Gin & Zin

Interview with Melissa~ Food as Medicine

       Meet Melissa~

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I am a easy going mom of two, who loves cooking, animals,  and being outside with my kids. I am married to my amazing husband Justin Anderson who runs our company Anderson Pacific Builders, Inc.  We have been married 6 years. We have two kids Cole (4 years old) and Cailin (1 year old), 1 dog Otis, 2 horses Ella and Percy, 1 cat Cleo, and last but not least 15 crazy chickens.

My life consists of feeding animals, kids and friends, gardening, and carting Cole to and from school.  This brings me to mommy time… I am obsessed… OBSESSED with horses. At least 1 day a week you will find me at the barn riding. Watching my horse compete at shows is also a favorite. It is hard to show when you have two children under 5, so the girls call me the “barn mom” I bring snacks, my two kiddos, and we cheer on our barn family and Ella at shows!

My biggest strength as a mom is my constant attempt to make sure everyone around me feels cared for, loved, and accepted. Sometimes, this will mean bringing people healthy nourishing meals. Someone once told me I am a “community builder”, Bringing people together is my favorite. Also, keeping my cool when shit hits the fan, laughing, making a joke or sing a song can help ease a situation or backfire and really irritate my 4 year old!

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Melissa enjoying the evening with Cole

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Family outing

 Can you describe your health challenges?

 In 2009 (age 26), during training for a marathon, sleep was needed for two days after every physical activity and I was abnormally tired, feeling flu-like all the time, my throat would hurt, my legs would tingle and give out, similar to mono exhaustion, talking and thinking was foggy, there was pain in my joints and swollen lymph nodes. It lasted over 6 months and got worse. Something was wrong with me. Finally, I went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, an auto immune disorder.

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Cheesing for the camera with her babies.

How has your family history and health shaped the way you view your own health? Your children’s health?

In 2012, the same year my son was born, we found out my younger brother had Ewing’s sarcoma. A rare childhood cancer in the optical bone of his temporal lobe. He endured a year of chemo (every other week, with a week of straight chemo) and radiation halfway through. He is permanently disabled and has grand mal seizures 1-2 times a month. My son went with me to visit Uncle Mike a lot during that time. It was the hardest year of my life, but also the most growth personally in my entire life.  Experiencing the trials and tribulations of being a first time parent at the same time experiencing illness in its entirety was a challenge. I learned that so many things in life are wasted in worry, and so much is out of our control and to live every single day like it is the last.. Thats when my pondering started.. Why does a 28 year old get cancer? Why do I have CFS? After reading and studying everything possible, a discovery was made. Our food that we have been calling food since the 80’s was not real food, chemicals in our household have not been thoroughly tested,they are genetically modifying corn and it is patented as a chemical not “FOOD”, engineering salmon to grow faster. What does this do to us?

This topic is a passion for me and there is much much more to learn. Big changes in the Anderson household happened. No one cares about my health and my family’s as much me. How can we expect to feel good when we are starving our bodies of  real nutrients and fuel that it needs? I started going to a holistic doctor and am currently on an Organic Paleo diet, along with a handful of supplements in the morning and at night, eating and drinking fermented foods twice a day, daily probiotics and give myself B12 shots. My children also eat tons of fruits and veggies, take supplements and probiotics and eat organic when we are home. Finding balance between our lifestyle and going out in the world. My son can be found in the grocery store yelling “mommy, can we get broccoli?” There is so much gratitude in my heart for these health experiences because they have woken me up and allowed me to make changes necessary for our future.  I am hopeful that my children will live healthy productive lives and I can share my experience with others and they can change their ways too. Learning about health can be overwhelming at first, but just try one thing at a time.

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 What references have you found to be helpful?

My favorite cook book is Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain.

(Click here to purchase —>Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime). It is my cooking Bible. Dr. Peggy Malone has the most amazing chocolate cupcakes that actually taste like cupcakes.  My Doctor has a website that is quite helpful for homeopathic remedies. sophiamicha-elremedies.com, Organic Lifestyle Magazine is a great resource. There is a ton of paleo recipes online.  Also, the hormone reset diet book is great!

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grain free usually means more colors and veggies!

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Melissa uses a lot of fresh herbs and spices too.

Can we discuss the food bill???!!!! Where do you shop? Any budget saving tips or ideas? What is your garden like?

Ahh, well eating healthy is not cheap, but my health comes first! I probably spend $300 or more a week on groceries. Yikes! Having a garden and chickens helps a lot. We have tomatoes, artichoke, kale, herbs, carrots, zucchini, watermelon, real corn :), cucumber, and cauliflower. My husband likes to deep sea fish and he is going to bring home elk this fall.  This spring, we want to get a steer so we save on organic beef. Costco has a lot of organic options so, I usually start there once a month, then during the week I will go to forklift or Whole foods. Forklift is a great place for organic food and their prices are a lot better. Whole foods or as my husband would say “Whole Paycheck” is actually cheaper on milk and eggs and other things but they get you with the specialty items and snacks. Amazon has specialty things as well if you have prime. Eating Paleo costs a lot more in the beginning when you have to get the basic supplies like coconut flours, oils etc., however, once you get started you mostly buy fresh produce and meat.

So many people stress the cool part about Paleo is that it can be 80/20, do you agree? What do you think works for yourself? How to you stay on track? What happens if you have behavioral drift?

I totally agree! I LOVE FOOD.  Lucky for me, or unlucky for me, my CFS flares up terribly on cheats, especially wheat. Gluten Free is my way of cheating, However, during summer the drinking and eating bad is easy to do. I try not to be too hard or judgmental of myself and just let it slide, knowing feeling icky the next day is part of the gig. Sometimes its worth it for a night of socialization and eating. The next day I just jump back to my lifestyle and that seems to work just fine. Sometimes, people are really hard on themselves and they put so much pressure that they keep eating bad because they already ate bad. If you just accept it as a fun night and continue on your lifestyle it can help from falling off track.

 How has food/ the right way of eating for your body shaped your health as a mom of youngins?
 I am so thankful for my food medicine. It has brought me back to life. I still have CFS, but eating healthy allows me to function now, and gives me the energy to get through most days. I am able to be present with my kids and do fun things with them. Not to mention eating paleo has helped me stay below my weight pre-kids! Also, there is something magical about cooking healthy food with your kids. It warms my heart when we are cooking and I ask Cole for an herb or veggie from the garden and he knows what to get! 

Anyone who needs help or wants information can email me at melissahargon@hotmail.com.

Thank you for sharing your healing journey, Melissa!

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