of the batch and desired doneness). Stir periodically and add another spritz of avocado oil at the halfway point.
  4. Taste. Add salt and pepper (or Everything seasoning) if desired. Serve warm or cold.
Recipe Notes

You can make crispy air-fried vegetables with no oil. However, a spritz of avocado oil can improve the crunch factor. Avocado oil spray is the only oil spray I allow in my kitchen. Regular oil sprays have propellants such as butane or propane in them. Seriously. Do not put that on your food! Avocado oil is pure, and can make crispy air-fried vegetables thanks to a high smoke point. A minimal amount creates a big crunch. If you don't have avocado oil, you can add 1 tsp. sesame oil to the seasoning. Or just skip it.  

If you want a dipping sauce, try healthy horseradish sauce. It's oil free and nut free. 

horseradish sauce

Yummly

Yummly

Yummly

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Jodi’s Plant-Based Miracle: Life After Stage 4 GBM

Jodi’s Plant-Based Miracle: Life After Stage 4 GBM

Jodi’s Plant-Based Miracle: Life After Stage 4 GBM

In November of 2017, Jodi Gardner, a 50-year-old administrative assistant for Trine University, was sick with what seemed to be a nasty bug. She had an intense headache and had been vomiting for days. Unable to shake it, she went to an urgent care clinic.  She was treated for a sinus infection and sent home to rest.

By the first week of December, however, Jodi was getting worse instead of better. Her weight was dropping at an alarming rate. Her cheerful and engaging personality turned lackluster and unresponsive. She couldn’t shower—she couldn’t get out of bed. Family members were frightened by her rapid deterioration. They voiced their concerns to her doctor. Jodi was sent to Cameron Hospital for a brain scan.

The scan revealed a stage 4 Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the deadliest form of brain cancer. Jodi’s tumor was the size of a baseball and crossed the midline—which is the worst-case scenario. Without treatment, survival is typically three months. Even advanced medical care only extends life expectancy 12 to 15 months. Jodi was taken for emergency surgery at Lutheran Hospital, and 97 percent of the tumor was removed. But her surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Kachmann, was candid with Jodi and her family about the prognosis. “With such an aggressive resection and treatment, it is possible to see miracles. But I’ve never seen one. In this case, it’s unlikely.”

 

 

Dr. Kachmann also offered a directive. He advised the entire family: “Diet is your best weapon. Sugar feeds cancer. Processed foods contain chemicals that cause inflammation and prevent healing. If you want to add years to Jodi’s life, she needs to eat a strict, whole food, plant-based diet.” He gave them a list of his favorite documentaries, books and websites and encouraged them to do more research on their own.

Hearing a thread of hope, Jodi’s husband took Dr. Kachmann’s advice. Doug, a 49-year-old engineer, watched the films and read several books. By the time Jodi got home from the hospital, the pantry was clear. Jodi’s Mountain Dew, M&Ms and cigarettes were gone. He said, “I got rid of the obvious bad stuff and just did the best I could. I was already used to cooking dinner every night, but we had been a meat and potatoes family. I just started making substitutions—you know beans instead of meat. But Jodi couldn’t eat much after surgery, anyway.”

The next few months were perilous. Jodi resisted the dietary changes that she felt were being imposed on her. “I was actually mad,” she says. “I loved Mountain Dew. I used to keep a case in my car.” She longed for the foods that were previously a source of comfort; the new rules irritated her. She sometimes referred to Doug as her “truant officer” when he blocked a craving.  And once, at the grocery store, Jodi asked Doug’s sister, Julie, if she was the “food Nazi.” Julie recalls, “I answered honestly. ‘Yes, I guess I am.’ It was okay that she was mad. I’d rather be the bad guy than have an empty seat at the table.”

For several months, Jodi struggled with the dietary limitations. Meanwhile, chemotherapy and radiation were delayed. The incision on her forehead wasn’t healing and she had to undergo plastic surgery. The setbacks proved to be devastating. At a checkup in February of 2018, she was told the tumor had grown back. When Dr. Kachmann delivered the news, he asked Jodi about her diet. She openly admitted to what she felt were minor lapses. He reiterated the importance of completely avoiding sugar and eating plant-based. She decided then and there, no more exceptions. This was life or death.

 

Jodi’s family stood ready to support her. Doug was at her side round the clock. He continued to cook plant-based, monitor food labels and avoid sugar. He noticed that even the BOOST ® shake recommended for weight gain was high in sugar. He pointed out the problem to Jodi’s mom, Judy, who researched recipes and delivered a high protein plant-based shake every day during the six weeks of Jodi’s chemotherapy and radiation. Judy, who worked as a critical care nurse for over 30 years, knew that Jodi’s odds of beating the tumor were bleak. She said, “I had never considered diet to be an essential factor in healing. But when Dr. Kachmann said she needed to cut the sugar and follow a plant-based diet, we decided to follow his recommendation. At the very least, it gave us a sense of power. We felt there was something we could all do to help.” Jodi cherishes the memory of her loved ones’ efforts. “I became so weak and lost so much muscle. It was a struggle to do anything. All I did was lay in bed twenty-hours a day and eat the vegetables and fruit they brought me. I had to build myself back up,” she said.

Dr. Kachmann’s advice motivated Jodi and her family to take responsibility for changes within their control. “We watched every documentary on the sheet,” recalls Julie. The family found one documentary to be especially relevant to Jodi’s situation. The C-Word (2015) details neuroscientist Dr. David Sevran-Schreiber’s journey to heal from brain cancer after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Diagnosed at age 31 and given months to live, he not only survived, but thrived for another twenty years. Dr. Sevran-Schreiber says in the film, “I realized they were doing everything they could to kill cancer cells, but they weren’t doing anything to help my body resist cancer itself.”

Doug and Jodi Gardner also purchased Dr. Sevran-Schreiber’s book, Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. While the book details a multitude of scientific evidence for the power of nutrition over disease, it does not promote false hope. It doesn’t promise that simply eating kale or celery is a cure. The core message emphasizes the importance of nurturing the body’s innate physical, emotional and spiritual defenses, while also receiving appropriate medical treatment.

The Gardner family is doing more than playing defense with food. They are grounded in their strong Christian faith. “I was not afraid,” Jodi recalls. “I never stopped praising God. He is good. I knew I would be ok. I knew where I would be, regardless.” The Gardner’s believe in prayer and community; church members intercede daily on Jodi’s behalf. They also believe in the strength of their family unit. Every Sunday, the large and lively clan gathers for a meal. Four generations of parents, children, siblings, spouses and friends exchange stories, talk about their faith and of course, share good food with one another.

Jodi’s cancer has changed the whole family’s approach to nutrition. Jody said, “We are very grateful to God that our eyes have been opened to see that whole, real foods can help and heal the body. We now actually crave vegetables and fruit and look forward to trying foods we’ve never eaten before.” Doug’s mom, Louise, said, “The more you look into the information about bad food, the easier it is to understand how we get sick. Your body has to fight off all the stuff that isn’t natural. I used to buy candy and pop for my grandkids. I thought I was being a good person. And here I was, buying them poison. The more I learn about what’s in the food, the madder I get.”

Jodi returned to work five months after being diagnosed with GBM. Her cancer is in remission. She says, “I know the diet helped me, but God healed me. We will be plant-based for the rest of our lives.” Doug knows Jodi’s return to health is a legitimate miracle but respects the call to diligence. “We can’t let our foot off the gas. We need to stay the course. So, we watch the documentaries and revisit the facts” he says. “We wouldn’t have known about plant-based eating if it wasn’t for Dr. Kachmann. That advice meant a lot, coming from a surgeon. If he hadn’t said anything, we would have continued as we were. And God only knows where we’d be.”

This week, twenty-six months after the GBD diagnosis delivered a death sentence, Jodi received another clean bill of health from Dr. Kachmann. She remains committed to her diet and living a healthy and happy cancer-free life.

 

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