Have you ever heard of SIBO? It is very possible that you, or someone close to you, may be a sufferer but have never learned about this treatable illness. Rebecca Coomes was one of these people and her diagnosis truly brought her life back. Have a read… does this sound like you?
Yum: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born 2 months premature, so I had a tough start to life. From an early age, I was sensitive to foods. My mum was pretty sick after my birth, so she was unable to breast feed me. I was put on formula and dairy milk, which I reacted to. As I got older, I was always complaining of feeling sick, and I would get every cold, flu and illness going around. By my mid 20s, I had been diagnosed with endometriosis. My specialist suggested I remove gluten and dairy to help reduce my endo symptoms. Within days, I felt like a new woman. I had energy, no longer felt sick and my health improved. Unfortunately, this was short lived, and within a few years, I was experiencing painful digestive symptoms and bloating once again. One night in desperation I was searching the internet for someone who could help me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me but knew I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I found a Naturopath in Melbourne who diagnosed me with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and put me on a treatment program. Once I had reduced the excess bacteria, I felt incredible and was even able to eat small amounts of gluten and dairy again without symptoms. I couldn’t believe there were no cookbooks for people treating SIBO, so I published two in quick succession, SIBO Summer Cookbook and SIBO Family Favourites Cookbook. I had been in corporate marketing roles for nearly 20 years, but my SIBO treatment forced me to reassess my entire life. I quit my job and launched two businesses: a marketing consultancy (Coomes Marketing) and The Healthy Gut as I felt compelled to help other people just like me to regain their health by healing their gut.
Y: Why are you gluten free?
These days I avoid gluten 95% of the time, but I do enjoy not having to be as strict as I once was. Whilst I no longer get the pain, bloating or constipation after eating gluten, I know I don’t feel wonderful after eating it so I continue to mostly avoid it. I have moved to a much more natural way of eating so prefer not to eat gluten because it is often found in processed food. The only time I eat it now is if I’m eating out at a friend’s place or when I’m travelling overseas and don’t have control over the food. All of my recipes are 100% gluten, corn and soy free (and most are dairy free, grain free, sugar free and low FODMAP). I love eating delicious tasting food and don’t believe those of us on restricted diets should miss out on amazing food. Recipes for a delicious dinner and dessert: Butter Chicken with Cauliflower Rice and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Y: What does a normal day in your life look?
It’s busy running two businesses! I like to start my day with a brisk walk listening to a podcast. I have eclectic taste when it comes to podcasts, so it might be about marketing, true life stories, health and fitness or French lessons. If I’m not walking I will be training with my personal trainer. The rest of my day is varied; I might be planning future recipes and cookbooks, or preparing for a gut health workshop, recording a podcast interview, filming a cooking show or coaching a client (and sometimes all of the above in one day). I receive lovely emails from people from all over the world, so I always allow time in my day to write back to people. I like to end my day with another walk and podcast, before cooking a healthy meal full of vegetables for dinner.
Y: Tell us about your brand?
The Healthy Gut is a platform where people can come and find lifestyle help for living with SIBO and disordered digestion. SIBO is a relatively unknown condition, yet affects an estimated 4 million Australians. By the time people find out they have SIBO, they have often been chronically unwell for years. Our mission is to reduce the amount of illness, disease and obesity by providing good quality information and tools so people can take control of their health. As I regained my own health, I realized I had to address 5 key pillars: Awareness, Nutrition, Movement, Mindset and Lifestyle. At The Healthy Gut, we focus on these 5 pillars in everything we do. People can come to us to find recipe inspiration, watch an episode of the SIBO Cooking show, hear the latest interview with a gut health specialist or read an article on how to eat out on a restricted diet. Everything we do is with the sole purpose of helping others.
Y: What’s the best part about your job?
I absolutely love being able to help people who have SIBO and are looking for support, advice, recipes, information or want to further their knowledge on the topic. Being the first person to create dedicated SIBO cookbooks and a SIBO cooking show means I have people from all around the world contacting me to say thanks, which makes all the hard work and sacrifice worth it.
Y: What is your inspiration?
I am inspired by my clients – people who are making incredible changes in their lives to regain their health, and ultimately their happiness.
Y: What makes you unique?
As the first person in the world to create SIBO cookbooks and SIBO cooking shows, I am able to offer help to those who need it most, whilst showing them that recovery and health is possible, because I achieved it.
Y: What is your motto?
I have two mottos: we are what we eat and we are what we think. If I pour rubbish into my body, my body will be rubbish, which is why I now eat quality food and produce. I have had to work hard on changing my mindset, and I now know that I can achieve anything I want if I just believe I can.
Y: What’s your #1 health tip?
Listen to your body. It tells you very clearly when things aren’t working. Trust your intuition and keep searching for a practitioner who is willing to work with you.
Y: What is your vision for the future? Anything exciting in the pipeline?
I am really excited to be launching The Healthy Gut podcast in September. It is a podcast for people with SIBO or digestive disorders like Coeliac Disease, Crohn’s or IBS to learn more about what they can do to improve or reclaim their health. I have some amazing specialists coming on the show so I’m excited to be able to share it with people very soon.
Y: Any final details you would like our readers to know about you?
I am a normal person just like everyone reading this article, but I took a chance and started believing in myself and have not only transformed my health, but have a whole new life because of it. So if there is a dream that you have, go for it. You may just surprise yourself and achieve it like I have.