So, just over two years ago my daughter got a white patch on her leg that was growing daily in size. We just assumed it was just bacteria and off to the Doctor we went.
The Doctor said it was Vitiligo, an autoimmune disease and prescribed a steroid cream and told us to return in two weeks. At this stage, the patch was about as big as a match box. We used the cream, and nothing improved so the Doctor referred us to a dermatologist and the appointment was made.
In the meantime, the patch was getting larger and more were appearing, so we quickly decided to seek another opinion. This Doctor also confirmed Vitiligo, but through extensive blood work, he also found her antinuclear antibody was extremely high which showed that she was also potentially susceptible to other autoimmune diseases. The Doctor advised that there was, unfortunately, nothing medically that could be done for Vitiligo but to wait and see what the dermatologist said.
So, I started to research the disease, looking for answers. I started by looking at natural health solutions and looked specifically for people who had found success with diet and lifestyle in managing and curing autoimmune disease.
Using food to heal was not completely unfamiliar to me as I had been lucky enough to, at a young age, experience a family member successfully use food to assist in her cancer recovery. This was life changing and I had applied these learnt principles to different health challenges I had experienced over the years always with amazing results. The problem was that once I felt my health back on track, I would again lose my way with that which worked. Not to say that my diet was a disaster, it wasn't, we had plenty of fresh, healthy food. The problem was that we also had lots of "so called" healthy convenience foods, e.g., muesli bars, crackers, cereals, breads etc that were processed to death and full of hidden yuckiness!
So when faced with my daughter's health challenge, once again what stood out to me was "Just Eat Real Food"! Nothing wildly scary about that and logically the perfect place to start as we already had a healthy diet filled with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Taking real food to a whole new level couldn't be that hard? Could it?
The plan for 4-6 weeks was to get rid of processed foods, refined sugar and most dairy and grains.
At this stage I made two important decisions:
1. That we would do this as a family
2. That I would commit to this 100%
and we did, but it was HARD!
1. Many of the everyday foods that we had thought were healthy, e.g., crackers, cereals, muesli bars and yoghurts, etc. were just SO full of sugar, so unfortunately off limits.
2. Cooking Real Food for six from scratch, 3-5 meals a day was difficult with such a busy family schedule.
3. Checking labels was time-consuming.
4. Determined to ensure the children did not feel deprived, I replicated many treats in a healthy way, and this was time-consuming,
5. The initial cost of getting new products was frightening, the products quite confusing.
6. School lunches with no bread was so challenging!
7. I was determined to let the children be children and not feel different and continue to enjoy the food.
So what happened after the six weeks?
Let's just say it was WOW!
Miss 13's, Vitiligo stopped growing and has not grown since. Once we got to see the Dermatologist, he was surprised that it had stopped growing. He offered us a stronger steroid cream to pigment the skin that was not likely to work and had nasty side effects, but we declined. He said to keep doing what we were doing as he said that the area also showed slight signs of pigmentation which he thought was amazing!
Master 13's pimples disappeared, and we worked out specifically what caused them. Very cool!
Hubby and I lost weight about 2-3 kilos.
Miss 13's tummy was no longer bloated, and her persistent tummy issues and headaches were gone.
So, we were hooked and the most important decision we made at this time was that we would be a "Real Food Family" just 90% of the time. The other 10% was guilt free "whatever". This was to allow the children to go to play dates, parties, family outings and gatherings and not have a "special" diet and feel deprived or different. It was to allow us to have an ice cream at the beach, a pie at the footy! . Of course my daughter who is now 14 almost 15 chooses a more 95% real food regime to ensure she keeps her autoimmune disease under control.
I believe that food and lifestyle is about PROGRESS not perfection and in my experience, there is not one perfect way for any person to eat. That is why in my opinion, diets do not work. In my family, each of us has certain foods that are perfect for us but not for another, so it is about listening to your body and finding what works for you. I find that if you have a predominantly real food diet, love food and are aware of what you are eating; you should be able to indulge in your favourite foods as desired.
It's now been more than two years and I am sure that if I didn't have such a strong reason to commit back then, I would have quit through frustration many times. There are so many conflicting dietary theories out there it is hard to navigate and can drive you quite mad. This is why I commenced training to become a certified Health Coach as sharing what I have learnt, so those interested, can bypass the stressful part and just get to the good part has become a passion for me. Whether you prefer to eat vegetarian, paleo, vegan or any which way is your choice, it's about showing you how to implement real food in a yummy, affordable, stress free, realistic and simple way, whether you need support for health, weight loss, energy or just because...
So this is how it all began, I will be writing more about the specifics of how we do it and what foods we include and why on my blog. I will also include an easy way to get started. I hope you will join us.