Amie Valpone is the kind of wellness warrior whose story we love to share with readers. When a major health crisis of her own taught Amie just how tough it can be to uncover the root of health issues, Amie’s life changed forever. After years of struggle and some majorly tenacious digging of her own, she has discovered solutions for her own health and has set out to provide solutions for so many others. Now as a nutritionist, personal chef and Editor In Chief of The Healthy Apple, Amie helps so many others suffering from food-related health issues to find their way to a sustainably healthy lifestyle. We asked Amie to share about her own journey here, as well as to begin contributing her amazing gluten-free recipes for our Chalkboard readers. Here’s Amie…
The Chalkboard Mag: Amie, you had to work so hard and do so much research to get to find the root cause of your own health problems. What advice do you have for others who are also in the midst of the same process?
Amie Valpone: At the young age of 25, I walked out of my corporate job in NYC to be rushed to a hospital and have a bone marrow biopsy performed 30 minutes later. Was I expecting any of this? No. Did I ever feel sick before this? No. But, interestingly enough my blood work when I was a child all pointed to chronic low white blood cells – which is what I still have today. Not one doctor in 25 years mentioned this to me or my family. Here I am 6 years later still with low white blood cells but feeling much better.
After dealing with Western medicine-based hospitals, doctors and specialists – I had literally exhausted every option in NYC, Connecticut, NJ, NY, Philadelphia and and even the Mayo Clinic – I had no other choice but to go back to school and learn about Integrative Medicine. With the help of doctors who focused on Integrative Medicine I learned to heal myself without using drugs and really learned to listen to my own body – not just take drugs prescribed to cover up symptoms. My journey toward healing took over 6 years and I still am always seeing new Integrative Medicine doctors when I have a flare up or I’m not feeling well.
My best advice is…
Take your health care management into your own hands. Don’t just get blood work or tests done and trust that everything is okay if your doctor says it is. Unfortunately, sometimes people overlook certain things- it’s happened to me over 15 times in the past 6 years. Ask for a copy of your results anytime you have any testing done. I’ve had numerous doctors look at my results from 3 years ago and they still can’t believe I wasn’t told about levels that were high and low. You have to be your own doctor and take health into your own hands: find a doctor you trust, ask for copies of your tests and it can’t hurt to get a second opinion! Listen to your ‘gut’ and go with who you feel is genuine and will help you. Find someone that is dedicated to YOU and will put their thinking cap on and help you instead of just seeing you as a number.
Keep all of your records together. I have four binders filled with blood work, CT scans, x-rays, biopsies…. I learned from the beginning that not many doctors talk to each other so you have to be your OWN doctor and you have to take charge! Keep all your information together to bring to all your appointments from doctor to doctor and take notes.
TCM: Our culture’s ideas about medicine and nutrition are changing. What trends are you most encouraged to see?
AV: I love learning about integrative medicine, which I have seen amazing results from. I spent 26 years of my life dealing with Western medicine and never saw results – they just kept pushing drugs such as steroids, water pills, etc. on me and put a ‘band aid’ on my symptoms instead of looking at what the cause of my pains truly was. With integrative medicine, I’ve actually experienced healing.
TCM: Are food sensitivities something everyone should be paying attention to or just those with certain conditions?
AV: Many people have food sensitivities but there are others, like my father, who can eat whatever they want! I always tell my clients to listen to their bodies after they eat certain foods. If they are going through bottles of over-the-counter stomach medication, then that should be a red flag. Not everyone has to be gluten-free or dairy-free but if you are experiencing symptoms or don’t feel right – try cutting out gluten or dairy or soy or any of the other allergens to see if they are your issue. Then slowly introduce each one and see if your body reacts.
TCM: What are some of your favorite brands and resources?
AV: Vitacost for all my online shopping – delivered right to my Manhattan doorstep. I get everything from vitamins to organic salsa to miso and organic body care products there. A few of my favorite brands are Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Bread, TruRoots Gluten-Free Grains & Pastas, Earthbound Farms Organic Greens, Navita’s Naturals, Barlean’s Chia Seeds and Barlean’s Ground Flax Seeds, Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Grains and King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Baking Mixes. Whew!
TCM: What keeps you the most inspired in your work:
AV: My clients! I love helping them and teaching them how to eat ‘Clean’. Seeing them eat real food and actually enjoy it makes me so happy and inspires me everyday! I am also inspired by my readers from all over the world at the healthy apple who tell me that I’ve inspired them and they are in pain or can’t find an answer. I want to be there for them to ‘virtually’ hold their hand and tell them that everything is going to be okay and not to give up. Lifestyle and food changes take time and energy and lots of hard work, but it can be done and I am living proof that it’s worth it!
TCM: If you could get just one element of your message across to your readers and clients what would it be?
AV: Don’t give up- there is an answer. I spent 3 years dealing with a cancer hospital here in NYC who thought I had lukemia and were giving me bone marrow biopsies. I visited the Mayo Clinic, the best medical center in the world, and left with no confirmed answers. I never gave up. I kept fighting and I knew there was an answer and that I would find a way to heal myself with the right doctors. It’s about staying positive and finding a doctor that you can trust who believes in Integrative Medicine and not just giving you a script for a medication to send you on your way.
Watch for upcoming recipes from Amie and the healthy apple on The Chalkboard! To find out more about Amie, visit her site here.