Who Am I?

Hi, I’m Sarah.  Welcome to EAT THINK EXPLORE!

I’m a Nutritional Therapist, Behaviour Change Coach and Weight Loss Advisor.

I’m also a wife, mother of two beautiful kids, science nerd, planning geek, runner, rock climber, travel lover, explorer, bird watching enthusiast, hiker and anti-plastic world lover.

 

What’s my Story?

I’ve always been a science geek, and graduated from University with a 1st class degree in Biology, but somehow ended up at one of the ‘Big 4’ accounting firms on their graduate programme.  After years of 70 plus hour weeks I came out of the other end as a qualified Chartered Accountant and fully immersed myself in the corporate world of finance.

I married, bought a house and our daughter Evie arrived followed quickly by our son Aiden.

From the outside everything looked great.  But it wasn’t.

 

My health has never been great, and when I returned to work after having children it moved up a few notches to pretty awful.

Many evenings my intestines would cramp up so badly that I couldn’t stand up and had to lie down and I seemed to be collecting skin conditions like shoes.  They all required an assortment of creams, treatments and drugs to stabilise them and make life bearable. 

These health issues sapped my energy and stole my focus.  If you’ve been there you’ll know how they control your life.

Things worsened as the kids grew older and made comments like ‘but I don’t want things mummy, I just want you,’ and mummy guilt became a serious addition to the pile as work often meant I only saw them for a quick kiss goodnight in the week.

My lowest point came with my second guttate psoriasis outbreak within 12 months.  Those horrid skin lesions covered me pretty much top to toe and I was in permanent discomfort.  I couldn’t bear to be touched by anyone.

I’m in the living room one day, and I hear my son crying, and I go to comfort him, to pick him up.  But when I do the pain in my arms makes me let go and back away.  He doesn’t understand why and he’s screaming and coming at me, arms outstretched, and I’m crying and backing away until Chris comes in and sweeps him up and calms him and I’m left feeling so ashamed that I can’t even be there for my son in the most basic way.

Seeing the hurt and confusion in his face broke my heart, but instead of getting over it and putting up with the pain for his sake, I retreat away into my own self, away from the shame and the guilt and the pain and avoid everyone, waiting for it to be over.

Nine months later I look down and I see those little red pimples on my arm which will become lesions within days.  The memory of last time haunts me and so, totally panicked, I literally run out of the office to the Doctor, desperate for a cure.  Adding yet another drug to my medicine box that night I faced the prospect of this being my life forever.  Nothing in that box was solving my issues long term, and every month it was getting worse.

 

Was this really my life?  I rejected that future – there had to be another option!

The science geek in me went into research mode.  I tried a few things before coming across the idea that food could change my health, particularly with a blood sugar balanced diet, which would help resolve my inflammation issues.  The idea that chronic inflammation was the cause of most of my issues was something I hadn’t even considered, but it made so much sense!  Truly a ground breaking moment for me in finally realising why I felt like this and being given a route to healing myself!  The fact that this was through diet was not my favourite solution, as I had a very negative relationship with vegetables and ‘healthy’ foods at this point.  I could count on one hand the ones I’d let in my mouth and had been the definition of a fussy eater since childhood (sorry Mum!).  But science backed it up and I’ve never been able to say no to science, so it was time to change…

It wasn’t easy for me, and there were a lot of false starts, failed diets, some fads and I had to make some major mental shifts in the way I thought about food.  But over time I found a way to move my diet to one which involved a lot more plants; and my health improved.  The guttate outbreaks stopped, and I was no longer getting the stomach cramps.

That wasn’t the end though.  In 2017, during a bad patch at work, I found myself watching my life as if I was somehow removed from myself.  For five weeks I felt apathy towards everything, and couldn’t motivate myself to do anything.  I didn’t really care what happened.  To anyone, including the kids, which is shameful to admit.  They were left to their father again most of the time as I would be found in bed or on the sofa.  Depression apparently.

This was our second catalyst for change.  A reason to really stop and think, for the first time, about what I actually wanted to do with my life, about what really makes me happy and where we want to be as a family.  We realized that my job was misaligned with my values, and that travel and time as a family was uber important to us.  Having already made such widespread changes to the way we ate and thought about food, making further changes to our lives didn’t seem out of reach. 

My own transformation has been pretty phenomenal when I look back on it now.  Check it out for yourself…

Meet me at 15!

 An uber shy science geek, dedicated to Biology and animals

 Unable to run more than 100m because of my asthma

 Already on medication for many years for dermatitis and rhinitis

 Regularly hit with colds which turn into coughs which last for 6 weeks or more

 Super fussy eater.  Breakfast was Weetabix or Rice Krispies.  My packed lunch at school was a white baguette with peanut butter.  I would literally not touch any other bread.

 Meal times are a chore and regularly take over half an hour whilst I force small portions of vegetables down and make myself gag.

 Not a massive lover of food, apart from biscuits and chocolate.  I exist off a bland diet of beige foods as I eat very few vegetables (carrots, broccoli, peas and sweetcorn).

 Cherry tomatoes are my kryptonite after eating one nearly made me throw up aged 8!

Meet me at 28!

Where most of the story above comes in… 

Crippling stomach aches, regular guttate psoriasis outbreaks (you can see the lovely lesions on my hands and the patch on my neck in this pic – there’s a reason I’m wearing a long sleeved top in summer). 

New conditions appearing every year (anemia, folliculitis, pompholyx eczema, chronic plaque psoriasis). 

I’ve spent my whole 20’s working hard at my career.  But after children I’m struggling to work and be a mother (and wife and general person) without feeling like a failure at everything.

My diet is still pretty poor, I do eat some vegetables with a lot of dinners, but they’re of a very limited variety.  By this point I love food, but it’s all meat and carbs and very processed.  Fruit is rare as I only eat apples and strawberries.  Lots of chocolate!

 

Meet me now (mid thirties)

I love food now, pretty much all food.  I now eat virtually any vegetable.  And I enjoy them! I still have a bit of a thing with textures, but I have worked myself up (very slowly) to eating cherry tomatoes now, and even ate a bug and crickets on our recent travels in SE Asia!!  I’ve also run an ultramarathon, which is pretty amazing as I used to only be able to run 200m before needing my inhaler!

And it’s not just me, my husband Chris would always eat all foods (he’s never been fussy) but always said he could never give up meat and wanted meat in every dinner.  Now we are about half vegetarian and he’s not bothered – our veggie meals taste so good that the meat isn’t missed.

My kids will also eat pretty much any vegetable, or meal, we put in front of them, and have for years.  They’ll try anything and tucked into our bowl of crickets in Vietnam with enthusiasm!

 

To say I’m totally cured would be a lie, but to say I am happier, healthier and more satisfied with my life now is an understatement.  I do still have dry skin and some stubborn plaque psoriasis but they’ve been reduced to a minor irritation, rather than an all consuming problem, which I can absolutely live with.

Our life changes haven’t stopped at diet.  Once you realise you can change your life for the better suddenly you feel empowered to change anything. 

I work for myself now in a job that actually gives me joy, flexibility around my family and will allow me to move out to the country (our next dream – we’re not stopping here!)

We travelled to some of the places we really wanted to go and loved it so much we quit our jobs and took the kids around the world for a year!  (if that’s something you’re thinking about doing check out my blog posts about our travels here…).

That was, unfortunately, cut short 7 months in by Covid 19, but that simply frees up all my time to do what I love best; enjoying my family and helping others change their lives for the better.

I don’t list these things off to boast, instead to show you that change is possible.  If you’d told my 28 year old self about there I am today I would probably have told you that it wasn’t possible.  I’m proof that it is!

I’ve turned everything I’ve learned and put into action over the past five years, turning myself into a functioning person and mother again, into a program – The F.I.R.E Transformation, which is about reducing your chronic inflammation through diet and lifestyle improvements and with a focus on succeeding with making change.  I hope to bring about a similar turnaround in your life.  I know that if I can achieve these life improvements by changing the way I eat, you can too, and I’d love to help you.

 

What does this mean for you?

What have I learnt?

I’ve been through all this and come from a horrible diet and health issues, to eating amazingly and genuinely loving most of the meals I eat.  (I’m serious – even my kids love the vegetable and bean filled meals we serve them!).

What I have learnt through all this is that change can be hard and takes time.  But you don’t have to do it all at once.  Even some small changes can make a difference.  And you don’t have to do it all alone.

Once you start seeing the healing power of food, I know you’ll be inspired to keep going just like I did.

How can my experiences help you?

Having been where you are will really help me to understand what you’re going through and your barriers to change so that we can work through them together.

Most people know what changes they need to make, it’s the follow through, especially long term which is where most people struggle.

it takes a first step to make change – make yours today!

Am I actually qualified to help you?

Yep!  I’m not just telling you my opinions of things that have worked for me here, it’s backed up by science and some official people. 

Following my Biology degree from Cardiff University, I spent a few years in the corporate world in the rat race before coming back to what I love and earning numerous diplomas in Nutrition and Change Management accredited by the following organisations:

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