My name is Arsy. I grew up in LA, but I currently live in Santa Cruz (husband’s hometown) with my wonderful husband, Brooke and amazing daughter, Indyanna. We love living in our mellow little beach town. Not only are we 10 minutes from the redwoods and 5 minutes from the ocean, but we have remarkable access to fresh food. Santa Cruz has an abundance of farms, farmers markets, ranches, and health food stores. There is a farmer’s market almost everyday of the week! It is pretty much heaven for a paleo cook that loves to use local, seasonal produce and pasture raised meats.
Leveraging nutrition to achieve health and wellness was a concept that I was always drawn to. In my journey to find optimal health, I made many nutrition decisions that actually had the opposite effect. This was a direct result of the massive amount of inaccurate information in the mainstream and the lack of knowledge that not all, but many medical professionals have about the effects of nutrition on health.
I come from a family with a wide array of lifestyle-triggered health conditions—type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and the list goes on. As a teen, I had an instinct that my family’s health problems were directly linked to diet and lifestyle. However, I didn’t know enough about nutrition to really make sense out of it. I did know that I didn’t want to end up unhealthy, overweight or sick. In my early efforts to be healthy I turned to vegetarianism. At 16, I knew little about nutrition and had been bombarded with messages that meat is bad, fat is bad, and it all causes heart disease. With all this misinformation I converted to a much less healthy diet than the Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean one I was raised on. So for the next nine years, I lived off bagels, pasta, sandwiches, beans, salads, some veggies, tofu and lots and lots of pre-packaged, processed, gluten-filled, soy products like fake chicken. After a few years of eating this way, I felt incredibly lethargic and experienced constant headaches. I saw a multitude of doctors and none of them were able to solve my health issues, nor were they able to connect how I felt to how I was eating. I was told quite the opposite. My diet was very healthy, they said. Trusting their authority, I continued to microwave my Morningstar meals and my health continued to plummet through my 20s.
When I started working out at my local CrossFit in 2008, I was introduced to the Paleo diet and I became headache-free for the first time in years. I felt full of energy. Also, the constant bloating that I experienced, the one that caused me to look pregnant in high school when I only weighed 98 pounds also disappeared. My problem with constant overeating also vanished. I used to eat until I was in pain, almost nightly. I instantly noticed that didn’t happen on a Paleo diet. I was satiated and didn’t have the urge to keep eating.
Although, the Paleo Diet helped me tremendously, I was still experiencing headaches and was fatigued more often than I was comfortable with. After working with an amazing practioner, Chris Kresser, author of the introduction to my cookbook, I discovered I also had anemia caused by a B12 deficiency and a low performing thyroid, which I had suspected for years, but conventional doctors never gave me the proper tests. Although, I was consuming B12 in the form of animal protein, I was not absorbing it. Along with some supplements and modifications to my diet, we were able to cure my conditions. From this process, I learned that it was not only important to reduce or eliminate food toxins, it is also essential to include nutrient-dense foods in any diet such as homemade bone-broths, fermented foods and healthy fats.
As a result of feeling better—feeling normal again as I like to call it—I was able to focus on my passions and interests. Paleo eating allowed me to rekindle my love of cooking, which I had given up during my vegetarian phase. Now I regularly enjoy shopping and searching for fresh, organic, grass-fed ingredients to create delicious meals for my family and my blog readers.