When I was growing up, my mum Trina suffered from Crohn’s disease, which is a horrible and supposedly “incurable” digestive disorder. She’d had this disease as long as I could remember. In fact, when I was born, she was told to stop breastfeeding me, as the medications she was taking were so toxic. As you can imagine, this put incredible stress on my family, which includes my sisters Brittany and Georgia, my brother Clinton, and my father Greg.
At age five, I was diagnosed with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome; my IBS symptoms were nearly as bad as my mum’s Crohn’s symptoms. IBS controlled my life for many years. I can’t even count the number of dinners, parties, functions, and nights out I avoided because there were many foods that caused cramping pains in my stomach. Foods containing gluten, wheat, dairy, and anything highly processed caused these pains the most. If I ever did eat any foods that upset my stomach, I would lie in bed all night crying in pain, as if blades were stabbing me. There were times when the stomach pains were so bad that 10 stabbing blades would nearly have been a relief!
I lost a lot of confidence in myself and became very shy. I was the type of person who would act like I was okay even when I wasn’t, put on a brave face, and continue on despite the pain I was in. I had basically resigned myself to the fact that my destiny was to live a life of low self-esteem and physical pain.
My mum and I are tough girls, though, and we managed to live with the pain and to offer each other all the support we possibly could. We were incredibly strict with our diets. We followed a specific daily meal plan and exercised regularly. We were extremely lean, even to the point of having six-packs, so we never considered that our problems could have been linked with diet in any way. Nor did our doctors.
Our mindset was that our illnesses were something we were destined to have and there was nothing we could really do about them, except to try to live with them the best we could.
Here is what we would eat in a typical day:
A smoothie with berries, bananas, and protein powder
1 apple, 1 tub of yoghurt or a chunk of cheese
Tuna salad with tomato, cucumber, lettuce, beetroot, capsicum, and red onion
Small handful of raw nuts
Steak, salmon, or chicken, with cooked vegetables or a raw salad
This was a diet given to us by a professional in the health industry and we were allowed only 1,200 calories, or 1,500 calories if we did a big work-out. We stuck to it obsessively. This diet was very low fat, and, like many diets, it was based on calorie restriction to get us looking as lean as possible. In fact, it was so calorie-restrictive that there were times when I basically felt like I would go crazy from the hunger. Vegetables were the only things we could eat in large amounts, which would even lead to fights over the last piece of pumpkin at the dinner table! I would constantly drink black or green teas to fill myself up, or be incredibly rebellious and sneak in an extra apple in the afternoon every now and then.
I was once convinced that calorie restriction was the only way to lose weight. I have since learnt through my own experience that it is completely unsustainable, and I haven’t yet met anyone who has been able to stick to a calorie-restricting diet over a long period without binge eating or succumbing to health problems. It was obvious to me that the human body does not like being starved of its fuel. I looked great, but I felt terrible, I was worn out, and the entire experience was very traumatic.
T. Colin Campbell, a respected scientist, further validated my beliefs about the ill effects of calorie restricting when I read his masterpiece, The China Study2. Another book that greatly influenced me was The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr Douglas N. Graham3. I nearly died after reading these books, as it dawned on me that I had spent years starving myself in an obsessive attempt to decrease my body fat percentage. I am now convinced that there are hundreds of thousands of people right now restricting their calories and exposing themselves to serious health risks, just like I did.
Mum had many scary moments with her Crohn’s disease whilst I was growing up. I can remember countless times when we had to leave wherever we were to rush her home so that she could go to the toilet. Eating out was a nightmare, and so we did it on very rare occasions. It would actually take hours to find somewhere to eat, as we obsessively stuck to our diet and avoided foods that would upset our stomachs. We may have been misled, but we were utterly determined to avoid any foods that would cause our conditions to flare up, and we would not have changed our ways for anyone or anything. Soon, however, everything we believed to be right was completely shattered, and our entire world would come tumbling down.
In May 2007, when my mum was only 41 years of age, her bowel perforated, and we had to call an ambulance to rush her to the emergency room at the Epworth Eastern private hospital in the suburb of Box Hill, Melbourne, Australia, in an attempt to save her life. We thought we had lost her, and there were times through that first night when we actually did. Thankfully, the doctors revived her, and she had a brilliant surgeon who saved her life—just barely.
During the surgery, 11 cm of her bowel were removed, and even though she had survived, her future looked very grim. They kept her in intensive care for a week, and then in the hospital for about a month. When I visited her, she looked so fragile and sick, I couldn’t believe it was my mum. I had always thought she was invincible.
She hated the food in the hospital so much that I ended up regularly bringing her home-cooked meals. The hospital food really blew us away with how poor quality it was. My mum’s bowels had just perforated, and she was being fed jelly and ice cream; bread rolls; meats; mashed potatoes from a packet with loads of butter; pasta; and steamed-to-death vegetables. These foods, in our minds, did not provide the opportunity for patients to recover to their full potential and showed exactly how little the medical professions value nutrition.
I see no reason why hospitals can’t focus on providing foods that will help the body heal, instead of the processed and refined foods that are currently served. There are too many people who have surgery, such as heart surgery for clogged arteries, or on other major organs, who just get sent home with nothing more than some drugs and a pat on the back for getting through alive. They need to be encouraged and educated clearly on exactly what lifestyle problems they need to adjust, and how to incorporate dietary changes, so that their problems don’t occur again. The aim from the hospital’s point of view should be never to see that person again.
When my mum finally came out of the hospital, she was so skinny that she looked like a skeleton, and it took her months to be able to walk properly again. For the next nine months, she was forced to wear a colostomy bag, as her bowels were not operating properly anymore. A colostomy bag is a bag that attaches to a plug (called a stoma), which is attached to the intestines. Waste matter is then passed straight from the intestines into the bag. This was one of the worst parts of the whole experience, as it caused her a lot of pain, and the stoma (plug) where the colostomy bag attached got really tender and infected at times, and looked really awful! Mum had to resort to buying baggy clothes so that no one could see it. Her bag leaked many times, and she often would have to rush home from wherever she was to fix it. She ended up having to carry around several pairs of clothes and bags in case of an accident. There was one time I remember driving up to the mountains to visit the snowfields, and her bag completely burst because of the altitude. On the side of the road in the freezing cold, she had to try to attach a new one. It was a nightmare!
We knew it was time to make a change. I was determined to search high and low for a cure, and I would find one, no matter what it took. It was either that, or live the rest of my life in pain and misery. My mum and I became really passionate about learning everything we possibly could about finding a natural way to heal ourselves. So we started searching and researching.
We first came across the philosophy of healing the body through juice-fasting during a seminar held by Don Tolman and his son Tyler Tolman, who are both natural health and juice- fasting experts, and who are incredibly inspiring to me. It quickly dawned on my mum and me, over the course of this seminar as they blew us away with facts, stories, and videos, that this was the answer we had been searching so long for. It truly was a light bulb moment, with new hope flooding through us that our “incurable” diseases all of a sudden seemed very curable. So, before we knew it, we had bought a cold press juicer and began adding juice to our diet every day. After a few weeks, we saw big changes and decided to do a big month-long juice fast. Naturally, the thought of not eating cooked or normal food for an entire month was a bit scary, but what scared us more was living with IBS and Crohn’s for the rest of our lives.
Just before we started, we were getting a little nervous about how we would get through the fast, but we came across a video on juice fasting by Dr Robert Young4, author of The pH Miracle5, and documentaries such as The Gerson Miracle6, Food Matters7, and The Beautiful Truth: The World’s Simplest Cure for Cancer8, which provided the education, inspiration, and the courage we needed to begin and to know for sure that we were on the right track.
We then stocked up on all of the organic fruits and vegetables I could get my hands on, after sourcing a reliable supplier, and set ourselves the goal of a 30-day CABALA juice fast, to finally free us from the endless control of IBS and Crohn’s, and maybe even be able to go out for dinner like normal people.
Don Tolman created CABALA juice, which is an acronym for the fruits and vegetables used in the juice: C – Carrot; A – Apple (red); B – Beetroot; A – Apple (yellow); L – Lemon; A – Apple (green). During the fast, I kept a diary of my weight measurements, how I was feeling each day, and what exercise I did. The first three days of a fast are generally regarded as the hardest, as you are going through the most intense part of your detox. Detoxing is a very healthy and crucial process to go through when fasting because your body is ridding itself of toxins and is healing itself; however, detoxing can often produce unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, and body aches.
I was forced to deal with my emotions as well. Eating can become a way to escape from dealing with emotions for many people. After a large, dense, cooked meal, the body’s senses and emotions can become numb as the body focuses on nothing but digestion. Once anyone gets through this first three-day period, then it is all downhill and things become much easier.
Imagine a nineteen-year-old girl who has skin problems, gets tired all the time, and isn’t motivated to get out of bed in the morning. Generally, a girl in her situation would put a chemical- based cream on her acne and rely on stimulants such as coffee, lollies, energy drinks, and sugar- and caffeine-filled soft drinks to give her vigour. Unfortunately, this energy is complete “false energy”—it’s not really there! That girl may feel buzzed and wired after a strong latte, but what is really happening is that all of the systems of the body, and the major organs, have been stimulated into overdrive in order to eliminate the high acidity and toxic effect that the caffeine has on the body. This overdrive-detoxing process will actually use up a lot of energy in the body, leaving it depleted and forcing it to come down off the initial high with a crash.
After three days, I noticed that all of my senses became enhanced. My taste buds, eyesight, and senses of smell and touch all improved. I also began losing my sensation of hunger, and all cravings disappeared as my body and its cells became completely nourished by the flood of nutrients they were receiving from all the vegetables and fruits in my juices. My skin became clearer than ever, and, by the end of the fast, I had lost about 5-6 kg in mostly body fat, even though my exercise regimen wasn’t particularly strenuous. It consisted of walking for one hour each day, and about two to three personal training and/or yoga sessions per week. I genuinely felt incredible and fitter than ever. I also lost the puffiness I used to get under my eyes, my body fat visibly decreased, and I had more energy than ever before. I was convinced that juicing was the way to go, and that there are so many people out there who need it desperately.
By the end of the fast, I no longer had the symptoms of IBS, which is something I thought I would never experience, and my relief and happiness were immense. I felt so much more confident in myself! I honestly believe now that if you can do a 30-day fast, you can do anything.
My mum ended up losing 8 kilograms, and her symptoms of Crohn’s completely disappeared during the fast. Within a year, she had scans done, after which her doctors declared her Crohn’s to be completely cured! Yes! That’s right, her “incurable” disease was cured, and her doctors claimed that they had never seen anything like it before.
As you can imagine, we now knew we were on the right path!
I have now dedicated my life to studying and helping more people regain their health the natural way. I also want to help others prevent sickness because I now know how the body is supposed to feel and I want everyone to experience how incredible that feeling is.