After being diagnosed with several autoimmune diseases by the age of 26, my mind began to derail. My rheumatologist looked at me and said, “You have the probability of living 6 to 10 more years.” As tears flooded my vision, I looked into the eyes of my father. A second opinion confirmed the devastating prognosis, and I was left feeling depressed. I felt burnt. I had been diagnosed with lupus, Raynaud’s syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Hashimoto’s disease, coeliac disease, gastritis, leaky gut, and allergies. I knew I needed to take control and do something.
Before all these diagnoses, I was a tall, lanky, energetic kid that had the most loving family. However, we went through very difficult times, facing bouts of poverty, moving from house to house, and multiple schools. After finally settled into an intimate private school, I found I had gained 50 pounds in weight in just a few months and felt very depressed. I decided I needed a change. Little did I know transferring to a large, public high school would be so different. I experienced a complete culture shock! Soon to follow was worsening of constipation, chronic migraines, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, perpetual sinus infections, ulcers, swollen/burning hands and feet. Antibiotics and prescriptions flooded my body.
Just in high school alone, I found myself dependent on laxatives, prescribed and over the counter medications and caffeine, but nothing worked. I hated myself, I was exposed to verbally abusive relationships and continued to drown in depression. I was addicted to junk food, fast food, in fact all food! I was in love with chocolate chip cookies, pop tarts, peanut butter and jelly toast (4 slices at a time), gourmet lattes and my favorite, sloppy joes served with macaroni and cheese! Chick-fil-a chicken sandwiches, a large fry and sweet tea or a McDonalds Big Mac, large fry and strawberry milkshake were my go to! I knew a change was needed. My best friend told me to stay away from fast food. I listened and quickly lost 10 pounds. By the following year, I became obsessed with YouTube videos to heal my bowels and transform my health. I began to find the answer in food!
By the age of 26, the worst news of all. The prognosis for my illnesses was devastating. I thought to myself, “This couldn’t be.” I was in love with a man, Kyle Taft, and had a life waiting to be lived! I wasn’t ready to die. I got on my knees to pray and exposed myself to the vulnerability that I needed to do whatever it took to stay alive. I adopted the healthiest lifestyle to the best of my knowledge at the time. I limited or eliminated everything that made my symptoms worse.
However, I remember, at the age of 27, I was in severe pain. I told The Lord, “I will be okay if I don’t wake up in the morning.” My family didn’t know how to help me. That year, I attended “Bella Vita,” a program that offers in-resident assistance for 10 days to assist healing and to detoxify all the major organs in the body. One can find more information at modernmanna.org. I adopted a complete vegan diet and my health started to improve. I felt happier, lighter and more confident! I am now obsessed with greens. I worked up to eating two to three pounds a day. Arugula, Cabbage, Broccoli, and Romaine are my favorite! I juice cucumber and celery every day (if not more than once), along with 34 ounces or more of green juice to follow. I eat two large salads, lunch and dinner. I eat the heads of romaine and cabbage by the whole. I have lost 60 pounds, and it feels amazing!
The other important building block that has helped me is self-love (yoga, meditation, prayer, being with nature, walking, sauna, dry brushing, juice fasting). It is a balancing act to walk the tight rope, but if you remember to keep stepping one foot in front of the other, you’ll make it there. I can guarantee, it will be even greater! I learned that food is not what makes me happy. It is my health that I need to live a happy life. I thought I would be deprived, until I witnessed the freedom.
Living a whole food, plant-based lifestyle, I am proud to say that I am free of autoimmune diseases! My markers of inflammation and disease activity are virtually normal. There is no way I will ever turn back! I feel too good; too happy; too free! The more you release, the more you receive. God says in Genesis 1:30 “… I have given every green herb for meat…” Changing your lifestyle can save your life, and remember, the more you’ll release, the more you’ll receive. Choose to be disease free. I promise, it’s possible!
Erica Taft January 2021