Registered nutritional therapist and
My health journey
Reaching midlife, it's inevitable that most of us will have encountered our fair share of health concerns. And although I've had a few of my own health issues over the years, I'm now feeling in better health than ever before.
My biggest struggles were always with food and weight, going right back to
the age of 16. Moving from Australia to the UK, my lifestyle changed dramatically. I gave up the outdoor sports I had loved, and spent much of my spare time eating and watching tv.
The weight piled on and I went on my first diet. Not knowing anything about nutrition, calories or diets, I purchased a box of muesli and introduced yogurts into my daily breakfast. Of course, the muesli and yogurt were packed full of sugar and weight loss seemed an impossible task.
Inevitably, I didn't lose weight. I just got fatter. I restricted food which led to obsessive cravings, which didn't exist before starting my diet. I was at a loss as to what I should do.
Research led me to understand about calories. And so began years of calorie counting and restricting food. The cravings always led me back to bingeing on everything I didn't allow myself. Doughnuts, bowls of sugary cereal, toast with butter and jam, pancakes with maple syrup and ice cream.
My weight yo-yo'd over the years. I was disgusted with myself, my weakness at giving into the wrong foods, a hatred for my body and what it looked like, and my complete lack of willpower or self control.
While I did manage to gain some control over my weight, it wasn't until I studied nutrition in depth that I understood why I had these cravings and why my body seemed to rebel against everything I tried.
Years of chaotic eating and a stressful job left me with crippling bouts of IBS. Working in an office, I'd often be hunched over with stomach pains and I'd hobble off to the toilets as I couldn't stand up straight. Thanks to nutritional therapy, the stomach cramps I'd suffer are now a rare occurrence.
Midlife has brought its own challenges. The menopause set in earlier than average whereby I became increasingly anxious, depressed and had chronic insomnia – all symptoms of peri-menopause. My doctor prescribed anti-depressants (a common response) but they did little to help. I had occasional night sweats and getting up in the night for the loo is an ongoing annoyance, but manageable. Menopause was done and dusted by the age of 46.
My declining oestrogen levels were likely a major contributor to my diagnosis of osteoporosis at the age of 46. This shocked me more than anything else and I only wish I'd had more information about prevention of this disease before it happened. With the right nutrition and exercise, osteoporosis is preventable and it's something I urge all women in their 40s onwards to be very aware of.
These days I don't take my health for granted. Losing both parents within the space of 2 years brought home to me how precious life is and in order to get the most out of our time here, we owe it to ourselves and our families to be as healthy as we can be.