MY JOURNEY TO HEALTH
I discovered the keto-focused, anti-inflammatory lifestyle after struggling with my health for twenty-five years. When I was sixteen, I was diagnosed with celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS), which I thankfully do not have today. While my daily work as an integrative holistic nutritionist includes helping people with everything from weight loss to diabetes, I have faced my own set of health issues over the years. About four years ago, I experienced a radical shift in my personal health that has led me to writing this book today.
My journey to finding health through nutrition has been an incredibly transformative one. I spent years trying the newest fad diets, every health trend under the sun, and the most punishing cleanses before I found something that worked for me. My goal for this book is to cut through all the confusing, conflicting health information and tell you everything you need to nourish your body. Cooking healthy meals with the right ingredients should be fun and inspiring—not a chore or intimidating.
Transitioning to a high-fat lifestyle has been one of the most impactful changes in my life. Before this, I was constantly “stabilizing my blood sugar” by eating every couple of hours to relieve my hanger. Switching to a high-fat ketogenic diet cleared my brain fog, energized me, and eliminated hunger pangs and mood swings from my life. Fat doesn’t make you fat; it makes you thrive. After applying these principles to my own life and seeing dramatic changes, I started to implement them with my clients, friends, and anyone who wanted to let me guide them.
THE HEALING TRANSITION
Before I launched my brand, The Vida Well, in 2016, I worked closely with leading naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and local San Diego doctors. I helped develop personalized programs for their patients combating everything from daily concerns such as fatigue and skin issues to widespread chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. This work inspired me to create The Vida Well, a wellness and education brand rooted in health and nutrition. I created this platform to open people’s worlds by helping them take a preventative approach to living, which essentially means not waiting until sickness strikes in order to change habits. My work consists of meeting one-on-one with clients, corporate consulting, and teaching around the world.
The knowledge I had, along with the direct access to some of San Diego’s best practitioners, helped me give patients the tools to change their lives through diet. And with this book, I can help so many more people than I would ever be able to on a one-on-one basis.
Throughout my work with thousands of clients, one thing has made itself clear to me: people are confused. There is an overwhelming amount of misinformation out there when it comes to what we should be eating. My clients will often share, with increasing exasperation and frustration, things they read online. They’re hesitant to eat fat because they believe it will clog their arteries, and they’re worried that skipping breakfast or snacks will cause a drop in blood sugar.
This book will dispel all the ambiguity by breaking down the science of nutrition into easily digestible information and giving you clear solutions to help eliminate sugar and reduce carbohydrates in your diet. Everyone I have worked with, no matter what symptoms they have, has benefited from this simple process.
I will not recommend anything in this book that I have not experimented with on myself. For so long, I felt like I tried everything from going gluten-free to using prescription medications. The major shift happened when my mind felt clear and I was satisfied after meals. With the keto diet, I have finally found something that not only works but is a tenable way to live.
Chronic inflammatory diseases have never been more of a global problem than they are right now. Most of this is due to inflammation caused by poor nutritional habits, stress levels, sedentary lifestyles, abnormal sleep patterns, and environmental exposures. As our food becomes more sugar laden and processed, the number of people suffering with inflammation-based diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver disease, mental illnesses, digestive disorders, and even cancer continues to rise. The United States spends more on health care than any other country, yet our rates of disease are the highest in the world. Over half of the country is suffering from ailments that can be treated, managed, or even reversed through nutrition-based programs. My own experiences have inspired me to look for answers, but the positive change I see in my clients has turned it into my passion.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the way. We can go back to a more intuitive way of eating and still live in the modern world. Pairing locally sourced and unprocessed foods with my simple high-fat, low-carb guidelines will transform the way your body functions and, with that, many aspects of your health.
I chose to focus on Mexican food for a couple reasons. I’m half Mexican and live in Mexico part-time, so Mexican cooking is like a first language to me. Traditional Mexican cuisine is high in healthy fats and proteins and lends itself well to a ketogenic diet. Finally, many of my clients have some sort of Mexican heritage like I do. Seeing people embrace their culinary roots firsthand and at the same time reverse their inflammation symptoms is one of the best parts of my job.
In researching the concept for this book, I started to explore the ways my great-grandparents ate and their relationship with food. What I discovered was that not too long ago, their diet closely resembled the one I have painstakingly discovered through trial and error. Slow-cooked meats, whole fish, and seasonal vegetables served with homemade salsas comprised the majority of their meals. You’ll read more about the relationship between high-fat foods and Mexican cooking on page 8.
Everyone wants to lead healthier lives, but most are overwhelmed by either nutrition myths or inflammation ailments or both. Throughout this book, you will learn simple ways to prioritize your everyday health. This cookbook is your road map to wellness. You will learn that food reminiscent of abuelita’s cooking is healthier than any commercialized Mexican food you’ll find today. These flavorful Mexican recipes will resemble what people ate before processed and fast foods became the norm in both Mexico and the United States.
My goal is to educate and empower by taking the traditional Mexican dishes I have always known and loved and updating them to optimize health in a delicious and enjoyable way. Each recipe will be accompanied by health tips, ingredient facts, and substitution ideas. I will also help you fill your kitchen cabinets with affordable and nutrient-dense staples. We want to create an enduring lifestyle change rather than a quick fix. It’s time to become more connected with the food we put into our bodies and learn to listen to our bodies’ signals.
Imagine a life where you have the energy to check things off your always growing to-do list, where you’re sleeping through the night, not wearing as much makeup because your skin is now clear and glowing, where you’re fitting into that favorite pair of jeans, and feeling like your best self. You slow down, listen, and understand the messages from your body.
Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to nutrition. Everyone has their own taste preferences and health issues. Still, despite these distinctions, everybody can benefit from incorporating keto concepts into their life. All the research I have done, all my experiences working with people to better their nutrition, and my own personal journey with the keto diet have shown me that proactively reducing your inflammation leads to major health benefits. Imbalance is caused by inflammation. Just one imbalance creates oxidative stress in the body, which in turn creates mitochondrial dysfunction. Inflammation is something that every single one of us has, although the symptoms may present themselves in different ways.
These simple and straightforward recipes are low in carbs, high in healthy fats, and moderate in protein. This book uses the principles of the ketogenic diet (see page 16) and the pillars of Mexican heritage cuisine as the foundation for creating affordable and accessible meals that will reduce disease-causing inflammation in the body, speed up your metabolism, help shed those extra pounds, clear that brain fog, improve mental clarity, and balance your hormones.
It can be argued that everybody loves Mexican food—but that’s not why I’m writing this book. People all over the world are sick and they are only getting sicker. There are so many conflicting opinions about what is healthy, and people fall into a mainstream-trending diet hole. They are afraid to include fat in their diets, opting for low-fat, high-sugar, and high-chemical products instead. Most people don’t have easy access to nutrient-rich food, elite dieting fads, or posh cookbooks. My hope is that this book will start to bridge that chasm by bringing this information to people all over the world.
Copyright © 2019 by Torie Borrelli. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.