Hi, I’m Jacqui and this is my food and health blog.
I am an actress, film compositor, swimming teacher and food blogger!
I started writing this blog as a way to document all my favourite healthy recipes and get to the real truth about how different foods effect our bodies and how I might help fix mine along with my friends and families.
I grew up eating a fairly average UK diet which went a little more unhealthy as I went through university and then a masters degree. When I embarked upon a career in the film industry I would dip into a bit of healthy eating now and then but generally didn’t enjoy much of the super healthy stuff I ate and punctuated it with pastries and sweets. I’ve never really dieted but over the years I started to get more interested in the health benefits of different foods. My main aim though was always centred around how I looked and being slim, so I never really thought about if I was actually healthy.
The thing that really kicked this food concept into gear though, were two cases of Cancer hitting my friends and family in the space of 3 months. At this time I initially felt very out of control as more and more high profile cancer deaths also started popping up in the media. I wanted to find a way out so I didnt’ have to feel so powerless, just waiting to see if it happened to me or any more of the people I care about. So I threw myself into researching, I found out as much as i could in the area of cancer treatment and prevention to see if I could find anything that could help my loved ones battling it and help prevent it for the rest.
The biggest and most powerful thing I found was FOOD, plain and simple plant based foods. There was so much information and a lot of it was backed up with studies and science. I couldn’t believe I, nor any of the people round me knew how powerful this stuff could be. I am very aware that studies and scientific research can still be manipulated to take a certain stance (in medicine and pharmaceutical studies especially) so i like to keep that in mind but this stuff just really started to make sense. The more I researched the more I found real people who said they were healing themselves of all sorts of various ailments, Obviously these are only individuals but I don’t think that makes their stories any less significant. These stories were all about how they were nourishing their bodies with food and finding out what worked for them. At the most basic level this was about getting back to food from the earth and cutting out the refined, processed, artificial “foods” in their diet.
It was at this point after a few trips to the doctors, I also found out that I wasn’t quite as healthy as I thought. The more I spoke to family and friends it seemed that we were all suffering with some fairly common medical issues… IBS, fatty liver, thyroiditis, sluggish kidney function, rashes, acid reflux and high cholesterol to name but a few. We all just accepted these, (along with the doctors) as one of those things and not something that had that much to do with our lifestyles. We would treat the symptoms, hope they went away for a while and carry on. The problem was, even if we got rid of the rash or tummy issue with creams and medication, they always came back. The whole system of treating the “symptoms only” started to sound just wrong to me, it didn’t make sense.
After everything I had been reading about how powerful food could be, I decided I wanted to make a significant change in my diet as the first step. I was pretty won over by the research I had done and the difference I felt this could make but as with all research and scientific testing, you always have to keep questioning. So the best way to test it was on myself!
I didn’t previously eat a lot of ready made meals which I thought meant I was eating healthily… but when i started reading the labels of what i thought were vegetable and tomato based sauces I realised that they were so processed and laden with sugar, salt and chemicals, that some didn’t even count as 1 of your 5 a day. I started looking for alternatives and went to my local health food store and there I found tinned veg that contained veg and water only (harder to find than you might think) and the fresh and whole food ingredients to make my own incredibly tasty meals, sauces and treats.
My diet (along with my husbands) changed quite quickly as we cut out refined sugar, processed food, artificial ingredients, wheat, red meat and reduced our dairy intake as much as we could during the week, then we relaxed it at the weekend. After doing this diet for about a month my husband started to notice a load of positive changes. He lost a little excess weight and stopped getting midday slumps and was generally feeling far more energised, he had also previously suffered with a lot of acid reflux (he described it as just feeling acidy all the time) and this totally cleared it up too. I on the other hand didn’t notice massive changes in how I felt but perhaps this was because my days are a little less regimented. I was maybe a little more alert but not enough to jump around about, but I was feeling good about all the fresh whole foods I was eating because it just made sense that this was better for me.
With more research I came across articles on gut hyperpermiability (leaky gut) which lead me to believe I might have a sensitivty to gluten. I had already stopped eatng wheat during the week but I decided to cut gluten out completely for a while to see what happened. After about a month of fully gluten free I was totally certain I’d had my own personal miracle! Though I had started this to try and fix my blood work ( I don’t really get much in the way of symptoms from the results that are out) The radical change that could not be mistaken was the clear up of my IBS. I won’t get too emphatic about the “tummy troubles” because..well..its gross! but i do think this stuff should be talked about more openly. So my version consisted of emergency trips to the loo that were almost a daily occurrence, mainly after i had just eaten. This all started when I was a competitive swimmer from getting stupid nervous before I raced. I felt like I had tried everything over the last 16 years, from muscle relaxing medication from the GP to hypnotism. So for it to have disappeared and for me to now just have a normal functioning bowel is pretty amazing!
I don’t know if cutting out gluten would work for everyone with IBS because I think everyones bodies are a little different and don’t all react to things exactly the same but it would be an easy thing to try for a month.
So after seeing how powerful cutting gluten had been for me and the health changes in my husband I want to see how far this can go. I started going to a functional medicine practitioner to see if i can get the rest of my bod back in balance and get a proper scientific before and after to see if it works. So i’ll keep you posted!
In order to make the healthy changes and cut gluten out, I had to come round to a whole new (yet very familiar) way of eating along with the addition of a few new ingredients. I threw myself in head first trying recipes and developing my own and this was part of what made the transition far more do-able. I found and developed recipes that were totally filling and delicious, so when people asked me in horror “oh my god! so what can you actually eat” I would merely start telling them about recipes and new things I had found and even made them for friends and family who were pleasantly surprised. I certainly don’t know it all yet, so this is a journey and I would love for you to come along with me!