Bonnie Stowell completely changed her father's diet following a shock diagnosis
Most of us know that eating healthily is important, but many people don't fully appreciating the importance of fuelling their body correctly until it is too late. One person who's seen the true transformational power of fresh, nutrient-rich, multitasking foods is Bonnie Stowell, chef and founder of food delivery service Spring Green London.
Bonnie realised that she wanted to work in food following a health scare that turned her father's life around. //
"My Dad has always looked really healthy but after divorcing from his wife he was just working really really hard and had a terrible, terrible diet. He wasn't overeating but he'd buy pre-packaged food, put it in the microwave at the end of the day and that was all he had – completely full of sugar and no fresh vegetables. And then for lunch he'd just go to the local café and have a bacon sandwich on white bread with ketchup, all washed down with around eight coffees, all with sugar.
"Water wasn't a concept for him – I don't think he ever drank water! And that was what he did for 15 years straight. We'd occasionally make him a salad but I think he was just taking it to work and throwing it away. Basically he just wouldn't even try to eat healthily."
The turning point
Everything came to a head for Bonnie's dad when he got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
"It got to the point where he was really lethargic and couldn't sleep properly. Then, out of the blue, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. We were all really shocked, including dad. It's a shame things had to go that far but it was definitely a massive wakeup call for him."
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is generally associated with individuals who are overweight or obese. It occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body's cells don't react to insulin, meaning that the glucose stays in the blood and isn't used as fuel for energy.
Plan of action
"The doctors weren't that helpful really – they just told him to take medication and be a bit healthier. So I did some of research into what we could do to help and ended up completely changing his diet."
Although type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition, certain lifestyle changes – such as eating healthily and exercising regularly – can reduce blood sugar levels to the point where medication is no longer necessary
"Dad started eating fresh vegetables and I started making him fresh meals and taking them over as I lived down the road from him. I'd give him recipes to try at home and he went from not knowing what to do in the kitchen to actually being quite a good cook! He also started cycling from Windsor to Fulham every day, and within 4 months he managed to reverse his type 2 diabetes and stop taking medication."
It was around this time that Bonnie decided to use her experience to set up Spring Green London, delivering wholesome food to people who – like her Dad – might not otherwise be eating a healthy diet.
"Nowadays Dad never eats anything unhealthy and cooks fresh food every day. Although I do still send him boxes occasionally!"
//The health foods you need in your kitchen
So, what's her secret? Here, Bonnie shares the top five foods that helped get her dad's health back on track.
1.Spinach, kale and all dark green leafy veg
"These can easily be added to your lunch or dinner and with a bit of seasoning taste delicious, and are high in essential vitamins minerals.
"Another fantastic source of vitamins and minerals, broccoli is a non starchy vegetable with little carbohydrates – perfect for anyone with diabetes.
3. Red berries
"All kinds of red berry are a great choice for those fighting diabetes or high cholesterol. They taste delicious and, again, are full of vitamins and fibre."
4. Wild salmon.
"This amazing fish is full of omega 3 and has zero carbohydrates or sugar – ideal for anyone with diabetes."
"Generally speaking, all seeds are good, but I favour pumpkin seeds as they are wonderfully versatile and can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Chia seeds are also real powerhouses of nutrition, packed with fibre, rich in omega 3, calcium and antioxidants.
For more information go to www.springgreenlondon.com.