About Annika Rockwell, RD / LN
Annika Rockwell has been studying holistic health, nutrition, and supplements since 1996. Most recently, in October 2020, she earned her Registered Dietitian credential and became a FL Licensed Nutritionist after her graduation from Keiser University with a Bachelor of Science. Years prior, Annika completed her B.A. at Swarthmore College in a psychology & pre-medical curriculum.
In 1996, she started her nutrition career working with the late Robert Crayhon, MS, PhD, as a research assistant for his supplement company and helping host nutrition seminars (Designs For Health).
In 2000, Annika founded and managed a nutritional supplement company Rockwell Nutrition for 14 years which she later sold in order to focus on children's nutrition. Simultaneously, Annika founded My Healthy Food Club in 2007 (which she sold in 2014), providing South Floridians with a much needed source of quality nutrient dense, grassfed, organic, humanely raised animal foods.
In 2010, Annika launched Food For Kids Health to teach parents about how to cook healthy foods for their kids. And finally, in 2013, Annika (and her business partner) launched Find Real Food Mobile App, the Weston A. Price Foundation Shopping Guide to the Highest Quality Foods Available. For years, she's been a member of the Feingold Diet Organization and the Weston A. Price Foundation.
To stay abreast of the latest scientific findings, industry trends, and clinical tools, Annika regularly attends nutrition and health seminars, including those hosted by Weston A Price Foundation, Great Plains Labs, Designs for Health (DFH), Functional Medicine seminars, and Defeat Autism Now (DAN!). In addition, she has studied the teachings of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (GAPS Diet), Julie Mathews NC (BioIndividual Nutrition and Nourishing Hope special diets for Autism Spectrum Disorders and behavior), Mark Sisson (Primal/Paleo Diet), and Julia Ross' Amino Acid therapies for recovery of addictions and biochemical neurotransmitter imbalances.
Annika's Nutrition Philosophy
As a mom and nutrition graduate since 1999, I am passionate about educating parents on how to improve their children's health concerns through the foods they eat and living a healthier lifestyle including regular detoxification, exercise, time in nature, and avoidance of toxins in their food, water, air, and careful examination of everything they put on their skin and in their mouth! Common concerns like ADHD, hyperactivity, anxiety, mood swings, developmental delays, autism, "picky eating", eczema, constipation, allergies, reoccurring ear and bronchial infections, are rarely ever fixed with medical intervention. Instead, the underlying issues that caused the symptoms need to be addressed, and this often stems from things like imbalances in the gut microbiome, "leaky gut", detoxification and/or methylation challenges, poor sulfur metabolism, mitochondrial issues, food sensitivities and intolerances, and vitamin/nutrient deficiencies. To heal any underlying health problem, every one of us requires a bioIndividual nutritional program based on our specific biochemistry, genetics, health history, toxic load, and emotional needs. My passion and interest in children's nutrition stems back to my own health struggles during the first 25 years of my life. (More about this on the next tab "Health Journey and Mission").
Quality of Food & Bioindividual Nutrition Plans
The quality of your food is critical to our healing. It needs to be clean, free of toxins and pesticides, grown in nutrient dense soil, animals ethically and humanely raised on pasture and grassfed. I believe we should all go back to eating the Traditional diets of our ancestors. However, each of us is UNIQUE and have bio-individual nutrition needs. So customization is a key component of finding the right diet. The books "Nourishing Traditions" featuring the Weston A. Price Diet, and "The Primal Blueprint Diet" which is a Paleo Diet, are examples of two completely different ways of eating. Each one works for different individuals. No one diet works for everyone! Dr. Campbell-McBride's book "Gut and Psychology Syndrome" (GAPS Diet) and her research has transformed the health of many of my clients because when you fix the gut, you fix the underlying cause of most chronic ailments. But there are pitfalls with the GAPS Diet that few practitioners know about - issues with salicylates and oxalates which can cause significant symptoms and prevent success. Dr. Ben Feingold's Diet, which has been helping kids for over 40 years, has been another hugely successful program which I've been able to guide my clients through in order to transform their children with behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms, as well as learning disabilities. I've also studied and implemented the FAILSAFE Diet (aka RPAH Diet) for the last couple of years for my daughter and gotten huge success. There are many types of diets, and sometimes we need a combination of diet strategies in order to fix the underlying issues with our health. I support small farms who raise happy healthy humanely treated pastured animals. I buy my produce from local farms when possible, and I support farmers who use sustainable agriculture to grow organic food. I am an advocate of natural childbirth, midwifes & doulas, a fanatic about breastfeeding and good nutrition pre-conception, not just during pregnancy and lactation. My mission is to help support and educate moms so they can raise healthy happy children who will then become an amazing next generation of people!
As a child and through my teens, I was a picky eater... a seriously picky one! I also suffered through many years of chronic ear and bronchial infections, allergies, eczema, acne, Candida, flu, and list of others. Only years later did we discover my symptoms were preventable and caused by my poor diet! My passion for helping others heal with food was ignited and I became a nutritionist. My mission: To teach parents how to heal their child naturally so they don’t suffer like I did.
My Start as a Picky Eater
I refused most foods presented to me as a child, so my diet as a four year-old toddler was limited to bland jarred baby food fruit puree, mac and cheese, or pizza. I also happily ate ice cream, cookies and any packaged junk food. My parents told me I would cause huge scenes and have temper tantrums to get the food I wanted. I also had issues with textures and flavors. If anything had spices like oregano, including the pizza sauce, I’d refuse it. They didn’t know what to do and they knew I needed to eat, so they just gave in to my demands.
Suffering Through Many Illnesses
Little did my parents know that my seriously deficient diet would cause me to have malnutrition and health struggles for the next 25 years of my life. Starting as a baby and throughout my childhood, I was chronically ill and on medications every other month.
I was plagued with ear infections, bronchial infections, skin rashes, gastrointestinal trouble, and behavioral issues. Into my teens, the health challenges continued with severe allergies, hayfever, frequent colds, flu, bronchitis, tonsilitis, adnoid issues, acne, restless legs, Candida, “foggy-brain,” constipation, depression, debilitating PMS, fatigue, mood swings, and most scary of all, Mononucluosis, for which I was in the hospital for weeks.
The Cause of My Ailments
What we didn't know at the time, is that the antibiotics I had taken for my chronic infections over the years had done some permanent damage to my intestinal tract which then affected my immune system. And as a result, my health problems were amplified. To make things worse, at no time throughout all the years of my suffering and illnesses did any of the numerous doctors I saw recommend that we look into changes in my diet.
Frankly, it was amazing that I even graduated Swarthmore College let alone high school. I just remember years of struggles to find enough energy to complete my work. I was always so tired, sick, and recovering from something. Looking back, I spend years being at only 20% of my actual capacity. Not a fun childhood/adolescent experience!
The Start of my Recovery
Finally, at age 22, I was blessed to meet Robert Crayhon, a brilliant nutritionist, author, speaker, and researcher, who became my mentor for many years and ignited my passion for helping change people's lives with good nutrition.
To my Mother’s great disappointment, I decided against attending medical school, despite the years of pre-med preparation. I personally felt the medical system had failed me. So I went off to change the world with nutrition and holistic healing. It has been the most rewarding career ever imaginable!
My Health Journey
Slowly over the course of 10 years, I took small steps towards healing and recovery by studying various nutritional theories and implementing them on myself. First, I became a vegetarian for 6 years starting during college since I had heard it was "healthy", but unfortunately, I became weaker with additional health ailments like systemic Candida and hypoglycemia.
Then, I took a job as a research assistant for a nutritional supplements company. I dove deep into the scientific literature of vitamins and started taking dozens of them daily. I have to admit, taking the right ones did help!
But it wasn't until I fully changed the quality of the foods I was consuming (to "real foods" including organic, grassfed, pasture-raised animals, gluten-free, low grain, and including raw dairy) that my recovery became dramatic. I went from 25 years of having chronic infections, taking prescription medications, and having numerous health problems, to a disease-free life with no medications.
During the next few years, I dove deeper into some advanced health issues which had surfaced in my early 40's: A hypothyroid condition (Hashimotos Thyroiditis), "off-the-charts" levels of mercury in my system, a genetic methylation issue (MTHFR homozygous), mysterious pain in my kidneys and bladder, and "out of the blue" arthritis in both knees, my neck and thumbs. (Those Oxalates!). What a learning journey to research and resolve those health problems.
I'm proud to say that I haven't taken a medication in over 13 years. What a radical change in my life. If and when I do get sick, it's very mild and it passes in little time. I am not only healthier, but also more productive, alert, energized, happy, and active at 45 years old than I ever have been!
My Baby and The Impact of Excellent Nutrition
Over the last 19 years, my work as a nutritionist has ranged from helping clients with diabetes and heart disease to that of women’s health issues. But it wasn’t until I had a child of my own that I discovered that children’s nutrition was by far the most important focus I could spend my time on. I have researched so much valuable information that I feel the need to pass these facts on to parents.
Also, having been an extremely picky eater myself, and a chronically ill child, I was determined to do everything possible for my baby to ensure she would not suffer as I did. So starting during pregnancy and breastfeeding, I made sure my baby was getting the best nourishment possible, and the best foods that I could afford. And as my baby began to eat solid foods, I was always extremely attentive to every food that went into her mouth, always aiming for fresh, organic, plenty of healthy fats, pasture-raised meats and organ meats, wild seafood, and nutrient-dense and gluten-free carbohydrates. The Weston A Price Foundation "traditional food" guidelines and the Paleo Diet were the backbone of my food principles while raising my child. And later as I got to know her bioindividual needs, I further customized her program.
All my careful attention to her food paid off! I created an amazingly healthy baby and now young girl (born Oct 2007) who has been at the top of the charts verbally, emotionally, and physically. She began speaking in full sentences in both English and Spanish before age 2 - before most of her classmates even started speaking their first words coherently. She skipped a grade and now at age 10, reads and writes at a level 6 years ahead of her peers and thrives in the creative arts and sports. She started her own blog last year and learned how to program it: Kira-Luna.com
But most importantly, Kira's health has been stellar (unlike mine growing up). In her 10+ years on this planet, she has never needed any medical intervention. No ear infections, no eczema, no antibiotics, no medications, and she has had no health concerns worthy of going to the doctors for. Keep in mind, she's been in day care and school since age 1 running around with all those other kids with runny noses who cough all over the place. And she's traveled with us a couple times overseas to Peru, where a lot of malnourished kids with disease reside.
Her immune system is strong from her great diet, happy life, and from my diet during pregnancy which helped create the foundation of
her strong system. She naturally and quickly fights off any bad stuff she is exposed to with mild symptoms.
Finally, another way in which Kira shows off her excellent nutritional status is through her physical features. Unlike me, her teeth came in perfectly straight, she has no cavities, needs no glasses, does not have a narrow sinus cavity, and her face is a round strong shape (not oval like mine and my husbands). Why is this significant? Dr. Weston A. Price's book and research explain how these facial characteristics mean a child or young adult are well nourished and living up to their genetic potential.
But is she a Picky Eater?
Not by a long shot! Frankly, she's never been given the opportunity to become one because I know what causes and fixes finicky eaters. Kira continues to happily eat what most other kids call "disgusting". Her pre-school lunch box would contain what some moms would think as "unthinkable" foods including sardines, fish eggs (Ikura), chicken liver, veggie soup, raw veggies, sauerkraut, bone broth soup, seaweed, plain unsweetened yogurt, whole fruit, raw milk and pumpkin seeds. She happily eats these foods and bring home a (mostly) empty lunchbox. Kira is a champ and she understands the value of the foods she eats and why she does not have Cheetos and Fruit Roll-Up filled lunchbox like her classmates. It was easy to accomplish this with the right nutrition knowledge and the confidence that I would create a very happy healthy child if I gave her the right building blocks.
Bottom line is, it is quite clear that for your child to have excellent health and development, and an affinity for healthy foods, it will be deeply rooted in the great diet you provided your child, as well as your diet during pregnancy which helps form the foundation of their strong immune system.
My mission is simple. I want parents to know there IS a solution for their child's common health challenges. THEIR FOOD MATTERS! It's the most powerful "drug" you can give them 3 times per day. There is no need to watch your child suffer with chronic symptoms or illness. And parents don't need to suffer with their child's ADHD, mood swings, anxiety and behavior problems. Your child's symptoms are your first sign that something is wrong and needs to change.
Your Pediatrician has probably told you there is nothing you can do aside from take some prescribed medication or wait-it-out and see. It's NOT true! There is a way to improve your child's health naturally. I suffered for 25 years with various preventable health issues, and I don't want to see other children and families suffer like I did.
By having shared my story, and my client's health victories via their success stories and testimonials, I hope you will be inspired to seek out change and make nutrition and nourishing food a priority in your child's health!
Love and health,
Food For Kids Health & Behavior
Rockwell Health, LLC