Whilst working as a Human Resources Manager I started getting severe stomach cramps accompanied by a sharp pain in my right shoulder. In the way that any other idiot might do I tried to hide these cramps, breathing through them and leaning on any nearby desk or chair to find comfort. Thinking that it could be stress, tight clothes, anything other than what was happening in my gut.
It took a while to realise that the pains were related to food. Several trips to the doctor defined it as irritable bowel syndrome, and a potential food intolerance.
From there I resolved it myself with a food diary. It’s so difficult to isolate an intolerance to an item of food without going on a strict exclusion diet. But with the diary and a careful process of food intake logging, I discovered that the reaction was related to sunflower oil. Once this was eliminated from my diet the pains stopped.
And it did mean eliminating it totally — did you know that most dried fruit is covered in sunflower oil — I think to keep it shiny and fresh looking. There is a cohort of dried fruit not covered in sunflower oil but it does make for a strange Christmas cake!
About the time I discovered this it became law in the UK to identify different types of oil in food and so what had previously just been listed as vegetable oil, now had to be specified as rapeseed, sunflower, etc. So that made it much easier for me to look at products when shopping and decide what I could and couldn’t eat.
So there I was — hitting my 40s and feeling like I was starting a different era in my life. Coupled with a troublesome tooth that took a lot of sorting out, the first time I needed glasses to read and a few more grey hairs appearing I really thought this was the time that I had a choice.
If you remember Trinny Woodhall and Susannah Constantine on ‘What not to Wear’ asking their subject each episode, where did it all go wrong? — showing the before pictures of the fashionable, fit and healthy woman alongside the current, less fit, slightly more rounded ‘now’ photos with clothes that just covered them up — a sort of disguise. I felt this could be my time and I thought, that isn’t going to be me.
So that is when I started reading up about food and nutrition and found myself getting more and more interested in it and really understood the blindingly obvious point that what you put into your body, dramatically effects what you look like.
For example, I can still get caught out with a reaction to sunflower oil if I miss an ingredient or try something on the very risky off chance. From the outside nobody would know that I was suffering from stomach pains, but I can see in my face the effects of a reaction. When the pains have passed my sin looks sallow and dark.
So what changes did I make?
I drink green tea
- It contains loads of health giving anti-oxidants, which give all the benefits of potential lower risk of some cancers alongside other health
- It contains caffeine and can help brain activity, but also as it can increase the metabolic rate it can help with weight loss.
- By improving insulin sensitivity and reducing blood sugar levels it may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
I drink ginger tea
This also has anti inflammatory benefits.
- Is rich in anti-oxidants
- It can soothe digestive issues.
- It may reduce blood pressure
I eat the rainbow
Blueberries, beetroot, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, avocado, every colour of pepper, red onions, white onions, parsnips, cherries, pomegranate seeds, passion fruit, any type of fruit or vegetable barring celery, which I detest with a passion.
I started to look at internal inflammation
This is the body’s process of fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, injuries and toxins in an attempt to heal itself. Internal inflammation can make you feel tired and ultimately it can damage your arteries, organs and joins, eventually leading to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Turmeric contains curcumin , which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers. It is better absorbed into the body with black pepper — so curry is just great and my favourite food is dhal, veggie, full of lentils with their high levels of iron, and full of turmeric and black pepper.
I gave up alcohol
I haven’t touched alcohol for 13 months and I feel great — I have lost weight, I can see a difference in my skin and there is a whole other blog post in how I did this and how I think I have benefitted!
I have recently become a consultant with Arbonne — a vegan range of skin care, make up and nutrition. This fits into everything I am doing — although I am not completely vegan, I am now totally vegetarian with a large portion of my food each week being vegan. I am starting to think about the toxins that can pass into your body from the products you use on your skin. So a vegan and natural skin care system resonates strongly with me.
The emphasis on a holistic approach to beauty, health and wellbeing, flourishing from the inside out, resound strongly with what I have said above about how I know what I eat and what happens in my gut can affect the way I look on the outside.
I am on a 30 day glow up programme, including greens balance, skin elixir and a 7-day liver detox product.
I hope this quick run through into internal health and diet has peeked your interest.
Follow my activity on LinkedIn, which is based on all things Arbonne related, and being the best version of you possible.