Change your diet, change your life

Can a change of diet change your life?

If you had asked me this question 10 weeks ago, I would have said, yes, improving your diet could improve your health, but change your whole life? No, not really.

Eight weeks ago, after 10 weeks of ongoing chronic illness which I had no time for, so I kept working until I finally collapsed with Pleurisy one day, I decided something had to give.

With my daughter’s wedding looming next year, and renovations partially underway, but on hold due to lack of cash (but just having proceeded enough to make the house totally unliveable), I had been taking on as much work as I possibly could lay my hands on.

The problem was, being post-menopausal with ongoing hot flushes and sleepless nights caused due to severe night sweats, I was barely coping.

Frustratingly my weight had crept up and up and up, so I was trying to make time to exercise as I did not want to look like a Tele Tubby at my daughter’s wedding!

The catch was, I was so exhausted all of the time – just doing the groceries was a massive challenge.

Basically, my health was a mess, migraines, urinary tract infections, chest infections – you name it – were my daily grind, plus, I looked and felt haggard.

Hubby was not much better. His weight had ballooned so much he was heading towards becoming obese. He was on blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication, had heart issues, joint issues – basically – he had all of the symptoms of a 64-year-old male.

His medically diagnosed bipolar symptoms were out of control, and his medication was barely managing his mood swings. He was impossible to deal with and so forgetful.

I took out a funeral plan on him, I honestly thought his days were numbered.

After my collapse, he decided that I should work less.

I decided I had to do something about my hormones, as I was not going to put my daughter’s wedding on a credit card.

I went and saw a natural hormone balancing doctor, who took my weight (I nearly fainted) and sent me off to have a variety of blood tests.

This spurred me into action – I knew that the blood test results would not be good.

I have always eaten well. I have a severe intolerance to gluten and dairy and because of those weaknesses I am conscious of my gut health and consciously avoid sugar.

But the truth of it is – pretty well anything packaged contains sugar!

So I decided that we were not eating anything anymore which came from a package unless the back was checked – to make sure it did not contain numbers or anything which wasn’t natural.

My husband unable to do anything by halves gave up alcohol dairy and gluten and decided to become a vegetarian. Happy to not eat meat, I joined him as well.

We went on a lower carb diet, or low GI, or whatever it is that people choose to call it!

Basically what we did was replace white rice with brown rice, corn pasta with buckwheat pasta, so-called healthy gluten-free loaded with sugar cereals with gluten-free whole grain cereal.

Doing this automatically increased our plant protein intake as brown rice contains more protein than white rice, buckwheat is high protein and whole grain breakfast cereals contain lots of seeds.

We doubled up our vegetables so that lunch and dinner were 70% vegetable based.

Replaced biscuits with nuts and fruit between meals.

Whenever ever we can, we eat organic.

We both still love our cups of organic tea, and real coffee with soy, almond or rice milk. We do not eat processed sugar, just honey and fruit sugars as we eat no cakes or biscuits etc, and of course do not drink fizzy drinks.

Within 2 weeks, he lost an unbelievable amount of weight. I did not loose any weight, but the puffiness left my body.

Both of us noticed that we did not burp after meals or have a heaviness in our stomachs which we had suffered from whilst we ate meat. Not that I am saying everyone should become vegetarian, but it made us very aware of how few vegetables and plant proteins we used to eat.

Although in so saying, my husband went back to eating wild caught fish 3 weeks into the diet as he was eating way too many eggs trying to compensate for his need for more protein, and he was starting to eye off sugary foods in the supermarket aisles!

Within one week I started sleeping through the night  – and no more hot flushes! Two weeks down and I had not had a urinary tract infection for over a week (they used to occur weekly).

Three weeks in and my mind became clear, I started remembering things more easily, did not have to make lists all of the time, I just remembered things. My energy levels increased, and although our house is still full of unfinished renovation holes, I am not as cold anymore.

I feel happy and am in an incredibly good mood more often than not.

One month in and I started to notice hubby and I were obsessed with avocados, nuts, and eggs again – so I doubled our Flaxseed oil intake to 6000 mls to up our omegas and doubled our Spirulina intake in case it was a lack of protein.

As we age, our digestion slows down along with our metabolism both of which cause us to gain weight around our middle. So we started taking a tablespoon of Raw Organic Apple cider vinegar before every meal – this just made us anxious – so we put the vinegar into a shot of pure apple juice – did not stop the bite – but made it much more palatable! I am the owner of two small bottles which I take with me everywhere so I can continue taking it before meals everywhere I go.

Besides the weight loss, my husband’s energy levels went through the roof! He is back to working 14 + hour days (he is a workaholic) without becoming tired – he also can garden for hours on end without becoming sore, chop huge amounts of wood – and has stopped complaining he is too old.

My energy levels have improved immensely – no anxiety anymore either as I can make deadlines, deal with stress and the quality of my work has improved beyond belief.

My skin looks much better and my eyes are brighter.

After a week of research on women who look great for their age (which was what this article originally was going to be about) – I found that most of them ate a ‘colourful’ healthy vegetarian diet. Most were low dairy or no dairy and low carb,  and low sugar of course. Christy Brinkley being one of them.

I still love my glass of red wine at night, it is my daily treat, hubby drinks a glass of red or a glass of scotch. He also adores his dates and organic dark chocolate with nuts in it – so it is not as if we have become zealots – although our friends think we have!

I have not gone back to the hormone balancing doctor since my diet change, as I have absolutely no menopausal symptoms anymore. I feel like a young woman with no periods – how great can life get!

(update on this post, I did go and get my hormones sorted as I still had waves of exhaustion every now and again – I actually found out that I had a sluggish thyroid – so now that is fixed – life’s grand!)

I am not the only one to have found a change diet means a change of life. My 33-year-old friend changed her party hard lifestyle when she decided she wanted to have a child.

Her skin changed, her hair improved, her memory improved and her energy improved.

Even with sleepless nights caused due to a baby, she still is able to get up at early every day and go to work.

She will never revert back to her diet and party ways as she loves how she feels and looks!

My young 20-year-old makeup artist assistant struggled to stand for up to 8 hours doing wedding makeup. She was bordering on obese and exhausted all of the time. I found myself sending her home from film shoots early as she could not last a full work day, or if she did, she struggled. Not good for her reputation, and frustrating for me.

She started on an unprocessed food diet, and when needing to carry food with her, swapped protein nut bars for muesli and other bars. Swapped milk drinks for water or real juice. She started exercising 5 days per week at the gym.

Not only has the weight dropped off her, her energy levels are through the roof! I used to not be able to reach her till 10 or 11 am in the morning on the days we did not work – now she messages me at 7 am!

She still eats meat and cheese and bread, but less of. She eats more fruits and vegetables, but avoids sugary anything except when she is out with friends – then anything goes! Which is great – that is one of the things that make life great, especially at 20!

Last week, hubby was having a bad week. His mother died – although we knew it was going to happen, it was still very hard, and organizing her funeral in amongst the ongoing nonsense of two family members ( which I believe is standard behaviour), really left him incredibly distressed.

As he stoically avoided alcohol through this time, and I thought I would do the classic English thing (he is English) and dose him up on cups of tea and his favorite Dutch almond biscuits. Four days of this and his head was all over the place. He was anxious, stressed, forgetful and disorganized – the sugar was messing around with his brain and his gut health.

We both noticed the effect – and he was blown away by how bad the side effects were.

We had been drinking bone broth before we changed our diets, which used to make me gag, but hubby loved. The bone broth did help with our collagen levels – we did not have so many ‘old people pains’.

I was not sad to give the bone broth up but did notice that my two knees which I broke falling up the stairs started to hurt again when I stood for hours on end. Hubby broke his leg in 8 places in a motorbike accident, years ago, so when it is cold – oh boy does his leg hurt! We started supplementing with fish collagen powder in our morning coffee (no it does not taste like fish!) and that has improved our joint pain and our skin.

The interesting thing is, when you change your diet to a clean food diet, which is really hard to do at first, but after a short while, when you eat something processed, or fatty or bad for you, and you just feel sick, and choose not to ever eat it again.

Another thing is, you suddenly notice how unhealthy people around you look.

My workload is up, yet, I am not tired anymore, and seem to have more spare time on my hands, as I have so much more energy!

A change of diet, can and will truly change your life, no matter what your age!

This article was published in Professional Beauty Magazine November/December 2017 Issue

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