My Story

Just like most Americans, I grew up living on the SAD.  As a child, McDonalds was my favorite restaurant.  In fact, my very first pet, a Cockatiel Bird, was named after my favorite place.  We called him MAC. Seriously…..!

The truly sad part was that I know my mother fed me what she thought to be healthy.  No one knew any better.  How could food not be FOOD????   Actually, I had a healthier diet than most of my friends.  Yes, we were allowed Kool Aid, fast foods, some candy and bakery type treats.  However, we weren’t allowed sugary cereals and my mother was one of the few among the mothers of my friends that actually made nutritious homemade dinners almost every night.

Living the SAD lifestyle, I quickly found myself a true fan of sugar.  In fact, I wasn’t just a fan, I was an addict.  Skittles and M&M’s were my favorite.  I can’t imagine how much food coloring I ingested during this time in my life!  As a teenager, I would skip eating lunch at school and just eat candy most days (unbeknownst to my mother, of course).

I also loved fast food.  It was a treat to go to Taco Bell, or any other fast food drive-through.  I wasn’t picky… I was a true junk food junky!  The resilience of my youth kept me functioning for the most part during this time.  Although, I didn’t escape without some consequences, I experienced a lot of emotional outbursts which I now am most certain, were due to my lack of nutrition during this period of my life.

In college, I didn’t get much better.   In fact, I was like many college students out there = broke!  As a result, I ate as cheaply as possible.  I lived on diet coke, ramen noodles, cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagels, frozen yogurt, ice cream, fast food and pizza.  I did eat the occasional salad here and there, but that was a rare occurrence.  Needless to say, I had terrible acne and felt fatigued through most of those years!  Youth kept me going though, and I really didn’t have much further impact on my health at that time….

That all changed in my late twenties and early thirties.  I was living a fast paced life working in Healthcare Sales.  I spent time in Pharmaceutical Sales with multiple drugs and in Medical Device Sales with Cardiovascular products and Pacemakers.  As I had matured, I had transitioned my diet to eating more “whole” meals that included eggs and meat regularly.  However, I still was addicted to sugar and couldn’t get through the day without some sort of candy by my side.  Whether I was snacking on Hot Tamales or a Snickers bar, I always had something nearby.  I found that this sugar helped me stay up and pull all-nighters so that I could study for my job or so I could respond to the page that came in the middle of the night for one of our patients with a pacemaker.

The irony is that I always stayed fairly slim throughout my life.  I was very weight conscious so I watched how much I ate.  Yes, I filled my day with mostly junk food; however I didn’t eat a ton of it so my weight stayed stable.  I certainly wasn’t eating nutritious food to counter the junk.  From the outside, I looked healthy and great, but on the inside something else was going on….

In my early thirties I started really “not feeling right.”  I couldn’t quite pinpoint what didn’t feel right.  I just knew that I didn’t feel right.  I started to notice that I was developing strange symptoms.  I got blurry vision, headaches, a numb tingling sensation in my arms and legs, intestinal issues, strange rashes on my body and I even developed oral thrush!  I went to several doctors and being in the Medical Industry, I thought I knew the best doctors to go to.

Not a single doctor could find anything wrong.  The typical response was that I needed to “get some rest”….that I should just “take it easy.”  I became so frustrated because as they were telling me these empty suggestions, I could literally feel my body falling apart.  The fact that I “looked healthy” seemed to hurt my ability to be taken seriously by my doctors as they seemed to just write off my condition as a result of stress and the wear and tear of the daily grind….

Out of frustration, I started my own research on my symptoms.  I typed in “Oral Thrush” in Google’s search engine, and Candida popped up.  As I researched Candida, I found that I was experiencing many symptoms of this disorder.  I didn’t have the typical “female” symptoms of Candida, I had SYSTEMIC symptoms instead.  I figured my OBGYN would be the best expert to consult with this as they had the most experience in dealing with Candida since it tended to manifest itself as a female infection.  Truthfully, I was desperately looking for some magic pill to make everything better and fix my issues.

My OBGYN conducted the normal “female” Candida test on me and when it came back she said that I didn’t have it.  That I should just get more rest and take it easy!!!  Of course the typical “female” test wouldn’t show that I had Candida.  I didn’t have THAT symptom!  Candida wasn’t manifesting itself in my body in that way.  I had the SYSTEMIC symptoms, but they didn’t have a test for that!

I was at the end of my rope.  In my research it stated that Candida often times would occur in conjunction with many other serious disorders.  I seriously believed that I was dying or that I was on my way to getting a severe Autoimmune disorder like Multiple Sclerosis.

I was desperate.  I did the last thing that I could do.  I followed the diet guidelines that I discovered in my own research about eliminating Candida.  I was so sick that I didn’t even feel depressed over the VERY RESTRICTIVE diet recommendations.  The night before I started the Candida diet, I stopped at my favorite fast food restaurant, McDonalds, and got a double cheeseburger, small fry and diet coke.  That was my final meal that I ate living the SAD – Standard American Diet.

The next day I changed everything, cold turkey.  I eliminated gluten completely.  I eliminated refined sugars completely!  The only things that I ate were animal proteins, gluten free oats, nuts, veggies, plain organic full fat yogurt, small amounts of rice and some fruit. Even though fruit was in general forbidden, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of at least one type of sweet in my diet. (Knowing what I know now, organic fruit offers many vitamins and minerals and if consumed in moderation is very healthful to your body.)  I also took strong probiotic supplements during this time, as recommended by much of my research.

Needless to say, I went through an extreme detox.  What I found to be most shocking was after only 2 days of following this plan, my vision became clear!  I stopped getting tingling feelings in my arms and legs, my rash went away, my headaches stopped and my oral thrush was completely gone!  I could finally sleep well!  I actually developed energy that I had never had before.  It was the most incredible and extreme change that I had ever experienced in my lifetime.  Truly, I was hooked on nutrition and natural remedies from that point on.

As I continued on my quest for knowledge, I learned of the scandal and lies that we are being fed by the FDA and the Food Giants (predominant food manufacturers).  I became angry!  I looked around at all of the people who were TRYING to be healthy, who were listening to the lies and instead were getting unhealthier by the minute!  In fact, I saw a lot of these sick people as I was a Medical Rep and many were not getting better, they were getting progressively worse.

I continued to scratch and claw for information.  When I read that Candida was prevalent in all Autistic children, I became worried that I was setting up my future children for this horrible disorder.  After all, wouldn’t it make sense that if I had Candida, my children might get Candida also?

Desperate to find out all that I could about wellness, I chose to leave the Medical Sales world and gained certifications as a Healing Foods Specialist and as a Nutritional Therapist Practitioner.  I never dreamed that my life would have taken this course.  However, information is so hard to come by and the TRUTH in nutrition seemed impossible to uncover any other way.   I wasn’t satisfied with little bits of information here and there; I wanted to KNOW the truth.

Following the principles that I have learned in my studies, I can truly say that I have never been healthier.   I have since expanded my diet in some ways, but mostly stick to the principles from the initial cleansing diet.  Personally, I have found that works for me.  However, I believe in bio-individuality and what works for one person may not work for another, so everyone needs to discover their best nutrition plan within the realm of a few foundational principles that I will share with you.

I am so thankful and feel blessed for the information that I have received because I am no longer hopeless.  As they say, “Knowledge is power!”  Although, at times I do believe, “Ignorance is Bliss”!  When you know something, you actually have accountability to it.  That accountability can be challenging at times, but I can promise you that it is very rewarding.  What it offers you is control.  Control over your health through how you choose to nourish your body.

My goal is to help share Health, Healing, Hope & Happiness with others who may be suffering from an ailment due to nutritional issues.  I know how hard it is to get answers and find information concerning nutrition and healing.  I want to make your journey easier than mine was!  I have been where you are.  I know that the journey towards wellness is challenging.  However, over these past several years I have experimented with endless recipes and foods to help successfully replace many of the foods that people are resistant to giving up, even though they know these foods are bad for them.  In my certification, I was taught a principle to never eliminate a food without replacing it with a healthy substitution.  I will help you not feel deprived through your transition and into a new way of life.

If you choose to make the commitment to Ditching the SAD, you will actually feel satisfied and balanced after eating a meal.  You will break the vicious cycle of guilt with eating.  Be prepared…as you Ditch the SAD….you will experience an increase in Health, Healing, Hope & Happiness!  You will live life to the fullest!

Blessings and health,

Jen Herlevi CHFS, NTP



  1. Barb Milburn

    Terrific article, Jen. I am so proud of what you have accomplished. And, it is such a rush to see your designations after your name! WELL DONE!!!!


    • Thank you so much, Aunt Barb! Your support is so appreciated. Love you so much! Hope this info provides value to your life.


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