Many people come to work in this field because of their personal struggles with health.
I was already a nutritionist when my own health bottomed out, but this experience has definitely shaped my practice, and driven my focus on autoimmune disease, complex cases, unexplained illness and all things gluten related.
Coeliac Disease changed my life twice.
The first time was when I was finally diagnosed.
My pre-diagnosis story is quite typical for many with Coeliac Disease.
I had symptoms for two decades, and got progressively more ill during that time.
Like the majority of people with Coeliac Disease, I never had gut-related symptoms. Instead, my symptoms were terrible migraines all through my childhood and adolescence, severe eczema from infancy all the way through till diagnosis and then acne from 13 years old, chronic chest and sinus infections and hay fever, constant iron deficient anaemia that didn’t respond to oral iron therapy, I was underweight, caught everything going around and fatigued easily.
In the two to five years before diagnosis I got progressively more fatigued until every day was a struggle. I was often too tired to speak and I just didn’t get out of bed at all on my days off. I was severely underweight, but partially because I was often too tired to eat. Preferring to just go to bed when I got home from work.
I saw many doctors for the migraines, the eczema, the anaemia and the hayfever and regularly saw my GP where I was given painkillers, steroid creams and was pretty constantly on antibiotics and antihistamines.
My diagnosis finally came when I begged a doctor for help, believing I had cancer or something else equally terrible. I laid out my whole medical history for her – everything I could think of including the small fact that the eczema got a bit better when I avoided wheat.
She said that based on my observations about wheat, and how underweight I was, she would run a blood test for Coeliac Disease and before I even had the blood drawn I just knew that was it.
The test came back positive, I had a biopsy to confirm it and that was it.
I went gluten free and it was like a miracle. My eczema completely cleared up for the first time in my life. The migraines that had plagued me so badly since I was a child – gone. I put on a bit of weight, resumed something of a normal life and didn’t really think much more of it.
About 18 months later I decided to do a degree in nutrition, although that decision wasn’t based on my own health. I was working in medical aesthetics and was looking for answers for my patients with acne and other chronic skin problems.
Fast forward several years, and Coeliac Disease changed my life again.
This time, I had a massive, unintentional gluten exposure at work, and I got sick. Really sick. And I didn’t get better, even when my villi healed and I had addressed the various nutrient deficiencies that invariably come from ‘being glutened’.
What I learned then was that I didn’t know very much about Coeliac Disease. And I wasn’t alone. The doctors I saw didn’t know how to help me. The other nutritionists I saw at that time were at a bit of a loss also, although in their defence this was before the knowledge about the impact of Coeliac Disease outside the gut, particularly on the brain and nervous system, was as well understood as it is today.
I started reaching out to experts in the USA and other countries. I scoured the medical literature.
I started travelling to America to study with the Institute for Functional Medicine.
I also reached out to the Coeliac community, and I discovered that there where a lot of other people out there who were in the same situation I was.
People who were struggling with their health, or the health of their children, but couldn’t find any answers regarding why they were ill, or what to do about it.
This was when I realized my mission in life: to share my knowledge in order to help people heal.
In the beginning, this was mainly other people with Coeliac Disease, or Gluten-Reactive illness, but to my joy it has expanded out to include other complex cases and unexplained illnesses.
I love to unravel the health stories and the biochemistry to get to the heart of the problem, and to help support nutritional and lifestyle changes that have the ability to transform people’s health.
I will never stop learning, growing and searching for information, because my passion is to help as many people as possible, in as many ways as possible, all around the world.
I have seen incredible changes in the health of my clients, and I hope to do the same for you.