The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - EYE | PEOPLE - AS TOLD TO DENISE RAWARD

Igrew up in West­ern Aus­tralia, the only child of a sin­gle mum. Mum in­spired my ap­pre­ci­a­tion of healthy liv­ing but it was my nan who taught me to cook.

I spent a lot of time with Nan. She lived on a big block with ducks, chooks and a vegie gar­den and she cooked, like ev­ery­one in her era cooked, and she was pa­tient enough to let me help her.

When I was 12, I de­vel­oped an un­ex­plained heart dis­or­der. My heart was rac­ing 24 hours a day at about 250 beats a minute. They tried drugs to slow it down but none of them worked, then de­fib­ril­la­tion to try to get my heart­beat back on track. Even­tu­ally I was put on a new drug and told I could never come off it. It came with ter­ri­ble side ef­fects though and ev­ery time they tried to cut it back I’d end up in hospi­tal. Even­tu­ally I tried a natur­opath. There weren’t that many of them around in those days but any­thing was worth a shot. She thought the con­di­tion was trig­gered by shock at the sud­den death of my Nunky, my grand­fa­ther, all those years ago and gave me herbs and min­er­als to sup­port my car­diac and ner­vous sys­tems. Within six months, I’d weaned my­self off the med­i­ca­tion I’d been tak­ing for al­most 10 years.

I felt so em­pow­ered, I de­cided to study natur­opa­thy. I grad­u­ated dux of my year and even­tu­ally set up my own clin­i­cal prac­tice in Perth. I met and mar­ried my best friend, Paul, and we had our first daugh­ter, Saoirse. We were a young cou­ple work­ing hard to get ahead when I had another ma­jor health cri­sis.

I was do­ing the su­per­mum thing, work­ing in my prac­tice, ex­press­ing breast milk be­tween clients, putting a lot of pres­sure on my­self when I fell in a heap. I was di­ag­nosed with an auto-im­mune con­di­tion called Graves’ dis­ease. Here I was, a natur­opath, hav­ing another health cri­sis and back on another drug.

It was about the same time my hus­band was of­fered a work op­por­tu­nity in Queens­land. I re­sisted it at first. I had a busy prac­tice and my fam­ily was in Perth, but we came to the Gold Coast and, look­ing back, it made me take a break and fo­cus on get­ting well. I re-eval­u­ated my life. I went back on to the herbal medicine to sup­port my ner­vous sys­tem, I med­i­tated and con­cen­trated on be­ing a full-time mum. Af­ter 18 months I was in re­mis­sion and did a deal with my en­docri­nol­o­gist to go off my med­i­ca­tion. I fell preg­nant with our son, Jesse, and have had no is­sues since. I know my lim­its now.

I’ve al­ways been what I call a freestyle cook. Food, real food, is im­por­tant to me.

One day, a natur­opath friend and I were talk­ing and we thought how bril­liant it would be if there could be a re­source of recipes and ad­vice that ev­ery­one could ac­cess to take the mys­tery out of eat­ing well.

The idea got into my head and I started a blog, Well Nour­ished, shar­ing ev­ery­thing I knew about food, cook­ing, throw­ing meals to­gether and shop­ping. A friend’s hus­band asked me how it was go­ing to make money and I said I had no idea. But that isn’t what it’s about. I’ve got enough. It’s about giv­ing back.

Well Nour­ished has been go­ing for five years now. I love it when peo­ple tell me they use my recipes. I still pinch my­self. I feel priv­i­leged. No, it doesn’t make money and I’m still no tech­nol­ogy whiz.

Peo­ple tell me I need to market my­self more, but it’s not about me. I’m nor­mal and bor­ing. It’s all about help­ing peo­ple eat real food. It’s that sim­ple.

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