Hi, I’m Sisley. I am a 22-year-old Registered Holistic Nutritionist, recipe developer, and food blogger at The Pure Life.
Now for a little background:
I was a typical product of my generation: I was offered a lot of milk, meat, and bread while I was growing up. This came in a variety of healthy options: fresh yoghurt from the Swiss Alps (truly), organic and locally raised meat from our family’s farm, and fresh homemade breads from my grandmothers. These products were all delicious and fed to me with love…. but I never felt quite right. In fact, in hindsight, I had colic as a baby and kept suffering to some degree until recently when I learned how to always feel better: by eating a plant-based diet.
I travelled extensively with my family while I was growing up. I lived on three continents and was exposed to a wide variety of foods. I ate local healthy food. I surfed. I skied. I had lots of sleep, and I spent quality time with my family and then later with my friends. But I always had difficulty with my digestion, and it was not until my early 20s when I was able to connect the fact that the normal food I ate wasn’t doing me any favours.
In 2010, at age 16, I had an emergency appendectomy. For several years after having my appendix removed, I experienced painful bloating. I couldn’t eat certain foods without feeling uncomfortable, and I had minor headaches and some degree of constant pain in my abdomen. I went to see a gastrointestinal specialist who sent me for blood tests and a colonoscopy to rule out something serious. I was then put through a variety of unsustainable fad diet tests, all of which were “unsuccessful” in finding out why I was feeling so terrible. Luckily, this process of strict elimination did prove that it was something to do with the foods I was eating, but exactly which foods or which combinations of food was uncertain as I wasn’t diagnosed with the typical “lactose intolerance” or “celiac disease”. That was the end of the doctor’s detective work, which was fair enough as I didn’t have anything really wrong with me, medically speaking.
At this point, I realized I could take matters into my own hands to try to heal myself through food. I was confident that I could learn how to cook gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, meat-free… wait, what could I actually eat? Preparing my own food would be a real challenge as my cooking experience consisted of boiling water for boxed macaroni & cheese or making toast.
When I started my “food journey”, I was aware of scepticism and was often concerned that I was being dramatic by spending so much time thinking about food. Was this normal? It wasn’t until the global success of Instagram that I knew things were about to change. When I first joined Instagram in 2014, I discovered there was a small yet inspiring international food community. Many Instagrammers were experiencing what I was experiencing to some degree. We shared our experiences, and I was inspired to try new recipes. I purchased almond milk for the first time. I committed to eating gluten-free. I started to feel good. It became a bit of a hobby then turned into my new normal. Little did I know that I would have a whole new food-related world ahead of me!
I think the most important thing I want to share is how easy and fun this food journey has been. When I first started, I asked my mom to spend a certain amount of money on “special groceries” just for a few months, to try it out. I realize I was lucky enough to have this luxury and I was thankful, yet a part of me was shocked that my family and friends didn’t really care about what they were eating or think about the fact that they could possibly heal their bodies by healthier eating. I started to save a little extra money each month to pay for my own groceries, and it was worth it. I started off with lactose-free milk, I tried soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, the list goes on…until I found one that I liked and liked me. I tried different gluten-free products, then studied the nutrition labels and talked about it on Instagram. I tried tofu scramble and avocado mousse, then posted the recipes online. My family thought I was hilarious, my friends thought I was a little crazy, yet I felt empowered and energized and …better. I started to notice slight changes in my body. I had more energy, enough to fit in full-time university classes, homework, workouts, cooking sessions, some work shifts and a social life. I reduced my alcohol intake and spent my Friday nights cooking for friends. My skin was glowing; my hair and nails got stronger; my sleep was better. I felt good. I used this feeling as motivation to keep going–there was so much information in the world of health and food, and I wanted to keep exploring all of it!
A year went by, and I slowly and naturally shifted to a heavy plant-based diet. I watched countless documentaries, followed YouTube vloggers and kept up with health bloggers, all to realize that I wanted to transition into a fully plant-based diet. Today, I follow a plant-based diet but I will forever be exploring the world of food and what works best for my body, simultaneously thinking of what is best for our planet.
Growing up in a household of traditional eaters, I was the odd one out. I remember grocery shopping, begging my mom to buy me the $15 hemp, flax and chia seed cereal, or being the only one at our Thanksgiving Dinner who was eating a side of peas for dinner. As I had no guru, no nutritionist, and no dietician to tell me what I should be eating or how to prepare myself alternative meals. I discovered this by trial and error, but it’s working!
Now, 5 years after starting my food journey, I am creating a never-ending supply of recipes, learning how to feed my readers, friends, and family, each with their own unique diet preferences. It has been an incredible journey, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you!
Sisley Killam is a budding holistic nutritionist and food blogger at www.thepurelife.ca . Struggling with a complicated diet over the past 5 years, Sisley found comfort in cooking healthy, fun and delicious meals. She fell in love with plant-based foods, holistic living, and soulful cooking. Studying at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, Sisley turned her dreams into a profession. You can often find Sisley at a café, sipping a soy chai latté working on her latest blog post, hiking in the North Shore mountains, in her cozy home – photographing her newest recipe, or getting mindful at a hot yoga class. Sisley hopes to inspire families by showing you how easy it is to cater to every diet – whether that be vegan, gluten-free or simply how to incorporate more plants into your diet! Follow Sisley along on her journey through her Instagram https://www.instagram.com/thep
Photo by Christine Pienaar