Hey Zoe, firstly can you please tell us what you’ve been doing over the past 24 hours?
I am currently in the final year of my undergraduate degree in marketing, so I have been busy completing my online exam for one of my classes!
Due to the current circumstances, we have been completing our exams online and, although it has felt really strange, I have managed to adjust! I now only have one more exam to go before I am finished my degree – which I am super excited about!
What do you practice each day to have a ‘balanced life’?
I am a huge advocate for listening to your body. I focus on filling my body with the foods it craves and moving my body in a way that feels comfortable on that day. I try to move my body every day, whether that be walking, running or cycling. I see an incredible change in my mood even after a short walk around the block.
In terms of food, I listen to my body and eat what feels right, when it feels right. I am currently reading an AMAZING book by Caroline Dooner called ‘The F*ck It Diet’. The book explains the negative impacts of diet culture and how it goes against our bodies natural instincts in terms of craving the foods it needs to feel nourished.
Have you ever craved pancakes for breakfast and end up having oatmeal instead because you believe it is the ‘healthier option’? Have you thought about those pancakes for the whole day and even into the next day? That is because your body was craving something, and you didn’t listen! More often than not, I will choose the oatmeal and then make the pancakes a couple of hours after to satisfy my craving… which makes no sense when I could have just made the pancakes in the first place!
In my approach to living a balanced life, I understand that every day is different and some days I will crave oatmeal and a long run and other days I will crave pancakes and a bath – I listen to my body on both days.
You have suffered from digestive health issues; can you please tell us when it all started?
I have experienced issues with bloating for as long as I can remember but never really looked further into it. However, at the beginning of last summer (2019) I started to experience more severe symptoms surrounding painful bloating, acid reflux and nausea. Around about the same time I had started a new job that was quite stressful, and I been travelling a lot and lived in two different countries in the space of 6 months! All of this stress and changes of environment triggered all of these new symptoms which progressively got worse.
The symptoms affected everything – including my mental health and I actually ended up leaving my summer job in America a little earlier than I had planned due to the way I was feeling. As I walked away from that summer, I was determined to do something about the way I was feeling, and I knew that I was going to find an answer no matter how long it took. I was so motivated to heal myself and so I started to research into gut health and what I found has honestly changed my life.
You had a dissatisfying experience with a doctor who gave you pills as a quick fix. What was it that helped you determine that pills weren’t the answer?
I knew that my body was trying to tell me something, and my research into gut health confirmed this. I went to my GP in a very vulnerable position, explaining my symptoms as best I could. Each time I would be given a pill rather than a diagnosis – one doctor had even prescribed me antidepressants.
I was so motivated to figure out what my body was trying to tell me and was willing to work hard to heal it. In my eyes, taking a pill would cover up the problem in the short-term but it would always come back. I knew I never wanted to be in the same place I was when I walked away from my summer job. I took my anger and frustration and channelled it into empowerment and decided to research how I could heal my body naturally.
What does good gut health mean to you? And what do you think doctors need to tell us?
Good gut health means a happy, healthy and nourished body that is listened to and fed with foods that help it THRIVE. Good gut health is a daily journey of figuring out what works and doesn’t work and constantly overcoming new challenges. It is the understanding that everybody is different and they need to be listened to and cared for in different ways. It is nurturing your body from the inside out and healing it using natural remedies.
I think doctors should encourage us to be more in-tune with our bodies and instead of covering up a problem it should be first understood and then solved.
You’ve now started your own recipe IG page. Tell us about it, please? And what influenced you to launch it? And what you plan to do with it?
As I have pursued this gut health and healing journey, I have learnt so much about food and how my body digests different foods. I have discovered so many natural foods which benefit and nourish my body in so many ways. Since experimenting with these new foods, I have discovered my passion for food and the joy of simple cooking. I want to share my passion and hopefully inspire others in terms of how they can live a healthy and balanced life and eat intuitively.
When I was struggling at some of my lowest points, trying to figure out what was going on with my body, I found so much security in knowing that other people have been through a similar experience to me and had found the answer they were looking for. I just want to help even one person through my page and show people just how beautiful food really is.
Have you always been an incredibly creative chef in the kitchen? Or was that something you had to adopt since a lifestyle change?
That’s very kind. No honestly, I haven’t. I remember living in my flat with my friends at university and having cheese toasties for dinner most nights… I never used to experiment and usually went for the easiest (and least nutritious) option. I can’t put into words how much this experience has changed my life.
I have struggled in the past with unhealthy behaviour patterns towards food and I would even go as far as saying I was scared of food. Since learning how much our bodies thrive off of certain foods I have healed my relationship with food and I have never felt happier. I love to get creative with food and I have so many amazing recipe ideas that I can’t wait to try out and share!
You have developed a strong community on IG. Can you please share some inspiring moments to make you realise that you’re empowering others to be proactive about gut health?
I recently put up a post sharing my gut health journey and what led me to change to gluten and dairy-free lifestyle. I was TERRIFIED to post this… it was one of those click ‘share’ and toss your phone to the other side of the room moments. But the response I got from it has blown me away. So many people shared their journeys with me and reached out to me to tell me how strong I was and how much my message meant to them. It showed me that sometimes you have to be vulnerable and that’s okay.
In what ways has your life improved since you started your gut health journey?
I can’t even begin to explain. I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin, I understand my body more and, most importantly, I have HEALED my relationship with food. I am less bloated, I have 10x more energy, my skin is clearer, I am happier…
You don’t realise how much your gut health impacts not only your physical but your mental well-being. I feel more myself than ever and I can’t wait to learn more about gut health and my body.
You must experiment with new foods every day. What recipe have you created that you thought would be weird, but then tasted great?
So often I have to stop myself before trying out a new recipe and think… ‘is this crazy’? The riskiest I have created recently was probably avocado pancakes. One day I just thought ‘what are my two favourite things?’ and, of course, my answer was avocado and pancakes. So, I decided to create a recipe that combined the two and honestly it tastes amazing!!
I even experimented with avocado and blueberry pancakes and I CANNOT recommend enough. They are so fresh and delicious, and the colour is incredible. (If you have seen my Instagram page you know I love to eat the rainbow) I’m so glad I took the risk because wow did it pay off. That what I love about food, there is so much freedom to experiment and try new things.