Jenny Carr doesn’t eat processed sugar, wheat, cow dairy, genetically modified foods, refined oils or alcohol.
It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution that started this new way of life, something Carr refers to as a “journey” that places her on the fringe of a society that eats inflammatory foods every day. Rather, it was a series of health crises — her son, her mother and herself — that forced Carr, a teacher turned book author, into action.
The first year and a half of her son Tosh’s life weren’t easy for mother or child. Tosh had chronic ear infections, tonsil infections, abscesses and stopped breathing twice.
“He was really sick,” Carr said. “We were in and out of hospitals. I was teaching at the time, and I missed more time spent in the hospital than I did when we were gone on maternity leave. It was very scary, and I didn’t understand what was going on.”
Carr said she had “mom guilt” but felt like she was doing everything right.
“I was a Division 1 ski racer. I’ve been an athlete my whole life and so conscious of nutrition and food,” she said. “I would buy him Annie’s organic mac and cheese or the organic granola bars. I had no idea what the word inflammation was, what it meant, how it impacted ourselves, our children.
“I certainly didn’t know that inflammation was tied to basically every chronic ailment and disease, which was what he was experiencing.”
There is some research that supports her beliefs, A 2018 Harvard Medical School article states “many major diseases that plague us — including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s — have been linked to chronic inflammation” and suggests limiting refined carbs, fried foods, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, red and processed meat, and margarine.
As if her son’s sickness wasn’t enough, Carr started to feel sick from stress and exhaustion. She was tired, nauseated, gained weight and became depressed.
“I’ve always been the girl who loved life, so that really shook me,” she said.
Doctors couldn’t diagnose her ailments and told her “it was some sort of autoimmune disease but we don’t know what kind.”
For inspiration Carr looked to her mother, who was fighting Lyme disease and testing alternative medicine treatments. She said she had started cutting out inflammatory foods and “her symptoms were melting away.”
“She said, ‘Jenny, there’s something to this. You need to try it,’” Carr said. “All my symptoms went away, my hormones rebalanced, everything was amazing.
“And I always say the pot of gold was how great I felt mentally and emotionally. I was so grounded. What I didn’t know was that was actually practice for something that was going to save my life a little bit later down the road.”
Feeling better herself, Carr turned her attention back to her son, who’d been diagnosed with a severe sensory condition. A drop of water would land on his shirt and he’d scream — making it hard to focus in school or live a normal day-to-day life. At the time, anti-inflammatory eating was working for Carr (then studying to be a certified health coach) and her mom. So eight years ago, she began a “two-week science experiment” in which she packed all her son’s meals and snacks free of inflammatory ingredients.
“It was a marked difference,” she said. “Now I really know that both my son’s and my life is dramatically impacted for the best if we change the way that we eat.”
Carr wanted to maintain the diet while doing it in a way that didn’t make her son feel deprived.
“He was 2,” she said. “That’s a big commitment to ask a little boy to do for the rest of his life.”
‘Peace of Cake’
That’s where Carr’s book, “Peace of Cake,” comes in. It focuses on comfort foods like cakes, cookies and pancakes, things that kids like to eat but adults think they have to give up to be healthy. The book came out in 2017, but the hard copy just became available at the end of 2018. See page 7 of Scene for a review of the book.
“When we fall off the wagon, it’s usually those types of foods,” Carr said. “So why don’t we make them in a way that doesn’t cause inflammation, that supports our health and our well-being? We don’t feel deprived; that way there’s no wagon to fall off of.”
Three years went by, and everything was great. Carr welcomed a second child, daughter Chloe, in 2013. In 2014 Carr became sick, again. Little did she know that parasites from international travel over the past 20 years — fishing in the Amazon, a safari in Africa, trekking in Thailand — had built up in her body.
A near-death experience
“My symptoms became really severe,” Carr said. “I had so many parasites they put holes through many of my organs and ate away at my endocrine glands. When they die they release neurotoxins and viruses and bacteria, and my organs were structurally compromised. There were massive amounts of neurotoxins flooding my body. It’s like drinking gallons of bleach.”
Nausea and weight gain were replaced with temporary paralysis in her legs, an inability to speak, walking into walls and a spinning sensation. She said if she hadn’t been eating anti-inflammatory foods, her symptoms probably would’ve been even worse.
“For the first year, year and a half, I didn’t have an accurate diagnosis,” Carr said. “I had no idea what was going on. It was very lonely. It was overwhelming. People didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know what was going on. I was living off of 1 percent of life. I was clinging to it.”
Carr tried traditional medicine, doctors in Idaho Falls and Mexico as well as nontraditional healing techniques before stumbling upon something, or someone, that worked for her: Kathie Chandler, an intuitive who works in Wilson.
“I’ve never seen anything like her,” said Chandler. “I still haven’t, and I pray I don’t again. ... There were a couple times where I wasn’t sure she would be here.”
Chandler used crystal light therapy and a machine called Theragem, a portable laser that beams light through specific gems since “different colors affect you differently.”
Though crystal healing has made appearances in every publication from Jackson Hole Magazine to Vanity Fair, WebMD says research on it is sparse.
Still, Carr felt the benefits.
“It improves your vitality and your wellness in your whole body,” Chandler said. “It really helps your body do what you were created to do. We were really created to heal ourselves.”
Feeling like herself again
With the parasites in retreat, Carr could focus a little bit less on “just trying to survive.” While recovering, she realized she could “lie in bed and write a book.”
“The only thing I could think is that I was in this to heal and to help other people,” Carr said. “It was the only reason I could possibly come up with. And that’s what I’ve done.”
She is planning on writing another book, “The Clean Eating Kid.” She has been symptom free now for four months and was told the parasites are out of her body. And she’s finally getting back to skiing again, something she hasn’t been able to do consistently for the past four or five years.
“I have a whole new body,” Carr said. “My life force is back in my body.”