The difference 24 hours can make to your wellbeing.
It all started with a brown scone.
For whatever reason, the sensitivity I experienced as a child has been showing up of late.
Because Mum got sick when I was very young, I grappled with the realisation that living is a privilege from a young age. I could either live through fluke or intention.
I witnessed how quickly our health can deteriorate, whilst we remain to live through the pain and watch how that pain shows up on others.
I was 10 when the moment happened. Immensely sensitive, I used the fields behind our house to frequently run off tears. Walking back the fields to the house, I remember negotiating strategies for the deep emotions I carried, my heart still tremoring. An inevitable mix of bolstering and chastising thoughts. Those fields would become my first lesson in how to self-soothe.
My lesson in soothe came from my mother. And she had excellent strategies. Persistent and patient, waiting for the initial fire of the hurt to burn down, she would (when I was ready) encourage all of the feelings out with a sophistication I haven’t seen since.
I was 10. I was working in the nursery with a large spade, planting as quick as I could. Looking around the field of activity I wondered - How are we to stay alive?
Faith and food had become increasingly important to Mum. Her faith became deeper, healers were frequented as much as chemo and she began buying only organic food.
It can’t at all be surprising the effect this had on my vocational approach to food. Spade in my left hand, I thought, “Should I become a nun? Should I be praying for the sick people like my Mum?” But that never felt right. It didn’t align with my action orientated disposition. And there was the glaringly obvious problem in the field that day that aged 10, I was still not able to poo right and I’d better get a handle on that. I was desperate to help people. I didn’t know it would begin with me first.
Bending down to dig another hole I thought, “One day I’m going to build a brand that stands for preventative medicine.” A life course that would show itself to me, not dictated by me.
Inspired by my mother and the landscape we lived within, I decided to take a lifelong view of the food I would eat.
And that was it.
Step 1 - To be around for a long time I need to eat like I want to be around for a long time.
In those early years of waking up to my own ongoing health issue, I began to make brown bread and scones. Porridge wasn’t suiting me even though it seemed to suit everyone else around the morning table and so I began to alternate between bran flakes and brown scones. I would put oats into my scone mix and noticed their impact on me less hostile when blended up with other ingredients. Throughout my teenage years I baked everything brown and that was my first toe into a world of whole grain that was set to rectify my bowel issue for good. I still ate the same lunches and dinners as my family except where they had sandwiches, I had sandwich fare atop a brown scone. When we ate salads during the summer months and a large cuisine de France baguette would appear on the table I couldn’t resist at least 5 pieces slathered in butter. My tummy would hurt but I never seemed to consider whether or not it was worth it. In better times, I would accompany my salad with a brown scone.
Running, predominantly ended up with me sprinting to get home in time before unclenching the most painful diarrhoea. Cold sweat running down my face as I paid gratitude to my body for making it home in time. The countless occasions I thought I might shit my pants on the Model Farm Road are too many to forget. Whenever I’m back in Cork and drive past the route I used do by the River Lee, I can still feel all the occasions in which that run felt horrendously shameful and scary, looking out for bushes I could squat behind. The gym the same. Sometimes I might get to 7 minutes, other times even as far as 15 minutes before the sweat and cramps came on and I had to dash to the bathroom where I’d remain for quite some time until the cramps died down and the shit came out. Dabbing my face with toilet paper, I’d make it back to the treadmill feeling lighter with a sore hole.
Those were the times in which I felt best, having excreted days of build up and sweated out whatever toxins needed to go along with it.
It was only in my 20s that I figured out how to eat to avoid this whole mess. And that involved process. I stopped baking doughs after making them and instead allowed them to soak in themselves overnight for 24 hour periods. Eating bakes that had been soaked was my first breakthrough.
Upon eating a wholegrain soaked bake I was now able to have a bowel movement after breakfast. I now slid into the day with more comfort and ease and if I wanted to, I could go for a run at lunch without cramping before sprinting home to make the loo in time!
The difference 24 hours made to my wellbeing was staggering. I was aghast at the enormity this simple change had on my health. I mourned the loss of baguettes and white sourdough but in their place found a more satisfying way of eating that genuinely saved my life.
My state of mind showed me how to eat and I learnt to eat for my state of mind.
Every morning, for weeks now, I’ve been eating one of our 24 hour soaked teff scones with butter and marmalade and cups of tea. It’s bringing me back to the start of this journey which began decades ago and acts as a reminder that though change can happen overnight, enjoying health is made up of every day life moments. Choosing the ones best for you is worth figuring out in spades!
When I started the happy tummy co., Biggie was quite partial to a brown scone too and would come look for one.
More instalments to come on creating 'everyday life moments' over many years for health.