How Changing my Diet Helped Me Heal From 10 Years of Chronic Illness

How Changing my Diet Helped Me Heal From 10 Years of Chronic Illness
Sunrise Nori Wraps with Spicy Tahini Drizzle, image by Amie Valpone
Sunrise Nori Wraps with Spicy Tahini Drizzle from Clean Eating

Rather than enjoying the youth and virility of my twenties, what many people call the ‘best years of their life,’ I suffered from a decade of chronic illnesses- everything from Lyme disease to Colitis. On top of that, I was plagued by horrible digestive issues that left me feeling sick, lethargic and foggy. This is how I felt before I started my journey of detox, which led me to where I am today: living my life energized and feeling amazing in complete wellness.

Eating Clean BookI wrote my new cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body ,because I don’t want anyone to go through what I dealt with for 10 very expensive and painful years trying to figure out how to be healthy in a REAL way. Even though doctors in many ways helped save my life, the fact is that nothing changed until I changed my environment and my lifestyle.

Related: How to Fight Diabetes with Diet

I want to show you that eating and living clean feels amazing. Not because you should do it, but because when you see life this way, you’ll never go back. When you figure out what works for you and makes you feel amazing why wouldn’t you do that every day? Don’t you do what makes you feel good?

Redefining Detox

How Changing my Diet Helped Me Heal From 10 Years of Chronic IllnessDetox is not what you think. In my book, I explain how I detoxed my life of the chemicals we’re bombarded with in our food, environment, water and so much more.

Too many of us accept a low quality of life. We’re trained to take an Advil when we have a headache and reach for drugs when there is a health issue- but not of these pills are helping us address our underlying causes of symptoms. When I realized this, after being on morphine with 24 hours to live six years ago, I decided to quit my corporate job, launch my blog,, and set out on a mission to heal my body.

I had accepted feeling tired, bloated and foggy as ‘normal’ for way too many years before I figured out how to get to the root cause of my health issues without using a Band-Aid approach.

To me, detox is about eating clean, whole, one-ingredient foods. What’s in an avocado? An avocado. What’s in an apple? An apple. Catch my drift? I’ve built my life around one-ingredient foods the last 10 years in a tiny Manhattan apartment, so if I can do it, you can too. Because I assure you- your kitchen is much bigger than mine.

Detox is also about cleaning up what you’ve got going on inside of your body (ex: your gut health– since almost 80% of your immune system is in your gut) and replenishing it with organic foods so that you’re not ingesting toxins that can wreak havoc on your gut as well as adding in prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods, which I talk about in my book).

Re-Learn How to Eat for Health

I had to re-learn how to eat and live clean. You have so much more control than you realize. I want to inspire you to OWN your health and stop listening to what everyone else is telling you to eat and do for wellness. You know your body the best.

Do what works for you and what makes you feel amazing. All of our bodies are completely different- some people feel great eating vegan while others feel amazing eating paleo. It’s not about putting a label on yourself, it’s about eating and living in a way that works for you and makes you happy day after day. That’s how I healed my body, and I’m sharing all my tips and tricks and secrets for how I went from chronic illness to vitality in this book.

Below is a sample recipe from my book, and I’ll be sharing a few more recipes on Eat Drink Better in the coming months.

Sunrise Nori Wraps with Spicy Tahini Drizzle

Serves 4

Sunrise Nori Wraps with Spicy Tahini Drizzle, image by Amie ValponeIf you like California rolls, you’ll love these nori wraps (though personally, I think they’re so much better!). The tahini dressing is truly addictive—you’re going to want to dress everything in it—and the cabbage provides a nice crunch. If possible, use a food processor to slice the cabbage so you can get it super thin. Also, make sure the vegetable strips are all the same width and length so that they don’t hang over the edges of the nori sheets; this will make rolling up the wraps easier. Use leftover tahini drizzle as a dressing for salads or as a dip for crudités.

Sunrise Nori Wraps

  • 4 nori seaweed sheets
  • ¼ small head red cabbage, very thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, julienned
  • 1 small cucumber, julienned
  • 1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 recipe Spicy Tahini Drizzle

Spicy Tahini Drizzle

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ¼ tablespoons chickpea miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon raw tahini
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Water, as needed to thin the drizzle


Place the nori sheets on a flat surface. Divide the cabbage, carrot, squash, cucumber, and avocado among the sheets. Top each pile of vegetables with a heaping tablespoon of the Spicy Tahini Drizzle, and then roll up the nori sheets into a tube shape.

Make the tahini: Combine all of the ingredients except the water in a blender. Blend, adding water 1 teaspoon at a time as you go, until the mixture becomes a thin sauce.

Text excerpted from EATING CLEAN, © 2016 by AMIE VALPONE. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Amie Valpone //

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6 thoughts on “How Changing my Diet Helped Me Heal From 10 Years of Chronic Illness”

  1. I struggled with chronic illness for at least a decade, too, and I can sympathize with the author because I remember all too well how frustrating it was. In my case it was allergies, asthma, and recurrent seizures, which were the worst to cope with. My entire system was very sensitive, They did eventually find that some of it was due to epilepsy, but the medication made me feel exactly as she describes: tired, bloated, and foggy all the time. This was when I was about between 25 and 37, so I had the added pleasure of watching everyone else (it seemed like) get married, have “normal” lives, and start a family. Now I am in my early 50s, and have also embraced healthy eating and have seen amazing changes take place in my body and mind. I no longer have to take a nap every afternoon! My body works the way it was designed to! There are still some things that I won’t ever be able to change, but I have managed to stay away from the emergency room for almost 8 years now and I rarely have any major health problems that I need to see a doctor for. The traditional medical approach of using medication to cover up a problem is not really effective in treating it; it usually results in at least one more problem or nasty side effects.

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