My name is Heather Anderson and I’ve recently begun my journey in my 30’s, been married for a decade, and mom to a toddler, who we fondly refer to as our “plant baby.” My husband and I have been following a whole-food plant based lifestyle since August 2013, though the journey getting there started long before then!
I was born and raised in Illinois, more specifically, the south suburbs of Chicago. Essentially, I grew up a corn-fed Midwesterner, eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), like most people. I loved grilled cheese, mac ‘n’ cheese, pasta with butter & parmesan cheese, hot dogs, bagels loaded with TONS of cream cheese, and let’s not forget about ice cream, Twinkies, & Chips Ahoy cookies with milk! I was a very picky eater as a child and never cared all THAT much for meat. Although I did eat some meat, it was more like a side portion on my plate growing up (most of the time). As I got into high school/college, I used to joke that I could be a pesca vegetarian (since I did actually like fish & crustaceans and loved was addicted to CHEESE), but I didn’t know anyone ever gave up dairy for reasons other than being lactose intolerant.
In 2008 I was introduced to the book The Seven Pillars of Health, written by Don Colbert, MD. I absolutely LOVED that book and used it as my “nutrition bible” per se for a long time, even referencing it now every once in a while. I loved that Dr. Colbert’s approach was not to address his patients’ conditions with medicine but with wholistic sources, specifically through diet & nutrition. He did not promote a fully plant-based diet but did encourage eating large quantities of vegetables and a variety of colors, something my husband and I did NOT do well at the time. I also appreciated his references to studies as well as patient accounts from his own practice (such as the account of a patient with strong body odor ridding the issue by cutting back on his meat intake!). As I learned more, our diet would fluctuate between making good decisions to falling back to old habits (like fast food), but ultimately making forward progress, slowly but surely cutting out fast foods and sometimes eating plant-based meals (RICE & BEANS! …though mostly because I hated to touch raw meat). Ironically, I always thought I wasn’t getting enough protein because I didn’t eat much meat.
In February 2013, I started working with a company as an independent contractor, promoting their natural and organic seasoning blends (I’ll keep the company anonymous). Part of what I did was lead workshops to help busy people have meals ready to go for the busy nights so they could eat in more instead of eating out. I really thought I was helping people eat healthier as mostly everything was in line with what I knew at that point about health and wellness. I was making these meals for my family as well. For the most part, we were adding lots of oil and seasonings to bags of MOSTLY meat! I started to eat more meat because the oil and seasoning blends made the boring chicken (or other cut of meat) taste SO good! I noticed that I was starting to struggle with maintaining my weight or more so, how I looked and felt in and out of my clothes. Lines on my face started to show more, I started to get more cellulite in my thighs, I was drinking TONS of coffee to keep me going, and my headaches and sinus pain were getting worse. Of course I didn’t relate this to how I was eating because I thought I was eating pretty healthy.
In August 2013, I became aware of a strong sinus sensitivity that I apparently have to dairy. I was freaking out, thinking, “what am I supposed to eat???” So this launched a new personal investigation into nutrition & food. I spent months researching and learning alternative ways of eating to avoid dairy which led me to other new information and misconceptions about the food we eat and how it impacts our health. Through my research, I found Kimberly Snyder, C.N. I read her first book (Beauty Detox Solution) which not only talked about why dairy should never be eaten (referencing Dr. Campbell’s The China Study), but also introduced me to the concept of eating TOO MUCH PROTEIN, and explained why eating meat was not the best health choice. Based on her recommendations for those who don’t want to give up meat completely, we started eating meat only a few times per week at dinner and noticed that we felt so much better on the nights we didn’t eat meat at all, so that’s when we made the jump to a complete Plant-based diet (well at least for me mostly… it took my husband a few months longer to get on board), and I have continued to learn more and more. In the end (and I would say the pinnacle was after watching Forks Over Knives in June 2014), my research brought me to an impasse, where what I now knew about the food we eat and the weight of evidence supporting its impact on our health and which I was following myself (a whole food plant-based lifestyle), was contradictory to what I was teaching people through my business. I felt that I couldn’t ethically continue doing what I was doing. I also found that my heart was leading me further down the path of nutrition and the possibility of teaching and coaching others to make positive changes like I had, in their lives and for their overall and long-term health.
In October 2014, we moved to North Carolina for my husband’s job, which served as the perfect opportunity for me to wipe the slate clean and start over. I completed my Plant-Based Nutrition Certification through eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies in June 2015, which teaches a science based approach to nutrition that can have huge implications for reducing the risk of disease and improving quality of life. I’m excited for this new journey and to finally teach what the weight of evidence supports and coach others who are ready to make positive changes towards their health goals as well. That’s why I decided to start this blog, to share what I’ve learned and my experience with you.
Knowledge IS power and together we can make a difference for our health and for the earth we share.