After years of struggling with a vast array of unusual and unexpected health symptoms, Clare got to the stage where she decided enough was enough and so started a new journey into self-healing through nutrition.
I have spent most of my life feeling tired, trying to swim through a fog of cotton wool and forcing my exhausted body out of bed every morning.
Most of this I put down as a symptom of autoimmunity. You see, in my teens I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism). I was put on medication and told that I would live a very happy and normal life.
What a load of BS!
The thyroid is the master control for your metabolism, which means it regulates every process in your body down to the energy that each of your cells produces on a daily basis. Even being on synthetic hormone replacement only woke me up from the fog for a few years and then I had a steady decline again. The decline was so gradual that I didn’t notice it until things got bad.
What most people don’t realise, is that with all autoimmune diseases, there are certain factors that create the perfect storm for the immune system and the body to go haywire.
A build up of toxins in the body (i.e. a struggling liver), severe gut issues (imbalanced gut microbiome), impaired digestion and absorption of food, food sensitivities and intolerances, leaky gut (partially digested food enters the blood stream), viruses in the body (viral load), blood sugar imbalances, high carb diet (especially grains containing gluten), nutritional deficiencies and imbalances, all types of stress, all affect the inflammation levels in your body and therefore how well or badly your immune system works.
When things get suddenly bad, it gets called an ‘autoimmune flare’.
Autoimmune Disease Part 2…
When my marriage starting hitting tough times, the stress pushed me into a giant flare. Looking back, I cannot quite tell when the flare started and ended, just that it lasted for a very long time and included lots of hospital trips, blood tests, heart rate monitoring, an adrenal function check and even a sleep study where I stayed overnight at the hospital.
I had new symptoms which I had never had before – joints seizing up, extreme light sensitivity, heart palpitations, tingling hands and feet, uncontrollable sweating, ballooning up to a size 12 for my small sized 5 foot 3 inch frame, horrendous memory loss (words, names, faces, whole conversations), I was so bloated I looked like I was 6 months pregnant, amongst others. I also tested positive for new antibody to my own body tissue for another autoimmune disease called Lupus.
But even with all these crazy symptoms going on, I made a solid promise to myself –
I would never get Lupus.
So, I researched and read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on about autoimmunity, what affected it and what could be done to help reduce symptoms and calm inflammation in the body.
I asked lots of questions to the so-called experts and every time I asked whether there was anything that I could eat or drink, or avoid eating and drinking to help, I got told that these did not make any difference.
ALL my reading pointed to the exact opposite – that what you ate and drank was very powerful in helping to ease symptoms, when done on a consistent basis over time. It was a lifestyle change for better health.
So I started with one thing.
I cut out gluten.
I had read so much about the effects of gluten on the body and how most people have issues with it without even getting any noticeable symptoms. You can’t see chronic inflammation in your body or feel holes being made in your gut lining by gluten, so I thought that this was a good place to start.
Suddenly I wasn’t getting bloated, I felt a little lighter, I had a little bit more energy and the muddled head wasn’t so bad. It continued to improve over a couple of months when I decided to cut out dairy too.
I finally had the energy to go to see a specialist who treats the body as a whole, who tracks back to and treats the problem, not the symptom. They helped me to balance my body’s biochemistry, add in things that it needed and pull out toxins, infections and parasites. I was riddled! The biggest shock was when I got told I had a tape worm!
I started to buy organic food to cut down the toxins I was putting into my body. I changed all the cleaning products in my house to natural versions and said bye bye to bleach. I swapped all my toiletries, makeup and hair-care for natural brands too.
But I still wanted to delve deeper into the power of food as medicine.
So I signed up and studied for a diploma in Nutrition, and then a diploma in Nutritional Therapy. I learned so much about how eating one thing can help or hinder our health and how eating certain things all the time over long periods of time can either create a disease state or get rid of one. I learned that the body is always trying to get back into balance but when we eat and drink rubbish, it struggles, firstly in very subtle ways, but then in much more serious ways which can sometimes be irreversible.
I learned that bread is an anti-nutrient. This is something that can be eaten but it uses up our stores of vitamins and minerals to break it down and process it in the body.
Nutritional therapy is just FASCINATING.
- It can support specific body systems like the adrenal gland for stress and the thyroid gland for fatigue and metabolism.
- It can stimulate the regeneration of gut lining, stomach, esophagus etc. with potent herbal extracts.
- It can re-balance the bad bacteria in the gut with powerful combinations of natural anti-microbial agents.
I never even knew these things existed before I started my own health journey.
I now help other people to feel amazing and get out of their own downward health spiral because no one should have to experience what I went through.
I always thought that a Nutritionist was someone who only helps me to eat a healthy diet, and in my eyes I was already doing that, and therefore didn’t need any help. What I didn’t realise was that I wasn’t eating the right things for me, for my genes and my biochemistry, and I had no idea that though supplementation and an individualised eating plan, I could have a bespoke therapy to help me improve my health dramatically.
The thing that’s most important to me, is having the freedom to choose.
When your health is poor, whether physical, mentally or emotionally, the options available to you or that you feel you can choose are restricted. Living in a restricted world loses its shine, its fun and its happiness. We should all be free to decide on which ever option we want.
Feeling Like a Failure
I have had a few very low points including wondering whether my mobility was going to have me applying for a disabled badge.
But the hardest point throughout all the health issues, was making the decision that my marriage was over.
It’s a sucker punch to the chest and a sigh of relief all in one go.
At the time, I considered myself a failure. I had failed in making my marriage work. I had failed at being a wife and a partner.
But what I had also failed at was looking after myself.
I put so much of myself into my marriage that I lost myself, and I lost my ability to concentrate on myself. I practiced no selfcare, and took no time out. I didn’t look after myself and my health screamed at me that something was majorly wrong until I stood up and took notice.
My business is still building and taking shape, and I learn from it every day, but if I hadn’t gone into business, I would probably do more ecology to get me outside in the fresh air and hugging more trees, because I truly love nature!
I still conduct some ecology work – protected wildlife and habitat surveys. My ecological training has the exact same principles as my nutritional training in that I am assessing interactions and relationships on a large scale. With one I look at plants and animals in a landscape, on the other I look at vitamins, minerals, hormones, inflammatory factors etc. across the body.
I was out with a friend in a coffee shop a few months ago and a woman came up to me with a big smile on her face. She had met me at an event I had done about a month before where she had booked in for a Mini Health Check with me on the day.
She was so happy as she came over to me and said ‘Look! Look at my wrists!, you recommended I cut out gluten to help my psoriasis and look!’ She was so overjoyed that the red and inflamed psoriasis was calm and much smaller than it was a month previous.
I love it when people feel fantastic after implementing some simple advice.
Going with the Flow
I love that my business allows me to have more flexibility about where and when I work. My energy levels ebb and flow throughout a day and sometimes working 9-5 just doesn’t fit my energy pattern. I love being able to work from anywhere. I do consultations over the phone and Skype as well as face to face.
I also feel empowered with the knowledge that I have and lucky that I have been able to put my autoimmunity into remission with lifestyle changes only.
Coping with Stress & Overhwhelm
Stress and overwhelm are things that creep up on me. I tend not to notice that I am getting stressed until I am really tetchy and my patience has well and truly gone out the window.
So, I have to schedule in my down time. I take time out for self-care and for reading a book. To sit and watch TV and not do anything.
I also find that doing meditation is an amazingly effective method for cutting through the noise and my own mental BS. Bringing that awareness in can be so difficult at times, but these are the exact times when it is most needed. I find connecting to my breath the easiest (sometimes not so easy!) way to bring things inwards.
Being a Calmpreneur
I bring stress awareness and stress busting techniques from my private life into my professional life and recommend many to my clients. Stress causes so many physical issues which I see regularly, and showing people how it is all connected is part of my nutritional therapy. Reducing stress is a key first step on all health journeys.
I also am happy to talk about stress. It makes up part of our health state at any particular time. It therefore needs to be addressed and listened to. Once we understand the triggers, we can create actions to reduce the impact of these. Several of my clients have had too many stress inputs so we have worked together to get these under control before moving onto the next stage of therapy.
Tips for other entrepreneurs who are struggling with stress and overwhelm
Find out how it manifests in yourself.
Awareness is always the first step and the earlier you can see things building, the better and easier it is for you to do something about it.
Building resilience to stress is key as this creates create habits and lifestyle strategies that get implemented without a second thought and means that in the long term, you are able to deal with any type of stress in a much calmer way.
A Few Words of Business Wisdom…
- Be straightforward in whatever it is you are communicating.
I agonised over my social media for ages and when I curated a fancy post, it got less engagement than one where I wrote it in 2 seconds and didn’t put a filter on my photo.
People love honesty and seeing the flaws.
They like to know that you are human and get to know the person as well as the professional.
- Keeping things simple also helps.
I can go into the complexities if someone wants but most people don’t know the jargon or the biology, so the simple bare bones is what they need.
Don’t over complicate things and talk from the heart.
Connect with Clare
Clare is a Nutritional Therapist specialising in gut issues and brain fog. She offers 1:1 consultations, a nutritional therapy program and detox programs.