The story behind Food Fix Up

Stefanie Neal is the food lover who created all the delicious recipes on the Food Fix Up App. Here she shares her journey and philosophy about food.

In the bad food bind

A few years ago, I was like many others – stuck in a rut of eating the same things, some I knew were unhealthy (hello take away pies and lots of biscuits!). Other times I honestly thought I was being healthy with my teeny tiny portion of veg next to my stack of pasta or potatoes and meat. I'd always enjoyed cooking but hadn't realised how eating well and feeling amazing were so connected. And I was definitely not feeling amazing. I was burning the candle at both ends, working, partying and not looking after myself. I was tired, kept getting cold sores and other strange ailments that I pretty much just ignored.

My catalysts for change

The two biggest things that have happened in my life, happened in a relatively short amount of time. As much as one was the best, the other was the worst. Both were catalysts for changing.

The first was having a child: to be blessed with such a strong and healthy girl made me incredibly happy. The second was losing my beautiful dad to cancer. He was so young and to have him taken from us was awful. I wanted to get healthy for my daughter's sake, to set a good example and to make sure she was getting beautifully nourishing foods. I had also started to look into healing foods towards the end of my dad's illness and that interest just grew and grew.

The dogmatic approach didn't work

I tried a few diet/food philosophies: raw vegan and then vegan. I stuck to them dogmatically but I actually ended up feeling worse. I had constant heart palpitations and adrenaline rushes when I tried to sleep. A lot of my hair fell out and I ended up with massive mineral deficiencies (the worst my health care practitioner had ever seen). I was also diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. This wasn't brought on by my diet change, but may explain my reaction to cutting out meat and fish.

Listening to my body

I learnt the hard way not to stick to something just because I liked the idea or it worked amazingly for someone else. Now I listen to my body. I'm not bashing the philosophies I tried: quite the opposite - I believe wholeheartedly in their merits, it's just in their purest form they didn't work for me. I love so much about raw and vegan food - you'll see in the app I get my raw quota in where I can and a lot of the dishes are vegan. It was simply that my body can't thrive on these alone. That's how I ended up where I am today: eating a mainly plant based diet with some high welfare animal protein. It's what works great for me.

Lose the labels (and the rubbish)

Some people thrive on a completely plant based diet, or being vegetarian. That's great if it's what works for them. We're all different and we all need to find what works for us. I think the main thing is to lose the rubbish: the processed food; the stressors; the additives and take everything back to whole foods. It's all about not labelling yourself or restricting yourself because someone else says you should. Food Fix Up is about you enjoying all your favourite food but in a new and healthy way. It's real food, food you can live from and food you'll love.

Enjoying the benefits

I'm not a chef, nutritionist or health guru, I just love healthy food and strongly believe in the healing powers that enjoying clean, unprocessed food brings. I've experienced so many benefits since I've started treating my body right. I get up with loads of energy for the day, I sleep well and my skin is the best it's looked. I'm still battling the adrenal issues, but my symptoms are so much better and my funny ailments have gone. It's great to finally feel balanced and in control. I still go out with my girlfriends once in a while, or have a sugary dessert at a restaurant from time to time, but I'm happy to say healthy eating is my way of living and I wouldn't change it for anything.

Setting a great example

The best thing to come out of all of this is the example I'm setting for my daughter. She knows that food is made from fresh ingredients, it doesn't come out of packets and plastic. She loves making nut milk with me and raw chocolate mousse. She makes me laugh with the things she asks for: goji berries, chia and "teeny" (tahini) are some of her favourites. And knowing that she is getting the best start in life makes my heart so happy.