As those of you who have followed the blog for a while will already know, I have been unable to eat gluten or dairy for a while, since my body decided that it didn't like to digest it. Then a few months ago I started to feel really crap and EVERYTHING I was eating (up to and including cucumber) was literally causing swelling like you wouldn't believe, so I popped along to a gut man who told me that, sadly, I was now the proud owner of an irritable bowel. I have IBS, or FIBS as I like to call it... Fucking Irritating Bowels.
I don't know if I'm just being a huge baby about the whole thing but I am finding this VERY hard to deal with. I'm hungry a lot of the time, when I do eat, I basically explode and, without sounding like the biggest drama queen on the planet, it is sort of ruining my life. I was advised by the doctor to, at least for the next six weeks, live a LOW FODMAP Diet (basically cut out EVERYTHING YOU'VE EVER THOUGHT OF) and then, once I felt better, to reintroduce things one by one, every two weeks until the 150 or so foods have all been tested, to determine what is causing the problems. Which, considering I have already lived a very restricted life for the last few years, was a bit of a kick in the teeth.
Nothing seems to be working and despite trawling through google, Twitter and every cook book I could find, I was always finding myself disappointed. Spelt flour, avocados, apples, sugar, most nuts and seeds, onions, garlic, are all things that I all of a sudden can't have, and when it comes to cooking anything, that is a HUGE problem. I can't tell you how much of the last few weeks I have spent walking up and down the aisles of supermarkets checking the ingredients in everything. I can't tell you how many times I've been in tears as I've done that. Even the most experienced nutritionists in the world have got to concede that this is beyond a faff.
Now at the time of my finding out that I couldn't eat gluten and dairy, Ella Woodward, now Ella Mills, founder of Deliciously Ella, was starting to make serious waves in the world of healthy living online, actually, scrap that, she pretty much created the world of healthy living online. Since then Ella has gone from strength to strength, pioneering a whole new way of living, she's made cookbooks, opened a restaurant and got her products all over the country, she's changing not only her own, but countless other lives and making a massive success of herself. (If that's not worthy of a three cheers then I don't know what is.)
In her wake followed hundreds of thousands of blogs like hers, some, like Hemsley and Hemsley and Madeline Shaw are now up at the top, nipping at her heels, and some, like friends of mine who have perhaps had a problem with food in the past, are just using their blogs as a way to share their love of cooking and manage their relationship with food. Healthy eating, clean living, avocados, they became an obsession.
And then something really weird happened. As is so often the case when someone makes a success of themselves; Ella got turned against. The whole industry did. All of a sudden the Daily Mail journalists were hopping up and down because someone somewhere has done some research to suggest that avocados are going to kill you, some model has posed with a doughnut and deemed courgetti to be 'not cool anymore' and some twat in her mother's basement has had a go at Ella for having wealthy parents and tried to undermine her credibility. Just like that, an industry that we've all been obsessing over for two years is suddenly being shunned. Restaurants are now saying that you have to provide a doctors note if you want to eat gluten free, Tanya Burr is making millions as the new Nigella and our spiralisers are left gathering dust in the cupboard. We no longer 'need' to eat clean.
Well, except for me. I do. And actually, so does Ella. Because what we all seem to have forgotten, amongst this whole crusade, is that Ella was REALLY ill and literally used food to change her life, totally. Me with my FIB can't even begin to comprehend the nightmare that was Ella's life before she decided to make a change. I'm literally fucked right now, I have NO idea what I am meant to be doing, I don't understand food, I don't even know how to start understanding food. But the one thing that has provided me with shelter in this storm has been Ella's cookbook. It is the only thing that is helping me, at a time when I could really use a hand. And that has made me realise more than ever what a massive inspiration Ella Mills is.
When she was ill, there was nothing like her cookbook to help, Instagram was not a place you could go to for dinner inspiration and sweet potato brownies weren't a thing. But now, thanks to her hard work, people like me, we have options.
Granted, sometimes when you've got the evidence of three chocolate muffins in your teeth and you are scrolling through your Instagram feed and you find photo upon photo of beautiful Ella with her beautiful snacks, you might feel a pang of annoyance, annoyance at the fact that she's being healthy all the time, that she's got her life together, that you've eaten 1000 calories worth of muffin and you can't undo that, whatever it is, but what you need to remember when you feel that pang is that Ella is doing that because she has to.
I am only realising now how instrumental food is to everything that I do, and since my FIBS came to play, I finally understand the real life massive difference that Ella is making to people who really need her.
If you aren't one of them, then so be it, but for the love of all that is good, don't turn against Deliciously Ella and all that she has worked so hard for, because you've had enough of seeing it. Because at times I'm pretty sure she's had enough of living it, but, unlike you, she can't just ring for a Dominoes when cauliflower just won't satisfy her hankering for a pizza.
I've got a very long road ahead of me and actually, even though I may be on the kiddy run, while the likes of Ella are Helly-skiing, I know, in no uncertain terms that I am going to have to use food to change my life, something which has had me in tears at least once a day for the last month. So please, take it from someone with only a scrap of the problems that Ella had, that woman is nothing short of a hero and needs to be admired and thanked, pretty much every second for the rest of her life.