Reflections on My Most Significant Health Changes in 2009

Mar 21, 2017

My calendar year 2009 was eventful. During the first half of this year, my seemingly healthy husband was under intensive care for a few days in the hospital for a spontaneous carotid artery dissection; I experienced two miscarriages; I resigned from my hard-earned career to be more available for our family; and we completed our first Manhattan nursery school application process. The last half of our year has been blessed with my husband embracing radical health changes and, therefore, being healthier than ever; us loving our daughter's nursery school; and me delivering a healthy beautiful daughter at the end of 2009.


Although I have always been healthy and informed about the latest in health trends, my perspective on health and diet changed dramatically last year. In case any of it inspires someone else to make a healthy change, I'm sharing our most significant changes below.

  1. Minimize consumption of animal protein, including dairy (we've replaced dairy with almond and hemp milks). Instead, we maximize consumption of:
    1. fresh vegetables and fruit (drinking cold-pressed vegetable / fruit juices has become a significant staple of our daily diet);
    2. raw nuts and seeds;
    3. sprouted whole grains, whenever possible; and,
    4. local seasonal whole foods.
  2. Minimize consumption of seafood, given the increased contaminants in water
  3. Minimize consumption of processed foods (including processed soy products)
  4. Avoid food and beverages in plastic and canned containers, which includes take out and deliveries. Instead, eat more homemade meals and use glass and stainless steel containers.
  5. Use grapeseed oil instead of olive oil when cooking (it has a higher smoke point, approximately 420 °F (216 °C), so it can be safely used to cook at high temperatures)
  6. Use agave nectar (and 100% pure maple syrup, though less frequently) in replacement of other sugars
  7. Avoid microwave popcorn (I ate a lot of this during my first pregnancy)
  8. Read labels extra carefully to look for simple, wholesome ingredients and to avoid high fructose corn syrup
  9. Use more non-toxic personal care products and cleaning products
  10. Buy non-toxic mattresses, especially for the children

Please note that we generally minimize and maximize certain things but we never do anything 100%. Radical dietary changes are not sustainable and life is short, so, if we're really craving something , then we indulge in it. Any healthy change -- no matter how seemingly small -- is still progress!

Take a look at our Grocery List of Staples and Grocery List of Indulgences to view which specific products we like.


The books, products and services that have had the most positive, significant impact on my family and I are the following:

  • The China Study (book). Written by a highly credible author, this book presents the results of thousands of scientific findings that conclusively link consumption of animal protein to a wide-range of diseases.
  • Disease-Proof Your Child (book). Alarmed by what I learned in The China Study, I was seeking an informed opinion on how to feed my young children. Written by a medical doctor who is informed by the content discussed in The China Study, this book provided me with the guidance and reassurance that I was seeking.
  • The Raw Food Detox Diet (book). From a young age (mostly due to my father), I have viewed food as fuel / nourishment for my body. This book elaborates on this idea in much more detail and provided me with a number of new things to think about, including for how long certain foods stay (or, rot in) my body, which foods help cleanse and empower the body, and more.
  • Eating (DVD). I found this documentary to be a convincing and enlightening perspective on the American diet.
  • Liquiteria (local juice store in Manhattan). From my experience, Liquiteria provides the best cold-pressed juices I've yet tried. Its juices introduced me to how delicious vegetable / fruit juices can be, which is a much more convenient way to consume a lot of vegetables and fruit. The store delivers and for Manhattan friends who live outside the delivery radius, they send car service to pickup the juices!
  • Breville and Norwalk Juicers (juicers). I started with the Breville juicer, which was a more economical and convenient way to juice at home. After getting hooked on juices, my husband purchased the Norwalk juicer, which does (as I had heard) make superior-tasting juices (and, reportedly, has superior nutrition). The bottled juices at Liquiteria are made with Norwalk juicers.

All of the above are the direct and indirect results of one encounter: that with, a community aimed at educating people to develop superior health and wellness. The first event that I heard about was focused on detoxing one's body for pregnancy. Sounded like an interesting concept so I attended. The main speaker was Natalia Rose, a celebrity nutritionist and author of a number of books, including The Raw Food Detox Diet. This event and this book began my shifting paradigm through which I view health and nutrition. All the events were filmed and are available at this link: BeamGreen.



After becoming pregnant, I had a very hard time drinking the vegetable and fruit juices (they made me want to vomit) and craved many things that I considered to be the unhealthiest of things -- processed foods, dairy, meat and sweets with high fructose corn syrup (evil!). The books and products that helped me during this time period are below:

  • Clean Plates NYC (book). Manhattan restaurant guide to restaurants using organic and/or local and seasonal ingredients. This was really helpful whenever I was craving a cheeseburger or steak.
  • Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven (book). This book provided compelling reminders of why I should stick to my new set of views on nutrition, especially for the best welfare of my baby.
  • Living Harvest Ice Cream (dairy-free "ice cream" made of Hemp milk). This has been very satisfying whenever I crave ice cream.
  • Green & Black's Organic Almond Milk Chocolate. Although dark chocolate is much better for you -- maybe even healthy for you, since my most recent pregnancy, I've been having this almond milk chocolate almost daily. On too many days, I'll eat an entire bar!
  • BabyCakes cookbook (delicious vegan recipes for baked goods). After spending quite a bit of money on buying BabyCakes vegan chocolate chip cookies at some nearby retailers, I decided to buy the recipe book so that I could have them made at home. The cookies are delicious! No one seems to be able to eat less than four at a time.
  • The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat (delicious vegan recipes; we often times make the soups). I was introduced to this cookbook on the Oprah show and immediately purchased the cook book after hearing Oprah's rave reviews about the food. We have the soups often, which are delicious, filling, and unbelievably vegan!

During my pregnancy, even though I craved things that I didn't normally enjoy, I generally indulged in my unhealthy cravings and didn't force myself to drink the cold-pressed vegetable juices that I loved before becoming pregnant. What's interesting, however, is that as soon as I delivered my second daughter, I craved those cold-pressed vegetable / fruit juices as well as salads, and have been craving them ever since the delivery.

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Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


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