Food is one of life’s most powerful medicines. I’m a true testament that once you find the right diet for you, you can overcome chronic illness through the healing power of food.
I decided to start this blog because I’ve always been a massive foodie but when I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a type of arthritis and autoimmune disease, I didn’t know what I could eat. I just knew certain foods made my pain worse.
The illness had a devastating effect on my life. It deprived me of my 20s and 30s, a time when I should have been out partying with friends. All I wanted to do was hide from the world as I battled chronic pain every day.
The problem is, Ankylosing Spondylitis can take 20 years to progress enough to show on an MRI so people can live decades in agony without a diagnosis and a plan to heal. I was 26 when mine started. Over the next 6 years, I was pushed from specialist to specialist and none of them really knew what was wrong. I was pumped full of every anti inflammatory drug under the sun and super strong Anti TNF medication that caused my hair to fall out and other horrendous gastro problems.
I went from little miss sporty, who bounced around like zebidee, to little miss miserable. Sitting or lying down to sleep was virtually impossible but the icing on the cake came when it reared its ugly head in my Achillies and I couldn’t walk for 18 months. The list of injuries and ailments went on – IBS, leaky gut, Interstitial Cystitis…
Christmas day 2012, I remember it well. I’d hit rock bottom. It was time to take matters into my own hands.
Whilst Ankylosing Spondylitis runs in my family, I hold its onset to antibiotics. Being young I naively did as one doctor told me and took an on/off 18 months course for an infection… WHAT?!?! Little did I know then about the damage such a long course can cause to gut health. The balance of good/bad bacteria in my gut was anything but balanced. I started to scour the internet for any correlation between gut health and autoimmune diseases and that’s when I changed my diet, discovered Paleo, GAPS and later my tailored approach of Low Starch Paleo. This increasing awareness of the correlation between gut health and autoimmune disease drew me to start experimenting in the kitchen, buy a camera and launch this blog.
I started on the GAPS intro diet, lots of nourishing healing bone broth and simple foods. As I started to learn about Ankylosing Spondylitis, I gained a wealth of insight about its link to a bacteria in the gut called Klebsiella, which feeds off starch. Naturally on the GAPS diet, I’d already removed grains, high GI sugar and most dairy products like cheese and milk but things weren’t quite right. And that’s when I discovered Paleo. I now eat Paleo but with my low starch twist (so minus the very starchy vegetables like sweet potato and parsnips.)
Almost 5 years on, I’ve surprised the doctors, am free of medication and continue to get stronger and heal my body every day.
I’m back exercising and even do some musical theatre. Yes me, the girl who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, on the stage! I’m not disregarding medication as it has it’s place, I just passionately believe we can all improve our health if we look after our guts and find a way of eating that works for us.
I understand it can feel scary changing your diet this dramatically and the mental torment of identifying which foods could be exacerbating your symptoms, but make a start, it’s a journey, you won’t get it right on day one but making the change is without a doubt the best decision I ever made. Eating Paleo has allowed me to regain control from my illness, get respite from the constant pain, giving me my confidence and life back.
I want to share all the fun, healthy free from recipes I cook up at home and the knowledge that I’ve gained over the past 10 years in putting my autoimmune conditions into remission. Every week I post simple, original recipes to get your taste buds firing and show you that ditching grains, dairy and refined sugar doesn’t mean you have to ditch the taste!
I passionately believe that the root of good health is a happy, healthy gut and super strong gut lining, so even if you don’t have an autoimmune condition, my recipes are a great addition to help nourish your body.
Please get in touch, ask questions, share your stories and send pictures of your recipes. I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with the new healthier you.
Or AS as it’s often known is a form of spinal arthritis, in which the spine and other area of the body become inflamed.
Symptoms of AS present themselves in a variety of ways but often involve back/sacrum pain and stiffness that improves with exercise and isn’t relived by rest, pain and swelling in joints and extreme fatigue – because lying down to sleep is torture! I hear you fellow sufferers.
It can sometimes take 20 years for the disease to progress to a stage that it’s evident on an MRI. As a result, so many sufferers are left in limbo, battling chronic pain, and at best receive a diagnosis of ‘spondoarthropothy’ – an umbrella term doctors use now for an inflammatory condition.
The illness predominantly affects men but women can get it too and usually develops in your late twenties and early thirties. Whilst anti-inflammatory medications and anti TNF therapy are amazingly helpful in controlling symptoms, they come with a whole host of side effects. Currently there is no cure which is why I passionately believe diet can help manage symptoms, pain levels and improve your quality of life.
If you want to find out more about Ankylosing Spondylitis then these link may be useful – National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society and Kickas.