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Meet Erika Elizondo of A Healing World

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika Elizondo.

Erika, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was a sickly child and have vivid memories of sleeping with roasted tomatoes plastered on my lymph nodes and held in place with a bandana. I remember being a teenager with some strange parasite making abstract shapes on my knees and elbows and having them massacred with garlic poultices as per my gramma’s instructions. I can still smell the yerba buena and cempazuchitl on my little fingers, playing in my gramma’s makeshift garden in the small porch of her section 8 apartment. My grandmother and her devotion to herbs is what instilled and shaped what my future passion would become.

Throughout my life, I, like my grandmother, have been obsessed with herbs and natural remedies. I’d drink Gordo Lobo tea when I had walking pneumonia while also sipping on Cup o’ Noodles. I didn’t fully understand the mechanisms behind processed foods or genetically modified organisms or how badly pesticides can adversely impact our health until I became very ill in 2010.

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder, in January of 2010. That diagnosis changed my life and my trajectory. Up until that point, I had enjoyed a life of artistic expression and community building. I was a dancer in a popular LA-based PanAfrican ensemble called “L’Esprit D’Afrique” and worked as a henna artist, face painter, and museum educator at LACMA. Then I got sick.

I couldn’t accept my diagnosis and through my deep faith in Divine Healing, believed wholeheartedly I could overcome this. I threw myself into learning everything I could about nutrition and any other factors contributing to this disease and was inspired to create a 40 day nutritional cleanse. I posted this intention on Facebook to see if I could get other people to join me for accountability and ended up with about 70 people doing it alongside me, creating it as I went! After that first cleanse, people would email me about how much this had impacted them and healed them of various ailments. It was truly inspiring and affirming. And I was able to go into complete remission just 4 months after changing my diet and lifestyle! It was an amazing time.

Since then, I have facilitated what came to be known as the “40 Day Healing Journey” many times and have had hundreds of participants. I entered the path of nutrition with my grandmother holding my hand, and then out of a fierce desire to be free of any imposed prognosis that wasn’t in alignment with the vibrant me. I went on to become a certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Studies with a concentration in Politics and Policy from the New School in NYC. I am currently a grad student at NYU, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Food Studies.

After all of my studies and all of my experiences helping people improve their health and connect their lifestyle behaviors with their ecological implications, I’ve become a tireless advocate for what I coined “foodiecology,” – environmentally conscious consumerism without compromising pleasure.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My journey has not been smooth. I’ve come in and out of remission and I’ve had to give up some of my favorite foods because of how they affect this disease. I’m such a hedonist and passionately in love with yumminess, that it’s been hard! I’ve also had to stay current with environmental concerns and scientific journals to offer my clients and cleanse participants the most recent and cutting-edge information to help them change their lives for the better. My devotion to my education is challenging to balance with a husband and small child. But they are both very supportive of my work, so I consider myself lucky.

Please tell us about A Healing World.
My program through A Healing World called the “40 Day Healing Journey” is different from any other program out there because it is a personal lifestyle overhaul program focusing on food, social justice and the environment done in the context of an online community. It is a crash course education that expands the purview of every participant.

And each participant then takes that knowledge and spreads it into their communities, improving the lives of the ones they love most. Aside from my dancing career, I am most known for this beautiful cleanse. What makes it beautiful is a unique energy and life experience of each participant. Each cycle creates a magical community, and many of these participants end up becoming friends beyond the 40 days together. I love that.

I am most proud of how impassioned people become through the cleanse to be more woke and to share that wokeness with their world. I also love the testimonials I get. I always cry and am so grateful for getting sick. My sickness brought into this world great healing. Isn’t that what life is about? Turning negatives into positives?

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory is when my baby sister, Gizza, came home from the hospital. I was five years old and clearly remember that that’s when I became a mother.

Ha! I was so obsessed with her that I fed her, wiped her butt well into elementary school, and spent most of my teenage money on buying her clothes. A small, innocent child falling into unconditional love with another small, innocent child is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

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Image Credit:
Lluvia Higuera

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