In the winter of 2006 I awoke to find myself unable to get out of bed. My body was rigid and hurting and every move I made was a gigantic effort. I had no desire to do anything and although I continued to get up and drag myself into work, I would limp home exhausted, barely mustering up the energy to flop on the couch in awkward isolation. My stomach ached and nagged, objecting to any foods I tried to eat, raging and gurgling like a squally sea. Dinner became a non-event and all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep.
Doctors couldn’t understand why I was so ill, hair falling in clumps around me and the scales barely realising 45kgs. Hives covered my ulcerated body, my muscles ached and I was tired and depressed. I understood my health was skidding down-hill at an alarming pace but I felt out of control, self-conscious, and alone. The next six months was a blur, spent unwillingly negotiating my way through a complex medical system, exhausted from being passed around a parade of doctors, shuffling from one test to another with no answer on the horizon. I felt trapped in a pin ball machine, bruised and battered, being catapulted from cushion to drawbridge with no light at the end of the tunnel. My once fortunate life was in mayhem.
It wasn’t until some months later a diagnosis was reached and it was disclosed in a pin-drop moment that I was suffering from a non-specific autoimmune disease and fibro-myalgia. Hovering over me, doctors had decided my fate, a life of immuno-suppressants, steroids and anti-inflammatories which subsequently made me feel worse. I grew weaker by the day. Intrinsically I knew that there must be something else I could do to change the situation I had found myself in. Fed-up with the medical system and at a complete loss, a different realisation began to nudge its way into my consciousness. What if it was diet related? I could alter my diet, find foods which would not irritate my condition, in the process build up my immune system and consequently be able to live my old carefree life again, no longer having to rely on drugs. It was worth a try and I was determined to do something about it.
And so began my quest. Fervently I researched, consumed, read and soaked up as much information about diet and nutrition as I could, even travelling the world to discover which nutrient-rich foods would benefit me. It was in opposition to what I had studied in my food and technology classes and the learning curve was enormous. It was as if the food pyramid had turned itself upside down and shaken itself out realigning my mind with an alternate paradigm. I discovered foods which could be used as medicine to heal my body at cellular level and restore my health and in the process realized that for myself and many others there is a direct correlation between what we eat and how we feel.
Changing my diet had a monumental effect on my health. For the first time in a long time I had mental clarity, like I had awoken from a dream. I felt alive, my high-school-nerd head spinning with ideas for creating new recipes, pausing only briefly to research more and then begin again experimenting daily with a combination of different flavours and spices and unfamiliar ingredients. I was finally back in my element, cooking up a storm in the kitchen in the search for healthy, nutrient-rich foods that were simple to make yet still tasted fantastic.
Through my research I devised an eating plan that would not only heal my body and provide me with all the nutrients I needed to get well but offer hundreds of options for delicious fresh, full-flavoured, easy to cook, beautiful foods that still attract my eye every day and warm my heart. I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t have and started thinking about all the delicious health promoting foods I could and ones that could change the quality of my life forever.
Now my diet has never been so exciting and satisfying, I have boundless energy and enthusiasm for life and the best thing is that I’ve regained my health and vitality. I’m giddy with happiness to have been given the opportunity to share my insights with you and hope that you’ll benefit as I have from the many delicious nutrient-rich gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast and sugar-free recipes I have created.
Enjoy! xo Lee