Five years ago, I started a movement in my son’s school district in California that resulted in the improvement of the hot lunches served at the district’s eight schools. Parents from across the district joined me and we worked hard for a year through the school’s political system. The end result was a lunch program that included whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, without artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, MSG or partially hydrogenated oils. The meats were free of added hormones, antibiotic-free and nitrate-free. Dessert was taken off the menu and replaced with fresh fruit. The feeling of triumph when this happened despite all the obstacles in our way was a major motivation for me to work in the field of health and wellness. The impact I made from the work was much more satisfying than working at a desk, crunching numbers and writing reports that never touched the everyday lives of people.
I grew up in the urban environment of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the decades of the 1970s and 1980s; when developing countries were told that formula is better than breastmilk, when antibiotics were given every time a child had a cold. Mosquitoes plagued us, and the spraying of pesticides (with such names as ShellTox) in bedrooms were common. Chemicals were in our soaps, toothpaste, shampoos, laundry detergent, fabric softener and household cleaners. Exposure to exhaust fumes was an everyday occurrence. Unleaded petrol was introduced only in the late 1980s.
While I generally ate well-balanced meals in my growing years, I don’t remember having learnt about nutrition at all. Gaining some freedom to go out in my teenage years, I was eating at road-side stalls, loading up on carbohydrates that had little or no vegetables. I was chronically constipated, but never knew or cared that it was even a problem.
My body kept up quite well into my late 20s. That was when it started unraveling, although back then I didn’t think much about it. My toxic load of pesticides, heavy antibiotic-use and poor nutrition showed up, mostly in skin-related issues. Hives and facial blemishes were ever present. I felt bloated all the time and had constant yeast infections. I had two children in the space of 7 years with a couple of miscarriages in between. At 36, with a 7 year old and a 1 year old, my journey of discovery began. By then, my lower back would hurt 9 months out of the year and I would get sick easily.
It started with my 7 year old complaining of stomach issues. Fearing the need to use the bathroom, he became afraid of leaving the house, even to go to school. Tests showed that he was allergic to many common allergens, including wheat, soy, corn, eggs and milk. All the research I did pointed to a need to remove allergens, remove toxins and replace with unprocessed, organic food and to replenish the gut with probiotics. I was committed to help him get better, so we went on a strict protocol to do the above. When his digestive system healed, he was able to add back all the foods except gluten and dairy. The removal of these two highly inflammatory foods from our meals benefited the whole family. My husband’s migraines have disappeared, my younger son’s rashes on his face is gone as are my skin issues and other daily aches and pains.
Today, our family eats gluten-free and dairy-free and each of us strive to eat 6-10 servings of colorful vegetables every single day. Besides eating organic, unprocessed food, I believe adding essential oils to our lives has propelled our healthy lifestyle up a notch. We use essential oils daily for so many things including supporting our immune system, our liver function, digestive function, moods, skin, and even hair. We are staying healthy to have fun, to travel and to live our lives of purpose.
This experience of gaining my health back through food and essential oils led me naturally down the path of wanting to change people’s lives by educating them about health and wellness. After the year-long pursuit of improving the hot lunch program in my son’s school district, I went back to school to study for a Nutrition Consulting Certificate. Since then, I have been committed to spreading the word about healthy living. I teach classes regularly in and around Tokyo about nutrition, essential oils, and Yoga. It is rewarding to make an impact in my community.
When we moved to Tokyo, the first thing I did was to do research on where to purchase organic food. We are so grateful to have access to Super Organic fruits and vegetables. The ease of ordering and having it delivered is really convenient.
Lee Yen Anderson
The picture is of Lee Yen and her family in Sri Lanka at the site of a 1,500 year old stupa.