Daniel Roytas MHSc (Nut), BHSc (Nut), Dip. RM, MANTA
Bayleaf Wellness Clinical Nutritionist and Naturopath
You may be forgiven for thinking that being a naturopath and nutritionist, I have always been incredibly health conscious and focused on maintaining optimal health and well-being. Whilst this is certainly true now, it hasn’t always been the case.
I grew up in a very health-centric house hold, I was very physically active and always ate good nutritious home cooked meals. Then everything changed about 5 years ago. I became incredibly stressed, working in a full-time job as a lecturer, running a clinic, studying in a Master’s program and trying to maintain a long-distance relationship. My sleep was so disrupted and I became so tired, I couldn’t get through the day without 6 cups of coffee. When I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner, so I would eat out at a restaurant or order take away food at least 5 nights a week.
The stress I was under was so overwhelming, I would pick up a bottle of wine or a 6 pack of beer every night on my way home from work, just so I could wind down. I became incredibly depressed and anxious and I couldn’t see a way out of the downward spiral I was in. I knew that the lifestyle I was living was not sustainable and I risked doing some serious harm to my health if I didn’t clean up my act and get back on the straight and narrow. I kept promising myself I would make a change.
It was not until I hit rock bottom, that I was literally forced into changing my diet and lifestyle. By rock bottom, I mean I woke up one day and looked at myself in the mirror and was horrified at what I had become. I was nearly 40 kg overweight, I had started to develop peripheral neuropathy in my hands and feet, I was seriously depressed, my cholesterol was sky high, I had chronic digestive issues and my relationship was on the verge of collapse. All this by the ripe old age of 31.
Looking back now, my body put up with years of abuse and it handled it pretty well, considering the onslaught I was putting it through on a daily basis. This might sound strange but I am glad I hit rock bottom. I needed to hit rock bottom. Once I couldn’t go any lower, something in me changed. The self-sabotage I was putting myself through became so evident. My ill-health literally forced me into making some serious changes to regain my health and wellbeing. If I hadn’t of hit rock bottom and been forced to make those changes, I dread to think of where I would be now. I guess I was in a fortunate position of having a lot of knowledge about how to heal myself naturally. This isn’t to say I did everything on my own (I have seen many health professionals and had almost every medical test under the sun done over the last few years on my journey back to health). Looking back now, I was naïve in thinking my body would just bounce back within a few months of ‘doing the right thing’. How wrong I was. I initially tried the drugs my doctor prescribed me, however I ended up experiencing a range of side effects, and deep down I knew that these drugs would never fix the problem. After realizing the only way I was going to get better was by facing the facts, doing the hard work and by starting to take better care of myself, I made the decision to embark on my journey to achieving good health. The first thing I did was to clean up my diet. I cut out all processed and refined foods, I cooked all my own meals, ate a purely whole-food organic diet, stopped drinking alcohol and coffee and drank clean filtered water instead, took a range of nutritional supplements, practiced mindfulness, started detoxifying my mind and body (which included getting rid of toxic people and habits in my life), and began exercising daily.
Several months went by and not a lot had changed, but I was determined to get better. From a naturopathic perspective, there is an age old saying that it takes a minimum of 3 months to heal from every year of sickness. I figured that I had been sick for at least 5 years, so it would take a minimum of 15 months for me to get healthy again. This may seem like a long time, but knowing that the body possesses a remarkable capacity to heal itself, I was determined to do whatever it took to regain my health. The weight was the first thing to go. Within the first 6 months I had shed more than 30 kg. Slowly but surely, my mental health started to improve. Within a year, my depression and anxiety was dramatically better and my sleep patterns were beginning to normalize. With each passing day I noticed little by little, my gut was healing. After 18 months (around December 2018), my gut function had nearly returned to normal. Fast forward to December 2020 and the most debilitating and stubborn symptom, the peripheral neuropathy, is 95% gone. I continue to do everything I can, each and every day to continue healing. Although it has taken me years to get to this point, I never gave up hope, even though I was told that I may have to ‘put up with’ or ‘manage’ the symptoms I was suffering from for the rest of my life. So you might be thinking to yourself, why am I telling you about all of this? Well, the answer to this question, is that there are so many people out there suffering from chronic health conditions who feel hopeless, lost and disheartened. It’s likely that they have tried many other therapies before, with limited benefit. They may not know where or how to begin their journey towards achieving great health, nor may they understand that their body possesses a remarkable capacity to heal itself. What does it take for the body to heal itself? Firstly, you must make a conscious decision that you are ready to heal, and that you will be committed and stay on track to achieve your health goals. It is essential that you make this agreement with yourself, because if you are not in mentally ready to heal, then healing physically will be so much harder. Secondly, the underlying cause and contributing factors must be identified (in my case it was the coffee, alcohol, stress, disrupted sleep and take away food). Thirdly, the contributing or aggravating factors must be removed. Finally, the body must be provided with the right nutrition, the right thoughts, the right mindset, the right detoxification strategies, the right social support, the right type of exercise, and the right lifestyle practices. Once all of these factors have been addressed, and an environment conducive to healing has been created, only then, can the body begin to heal. This is not something that happens in a day, or a week or a month. All good things, like good health, take time, focus and dedication. Although it has been a long and bumpy road for me over the last few years in regaining my health and wellbeing, I am so grateful for what I have been through. It has given me a different perspective on life, as well as the power, passion and wisdom to help other people overcome their own health issues. Health is not a destination, it is a journey, and I hope that I can help you along the way, through the ups and downs, the good times and the bad. You are the only one who can heal yourself, I cannot do that for you, however if my knowledge and experiences can help make your journey a little bit easier, then I would be honored to guide you along the way.