1. Why did you decide to look more closely at food as a way to heal your body?
About 5 years ago, I woke up one morning unable to get out of bed. I felt absolutely exhausted, with no desire to do anything. I would limp home from work, barely having the energy to flop on the couch. My stomach ached and all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep. Doctors couldn’t understand why I was so ill, my hair fell out in clumps and my weight got down to almost 45kgs. Hives covered my ulcerated body, my muscles ached and I was tired and depressed. The next 6 months were a blur, while I negotiated my way through the complex medical system. I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and fibro-myalgia. The answer I was given was a life of immuno-suppressants, steroids and anti-inflammatories, which were making me feel worse and I was becoming weaker. Fed up with the medical system, and at a complete loss, I started to wonder if food might be aggravating my symptoms.
2. What food choices were you making before you became ill?
I was very busy working in the music and TV industries, and didn’t have a lot of time. I was eating convenience food that claimed to be healthy and I thought it was. But I didn’t read the labels. When I started looking more closely at the ingredients, they were not benefiting my body, my cells.
3. What changes have you made? And how long did it take?
After a lot of research on diet and nutrition, changing my diet had a monumental effect on my health. I eliminated 5 foods: gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast and sugar. I started with gluten and wheat, and my symptoms marginally improved. I then took out sugar and yeast, because I am a strong believer that good health is connected with a healthy gut and sugar is an immunosuppressant. With these changes my symptoms got dramatically better. I then eliminated dairy, and my health got even better. I had more energy and vitality and put on weight. We can be the healthiest person, but if our gut isn’t working effectively, we’re not going to be the healthiest we can be.
As well as eliminating these foods, I worked on healing the gut and my cells. While I don’t believe in overloading our systems with supplements, I did supplement with good quality fish oils, probiotics and Vitamin C. My diet was almost a liquid diet including a lot of mineral rich bone broths.
For the first time in a long time I had mental clarity, I felt alive, and was back cooking up a storm in the kitchen. I still have symptoms of my illness, but I now know how to manage them.
4. What was particularly difficult for you in making the changes?
5. Any tips you used for encouraging your family to support you in your changes?
I began integrating my new recipes and foods into our family menu planning. Now my family complains if something isn’t made from scratch!
6. What is and has been instrumental in achieving good health in terms of habits, food or lifestyle choices you’ve adopted?
7. What is the number one thing you would recommend to a person who wants to improve their overall health?
Take it slowly and make changes in your own time. Everyone’s different, find the foods that are right for you and incorporate those small changes into your day.
In regard to food, start incorporating green juices into your day and enjoy water and lemon drinks that help your body alkalise.
8. For many of us, it can be a big change, or difficult to make time for cooking. What handy tips do you have for being more efficient in the kitchen?
9. Do you think it’s important for us to take more personal responsibility or ownership for our health?
Yes, absolutely. It’s important not to put all your faith into one industry, particularly for ongoing health concerns eg diabetes, arthritis and to consider natural alternatives eg naturopaths or other health practitioners, such as health coaches who can advise on supporting the whole person through incorporating whole foods and better lifestyle choices rather than synthetic drugs alone.
10. Is there anyone in particular who has inspired you on your journey?
Jamie Oliver inspires me because he is at the forefront of a passionate food revolution, using his public profile to educate people towards fresh wholesome ingredients and away from processed and artificial foods. In Jamie’s School lunches he challenged the British government to review their lunch menus and use of vending machines in schools and now he is tackling the obesity epidemic in the US to encourage change at community and government levels.
Thank you so much for your time Lee and sharing your inspirational story and practical tips. Lees’ website is full of many more ideas for cooking up a storm in the kitchen, handy tips for cleaning and more. You’ll also find her book for sale. Visit http://www.superchargedfood.com/