A love story with food and its power to heal

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I was asked by my friends this past weekend what led me on my journey with food and my interest in nutrition and I started to ponder about where it began and how eating evolved for me.  It’s difficult to pinpoint the start because if you’ve read my about me page, it’s been a slow, gradual adaptation but I wanted to share my highlights and my significant discovery about the power of food.

My family has always been what you would probably call foodies, we like to cook and we REALLY like to eat!  I have a Granny still going strong at 101 years old and I reckon you can pretty much put that down to old-school very healthy nutrition.  It has been passed down the generations and I’m lucky I’ve been brought up on home-cooked food and butter!  However, like everyone my generation, in my teens I was convinced I needed to be on a constant diet and that low-fat was the way forward, this was my downfall.  I subsequently picked up some bad habits that I’ve since had to work hard to undo.

In my 20s, I started reading nutrition books and one of the first books I read was ‘Fats that Heal and Fats that Kill’, my fascination began and these books made me start to question everything..

The Power of Food

A few years ago, I was teaching a lot of Zumba classes about 14 a week and I began to really struggle with energy levels, particularly on the day when I had 4 classes.  I refused to let me body get the better of me and stubbornly knew there would be a way to fuel this level of exercise, I just hadn’t found it yet.. Professional athletes train all day so what was their secret?  I started to increase my carbohydrates, because we all “know” bread is a perfect reserve of stored energy, right?  I ate more wholemeal, organic toast with butter and Marmite.  The problem was this had the opposite effect, the more toast or pasta I ate the more tired I became, not only was I starting to feel exhausted all the time but I was getting this brain fog in the afternoon.  I was teaching in schools and finding no amount of caffeine would help lift the fatigue.  I started my research again came upon Paleo, this was just the start of a life-changing journey.

I’ve always been pro-natural alternatives, believing we are meant to eat the way the earth supplies our food so something clicked into place when I read paleo books.  If you’ve not come across paleo before it is embedded with ancestral ways of eating i.e. trying to replicate the diet of our ancestors millions of years ago, eating from the land.  There is a strong ethic in organic and sustainable farming but most significantly it is about removing processed food of all kind.

I started to realise the power of food within a month of taking wheat out of my diet, my life transformed and I have never looked back.  I felt healthier, happier, I was sleeping a solid 9 hours, my complexion improved and I had all the endless energy I needed.

Twice I tried to eat wheat in the 6 months following, at first I was a little embarrassed to tell people I didn’t eat wheat, I didn’t want to be one of “those” people with their special diet but both times I suffered with extreme stomach cramps through the night for about a week following.  I know I am gluten intolerant but this didn’t become apparent until it was removed from my diet, although it is my strong suspicion that we all are in some form or another (more on this to follow..)  There was more…I realised I had gone from being ill with colds and flu probably 4x a year to not at all and it wasn’t just me, apart from chicken pox, Scarlett also has not been ill in at least 2 years.  My hayfever and allergic reactions to animals that moult (that started when I was 5 years old) also disappeared.

I started reading all the nutrition books I could find on ancestral health and studying current scientific papers and I realised that everything we have been taught about nutrition has been based on flawed science, see here.

Healing Scarlett

Portrait 167aThis was probably the biggest milestone on my journey, although Scarlett has eaten Paleo with me these last 2 years, I weaned her on wholemeal pitta and houmous (before I knew differently) and when she wasn’t with me, she would eat like most regular toddlers – sandwiches, cakes and sweets at parties.  From a young age she developed eczema, I didn’t think too much of it as most of my family have suffered with childhood eczema.  On the advise of the Doctor, I put steroid creams on her a couple of times but after a few days of relief the eczema would always return.  Alarm bells started ringing when she started experiencing allergies to food, I noticed after she ate a tomato her face would flare up in a red rash all over her face, she was developing what I have since learned to be auto-immunity, due to gluten sensitivity and a subsequent leaky gut.  I have lots more to tell you about this journey, its been my biggest learning curve and we still have a way to go but 6 months of bone broth and probiotics (made from food) we are probably 90% there with curing her eczema.

Healing Aggie

AggieIf you think my dog, Aggie got off scott-free, think again, even she got the Vanessa healing treatment.  I was spending a fortune on natural dog food and in a bid to save some money, I introduced her to the delights of pedigree chum, (a grain containing dog food).  Within 6 months she developed this incessant scratching so I took her to the Vet £40 later I was told, nope, absolutely nothing wrong with her.  My friend who is a dog hydrotherapist suggested a raw dog food diet and something twigged, if I could heal Scarlett’s eczema why not Aggie’s so with her raw food she was given bone broth and fermented vegetables.  I’m happy to say the results were much quicker, within a month no scratching and even the dog groomer recently commented on how lovely her coat is, one happy dog again.

Probiotics

I have so much to share with you about these exciting, life-changing foods.   Having been around for centuries and particularly used in traditional cultures, natural probiotics are now making waves in nutrition circles.  Nutritional Science is now at an exciting time because for the last 100 years we can now determine what food can cure.

We’re also lucky enough to live in a generation where we can now expect to live past 100 years old but I also think we should expect to be in good health for those years, without symptoms and without age holding us back from being physically active as well as looking young too.  There has been a big shift in people looking at holistic, natural, homeopathic cures and what I’ve learnt on my journey is that you shouldnt underestimate the power of food, it is literally your most powerful medicine so you should be mindful of what you eat.

It’s been on a slow gradual journey on what many now term clean-eating. I am fussy with what I eat but with very good reason, I know how certain foods used to make me feel and I’m not willing to go back there. It makes me smile when people enquire as to what strange food I’m eating now because I’m wondering whether I do actually eat that strangely or has eating fast, processed, junk food just become so engrained in society it is now accepted as the norm?

I hope this blog has interested you and maybe there has been something here that you can relate to as well.  You can probably gather, I have lots more information to share so I hope you’ll continue to read them as my journey with food continues.  My next blog will be on wheat because this food group has a big impact for everyone..

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