Sometimes, just sometimes I stumble across someone on social media who makes me sit up and take notice, Hanna Sillitoe from My Goodness Recipes was one of those people. Last Christmas, a few months after giving birth I had an eczema flare up on my face that came out of nowhere. It was awful and I literally spent January hiding away behind closed doors, with a hood over my head, not wanting anyone to see me. It was a very low point and although it has eased, I dread it coming back. I’m always searching online for inspiration, answers and cures and that’s how I came across Hanna’s Instagram page and website. Hanna suffered from psoriasis and shared her before and after images. Hanna claimed to have resolved her skin issues through changing her diet alone, needless to say I was intrigued to find out more.
Having read Hanna’s story, something about her experience made her stand out from the other transformation stories that I’ve read. I’ve bought both the Deliciously Ella and the Natasha Corrett books, two incredibly popular ladies who have fixed their health problems through changing their diet and I really wanted to be inspired by them, but there was just something that just didn’t grab me about them. In her book Ella says she was so sick that she had a permanently bloated stomach, and Natasha also talks of feeling sick, bloated, having bad skin and being permanently tired but there are no ‘before’ images of either ladies in their glossy books, or online anywhere, strange, no? Not that I’m desperate to see bad photos, I just think it helps you relate to someone when you can see the journey they’ve been on. They’re selling themselves essentially right, and you need to believe them and the fact is I don’t fully believe the Ella and Natasha stories because they haven’t shown you the full extent of how bad it got for them. Whereas with Hanna, because she has shared everything, what she talks about seems a lot more attainable. She’s here to tell me her story.
Hi Hanna! Tell me a bit about yourself & your background
Hello I’m Hanna. My passions beyond all else are food, photography, fitness and travel. Combining any or all of these elements into my life is something I strive to do daily. Changing my own health and wellbeing through the power of food as medicine, filled me with a desire to inspire and educate others on the incredible benefits (and hindrances) the foods we choose to eat can provide. In turn, seeing the world and meeting new people furthers my learning and inspires me to create and photograph some incredible dishes which are as nutritious and wholesome as they are beneficial and beautiful. I love the outdoors, I’m definitely an adrenaline junkie, I ski, scuba, wakeboard, paramotor & flyboard. Life for me is about experiences over possessions ~ always. Travelling this beautiful earth, connecting with people, inspiring change. To give someone the opportunity to regain their health, wellbeing and energy through the very simple concept of a healthy diet is the most rewarding passion ever! I love to demonstrate that true health needn’t be about calorie counting and lettuce leaves. I’m a girl who lifts, trust me protein and good fats are essential to me! My diet and recipes involve lots of healthy, alkaline vegetables, nuts and seeds. Always nutritious, invariably enticing and very definitely good enough to eat!
When did your psoriasis first appear?
I first noticed little red dots on my skin twenty years ago. I was fifteen and taking my GCSE’s. My parents were getting divorced, home life was far from pleasant. I’m convinced the stress combination triggered my first flare.
How bad did it get & how did that make you feel?
My doctor treated my psoriasis as scabies. They put me on a course of antibiotics which, aside from making absolutely no difference to my skin, also stripped all my good gut bacteria. I fully believe this only made the problem worse. I was a self conscious teen, already battling acne. I felt absolutely horrendous.
How were you treating it?
Once I was correctly diagnosed, my cycle of steroid creams and topical treatments began. I used bath and shower emollients and slapped on tons of moisturiser to try and calm the redness.
What was your diet & lifestyle like at the time?
I was a typical teenager. My mother always fed my sister and I on a wholesome, healthy diet, but by fifteen I was earning pocket money and spending it on sweets and junk.
What was your ‘wake up’ moment, what made you finally decide enough is enough?
Eighteen months ago my skin flared horrendously. My psoriasis very rarely disappeared altogether, regardless of treatments. I occasionally achieved temporary remission, but the flares were often awful. Last year I’d split with my boyfriend, it was Christmas so the house was full of crisps, chocolate and junk, I was living on takeaways, drinking too much alcohol and generally feeling very miserable. My psoriasis flare was the worst ever. I went to the doctors and they started talking about immune system suppressants, medication similar to chemotherapy, designed to stop my over active immune system. It scared me, I decided in that moment there had to be a better, healthier alternative.
How did you find out about juicing & a clean diet?
I started reading. It had been years since I’d researched psoriasis online. I came across Jason Vale and Joe Cross, these giants of the juicing world had both healed their autoimmune skin conditions using the power of juiced fruit and veg. Literally extracting liquid from greens with the premise that feeding the body a ton of nutrition whilst giving it a break from digestion would allow underlying inflammation to heal. I decided I had to give it a try.
What was the first change you made with your diet/lifestyle, did you make changes slowly or all at once?
I began juicing. My skin was so painful I’d pretty much lost my appetite. I would have done anything to heal. I lived on liquid greens for a week and then slowly began to reintroduce light, clean meals. Lots of salads, a little fish, healthy home made soups.
How quickly did you start to see results or changes?
For the first two weeks my skin got worse. I’d read it might so I was prepared for that. Day 12 I woke up and something looked different, the redness had faded a little, I couldn’t be sure but it was the first positive sign. From then it just got better and better.
Were your family & friends supportive or did it take some time for them to come round to what you were doing?
My friends were wonderful. I often tell the story of my best friend Rachel and I travelling on a train to London. We had to see a client and I couldn’t skip the meeting. I covered myself in coconut oil and wrapped my body in cling film, it was the only way I could leave the house without the pain of clothes rubbing against my skin. I sat on that train with my green juice refusing the freebie sandwiches and wine in first class! I was absolutely determined to change. My dad was so inspired by the change in my health he bought a juicer! My close friends and neighbours did the same. I think it’s impossible to watch someone go through such an amazing transformation without being inspired to try it.
What is your diet & lifestyle like now?
My lifestyle is crazily different! I have so much energy it’s incredible. I box, I lift weights, I compete in triathlons, I swim in lakes, I wakeboard, I’m so active and absolutely love it! I wear short sleeves endlessly – that will never get boring!! My diet is absolutely clean. I no longer drink alcohol, I don’t eat sugar, I avoid gluten and dairy. It sounds ridiculously restrictive but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s opened my eyes to a whole new world of food. I spend my time blogging, writing articles on food and skin and helping others with acne, eczema and psoriasis get better. I’ve found my purpose in life and I’m so very grateful.
What would you say to someone suffering from skin problems, where should they start if they want to make a change like you have?
Drink water! It’s the cheapest, easiest start you can make. I drink 3-4 litres per day, but even upping your intake to 2 litres initially is a brilliant start. I know we’re all told that hydration is key to healthy skin but honestly it’s so important. My skin isn’t just clear, it feels completely different. Secondly buy a juicer and thirdly bathe in dead sea salts and apply coconut oil as your preferred moisturiser. Oh and lastly, don’t be afraid of the sun. Gradual, gentle exposure to sunshine will feed your skin the vitamin D it needs to stay healthy. My free skin guide is available on my website.
And finally, what does the future hold for My Goodness, what are you up to or working on at the moment?
My book! I’m so excited to be able to share everything I’ve learned. It will be a combination of my story which I hope will be relatable for people with all sorts of skin conditions and plant powered recipes for health. I’ve helped lots of people already through blogging and social networking, it’s exciting to think how many more I’ll be able to help heal naturally through sharing my story on a bigger scale.
What an inspiring woman. I’ve started incorporating some of Hanna’s juices into my diet and I’ve tried out a few of her recipes (her Sweet Potato Rostis are amazing) To anyone out there struggling with skin problems, have a look at Hanna’s website and download her skin plan to get you started. Worth a try, right?