A little bit about me….I am 174cm tall, have a slim build, I go for a decent bush walk/hike every day (I love it!) and practice yoga regularly. I have never really been a gym person and prefer to do my movement outdoors. I love love love food and do my best to eat intuitively, that is, when I am hungry. I listen to my body and do my best to give it what it craves or wants as well as avoid things that I know will not work well with me.
I love the colour orange. I love making salads. I am an animal lover through and through! I love the beach, travel, the great outdoors and I love an adventure!
This is my story. The story of how nutrition found me, rather than I found it.
I have a history of being allergic to pretty much everything – grass, dust mites, mould, nickel, gluten, dairy and a slight cat allergy…well these are the ones that have been diagnosed. Around 2006, when I was 14-15 yrs old, I was experiencing quite chronic hayfever that was causing my asthma to constantly flare up. Day in day out, I would have streaming eyes and a constant runny nose. I would sit on the grass at lunch and feel more constricted and weaker in my breathing. We decided that I should have a 2.5 year desensitization program for the grass, dust mites and mould allergens that were causing me such grief. This involved weekly, then fortnightly, then monthly injections of these allergens so that I would build up my immunity and become ‘desensitized’ to them. This was a long and vigourous process, however, by the end, my bouts of hayfever dramatically reduced and my asthma, as a result, was so much more manageable.
Further to these allergies, I had always had sensitive skin. I would go swimming training and my face would dramatically peel afterwards. Any cream/cleanser/moisturizer I put on my face, would make me react in awful ways. I remember one brand of cleanser in particular made my face go orange and crusty for several days, it was the worst!
When I was 18 I embarked on an 8 month GAP journey to Europe. I was half way through my first degree and decided I wanted to get out and see the world. The opportunity came up to work at a private girls school in the UK for several months, which I excitedly accepted. Before this experience, I spent some time in France furthering my language skills and I also did a big European tour with my cousin. I left in June 2010 and was away until February 2011. I loved my GAP experience at the school. The kids were great, I made some fabulous friends and was able to see more of the world!
However, over this time and unbeknownst to myself, I was becoming quite ill. It was winter in the UK, needless to say that it was cold. Anyone who knows me, knows that the cold and I don’t make a good pair. I remember having 4 consecutive snow days at the school, so it was definitely one of the coldest winters they had experienced in a while. In the 6 months I had been there, I had contracted two nasty chest infections, one of which turned into pneumonia. I could not walk up two steps without losing my breath. It was scary!
I started to wonder what was going on? Why was I getting so ill? I could not figure it out. I just thought that it was the cold weather, having never been exposed to temperatures like that for a long length of time.
My family and our friends came to visit me for Christmas December 2010. I was so excited to see everyone and share with them this little part of the world that I now loved so dearly. I remember one of my best friends and I lining up in the arrivals section of Heathrow. Looking out over all the beanies and scarves to see a familiar face. Then they appeared. I remember them nearly falling over in shock when I greeted them in the airport. I could tell that, they were pretty gobsmacked at the sight of me. I thought, did I have something on my face, something in my teeth? No no no, it wasn’t that. I was inflamed. Not just a little bit. I was incredibly INFLAMED. My face was moon shaped and puffy. I was bloated. I had systemic inflammation.
The funny thing was, I had not noticed that I was looking like this. You know you look at yourself in the mirror everyday and after a while, it all just blurs, you don’t notice any change in the shape of your face you just notice the blemishes.
It was not until that moment, did I start drawing connections. I then started going through all my symptoms for the past couple of years. These allergies had manifested as terrible asthma and several bouts of pneumonia, severe lethargy, skin redness particularly on my face, spots, terrible gut health, severe bloating and stomach pain (I looked a good 7 months pregnant on many an occasion) and just a constant ballooned feeling. My main conclusion was the food that I had been eating. It was affecting me in such a negative way.
What I believe had happened, i.e. why I got so bad, was this…In Australia I was eating like I had always eaten – lighter meals, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Even though my symptoms were there, they weren’t as bad. But once in the UK and my eating patterns changed into a heavier food-based diet, did they get so much worse. I was consuming more dairy, I was consuming more gluten and I was also consuming more sugar (which I’m not allergic too but would not have helped the inflammatory response!). I ate at the school cafeteria for my 3 meals a day and snacks in between. Common meals included fish and chips, meat stews and roast meats with gravy. I was eating lots of cooked food and not so much fresh. When I did venture out, however, I pretty much ate my way around the UK in pub-made pies (because they know how to make them!). So that probably didn’t help. But at the time, like I said, I was oblivious.
I truly believe my allergies are a threshold thing. My body went ‘right oh that is enough’ and just burst at the seams. While I recognized I was bloated, in pain and uncomfortable, I did not realize that my whole body had changed as a result of my allergies and that I was in a state of massive imbalance. Needless to say, it was a massive wake up call.
Once home, I cut out dairy and gluten and focused on incorporating simple wholefoods. I also made sure I replaced these food groups with foods that would give me similar nutritional benefits without the accompanying symptoms. I won’t lie, it took me a good 2 years to fully reset my system.
Another sore point in my health journey is stress. A few years back, stress got the better of me. Stress and me, don’t make a good team. On testing, my cortisol levels were almost 4 times the recommended range. My health was suffering, the weight was falling off me, my hair was becoming brittle and falling out, I was so lethargic. Something had to give. I put myself first. It wasn’t easy, but I was committed to nourishing all aspects of myself; mind, body and spirit. Soon enough I felt more energised, soon enough my zest for life increased, soon enough I started to glow more and soon enough each system of my body took its turn to start working efficiently again.
I am now 25 and the feel healthiest and most balanced I have been in a long time. My body and my brain work in good harmony. I listen to my body, I give it what it needs and avoid what it doesn’t. I still steer clear of most dairy and gluten but because of the clean slate that my body now is, I can tolerate small amounts of wholefood and limited processed sources of dairy and gluten here and there. I am committed to living healthily but with room for indulgence. I have balance. I have fulfilment. Most of all, I am full of energy and passion and each day I get to do what I love to do most.
So this is an introduction into why nutrition found me rather than I found it. I hope that by sharing my own personal health journey, I can help more of you.
Ask any questions, share this post. Lets be more honest with ourselves. Lets heal our bodies from whatever may be troubling them. Lets nourish ourselves and strive for balance. Lets live the healthiest and happiest life we can.
Happy reading X