This week I interview 15 year-old Chiara-Lee Soll. When she was 10 years old she was hyperactive. She distracted her classmates, she couldn’t concentrate on hew schoolwork and she struggled to stay focused enough to excel in her favourite sport; basketball. Her breaking point was when she didn’t get accepted into the same basketball team as her friends because she’d been too distracted to listen to the coach. She needed a massive change.
Her family came across the Paleo diet and gradually transitioned from Jam donuts, cheesy pasta and large pizzas to organic whole foods – avoiding grains and dairy, two foods that particularly triggered Chiara’s symptoms. Within a week Chiara noticed her behaviour starting to change and now, 5 years later, she is killing it on the basketball court, making excellent grades and has a supportive group of friends. She is enthusiastic about spreading the word that what you put into your mouth can change your life – or in her case, give you your life back.
We chat about how she now sees her siblings, that weren’t even sick to start with, doing better health wise because of the changes her family made. Her younger siblings eat mostly whole foods but can also enjoy a few “treats” (ice-creams etc.) every so often without noticing any ill effects. Thanks to Chiara they have turned their health around early and have so much more flexibility with their lifestyle that those of us that got quite ill and had to come back from there … we will always need to be more cautious.
We also chat about the challenges of eating differently to your peers, especially at a young age and Chiara gives advice on how to cope with the teasing and feeling slightly isolated because you don’t eat the same as everyone else. Finally, we discuss the physical benefits of a whole foods diet; how well you can recover from exercise and injury. So many young elite athletes are still effected by injuries from several years ago – ones that never fully healed. Many young athletes are also quite fatigued and struggle to bounce back after intense training sessions and we suspect it’s because their poor bodies simply aren’t getting the nutrients they need to repair and rejuvenate.
Bottom Line: food can heal and change your life. It’s not a myth, it’s not a fad and it’s not just something we tell ourselves because we think that foods like kale and coconut oil are “sexy”. We are what we eat because every process in the body is facilitated by nutrients. No nutrients, no function – simples.