{Guest Post} From Pain to Purpose: How I Became the “Grocery Geek”

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Please welcome Christy Pooschke, owner and operator of Grocery Geek. I asked Christy to share her amazing story of overcoming Fibromyalgia. I hope it will encourage you as much as it did me.

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All of my life, all I’ve wanted to do is to help people. I can remember sneaking out to the TV room late at night when I was a little girl and watching those shows where you can adopt a starving child in Africa for a few bucks each month…and pretty much save their life. I used to sit there and cry watching those poor children with bugs crawling all over them, and I so wished that my parents would “adopt” them. Even at a young age, it was hard for me to see that there were people out there who were hungry and sick and suffering; and I just couldn’t accept that there could be such injustices in the world. I desperately wanted to DO something to help them!

In high school when contemplating college majors, Psychology seemed like a natural choice for me – after all, I wanted to help people! I earned my Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology and accepted a position as Executive Director of an afterschool program for inner-city youth. Although I wasn’t feeding children in Africa, I was greatly fulfilled by feeding the minds and souls of so many children and making such an impact in their lives! That is…until later that year when the rug was pulled out from under me…

In 2002 (at age 25), my health began to deteriorate. I was extremely weak and fatigued, and I was in so much pain that some days it was all I could do to get out of bed. Among other symptoms, I suffered from digestive distress, sleep disturbances, chest pain, and an intermittent racing heart beat. After more than 15 different prescription medications, never-ending appointments with various specialists and more than a handful of diagnostic procedures, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I was in constant pain – many days it was too painful even to hug my own husband. On good days, I felt like I was 90 years old. On bad days, I felt like I should be in the hospital. I was in pure misery, suffering from an “invisible illness” for which there was no treatment, no cure and no known cause. In 2005, after much consideration, I resigned – I resigned from my position as Executive Director, and I resigned myself to the medical “fact” that I would suffer with chronic, untreatable pain for the rest of my life.

Fortunately, in 2007 I stumbled upon some books that changed my life forever. Among other things, I learned that there are ingredients in processed foods (e.g., high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial colors/sweeteners) that are making people sick and are often hidden on food labels under innocent-sounding ingredient names like “natural flavor” and “yeast extract.” This information made such an impact on my husband and me that we immediately purged our kitchen of convenience foods and mystery ingredients. We started eating only those foods which we could clearly identify as having come from a plant or animal in nature. And in just a couple of months, ALL of my Fibromyalgia symptoms were gone – completely gone! In fact, I now feel better and have more energy than most people I know! (Click here for my entire return-to-health story!)

In the past nearly five years, I have witnessed first-hand the havoc that these ingredients also wreak in others’ lives; and I feel a moral obligation to share what I have learned with as many people as possible and to inspire them to take an active role in maximizing their own health. Just like those children in misery that I used to cry for on television, it breaks my heart to see how many people are suffering needlessly because of the additives that are allowed into our food supply, and I am determined to DO something about it!

It sounds so silly, but I never realized before just how good we should all feel. We should sleep well, feel great and have all of the energy we need to do all of the things we want to do. Each of us deserves that! People need a wake-up call – we truly are what we eat, and we need to make a conscious decision about what we are putting into our bodies. I’m not saying we need to spend half of our paychecks on obscure berries from distant lands; but we do need to stop eating FAKE food and return to eating things that are grown in nature rather than invented in a lab.

The Standard American diet is destroying our health! Meanwhile, we are bombarded with unhealthy messages and advertisements for junk food; and eating has been turned into such a “rocket science” that it’s no wonder folks feel defeated before they even get to the grocery store. Low fat? Low calories? High protein? Biggest meal at night? Biggest meal at breakfast? It’s enough to drive a person insane! Unfortunately, what most experts fail to advise is that what matters most is what’s in the ingredients list!

Even when folks come to the realization that processed food is bad, they often have no idea how to make changes or what to eat instead! That’s why I created GroceryGeek.com. On my site, I provide FREE recipes and tips and information about how to read ingredients labels, how to shop for and prepare REAL foods, how to use various kitchen equipment, etc. Through my site, I also sell personalized Diet Make-Overs and Personal Chef services. My book, “Eating Additive-Free: A Natural Cookbook & Grocery Shopping Guide” can also be purchased through my website as a hard copy or printable e-book, and it is a great way to start reducing your reliance on processed foods!

I know that these changes aren’t easy and that there are a million-and-one “reasons” why you “can’t” do it. Believe me! Just five years ago, I was eating fast food, candy, diet pop and frozen dinners. I was the stereotypical American “junk food junkie.” Unless I needed to lose a few pounds – then I was a calorie-conscious crash dieter. (I used to think that calories, carbs and fat grams were all that mattered and that if I wasn’t overweight, then I had nothing to be worried about. Boy was I wrong!!!) Five years ago, I had no idea how to cook! I was also battling a chronic illness and suffering from extreme fatigue, weakness and pain. So, if I can make these changes, anyone can!! There is nothing special about ME that somehow made it easier for me to make these changes. It’s just a conscious decision that each of us must make – basically, you just have to want to change more than you want to stay the same. And I am here to make YOUR transition as easy as possible!

This may sound cliché, but I know that everything happens for a reason. While suffering with Fibromyalgia, it was really hard to see any purpose in the pain. Now, I realize that I suffered for those years so that I could educate and inspire others to take charge of their diets and their health. So many people are so apathetic about what goes into their bodies – I was, too! And while most Americans may not be malnourished like those children I used to cry for on television, the majority of us are undernourished because most of what we are eating lacks any kind of nutrients.

Eating really shouldn’t be this complicated, and it is unfortunate that things have gotten to this point. It isn’t fair that food companies are allowed to add harmful ingredients to the food on unsuspecting consumers’ plates, and I am determined to do what I can to help people become more aware and make the necessary changes!

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Christy Pooschke is the author of an“Additive-Free” Cookbook & Grocery Shopping Guide, and she offers personalized consultations, as well! Check out her blog to learn how to shop for and prepare additive-free, natural foods. Christy also operates an online community she founded to educate folks about natural foods, natural health and natural living. Check out the resources, recipes and online community available at www.CompletelyNourished.com

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4 Responses to “{Guest Post} From Pain to Purpose: How I Became the “Grocery Geek””

  1. Mary says:

    This is great information, Christy. (and Nancy!) Reading the ingredient lists was a life changer for my family a few years ago as well. Have a blessed weekend!

  2. Angela Manus says:

    I visited a local health food store last week…looking for a particular beverage that I fell in love with. (Just fyi: It’s called OOBA. It’s a sparkling hibiscus beverage which I’ve claimed could “get me off soft drinks”.) Anyway, this health food store isn’t a chain. They’ve been in business for 25 years and has a very good reputation. When I mentioned to the salesperson that I’m addicted to sugar and carbs, she asked me several questions. (She noticed two things about me before she asked the questions: I was wearing an elbow brace for tennis elbow; and I had breakouts on my face, neck, and upper chest…and I’m 50 years old.) She saw several red flags that I was suffering with inflammation. I’m sure she couldn’t miss my big [somewhat hanging] belly. (I’m 5’4″ and weigh 191 pounds. Though some people don’t believe I could weigh that much, I feel every ounce…and especially the weight in my belly. I have severe arthritis in my spine, including my neck…which is part of the reason I’m suffering with the problems in my arm/elbow. After numerous X-rays and MRIs, my orthopedic doctor has told me that my issues stem from the arthritis in my neck.) If you were to view my medical records, you would see [minimally], these diagnoses: fibromyalgia (FM); hypothyroidism; bulging discs @ L5-S1; degenerative disc disease; spondylolisthesis; bilateral hip effusions; peri-menopause; bilateral tubal ligation w/lt. ovary removal; lichen schlerosus; chronic headaches; allergic rhinitis; ocular itching (allergies); acne rosacea; hormonal acne; chronic depression; anxiety. I think that about covers it, with the exception of dermatographia. (I’m not convinced I have true dermatographia, now that I’ve learned more about skin issues in FM sufferers.)

    Okay, I realize I’m all over the place with this comment. (I wanted to give you some background.) The salesperson at the health food store asked if I’d ever tried the Candida diet or performed a Candida cleanse. She said I had classic signs of Candida yeast. (She also inquired if I suffered with the following: nausea; nail fungus; constipation; headaches; itchy skin; fatigue; flatulence; forgetfulness.) Granted, many of these things are associated with FM. But, I wonder if I should consider the Candida diet. I’d heard of many FM sufferers going gluten free…but I’d never heard a correlation between gluten and Candida yeast. Maybe I’m just behind the curve. Are the two (gluten and Candida yeast) associated? If I follow the plan you’ve been following, would it be the same as the Candida diet? (Do you know?)

    Thanks, in advance, for any help you can provide. As far as weight loss, I’ve tried almost every method known (except surgery). I’m getting desperate…to feel better and to lose weight.

    • Nancy says:

      Hi Angela, Thanks for stopping by. Candida diet and Gluten Free diet are not the same. I was put on a candida cleanse as a child and saw WONDERFUL results. In fact, I should do it again. It’s been a while since I’ve researched it, so I can’t tell you a whole lot about it. I do know a fellow blogger who is in the midst of a candida cleanse and she blogs about it. Her name is Ricki and the name of her blog is http://www.DietDessertsNDogs.com Here is the link to her candida faq page: http://www.dietdessertndogs.com/candida-faq-2/ There is a lot of information there. Please note that Ricki is vegan by choice but that is not part of the candida cleanse. I’m sure you could send her a note and she’d be glad to help get you started. I’m sure she could point you to some wonderful nonvegan resources too.

    • Angela,
      I am so sorry to hear of all of your health struggles, and I hope you find something to help you soon! My diet consists of eliminating all chemical additives. I don’t currently eat gluten, dairy or refined sugars….and I limit grains in general (just by choice b/c I’m pretty convinced they are not good for us). But when I initially changed my diet, I did not eliminate gluten/dairy/sugar and I still got the results described above. There’s surely more detail to it, but gluten-free and Candida diets are not the same – gluten-free involves eliminating from the diet just those grains that contain gluten (wheat, etc.). The Candida diet requires the elimination of all grains, sugars and yeast foods (I believe??). Every person is different and two of us could have the same exact symptoms with very different causes. That said, I truly believe there are toxins/poisons in the food supply that are making EVERYONE sick and that should be avoided by every person regardless of symptoms – - so I just eat as naturally as possible. If you’re able to visit a natural health practitioner, many of them can test you for things like Candida or gluten intolerance, etc. That said, if you are worried about inflammation in general, you could Google “inflammatory foods” and you’ll find things listed like food additives, red meat, grains and sugars…so certain changes may be worth consider even if you are not tested for anything in particular.

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