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Conversations with the Inspiring Sheila Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sheila Smith.

Sheila, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a single mom of two beautiful young energetic boys! I’m 37 and born-n-raised in San Diego! Basically, I just love food. I’m a big foodie at heart, but after feeling sick from the foods I loved for over 15 years, things had to change. I’ve been tested for everything under the sun and doctors could never figure out why I had constant flu-like symptoms consisting of sore throats, achy body/joints, runny noses and overall feeling like a run down old car. Sadly, not one single specialist could ever correlate these symptoms with food. I have been misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, mono (ha) or just told I was stressed out since I was in college (isn’t everyone stressed out in business school? Shout out to SDSU Alumni!). Anyhow, it was like an endless road with no answers. In 2012, after doing extensive research on my own, I decided to eliminate gluten, and from there discovered that gluten/dairy products were causing ALL of my health problems. Who knew that my favorite pizza and bean and cheese burritos (yes I’m a SoCal girl) was making me so sick! Such a simple solution to such an inconvenience for so many years and I finally broke free from the sick train! My passion for food and eating out motivated the inner chef to start surfacing. I wanted to eat the same delicious meals as I used to and realized I had to create them with ingredients that agreed with my body. I started posting recipes on Instagram in 2014 and later turned into a blog called: realglutenfreemeals.com.

Basically, the blog helps eliminate confusion and guesswork for all of you with the same health restrictions (or simply want to eat more clean). I’m happy to say that I feel great after my discovery! I am also extremely passionate about fitness, wellness and natural beauty. After the birth of my second son in 2014, I leaped up to 170 pounds and was slow with no energy. Eating almost an all organic clean diet helped jumpstart my fitness and proud to say I’ve now maintained a healthy 118 pounds for a few years. I look at fitness with an entirely new set of eyes than I used to, as it’s become my daily routine. While on this journey, I started paying attention to all product labels, tossing everything in the trash including a ton of beauty products. Who knew that 90% of everything I was placing on my body was toxic garbage! I love sharing my knowledge, recipes and new product discoveries with my Instagram followers as it’s my way to give back. I also have a personal blog called iamsheilasmith.com where you can find all sorts of lifestyle tips. Cheers!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Initially, it was super hard to transition to a gluten-free diet. I had eaten gluten all my life until age 32. Since I am a huge researcher (I should’ve been an FBI agent or lawyer aha!), but I enjoy looking things up. Having to learn all gluten ingredients (which is pretty long BTW) was hard at first, but then I got the hang of it. The most frustrating part was eliminating gluten and still feeling the flare-ups. Realizing it was dairy along with a non-organic diet, immediately I eliminated and swapped everything out. After visiting a naturopathic doctor, which I highly suggest everyone do – come with a list of questions. From there, you get an understanding of how to do a food elimination diet which will really help!! That’s how I learned. Today, they have new tests which show you what you’re sensitive to that your traditional doctor cannot tell you, nor do they believe in. I am not a fan of traditional medicines or doctors. But you have to really dive in and heal yourself and find the right resources capable of helping. I also learned I was deficient in enzymes and probiotics – what I was eating led to things like candida (yeast growing in your intestines). I truly recommend visiting a naturopath, it’s worth forking out the money for a few visits and ask a ton of questions! From there, you can discover on your own! I am not vegan or on a 100% plant-based, but clean eating to me is incorporating mostly organic plant-based foods with some organic/grass-fed beef or poultry. I eat fish periodically – make sure it’s wild caught and a big tip for eggs is getting them pasture-raised. I love adding things like Collagen Peptides to my smoothies or Organic Coconut MCT Oil in my coffee. I have branched outside the realm of what the FDA considers a “healthy balanced diet”, and learn more from my fellow Instagram foodie friends! 🙂

what should we know about Real Gluten-Free Meals? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I only cook with no gluten and dairy and mostly organic – I have a huge passion for clean ingredients overall. I am pretty much known as the blogger that doesn’t go along with all the other foodies just because it’s the cool thing to do. I read the ingredients and know what doesn’t sit well with my body. For example, things like xanthum or guar guam inflate my intestines and make my belly hurt for a solid day. Not worth it. Now not everyone will have this reaction, but I am that blogger who informs others so they can make the right decision for themselves. I also don’t promote every single brand sent to me if it doesn’t fit my beliefs. I am predominately organic based and like to keep it that way.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
There’s such a stereotype as to what a “food blogger” mom should be posting. I think my challenge is crossing the bridge of being an overall active wellness blogger and not being criticized for showing too much fitness or beauty. I’m not your typical Instagrammer sitting in the kitchen with beautiful photos in a white kitchen wearing a cute hat. I am more hardcore and I feel a lot of moms can relate to that. Don’t get me wrong, I love those photos and think they are gorgeous, but I simply don’t have the time plus I keep it real… I got two little hyper guys. “Ain’t nobody got time for that”. I still love to look beautiful but trust me, I won’t go out of my way to capture that perfect pic. I can only be me and if you don’t like it, well, I always say you have the choice to unfollow! 🙂

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Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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