“We’re a rare breed,” Madison Utendahl tells Hilma of her status as a born and raised New Yorker. A creative director who designs content and social strategies for companies like Refinery29, Lemon Perfect, and The Wonder, Madison knows a thing or two about juggling a wall-to-wall life.
So how does she balance her packed schedule while keeping her health in check? Madison gave Hilma a peek inside her medicine cabinet to see how she maintains a “holistic” lifestyle that keeps her on track both physically and emotionally.
Her healthy lifestyle began in childhood.
My mom is incredibly health conscious — not opposed to medicine, just hyper aware of how food and remedies are made. She’s hesitant to trust things that haven’t been around for generations, so I was never allowed to eat anything that had crazy long expiration dates growing up. That mindset of being conscious of what I put into my body has been ingrained in me since I was a child.
Madison’s chronic health issues and natural remedies that work for her.
I swear by an herbal immune boost product, as well as lysine, which has been super valuable to my immune system as I’m prone to getting sick pretty quickly. I’m a religious user of a neti pot for my sinuses. I struggle with sinus and allergy issues 365 days a year—it’s just my makeup, and as a result I’ve implemented a more holistic approach. Additionally, I have chronic pancreatitis and have found that most doctors I see are shocked when they learn that I’ve lived with it for seven years of my life and I’m on no medication.
Why Madison went natural.
When I was a teenager, I suffered from severe, debilitating migraines. Doctor after doctor couldn’t figure out was wrong: they told me I was depressed, and I wasn’t. Finally I went to a doctor who asked what foods I ate, and gave me suggestions from a diet perspective. On his recommendation, I tried eliminating dairy, and my migraines completely went away. Because I had been previously tested for allergies without any real conclusions, this led to the realization that I am not traditionally lactose intolerant, but I am allergic to the lactose enzyme. Had I followed traditional medicine, I’d probably still be struggling with migraines and on significantly more medication. Essentially, all it came down to was diet. As a result, I’ve found that almost every diagnosis I’ve had has been fixed or cured, to some extent, with natural remedies. This experience has made me fiercely loyal to the healing powers of a healthy diet and vitamins.
Madison’s medicine cabinet.
I am a very holistic person and really like to use natural medicine before I go to anything else. I start my morning off with lysine, I take turmeric, fish oil, and a LifeSeasons supplement that has nettle tea leaves to help sinuses. To close my evening, I take a calcium supplement, magnesium supplement, and vitamin D.
How she’s stepping up her health and wellness game.
I’m trying to be more conscious of the sugar that I’m eating and I try to be plant-based when I can. When it comes to sugar, I think we typically assume that because fruit is natural, it’s ok to have a lot, which is not the case. I was eating literally pounds of bananas and dried mango a week, which was so much sugar that I might as well have been eating Skittles and Starbursts. I also tried to be vegetarian and found that I became anemic very quickly, but I still try to do around 2 days a week as a pescatarian.
Her advice for everyone who wants to live a little more naturally.
Have patience in the process. So much of traditional medicine is about quick fixes versus long term results, but our health is about running a marathon and not about sprinting a race. If you adopt healthy behaviors and practices into your lifestyle, even though you might not see the results immediately, they will greatly impact and benefit you long term. My grandmother is 89 years old, is on no medication, and has a vegetable heavy diet. She really takes care of herself from a natural perspective. For me, that is a model to abide by: patience in the process.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult a physician before treating any disorder.