Four years ago I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and endometriosis. I was told that the likelihood of me ever having children was next to none. My options were sold to me as either IVF or the contraceptive pill. I was working 12-14 hour days in the food and beverage industry and had entered a vicious cycle of very unhealthy living. While I dabbled in a healthy lifestyle over the years, I always seemed to swing back to bad habits. But my diagnosis was a turning point. For the first time I knew I had to make change, and I was resolute about it.
Spurred on by my diagnosis I quit my job and started researching how to turn my life around through nutrition. I began one gigantic experiment in the kitchen and also started a health retreat in Spain.
Last December I decided to follow my heart and my passion which has always been food and cooking and Bettina’s Kitchen was born in blog format. I like to call myself a problem solver. Whether it is finding a solution for a very limited diet, an allergy, intolerance or simply a cleaner way of eating.
My cooking is VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE and SUGAR FREE. But I like to call it PLANT-BASED because VEGAN can be seen as a fully immersive lifestyle (including what we wear, what we buy, how we holiday) and it is a word so beset with connotations that it can be immediately overwhelming for those who are still exploring the beginnings of a healthier lifestyle. To me plant-based means that 90 per cent of what I cook comes from vegetables and fruits and the rest comes from grains, nuts and seeds.
I give myself 5 per cent wiggle room where I allow myself to have dairy (a delicious cappuccino in a café in the sun in Italy with friends – bliss) but never use or cook with it at home. Honey and bee pollen are in some of my recipes for health benefits but these will be clearly marked out in my recipes for those of you who are strictly vegan.
This is now how my family and I eat on a day-to day-basis. I say family – yes I have a living breathing daughter that has just turned two, her name is Ayla. My daughter is a big part of my journey. She is a part of the new generation that will hopefully help us all make a shift in what we eat and how we treat our bodies. For her to learn the importance of food, where it comes from and how to prepare it, is my biggest wish and gift.
FOOD is my PASSION. What I am doing now at this moment is what I live and breathe for. I would love to share this passion, to teach you and to show you that a plant-based journey can be easy, quick and most of all tasty.
Here are my top tips for a healthy lifestyle and a happy heart!
- Listen to your body: This might be an old saying but what I am really trying to say is that you REALLY need to listen to your body. If you are suffering from fatigue, indigestion, mood swings etc. your body is trying to tell you that you need to make a change. That whatever your current habits are, they ain’t working!
- Eat less Meat: Yep, this one can’t be avoided, even the government of the United States and Unicef are now saying that we need to cut down our meat consumption for the sake of the environment and our current health status. This doesn’t mean that you have to cut it out completely. Just make better choices, go for quality versus quantity and make sure you know where your products come from and how they got to your dinner table.
- Pause Technology: Try and have tech-free moments when you’re bored, this might sound easy but try not to reach for your phone when waiting for the tube, when you are in a queue, or in any moment of deliberate boredom. Likewise with having the television on just for the sake of the background noise. Wake up from mental hibernation and use your brain for what it was meant for! THINK, solve, ponder and enjoy your own company.
- Exercise: Yes! everyone knows this one but trust me muscles are not made by wishful thinking or by a magic wand. Only through actual exercise! Choose an activity that you really enjoy and stick with it. It can be as simple as making sure you go for a walk everyday. Physical activity makes you feel better – it’s proven. Not only that, the fact that you get fit is an added bonus.
- Take time out: Take time out from the buzz of the world, from traffic, from “have to’s”, from media, from your phone, from family members that stress you out. Call it mediation, vacation, alone time, whatever just make sure that you take TIME OUT. Whether this is on a daily basis by switching yourself off from the world for only 5 minutes or for a longer time period as in a holiday. It is important that at some point in our busy lives that we stop and just let ourselves just think.
- Be Happy: This one is super important! Define and decide what makes you happy. What is your heart telling you? What makes you tick? What ignites that fire in your heart that we call love that can be towards a person, passion, lover, friend, anything. Figure out what it is and do it MORE! and tell your head to stop arguing with your heart because when you do it results in happiness and that’s something money can’t buy.
- Eat More GREENS: Yes yes I know, you must have heard this a million times but you know what, your parents were right, and so were their parents. Veggies and fruit give you vitamins, fibre, minerals and the best part in my opinion is that the amounts are limitless. Yes you can eat as much of them as you possible want! Do not limit your intake of fruits and veggies because they are so good for you.
- Cut out Drainers: Basically cut out stuff that is negative in your life. This can be people, family members, work, situations, habits, etc. You always have a choice, ALWAYS! and if you choose to stick with something that is draining your energy you have to deal with the consequences. Another option is to limit the negativity which means if you have an incredibly annoying relative, person, work colleague – all you need to do is limit the time that you spend with them. Start thinking about the things in your life that you do only because you feel you have to rather then want to. That’s a good start.
- Self Love: If you love yourself, your relationship to everything else will change. This means that if you can look at yourself in the mirror and accept yourself for who you truly are, with all your faults and say “this is who I am and I am ok with it” then you have won half of the battle already. Love and compassion towards yourself and your surroundings and all living things is one of the BEST pieces of health advice I can give because it is a game changer. When we can value ourselves, our capabilities and the fact that every single one of us matter and that every single thing around us matters, that is when things within us bring profound change.
Get inspired and make some of Bettina’s recipes here.