5 Methods to Apply Avocado Essential Oil

Avocado Essential Oil is extremely rich in Vitamins and minerals which make it a beneficial oil to be used for both hair and skin. This essential oil contains Vitamin A, D, and E, proteins, potassium, fatty acids, etc. which makes it really amazing for skin care and hair care.

You can use your Avocado oil in many applications so we have listed down 5 top ways to use your avocado essential oil:

Making a Shampoo

You can also make shampoo with avocado oil and moisturize your hair with it. Just take ¼ cup each of castile soap and aloe vera gel, 1 tsp. vegetable glycerin and ¼ tsp. of avocado oil and combine them together in a glass bottle. Close the lid on this bottle and shake it a little to mix the contents properly. Now, pour the whole bottle on your hair and massage the shampoo into your hair thoroughly. Leave it for a couple of minutes and then rinse it out with the help of cool water. This will make your hair look and feel healthy again.

Creating a Skin Rub

You can also use Avocado oil to rub your skin and apply a few drops of this oil onto your dry area to moisturize your skin. This essential oil can also be used by users who suffer from eczema as this oil can soothe and reduce the inflammation caused by it.

Using as a Face Mask

Take 1 avocado and mash it into a paste and then add 1 tablespoon of avocado oil to it. Mix them well and then wash your face with water and facewash and pat it dry. Now, apply the paste on your face with the help of a spatula and avoid your eyes and mouth. Let the mask work for 10-15 minutes and then take a damp towel and clean up the paste from your face. Rinse your face once to clean your face properly.

Using as a Face Mask

Anti-Aging Lotion

Take 30 ml each of avocado oil and castor oil and mix them well together. Apply this oil mixture to your aging spots and leave it for 15 minutes. Then, rinse off the oil with the help of warm water. Avocado oil is rich in sterolins which acts as a great moisturizer and helps in treating aging spots.

Make a Bath Oil

Take 1 cup of almond oil and 2 cups of avocado oil in a saucepan and heat them together.

Then, remove the pan from the stove and add 2 tea bags to this mixture. In the meanwhile, pour some essential oils like lavender, chamomile, and geranium essential oil into a glass bottle and then add the almond oil and avocado oil mixture to it. Now, put the lid of the glass bottle and store this in a cool dry place for a day.

Then, shake the bottle well and pour 60 ml of the bath oil into your water and have a relaxing and calming bath while avocado moisturizes and rejuvenates your skin.

Make a Bath Oil

5 Things I’m Eating This Week

A lot of people ask me what I eat in a typical week. It’s almost impossible for me to answer that because it depends a lot on how I’m feeling.

Experience has taught me that when my energy levels are super low and my POTS is particularly symptomatic I tend to do best on mainly liquids. Life can be so fun sometimes! To stop myself from going mad I make one ‘meal’ meal a day, and the rest of the time I am having super packed smoothies and big jars of juice.

I have been majorly struggling to eat a very ‘free-from’ diet. While a lot of people who are happy to do this may not consider it to be restrictive, to me it feels that way. I know pretty much what I should be eating and how to go about it, it’s just when you’re in a flare it’s hard to find the motivation to do it all the time – especially when you just want to get on the tube and get a gorgeous cheeseburger

I have promised myself, however, that I’m going to get back on track with my diet and hope that this helps me a bit more. As I’ve written about many times, I believe that food plays a huge role in management, but we also need to be realistic in what we’re asking it to do. I also haven’t quite figured out what works best for my body and that’s a seemingly never-ending experiment. I’m actually seeing a new doctor on Tuesday so I’m curious to see what tests he’ll run and what recommendations he will make.

5 things

In order to keep myself sane when I do this, I have to allow myself some flexibility to go and enjoy food. I don’t think of it as a ‘treat’ or a ‘guilty pleasure’ as that puts food into categories of good and bad. I am (slash should be) sensible enough to go and enjoy something if I want to go and enjoy it. This is usually at one of my favourite restaurants in town with my ‘normal’ friends who don’t think about the micronutrient content of their meals. Or a whole lot of freshly made challah if I’m visiting my parents on a Friday. I don’t feel like we should demonise food or feel guilty for the choices that we make, and so even though it may not be what’s best for me, the happiness that I get from going out and not obsessively thinking about my health more than makes up for it. It’s all about balance and not getting into dangerously restrictive mindsets.

The last few days (and what I’m continuing into this week) has been quite uninteresting when it comes to food. I have a massive smoothie for breakfast and some homemade green juice. Then depending on how I’m feeling I’ll either have another juice (Plenish juices are currently half price on Ocado, so I’ve ordered some cherry beet ones!) and another smoothie. I don’t think that juices are meal replacements, so try to have something more substantial in smoothie form if I’m only having one meal a day.

I take Vitamin D every day, as well as spirulina and chlorella. I honestly don’t know if these actually make a difference anymore, but I’m in in the habit of taking spirulina tablets in the morning and chlorella before I go to sleep, so it’s just something I keep doing! I was taking MSM tablets, but want to talk to the doctor about these. I also try to have an epsom salt bath daily.

As much as I enjoy juices and smoothies, I really miss actually chewing, so I particularly look forward to my one main meal a day. When I’m not having a special ‘fuck it I don’t care what I eat’ meal, I try to stay away from dairy, gluten and refined sugar as I do feel a difference in my body when I eat them. I eat eggs and meat (often from my local farm) a few times a week and try not to have grains every day. But I am somewhat partial to the ease of brown rice pasta! And I don’t care what anyone says, no one will believe that courgetti is pasta.

One of my favourite ways to stay motivated despite feeling too exhausted to actually cook anything is to browse some of my favourite food blogs. Below I’ve shared five of the recipes that I’ve bookmarked to make this week.

Is Depression a Mental or Physical Illness? Unravelling The Inflammation Hypothesis

I have suffered from a fair share of depression in my life, but in a way I’m lucky that it has pretty much always been reactive. By that I mean that I tend to get depressed as a result of something external, usually the fact that my physical health is declining and I, understandably, am sick of it. Even my monthly hormone-induced suicidal feelings were explained – they went away as soon as my period came.

One of the things I’ve always found interesting is how many people suffering with chronic illness have experienced initial diagnoses of depression before actually receiving their diagnosis of their illness. When my mum got ME 20 years ago, everyone at first told her that she was ‘just’ depressed. As I remember her saying for years, “of course I was depressed, I couldn’t function. But I was depressed because I was ill”. I’m planning on writing a piece about depression and chronic illness, especially since the understanding and treatment of how this is linked to the day to day management of conditions isn’t really (in my opinion) paid enough attention to. I have found that trying to manage my depression by focussing just as much on making myself “brain happy” as I do on treating my physical symptoms through mindfulness, colouring, gentle exercise and good diet is vitally important.

Many people I am close to, however, suffer from depression without this understanding of why. There doesn’t need to be a reason, the overwhelming, soul destroying depression just comes over them for seemingly no reason.

Because of this, I’ve been interested in following the developments in trying to understand what causes depression. Recently, there has been a lot of media attention on some of the latest research coming out that links depression to inflammation.

In an attempt to understand this all better, I’m sharing with you today an article by Ute Vollmer-Conna and Gordon Parker that originally appeared on The Conversation to help give you a more in-depth understanding of what is currently known about this research and what it could mean.

mental-health-depression-symptoms_1

Most people feel down, tired and inactive when they’re injured or ill. This “sickness behaviour” is caused by the activation of the body’s immune response. It’s the brain’s way of conserving energy so the body can heal.

This immune response can also occur in people with depression. This has prompted some researchers and clinicians to hypothesise that depression is actually a side effect of the inflammatory process.

But while there may be a connection between inflammation and depression, one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. So it’s too simplistic to say depression is a physical, rather than a psychiatric, illness.

The inflammation hypothesis

University of California clinical psychologist and researcher George Slavich is one of the key recent proponents of depression as a physical illness. He hypothesises that social threats and adversity trigger the production of pro-inflammatory “cytokines”. These are messenger molecules of the immune system that play a critical role in orchestrating the host’s response to injury and infection.

This inflammatory process, Slavich argues, can initiate profound behavioural changes, including the induction of depression.

The idea that the activation of the immune response may trigger depression in some people is by no means a new one. Early descriptions of post-influenza depression appeared in the 19th century in the writings of English physician Daniel Tuke.

But it was not until the 1988 seminal paper, published by veterinarian Benjamin Hart, that the phenomenon of acute “sickness behaviour” caught the interest of the scientific community.

Hart described his detailed observations of the “behaviour of sick animals”. During acute infection, and in response to fever, the animals sought sleep, lost their appetite, showed a reduction in activity, grooming and social interactions, as well as showing signs of “depression”.

Just like the immune response itself, these changes reflect an evolved survival strategy that shifts priorities toward energy conservation and recovery.

Putting the theory into practice

Cytokine-induced sickness behaviour has subsequently been studied as an example of communication between the immune system and the brain.

The behavioural changes during sickness resemble those associated with depression, so it didn’t take long for researchers to make a connection between the phenomenon of sickness behaviour and mental disorders.

Such speculation was strengthened by research showing that depressive states can be experimentally induced by administering cytokines and other immunogenic agents (such as vaccines) that cause an inflammatory response.

Depression is frequently associated with inflammatory illnesses such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also a side effect of treatment with cytokines to enhance the immune system.

Over recent decades, researchers have made progress in understanding how inflammation may impact on the activity of signalling pathways to and from the brain, as well as on the functioning of key neural systems involved in mood regulation.

Human-brain-by-Penn-State-Creative-Commons

But there’s not always a link

From the available evidence it’s clear, however, that not everyone who suffers from depression has evidence of inflammation. And not all people with high levels of inflammation develop depression.

Trajectories of depression depend on a complex interplay of a spectrum of additional risk and resilience factors, which may be present to varying degrees and in a different combination in any individual at different times. These factors include the person’s:

  • genetic vulnerabilities affecting the intensity of our inflammatory response
  • other medical conditions
  • acquired hyper-vigilance in the stress response systems due to early life trauma, current adversities, or physical stressors
  • coping strategies, including social support
  • health behaviours, such as sleep, diet and exercise.

Implications for treatment

In line with the notion that inflammation drives depression, some researchers have already trialled the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory therapy as a treatment for depression.

While some recipients (such as those with high levels of inflammation) showed benefit from the treatment, others without increased inflammation did not. This supports the general hypothesis.

However, in our desire to find more effective treatments for depression, we should not forget that the immune response, including inflammation, has a specific purpose. It protects us from infection, disease and injury.

Cytokines act at many different levels, and often in subtle ways, to fulfil their numerous roles in the orchestration of the immune response. Undermining their vital role could have negative consequences.

Mind versus body

The recent enthusiasm to embrace inflammation as the major culprit in psychiatric conditions ignores the reality that “depression” is not a single condition. Some depressive states, such as melancholia, are diseases; some are reactions to the environment; some are existential; and some normal.

Such separate states have differing contributions of biological, social and psychological causes. So any attempt to invoke a single all-explanatory “cause” should be rejected. Where living organisms are concerned it is almost never that simple.

In the end, we cannot escape the reality that changes must occur at the level of the brain, in regions responsible for mood regulation, for “depression” to be experienced.

The Conversation

A Fresh Start, Lessons Learned & Some Changes

Sharing my health and food explorations online has been a particularly interesting experiment, not least seeing how the Wellness industry has exploded over the last year or so. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I never really thought that anybody would follow my Instagram account or be interested in my blog. The Instagram was a personal experiment with a visual food diary and my original blog was a place to rant about EDS. Because it’s a massive pain in the arse. Literally and metaphorically.

When I started getting followers I felt like it was important for me to create a Nutritiously Natasha blog, moving away from just day to day illness stuff and into food. I could see that’s what was popular. But it didn’t sit so well with me.

Here’s the thing. The reason I choose to share a lot of personal information publicly is so that I can raise awareness about living with chronic invisible illnesses (the tag line of my old blog was The Trials, Tantrums and Triumphs…) because that’s what I think is important. Things are so up and down and all over the place that there’s constantly something to document. It may be good, it may be bad, it may be ugly, but I want to be honest about it.

When I first changed my diet and saw amazing results in how I was feeling I was, understandably, shocked, overwhelmed and excited. After feeling so unwell on medication it seemed like I was making huge progress. This, understandably, was fuelled by the hundreds of “Wellness” accounts I followed on Instagram and the corresponding blogs that I followed. I started picking up the same language. Detox became a regular part of my vocabulary and I became obsessed with the foods I had deemed to be the purest and the healthiest. The information I was spouting was often coming from people who were, in all honesty, hardly more qualified than I was. I just wanted to feel as happy and as healthy as they portrayed themselves to be on their social media profiles. Of course, I’m bright enough to know that we all only show certain sides of ourselves, but the sheer amount of this that we’re exposed to on a daily basis somewhat conditions us against rational thinking, especially when we’re desperate to find ways to feel better or improve our lives.

After a while, I started to realise that the frequency and normalised demonisation of food groups among these networks provides fertile breeding ground for eating disorders. My obsession was starting to become overwhelming. It makes sense – when you find something that works, you want to tell everyone and share whatever you can. I never claimed a cure, but I did shout from the rooftops about how much better my mainly liquid, gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free, low-ish histamine, high nutrient, anti-inflammatory rotation diet made me feel and how I was sure that it was (mostly) the answer to my problems. I’m so bored of writing that.

But then I had a flare up. And then another flare up.

lessons-learned

Why wasn’t my diet working? Why were all these gorgeous, slim girls glowing and healing from illnesses while I was doing the same things and my body just wasn’t cooperating?

Here’s the thing. There’s only so much diet can do. And what diet does is different for everybody, even if they have the same illnesses. The problem is that with many multi-system and complicated disorders (especially ones that are still relatively unresearched and not well understood) there is actually very little that medical professionals can do short of trying some medications and otherwise offering lifestyle adaption techniques. And if you’re in the middle of a pretty severe flareup, there’s only so much this can help.

I am encouraged to see that more research is starting to be done. Interestingly, I received an email the other day about a research study being conducted into the link between extreme joint flexibility and food allergies. If you have EDS.

One of the traps that I fell into when I was feeling better was trying to write like a lot of other people in the ‘scene’. However, as the months went on, I realised that I was sometimes talking about things that I’m not necessarily in a place to talk about.

So, with that being said, there are a few things I’d like to make clear and a few promises I’d like to make to you all:

  • I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietician, and as such I will not give nutritional advice or guidance. I will share my own personal experiences with what has helped me. This does not, under any circumstances, mean that I am recommending that other people try what I try unquestioningly. My course at IIN, while interesting, is not what I would consider enough to make me an expert. My intention with the course was to increase my scope of knowledge but mainly help me frame my way of working with and supporting others who are looking to try and help themselves. It is not my place to offer dietary or lifestyle solutions, but I hope that I can serve as a source of inspiration (or mutual head nodding when times are tough!) to continue to fight and try to find things that help us feel better.
  • While I am lucky that at the moment I am pretty much medication free, I do not believe doctors are evil and all drugs are bad. I have recently gone back on the pill after refusing it for over a year (because I didn’t want to take synthetic hormones) and it has pretty much fixed my monthly suicidal feelings. That being said, I was also wary about the effect it has on joint laxity and am having to be mindful and keep that in check. Several posts about me last year didn’t focus on the fact that the reason I didn’t take medicine was because I was having the most severe side effects possible and often odd, idiosyncratic reactions that made me feel infinitely worse. Do not stop taking medication because a blogger told you to. Always seek advice of a medical professional.
  • I will share the highs and lows, honestly, about my day to day experiences. When I write about things being difficult I am not being overly negative. I am being truthful. Sometimes things are just a certain way and it’s not that I have a bad attitude. Sometimes I just physically can’t
  • I am not a chef. I love food, but I have no training in cookery. I will be working with some of my favourite food bloggers/chefs to share recipes. If my health allows it over the coming years I would love to study food and nutrition in more depth. At the moment, unfortunately, this is not possible.
  • I do not demonise food groups and will not encourage anyone else to do so. I will endeavour to frame the conversation within my own personal experiences, as well as providing the best research possible. If I do share studies, I will aim to explain the strengths and limitations of that study. I highly recommend reading this piece on spotting quack medicine and how to assess the strength of evidence in medical research here and here to help empower you when you’re doing research for yourself.
  • At this point I’d like to just reiterate that I’m not denying, in any way, the effect that changes in diet and lifestyle have had on my health. I was talking to a friend about this the other day, and she reminded me that “dude, you went from literally not being able to eat a banana to now being able to eat anything you want!” I entirely give credit to the many months I spent predominately on green liquids and the progression of reintroducing food after food. I guess my problem is faddishness when it comes to the way we talk about ‘healing’ through natural causes.
  • I do believe that lifestyle changes are also extremely important. For me, finding ways to manage my emotional health and happiness has played a huge role in my ability to manage my reactions to flare ups and get by day to day even when things are ok. I would love to share some of these with you, experiment more on myself, and start challenges that other people can join in. I’ll be sharing reviews of some of my favourite books and resources too, as well as sharing a bit more about some of the places I go and things I do.

So…yeah. That’s where I currently stand at the moment. I hope you’ll continue to stay with me and will enjoy my upcoming posts. I am working on redesigning my blog and am aiming to relaunch it in about a month. You can subscribe to my mailing list here and I’d love to hear in the comments about anything that you’d be interested in hearing about from me.

fresh-start

I also want to just quickly say thank you to everyone for all the amazing support, comments and emails you’ve sent me over the last year or so. It has been fantastic connecting with you all. Sorry if it sometimes takes a while for me to reply, I’m probably half-watching Netflix!

Love Porridge? I’ve Got You Sorted!

If you were following me on Instagram about a year ago you’d probably have seen a never ending parade of porridges popping up in your feed. I love the stuff. It’s cheap, versatile, healthy and absolutely delicious.

Although I have been limiting my grain intake (waa) to see how my body responds, I was super excited when the Porridge Cafe asked me to collaborate with them to create some limited edition recipes to be served in their awesome pop up.

heart-porridge

Tucked behind the busses just by Victoria station, the Porridge Cafe sells sweet and savoury mixed grain porridges, loaded with all kinds of good stuff, for affordable prices. One of the things that I love the most about it is it’s focus on simple, uncomplicated and healthy food. I think we sometimes forget how simple it can be when we’re scrolling through Instagram and see superfoods all over the place – we don’t need always take a trip to the specialist health food shops!

I’ve shared two of my favourite porridge combos: a classic “carrot cake” oatmeal made with gluten free oats, fresh carrot juice, raisins, pecans, walnuts and honey, and a beautifully summery  chilled mango and passion fruit overnight oats made with coconut milk.

There are also other delicious options like banana, blueberry and peanut butter or Nutella for those of you who love a cheeky spoonful of the stuff!

 

So, if you’re in London, please do head to the Porridge Cafe to try them out! If you do, make sure to take a snap and tag me @nutritiouslynatasha and @porridge_cafe_london on Instagram!  

My Favourite Online Health Courses

If you have an interest in healthy living, food, and wellbeing,  it can often be intimidating to try and find the best resources to help you learn more, especially with the constantly changing and faddy ways health is often presented in the media.

When I first realised that blindly going to the doctor and guzzling down whatever medications they gave me wasn’t the only thing I should be doing, I went on a several month long internet binge, reading and watching everything I could to try and educate myself about all the different health and dietary theories out there in order to try and start making sense of what things I could try out.

At the same time, I collected a small library of books across a wide variety of subjects, although at the beginning when I was trying to brainwash myself into becoming a vegan, there was definitely a theme to many of the books that I purchased!

Today I thought that I’d share my top online resources for those looking to either gain a more professional grounding in health and wellbeing or those just looking to learn more for free!

For me, having to spend a huge amount of time resting and in bed means that I’m often cut off from traditional educational routes, but with these courses you can learn at your own pace, anywhere. Even in your super comfy robot bed.

Institute for Integrative Nutrition

I have almost completed my year long course at IIN and it has been a great experience. A huge number of dietary theories are covered, but there are two things that really made the school stand out for me. Firstly, while there is a large focus on diet and nutrition, they work on the basis of “bio-individuality” – the idea that everyone is different. So we learn all these different, often conflicting ideas, in order to help ourselves and others figure out how to make the best choices for themselves. And if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know how important I believe this to be.

But, as I mention time and time again, diet isn’t the be all and end all. The main focus is actually on what IIN calls “primary foods” – the aspects of our lives like our social networks, family, friends, work, exercise – all those things that make us happy and the role that this plays in our health.

The course is not just a dietary course. I’m taking the specific Health Coach Training programme, so once I graduate I will be a qualified Health Coach, and I really hope to work with people suffering from chronic illnesses to support and help them figure out what works best for them in managing their conditions. If you’d be interested in working with me, please do send me an email!

Because of this, we learn a lot of coaching and business skills, and I really feel that it has impacted the way I think about my own health, and hope that I can relay this onto others in the future.

One thing I would say about IIN is it’s a very wide-reaching programme. I don’t really feel like it’s ‘school’ or a training programme in the sense of a degree or an academic course I would take. It has mainly satiated a general curiosity and opened me up to other ideas as a starting point for further research.

Rouxbe

If you’re interested in learning more about plant-based cooking, the best place to learn this online is with Rouxbe’s Online Video Cooking School. The plant-based programme is set up by the incredible chef Chad Sarno and teaches you everything you need to know from basic knife skills to advanced recipe development. I love the simple details of the in-depth look at different ways to prepare different vegetables and really understanding plant-based cooking.

This is a professional qualification, and the programme is recognised by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (phew long name!)

I started this course last year but have unfortunately been too unwell to continue with it. I really hope to be able to pick it up soon, as it’s a way to learn cooking skills from trained chefs without having to leave my own flat.

The Free Stuff!

If you’re not interested in gaining a professional qualification online at the moment, there are still a tonne of free ways to learn more – including from some of the best universities in the world. Here is my first roundup of my favourite courses and playlists that you can find!

Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science – via Harvard University on edX

Nutrition and Health Part 1: Macronutrients and Overnutrition – via Wagenigen University on edX

The Ethics of Eating – via Cornell University on edX

Gut Check: Exploring Your Microbiome – via University of Colorado at Boulder on Coursera

What’s Wrong With What We Eat – Playlist via TED

What are your favourite online resources? Have you tried out any of these?

Be Kind To Yourself

For years I had doctors, therapists, family and friends tell me that I needed to “be kind” to myself. It was something I poo-pooed and waved off as some kind of hippy dippy bullshit that didn’t mean anything.

As I got more unwell (and older) I started to realise that there was something in taking a step back, taking a moment and realising that it’s ok to take time and be gentle with myself*.

We all have different ways of doing this, and just recognising that it’s ok and not selfish or lazy is a wonderful first step.

This infographic from Happify gives a wonderful introduction to those of you who are interested in practicing more self kindness. What are your favourite ways of being kind to yourself? Please do share them in the comments.

*That being said, it still feels weird for me to say it in those terms. I think it’s more just about treating myself the way I would treat anyone that I loved!

Food Revolution Day 2015

Happy Food Revolution Day, y’all!

As most of you know, I’m really passionate about food (mainly eating it), but since starting my personal experiments with how the right food can help me feel a bit better, I’ve also become really passionate about people learning and understanding food a lot more.

It was almost shocking how ill-informed I was about what I ate and the food industry. I may have gone a bit too far in my obsession to “brainwash” myself into wanting to eat a certain way (hello, orthorexia). From a young age, and because of my inability to exercise, I became overweight and often turned to restriction and low-fat, low calorie diets like weight watchers to try and help.

As I became older, developed more illnesses (non-diet related) and started on my own food experiments with whole foods, I became saddened at even how in the wellness industry, among people who were supposedly more enlightened about food, fads are still everywhere, with misinformation spreading like wildfire across social media channels.

This is why I’m a proud supporter of Jamie Oliver’s #FoodRevolutionDay.

Based the basic premise that diet-related diseases are rising at an alarming rate, and that around the world over 42 million children under the age of five are overweight or obese, it has never been more important to educate children about food, where it comes from and how it affects their bodies.

Jamie believes that “by educating children about food in a practical, fun and engaging way, we can provide them with the knowledge and skills they so urgently need to lead healthier, happier lives. We need to make practical food education a compulsory part of every school curriculum across the world”

I Think It’s Time For A Reality Check

I’ve realised it has been roughly a year since I started talking publicly about my whole food journey, chronic illnesses, and the whole wellness malarky – and boy, a lot has changed.

I think it’s really important to respect where each of us are at any given point in time, but I feel like in the last year I have learned a huge amount about myself, social media, health and wellness and other people.

As I’m sure many of you know by now, when my health reached its lowest point, I turned in desperation towards using food as medicine. Overnight (and with a lot of self-sabotage along the way) I cut out meat, dairy, gluten, refined sugar, high histamine food and mainly consumed green juices and soups.

It took about three months, but my digestion started to improve, I had enough energy to get out of bed, and my histamine issues started to slowly start fizzing a little bit less. Within six months I felt so much better (not “well”, but well enough to think that my life may have a future outside of bed) and had started to gain a following on Instagram, the tool I had been using as a diary when I first started making all these changes.

The improvements felt so wonderful, so dramatic, so shocking, that I couldn’t stop myself from shouting about it. Who knew that food could help where all the medications had failed? I became obsessed with the “best” foods, micronutrient contents, the latest superfood fads that I read about. I was determined that everything that didn’t fit in was somehow damaging me.

Part of me judged friends and family members for not joining me in realising that my way was “right”. My mum insists that I turned into the most boring person in the world because all I could talk about was food and how awful absolutely everything they ate was.

The problem with blogs and social media is that it can become all-encompassing. Of course, without them I would not have been able to really start thinking about experimenting with things on my own, but even as a (somewhat) rational, grounded and science-focussed person, I often found myself getting drawn into things in a way that surprised me.

Related: Why I’m Over The Whole “Wellness Thing”

We get a lot of our information from other people going through similar things, and while the inspiration and support is certainly valuable and important, we also have to take it for what it is. The wellness backlash that is happening at the moment against people like Belle Gibson and The Food Babe shows just how far some of this is all going, and how easy it is to get drawn into a web of inaccurate and possibly dangerous information.

I love sharing my story with everyone, whether it be daily on my Instagram or in longer pieces here on my blog. But I think it’s important for people to remember that I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist or a trained anything. I share my experiences and mine alone. If lessons that I have learned and my struggles help other people not feel so alone, that is great, but I’m always worried that people will try things that I have tried and end up hurting themselves because we are different people. Blogs and articles written about me last year focussed on the fact that I gave up medication in favour of natural solutions. But often left out that it’s because they didn’t work for me. I didn’t have a choice, I’m super sensitive to meds, and my choice had nothing to do with a fear or scorn of the medical field (which, yes, has many problems), and was not, as often portrayed a miracle cure all.

There has also been a pressure to conform to certain ways of eating. This is definitely unhealthy, as we all need different diets, different ways of exercise and different ways of relaxing. Eating vegan, high carb low fat, paleo, whatever, and being judgemental, and cult-like about it (which unfortunately social media is prone to) can be dangerous, especially for the large number of young teens that I see. I have spoken to many fellow Instagrammers about this and know I’m not the only one that feels this way, and I’m hoping that more and more people do start speaking up.

I think we all need to remember that aspirational lifestyle sells. Gorgeous girls in gorgeous clothes, looking happy and loving life sells. This is a lifestyle that most people want to achieve, but the reality is most of us won’t. Drinking that green juice may be great for you, but bets are it’s not going to be life changing. It was for me for a bit, but it ran its course. I dabbled with raw veganism for a few days (until my gut started screaming at me to stop) because (I’m ashamed to say) I bought into the shiny, happy lifestyle and the pseudoscience touted by certain bloggers. It’s so easy to get caught up in this world, especially when you’re unwell and just want to feel better. We do not share our whole lives on social media, so the image that we get of anyone is always going to be skewed towards the positive (especially if their personal brand is their livelihood).

So, yes. I’ve learned a lot in the last year. And while part of me is frustrated at how much I bought into certain aspects of the wellness industry and wanted to shout from the rooftops about how much diet was changing my life, I also recognise that’s where I was at the time and that’s what was right for me. Now, I’m more aware of myself, of my body, and the industry. I’m not denying that what we eat plays a huge role in how we feel and without constant attention to my diet, I do believe I’d be a lot more unwell than I am. I just think things have got a bit out of hand.

I suppose I’ll end this post with some things that you can now expect from me in the coming months and years. Firstly, I’ll continue to always be honest about my health, the food I eat and what works for me and what doesn’t. If something makes me feel rubbish, I won’t eat it, but it doesn’t mean that it should be demonised and everyone else should stop. I won’t feel guilty for eating animal products, and will call out people when I get abuse for it. I won’t label myself. And if I want some pizza, you’ll better bloody know that I’ll have it.

I won’t promote fad diets and clickbait, but instead share my personal experiences and interesting and well backed up scientific studies. I will recognise that what works for me changes sometimes from hour to hour let alone month to month and will endeavour to find a balance to help me live my life.

I will continue to raise awareness for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Histamine Intolerance and depression. Partly, this is selfish. The more people are aware of issues that I face, the more understanding and acceptance I can get and therefore more support in my attempts to try and live a normal life.

I will focus on trying to have fun, be happy and do things that I enjoy and share them with you. I will continue to read, connect with, and be inspired by the amazing people that I have met over the past year, and hope to meet many of you soon.