How & Why I Became a Whole Foodie

My decision to become a whole foodie was ten years in the making; a journey filled with ups and downs, starts and stops, and eventually, a clear and indisputable picture of the reciprocal nature of food. Once I came to a true understanding of the miraculous, body-healing benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet, it was transformative.

It all started with Jorgen, my Ashtanga Yoga Instructor

loved this yoga class, but it was hard to maintain a consistent practice. I had digestion problems and a hamstring issue that made it difficult to attend class first thing in the morning. I told Jorgen about these issues and he suggested that I eat juicy fruit for dinner and to stop eating animal protein completely as it was inflammatory and would inhibit my flexibility. What? This was the first time I had ever heard about the connection between consumption of certain foods and the body. I immediately discounted his suggestions. Reflecting back on this moment, had I opened myself up to his thoughts, I may have saved myself ten years of digestion and blood pressure problems – and might even be able to put my legs behind my ears!

The Vegan Cleanse

I was at our local bank and saw this beautiful, healthy, and vibrant woman standing perfectly straight like a ballerina. I very bluntly asked her (I’m not shy), “What makes you look so great?” Her name is Melissa Costello and she told me that she is vegan (I didn’t know what that meant at the time). I was feeling really dumpy and disgusted with myself, as a lot of us do around the holidays. I had a little dunlap’s disease going on (my tummy dun lapped over my belt). Melissa has a company called Karma Chow, and provides online cleanses with recipes and weekly support calls. I immediately said, “If I can look and feel as good as you do, sign me up!”

So I started the thirty day cleanse; no alcohol, no animal meat, no caffeine, no dairy, and no sugar. I lost about ten pounds and I felt amazing, inside and out. Unfortunately, the idea of being “vegan” translated only as a way to lose weight, rather than a way of life. Six months later, I was back to where I started, feeling yucky and missing that clean feeling I had felt just months prior. I think that deep down, I knew that there was something magical about this “diet,” but I still saw it as a temporary fix.

Optimum Health Institute  

A friend had referred me to this program with the idea that I could lose up to six pounds in a week. It is a seven-day, raw food “cleanse” with colonics, wheat grass juice to drink, enemas, capped off with a three-day juice fast. This truly was an “end to end” experience!  The food was good and I was provided ample information about the benefits of eating raw food. As promised, I lost six pounds through the process. And ingesting the wheat grass and eating raw for a week made for a beautiful healthy glow at the end of the cleanse. Ultimately though, it was not the impetus I needed to make the shift long-term. I continued going back (three times over three years) with the same mentality that continued to fail me after each cleanse: I wanted to change my weight, not make a life-change.  

Fish, Heavy Metals, and a Big-Time Turning Point

I was determined to get off of my blood pressure medication and decided to try a new functional internal medicine doctor with the thought that maybe a functional or integrative doctor (great article on the difference) would have the answers that Western practicing doctors did not. Well, this doctor was like all the rest and said I’d be on the blood pressure meds for the rest of my life. I felt dejected. I was told I was in otherwise excellent health, but that he wanted to “check under the hood” where most doctors don’t. He asked me how much fish I ate per week. I enjoyed fish about three to four times a week at this point as I loved it and believed it to be the healthiest and least fattening animal protein possible.  WRONG ANSWER! The doctor had me take a heavy metals blood test and urinalysis, which revealed that my mercury and other heavy metal levels were off the charts. We all have heavy metals in our system. We ingest it from the air (arsenic, cadmium, mercury and more), drink it from our glassware (lead), and inhale it while pumping gas. Heavy metals wreak havoc on our systems, causing all sorts of issues, including dementia, alzheimers, auto-immune diseases, high blood pressure, and so much more. I was shocked to hear the doctor say that all fish has mercury (especially the large fish) even my personal favorite, halibut. I immediately gave up fish and haven’t had it since that fateful day in January, 2013.  This really was a game changer for me.

Rouxbe Plant-Based Cooking Course

I’m a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals,  and met Joe Girard, creator of, a site that offers beautiful online cooking courses intended, at the time, to support cooking school teachers. Joe sent me an email offering his brand new course to earn a certificate in plant-based cooking. I was intrigued as I love learning all sorts of new cooking techniques, but wondered if I would learn anything new having already earned a Grande Diploma of Culinary from The French Culinary Institute, NYC. Joe promised me that I would and he was right!

The course provided me with the tools I needed to take the next steps to a plant-based life and included a wide scope of instruction on plant-based living. I learned the importance of eating plant-based and was shown poignant videos with doctors explaining the science behind this way of eating. I was also taught cooking techniques about how to sauté without oil or fat, how to use herbs, spices, and citrus to flavor food without salt, and so much more. I really began to grasp how to incorporate more nutrient-rich foods into my diet. It was all about health and that really resonated with me as I was finally seeing this as a benefit to my overall well being.

True North Health: The education that almost transitioned me to a WFPB diet

During my course through, I saw a video by Dr. Michael Klaper, of True North Health Center,in Santa Rosa, CA. He explained how a whole food, plant-based diet can aid in digestion. I’m coming “clean” here (pun intended). I had been plagued with constipation for years and all of the doctor-prescribed solutions only offered short-term relief. I was immediately drawn to his overwhelming data suggesting that this diet could cure me. Dr. Alan Goldhamer created the True North Health Center in 1984 to teach the science behind the disease-reversing power of a plant-based diet and water only fasting. The evidence is strong and I could no longer ignore the drastic impact this could have on my health. I decided to go see Dr. Klaper (my fiber doctor) and “fix” my problem once and for all.

Upon arrival, I was told I needed to stay for ten days.  After the first day of eating their plant-based food (no oil, salt or sugar) my body began to work on its own – no pills, powders, or enemas – it was a miracle! I could feel this food reprogramming my system. While there, I learned about Dr. Goldhamer’s clinical trial to study the impact of a water-only fast on patients with high-blood pressure. I had endured chronic high blood pressure for many years and was told I would be on medication for the rest of my life. Of the one hundred and seventy three patients included in the trial, every single one of them reversed their condition. I was sold and returned to True North Health a few months later. At this point in my journey, my diet was almost 100% plant-based, but I was still eating cheese and had rationalized that this small amount of dairy wouldn’t hinder my efforts to better health.

True North Health’s Water-Only Fast: The final shift to an entirely plant-based life

I returned to True North Health ready for the water-only fast that I had heard so much about. My blood pressure was 170/115 – Yikes! I told Dr. Klaper that I still ate a little cheese in my diet, but that this was the only “bad” thing I was eating.  He explained to me the dangers of dairy on the system. Ask yourself: “Why are we eating cow’s baby growth fluid; an inflammatory food that contains estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and all sorts of other hormones in it, foreign to the human body?”

I stayed on the water-only fast for eight days and my blood pressure was down to 135/85. Dr. Klaper told me that if I stayed on a 100% whole food, plant-based diet – no oil, salt, or sugar – my blood pressure would continue to decrease. And that is what really did it. I was now completely plant-based and my blood pressure remains (to this day) at 98/60 (FYI, Dr. Goldhamer says that 90/60 is ideal, and I’m sure I’ll get there!). Everyone has his or her own process. For me, before I could completely commit, I needed to learn the science behind this way of eating to be totally convinced. In the end, everything that I had learned, witnessed, and felt compelled me to make this shift. Once I had made it, I never once looked back.  

Why I Want to Share my Knowledge

When you know something to be true at the depths of your soul, you don’t want to keep it a secret. Throughout my studies in nutritional sciences, I have remained steadfast in this one thing: A whole food, plant-based diet is absolutely the best way to nurture and feed our bodies. It gives us the best chance for a healthy and disease-free life. I want to share my knowledge and experience so that I can help as many people as possible to feel great, have energy and vitality, and to love life and all that it has to offer. The fact is that when you feel good, you can do good, and that not only helps you, it helps everyone around you, and beyond. Let’s plant the right seeds together toward positivity, health, and happiness.

So You Want to Become a Whole Foodie?

I believe that this lifestyle is the key to a healthy life, and that it needs to be sustainable. This is not a fad diet or a temporary life change; it is a way of life. It is essential to educate yourself on the why, how, and what of this delicious path to wellness.

What is a WFPD diet (whole food, plant-based)?

A whole food, plant-based diet consists of eating 90-95% whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods.  This leaves 5-10% animal or processed foods.

Although I am 100% WFPB, the science does not prove that being 100% vs. 90-95% WFPB is any healthier. Once I became WFPB, animal products no longer appealed to me in any way and I started to feel more compassion for the animals and our planet. 100% is achievable and gets easier as you transition, but this is real life and sometimes 100% is not possible for everyone. My husband, Ed, is a big time carnivore and I cook for him, so learning this tip helps me feel a little bit better about cooking for him.

What do you get to eat?

  • Every vegetable in the world
  • Every fruit in the world
  • Every potato in the world
  • Every whole grain and legume in the world: Oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, Amaranth, Barley, buckwheat, bulgur, Einkorn, faro, freekeh, kamut, rice, rye, wild rice (and others) lentils, dahl.
  • Every bean in the world
  • Every spice in the world
  • Every herb in the world
  • Limited whole fats: Avocado, nuts & seeds

Basically you get to eat any food created in nature that is minimally processed. Garden of Eydie allows for maple syrup, for example, and other minimally processed condiments.

About You

What brings you to Garden of Eydie? Have you become WFPB? If so, why?  Do you have a health “opportunity” you want to address? Are you just curious? Or maybe you are transitioning over time, like I did.

Please share your story. This is a warm and welcoming space for a growing community of people in all stages of exploration into a plant-based lifestyle to help each other. My intention is to educate and inspire you on the POWER of nutrient rich, whole, real food, and how to make it delicious!

With all my heart and support on your health journey.

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