Annika’s Health Crisis and Mission

Annika Age 2: Poor diet including plenty of cotton candy and pasta. Suffered with chronic ear infections and bronchitis. Just look at my face!

As a child and through my teens, I was a picky eater… a seriously picky one!  I also suffered through many years of chronic ear and bronchial infections, allergies, eczema, acne, Candida, flu, and list of others. Only years later did we discover my symptoms were preventable and caused by my poor diet!  My passion for helping others heal with food was ignited and I became a nutritionist. My mission: To teach parents how to heal their child naturally so they don’t suffer like I did.

My Start as a Picky Eater
I refused most foods presented to me as a child, so my diet as a four year-old toddler was limited to bland jarred baby food fruit puree, mac and cheese, or pizza. I also happily ate ice cream, cookies and any packaged junk food. My parents told me I would cause huge scenes and have temper tantrums to get the food I wanted. I also had issues with textures and flavors. If anything had spices like oregano, including the pizza sauce, I’d refuse it. They didn’t know what to do and they knew I needed to eat, so they just gave in to my demands.

Suffering Through Many Illnesses

Little did my parents know that my seriously deficient diet would cause me to have malnutrition and health struggles for the next 25 years of my life. Starting as a baby and throughout my childhood, I was chronically ill and on medications every other month.

I was plagued with ear infections, bronchial infections, skin rashes, gastrointestinal trouble, and behavioral issues. Into my teens, the health challenges continued with severe allergies, hayfever, frequent colds, flu, bronchitis, tonsilitis, adnoid issues, acne, restless legs, Candida, “foggy-brain,” constipation, depression, debilitating PMS, fatigue, mood swings, and most scary of all, Mononucluosis, for which I was in the hospital for weeks.

Annika 5 yrs old chronically ill

I always had a bad cough, runny nose, and itchy skin. Food allergies too. See those dark circles under my eyes?

The Cause of My Ailments

What we didn’t know at the time, is that the antibiotics I had taken for my chronic infections over the years had done some permanent damage to my intestinal tract which then affected my immune system. And as a result, my health problems were amplified. To make things worse, at no time throughout all the years of my suffering and illnesses did any of the numerous doctors I saw recommend that we look into changes in my diet.

Frankly, it was amazing that I even graduated Swarthmore College let alone high school. I just remember years of struggles to find enough energy to complete my work.  I was always so tired, sick, and recovering from something. Looking back, I spend years being at only 20% of my actual capacity. Not a fun childhood/adolescent experience!

The Start of my Recovery

Finally, at age 22, I was blessed to meet Robert Crayhon, a brilliant nutritionist, author, speaker, and researcher, who became my mentor for many years and ignited my passion for helping change people’s lives with good nutrition.

To my Mother’s great disappointment, I decided against attending medical school, despite the years of pre-med preparation. I personally felt the medical system had failed me. So I went off to change the world with nutrition and holistic healing. It has been the most rewarding career ever imaginable!

My Health Transformation

Annika in Miami Beach, FL: Finally healthy at age 40!

Slowly over the course of 10 years, I took small steps towards healing and recovery by studying various nutritional theories and implementing them on myself. First, I became a vegetarian for 6 years since I had heard it was “healthy”, but unfortunately it only added to my list of health ailments.

Then, I took a job as a research assistant for nutritional supplements. I dove deep into the scientific literature of vitamins and started taking dozens of them daily. I have to admit, they did help!

But it wasn’t until I fully changed the quality of the foods I was consuming (to “real foods” including organic, grassfed, pastured animals, gluten-free, low grain, and including raw dairy) that my recovery became dramatic. I went from 25 years of having chronic infections, taking prescription medications, and having numerous health problems, to a disease-free life with no medications. I’m proud to say that I haven’t taken a medication in over 9 years! If and when I do get sick, it’s very mild and it passes in little time. I am not only healthier, but also more productive, alert, energized, happy, and active at 40 years old than I ever have been!

My Baby and The Impact of Excellent Nutrition

Over the last 15 years, my work as a nutritionist has ranged from helping clients with diabetes and heart disease to that of women’s health issues. But it wasn’t until I had a child of my own that I discovered that children’s nutrition was by far the most important focus I could spend my time on. I have researched so much valuable information that I feel the need to pass these facts on to parents.

My daughter Kira: As healthy as they come! And not a picky eater. Lunch- mixed veggie soup with raw sour cream, wild salmon, sweet potato, avocado.

Also, having been an extremely picky eater myself, and a chronically ill child, I was determined to do everything possible for my baby to ensure she would not suffer as I did. So starting during pregnancy and breastfeeding, I made sure my baby was getting the best nourishment possible, and the best foods that I could afford. And as my baby began to eat solid foods, I was always extremely attentive to every food that went into her mouth, always aiming for fresh, organic, plenty of healthy fats, pasture-raised meats and organ meats, wild seafood, and nutrient-dense gluten-free carbohydrates. The WAPF guidelines and Paleo Diet are the backbone of my eating principles.

All my careful attention to food paid off! I created an amazingly healthy baby and now young girl (born Oct 2007) who has been at the top of the charts verbally, emotionally, and physically. And a little bragging here… to the surprise of her teachers, she began speaking in full sentences in both English and Spanish before age 2 – before most of her classmates even started speaking their first words coherently.

Kira in school 5 days per week since age 1. No illness or infections lasting more than 48 hours to report!

But most importantly, her health has been stellar (unlike mine growing up). She has never needed any medical intervention. No ear infections, no eczema, no antibiotics, no medications, and she has had no health concern to date – despite the fact she’s been in school/day care since age 1 running around with all those other kids with runny noses who cough all over the place. And she’s traveled with us a couple times overseas to Peru, where a lot of malnourished kids with disease reside.

Her immune system is strong from her great diet, happy life, and from my diet during pregnancy which helped create the foundation of her strong system. She naturally and quickly fights off any bad stuff she is exposed to with mild symptoms. Oh, and did I mention she’s never had a vaccine?

Finally, another way in which Kira shows off her excellent nutritional status is through her physical features. Unlike me, her teeth came in perfectly straight, she has no cavities, needs no glasses, does not have a narrow sinus cavity, and her face is a round strong shape (not oval like mine and my husbands). Why is this significant? Dr. Weston A. Price‘s book and research explain how these facial characteristics mean a child or young adult are well nourished and living up to their genetic potential.

But is she a Picky Eater?

Still loves eating fish eggs!

Not by a long shot! Frankly, she’s never been given the opportunity to become one because I know what causes and fixes finicky eaters. Kira continues to happily eat what most other kids call “disgusting”.  Her school lunch box contains what some moms would think as “unthinkable” foods including sardines, fish eggs (Ikura), chicken liver, veggie soup, raw veggies, sauerkraut, bone broth soup, seaweed, plain unsweetened yogurt, whole fruit, raw  milk and pumpkin seeds. She happily eat these foods and bring home a (mostly) empty lunchbox. Kira is a champ and she understands the value of the foods she eats and why she does not have Cheetos and Fruit Roll-Up filled lunchbox like her classmates. It was easy to accomplish this with the right nutrition knowledge and the confidence that I would create a very happy healthy child if I gave her the right building blocks.

Bottom line is,  it is quite clear that her excellent health and development, and her affinity for healthy foods, is deeply rooted in the great diet I’ve provided her, as well as from my diet during pregnancy which helped form the foundation of her strong system.

My Mission

My mission is simple. I want parents to know there IS a solution for their child’s common health challenges. There is no need to watch your child suffer with chronic symptoms or illness. And parents don’t need to drive themselves insane with their “picky eaters”. Your child’s symptoms are your first sign that something is wrong and needs to change.
Your Pediatrician has probably told you there is nothing you can do aside from take the prescribed medication or wait-it-out and see. It’s NOT true!  There is a way to improve your child’s health naturally.  I suffered for 25 years with various preventable health issues, and I don’t want to see other children and families suffer like I did.

By having shared my story, and my client’s health victories via their testimonials, I hope you will be inspired to seek out change and make nutrition and nourishing food a priority in your child’s health!

Love and health,

Annika Rockwell, CN