I grew up on a farm in Western Queensland and was given the best start to life – sunshine, adventure in the outdoors, food straight from our land (lamb, beef and vegetables from our garden), and lots of love. I learned to cook from my mother and my grandmother. Making jams and lemon butter, preserving peaches, baking wonderful cakes and biscuits and preparing food for a cast of thousands was part of my childhood.
I lost this connection with food when I entered the corporate world. It took me many years to realise that the food I was eating (or not eating), how I was eating it and my lifestyle were impacting my health – physically and mentally.
The birth of my children and managing my own health crisis were both lightning bolts that made me think about health and what impacts our health for the first time in my life. The biggest lightning bolt came when I went to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for 6 weeks to volunteer in a charitable organisation raising money to treat poor children with heart conditions.
The founder of this charity, Dr Rosa Celia, a paediatric cardiologist, has devoted her life to helping poor children in Rio get the medical care they need to survive. In Rio, the public hospital system is overloaded and more than 1000 children a year do not receive the treatment they need. Dr Rosa’s energy and dedication to her patients was nothing short of inspirational and her simple answer to this overwhelming problem of heart disease was nutrition and lifestyle. Brazilians, like Australians, have moved away from their traditional natural foods to eating “fast foods” and exercise or outdoor activity has declined significantly. This trend has taken hold in most Western nations and we are now seeing the impacts with conditions like obesity, mental health and diabetes sky rocketing.
Dr Rosa, my children and my memories of healthy, carefree life on the farm put me back on the road to connecting with real food again and becoming a nutritionist. I am now a university qualified nutritionist having completed a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional Medicine.