219: Mental Illness

Mental Illness

Mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, OCD, and panic attacks are usually treated with medication in the world of conventional medicine. But with more people becoming aware of the consequences of taking drugs, many are turning towards ways to heal mental illness naturally. My guest today, Kathryn Keefer will share her tips in healing mental illness naturally after overcoming her own health obstacles.

Broken Family

Kathryn Keefer shares that her childhood was messy. However, she readily tells people her story. Because it shows people that it is possible not to become a victim of your circumstances.

Kathryn Keefer is an identical twin. Along with a younger sister, they initially grew up in Virginia. She recalls spending a lot of time outdoors.

Life was good until her dad, who was in the Navy, left the family when Kathryn Keefer was seven years old. The family eventually decided to move to a house that was more manageable to maintain because their old place was too big for a single mother.

Both her parents eventually remarried. However, both divorced their second spouses after a few years.

Coping Mechanism

As a child caught in the chaos of a broken family, Kathryn Keefer turned to food for comfort. She and her twin sister Rachel were both were hooked on video games.

“Rachel turned to food just a little bit later. She was that classic middle child by trying to keep everyone together. My little sister and I were like cats and dogs,” Kathryn Keefer recalls. “Rachel took on the Mama Bear role. Her rebellious stage was in college.”

Kathryn Keefer also remembers having her first panic attack in the 8th grade. She was labeled with mental illness such as depression, anxiety, and OCD. That is why Kathryn Keefer was automatically put on Prozac.

Getting Worse

Kathryn Keefer was 16 years old when her mom divorced her stepdad. She went to beauty school after high school and eventually got married after graduation. Then she got pregnant right away. Now with a new label as a mother, Kathryn Keefer eventually became depressed.

After moving to Hawaii, Kathryn Keefer found out she was pregnant again, and the depression became worse. One day, it got so bad that she told herself that she could not keep being depressed.

“I was tired, and I was tired of being tired. Then I discovered the self-help world. Fast forward today, that is where it all started,” said Kathryn Keefer.

She adds, “I became obsessed with not getting fat. Because I was obsessed with my weight for so long and it consumed everything I did. So I was not healthy at all. I got relatively thin the unhealthy way.”

Waking Up To Realization

Eventually, Kathryn Keefer discovered that she was not a victim of the labels that other people were giving. Everything changed for the better the day Kathryn Keefer realized that she doesn't have to listen to other people,

Kathryn Keefer says that not being defined by labels helped her realize what she needed. She is an advocate for natural heal and says that there are safe ways to get off medication. In her case, she practiced self-awareness and changing how she ate.

“Develop a love for real food. You don't have to change your life overnight. It's about the small goals that are easy to reach,” explains Kathryn Keefer. “So you can celebrate those victories. Slowly pile on another one until you realize one day that you haven't consumed processed food or soda.”


It is a beach body program that features full body movements and stretching. Kathryn Keefer taught classes for two years in North Carolina.

It was not an overnight success for Kathryn Keefer as far as her exercise regimen is concerned. In fact, it was only three years ago that she finally really got into exercising.

“Instead of saying, ‘I work out because I'm scared of getting fat,' I workout because I love myself. You learn to love yourself,” Kathryn Keefer advises. “Find that sweet spot where your heart is just pumping, and you feel incredible. That is your brain releasing dopamine. It brings your heart rate up.”

Kathryn Keefer is also a fitness instructor. It's quite amusing since she says she didn't start exercising until she was 25 years old.

According to Kathryn Keefer, people have a hard time finding the motivation to workout. But she discovered that is not about finding the motivation to start. It is about learning how amazing it is to finish and becoming not addicted to that feeling.

Effects of The Right Diet

Kathryn Keefer believes that most Americans' sedentary lifestyle was due to having a poor diet. According to her, it plays a significant role in why 1 in 3 Americans is on anti-depressants.

“The best form of eating that they discovered for people with mental illness problems is the Paleo diet. I'm not Paleo because my body does not digest meat very well. It's just an example that we are all different and it is about finding what works best for you,” said Kathryn Keefer.

Kathryn Keefer also says that the brain is made of fat. That is why good fats are so vital. She eats an avocado a day and cooks only with unrefined coconut oil and ghee.

“Olive oil alone is good, but if you cook olive oil, it oxidizes. So it is not good for cells at all. I also recommend taking Vitamin D supplements, avoid gluten and dairy products,” advised Kathryn Keefer.

Kathryn Keefer says this is because gluten is just a protein that makes food stretchy. There are still other amazing choices for food and carbs. Gluten and dairy products, on the other hand, contain elements that are detrimental to the brain because they are inflammatory foods.

Recommended Recipes

I have a fantastic pasta recipe that my family loves, and I know you will, too! Red lentil noodles are made with red lentil flour and can be bought at Trader Joes or any whole foods store. It saves time because you can cook it in batches.

Packed with protein, I mix a little salt, ghee, organic tomato sauce with the noodles. It's like mac and cheese with ketchup. It's effortless to make and healthy, too! You won't feel like you're on a diet because it tastes so good.

According to Kathryn Keefer, depriving ourselves is the reason why so many diets fail. Consequently, there are fun ways to make healthy food taste good. Kathryn Keefer does a chickpea recipe made with almond butter. Mixed with garbanzo beans and vanilla, it is a blender recipe that is likewise easy to make.

Another one of my favorite recipes is flourless bread. The seed bread is so fibrous because quinoa binds it together. Just soak the quinoa till it's thick like dough and then mix all the seeds in it and bake it.

Once it is baked, cut like long crackers and eat it like a toast. It's actually like a mix of bread and crackers. Sometimes I put dried fruit in it and melted ghee. Just make sure you drink a lot of water whenever you eat this.

Kathryn Keefer, on the other hand, uses beans a lot and her preferred flour is almond. She has also cut back on coffee. Also, try her delicious smoothie!

To make Kathryn Keefer's smoothie, blend carrots, fresh ginger and frozen fruits like mangoes, pineapple or peach. Then mix it with frozen banana, turmeric, a pinch of black pepper, lemon juice and a few drops of stevia.

Kathryn Keefer also recommends drinking lemon water out of a stainless or glass bottle first thing in the morning. It keeps the vitamin C levels up and aids in digestion. And because cancer cells do not survive in an alkaline environment, drinking lemon water also prevents cancer.


Aside from food and exercise, another thing that helped Kathryn Keefer heal her mental illness is doing meditation, tapping or emotional freedom technique (EFT), and breathing work.

Kathryn Keefer learned about tapping from Nick Ortner who is the author of  The Tapping Solution For Manifesting Your Greatest Self Tapping is applying acupressure to the body.

“There's a nerve that runs right along your stomach and diaphragm. So when you deep belly breathes with your diaphragm, it massages that nerve and calms your nervous system down,” explains Kathryn Keefer.

On episode 103 of my podcast, I incidentally guested award-winning author Dawson Church, who also expounded on tapping or emotional freedom technique. In the episode, he also mentioned that EFT is also often used for patients with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Finding Gratitude

Another key to getting yourself out of depression is finding ways to be aware. When one is aware of things, the feeling of gratitude envelopes our whole being and leads to happiness.

Check out my episodes 54 and 166 where Michael Weinberger expounded on The Happiness Formula. He's such an inspiration for overcoming his depression and helping people to find happiness by embracing gratitude.

Importance Of Self-Care

Kathryn Keefer also recommends getting enough sleep. Keeping communication lines open with others can also do wonders to improve mental illness. Most of all, she stresses the importance of self-care.

“By taking care of yourself, you are in a place mentally and physically to help other people, especially with family. It's ok to be selfish because it makes you a better parent. You have needs, and they have to be met,” said Kathryn Keefer.

Institute For Integrative Nutrition

I'm so happy that Kathryn Keefer signed up for a course at the Institute For Integrative Nutrition (IIN) after being an avid listener of my podcast. I have had many listeners sign up for classes at the Institute For Integrative Nutrition (IIN). In fact, you get a USD$1,500 off your tuition if you sign up and mention the Learn True Health podcast.

I first came to find out about IIN after interviewing Donnie De Santi on episode 58. He was the first health coach I had on my show. I immediately called IIN after the show and signed up right away,

“When I discovered IIN, thanks to you, Ashley, I am going to be graduating soon. I have four weeks left,” said Kathryn Keefer. “I love all aspects of health because they are saving my life. And I can't wait to share with other people what I figured out and how they can figure out what works for them.”

Kathryn Keefer received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied a variety of dietary theories and practical lifestyle coaching methods. With her knowledge, she co-creates completely personalized actions based on your goals to move you toward your ideal vision of health within your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and resources.

Get Connected With Kathryn Keefer!

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Recommended Reading by Kathryn Keefer

Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini

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Mental Illness – Kathryn Keefer And Ashley James – #219

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Ashley James

Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing

Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.

Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.

In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!

The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine


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