Lessons Learned- Trip to Crete, Greece

When I was extremely sick with chronic Lyme disease, one of my most debilitating symptoms was environmental and food sensitivities. I could spot a mold problem long before any diagnostic test. Cleaning products with ammonia or bleach would trigger a severe asthma attack within minutes. Toxic, non-moving air in closed hotel rooms would keep me up all night with an overwhelmed liver. It was very hard for me to eat out in restaurants. Ingesting conventional animal products would cause me to vomit within the hour. Glyphosate laden wheat products would cause diarrhea and an inability to properly digest food for a week. For these reasons, I developed an intense fear to traveling and eating out. I could recover from symptoms when I had my clean “safe space” of a home and home cooked meals. Traveling became panic inducing and out of the question for a couple of years.

3 years, 32 liver flushes, hundreds of coffee enemas, and an impeccable plant based diet later, my health had vastly improved and my husband and I planned our first trip as a family to Crete, Greece where much of his extended family resides. Oddly enough, I had no anxiety or fears traveling across the world with a toddler to stay on an island for two and a half weeks. I was not concerned about our living arrangements, as staying in someone’s home with good air flow is enough to get a good night’s rest. I was not concerned about the food, because the Mediterranean diet is put on a pedestal in the health world. I was excited to dive into the mineral rich, tasty produce. I was not afraid of any hiccups or issues that may arise, because we were going to be with lots of family who has our best interest in mind and willing to help resolve any issues that may arise.

Lesson #1

When you let others cook or prepare food for you, you risk acute illness and disease.

Right after we arrived at the airport in Crete, we were expected to go straight to my husband’s grandmother’s house to meet the relatives and eat a meal. Even though I wanted to go straight to where we were staying and rest, I obliged as this was a new culture and felt it best to go with the flow. I quickly learned that the familial expectation was to eat lunch together everyday that had been prepared by an aunt or grandmother. I felt uneasy as I am used to preparing everything my toddler and I ingest. I obliged with this expectation for several days. I felt “off” during this time and was quick to blame any malaise on jet lag and being introduced to a new microbiome. It wasn’t until my baby, Athena, was vomiting for the second day, I was extremely nauseous with stomach cramps, and my husband felt digestive discomfort, that I decided to say enough was enough. I was no longer willing to let someone else prepare food for me. Soon there after, everyone recovered and we were finally able to enjoy our stay.

Lesson #2

There is junk food everywhere. Living a healthy lifestyle is now a choice, even in the Mediterranean.

The food we were ingesting that made us ill was still plant based and gluten free. When someone else prepares food there is risk for poor quality ingredients, rancid ingredients, poor preparation methods, and additional unwanted ingredients. Even though some of the dishes were similar to what I prepare at home, we were exposed to refined sea salt that contain anti-caking agents (hello aluminum), rancid olive oil in large quantities, and refined sugar. For example, we were given what they call “Greek candy”. I was told it consisted of roasted sesame seeds and raw honey. Later I found out that they add brown sugar and “fructose”, heavily refined sugar derived from fruit, to bind the bar together. My family has not ingested refined sugar in months, so it reeked havoc on our systems.

Lesson #3

The Mediterranean has Westernized.

I was sitting in the Venetian port when I opened my first restaurant menu. I could not believe what they were selling: hamburgers, ice scream, soda, and most dishes containing some sort of animal product. This was surprising to me, because Greeks are known for eating animal products sparingly. Their cuisine is typically vegetarian unless there is a holiday or special occasion. This menu was something I would find at a restaurant in America that I would never chose to visit. The disease inducing food we frequently see in restaurants in America is also widely available in Crete. As a consequence, the health of their population is quickly deteriorating. Although their rates of obesity are lower, a visit to the beaches will prove that most people are now overweight and carrying excess fat around their mid section. Beautiful healthy bodies of a healthy weight are becoming the exception when just a few decades ago they were the standard.

Lesson #4

When the land offers you an abundance of fruit, simplify your diet and life by eating mono fruit meals for optimal hydration and health.

As soon as we started sourcing and preparing our own food, we found an abundance of fresh fruit at produce stands across the city. It is near impossible to find seeded watermelon in Boston, so we were stoked to dive into copious amounts of watermelon. We decided to start each morning with a watermelon cleanse. We cut a large watermelon in half and ate straight from the bowl until we couldn’t eat anymore. Our kidneys would feel slightly overwhelmed when we hit our limit, so we would lie down until it passed. This type of breakfast hydrated us for the whole day, prevented our skin from burning, and has had lasting effects boosting our kidney health. We snacked on mono fruit meals of sweet doughnut peaches, cucumber, tomato, nectarines, and fresh squeezed orange juice. When fruit is allowed to fully ripen on the tree and be eating soon thereafter, the flavor is so rich that there is no need or desire to add anything extra.


Lesson #5

Your health is more important than any societal expectation.

In most culture, the food traditions are an integral part of social experiences. People want to cook for you as an act of love. People want to dine together and discuss the cuisine. There are expectations to eat together from similar dishes. These traditions are worthless if and when they lead to disease and a decrease in vitality. Each individual is solely responsible for what they put in their own mouths. While awkward and uncomfortable, I no longer hesitate to bring my own food to social gatherings and refusing to eat anything that I know will not nourish my body and lead to a greater state of vitality. It is a form of self-love and self-respect to choose to ingest only what properly nourishes your body.

Lesson #6

Traveling Abroad can create an increased need for breastfeeding a toddler.

Before our trip, I was nursing Athena in the morning, once or twice during the day, and at night. I was finally able to leave her for an extended period during the day without having to worry about nursing her. I have been delaying weaning, as I knew it would be very helpful to breastfeed during our international flight. I was surprised by how often and how much Athena wanted to nurse abroad. We went from almost weaning to a breastfeeding relationship reminiscent of that with a 3-month-old infant. She was attached to my boobs night and day. After the rough adjustment to Greek cuisine, she became very picky about what and how much she would eat. She rarely drank water, so she nursed for food, hydration, comfort, and security. It was a very difficult stress on my body, but I was grateful for the ability to nurse her on demand to smooth over any difficulties while traveling with a toddler.


In conclusion, my trip taught me very important life lessons and help to solidify much of the health and wellness wisdom I have gained over the past few years. The food that we eat lays the foundation for the state of our health and wellness. It is an individual responsibility to take care of our bodies and fuel our bodies with nourishing food to the best of our ability and knowledge. It is time to create new recipes and new traditions that will lay the foundation for healthy individuals and therefore healthy populations.

Glyphosate’s Role in Causing Chronic Illness

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular “broad spectrum” herbicide, Roundup. This herbicide has greatly impacted agricultural methods and is at the root of the rise of chronic illness in the United States. Many genetically modified foods are designed to be “Round up Ready” meaning they are resistant to roundup. As of 2001, Glyphosate is the most used herbicide. Let’s take a look at how glyphosate is causing chronic illness and what you can do to minimize exposure on your path to wellness.

It is generally accepted that the farming land in the Unites States is becoming increasingly more mineral deficient. This idea is used to justify the need for taking supplements daily. But humans are not deficient in supplements. We are becoming deficient in plant based nutrition. By understanding what is causing these mineral deficiencies, we are able to make dietary adjustments and lifestyle changes were all we need is whole foods, exercise, rest, and sunshine to live a life full of vitality.

Monsanto claims that glyphosate is non-toxic. “All Roundup® Weed & Grass Killer products contain the same active ingredient*, glyphosate, which targets an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets.” This claim could not be further from the truth. However, the damage caused by glyphosate may take years before symptoms appear, so although death is not imminent with ingestion, chronic illness is prevalent with chronic exposure. Glyphosate targets a protein synthesis pathway called the shikimate pathway.

There are multiple pathways by which glyphosate could lead to pathology. A major consideration is that our gut bacteria do have the shikimate pathway, and that we depend upon this pathway in our gut bacteria as well as in plants to supply us with the essential aromatic amino acids, tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine. Methionine, an essential sulfur-containing amino acid, and glycine, are also negatively impacted by glyphosate. Furthermore, many other biologically active molecules, including serotonin, melatonin, melanin, epinephrine, dopamine, thyroid hormone, folate, coenzyme Q10, vitamin K, and vitamin E, depend on the shikimate pathway metabolites as precursors. Gut bacteria and plants use exclusively the shikimate pathway to produce these amino acids. In part because of shikimate pathway disruption, our gut bacteria are harmed by glyphosate, as evidenced by the fact that it has been patented as an antimicrobial agent. – Stephanie Seneff

Ever been told that you need to supplement iron, folate, coenzyme Q10, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B12, Magnesium, Manganese, Chondroitin Sulfate, or Glutathione? All of these deficiencies are directly correlated to ingesting glyphosate that inhibits the production of precursors necessary to create those nutrients in bioavailable forms. Glyphosate binds to an enzyme, EPSPS, in the shikimate pathway that produces amino acids that are necessary to create bioavailable forms of nutrients listed above.

Glyphosate harms the bacteria and fungus in the soil and in our intestines leaving the soil and our bodies lacking in bioavailable nutrients. This creates a perceived need for fertilizers and supplements. But what we really need is avoid further use or ingestion of glyphosate and to flood the soil with bacteria and fungus to effectively break down the glyphosate. This can be accomplished by creating compost for farmland and ingesting fermented vegetables and mushrooms.

Illnesses that have increased with the use of glyphosate include but are not limited to Lyme disease, Autism, ALS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, Insomnia, Obesity, Cancer, Tooth Decay, and Mitochondria Disease.

The most common sources of glyphosate in food are Round Up Ready GMO crops and conventionally grown crops that are sprayed with Roundup three days before harvest. Foods approved to be grown as GMOs in the US are corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, sugar beets (can be GMO and labeled organic), alfalfa, papaya, yellow “crook neck” squash, zucchini, “Arctic” apple, and “Innate” potato. Crops that are sprayed with Roundups a few days before harvest include wheat, peanuts, nuts, beans, lentils, and oats. These lists are a baseline, but are not all encompassing.

Conventional animal agriculture feeds their livestock with gmo corn and soy. The glyphosate builds up into the animal tissue and remains in the animal products you buy in stores and at restaurants. If you are not ready to give up animal products, make sure to buy grass fed, free range, organic animal products or wild caught fish.

Organic farmers are not allowed to spray Roundup on their crops, so eating organic is a great way to reduce exposure. However, conventional farmers use aerial spraying techniques that cause contamination of neighboring organic farms. Glyphosate is so prevalent in our society that trace amounts have been found in rainwater. It is not possible to completely eliminate glyphosate, but we can dramatically reduce exposure and support our elimination organs to prevent it from building up in our bodies.

Protect yourself from glyphosate by buying organic and non-gmo produce and going gluten-free. Products high in gluten, such as wheat, barley, rye, and oats are also heavily sprayed with Roundup. Most processed food includes ingredients that are sprayed with glyphosate. For a processed food to be certified organic, it only needs to contain 95% organic ingredients (unless labeled 100% organic). Therefore, even 5% of organic packaged foods could contain trace amounts of glyphosate in the form of gmos or conventional produce. Take control by growing your own garden, boycotting Monsanto, refusing to buy products sprayed with Roundup, and supporting your local organic farmers.

Liver flushes and coffee enemas support your liver and colon thereby increasing nutrient absorption and detoxification of toxins, such as glyphosate. Epsom salt baths help replenish magnesium and sulfur. Sea vegetables and sea salt help replenish trace minerals that are deficient in our soil. By completing a liver flush series, performing coffee enemas, taking regular Epsom salt baths, and eating an organic, non-gmo, whole food diet you can heal whatever chronic illness ails you and return to vibrancy without taking supplements. Nature has innate methods to return to a state of harmony. In agriculture, organic permaculture returns the land to harmony. In humans, organic food consumption and a healthy lifestyle returns our bodies to harmony.

For further reading, check out research by Dr. Stephanie Seneff at MIT. She has published several peer review articles looking at trends involving usage of Round Up.