I'm in the sick people's aisles

Having toyed with the idea of starting my own blog for years, something had always stopped me from taking the final steps. Two recent events gave me the final push towards this.

Having toyed with the idea of starting my own blog and or my own webpage for years, something had always stopped me from taking the final steps. Two recent events gave me the final push towards this.  The first of these was before the summer, when a friend of mine, having suffered for years with problems in her gut, and following a series of misdiagnosis, was finally diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome.  After reading through the list of permitted foods, and foods which she should stay away from (at least during the detox and healing process), her reaction was of total dismay. No more pasta, pizza, cakes and all those things that made up her everyday food experience and were not only part of her culture, but also the ones around which most of her  socialising was done. 

One day, whilst at the supermarket, she called me, sounding desperate. She was trying to get her head around ingredients she had previously never heard of, or at best, had never bought, much less tried to cook with. I will always remember what she said to me when I asked her where she was in order to help her navigate to the correct shelves: “I am in the sick people’s aisles!” dismay permeating through her every syllable. What she meant was that she was in fact in the organic and health food section of our local supermarket. 

Those words, more than anything ever before, were the biggest aha moment for me. What I considered the main, almost sole, area of the supermarket to shop in - with the exception of the fresh vegetable and fruit sections - in her eyes were the “enemy”, a no man’s land where only sick people shopped. She was viewing these aisles from a diametrically opposite perspective to mine. For me, these aisles, which are at the centre of our local supermarket, are the area for “health ‘freaks’” (to borrow the kind of language she used), where people who place their priority on healthy eating shop. On the other hand, the rest of the supermarket –where my friend and most people do their shopping- where rows and rows full of processed foods, sweets, high sugary drinks and breakfast cereals, white wheat pasta, frozen convenience food can be found, are full of “junk food” to be avoided as much as possible!

The teacher in me couldn’t help but correct her, pointing out that the section she was in was in fact the healthy area of the supermarket and where we should all be doing most of our shopping if we want to avoid being/getting sick! The food on those shelves are the kind of foods that lead to health and wellbeing, and the best way to maintain them. 

 Over the weeks I got a lot of calls, whatsapp messages with questions from her. I provided a few recipes, and advice on what foods could be used as replacements in the recipes whenever these did not fit into her allowed foods (her condition is aggravated by other issues). I also shared a few links to articles, blogs and books available online about LGS.

Fast forward a few months. A student of mine decided to finally embark on a weightloss regime. Having heard my story about how I followed the Metabolic diet and lost 13kg, she went to see the same doctor. She came out all overwhelmed, almost in a state of complete panic after she looked at the list of ingredients on her recommended, personalised “shopping list”. “Millet! What do I do with millet? I have never seen millet, let alone eaten it or cooked it!” she shrieked. Another student, her friend, overhearing this exchange asked for the translation of the word millet into her native language. When I provided it, I found myself looking at her blank face as she asked “Ok. But what is it?”. “A cereal.” I replied. 
Whilst millet is not my go-to cereal of choice, it is part of my stock cupboard and I use it regularly. To me millet, like barley, farro and spelt are normal everyday foods.

Clearly, I thought, the average person, even if University educated and well-read, as all of the people above are, do not know what constitutes healthy food, how to recognise it and how to cook it. I’d already realised they had never heard of inflammation, prebiotics, probiotics, the link between sugar and degenerative diseases ….and the list goes on. Maybe there really was a need for my blog where I could finally share all the information garnered after over 30 years of reading medical texts, research articles, medical blogs and websites, every printed or digital piece of information related to medicine, (especially alternative medicine), health and food, that came my way, plus all the courses on nutrition as well as first hand experience on testing many of the knowledge learnt on myself and close friends and family members.

So, there you have it.  The need to share all of this knowledge and information to the greater good has finally made me overcome all the doubts about embarking on this enterprise. I hope that over the coming weeks and months you will learn how to pick out healthy foods and habits so that you never exclaim: “I’m in the sick people’s aisles!” at your local supermarket ever again!

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