In this inspiring interview, Carrie Forrest–the blogger behind Clean Eating Kitchen and creator of the podcast Clean Eating for Women–shares her healthiest tips for life after thyroid cancer. Carrie has also used a real food diet to recover from and manage multiple health conditions including PCOS, chronic migraines, anxiety and autoimmune disease.
Welcome back to the In Her Shoes series, where we share inspiring interviews with influential experts in health, nutrition, and lifestyle.
Whenever I meet healthy, beautiful, successful women, I’m always dying to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. What do they eat? What products do they use? What’s their routine? I’m obsessed with other peoples’ stories and love sharing uplifting women with y’all!
Today we’re chatting with Carrie Forrest, known for her blog, Clean Eating Kitchen, where she shares gluten-free and dairy-free recipes and tips. She also hosts the podcast, Clean Eating for Women, featuring interviews with health experts and influencers, along with stories from her own health journey.
And boy is her health journey a doozy! Get this: Carrie has used a real food diet to recover from and manage multiple health conditions including PCOS, chronic migraines, anxiety, autoimmune disease, and thyroid cancer.
GETTING TO KNOW CARRIE FORREST
With a masters degrees in business and public health nutrition, and after a short stint in retail corporate marketing and merchandising, Carrie became interested in nutrition to try and heal from a variety of health issues.
Like most of us, Carrie grew up eating mostly processed junk foods. She didn’t understand the connection between food and health until she developed a laundry list of health issues, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and then thyroid cancer.
In 2012, Carrie had surgery to remove her thyroid and the tumor. While living without a thyroid has had its own challenges, she's now over 5 years cancer-free!
Her secret to healing? FOOD!
Food has also helped her PCOS, migraines, anxiety, IBS, and allergies get under control–today, they hardly bother her at all and she now feels healthy, strong, and vibrant the majority of the time. Go Carrie!
What does ‘clean eating' mean to Carrie? It took her years to realize that her health flourishes eating BOTH plant and animal foods. In fact, Carrie told me that she has some theories about what all those years of eating soy multiple times a day as a former vegan did to her thyroid and her hormones.
Today, she eats lots of fruits and vegetables with clean sources of animal protein, sans dairy or gluten. Sometimes she includes some grains and legumes when her health tolerates them.
Wanna try her methods? You can get Carrie's Clean Eating Every Day: 55 Real Food Recipes (Gluten-Free + Dairy-Free) ebook here; it's a printable PDF with a pantry list, recommended kitchen tools, and a seasonal recipe index, plus amazing recipes like Cinnamon Roll Buckwheat Porridge, Quinoa Crust Veggie Pizza and Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars!
Needless to say, Carrie has TONS of valuable tips and tricks to thriving health, even after cancer. Let’s take a peek at what it’s like to spend a day walking in Carrie Forrest’s shoes.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF YOUR DAY LIKE?
I always start with taking my thyroid replacement hormone. I had a total thyroidectomy in 2012 after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, so taking my medicine is my #1 priority upon waking.
After that, it’s all about my two cats. They’re not allowed to sleep in the bedroom, so they literally fly through the door to greet me in the morning. I spend a few minutes snuggling them and then head into the kitchen while my husband snoozes a little longer.
The next order of business is putting on a podcast while I feed the cats, empty the dishwasher, and start to get our breakfast ready. A few of my favorite podcasts include:
I have a podcast too, but I have yet to be able to listen to one of my own episodes because it’s still too weird to hear my own recorded voice!
SHOWER TIME! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO PRODUCTS?
I try to be really conscious about choosing paraben-free personal care products. I don’t strive for perfection, but I make an effort to try and use non-toxic products. Some favorite hair and body brands include Aveda-I use the Blue Malva shampoo and conditioner for my platinum hair, Jason hair gel and body wash and Dr. Woods Natural Bar Soap in Garden Cucumber.
I have acne-prone skin, but it also gets dry, so I have to balance both of those issues. I should probably try some new products, but my long-term favorites include:
- MyChelle Unscented Sun Shield
- Alba ACNEdote Deep Clean Astringent
- Devita day and night moisturizers, vitamin-c serum, aloe vera cleanser, and eye lift cream
- Josie Maran Argan Serum Matchmaker Foundation
WHAT’S YOUR TYPICAL BREAKFAST?
Breakfast is most often a green smoothie, made dairy-free and full of superfood ingredients. It’s kind of funny because I’m a clean eating specialist, but I don’t love the taste of vegetables, especially leafy greens. But, they’re so healthy! So, I put my greens in a smoothie along with frozen fruit and other flavorings like non-alkalized cocoa powder and cinnamon. I usually even steam my greens to help minimize the flavor.
ARE YOU A TEA OR COFFEE DRINKER?
I recently gave up coffee because I was afraid it was triggering migraines. It is so hard! I traded it for matcha lattes (made with hot water, matcha, coconut sugar, and coconut butter) and pu-erh black tea. Nothing replaces coffee, but I’m experimenting with how I feel not drinking it for awhile. Other beverages include Gerolsteiner sparkling mineral water and the occasional Spinthrift fruit-flavored sparkling water.
WHAT’S YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?
I live at the coast in California with a Mediterranean climate, so I’m so grateful to be able to walk outside almost all-year round. I do go to the gym for strength-training classes a few times a week, but my preference is always to be outside near the beach. I’m originally from Oklahoma and moved to California in my teens, but I’m still awestruck by the beauty of the ocean and how it changes every day. The beach is definitely my happy place.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET?
I posted a picture of my supplement cabinet on Instagram once and I think I shocked some folks with how many supplements I take. I do manage a few different health conditions, so I’m always testing new ones and relying on my favorites, including:
- Just Thrive Probiotic for gut health
- Magnesium L-Threonate to help manage anxiety and migraines
- Pure Encapsulations Calcium K-D and Curcumasorb
- Kirkman Iron Bio-Max Series (5 mg, the only amount my stomach can tolerate)
As far as prescriptions go, I take two types of thyroid hormone. It’s been a challenge to get the dosage right after my thyroid surgery. Since I’ve also battled migraines for over a decade, I have a prescription for Sumatriptan that I take at the very first sign of a migraine.
I also have prescriptions for oral progesterone and low-dose naltrexone, but I’m experimenting with those to see how they make me feel. I used to be really wary of prescriptive drugs, but I work with a functional medicine doctor now and feel a lot more supported, so I’m open to his suggestions.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ON-THE-GO SNACKS?
I love to snack, but it’s never anything fancy. Apple slices with peanut butter, dried fruit, salted cashews, beef jerky, or Mary’s Gone Crackers are current faves. If I’m really hungry, I also like Larabars and Mammoth Bars. If I want something sweet, I love to make homemade energy bites sweetened with dates.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL LUNCH LIKE FOR YOU?
I just started making sweet potato toasts and am having fun experimenting with different toppings! I’m also obsessed with the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi. I just heat it up with some olive oil and serve it with some cooked chicken breast over lettuce. I try to get a good amount of protein with lunch, plus some complex carbs and fat. My lunches look pretty similar to my dinners.
WHEN YOU’RE GROCERY SHOPPING, WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU AVOID ON THE LABEL?
I’ve been 100% gluten-free and dairy-free for about 4 years now. This is one way I keep my PCOS and autoimmune disease under control. It was hard at first, but it’s easy now, plus I just feel better eating this way. I try to avoid added sugars, but I also have a pretty intense sweet tooth.
WHAT’S IN YOUR PANTRY?
- Raw local honey
- Gluten-free grains and pastas
- Lentil pasta
- Coconut aminos
- Otto’s cassava flour
- Sprouted nuts and seeds
- Paleo granola
- Medjool dates
DINNER TIME! IF YOU’RE EATING OUT, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR ON MENUS TO STAY HEALTHY?
Because of my dietary restrictions with no gluten or dairy, eating out usually means keeping it simple with animal protein, veggies, and some kind of starch like rice or potato. It’s gotten a lot easier to stay gluten- and dairy-free in the past few years.
WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
I’m a huge consumer of nutrition books or anything related to women’s health. Favorite books I’m reading include The Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, The Stress-Proof Brain by Melanie Greenburg and Healing PCOS by Amy Medling.
BED TIME! WHAT’S YOUR NIGHTLY ROUTINE?
I’m kind of obsessive about getting my 8-9 hours of sleep. My favorite winding down activities include taking a warm bath with magnesium flakes and lavender oil in my diffuser. I always sleep better on nights when I’ve had a bath.
Keeping up with the 100+ food blogs I follow and getting immersed in really good television series on Netflix. I love international television to feel like I’m traveling without leaving the comfort of my own home. Recent favorites include: Occupied, The Bridge (the Swedish version), Broadchurch, and Lava Field.
FAVORITE HEALTHY INDULGENCE?
Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups or anything involving chocolate, LOL.
FAVORITE PRODUCT THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO TRY?
I’m obsessed with cassava flour because it’s gluten- AND grain-free. It’s made from a whole food and it’s very neutral in flavor. I insist that Otto’s is the best brand because it’s the only brand of cassava that is so neutral in flavor that it can be used for sweet or savory baking and substitutes very nicely for wheat flour.