Holistic beauty practitioner Yvette van Schie reveals how changing your diet could actually change your life.
Can a change of diet change your life? If you had asked me this question 10 weeks ago, I would have said yes, improving your diet could improve your health − but change your whole life? No; not really.
A couple of months ago, I clocked up 10 weeks of ongoing chronic illness which I had no time for, so I kept working until I collapsed with pleurisy. I decided then that something had to give.
With my daughter’s wedding looming next year, and renovations partially underway but on hold due to lack of cash (but just enough to make the house totally unliveable), I had been taking on as much work as I possibly could lay my hands on.
The problem was, being post-menopausal with ongoing hot flushes, and sleepless nights due to severe night sweats, I was barely coping.
Frustratingly, my weight had crept up and up and up, so I was trying to make time to exercise as I did not want to look like a Teletubby at my daughter’s wedding!
The catch was I was so exhausted all of the time that just doing the groceries was a massive challenge.
Basically, my health was a mess (migraines, urinary tract infections, chest infections, etc were my daily grind) plus, I looked and felt haggard.
My husband was not much better. His weight had ballooned so much he was heading towards obesity. He was on blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication, had heart issues, joint issues – basically he had all of the symptoms of a 64-year-old male.
His medically diagnosed bipolar symptoms were out of control, and his medication was barely managing his mood swings. He was impossible to deal with and so forgetful.
I took out a funeral plan on him; I honestly thought his days were numbered.
After my collapse, he decided that I should work less. I decided I had to do something about my hormones as I was not going to put my daughter’s wedding on a credit card.
I saw a natural hormone balancing doctor, who took my weight (I nearly fainted) and sent me off to have a variety of blood tests. This spurred me into action as I knew results would not be good.
I have always eaten well. I have a severe intolerance to gluten and dairy and because of those weakness I am conscious of my gut health and avoid sugar.
But the truth of it is pretty well anything packaged contains sugar!
So I decided that we would no longer eat anything that came from a package unless the label was checked to make sure it did not contain numbers or anything un-natural.
My husband, unable to do anything by halves, gave up alcohol, dairy and gluten, and decided to become a vegetarian. Happy to not eat meat, I joined him.
We adopted a lower-carb, or low GI diet, replacing white rice with brown, corn pasta with buckwheat pasta, so-called healthy, gluten-free (but loaded-with-sugar) cereals with gluten- free whole grain cereal.
Doing this automatically increased our plant protein intake as brown rice contains more protein than white rice, buckwheat is high protein and wholegrain breakfast cereals contain lots of seeds.
We doubled our vegetable intake so that lunch and dinner were 70 percent vegetable- based.
We replaced biscuits with nuts and fruit between meals.
Whenever we could, we ate organic.
We both still love our cups of organic tea, and real coffee with soy, almond or rice milk. We do not eat processed sugar, just honey and fruit sugars as we eat no cakes or biscuits, and of course no soft drinks.
Within two weeks, my husband lost an unbelievable amount of weight. I did not lose any but the puffiness left my body.
Both of us noticed that we did not burp after meals or have a heaviness in our stomachs which we had suffered from whilst we ate meat. Not that I am saying everyone should become vegetarian, but it made us very aware of how few vegetables and plant proteins we used to eat.
Besides my husband went back to eating wild-caught fish three weeks into the diet as he was eating way too many eggs trying to compensate for his protein needs and was starting to eye off sugary foods in the supermarket isles.
Within one week I started sleeping through the night − and no more hot flushes! Two weeks down and I had not had a urinary tract infection for over a week (they used to occur weekly).
Three weeks in, and my mind became clear, I started remembering things more easily, did not have to make lists all of the time; I just remembered things. My energy levels increased, although our house is still full of unfinished renovation holes, I am not as cold anymore.
I feel happy and am in an incredibly good mood more often than not.
One month in and I started to notice we were obsessed with avocados, nuts and eggs again – so I doubled our flaxseed oil intake to 6000 mls to up our omegas, and doubled our spirulina intake in case of lack of protein.
As we age, our digestion slows down along with our metabolism, both of which cause us to gain weight around the middle. So we started taking a tablespoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar before every meal. This just made us anxious so we put the vinegar into a shot of pure apple juice. It didn’t stop the bite – but made it much more palatable!
Besides the weight loss, my husband’s energy levels went through the roof. He is back to working 14 + hour days (he is a workaholic) without becoming tired. He also can garden for hours on end without becoming sore, chop huge amounts of wood, and has stopped complaining he is too old!
My energy levels have improved immensely and I no longer suffer anxiety as I can make deadlines, deal with stress, and the quality of my work has improved beyond belief.
My skin looks much better and my eyes are brighter.
After a week of research on women who look great for their age (which was what this article originally was going to be about) I found that most of them ate a ‘colourful’ healthy vegetarian diet. Most were low dairy or no dairy and low carb, and low sugar of course. Christy Brinkley exemplifies this well.
I still love my glass of red wine at night.
I have not gone back to the hormone-balancing doctor since my diet change as I have absolutely no menopausal symptoms anymore. I feel like a young woman with no periods – how great can life get?
I am not the only one to have found a change diet means a change of life. My 33-year-old hairdresser friend who is part of my team, changed her party-hard lifestyle when she decided she wanted to have a child.
Her skin changed, her hair improved, her memory improved, and the quality of her work which was already exceptional, progressed to another level.
Even with sleepless nights due to a baby, she still is able to get up at 3.30 am when need be, and work a huge nine-12 hour day on a wedding or a shoot (not including travel).
She will never revert to her party ways as she loves how she feels and looks.
My 20-year-old makeup artist assistant, struggled to stand for up to eight hours doing wedding makeup. She was bordering on obese, and exhausted all of the time. I found myself sending her home from shoots early as she could not last a full work day, or if she did, she struggled. Not good for her reputation, and frustrating for me.
She started on an unprocessed food diet, and when needing to carry food with her, swapped protein nut bars for muesli and other bars. She swapped milk drinks for water or real juice. She started exercising five days a week.
Not only has the weight dropped off her, her energy levels are though the roof. I used to not be able to reach her until 10 or 11 in the morning on the days we did not work; now she messages me at 7 am!
She still eats meat and cheese and bread, but less of. She eats more fruits and vegetables, but avoids sugary anything, except when she is out with friends, then anything goes! Which is great, that is one of the things that make life great, especially when you are young.
She changed her diet after she noticed a massive change in me when I changed mine.
My husband recently had a bad week. His mother died, and although we knew it was going to happen, it was still very hard, and organising her funeral in amongst the ongoing nonsense of two family members (which I believe is standard behaviour), left him incredibly distressed.
As he stoically avoided alcohol through this time, I thought I would do the classic English thing (he is English) and dose him up on cups of tea and his favourite Dutch almond biscuits. Four days of this, and his head was all over the place. He was anxious, stressed, forgetful and disorganised – the sugar was messing around with his brain and his gut health.
We both noticed the effect – and he was blown away by how bad the side effects were.
We had been drinking bone broth before we changed our diets, which used to make me gag but did help with our collagen levels; we did not have so many ‘old people pains’.
I was not sad to give the bone broth up, but did notice that my two knees which I broke falling up the stairs started to hurt again when I stood for hours on end. My husband broke his leg in eight places in a motor bike accident years ago, so when it is cold the pain is almost unbearable. We started supplementing with fish collagen powder in our morning coffee (no it does not taste like fish!) and that has improved our joint pain and our skin.
The interesting thing is, when you change your diet to a clean food diet, which is really hard to do at first, after a short while if/when you eat something processed or fatty or bad for you, you just feel sick, and choose not to ever eat it again.
And another thing; you suddenly notice how unhealthy people around you look.
My work load is up, yet I am not tired, and seem to have more spare time on my hands as I have so much more energy!
A change of diet, can and will truly change your life, not matter what your age.
- Yvette van Shie is a beauty therapist and makeup artist who has been a holistic beauty practitioner for 28 years. Contact www.ethicbeautyblog.com