Lila B. is amazing! She's a gluten-free champion, health coach and meditation guru who does so much work to help our glutey (and food allergy) community. I spent a few hours talking to Lila by Skype recently about life, food and our shared love of helping people with food allergies. Lila takes a real holistic approach to well-being that I think many of you will appreciate, so with that in mind I asked Lila the hard questions ... Read on (and check out the competition at the bottom of the page for your chance to win something awesome!)
When were you diagnosed as a coeliac? What symptoms did you have and how was it for you going gluten-free?
My diagnosis story is a bit different to most, in that it really was a complete fluke. I didn’t feel sick, I wasn’t looking for a diagnosis, and it was 20 years ago when coeliac disease awareness was super low amongst GP’s and unheard of within the general population. Basically I was 14, went to the doctor about something completely unrelated, saw a doctor I didn’t normally see and he felt strongly that something wasn’t right, in a ‘failure to thrive’ kinda way. Blood tests and an endoscopy followed and then boom – I was coeliac, had to avoid gluten forever and was very unappreciative of the whole situation!
As a teenager, where fitting in was super important, I pretty much ignored it as much as possible, which I could get away with because I’m not very sensitive to gluten and don’t experience the common immediate reactions that a lot of people suffer from. It wasn’t till my early 20’s that I started to take things more seriously, get over the denial and get on board fully. Within a few years I became a complete gluten free convert and a big supporter of new gluten free food products. I even spent a few years as the advertising executive for Coeliac New Zealand which wasn’t without its perks – I often got to know about new products before they hit the shelves and talk directly with the manufacturers (and score the odd free sample!).
However despite my dedication I still didn’t actually feel that well. Like so many coeliacs I could still get hit with episodes of digestive distress, and most of time I knew accidental gluten exposure wasn’t the cause. It wasn’t until I started studying holistic nutrition that I realised my gluten free diet wasn’t really that healthy and that I was consuming a lot of processed food, full of highly refined ingredients and food additives. As I embraced clean eating and made the change over to more natural wholefoods, the digestive distress went away, my gut health improved, I felt amazing and I even lost a few kilos!
While that journey has taken me 20 years, my purpose now is to help others get to the same place of total wellness and vitality in a much shorter period of time.
Tell me about your business and about yourself, and also can you tell us what health coaching is?
I am a health and happiness coach and owner of Lila B Wellness. My main passion is providing support to people who are gluten-free by helping them find ways to making their GF life easier and provide strategies to help them deal with the stressful situations that avoiding gluten can cause. I have been coeliac myself for 20 years this month so I know exactly what it’s like for people regardless of where they are on their gluten free journey.
I studied holistic nutrition in order to become a health coach. Health coaches help people by providing support and accountability. They focus not just on what we eat but all the aspects of life that affect our health and how good we feel. Things like our jobs, our relationships, spirituality and movement. It’s not often that we give ourselves the time to really focus on what we want and what may be holding us back from getting that (or even recognising that we deserve the things we dream of). A coach helps clients through that process and helps us make it a priority.
I’ve also studied meditation in depth – I spent six months sitting on a mountain in Spain meditating and it was totally life changing for me! It allowed me to really let go of all the limiting stories that I had about myself and has given me an overwhelming and ongoing sense of peace and inner happiness. As a result, I understand the root cause of a lot of the mental blocks that people experience whenever they want to try and create change in their life and I use that understanding to help navigate clients through those blocks.
Ultimately what that all means is I’m super passionate about helping people live their best possible gluten-free life. I’ve discovered for myself that there really is no reason for a tiny little protein like gluten (or any other food restriction for that matter) to cause you undue stress and stop you from enjoying your life. It’s all about how you approach it and as a coach I love guiding clients in discovering that for themselves.
Can you tell us a bit about how you work with clients and your programmes?
Sure, I currently have two programmes designed to help people who are gluten-free. It doesn’t matter if they have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, or are simply fully committed to avoiding gluten.
My first program, WHOLEHEARTEDLY GLUTEN-FREE, is a single, one-off, 90-minute session with me to design you a personalised 7-day meal-plan, including recipes and shopping list. This plan is great for anyone who wants some help getting organised in the kitchen and with their weekly meal planning. All the recipes focus on wholefoods and it can be a great way to try out a few new things while still incorporating a few of your all-time favourites, but we may look at how we can healthy-ify them a bit. Most recipes are also naturally dairy-free and soy-free or can be adapted and most other allergies can be worked out too. Just get in contact so we can discuss.
For anyone who is really finding gluten free life stressful and limiting then my GLOWING GUIDANCE TO GLUTEN-FREEDOM programme may be more suitable. This is a 12-week, 1-on-1 coaching programme where we meet in person or over Skype/phone each week to help you overcome your bigger health challenges and achieve your bigger dreams and goals. This programme is specifically designed to support you with things like:
- Overcoming the fear of getting 'glutened'.
- No longer feel stressed out or limited by food.
- Letting go of feeling frustrated, judged & misunderstood.
- Feeling better & healthier than you have in years!
I offer anyone interested in working with me a complimentary discovery session. This is an opportunity for you to get a feel for what it could be like to have more support in your life and get crystal clear on what you want to create for your health, your life and what’s been holding you back.
If you’re interested, please contact me at email@example.com to schedule a time. (Also, check out the competition further down the page).
What do you enjoy about cooking?
I was lucky to pick up a love of cooking from my mum and we grew up in a house where everything was made from scratch. I never thought of myself as a creative person until recently when I realised that I express my creatively through cooking. I love nothing better than having next-to-no food in the fridge and figuring out something delicious for dinner. It definitely helps though if you have good quality pantry staples and don’t keep any junk food in the house!
I also love having a recipe and then using it as a vague guideline for what to make. Not having the listed ingredients should never stop you from trying a recipe. For example, this evening all I had in the fridge was kale, pumpkin, cherry tomatoes, onion and a little falafel. I found more chickpeas in the freezer and bulked out the falafel with that and a little rice flour (because I didn’t have chickpea flour). And I had a tiny bit of cucumber left which I added to coconut cream to make into a tzatziki dip (because I didn’t have any yoghurt as I also don’t eat dairy). It tasted amazing!
What advice would you have for people who are newly diagnosed with food allergies?
- Be gentle with yourself! Discovering a food allergy and then trying to identify all the places it can be hiding can be overwhelming and stressful. There’s going to be period of adjustment. The process of grief, denial and acceptance is pretty normal to experience. And at the start, you’re probably going to make the odd mistake; it’s all a natural part of learning. Don’t be too harsh with yourself if that happens.
- Be patient with yourself but be especially patient with others, who may take some time to fully understand your new food situation. Basically, it doesn’t affect them in the same way it affects you, so they may never totally ‘get’ it. If you can accept that, then it can make it a whole lot less frustrating when people around you don’t react or behave in the way you would like them to. Basically, if they don’t take you seriously, it is possible for you to choose not to take it personally. Then notice how much easier that makes your life. (I appreciate that this can be a tough concept to truly understand and put into practice – this is where a coach can help!).
We’re running a little competition and I’m giving one reader a FREE Wholeheartedly GF Meal Planning session. Just email the keyword 'LilaB' to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and email address to enter. We'll also sign you up to both our newsletters :) Competition closes 10 October.
Recipe: Smashed Avo and Kale Salad
I love kale, not only is it green and super nutritious but it's also super versatile. It's as good used raw in salads as it is fried or baked (have you tried kale chips yet?). This salad is a bit messy to make, which also makes it kinda fun - so the kids will probably enjoy helping out on this one. Great for lunch on its own or as an accompaniment to dinner.
3 stalks Kale
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lemon - juiced
Wakame seaweed flakes (my most Kiwi Favourite Wakame's Chilli Seasoning Wakame)
2 rashers free-range bacon
Sheep milk Halloumi
A handful of pumpkin seeds
Strip the kale from each stalk and chop roughly. Place in a bowl and add salt, pepper and a good gulg of olive oil. Kale likes a good massage so give it some love and massage the olive oil into each piece of kale to tenderize it. Add the lemon juice and roughly chopped avocado. This is when it gets even messier - smoosh the avo into the kale till it's all evenly mixed through. Chop the bacon rashers into bite sized pieces and fry in the frypan over medium heat. Slice up as much halloumi as you feel like and add to pan as well. Once bacon is crispy and halloumi is golden brown on each side add to salad bowl. Add pumpkin seeds and toss.
Like any salad there's really no limits as to what you can add - cherry tomatoes, broccoli, almonds, corn, red capsicum would all make great additions as well.