Welcome to a little corner of my world….it is my hope that you will get to know me a little better….to understand my heart and passions, find some inspiration for life, hope for tackling some of the serious health and emotional challenges that sometimes come our way, and catch a little of my passion for real-food, gut healing, nutrient dense healthy living.
A little about my journey so far…..
Scientist – my wonderings at the natural world
A passionate year 12 geography teacher inspired me to want to learn more about the natural world, its inner workings, and how I might be involved in its appreciation, management and restoration. This led me to study science at University with an honours year investigating phytoplankton populations in rivers (that right, a year of waders, microscopes, microscopic creatures and 20,000 words).
My first foray into the adulting world of work led me, for just over a decade, to working in both the public and private sectors in the area of water resource management.
I loved learning more about the way the natural world works and what we can do to not only manage our impacts on that world but also work toward restoration of those ecosystems and the communities who rely upon those natural systems.
Time for a little soul refreshment….
In the mid 2000s, a little soul weary (and after my first real struggles with mental health), my husband and I, embarked on an overseas adventure. We packed up our little, yet full life here in Australia, bought a crazy looking little camper van which somehow became affectionately known as ‘Sandy Balls’ and travelled throughout Europe including a 3 month stay at a spiritual retreat in Switzerland. Through climbing mountains, deep reflection, some divine inspiration, community life and lots of amazing swiss chocolate we emerged re-invigorated and re-built ready for a new season of life.
That new season ended up being around two year stint in the heart of London where I took a serious sabbatical from my scientific ‘career’ helping to manage a maternity wear shop and an international wholesale business. I met, lived and played with some of the most gorgeous and inspiring people I have ever met – lapping up a simple life with no car, a 100 metre walk to work, being embedded in my local community, and using a granny trolley for my shopping.
Babies, New Challenges and Nutritional Awakenings
In the late 2000’s after a negotiating a few curve balls on the road to parenthood, I was blessed with our first baby, a gorgeous girl. Two years later came our energetic and passionate son, followed by another gorgeous girl – after who’s birth and my third round of hyperemesis gravidarum and pubic symphysis (oh yes I sure did pregnancy with astounding glamour and grace), I firmly and jubilantly declared ‘I am done’.
There were a few health challenges for my babies in those first few years of mothering that first opened my eyes to the world of nutrition, compromised gut health, nutrient defficiencies and possible avenues for healing. Until then I had eaten a standard Australian/Western diet not considering for a second any real potential ill effects. As child I had struggled with severe eczema and recurrent chest and ear infections which resulted in many rounds of antibiotics and several tonnes of cortisone cream. By my teens my eczema had reduced significantly and for the most part chest and ear infections were a thing of the past. The only other hints of a less than optimal gut and immune system were recurrent bouts of strep throat and the ravages of anxiety and depression in my late 20s.
For my children their initial health challenges included failure to thrive, sleep issues, silent reflux, colic, and later severe food intolerances resulting in anxiety, severe behavioural issues and a range of physiological struggles. They were most pronounced for my gorgeous little boy, who at the age of two went from being a fun, busy, adventurous delight, to a deeply anxious and angry little man, who struggled with most of life. To say this turned our world upside down would be an understatement.
I was fortunate to have an amazing GP who helped me start looking into why my little man had disappeared into a world of struggle. We pursued biomedical testing and targeted supplements plus the elimination diet called The RPAH Elimination Diet or Failsafe Diet. However, although the diet bought some reprieve from the worst of his symptoms, it never fully resolved them and we constantly walked a tightrope trying to manage reactions to foods. Something in the core of my being told me that there must be more I could do to help my little man, to set him free from the struggles he and our whole family were facing.
So often when my children would have a tumble or fall and end up with cuts, grazes and bruises, I would tell them that their bodies were amazing and were already at work healing. Increasingly, I felt that in a similar way there must be ways in which the body can heal if given the right ingredients and conditions. Through my GP and a close friend I came across a healing protocol called the GAPS Nutritional Protocol. It stands for Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome. It is a dietary protocol that aims to bring deep healing not only to the gut but also by effect, to the rest of the body. It has been used to help heal many conditions, including Autism, eczema, asthma, dyslexia, and metal health conditions. Within about 5 or ten pages into the book, written by a passionate neurologist, nutritionist and mother Dr Natasha Campbell McBride, I knew that the protocol was something I had to gift my children with – the first real hope for healing.
In the following months I starting preparing for what would be a mammoth undertaking. On the 1st of January 2012 we started what is called the GAPS Introduction Diet – the most intensive part of the GAPS Nutritional Protocol, designed at its core to heal the gut (both the gut lining and microbial imbalances), open up detox pathways and re-build the body. The initial days were tough as our bodies began to detox and to heal. With the help and encouragement of a great Gaps practitioner and online support community we pushed ahead and within two weeks started to see amazing changes in my little man. Little by little he seemed to be tolerating more foods, he and my other children began eating copious amounts of nutrient dense deeply nourishing foods. The more they ate, the more healing that came. Within 8 weeks were we able to move through most of the Introduction part of the protocol and most of his previous issues were a thing of the past. Over the next few years all three of my children went from strength to strength and gradually we were able to transition off the GAPs dietary protocol.
It has been almost 7 years since we started that epic journey and I am so delighted to be able to say that for the most part we are now happy, healthy and thriving. Food intolerances are a thing of the past and we have been able to transition to a whole foods lifestyle. The only foods we now avoid are gluten (except for the occasional home made sourdough) and processed sugars, colours, flavours and preservatives. And that is by choice as we would rather fill our bodies with nutrient dense, real foods that nourish our bodies rather than harm them. The journey since transitioning off GAPS hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Along the way there have been ups and downs and occasionally new health issues to work with. But so far, none have kept us low for long. I am now armed with the knowledge, resources and determination to tackle each challenge as it arises and thrive on learning more every day about how amazing our bodies really are and how, given the right ingredients, support and care they can heal.
To say that this journey has transformed our lives would be an understatement.
Time for a new direction…..
Our whole healing experience re-sparked my earlier love for understanding more about the intricate ways in which the natural world works. This time around my focus became people and their inner worlds, in particular our guts and how central they are to our overall health. Again I was intrigued by the way our bodies give us clear signs when things are not as they should be (when there has been damage), inspired to understand what those signs are really showing us and excited to learn more and more of the ways we can work toward restoration of these complex internal ecosystems.
During that initial few years on GAPS I naturally began helping others who were undertaking the protocol. In early 2016 I was fortunate enough to train as a GAPS practitioner learning more of the intricacies of how to apply the diet to individual circumstances. I went on from there to train as an Integrative Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
From 2016 to 2017 I participated in the Integrative Health Coaching training provided by the MINDD organisation (https://mindd.org/). This included receiving professional training by world leaders in Functional Medicine. I have attended the annual MINDD International Forum for the past 4 years. This gave me the opportunity to absorb all of teaching I could on getting to the root cause of health issues, nutritional deficiencies and how to begin addressing them, particularly using the power of food as medicine.
In 2018 I commenced a Masters in Holistic Nutrition with Hawthorn University in the USA.
Today I help families and individuals unravel their health issues (with a specific focus on gut related issues), trying to get to the root cause, using various food based healing protocols and other complementary therapies (where needed) and tools to help them on their road to healing.
I am passionate about inspiring others to start thinking outside of the cultural norm concerning nutrition, learning how to not only feed themselves and their children but how to nourish them. I hold a support groups for those implementing the GAPS nutritional protocol and gut healing cooking sessions for those wanting to explore gut healing in more depth.
If you think I may be a good fit as a companion and guide on your healing journey then get in touch here and we can work out how I might be able to help.