Good food is really high on my list of values. I believe that the main route to good health is via the stomach – we are most definitely what we eat! A happy digestive system is a great start for a happy and healthy life. So many of us have digestive “dysbiosis” – an imbalance in our guts. We experience bloating, pain, discomfort, loose stools or constipation. These can all be signs that you have an imbalance in your gut “microbiome” – the 2-3lbs of bactera which live in our guts and which do really important work for us, such as breaking down our food and making vitamins or neurotransmitters like the “happy hormone” Serotonin. With Kinesiology techniques, I work with clients to address food intolerances, sensitivities, stress, infection and therefore gut imbalance. My aim is to get everyone eating as wide a variety as possible of delicious foods. I certainly don’t want to restrict people’s diets because I know what that feels like!
When I was age 2, I looked like a starving baby from a charity advert. I had stick-thin arms and legs and a big swollen belly. I slept constantly and had no energy for anything. My mum was seriously worried. She took me to the doctors again and again and finally they tested my blood and found the lowest haemoglobin score they’d ever seen (anaemia). I was hospitalised and put on liquid iron. I had x-rays and tests and spent my 3rd birthday on the children’s ward. Ironically, we all had pancakes as my birthday fell on Shrove Tuesday that year. Ironically because what they suspected but couldn’t confirm back in 1968 was coeliac disease. I remember the barium meal x-rays – the smell of the red rubber cover they put over me as I lay on the x-ray table. I remember everyone else scurrying from the room and the weight of the rubber pinning me down. After all this, they told my parents not to put me on a gluten-free diet because I was so young. They said I might ‘grow out of it’.
Through the rest of my childhood I was regularly anaemic – this meant blood tests and courses of iron tablets. My favourite food was anything with rice. Yoghurt, custard and any other dairy desserts made my mouth feel furry – I hated them. My idea of a perfect evening was when I cooked myself a rice-based meal which I ate sitting at the coffee table my mum made at an evening class in front of an episode of Kojak – haha! I started doing this aged about 10 and still love it now 40+ years later (but usually with a food documentary rather than Kojak!).
In my 20s I was plagued with digestive problems. I was diagnosed with IBS, a stomach ulcer and acid reflux. I sometimes had days or weeks off work – I couldn’t move from the house because of diarrhoea and stomach pain. By the time I was 29 I could rarely eat a meal out without severe consequences. I started to experiment with different diets – Michel Montignac’s Dine out and Lose Weight diet suited me best in the early 90s. It was the precursor to the Atkins diet – an early form of low carb and food combining.
In my mid-30s, I finished up on a hugely restricted diet. I went vegan (because dairy upset me and I had trouble digesting meat). What suited me best was brown rice and vegetables. When I travelled in Indonesia for a month aged 30 my stomach was flat for the first time in my life. But still I didn’t make the connection with gluten.
That happened when I moved out of London and needed to register with a new GP in order to get the acid inhibiting medication I took to control flare-ups. I remember the GP’s name was Jeremy and he was very young. I wrote and thanked him later. His form asked about hospital stays and I’d only ever had that one when I was three. He said: “Suspected coeliac disease? Well, was it or wasn’t it?!” The penny dropped for me there and then and I went gluten-free from that day onwards – it was September 1999. All the disabling digestive symptoms I had had disappeared in a month. The GP had done a blood test and it had shown very high autoimmune antibodies to gluten – ie, coeliac disease.
So, that’s why the right foods are so important to me. My idea of ‘right’ is simple combinations of ‘clean’, natural ingredients, preferably organic and definitely seasonal and ideally locally-produced. I’ve been a vegbox customer for about 15 years – all our meals start with whatever comes in our weekly Riverford box. For me, it’s like buying great quality supplements.
And thanks to Systematic Kinesiology, I now know that low carb and zero grains (except for small amounts of my beloved rice – always my comforting staple) suits me best. I also know that I can eat small amounts of goat and sheep cheese (it’s the Casein in dairy that affects me). I’ve addressed my gut imbalance (well, it’s an ongoing project!). Since 2014, I’ve lost three stones in weight and upped my energy levels to better than ever – I dance, do ballet, go the gym – hmmm sometimes – cycle, walk, jog – hmmm occasionally!). Most importantly, I have the energy to help other people regain their health – that’s my absolute passion in life.