Clean eating guru Hannah Swanston knows first-hand how going all natural can transform health. Here she writes about how ‘clean eating saved my life’.
“I moved to Dubai in 2008. I was a carefree 20-something, thinking my fresh-faced glow and fast metabolism would forever be on my side. Partying non-stop with McDonald’s on speed dial, I was also ‘that’ girl who ordered a diet Coke with a burger meal, blindly swapping calories for chemicals. No stranger to the infamous ‘Dubai Stone’ I’ve tried every diet under the desert sun, which, while we’re on the subject, I’d lie under for hours on end; oiled up in the knowledge that my sun-drenched skin could be fixed with a quick shot of Botox. This was the 21st Century after all, in the fastest-growing city on Earth; there was always a solution. Nothing could beat me, or so I thought.
“But my yo-yo-dieting-week-long-partying choices were damaging my health and within a few years, I was suffering from a long list of health issues, the least of my worries was the Dubai Stone (or two), I also had anxiety issues, skin pigmentation, and insomnia but worst of all was the aspartame poisoning from artificially-sweetened drinks. This resulted in me being rushed to hospital with Optic Neuritis, which left me blind for three months in my left eye. The party was officially over. Doctors said that if my lifestyle didn’t change, I would lose my sight forever.
“After researching natural ways to cure myself, I discovered the clean eating craze that was taking the world by storm. Not only did I heal my sight in three weeks but I unintentionally dropped about six kilos, and experienced a series of further mini-miracles, from curing my insomnia and anxiety, to transforming my hair, skin and nails.
“Today, I leap out of bed and no longer need multiple layers of make-up, Botox, or an intravenous drip of caffeine to get me through the day. I exercise for two hours a day and hardly touch alcohol or food that doesn’t have a natural source.
“For the first month, I went cold turkey, giving up meat, caffeine, alcohol, chemicals, processed foods, and anything that wasn’t completely natural, whilst choosing organic where possible. Even pharmaceutical products were banned. No chemicals whatsoever were allowed near me. I also stopped having cosmetic treatments, including Botox.
“As the days, weeks and months progressed, I felt like a snake shedding layers of skin; as a lighter, happier, and more energetic version of myself appeared each morning; standing in front of the mirror a little more radiant each day. Within a very short amount of time, my skin was tighter, firmer, and brighter; and my clothes got looser.
“Once I felt I’d flushed all the chemicals out, I began to re-introduce lean meats and a small amount of caffeine if I fancied it but I made a concerted effort to swap all items for healthier alternatives. Apart from processed foods and chemicals, which are still banned because of my health; I’m more flexible.
“I’m not perfect and I’m never going to be. Sometimes, we just need that doughnut, glass of wine, or chocolate bar. The trick for me is to get right back on the healthy vibe the next day, and not to beat myself up about it. This isn’t about being perfect, it’s about good health, and finding a balance – whilst giving ourselves the flexibility to be human, and enjoy the finer things, guilt-free!”
HANNAH SWANSTON is a full-time writer who divides her time between London and Dubai. Her first book is about life in Dubai and is coming soon.