My name is Maida Ference. I’m 48 years old, the wife of a career soldier, mother to two teenagers, and a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. This is the story of how I overcame decades of food addiction, discovered the joy of knowing and nourishing my body without shame or judgement, and was led to my passion for empowering others to improve their quality of life.
I grew up in a big, loving Mexican family and food was at the center. My most cherished memories were punctuated with food: Fried burritos my cousins picked up to take to the drive-in movies, hopping in my favorite uncle’s Jeep to go out for raspas (shaved ice), tortillas made from scratch and served hot off the comal in my tia’s kitchen, my choice of candy and soda pop from my grandparents’ grocery store. The pan de polvo (Mexican wedding cookies) made by my great aunt could be found at every wedding, anniversary, and quinceñera. Being surrounded by the people I loved the most was accompanied by food.
I was a little chubby, but so was nearly everyone else in my family, so I didn’t give it much thought until I was in the fourth or fifth grade. My female classmates had started wearing makeup and vying for boys’ attention and I started to become self-conscious. Despite taking dance and gymnastics classes since second grade and walking to and from school every day, by fifth grade I weighed 106 pounds. My self-esteem started to take a nose dive. I can still remember the boy would ride by me on his bike, laughing and calling me “bubble butt.” My solution to teasing was being extraordinarily friendly. I believed if everyone liked me, they wouldn’t make fun of me. For the most part, that turned out to be true. By the time I was 14, I weighed 172 pounds, too heavy to be on the drill team despite all my years of dance training (the weight limit for my height was 140). It was then that I went on my first structured diet, along with my mom, dad, and sister. We drank shakes for two meals a day, avoided red meat, and took handfuls of supplements. In the photos from our summer vacation in Europe, we were all the thinnest we’d ever been. Soon after returning home, we also returned to our pre-diet way of eating. This was the start of decades of roller coaster dieting. I tried medically supervised diets, weight loss centers, meal replacement bars and shakes. I counted fat grams, carbohydrates, points, pounds, and inches. Every month it seemed there was a new right way to eat. I hated my body for being bigger than I believed it should be and for being hungry. I felt powerless, depressed, hopeless, and I blamed myself.
By January of 2001, I’d had my gall bladder surgically removed and had reached 339 pounds. That was the day I was given my OB/GYN’s approval to start trying to have a baby and it’s also the day we conceived our first child. During my pregnancy, I had only one rule for myself regarding food, whatever I put in my body had to have nutritional value. That act of love for my child, with no other restriction, resulted in a healthy 8 pound 11 ounce baby and a complication-free pregnancy. Six weeks postpartum, I weighed 295, down more than 40 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I adhered to the same rule while I was nursing and during my subsequent pregnancy. My son was born 6 weeks after his sibling’s first birthday, same weight and near identical in length. While I nursed him, I nourished my body with the knowledge that what I was eating was feeding him and my weight remained stable. However, once he was a year old and weaned, I returned to my pre-pregnancy cycle of dieting. I was either on a diet or overeating in anticipation of the next one.
By the spring of 2007 I was back up to 325 pounds and had been told I was pre-diabetic. I started researching weight loss surgery and that November I elected to have gastric bypass surgery (Lap RNY, for those in the know). That March, I had my first post-op alcoholic drink. I was nervous about it, because I’d seen a talk show once on which people who had had bariatric surgery expressed their regret, because their addiction to food had evolved into other addictions. By February of 2009, I had my first alcoholic blackout. I spent the next three years trying to control my drinking and not understanding how I could go from being someone stopped drinking when she started to feel the effects of a cocktail to not being able to stop once I started. It didn’t make sense. In April 2012, in an effort to appease an angry friend, I went into a recovery program. It took me several months, repeated relapses, and some fairly hefty consequences before I finally understood. Whether it was the change to my anatomy impacting how I metabolized alcohol or simply trading one substance for another to change how I felt, I was now an alcoholic. And, like a person who had been diagnosed with a chronic illness, I would have to take steps to keep it from debilitating me, one day at a time, for the rest of my life.
Right about the same time that I admitted I was an alcoholic, an acquaintance posted on social media about his wife’s vision improving as a result of diet and lifestyle changes. I wrote to him and asked if he would share what they had done. While I had maintained a 150 pound weight loss, I only felt smaller, not healthier. I still suffered from depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, and hypoglycemia. It was this conversation that would end up changing the course of my life, right alongside my sobriety. He told me about the paleo lifestyle and, while what he described seemed extreme, he simplified it to a book recommendation and a small, simple first step, magnesium. Soon thereafter, I eliminated gluten and my digestion completely changed. As the months passed, I noticed that I no longer had migraine headaches, my last which had lasted two weeks and was impervious to even IV medication. The more attuned I became to my body and eliminated foods that weren’t serving me, the better I felt. The depression I’d been suffering from for decades subsided, as did the anxiety I had been experiencing for a few years. In 2015, I tested positive for Celiac Disease and started on the autoimmune protocol (AIP). I had adopted a way of eating focused on nourishment and supporting my body in healing itself, rather than restriction or changing how I looked.
While listening to a paleo podcast, I heard about the Nutritional Therapy Association and researched the programs they offered. I was afraid I wouldn’t be a good student, but obstacle after obstacle was removed from my path and in the fall of 2016, after 15 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I entered the NTA program for Nutritional Therapy Practitioner certification. I learned that there was not one right way to eat and that I had been hungry all those years, because the food that I stuffed my body with was lacking nutrient density. My body had simply been asking for the nourishment it needed.
Over the past 5 or 6 years, people have commented on how I “keep losing weight.” Truth be told, what they see is a reduction of inflammation, a change in body composition, thicker hair, a brighter complexion, joy, energy, gratitude, and confidence that have resulted from my program of recovery and finally giving my body the abundance of nourishment I had previously only afforded it when it was carrying or nursing my children. My weight has changed very little and even so, I tend to think of it as a range, fluctuating depending on exposure to inflammatory foods (by accident or by choice), sleep, and hormonal fluctuations. I have learned that healthy and pleasurable need not, and dare I say should not, be mutually exclusive. Talk to me for a few minutes and it will be overwhelmingly clear how passionate I am about replacing a restrictive mentality with one of abundance and choice fortified by self-awareness, free from judgment and dietary dogma. And, I love guiding folks to the point where I tell them, “It’s time for you to trust yourself more than you trust me.” Regardless of your age, genetics, history with food, or disease state, you can improve your quality of life, living authentically, treating your body and spirit with the love and respect you deserve.
You can find Maida on Instagram or Facebook at @nuancednutrition, www.NuancedNutrition.com , or contact her directly at email@example.com to schedule a free 20 minute consultation to determine if Nutritional Therapy is right for you. Mention Superseed Well for a 20% discount on services. She can also be found March 9-10 at the SXSW Wellness Expo at Palmer Auditorium and March 29-31 at the New Story Festival on the Huston-Tilloston campus where she will be both presenting and have a booth. Her presentation is entitled Loving Yourself Healthier.
7 Seed Blueberry Loaf
6 cups 7seed flour
1 cup water
2 TB Maple Syrup
3 TB Olive Oil
11/2 C Dried Blueberries, currants, raisins or cranberries (without added cane sugar)
- Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F
- Mix flour and dried fruit together in a large bowl. Mix water, maple syrup and oil together in a separate bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to the flour and fruit and stir to combine. The batter will be very thick and dense.
- Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Add all the batter to the loaf pan and shape with fingers. Press down all the edges to create a dome shape on top of the loaf.
- Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing. Slice thin and toast before serving.
We are excited to introduce our latest guest blog post coming from Tricia Pettigrew. She is a teacher, mama, wife, and friend. She's a busy woman who has been able to define what balance really means for her, and what being present each day looks like. We loved hearing her story of how to show herself grace, how to focus on what's most important, and how having a fridge stocked with nutritious Guiltless Goodies has helped her and her family. We hope you enjoy her story!
Hello, Guiltless Friends! My name is Tricia Pettigrew and I am a life coach, role model, motivator, mediator, negotiator, reality checker, cheerleader, event planner, tear wiper, shoe tier, chaos coordinator and a big hug giver just to name a few. I am a school teacher. I put my teacher hat on in the morning, and, at 3:10pm, my mama and wife hat come on and it is just a sweet continuation of all that I have going on in my life. A friend recently asked me “how I do it all?” I will tell you, a lot of talking to God, patience, grace, an exceptionally supportive husband and Guiltless Goodies.
I used to struggle with balance. Me time. Friend time. Kid time. Wife time. There’s just never enough time to meet the needs for each one! So what I would do was, put a little energy into each sector in my life each day because that is what balance is; that is what balance should look like, right? Wrong, actually.
Balance is such a loaded word and looks different to everyone. Balance implies that everything in your life has equal importance. And honestly, it does not. Years ago, when I was trying to create space for balance, I used to try and put all my energy into everything I had my hands in. Even with things that didn’t matter much to me I was fearful that if I did not show I was giving “it” my “all”, it was considered not good enough. Not only did I feel like a failure, but I also cared a little too much about what others thought. But, we should not let the criticisms and opinions of others dictate how we feel about reaching our goals or failing to reach our goals. (But, you already knew that ☺)
Focusing on meeting the needs in all areas in my life was affecting me and was a constant daily struggle. I used to believe that if I give too much in one domain, another domain would suffer. With that mentality, I would then try and not spend too much time in any one domain but instead, give a little to each to “create balance.” Living in this false sense of balance, I was actually neglecting matters that needed a little bit more tending to on that particular day. As I continued this pattern, my life felt out of whack and my purpose unclear.
Living life trying to please all and give equal time and commitment to all aspects of life is hard. It’s not purposeful and while you’re trying to feed each area in your life every single day, you’re helping to breed unnecessary stress for yourself. One night, after a heart to heart with my sweet husband letting me know I needed to let some things go, (because by that point my busyness was starting to take away from our relationship and for us, we promised that nothing would or should ever be more important than maintaining US) I had a moment of clarity: I only have so much emotional energy each day. Do not fight battles that don’t matter. Do not choose to spend time on something that does not uplift you or make you feel good as a person. Instead, prioritized your life in such a way that you target what means most to YOU, and feed THAT each day. Not only will you feel more fulfilled, but you will also learn that your days will look different and you have to adjust. And that’s okay too.
By fostering this immense shift, I started listing my values, goals, and priorities (and let’s not forget a lot of prayers, self-reflection and taking a good look at how I felt after my day). I learned from that moment on, it was necessary to set my intentions at the start of every day because this was a new practice to me and I wanted it to eventually be as easy as breathing.
At the start of every day, I would ask myself these two questions: what is most important, and what really matters at the end of the day? It was an epiphany for me in that I realized each day is very different from the next and I may have different needs with each given day. However, a few things remain constant: being a good Mom, wife, friend, and teacher. So how does that look? Well, like I mentioned earlier, I have shifted my mind from believing I needed to give a percentage to each domain every day, to prioritizing and filling the most important things in my life with my energy, care, and love. Oh, and creating space -sometimes lots of space- to allow myself forgiveness and grace, because let’s be real, it’s a daily practice and I often times fail. But, aren’t self-awareness and forgiveness beautiful things? Yes, they absolutely are.
With that realization that I can feed the areas in my life that matter most, the other areas’ needs will be met in some way or another and if they’re not, well, insert grace ☺. I now know that I don’t always need to be getting stuff done and it’s okay and absolutely necessary to shut down and rest. It is about listening to yourself and your body. You make your own rules and follow your own path. Over time it has become abundantly clear when I say I feel as though I can navigate though each day with clear goals and a more positive attitude confidently. After learning to prioritize what’s most important, I have more time to create ways to feed the most important areas in my life. Figuratively and literally.
You have most likely heard the phrase: It is better late than never to learn new things. I am grateful to have learned how to balance and prioritize properly before having my two babies and returning back to being a school teacher. I have two, amazing, beautiful children of my own and then I have twenty two amazing, beautiful school children that are mine too. When I say that my life is busy, that would be an understatement. Being a full time Mama, teacher, wife, and everything else in between is extremely time consuming, fulfilling and EVENTFUL!
With all that you have going on, you might feel like you’re in a continual state of busyness and hurried-ness and you may find that simplifying might settle you in more ways than you’d expect. Insert Guiltless Goodies. I cannot tell you how many times a dark chocolate donut saved me in my classroom when I did not have a chance to eat, or revived me during a staff meeting on a Monday afternoon. When my kids are hungry, handing them a Guiltless chocolate chip cookie that is rich in fiber, seeds, no artificial anything, both kid and mama hearts are happy. Every week I buy my packs of donuts and cookies. It has become a necessity in our household and in my school (even a few of my coworkers are hooked!) I am so beyond grateful for the nutritional benefits of Guiltless Goodies products and even more grateful for it curbing my terrible sweet tooth! I am thankful I can grab snacks on the go and feel good about it. There are times when I do not have a chance to eat lunch or anything at all during the day (it seriously happens!) and having a Guiltless donut in my fridge or cookies for mid-day snacks help keep my energy levels up, my tummy full (for hours) and my moods consistent (thank goodness because being “hangry” is not pleasant).
I am especially thankful for Guiltless Goodies and the nutritional benefits it has to offer for everyone around me whom I have shared with and who I love dearly. Having food that is enriched with goodness, healthiness, and a lot of soul is what is necessary for me to function on a daily basis to be the best possible version of myself that I can be. With a full belly to tackle the day I can do anything with a clear mind, vision and purpose. Thank you, Lindsey, Daniel, and the entire Guiltless Team! Your dedication and hard work helps so many beyond your reach and on behalf of everyone munching on your creations. We are SO thankful!!
Love, Tricia Pettigrew
We are so excited to introduce our next guest blogger, Caryn Carruthers, Photographer and Creative behind the food blog tasty 'n' free. She shares with us what led her to changing her eating habits and how it's inspired a new creativity within her! Here's her story....
Five years ago I officially learned about my wheat allergy. It took me a long time to get up the nerve to take the allergy test and find out – I was avoiding it because I didn’t want my beloved cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies to officially be off the table. But I had been noticing for a number of years that wheat, refined carbs and sugar were causing skin issues for me, and I needed to know what I was dealing with. So I took the allergy test and the results were as I suspected. Wheat allergy. Great. Now what?
My journey started with a lot of research because I wanted to know what foods I would never be able to eat again. Was I really never going to eat another baked good? I spent a lot of time reading anti-inflammatory and yeast free cookbooks because principals in these methods had proven successful with healing the gut. I started noticing trends in these “clean eating” methods – whole foods, low carb, unprocessed, home cooking, lots of fresh vegetables, low sugar, naturally sweetened, and dairy free – doable, but a big change from what I had currently been eating.
Clean eating made sense to me and I was willing to do it, but it was important to me that I didn’t feel deprived. I took on healing AND enjoying what I was eating as a fun challenge. I made long grocery lists and spent hours at the grocery store looking through products and reading labels. I experimented with new ingredients and tried out tons of recipes. The failures were many, but the successes made it all worth it. I was healing, learning and even getting to enjoy a few baked goods! I found that every time I read a label that left me disappointed, my creativity would flourish to find a food hack that would satisfy a craving. I substituted, brainstormed and the result was often creatively and physically fulfilling. With time I created a way of eating and a lifestyle that worked for me. In reflection, a lot of what I have accomplished during my years of clean eating is redefining for myself what tastes good. I now prefer fresh, real food to processed food.
The reality remains that pretty much every treat that stays within my dietary guidelines has to be made at home. There aren’t many companies making products I can buy, and eating out while avoiding trigger foods is nearly impossible. Over the years I have found a few products made by companies who adhere to my same eating principals. When I find products made by these companies I feel like someone has hand wrapped the perfect birthday present just for me. Guiltless Goodies is one of the few companies out there making treats for clean eaters. My reaction to finding their products was nothing short of elation, not only could I eat a baked good, I didn’t have to make it!
I have included some creative inspiration for how to eat clean and indulge with your Guiltless Goodies products. You’ll see pictured:
a Cake Donut breakfast sandwich with spinach and egg,
a blueberry smoothie bowl with a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Donut,
a Cake Donut dressed up with whipped pumpkin and topped with pumpkin seeds,
a Coconut Cookie Thin ice cream sandwich with dairy free ice cream
Eating clean doesn’t just have to be about the sacrifice. Get creative and find ways to indulge that leave you feeling good.
We are so happy that Caryn came to the bakery and became a new customer and friend. Make sure you check out her website and browse through her incredible recipes!
We've got you covered with a couple quick tricks!!
In one bowl we scooped about a 1/4c of coconut butter and 1-2T of coconut oil, heated it in the microwave for 30 seconds and stirred together. We poured the melted mixture into a ziplock bag and snipped the corner to create a pastry decorating bag!
Next we made twp small dots with melted mixture on our Cake Donut, then added mini chocolate chips for the eyes of our mummy donut. Then we drizzled the mixture back and forth creating the "bandages". We did this in two layers so that the mixture didn't all meld together. Let your first layer of bandages set up for 1-2 minutes then go back with a second layer.
Not only is this mummy the cutest little donut, but its healthy too! Preservative free and made with all natural ingredients, does it get better than that?!
We used the same melted coconut butter + coconut oil mixture and made spider webs on our Chocolate Glaze Donut. Our little spider is just scrap paper cut and put together using scissors and tape, but you could easily use a fake spider you have on hand to add to your plate for a non-edible, fun decoration. And if you need something even easier, just add some eyeballs and cut out some black paper wings and call our Chocolate Glaze Donuts, bats!
We hope everyone's had a wonderful week and you've got your costumes ready for Halloween coming up! Anyone going as a donut?! We fully support people dressing up as yummy food.
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