I worked fewer hours, I had time to cook healthy meals, and I could exercise every day, going to the beach to swim or play frisbee, or roller-blading in the sea promenade.
After we had children, my husband and I decided to move to the country, to a quiet rural setting. We made our own bread, ate mostly organic whole foods, and we tried to bring up our children encouraging them to experience and enjoy food, so that they wouldn’t be picky eaters.
We succeeded, as our kids still eat lots of fruit and veg and they love them!
I have tried to prioritise healthy food and exercise in general for many years, but I became more particularly interested in nutrition a few years ago. I started to have joint pain in my knees and it was becoming increasingly worse – sometimes, I would wake up with pain in the middle of the night, or I couldn’t join my family to go for some hikes if they were too hard on my knees.
I then found out that some people had reversed their arthritis or another chronic diseases through a whole food, plant-based diet.
I had already reduced the amount of meat I consumed for environmental reasons, as I knew it is one of the main contributors to climate change, but I still ate eggs, fish and dairy. I decided to give a plant-based diet a try just for a couple of weeks.
After one week, my pain had greatly diminished, and after two weeks it was mostly gone.
I felt so good that I decided to stick to a plant-based diet. I noticed changes not only on my knee joints, but also on my digestion, my skin, and even less brain fog!
Another reason to try and adopt a healthier diet was that my mum and my two parents-in-law all died from cancer. (And my dad died from pancreatitis). Meat, particularly processed and red meat, as well as sugar and processed foods, have been known for years to be a contributor to cancer risk. I wondered if my parents and parents-in-law might have lived longer had they eaten a healthier diet. And my husband and I reflected on what could we do to reduce the risk of such a disease, or others such as Alzheimer’s, which might impose a heavy burden on our children.
With all this in mind, my family decided to join me in adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet. I therefore started researching it, as I wanted to make sure that it contained all the nutrients we needed, especially for my kids, who were growing. I discovered that anybody can thrive on a plant-based diet, including children and adolescents, as long as you make sure that it is very varied, including not only fruit and veg of lots of different colours, but also beans and other legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.
After this, I decided I wanted to spread the word and help other people achieve a healthier life too.
I became certified in Plant-Based Nutrition with the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, offered in partnership with eCornell. In this course, I received training from some world-renowned experts, such as Dr. Campbell, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., Dr. John McDougall and Dr. Dean Ornish, on how a whole-food, plant-based diet can help prevent and reverse chronic disease.
I subsequently enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) to become an Integrative Nutrition & Health Coach. In this programme, licensed by the New York State Department of Education and approved by the US National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHW), I received training on how to guide clients to find their path back to health, recover from chronic diseases that are preventable through lifestyle changes, and lead them to greater health and happiness. IIN’s approach is based on each person bio-individuality – this means that what worked for me was a plant-based diet, but for another person it might be giving up gluten, processed foods or other food groups, since every person is different. IIN also has a holistic approach to health, focusing not only on coaching clients through nutrition, but also on other areas such as physical activity, stress management or social relationships.
More recently, I completed a Group Facilitation Training (QQI Level 6 of the Irish National Framework of Qualifications) and a Coaching Intensive Practicum Training by IIN, which fulfils the required standards to sit for the US National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) certifying exam.
Are you ready to embark on a journey to take control of your health through a new diet and lifestyle?