Herbie of the Week: Rhanda

Meet our Herbie of the Week, Rhanda, who is an excellent reminder that diet-related health problems aren't always visible on the outside. I immediately identifed with Rhanda's story, because I too have suffered from debilitating migraines and menstrual cramps in the past. Transitioning to a whole foods, plant-based diet has significantly helped both of us — all hail the power of plants!

Here is Rhanda's Herbie success story, in her own words:

"It’s been 7 and a half months since I’ve been a herbivore, and I want to share my story with you. Although I was never overweight, I’ve always been quite small — I was still experiencing health scares. These health scares started when I was a teenager and different problems kept popping up. My diet included chicken patties, beef as a main ingredient in most meals, processed cereals and snacks, milk, dairy, and everything in between! As a child, our family could not afford expensive produce, so we ate foods that were convenient and cheap. Unfortunately, these are also the unhealthiest foods on the market. Like most people, my parents thought the beef and milk were healthy, just like any other American. Anyway, as I reached my later teenage years, I had gained a little weight but that wasn’t the main concern. 

I began to have headaches on a daily basis, and migraines would occur about 2 times a month. My menstrual cycle was extremely irregular, sometimes it would take months before I would get it. When I did get my menstrual cycle, it was so bad that I would be lying in bed for days in pain. I always felt tired and never refreshed in the morning. When the migraines and headaches occurred, I would miss several school days and my grades fell behind. It got to the point that I always had Excedrin Migraine with me, no matter where I went because it would always sneak in. It was really a disappointment when I would go on vacation or a family event and I would have to lie down in a quiet, dark room until the migraine had passed. I also experienced IBS, depression, and anxiety. When the doctor tried to put me on medication, I knew this could start a never ending spiral on medication — so I went home and threw it in the garbage. 

By this time, I had spent the last 8 years of my life living with these intrusive headaches, migraines, and an overall feeling of anxiety (worrying about when the next migraine would strike). I was ultimately sick and tired of being sick and tired. This was when I started researching and tried every natural remedy out there including yoga, chiropractic, aromatherapy, herbal supplements, exercise… everything! Although it seemed to help a little, nothing really changed too much. I knew at this point that my health wasn’t the best; I looked healthy and fit — but my body was trying to tell me something from the inside. 

I tried to go vegetarian a few years ago (for the animals) and I didn’t do enough research beforehand, so it didn’t last long. I actually ended up even more sick because I was replacing all the meat with dairy. Randomly I would throw up, feel nauseous, weak, and my brain felt foggy.  After watching Forks Over Knives, I realized that dairy was even worse than the meat! My life changed on August 1st, 2012 when I quit meat and dairy, the day after watching Forks over Knives. The Engine 2 Diet helped me to get started, and then I discovered Happy Herbivore! My husband thought I was crazy, but he is starting to really enjoy this new lifestyle as well — even though he hasn’t completely given up the meat or dairy, he has cut back. 

Some of the benefits I have noticed are clear and glowing skin, more energy, no more 'brain fog' or 'cloudiness,' recovering faster from cold/flu, decrease in anxiety, headaches, and migraines, and now I’m happier than I was before! My menstrual cycle is regular now and the IBS is gone. I really feel like I’ve been transformed into a completely new body. 

Before, I didn’t know how to cook, and the very little skills I had needed a lot of work. I’ve gotten really good at cooking and your books have made it so much fun! My husband loves it because he loves to try all the new foods and flavors. He has also mentioned than he has been feeling more energetic than usual. Keep in mind that he was against the whole herbivore thing at the beginning, and when I heard him say he likes the new way of cooking and how he is feeling better — my jaw about dropped to the floor. He eats whatever I cook at home, and then he is free to eat what he wants elsewhere. I’m not going to push him; I just want to live by example. There are still times when I still get headaches (I think they are more tension-related than diet-related), but nothing compared to what they were before my plant-based journey started. If it’s only been seven and half months and I already feel this much better, then I can’t imagine what I will feel like a year from now.

I want to thank you for your tremendous inspiration, courage, and knowledge! You have changed my life in so many ways  I can’t thank you enough! I’m so inspired that I talk about your recipes on a regular basis at work, and my manager called me a 'cooking maniac' the other day.  I’ve upgraded all my kitchen appliances, and I’m always chopping, blending, mincing, and sautéing! I’m not sure what I would have done without you or your cookbooks. Again, thank you so much for changing my life in such a positive way." 

Migraines, be gone! For more information, check out what Dr. McDougall and the PCRM have to say about migraines/headaches related to diet. Thanks so much, Rhanda, for sharing your inspiring story!

UPDATE (May 21):"I still feel just as wonderful but I also wanted to mention a few things. I've noticed that my teeth are whiter, I don't feel sluggish after I eat, and I no longer have strong cravings for cheese or junk food, food in general tastes so much better, I feel clean from the inside out, and I also feel like my body requires less sleep now. The benefits of this lifestyle are beyond anything I can list in this e-mail. This lifestyle has changed my perspective on life and has changed me to become more compassionate for all living beings. It is also helping me with my current goal, which is working on becoming a minimalist. If I can do this, then I believe anyone can. Thank you so much expanding my knowledge and allowing me to share my story with other Herbies."