This Thrive Gives Mom Wants Others to Feel Less Alone

March 16, 2020

The Thrive Gives program is one of the initiatives we are most proud of at Thrive Market because it helps us deliver on our mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for every American family. New to Thrive Gives? The idea is simple: For every paid member who joins Thrive Market, we provide a free membership to someone in need—primarily teachers, students, low-income families, veterans, and first responders around the country.

This month we’re introducing you to Heather, a mom who shops on for the convenience of at-home delivery, and to save money on healthy items her family needs. After her son started receiving treatment for a pediatric autoimmune disorder, Heather became passionate about sharing her story to help families in similar circumstances feel less alone.

1. What is the biggest impact Thrive Market has had on your family?

The biggest impact is having access to healthy staples at an affordable price. One of the important factors in managing my oldest son’s symptoms from PANDAS (a pediatric autoimmune disorder) has been cleaning up our diet. It’s expensive to buy clean food, but Thrive Market helps reduce that expense.

The second biggest impact is the ease of having staples shipped to my door. When my son first presented with PANDAS, one of the symptoms was severe separation anxiety. I’m not talking about the kind you see when a toddler is being dropped off for preschool and they cry and cling—I’m talking full-on panic attacks and rages that could leave holes in the wall and rip curtains down. I had to sneak out to go grocery shopping, or do anything else. In fact, I ultimately had to quit my job to stay home and care for him while we struggled to get a diagnosis and start treatment. Reducing our financial burden and making shopping convenient has been crucial to our survival.

2. Tell us what inspired or motivated you to share your experience.

I wanted to tell our story because it’s unbelievable to be in a situation where you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with your child—who has brain inflammation—and it presents in myriad intense psychiatric symptoms all at once. When we first experienced the life-altering symptoms of PANDAS, it was devastating and isolating. Once I understood that other children and their families were going through this too, I knew I had to tell our story. I share at every opportunity I have, and wrote a book, “What Happened to My Child? A Mother’s Courageous Journey to Save Her Son.” I want to share that when a proper diagnosis and treatment occurs, healing is possible, and that a clean lifestyle is important to health.

3. What’s the most important thing you hope people will take away from your story?

First and foremost, trust your intuition when it comes to your children’s health. Second, there are good people doing good things—lean into those folks to relieve some of the burden you may be experiencing, and when it’s your turn, pay it forward. Third, beautiful things sometimes come from ugly experiences, so trust the process of change.

4. If you weren’t ordering from Thrive Market, what would your process of getting healthy food look like?

I’d be travelling to four different grocery stores in town to get the cleanest food at the best prices. Thrive Market helps me reduce my carbon footprint.

5. What makes up a typical Thrive Market order?

I purchase all my staples at Thrive Market, including condiments—I especially like Primal Kitchen’s Avocado Oil Mayo, and all of the brand’s salad dressings and marinades. Tinkyada makes the best gluten-free pasta, which keeps its shape and has a good consistency. My youngest son loves cold cereal, so I order a variety of those that includes EnviroKids Panda Puffs and Nature’s Path Organic Summer Berries granola. My oldest son loves cheesy crackers, so Simple Mills Farmhouse Cheddar Almond Flour Crackers are a favorite. And Annie’s gluten-free mac and cheese is often in our order. I especially love that Thrive Market offers its own line at even deeper discounted prices. I get ketchup, marinara sauce, spices, and more. I buy all our paper and cotton products as well, like cotton balls and paper towels—all organic and at a better price!

6. What happens when a box arrives at your doorstep?

It’s like Christmas! The boys rummage through the box first to see what snacks they can dig into, then I put the rest away in the pantry. I reuse the plastic ziplock bags so I don’t need to buy those, and the paper and box are broken down and recycled curbside. When my oldest son was first presenting with symptoms, breaking down the box and flattening the paper was a job he did to get him out of the house—he was home-bound for four years due to extreme anxiety and phobias.

7. Describe a typical day of how your family eats or prepares meals.

I make three meals a day. Breakfast usually consists of cold cereal with milk or yogurt, or an egg and toast, both with fresh fruit. Lunch could be anything from sandwiches to leftovers to ham rolls and crackers with fresh fruit. My youngest packs a lunch for school and my oldest eats lunch at home (he’s doing online high school with me as his learning coach). Dinner consists of a protein, a carb (usually rice or rice pasta), and a vegetable. The boys snack throughout the day since their appetites are voracious now, and I’m so glad they have clean foods to choose from.

8. What’s one healthy living tip you’ve come to swear by, or one that has changed your habits or outlook for the better?

Eliminating toxins from my home was crucial to my son’s health journey. I’ve done that by replacing plastics with glass, replacing aluminum stainless steel, and I’ve replaced all cleaning and personal products with cleaner options, or products I make myself with essential oils and Dr. Bronner’s fragrance-free castile soap. Cleaning up our environment and our diet is so important to healthy living.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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