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Louise Hay, author of the international bestseller You Can Heal Your Life has sold more than 50 million books worldwide. For more than 30 years, Louise has helped people around the world change their thinking with positive affirmations. Most people don’t realize that, for just as long, Louise has also been a strong advocate for healthy eating. After trying just about every diet over the years, Louise found that following a nutrient-dense, traditional whole foods diet provided her with a strong foundation for her healthy mind and body.
Another thing that most people don’t realize is that Louise is 88 years old. When people find this out, they want to know her secrets for health and longevity. Today, we go behind the scenes with this bestselling author, teacher, and founder of Hay House Publishing to learn how the right thoughts and food can create optimal health.
Upon entering Louise’s home, the first thing you notice is a deep, rich, delicious smell. For the past 24 hours, bone broth has been simmering on her stove. She will use the bone broth as a basis for many meals in the coming week. Her guests often have the pleasure of tasting a cup of it in whatever form it has taken that day – straight, clear broth; a rich vegetable soup; or a hearty meat stew. The flavor is magical, layered, and deeply satisfying. Just about every guest who tastes her bone broth will leave with the recipe and a passion for making it. Best of all, she has a simple technique that makes the whole process convenient for the busiest of people.
While sipping her latest creation, a duck bone broth, Louise describes her philosophy on traditional diets and explains why a healthy mind and body are key to a happy life.
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At 88 years of age, I can say that health and happiness are the most important tenets of my life. Many of you who have read my books know that I didn’t have an easy childhood, nor any of the advantages of money or education for much of my life.
Then, I discovered the one thing that changed the course of my health and my life: the belief that every thought we think is creating our future.
This one little idea shifted the direction of my life. I found that if I could create peace, health, and harmony in my mind with positive affirmations, I could create the same in my body and in my life.
In the 1970s, I was diagnosed with cancer, and I realized that this was my opportunity to really walk my talk. I decided that instead of following an allopathic model for healing, I would become deeply committed to the two things I felt were critical for good health: healthy thoughts and healthy food. I focused on creating a positive stream of thoughts throughout my day, and I learned everything I could about nutrition. This dual focus improved my life in so many ways. The cancer dissolved, I felt much better, and, interestingly, my clients got better results, too. I realized that when you get your thoughts right and your food right, everything else falls into place.
Over the years, when people came up to me and said that they could not seem to make affirmations work for them, I began to ask, “What did you have for breakfast?” After looking at me with surprise, they’d often tell me that they had a bagel or coffee and a donut. The pattern was always the same. Too many people were eating processed foods that did not give them the foundation they needed for a healthy body and mind.
Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to share the other side of my secret to great health: nutrition. On my 88th birthday, I published a book with my go-to health and nutrition coaches, Alea Kadro and Heather Dane. This book, Loving Yourself to Great Health: Thoughts & Food – The Ultimate Diet, combines affirmations with nutrition. It reveals the secrets that keep me so healthy and vibrant at 88 years old and beyond.
An “incurable” illness provides an invitation to go within
Many of today’s dis-eases are thought to be incurable. I truly believe that there is no such thing as incurable illness. To me, the word incurable simply means that something can’t be cured by any outer means at the moment. So, what can we do?
We need to go within. I believe that our bodies are just asking us to come back to a loving relationship with ourselves. Symptoms don’t need to be scary if we use them as a guidepost for when we are off track and need to make some adjustments in self-care. In the case of autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks healthy organs and tissues in the body. In other words, the immune system can no longer tell the difference between healthy tissue and harmful substances. To me, this feels like the body no longer recognizes itself and the cells no longer recognize what is healthy. Think about that for a moment. If one thinks negative, unloving thoughts about one’s body and self, how will the cells know not to similarly attack themselves? Instead, what if you truly loved yourself? Loving yourself means taking time for yourself. It means taking time to listen to your body and respond lovingly. One of the ways you can listen to your body has to do with the food that is best for you. You can shop for and prepare foods that nourish you deeply. Then, take time to eat without multitasking, so that your body can receive the nourishment you give it. Are you giving yourself this kind of time? I’d like to share six simple steps that can support you in creating your best health:
STEP 1: Love yourself
Bruce Lipton, PhD, is an internationally recognized cell biologist who performed pioneering studies at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. In his book The Biology of Belief he talks about a new paradigm of health based on the science of epigenetics. 
Bruce conducted some groundbreaking experiments showing that our genes do not control our biology. The idea that genes control biology is a faulty scientific assumption that was debunked by the human genome project around the year 2003.
This finding fit very well with experiments Bruce was doing with cells in the lab. His experiments showed that genes did not control the cells; instead, the cells responded to the environment they were in. Bruce explains that, since human beings have brains, our response to our environment is much more complex than that of a cell. We have beliefs, and it is through these beliefs that we respond to our life situation (or environment).
What message are you giving to your cells right now? If you believe you are a bad person, your cells are listening. If you believe you are sick, your cells are listening. Likewise, if you believe you are a beautiful being worthy of love and that you are healthy, your cells are listening. What kind of relationship do you think you are creating with yourself and your body if you are sending negative messages and embracing negative beliefs about yourself?
When babies are born, they love everything about themselves. They are fascinated by their hands and feet, even their feces. Over time, we are taught that things about us are wrong and bad. Many times, we become ashamed of our bodies or certain characteristics of ourselves. Too often, we feel like we’re not good enough. We learn that “the rules,” the expectations of others, and “proven” evidence are more important than how we feel or what we want. We are taught so often to listen to everyone else that we feel we cannot trust ourselves.
The subconscious mind has no sense of humor and does not know false from true. It only accepts what we say and what we think as fact, and this is the material from which it builds.
Here are some affirmations to support you in loving yourself and your body. (It helps if you do these in front of a mirror, looking into your eyes.) As you say these affirmations, trust that you are planting seeds in the fertile soil of your subconscious mind.
I love you (say your name), I really love you.
I love you dearly, body. I love every inch of you.
It is my joy to love you to perfect health.
STEP 2: Listen to your body
No one else can understand you the way you understand yourself, and no one else can understand your body the way you can. No one lives in your skin and in your experience the way you do. And no one else knows how to love you the way you know how to love yourself. This is why it’s very important to listen to your body and your inner voice. You are the only expert on the planet about you – about your deepest hopes, dreams, and desires.
Since we are most often taught to follow rules and care about others before ourselves, it’s very common not to give ourselves what we truly need. Chances are, you’ve listened to others for too long. The more you listen to your inner voice and to the messages your body gives you, the more you can give yourself the love, kindness, and understanding that only you know you need. The more you commit to giving yourself what you need, the easier it becomes to ask others for what you need from them. And the more your needs are met, the more you begin to trust life. This whole process starts with you loving yourself enough to listen – and then loving yourself even more by taking action on what you feel guided to do.
In Loving Yourself to Great Health we provide a food journal exercise to help you learn which foods best support your emotional and physical health. You basically write down what you eat each day and any symptoms or emotions you experience (e.g., your energy levels, how you slept, your moods, and any feelings of pain or wellness). In this way, you can begin to see how your body speaks to you in response to the foods you eat. When you listen without judgment, you can learn the most nourishing foods to feed your body.
An affirmative that can help with this process is:
I listen with love to my body’s messages.
STEP 3: Educate yourself
One of the reasons I was excited to be interviewed for the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing is that it’s full of great information. (Become a Member here today). I have always loved learning new things, and I believe that every hand that touches me is a healing hand. In this way, I have found many wonderful people doing extremely good work.
There are a lot of confusing and conflicting messages about health being disseminated today. Many people don’t know whether to follow allopathic medicine or natural medicine. No matter which path you choose, make sure you are in partnership with your health practitioner. Learn all you can and then listen to your inner guidance. I truly believe that our bodies know how to heal, if only we follow our inner guidance. Mine always led me to the right people with the information I needed for my next step.
A helpful affirmation:
Every hand that touches me is a healing hand.
STEP 4: Love your kitchen
I think it’s very important to learn to prepare some foods that you love and that make you feel your best. While there are a lot of restaurants and fast food places out there, most of their foods are not prepared properly or made with the quality ingredients you can use at home.
If you don’t like to cook or you feel you don’t have the time, I recommend starting with affirmations because they can shift your whole attitude about cooking.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Planning healthy meals is a joy.
- Hello, kitchen, you are my nourishment center. I appreciate you!
- I am so grateful to be choosing food that supports my best health.
- I can easily make a nutritious, delicious meal.
- I love spending time in the kitchen!
- I am worth the time and money I invest in my health.
- My family loves to eat healthy food.
Another great tip is to invite your friends into the kitchen. Chances are, you have at least one friend who likes to cook. Have a kitchen day and make new things together. Everyone can contribute ingredients and take home leftovers. This is a wonderful way to bond. Friends and laughter can make anything fun – and guess what? All that laughter and love make the food taste better, too!
People often ask me how I learned to fit cooking into my busy schedule. Well, it’s easier to do when you follow a traditional whole foods diet and make every meal you prepare the basis for the next one. When I began cooking more often, the first thing I did was choose some easy, delicious recipes. Bone broth is a great example. Let’s say, I start with a chicken and vegetables as ingredients for my lunch. All I have to do is put them in a crockpot and let it go for four to six hours. When I come back, it’s cooked and ready to eat. The vegetable scraps and chicken carcass go into a bag in my freezer, and when I’m ready, I use them to make bone broth.
This broth is wonderful and energizing when I sip it in the morning and late afternoon. It also becomes the base for cooked vegetables; grain dishes, such as quinoa; and soups for the rest of the week. All week, I add a bit of leftovers from one meal to a soup or stew for the next day. This makes cooking easy, and each meal gets more delicious and nutrient rich as the week progresses. In this way, each meal keeps on giving to the next.
The Dalai Lama said that food is life and that it connects us to everyone and to the earth. I truly believe this, and eating traditional whole foods allows me to feel this deep connection. I think of food as medicine that keeps me healthy and has no side effects. Learning to make a few easy recipes that taste delicious can be one of the keys to a really healthy life.
STEP 5: Be gentle with yourself
The old adage “no pain, no gain” is not sustainable. It never works to try to do or learn everything all at once. Loving yourself means being gentle with yourself and going at a pace that works for you. Find out what is no longer serving you and let that go. Start with freeing up enough time and space so that you can add one new, healthy habit at a time.
Pick one small thing to do. It can be as quick and easy as you like. For example, kiss your hand and say, “You are worth healing.” You can just do that for as long as you like and then move on when you are ready. Remember the lesson from the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race.
Here are some affirmations that can help while you are making time for new, healthy habits:
- I am open to change.
- I greet the new with open arms.
- I am safe.
- I go at my own pace.
- I am guided to what is in my highest good in the right time and space.
STEP 6: Plan ahead
In the beginning, you will likely be most successful if you create a plan for your meals, snacks, and desserts. Making things ahead of time and even packaging them up in single- serving containers for school or work lunches can make it much easier.
Make sure to set aside some time for yourself to do this. You may have to take something else off your schedule so that you can free up time for meal preparation. Adding it to an already busy schedule can be overwhelming. Here are some ideas:
- Plan four main dishes that you love, and cook them in advance on a day that you have the time. For many people, weekends are good for this.
- Invite friends over or cook with your family to make it fun.
- Freeze meals you’ll want to eat later in the week, and take them out to thaw the night before.
- Wash fruit and vegetables ahead of time, and even slice them up if you want. This way, you can grab snacks on the go if you are in a hurry.
- Set up your kitchen so that everything is organized for easy meal preparation. I have my favorite spices organized so that they are easy to grab when I need them. My favorite knives, spoons, and appliances are close at hand. The key is to decide how to organize your kitchen so that it’s easy for you to cook.
- Invite an organized friend over or hire someone to help you with this. I love creating systems to make things easy, efficient, and fun, and I find that when I cook with people, we learn new things from each other!
Finally, I’d like to leave you with a wonderful affirmation from Loving Yourself to Great Health . Place one hand in the center of your chest and the other on your abdomen. Breathe deeply, in and out, and say the following words: My life is my love story. I only choose thoughts that create a wonderful future, and I move into it now. My heart is opening wider and wider. Love flows from me and to me in ever-increasing amounts. Unconditional love and acceptance are the greatest gifts I can give and receive – and I give them to myself now.
I give myself the green light to go ahead, and I joyously embrace my new, loving habits of food and thoughts. The more I nourish myself, the more I am grateful to be alive. My life is balanced and my immunity is strong. I am healthy, whole, and healed. I love life and life loves me.
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The gut-brain connection
Science is now proving what Louise Hay has taught for decades – for your best health, the thoughts you think and the food you eat matters. Here are some examples of how the gut-brain connection affects your life: Willpower – experts believe that, in addition to intelligence, willpower is one of the most important attributes for success in life. Studies have found that in order to have good willpower, your blood sugar must be stable! A poor diet and sugary foods can send blood sugar and willpower on a roller-coaster ride. Malabsorption or gut dysbiosis can also adversely affect your blood sugar and willpower. Immunity and moods – the gut has many of the same nerve structures and neurotransmitters as the brain. Approximately 80 percent of our immune system is located in the gut, and over 90 percent of our serotonin (the happiness hormone) is produced there. Good gut health can contribute to better immunity and more stable, calm, happy moods.
Additionally, studies show that your gut bacteria are constantly speaking to your brain. Your gut microbiome influences how your brain is wired, from infancy to adulthood, and affects your learning ability, your memory, and how you deal with stress. A healthy gut microbiome sends happy signals to the brain, while an unhealthy one can send signals of anxiety.
Diet and the gut microbiome – According to neuroscientists, the bacteria living in your gut act as auxiliary DNA. Essentially, what you eat affects the makeup of your gut bacteria, and these bacteria can change how your genes function. In other words, if you are eating a diet that promotes healthy gut bacteria, they can help create a healthy body, regardless of your genetic predispositions.
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Louise’s Favorite Bone Broth Recipe
Bone broth is a wonderful way to nourish and heal your digestive tract and energize your body. It provides an easily digested source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. This broth can be sipped or used in recipes for more flavorful grains, soups, and more.
Ingredients (gather at your own pace)
Take a large paper shopping bag and place it in your freezer. Over the course of the week or several weeks, throw all bones and meat scraps into the bag.
Optional: Add vegetable scraps and peelings, including onion peels, carrot and garlic skins, salad scraps, artichoke tips, the tough ends of asparagus, and kale stems. Add one or two three-inch pieces of seaweed, such wakame or Laminaria digitata, for extra minerals. If you don’t have enough meat and bones to get started with your broth, you can purchase chicken necks, feet, backs, and wings. (These are inexpensive parts of the chicken that have a tremendous amount of nutritional value.) Other options are marrow bones or beef bones. Keep adding vegetable scraps, meat scraps, and bones to your bag in the freezer until it’s full and you are ready to make your broth.
- Put the contents of the bag into a stainless steel stockpot (or use a crockpot to make this even easier).
- Pour water in so that it just covers the top of your bones, meat, and vegetables.
- Add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar to bring out the minerals from the bones.
- Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Start with a small amount in the beginning (about 1 teaspoon each), and add more if needed when the broth is finished.
- Turn the burner onto high, put a lid on the pot, and bring the water to a boil.
- As soon as it comes to a boil, skim off the fat that has risen to the top and discard.
- Then, turn the heat down to very low and allow the pot to simmer all night long. The longer it cooks, the more nutrients you bring out of the bones and vegetable scraps.
- The next morning, strain the liquid out and discard the meat scraps, vegetable scraps, or bones. Only keep the liquid, which is now full of incredible nutrition.
- Put the broth into the refrigerator.
- When it chills, remove the fat layer that has accumulated on the top.
- If the broth is not consumed within five days, store it in quart-sized containers in your freezer, and thaw it before use. You can also store it in smaller containers or even pour it into ice cube trays to customize the amount you want to use in meals or recipes. – H.D.
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About the Author
Heather Dane is a certified health coach and 21st-century medicine woman specializing in resolving chronic health conditions, addictions, and out-of-balance lifestyles. She has worked with many of the great minds in medicine, natural health, nutrition, and energy healing, and designs delicious recipes to nourish body and soul. Dane, and alternative health pioneer Louise Hay, joined forces to bring the most cutting edge wisdom including a culmination of Hay’s lifetime of work in their two books, Loving Yourself to Great Health and The Bone Broth Secret. These books reveal how making loving choices about the food you eat and the thoughts you think can deeply nourish your body and soul.
- Lipton B. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. Santa Rosa, CA: Mountain of Love/Elite Books; 2005.
- Khanna V. Window into Return to the Rivers: A Chat with Vikas Khanna, part 2. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cb-TF8aafE. January 30, 2014. Accessed February 19, 2014.
- Baumeister RF, Tierney J. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. New York, NY: Penguin Books; 2011.
- Hurley D. Your backup brain. Psychology Today website. https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201110/your-backup-brain. November 2011. Accessed February 10, 2014.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Spring 2015 | Volume 39, Number 1
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