But listen to your body when it’s not quite right, and it will tell you NOT to accept what one man tells you in his 15min allocated time slot. And after the death of my Mum to Alzheimer’s, I was not going to let my liturgy or small complaints mean nothing. I wanted to go forward into the next 50 years of my life with a ‘sustainable’ living change. Didn’t care if I lost a kilo or not, I just wanted to be the ‘best’ that I could. In the best of health and feeling great. So all those niggling health issues had to go.
The Nutritionist. Ahh my life saver. April sat me down, and after the long chat I think I had made it very clear that my purpose for health was so that I could enjoy the next 50 years and not be hindered by them. So whatever she was going to suggest I did, it was going to have to be realistic to ME. If she was simply going to tell me to give up my evil ways and eat nut burgers and chia pods then it would not work.
So firstly we had blood tests to ascertain if there were underlying allergies. Results came back. Allergic to dairy proteins and eggs. Immediately stop all intake of dairy and eggs. Cheese is my favourite food, naturally this would be the hardest. No milk in the coffee routine. Easier just to give up coffee whilst I am at it. If I could write these words in huge letters across the sky I would....I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW MUCH BETTER I FEEL in such a short space of time. The coffee withdrawals was a bit hardcore, and hence I had a week of headaches. But within one week, the black bags were gone from under my eyes, the runny nose that I have had for 20 years stopped! My tummy was flat (well apart from the layer of fat over it, but the underneath bit was flat...I could feel it). My head was clearer at work. The pain in my fingers, the arthritic pain, gone. Gone completely, I mean even the nodules that were forming, gone!
I am about 6-8 weeks into the change in diet. Now comes the part when I have to make the ‘for life’ changes sustainable. Having spent most of my life as a chef, restaurant manager and wine merchant, I was going to need to make some honest ‘mind shifts’ in my attitude to food and drink. I needed to retrain my brain. I was not going to be the pain in the arse dinner guest who had ‘allergies’ and would never be invited out again. And my memories of ‘those’ diners in my restaurants, who couldn’t eat this and couldn’t eat that....cos they were allergic. I always wanted them to be at someone else’s restaurant. Those sort of diners were someone else’s problem. I was only going to feed normal people who could eat everything I put on the menu. Normal food, with normal ingredients. THAT sort of thinking had to go!
My journey continues. And it’s a quiet personal journey. But each day I find new things I like to eat, and things that I can’t eat, things that I know are good for me but taste like cardboard (quickly rejected!) and dishes that will now go into my everyday repertoire of recipes. I simply refuse to eat ‘healthy’ just because it is good for me. But I will eat yummy, tasty, and nutritious food, because it is fixing me, and I feel awesome!
I am not going to allow the food allergies to define me as a person. I am still the same me, but I eat differently now. After all, it’s only food. It will not say on my tombstone, ‘here lies Helen, dedicated wife and mother (to her pet dog) with dairy and egg allergies’. In fact no one cares what your allergies are. Really, they are not that important to anyone else but you.
Wine consumption...well that is another days work.
The lesson I have learnt is that your body has the answers to its own sustainable health. And someone like April is the facilitator to ‘you’ finding the answers.
By Helen Turner
Food and wine lover.