My current lifestyle and love of all things fresh and healthy has not always been this way. Having left my parents’ home and moved across the country from the east to west coast of South Africa, at only 17, I defaulted to the unhealthiest lifestyle ever.
Cheap takeout meals, too many toasted sandwiches, little to no sleep, an abundance of fizzy drinks, red bulls and bags of crisps to keep the midnight oil burning, sparked a flame that shut down my healthy metabolism and further snowballed into illnesses that have stayed with me more than 15 years later as I write this post.
It all started when my weight began ballooning, initially I did not pay it too much attention knowing how unhealthy my diet had become. I always assumed that once I stopped the fast food everything would fall right back into place. Surprise it did NOT! Then began the even unhealthier slew of diets, shakes, restrictions and calorie deficits. Unbeknown to me I was only making things worse. A visit to the doctor at 23 picked up that my hormones were all over the place and I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The doctor did not seem too concerned, told me I had to lose a bit of weight and sent me on my way.
My weight did not stop increasing… I moved cities again and heard about another doctor specialising in hormonal issues. I paid her a visit and for the first time I received proper explanations into what was going on, how dangerous it was and how to treat it naturally. She completed a full blood panel, picked up that I was severely Vitamin D deficient, had an underperforming thyroid and insulin resistance.
Her first step was to heal the PCOS and insulin resistance with the help of a dietician, I scheduled an appointment, followed the plan to the T, never missed a weekly check in, saw the inches/cm’s fall off and the weight creeped down slowly (this is common with hormonal complications). All of this with no additional exercise.
The second step was to medicate the thyroid and Vitamin D deficiencies, this changed my life, I finally had the energy to do the things I wanted to.
It was an amazing 7 months until the festive season hit and I completely fell off the wagon. I tried multiple times to get back onto my eating plan with little to no results. My best friend convinced me to join an exercise class with her a few times a week. Just a group of girls having fun while blitzing fat… just what I needed. While I watched other women drop entire dress sizes in a matter of weeks, I had barely any improvements. Little did I know that my 1 hour cardio sessions were actually extremely bad for my health issues because of all the cortisol it was dumping into my blood stream (a fact which I only recently discovered) which in turn made me hold on to even more fat.
Work and life got in the way and I stopped the classes. My weight continued to increase, I was now 20-25kg’s heavier than I had been at the start of university. In the winter of 2018 disaster struck when a silly accident resulted in a really badly broken toe, I was banned from any non-essential movement and placed on crutches for 2 months. Sadly, this made me pack on a further 8 kg’s.
In the summer of 2019 my husband and I packed up our lives in South Africa and moved across the world to the UK. It’s been an amazing adventure and helped greatly with building a healthier lifestyle. The wide availability of products that support a “free from” lifestyle has been one of the biggest enablers for long term success.
The key tool for PCOS and insulin resistance sufferers is learning how to balance carbs, proteins and fats in every meal in order to avoid spikes in insulin that have a domino effect and worsen multiple other symptoms. I find that the most meal in which to do this without it becoming monotonous is breakfast. Eggs are an amazing source of protein but it can get boring to eat every day.
Some of the other options I like to include are chia seed pudding, avocado on toast with hemp seeds and luxury granola loaded with healthy fats from nuts and seeds.
Let’s get cooking or stirring…
There’s no doubt that strawberries pair well with elderflower. Both are currently in season so I jumped at the opportunity to incorporate them into as many dishes as I can.
This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a ratio, and there’s absolutely no cooking involved but you do end up with quite a satisfying meal.
I use 2 tablespoons of chia for a snack or 4 tablespoons for a full meal and add 4 times the amount of liquid, so for 2 tablespoons of chia I used 8 tablespoons of coconut milk. I have experimented with a few different ratios of seeds to liquids and this one provided the best consistency. My preference here is coconut milk because it is slightly sweeter and I love the taste of coconut.
Mix the seeds and liquid, allow it stand for about 20 minutes and you’re good to go. Top with fruit and a dab of honey. Enjoy!
Elderflower and strawberry chia pudding
Super flavourful, high protein breakfast
Elderflower and strawberry chia pudding
• Chia pudding
• 2 tblsp dried chia seeds
• 8 tblsp coconut milk (any milk would do)
• 1 tsp honey
Strawberry and elderflower mix
• ½ cup strawberries, sliced
• ½ tsp elderflower syrup
- Slice strawberries and pour over syrup, allow to macerate
- Mix the chia seeds and milk, stir thoroughly and refrigerate for minimum 20 minutes
- Layer chia pudding and strawberry mixture into a bowl or jar top with honey and enjoy