What you will read below is an honest record of my personal struggle with health challenges and how after a decade of deep suffering I managed to climb out of the pit I found myself in.
I want to make it public, because I know how much reading someone else's story can help you recognize your own patterns of thinking. I hope my story may inspire you to take the first step in your own healing journey.
Like many other natural health enthusiasts, my journey towards a whole food plant-based lifestyle started with accumulating health challenges. Already as a young child, I experienced daily nosebleeds, nausea, headaches, migraines, and hyperventilation and panic attacks. I developed oversensitive senses and was easily overwhelmed by things, events and people surrounding me. I often felt misunderstood and alone in this world.
By the age of fifteen, I started developing really bad eczema — flaky, red patches covered my entire body.
When I turned eighteen, I started University. As I left home, I started to learn to cook for myself. I decided to become vegetarian and I tried to eat as much organic as I could afford. At the same time, I started to have huge cravings for sugary foods. So while I was mainly eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables during the day, by the evening my craving for the comfort of sugar became so intense that I could easily binge down whole packets of chocolate and biscuits. Right after such a binge I would feel super guilty, and feel like I'd failed once again. The next morning, I’d then skip breakfast or I would just try to satisfy my hunger with small-portion, low-calorie foods throughout the day — only to find myself binging on another packet of chocolate when evening came.
And because I always had these cravings at nighttime, I couldn't fall asleep because of the sugar rush that hit right after. When I finally managed to fall asleep, often not before 3am, I woke up multiple times during the night because my skin was unbearably itchy. I often found myself scratching my skin open until it was bleeding, crying because of the pain it caused and because of the chronic insomnia it entailed.
During my years at University, I started seeing a dermatologist. But as I hit rock bottom, I decided to do some research myself, and take note of when flare-ups occurred.
During my next visit, I asked my dermatologist whether I should be careful with certain foods like sugar, processed foods and alcohol, as I noticed these would often trigger a flare-up. My dermatologist explained how some people can develop eczema because of food allergies, so a link could be possible, but she assured me that having eczema has nothing to do with eating sugar or processed foods per se. She explained that sugar, alcohol and processed foods weren't an issue, unless they'd contain the foods that would trigger an allergic reaction (like peanuts or sulphites, for example). She then tested me for food allergies, but all results were negative. She said I didn't have any food allergies, and my blood work looked fine, so she concluded my case of eczema was probably a genetic disease, so unfortunately, nothing could be done to really cure it. Only steroid creams, antihistamine pills and antibiotics would be able to offer me some relief.
As she was a medical doctor and I didn’t understand yet what my body was telling me, I followed her reasoning. This left me feeling really depressed, discouraged, and it felt like my health and wellbeing was not in my control.
So I just went on with my destructive habits, eating whatever I craved and using cortisone and antihistamine pills to suppress the effects of my diet and lifestyle.
After another year of intense pain and insomnia, I was absolutely exhausted and I felt more depressed and anxious than I'd ever been. I was rubbing steroid creams on my skin every day in an attempt to try and ease the pain, but over time my skin got so thin and sensitive from the long-term steroid use that the creams didn't work anymore. I took an antihistamine in the evening in the hope that it would ease the itch at night — but rather than it decreasing the itchiness, I experienced multiple side effects like nausea, drowsiness, hallucinations, headaches, dehydration and a general feeling of detachment and dullness.
In 2012, when I was twenty years old, I met my boyfriend Jeroen. We decided to travel across Australia for a year — a country where living a healthy lifestyle was quite commonsense. For over a year, we worked and traveled in Australia, New-Zealand and Bali.
Being away from home together with someone who believed in me, and encouraged me to believe in myself too, certainly pushed me a great deal forward on my journey. Also, because now I had to cook for two instead of one, I got a greater feeling of responsibility and purpose and I started experimenting with healthier foods.
And in terms of healthy food, traveling through Bali definitely opened my eyes. In Ubud, we visited super many beautiful, inspiring vegan raw food restaurants and the superior taste of the food there left such an impression on me that once we were home, I started experimenting with raw foods myself.
In 2014, I then discovered Elwin Robinson and his website Lion Heart Herbs while surfing the Internet and I can't explain how grateful I am that this man crossed my path.
In February 2015, I subscribed to his online program the Complete Detox Academy and ever since I did that, my health — and my entire life — have been changing, evolving and transforming in ways I never imagined possible.
Throughout the program, I learned the significance of foods and supplements, the power of breathing and most of all, how something as seemingly simple as shifting your mindset can completely overturn your life course for the better.
With Elwin's wisdom and support and with the help of some really amazing mentors, I've been able to completely transform my life.
In 2017 I started working as a natural health + supplement consultant in an organic shop here in Belgium, while I was still following a handful of online courses on natural health & healing, one of which was at the prestigious Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
In 2018 I then graduated from IIN and a few months later I started my business Plant Seeds on the side and I’ve been active as a holistic health coach since then. I work with people one on one, but I also organize workshops and I really enjoy writing articles on natural health & healing, plant-based nutrition and positive self-development.
Don’t take my word for it. Get out there and start trying out things for yourself.
I really believe you can do anything you set your mind to. Your journey to a better life can start today. All you need to do is take your first step — whether that be drinking one less cup of coffee today, having some greens with your dinner, taking the stairs more often, starting a gratitude journal, having that conversation with your partner — whatever it means for you, just take one small step today, and you're off.
And maybe most importantly: love yourself a little more every day. You are so worth it ♥
Don't hesitate to reach out to me if you think you could use some help on your journey.
I love you, and I support you.
Much love + good vibes your way,