The Truth Behind Our Food | Giving Back with the American Heart Association

When I think of health, my mind instantly brings itself to our home, the land that we live on and work every single day. I wonder how we have managed as a family to come so far in as little as three years. It was back in August of 2014 that I learned I was pregnant with Tad; I was two weeks away from moving into my freshman dorm at college. I think most people know this story, but if you don't, I am a twenty-two-year-old single mother. I had always been very aware of myself, trying my hardest to learn more about how my body operated, but had never had much concern for the health of my heart. As someone who has a family with a record of heart related health problems, it was in the back of my mind, but I figured I had a handful of good years ahead of me before I had to worry about that. During my pregnancy, I knew that I had to get my act together! My diet changed then; in fact, my love of cooking was truly born at that moment. I wanted to plan and prepare everything that the little human growing inside of me was going to eat. I was meticulous, dedicated, and I watched with excitement as I felt better than I had in my entire short life!

It was after Tad was born that I fed him extremely well, but I somehow fell of the wagon myself, and did not nourish my own body well. I think that's fairly true of most mothers, most fathers too. We are consumed with feeding a little one, that we settle for their leftovers, or something quick so that we may get to the good stuff. I soon realized that feeding myself well was the good stuff. Early this year, we set a goal for ourselves to eat what we could organically, locally, and to lessen our home of processed, packaged foods. I was inspired after watching a few documentaries on the subject of our food production in the USA and reading a few books on the subject, too. Michael Pollan is my spirit animal. It was heartbreaking to hear about other people in their twenties, my age, suffering from heart attacks because they drank too much soda, because they weren't nourishing their bodies. We've been keeping up with the lifestyle change for almost a year now, and it has changed all of our lives. We no longer eat processed cookies or chips or soda. I no longer eat meat (though I did sneak in a bit of turkey this year!); I do this more so because I am a bit disgusted with the amount of pollution that is made from conventional animal farming, but it also makes me feel more alive. Overall, I feel like I hardly suffer from feeling bloated, digestion issues, or exhaustion.

The more I learn about eating real food, the more I am inspired to talk about it, to discuss this idea with others. I also am beginning to notice how somewhat brainwashed we are. We have to do better, in so many areas of life, but I think that discovering where our food comes from and what is in it is one of the most important. 

I was truly excited when the American Heart Association reached out to me to share a post with you on the importance of supporting heart health and the research that is done to provide better care to patients suffering from heart related issues. As a mother who is working hard to provide the best food for my son so that he may never have to suffer with something like that as well as to make sure that I, his caretaker, do not either is a truly inspiring journey to be on. I was so saddened to read the statistic that nearly 40,000 infants are born each year in the US with a heart defect. These include problems with the heart's structure such as holes in the heart, narrowed or leaky valves, or malformed or missing vessel and heart chambers. 

I can only hope that we may never have to go through something so terrifying that so many others face, but am happy knowing that we may be aware of the risks of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. We can try our hardest to prevent these things from happening by feeding ourselves well and by spending our time outdoors in the garden or with our chickens. It is a beautifully rewarding life, I must say, even with all of the hard work!

The American Heart Association funds their research projects with donations. These research applications are carefully weighed and selected by scientists and healthcare professionals who volunteer for the association. They have funded 13 Nobel Prize winner and several important medical breakthroughs, including techniques and standards for life saving practices such as CPR, the first artificial heart valve, implantable pacemakers, cholesterol inhibitors, and microsurgery. As an amazing organization, they fund more research into cardiovascular diseases and stroke than any other organization except for the federal government. 

In partnership with The Children's Heart Foundation, the American Heart Association has pledged to fund up to $22.5 million in congenital heart defect research through 2021. 

We are so happy to be able to share this amazing donation opportunity with you, our readers, today on Giving Tuesday. I try my hardest to carefully select sponsored content with you that I find is beneficial, without waste, and this was just such a nice thing to share with you all. If you have moment, please take the time to donate to the American Heart Association this holiday season. We all know someone, family or friend, who has needed support for the health of their heart. We are so grateful to be able to help this cause!

If you would like more information about the American Heart Association, please click here.

xoxo Kayla

This post is in partnership with The American Heart Association.