Hello! My name is May, I was born in Saigon and left Vietnam at eight months old as a refugee baby. I grew up in Sydney and made the journey back to Vietnam with my three children, aged 10, 6 and 2 at the time, in 2014.
Growing up as a cross cultured kid in the 80’s was deliciously fun and at times quite painful – having to be that kid with the smelly food in her bag and just wanting a Vegemite sandwich instead. Looking back, I am so grateful to have grown up in the multicultural centre of outer Western Sydney where I found other kids with smelly food too!
I developed my worldly palate swapping foods with all my friends from around the world and loving our awesome Aussie school canteen. I’m talking about kebabs with tabouleh, hummus, garlicky chilli sauce, comforting cabbage rolls, empanadas, flaky baklava, real home made pizzas, lasagne, meat pies, sausages rolls with tomato sauce, fluffy light lamingtons, creamy custard tarts, vanilla slices and then all of mum’s Vietnamese food in between. Drooling? Yep me too!
At home, I grew up with a weekly pot of broth simmering on the stove for 24 hours, jars of preserved lemons, kumquats and fermented vegetables. I would never have imagined my home looking the same as mum’s nor did I know the healing power behind all of these foods! Thanks mum!
My health journey started back in 2012, after the birth of my third child. I was pre-diabetic and had lived with hypoglycemia for years accepting that to be the natural state of my body which could not be changed. I had to eat every hour or two to avoid a blood sugar drop resulting in me on the floor sick, nauseous and shaking. My daily schedule revolved around making sure I had quick access to food or stuffing my bag with quick sugar fixes to avoid getting sick.
Around the same time my middle child was also suffering. He had all over body eczema and severe allergies from when he was two months old. His skin would weep and get infected every few weeks requiring antibiotics – I didn’t know at the time to ask for a different solution, or question the treatment. By the time he was 3, his gut was damaged resulting in a chronic clostridium difficile infection (listed as one of the top 18 deadliest pathogens of 2013 – read here). This infection is caused by the overuse of antibiotics and treated with a different type of antibiotic. Really, how crazy is that?! By the time he was four, he had 24 courses of various antibiotic and could not clear the infection.
His immune system was destroyed resulting in him picking up every bug that was going around, we found ourselves at the Doctor’s every two weeks. With severe tummy pains and not being able to attend play dates or walk long distances, losing weight and unable to have a healthy bowel movement for over a year, he was deteriorating before my eyes.
I remember expecting to be able to find a magic pill that would fix everything, but that never came. Every pill we took caused seemed to cause more problems. Desperate I found our amazing holistic Doctor, she put me onto the Paleo diet (by Dr Loren Cordain) for my pre-diabetic state, instructed me to make fermented vegetables and Kombucha for my son and that’s where our lives changed.
Magically, once I cut out the refined foods, sugars and grains, my hypoglycaemia disappeared. I was no longer at risk of developing diabetes and feeling the best I had ever felt. Some of the health symptoms I accepted as part of aging disappeared completely (one of the strangest things to clear up as not getting motion sickness in the car while reading!).
My son cleared his clostridium difficile infection after two months on fermented foods. He started gaining weight, becoming stronger, happier and energized. He no longer picked up every bug at school, we spent less time at the Doctors and more time playing. His tics even cleared up. It was miraculous. I thought I found the secret to real healing, that it was all about the food we eat or not eat. I wouldn’t discover there was also another key ingredient until about 4 years later after we moved from Australia to Vietnam when I noticed a slow decline in my health. It was almost overnight, my body just gave in and I became incredibly sick with severe joint pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog and unable to get out of bed. I wasn’t aware I had been living in a chronic state of anxiety and stress that led to the deterioration of my gut health. I developed an autoimmune condition and became reactive to a lot of foods that I once enjoyed. I was worse off than when I started my health journey.
I remember hearing how stress can kill you, I never understood it until I experienced it. As a mother, I put all of my love and attention into my children, into my family, into my work. I left ‘me’ out, self care and self love. The missing ingredient, I found myself adapting again, exploring new protocols and thankfully already knowledgeable with the healing power of foods and also under the guidance of my holistic Doctor. I started to choose me, removed what no longer positively served me and felt the love and healing power come back into my life. I found health and wellness again with my healing journey continuing to get better every day.
Grateful for my journey that has allowed me to explore various healing protocols and experience the power of food and love. I became a certified holistic health coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition specialising in gut health with my mission to enlighten the foodie within all of us, to find better health and wellness.
Love, create, explore & inspire,
ps. you can find my reading list here, which includes the various protocols I used during my journey to better health. I would like to give special mention to the Paleo protocol for the initial healing I found from my pre-diabetic state, the Autoimmune protocol for my autoimmune condition and the GAPS protocol for my son’s healing (and mine).