My Macro Journey
by Nicola McCarthy
Looking back, I was an extremely lazy child whose greatest pleasure was to sit in front of the TV eating sweets. I hated exercise and when I was written off PE permanently - because my allergies meant my skin would break out if I got too hot - I was overjoyed.
Given what I now know about the importance of diet, my childhood allergies, lethargy and low self-esteem could all be directly attributed to the sweets and chocolate that systematically stripped my system of any possibility of health and happiness. The deep-seated insecurities that tormented me as a child, I now realise, were the inevitable result of regularly sending my blood sugar haywire with yet another brightly coloured mouthful of junk.
The frightening thing is, this is the story of the majority of childhoods: now and then. The upshot was, from my teenage years, I was suffering with arthritis and taking large doses of medication. Plus my allergies had become debilitating: I couldn’t even go out in the sun. If I did, my skin would erupt in huge, water-filled blisters. My childhood insecurities had blossomed into full-blown panic attacks that began to rule my life. I was a prisoner and my mind and body were the prison.
Fast-forward 10 years, I am a mother of two. My PMT is so bad I have to write off 10 days every month, my marriage is falling apart and I exist in a haze of exhaustion and confusion. The doctor prescribes hormone pessaries that I gladly add to my hefty list of anti-inflammatories, painkillers, antihistamines and heartburn medicine rounded off each day with generous dollops of junk food. Yes, to add to my woes, in my late 20’s I am now also fat.
Moving forward again, my eldest child Jack, was 6 when he was diagnosed with hyperactivity and dyslexia. In addition he had constant ear infections and general poor health. I was literally at my wit’s end when a friend suggested he see a Kinesiologist. I didn’t realise it then but I was about to change not just his life but the rest of mine. The Kinesiologist prescribed a diet of simple food, excluding sugar, dairy and wheat. He transformed. The Kinesiologist suggested I too change my diet. Sadly, I wasn’t ready to give up the junk.
But something had sparked in me and in my mid-30’s, as a result of what they had been able to do for Jack, I became fascinated by complimentary therapies. I visited an Iridologist who, by looking at my irises, gave a stunningly accurate appraisal of my health – or lack of it. I enrolled on a Natural Therapy course and found myself, for the first time in my life, completely comfortable in the presence of others. The people on the course were something I hadn’t come across before: kind and gentle. And I literally gobbled up all the information I was getting. A door had opened for me: little did I know then that stepping through it would close the door to my old life forever.
I signed up for a foundation course in Anatomy, Physiology and Massage and from that, went on to qualify as a practitioner in Reflexology and Reiki and studied Homeopathy, Crystal Healing, Aromatherapy and Kinesiology. Yet, I still avoided studying the most fundamental healing tool of all: food.
Thankfully, this vital, missing part of the equation was soon to be addressed. David McCarthy had recently lost his son to cancer when he came to me for treatment. We got talking and he told me how he had prolonged his son’s life to the astonishment of the medical fraternity: he treated Jonathan just by stripping his diet of everything toxic. As a pharmacist, he was acutely aware of how standard drugs affect the body and his experience of Jonathan’s illness and treatment convinced him that these drugs were not only, in the main, not effective but usually hastened death rather than preventing it. David had decided to dedicate the rest of his life to searching for a natural cure for cancer and promoting a measure of health attainable for everyone. Using food.
A successful businessman, this life-changing decision had cost him his marriage. My own marriage, never strong, had been dealt a fatal blow by my increasing emotional investment in a belief system outside the norm. I had outgrown my old life and the next phase with David would see it transformed beyond my wildest imaginings.
David could see immediately that all my health problems stemmed from my eating habits. He was becoming increasingly interested in the possibilities of Macrobiotics in realising his dream of naturally preventing and treating cancer and together we gradually took the plunge and began to clean up our diet. We took some classes – learning how to turn all the weird and wonderful items we were faced with into tasty food - and within two weeks all the joint pain I had suffered for decades had disappeared. I could move my body freely: it’s difficult to adequately describe what that meant to me. My allergies subsided and in a short time, they too had vanished. My anger and depression receded and as my mood began to stabilize I was, for perhaps the first time, interested in life. My energy levels sky rocketed, my skin was clear and literally sparkled. It was like being reborn.
The next astonishing transformation was my weight. I lost 3 stone.
We signed up at the Kushi Institute of Europe in Amsterdam and studied for several years following their “Art of Life Programme” that combines food and cooking knowledge with life-enhancing philosophy. During this time, we learnt the importance of cooking classes in order to follow a Macrobiotic way of life properly. Meals should be balanced correctly in order to get the most out of the food.
David and I have been extremely lucky. Just when our lives looked like they were about to crash and burn, we both rescued the possibility of a better life from the ashes.
Our Macrobiotic lifestyle has given us immeasurable benefits. It isn’t limiting, as many people assume, it is actually freeing. To live in harmony with yourself, with others and with the planet is to experience the best life has to offer. Our 9 year old daughter Kerry has been Macrobiotic from birth and to finish this story where it started, is a living example of how it is possible to break the cycle of illness, depression and waste that is the sad hallmark of our culture. She is all the things I was not as a child: bright, healthy, happy, full of energy and yet completely centred.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all children could be like this? Guess what, they can.