I absolutely love sharing my knowledge and passion for a whole-food plant-based diet. And I get great joy hearing about the amazing transformations people I work with make. It's truly incredible how making key changes can have such a positive impact on the body, how when we consume the food our body desires, it can heal and feel great.
This is why I called my book and course 'Eat Well, Live Well', because when you do the first, the second follows.
But don't just take my word for it. Check out these inspiring stories.
Vicky (aged 21)
A good floor gymnast as a child, Vicky has always been a very bendy person. After a few joint pains as a child, she started to experience severe pain in her joints aged 13. First it was her shoulder after swimming, then her wrist after writing for any length of time. Her hip caused her so much pain she couldn't walk up the stairs and she started to dislocate joints under the mildest resistance, even rolling over in bed.
She was already a vegetarian, but lived away at boarding school at the age of 14. The food was not ideal, loaded with processed dairy and lacking in fresh produce and whole-grains.
Vicky was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder that is only just becoming more widely recognised. The ligaments in her hyper-mobile joints would get over-stretched, and stay that way, creating inflammation and pain. It was not a good feeling for a 15 year old.
In a bid to improve her joints, Vicky agreed to eat a whole-food plant-based diet for a month. And one month later she noticed an improvement, but she wanted to eat cheese again. But her body didn't - after three attempts at eating cheese and feeling nauseous afterwards, she gave up and continued with the whole-food plant-based plan.
Over the next 6 months, Vicky experienced a huge improvement in her pain levels and joint integrity. Having been advised not to exercise too hard, she had started running and playing Ultimate Frisbee with no problems. She also lost 10kg in weight and experienced change in her whole body shape.
6 years on, Vicky continues to eat a whole-food plant-based diet. She has occasional joint problems, usually at stressful times. By the age of 21, many people with EDS find themselves quite debilitated, sometimes in a wheelchair. Fortunately Vicky is not one of those people. She has run half marathons, competed in triathlons and rowed for 3 years at university. It's a wonderfully inspiring story. And I know it in detail, as Vicky is my daughter.
Suzie (chronic anaemia)
Suzie came along to my Eat Well Live Well course to help learn how to help her young daughter with food intolerances eat well. Fortunately, she achieved that aim and also got an added extra - she helped herself too.
Every year Suzie had to have blood tests to check her Hb (haemoglobin) levels as she suffered from chronic anaemia. Some years it would be as low as 7, a severely low level that needs treatment. Anaemia brings with it fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath.
During the course, Suzie started to make changes to the way she ate, along with a couple of other lifestyle alterations. Adopting a whole-food plant-based diet had a direct impact on her health, particularly her Hb levels. At her next check-up, her levels were above 12 for the first time in years, and she continues to feel healthy and well. Eating an array of foods packed with nutrients has helped her body balance itself out.
In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, Sharon decided to make some positive changes to see if she could stop things getting worse. So after coming along to a two day workshop, she started eating a whole-food plant-based diet.
The most noticeable effect in the short term was steady weight loss - 1 1/2 stone over 4 months. Her blood sugars stabilised and at her last check up registered at 5.4mmol, lovely and normal. Not only that but her last eye test revealed that she no longer had early signs of diabetic retinopathy, and confirmation that it was all due to her diet!
And of course it's not just her blood sugars that have settled at a healthy level - her cholesterol has too, now a perfectly normal 4.89. She is super pleased with the results - all down to her commitment not to go on meds and to take back control of health.
Julie (high cholesterol)
Julie came along to the Eat Well Live Well course following a friends recommendation. Raised cholesterol had been a problem for Julie for some time. In 2003 she was prescribed statins but had to stop after her liver function became affected.
Prior to the the course starting she ate a generally well-balanced diet but her cholesterol remained high at 7.1. Two weeks into the course, she made changes to her diet and went plant-based, and has continued this way of eating ever since. She's lost over 1 stone in weight and her cholesterol dropped to 5.6 in just 3 months.
Julie aims to get her cholesterol below 5.0 and loves eating this way. She feels fitter and generally better than before. A whole-food plant-based diet has positive side-effects!