Today is a short blog post, but it's full of interesting coeliac stuff I've been reading over the last three months.Read More
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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.
Coeliac New Zealand are a not for profit organisation. They do a lot of good work to ensure the health and well-being of the coeliac and gluten-free community. I've quoted their mission and vision below to give you an idea of what they're all about:
"OUR VISION: People with coeliac disease are diagnosed quickly, live healthy lives and have the prospect of a cure.
OUR MISSION: Engage with Coeliac NZ members and stakeholders to support and improve the health and welfare of people with coeliac disease."
If you've been following my page on Facebook you'll know that last weekend my friend Helen and I attended the Coeliac New Zealand AGM and conference. Now I have to say that AGMs are definitely not my idea of fun generally, the 'all who agree say aye' malarkey is not my cup of tea (and you know how much I love tea). But the line up of speakers at the conference part of the event was too good an opportunity to miss out on. And to be fair, the AGM portion of the day was pretty quick and some of it was pretty interesting. One of these days I'll learn to appreciate numbers and actually be able to comprehend a financial statement, but that day is yet to arrive ...
For those who missed the day, here's a brief summary of some of the things I learned at the conference:
Gluten free food trends
Jimmy Boswell aka The Gluten Free Chef took to the stage to talk about trends in gluten-free foods. Here are a few facts from Jimmy's presentation:
- 68% of gluten-free shoppers shop at three or more stores per month to try and find their foods*
- 71% of gluten-free shoppers would prefer to get all their gluten-free food from the supermarket.*
Neither of those facts were particularly surprising, but confirmed that it can still be a bit of a mission sourcing safe food for us gluteys. And it's kind of nice to know you're not the only one travelling across town on a mission to find gluten-free noms. Lucky for us, it's way easier in 2015 to find gluten-free food than it was 15 years ago.
Check out my 2014 interview with Jimmy here.
Rototuna New World
Speaking of gluten-free shopping, Mark Gower and Michelle Mann from New World Rototuna did an awesome presentation on what they're doing in-store to cater for gluteys.
In 2008 the store made the decision to "Become Waikato's best supermarket retailer of gluten-free products within two years." And boy have they lived up to this goal.
The store boasts a dedicated aisle of gluten-free foods that is full to over-flowing. Michelle, the store's gluten-free champion said that the key to their success is "taking the time to listen to people."
Go check out their range!
Phoenix Gluten Free
Maree Leeming from Phoenix Gluten Free spoke about the challenges of producing a quality allergy-free product for market.
Their range of gluten-free products (available for purchase online) cover the eight most common allergies. Listening to Maree talk made me realise the huge amount of work that goes into some of the products I've started taking for granted. The smallest things - like packaging and shelf-life require careful consideration and often there are trade-offs that have to be made to ensure consumer safety.
Dr Helen Evans, Head of Department and Consultant Paediatric Heptologist and Gastroenterologist (Starship Hospital)
Perhaps the most fascinating talk of the day came from Dr Helen Evans. Dr Evans spoke about research from Starship Hospital (sorry guys I can't find a link to the research online).
One of the findings was that there has been a huge increase in diagnosis of coeliac disease at Starship:
- In 1999-2002: 48 children were newly diagnosed with coeliac disease
- In 2013-2014: 79 children were newly diagnosed with coeliac disease.
Interestingly, some ethnicities seem to be at higher risk of developing coeliac disease. The research from Starship shows a higher diagnosis rate in the European population than other ethnic groups, no Maori or Pacific Islanders diagnosed with the disease during the research period, and a huge increase in diagnosis in the Indian population.
Dr Evans also spoke about coeliac testing of at-risk groups. People who are considered at-risk of developing coeliac disease include those with a close relative with the disease, people with diabetes or other auto-immune disorders and people with downs syndrome. This group of people should be tested early for HLA genes (over 99% of coeliacs have one of the genes or part of the genes) and if they show a positive result for the genes should then be tested intermittently over their lifetime to check for development of the disease. The challenge with coeliac disease is that it can develop at any age, so although you may test negative for the disease, you could still develop it later in life.
One of the biggest highlights of the conference for me was talking to other gluteys - what a lovely community of people! It was great to talk to so many of you!
Another highlight of the day was hearing Coeliac New Zealand's announcement - changes are afoot that mean life will become even better for gluteys in New Zealand. I can't say anything further because it's still on the down-low, but stay tuned for an announcement from Coeliac New Zealand later this year.
If you're a glutey, I highly recommend you join Coeliac New Zealand and attend their AGM and conference next year! I'll definitely be there. And also wow - thanks for the free goody bags at the door guys!
* Jimmy's talk was based on the 2013 'understanding gluten-free shoppers' survey'
Note: this blog post was not sponsored or endorsed by Coeliac New Zealand. These are my own words and opinions.