Founder of global wellness company Supercharged Food, Lee knows first-hand what it’s like to suffer from debilitating fatigue and the journey it takes to find the right tools for your body to thrive.
Interview With Lee Holmes by Abernethy James
Six years ago, I was forced to make a radical life change after being diagnosed with a non-specific (that is, affecting several organs) autoimmune disease and Fibromyalgia. In the first couple of years of my healing, the path was not easy. I spent three months lying in a hospital bed, coming to terms with the illness and the crippling arthritis. I lost more than 15 kilograms, hives and bruises covered my body from head to toe and I suffered brain fog, hair loss and extreme fatigue. There weremany days when I simply couldn’t raise the energy to get out of bed.
– Lee Holmes
We asked Lee about her experience being diagnosed with chronic illness and how she discovered that gut health plays a major part in helping manage these conditions.
How quickly did you notice the relationship between your symptoms and what you were eating?
While in hospital for my autoimmune condition and fibromyalgia, I was on a concoction of antibiotics, immunosuppressant’s, anti-inflammatory drugs and more; you name it, I was on it. I was extremely groggy, nauseous and lethargic all the time. After doing extensive research into nutrition and taking a proper look at the food on my plate, I decided to make a change. I transitioned to a liquid-based diet to help me absorb nutrients properly and after about four weeks, I started to feel better. I could tell my digestive system appreciated the break too! From then on, I started to consume more solid foods but was very mindful of what I was consuming and checked in to see how I reacted to certain foods. I also started implementing more healing foods and spices into my diet so instead of all the anti-inflammatories I would eat more turmeric, instead of the antibiotics I upped the amount of garlic I was eating and it seemed to help.
How has your approach to food changed since being diagnosed with Chronic Illness?
Imagine your gut as a garden. It needs the right soil to not only survive but thrive. Healthy soil requires nutrients that allow the positive bacteria in the gut to flourish, which can be done through the consumption of all-natural, easily digestible whole-foods. Nowadays, I look at food as medicine. I no longer see cooking as a chore but rather, an opportunity to make something delicious and healing.
What are your main tips for managing a healthy eating plan when you suffer from extreme fatigue?
Make it easy! Healthy cooking doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. I suggest having a day where you plan out your meals and prepare some easy things like soups, roasted vegetables, broths or whatever else you like, to eat throughout the week. So, if you are feeling particularly fatigued one day, you don’t need the added stress of deciding what to make! It’s important to keep up your nutrient intake while you’re feeling fatigued because it will help you feel better.
How can someone with chronic illness begin to identify foods that cause adverse reactions when feeling unwell is part of their everyday life?
It’s time to notice how you feel after you eat food. For example, if you consume gluten like it’s going out of style (which it totally is, by the way), it may be time to slow down. Gluten can increase the permeability of your intestines, even if you’re not coeliac! If you feel bloated, lethargic or your brain feels a bit foggy after gluten, you may be gluten-intolerant. Other common foods that can cause adverse reactions include wheat, dairy, sugar, soy, and legumes. I would never tell anyone to cut a food out completely without getting checked so be sure to listen to what your body is reacting to and act accordingly. You may wish to seek a health professional to get to the bottom of things ( pun intended! )