Live a vital life, learn to be energized

Published Feb 26, 2014 at 5:41 am (Updated Feb 21, 2014 at 4:31 pm)

“‘Merritt has a degenerative disease and it’s progressing rapidly. She may only reach her second birthday.’ These sad words came from my daughter’s doctor when she was only a few months old,” recalled Kathy Parry of Upper St. Clair.

Merritt wasn’t growing. A mitochondrial dysfunction, Leigh’s disease, was the diagnosis, the disease of no energy. Mitochondria, found in nearly every cell of the body, acts as a cell’s powerhouse by converting food energy into cell energy. Merritt’s condition wouldn’t allow her to process food into energy.

“All the months of agonizing over Merritt’s health and weaknesses, the wonder was finally over. Now I had someplace to start,” continued Kathy. “In college, I studied food management and knew about styles of eating. Having been a vegetarian for a number of years, I had lots of energy and became confident that my mission was to feed Merritt’s cells. I had to do what I knew for my child. Since she couldn’t process food properly, I would help her by giving her food that would be easy to convert.”

Kathy immediately took hold of Merritt’s diet. At 10 months old, Merritt began consuming only foods that her mother prepared and with increased energy, began staying awake more each day. After continued research on gluten and digestion, Kathy prepares gluten-free, plant-based meals with several supplements for Merritt, who amazingly, has reached 12 years old.

Merritt’s doctors are surprised at how well she is doing. Yes, she is disabled, but her diet has sustained her. She has never had a feeding tube, never been hospitalized, suffered with a cold or had any childhood illnesses.

Our bodies need energy. Nutrients, minerals and vitamins are important, along with a healthy diet, to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes and to reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.

“I learned about healthy eating from my parents,” continued Kathy. “My father was an organic farmer and I spent a lot of time gardening and cooking as a teen and eating whole foods with limited sugar. I spent several years becoming an expert in cellular function and received certification in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell program at Cornell University.”

In 2010, Kathy started the Wellness Road Trip, reaching out to families with a focus on healthy eating. Her new book, “The Ultimate Recipe for an Energetic Life” was recently published. She will discuss her book and healthy eating at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 6:30 p.m. March 12. Samples of healthy foods, for a more vital life, will also be available for participants.

With March being National Nutrition Month, Kathy plans student nutrition programs, presenting nutrition in a fun and energizing atmosphere. For details, call 412-427-1137 or email Copies of “The Ultimate Recipe for an Energetic Life” are available at

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