You don’t make friends with salad… right? I am here to tell you that you this is absolutely not the case.
Choosing to follow a plant based diet is one of the best decisions I have made. I feel incredible both mentally and physically, and I have met some of the most incredible people as a result of my transition and the direction I have taken my career.
But, I haven’t always felt this healthy….
As a teenager and young adult, I struggled with chronically low iron levels, fatigue, poor immunity, anxiety, heavy periods (sorry fellas!) and headaches. Every doctor I saw labelled it as a side effect of menstruation and hormonal changes. It was suggested that I should “eat more red meat & take the contraceptive pill” to fix my issues.
Eating more red meat and taking the contraceptive pill did not fix my health issues.
Intuitively I have always known I would build my career around caring for others, and I decided to study dietetics after I graduated high school. My first semester at university saw me contract the deadly meningococcal meningitis illness. As you could imagine, my health took a further hit. I was hospitalised and medicated up to my eyeballs with antibiotics for weeks. I guess you could say the silver lining in this is that almost 10 years later, I am able to write this blog piece. Other people who contract this deadly illness are not as lucky….
Shortly after I was discharged from hospital, all of the food intolerance issues started. Knowing what I know now about gut health and the gut microbiome, it is very likely the potent doses of antibiotics wiped out all the good bacteria in my gut.
For years I struggled to find a permanent solution to my health challenges. My fatigue worsened. My digestive issues controlled my life. I was always in pain from chronic bloating….and I was gaining weight despite eating ‘a calorie controlled’ diet. I would cut out food, after food, after food for temporary relief, only to find myself back at square one with repeated flareups. It got to a point where I stopped socialising with friends on weekends because I hated being ‘that person’ who was picky about what she ate.
Again, knowing what I know now about the gut microbiome, the stress I was under from work-life imbalance and trying to manage a poorly understood health condition became the source of my issues.
Talk about self perpetuating!
I could not tell you the exact moment or article I came across that inspired me to start researching the gut microbiome. What I do recall is having my ‘A-ha’ moment when I realised that imbalance in my gut bacteria was likely the root cause of all of my health issues.
So how did I fix it?
Alongside my research into the gut microbiome, I found myself immersed in articles advocating the benefits of a plant-based diet. Specifically, the documentaries ‘Food Choices’ and ‘Hungry for Change’ helped shape my appreciation for this way of eating. I love that these documentaries do not go down the path of highlighting unethical animal treatment. Yes, I do think this is important in creating awareness. However, more people are likely to switch off than tune in when you choose this as your sole message.
So I decided to give it a go. At this point, I really had nothing to lose I had tried everything else…
My transition was not immediate. Being someone who suffered from more food intolerances than you can count on one hand, I decided to conduct my transition over the period of one year. I cut down on meat, then fish, eggs and dairy, and gradually increased my intake of plant-based proteins like legumes, beans, pulses, nuts and soybeans.
I am not going to pretend I felt miraculous immediately. It was six-months of consistency with these changes before I started noticing changes. I had more energy. My tolerance to foods were improving. I was becoming less bloated. I was sleeping better. My skin was improving. I just generally felt better.
I started exploring meditation and yoga, and incorporated these into my daily routine and….
I continued to get better. My gut issues became virtually non-existent… unless I do the things I know I shouldn’t do like eat wheat or lactose.
I felt more people needed to know about this.
So I made the decision to pursue a career in this space. I wanted to help more people like me get to the root cause of their health problems. and now…….
Here I am. Living, breathing and teaching gut health and holistic health practices everyday to my clients and community at Balanced Bellas!