“step away from the chocolate” you might as well tell me to die! my sweet tooth is like no other, i’m telling you it’s like i pms for 3 weeks every month with the cravings i get! turns out not only is that sweet tooth ruining my waistline but it’s messing with my health and that’s when i need to reevaluate. i will do anything for love (or at least my love of chocolate) but i won’t do that…that being putting my baby making area at any further risk! no, no, no! for the first week post-surgery i was on a strict diet: jello, apple sauce, ginger ale, and saltine crackers. a week after surgery i was at dinner celebrating my mother’s birthday and ordered a chicken parm with no pasta just salad…it kicked my ass! omg my stomach was in severe pain that whole night and the following day and let's be clear i didn't feast I legit had 1/4 of the chicken (palm size) and it kicked my ass! after that day i tried to be extra careful with what i ate but to my surprise what i thought to be simple and harmless were secret killers: coffee, cheese, certain proteins, and worst of all cookies, cakes and candy (shocker.)! as if the recovery period wasn't tough enough with all the holes in me and my insides all messed up i had to deal with pain from eating, not happening...so i turned for help!
when i first started writing about my battle with endometriosis my inbox was flooded with support. one person in particular, catherine cuello, stood out as her words of support came from experience. catherine constantly offered words of encouragement and more importantly a solution; from the very beginning she stressed the importance of a clean diet. "wait a second is she calling me fat?!" was my initial reaction obviously then i realized by clean diet she meant organic healthy living. to be perfectly honest I didn't that advice seriously until after surgery when certain foods where making me ill, probably because the first week I was on a liquid diet of all things healthy (silver lining: a dropped a few pounds after surgery. don't judge!)
after going through this invasive surgery and having my baby making area at risk it was time to get serious so I reached out to catherine who has recently launched an app greenhopping. the app helps you find your nearest [organic] green juice bar/restaurant and healthy eating options, classified by vegetarian, raw, vegan or gluten free. take a look at my q&a with the freaking amazing and ridiculously helpful and supportive catherine cuello of greenhopping.
1. what exactly is your lifestyle? vegan? vegetarian? just conscious?
i don't like labels but I am a vegan, mostly raw. extremely conscious about what I but in my mouth.... zero processed, packaged, refined sugar or artificial foods. a lot (like everyday, several times a day) smoothies with spinach, veggies at every meal, beans, and quinoa or red rice. eating well is addictive!
2.how long have you been living this lifestyle?
nearly two years... and i've never looked back. almost feel like I was 'missing out' all these years because i've never felt better!
3. why did you decide to change the way you eat and live?
the summer of 2010 i suffered a major health scare. what began as benign ovarian cysts (on both ovaries) ended up in emergency and exploratory surgery. my left cyst was benign on the outside but malignant on the inside, so i ended up losing my left ovary out of precaution. although all tests on 27 of my lymph nodes came back clean, ny doctors still recommended "preventive" rounds of what in my case seemed like, destructive and invasive medicine. at the age of 23, with no present malignancy in my body, doctors wanted me to do 3 months of everyday treatment "just in case" that would potentially mess up my last ovary. luckily, I had some time to think about it because i underwent a fertilization process to freeze eggs. that's when i began to research about other options, and came across kris carr, her story, and the healing power of food. again, i've never looked back.
4. do you feel a difference in your health and the way you live?
COMPLETELY. i feel much more energized and full of life. food affects not only your body (weight, etc) but also your mind. if you feel good in our body, you will also feel good in your mind. this is the most important thing I've learned so far - how powerful the mind body connection can be once you unlock it.
5. how did you do it? i might seem like a brat or like I'm making excuses but as a newbie to this lifestyle change I feel very frustrated.
the diet trend in the usa heavily relies on packaged and processed foods, so at first, you may find yourself a bit lost and confused - what do I eat now? get back to basics - eat simple foods that are filling and nourishing. research the health properties of your favorite veggies or fruits so you know how much good they are doing in your body. i literally changed overnight - my health state was at stake so I went all in, head first. juiced every day, several times a day and just ate raw veggies. avocados with red peppers/onions, carrots, oven baked kale with no salt or oil, broccoli, a ton of fruit (which I love) and some nuts...food in its simplest way. so yes… it may seem difficult at first but it’s either veggies for your health or pills to make it seem like nothing is happening. eventually, it catches up to you… so it’s now or never. take care of yourself!
6. my first shopping trip came out to a lot of money and since it was mostly produce i know i'm going to face that issue again. am I doing something wrong or is it a costly life change?
it’s a costly life change at first until you get yourself settled in and realize what you like. try to buy local – which means eating seasonal. buying organic from another country or state is what ups the price… nonetheless, stick to the extra powerful veggies such as the cruciferous and leafy green family. berries are great for antioxidants, ginger and lemon act as anti-inflammatories and tropical fruits are good for the detox and kidney cleansing. i address these topics on latina magazine’s “the latin Kitchen” through a series called: Mastering The Art Of Being Vegan. i can also be found on people en español talking about the health benefits of certain fruits and vegetables.
7. walk me through your day what do you eat?
morning = my green smoothie!! i've been literally having the same for 2 years straight...i love it! (frozen strawberries, blueberries, 1/2 banana, ginger, 2 handfuls of spinach, raw coconut water, chia seeds). snacks = raw seeds/nuts, oranges, tangerines, grapes etc. lunch = depends on my mood. sometimes i’ll just have 3 or 4 big green juices and a banana… if my body tells me I need it, i’ll have something heavier such as quinoa or sweet potatoes. the app helps you to find great food spots! as a rule of thumb…i try to be raw before dinner. i don’t count calories, quantity, portions or any of that nonsense. if it’s organic, natural and fresh – then have it (fruits, veggies, nuts or seeds). it’s when it comes to whole grains that you may want to be a little wearier of how much you have – but that depends on your weight and health situation. dinner: quinoa with garlic, broccoli and garlic, kale in the oven, red rice, lentils, split pea soup, black beans, red beans, veggie lasagna – no dairy ever (it’s proven to cause inflammation in the body) – buckwheat noodles. for salad dressings: i do not buy anything bottled because it’s full of preservatives; as is everything else that comes in a box or bag. apple cider vinegar is great, olive oil and lemon or white wine vinegar (no sulfites) also works…
8. do you drink coffee?
i don’t drink coffee but only because my parents never drank any while I was growing up. caffeine is equally as bad as alcohol. so try to minimize its intake… coffee and sugar will be the tobacco of our children’s generation.
9. congrats on your app! tell me about!
yes :) thank you! greenhopping’s mission is to make healthy eating and dining easier. the app helps you find your nearest [organic] green juice bar/restaurant and healthy eating options, classified by vegetarian, raw, vegan or gluten free. the condition to be on the app is to serve green juices – and be natural and preservative free. farm fresh to table basically. i launched it because i know how alone and lost i felt when i first started at the age of 23… there’s a beautiful community of like-minded people that lead this kind of lifestyle and make beautiful creations, not to mention raw/healthy desserts that are incredible. it’s not all beer at a bar and chicken wings these days – you don’t have to be what society dictates you to be. In any event, the world is changing as more and more people realize the connection between diet and health or diet and disease. jump on the health wagon!
10. any advice, words of wisdom or encouragement to anyone crossing over to the healthy living world?
if i can do it, anyone can! seriously… I may come across as “health savvy” nowadays, but back in the day i was like everyone else. eating chips and cheddar cheese on everything, and fast food burgers, vodka, etc. i lived to party and get tipsy and flirt with boys. that all stopped when i found myself laying on an operating table and loosing my left ovary. don’t let anyone tell you what and what not to do with your body – diet included. people will be skeptical and annoying, asking you the million “why’s” – why don’t you eat meat, why won’t you drink, why don’t you want pasta? stay true to yourself and answer them to the best of your abilities – it’s none of their business what you eat and don’t eat and it’s your health after all. you know what’s best for you. think of the nutritional value that comes with everything you eat. learn how to listen to your body and feed it what it needs. If one day you want pasta – have pasta. but make sure it’s the best goddamn pasta you’ve ever had. make it yourself or buy it at a health food store to make sure it does not carry any weird preservatives or strange ingredients. oh, and if you can’t read the name of the ingredient, don’t have it!
one day at a time i'm going to kick this diseases ass!