My Health Journey

As long as I can remember I’ve always loved food, but from a young age, I have had a few health issues.

After having re-occurring swollen glands (which we thought were mumps) I was diagnosed with Sjogrens Syndrome when I was eight years old. 

Sjogrens is an autoimmune disease where my immune system attacks its own moisture producing glands. Some of the symptoms include dry mouth, dry eyes, fatigue, stomach problems and joint pain.

At intermediate school, my stomach pains and holding food down became a real issue. My mother (who luckily worked at my school) stored a mini mattress in her office where my hot water bottle became my best friend. It was horrific!! I was dragged off to doctor after doctor, test after test before my mum had enough and took me to an alternative practitioner. They initially put me on a very strict gluten free, dairy free and sugar free diet (I couldn’t eat a lot of vegetables or fruit back then either) for a few months. It wasn’t long before my stomach issues were a lot better and I no longer required the mattress on standby. 

I introduced some foods gradually back into my diet with success. After a couple years I started to reintroduce dairy into my diet but remained Gluten free, I still had the issues with my stomach but it was totally manageable and nothing, in comparison to what I had been through. Looking back being gluten intolerant makes sense, as research now suggests there is a connection between Sjogrens Syndrome and gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

During high school my stomach issues were under control and it was all about maintaining my Sjogrens. I personally tried to ignore most of the symptoms and take a positive outlook as best I could. I just wanted to function and achieve like others. I did not want to be known as the ‘sick’ girl. However, a lot of the times the flare-ups were too hard to ignore. 

I guess I didn’t realise how many sick days I had at school and university until I started work full time, the real world….

After just over a year of working, I started to get intense stomach pains again and my health was becoming a major concern. I couldn’t go to work, couldn’t stand up straight and was in and out of hospital ‘drugged up’ on intense pain killers (and coming to no conclusions). I then had more tests, it was at this point I felt some progress was being made when the doctors suggested trying a Low FODMAP diet with guidance from a dietitian. I can actually say that following this diet ‘’changed my life’’!! It was amazing to see how quickly I noticed a difference.

My stomach and health issues were manageable, however I was always tired, having reoccurring colds and my body wasn’t coping. My specialist put me on an immunosuppressant drug; she referred to it as a low ‘chemo drug’. So I decided I needed to take control and responsibility of my own health. I moved away from eating heavily processed foods and focused on eating foods close to their natural state. This was a real turning point for me and it further ignited my passion for cooking and creating Sarah friendly options. 

This led to the beginning of my Instagram account and now my blog, a great way for me to share my experience and knowledge with what makes me feel good.

I’m not cured (unfortunately there is currently no cure for Sjogrens or food intolerance issues) but I have not been on immunosuppressant drugs for more than 2 years (YAY) and I’m managing my issues by following this way of life. It’s a work in progress, it’s not perfect, I still get flare ups but I’m focused on minimising and managing the symptoms when they do occur through my lifestyle choices enabling me to live and work a normal life.

This is a place where I can share my ongoing health journey and I hope to inspire others by showing how living with health issues doesn’t have to be a limit on life and eating well!

Sarah x