By: Jessica Espinoza
In this story, renowned chef and food blogger, Jessica Espinoza shares her journey from growing up eating real food under the influence of her mother to eating sugar and junk food in her 20s. She tells us how she got back on the wagon of healthy eating and essentially a paleo diet – strictly gluten, grain, dairy, legume, and sugar free – in order to combat her hypothyroid, hashimotos, and adrenal fatigue.
My philosophy on food is quite simple: Eat real food.
My mother has always said, “Eat what will rot, just eat it before it does.”
I have been cooking since I was about three years old. My mother is a fantastic cook and a firm believer in wholesome and traditional food. She had me helping in the kitchen from the time that I was old enough to stand on a chair and peer over the counter. I thank her tremendously for letting me help her and for her dedication to teaching me to cook and bake. I can honestly say that it has shaped me into the person I am today. She trusted me so much in the kitchen that I was cooking on my own from the time I was about seven or eight years old.
After I got older, I ended up working in a restaurant for over nine years, working in every position a restaurant has, finally ending up as lead chef. Today, my passion for nutrition and wholesome food continues to grow every day. Some of my closest friends and family members might say I am rather obsessed, hence the name of my blog!
While I now focus on healthy eating and regular exercise, this wasn’t always the case. My eating and exercising habits took a slight detour during my early and mid 20s. I went through a phase in my life that was filled with lots of fast food, restaurant meals, Starbucks drinks, and tons of sugar.
In August of 2012, I realized that it was time to take control of my health. I realized that I had some issues that I needed to address, rather than ignore. I was diagnosed as being hypothyroid many years ago, but that year, I knew it was time to get the additional testing done and see what else was really going on. I was officially diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid disease. I also have adrenal fatigue (who doesn’t in today’s world?), which goes hand-in-hand with the thyroid issues. This is when I decided to go strictly gluten, grain, dairy, legume, and sugar free.
I have some stubborn poundage that has been quite difficult to lose, and each year, the scale has crept up little by little, even though I am eating a real food, healthy, non-Standard American Diet. I realize now that all of this goes hand-in-hand, and until all of the issues are addressed, there will be not be healing or weight loss.
I am far from perfect. I have fallen off the wagon more times than I can count. I have a tendency to let stressful situations and chaos deter me from eating right and sleeping well. And, I pay the price. But, the more I learn, the less frequent those tumbles take place. What can I say? I am a work in progress! Aren’t we all?
There is constant debate on the Web about the “right” way to eat, and I think this leaves people feeling confused and frustrated. It’s important for everyone to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all way to eat. We are all different in our dietary needs. It’s up to you to figure out what works for you and your family. Don’t trust the face value of the info shared by the “experts.” That includes me, though I am so far away from being an expert it’s not even funny. But, in all seriousness, I might write about things that are just not right for you. And, that’s okay!
Eating should not be complicated. Food should not be a source of stress.
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