Category Archives: Changing Your LIfe

An Auto-Immune Update

carla coulson, ranunculas, flowers paris, fleuriste paris, pink flowers, pink,

Thanks to everyone who has written to me and asked me to keep them posted on my progress treating my 3 auto-immune conditions naturally.

I have been wanting to share my latest results from December with you but raced off to Australia to teach a workshop and soak up the sun.

I have continued to eat the way I explained in this post here and live the same way but a couple of habits have crept back in like coffee. I love coffee and it’s been a hard one for me to let go of.

For the first 8 months I didn’t let a drop pass my lips but prior to Christmas and in Australia I was back to having a good coffee 3 or 4 times a week and in Oz almost everyday.

I also started to re-introduce grains such as rice and sarrasin (buckwheat) but in all honesty I feel better without them.

So here’s the score card from December..

Alopecia Areata – Gone, gone, gone.. All 3 bald spots have re-grown and I have a fabulous ‘horn’ sticking straight out of my head where the regrowth is so strong it just grows vertically. Francesco thinks I will soon ‘be growing hair on my back’..

Thyroid Values/Graves Disease – These values were ‘kicked to the kerb’, as my American friend loves to say back in August. All three thryoid values were back in range and have remained there and I have no symptoms at all. You can see the results here and how they changed from my first blood test.

Lichen Sclerosus – This was the trickiest Auto-immune to deal with but I have decided was the easiest way to measure my overall health. When I ate the wrong foods or stressed myself out it hurt like hell. Since early December my dear friend Lichen and I are on the very best of terms. I behave myself and so does he!! All lesions have healed and I have the occasional itchy attack when I eat too many food with oxalates in them.. You can read the details when I discovered what oxalates were back in May here and how I adopted a low oxalate diet.

TSH Antibodies – I started this adventure with TSH anti-bodies measuring 11.9 which I believe indicates the severity of Graves Disease. Over the past months every blood test the anti-bodies continue to drop as my body self heals. My latest test in December dropped again and mumma is getting closer to ‘zippo’. They are now at 3.22 and the antibodies need to be under 1.75 to be home free. This has been the progress..

TSH Antibodies – Dates and Blood Results – Under 1.75 to be in remission

23/12/2014 – 11.9

4/2/2014 – 7.54

22/4/2014 – 6.49

14/8/2014 – 4.86

18/12/2014 – 3.22

Francesco and I decided to do our own form of ‘lent’ this year. For forty days  he would try to give up coffee, wine and ciggies and I would go back to no coffee or grains.

There is another reason too, some of my little lovelies have started their own adventures with auto-immunes (not their choice) and I want to help them make this road easier. So just after Easter I am hoping to have my last blood test and kiss this chapter goodbye.. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime I will leave you with some lovely links especially if you are a mum and you are trying to find some healthy living alternatives for your children.

I love:

The Organic Sisters – Two lovely sisters with children who have had their own health issues and changed their diets. They share wonderful recipes with a simple list of ingredients that work. They also have e-books for lunch boxes and sugar free sweets

Mummamara’s Kitchen – This is a recent discovery through my dear friend Ath. Mara shares great recipes with a focus on family food. Great for kids..

Healy Eats Real -  I discovered Hannah Healy one day on Dr. Google when I was dying for a crunchy biscuit. I found this delicious recipe for Ginger Snap Cookies. I often use chestnut flour instead of the almond and coconut flour.

I Quit Sugar – The lovely Sarah Wilson has made it easy for all of us. There is every cookbook here for kids, adults, cooking in your slow cooker, smoothies and chocolate

Paleo Grubs – has an exhaustive range of meal ideas and you download this dessert E-Book for free

Pete Evans – has developed a ten week program with recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you can’t think of what to do with another root vegetable (aka us poor Northern Europeans in winter) check out his Paleoway

I have gathered all my auto-immune posts together so if you are too struggling with an AI you can read what I have been up to here

Wishing you the very best of good health and I will check back in after Easter.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Ghandi

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The King’s (Avedon) Message

avedon cat, carla coulson

 King Avedon Copyright Carla Coulson

Ze Carla az kindly let me have ze blog to tell you a little about ze New Year in Paris.

Ze Paris iz always a good idea but last year it waz extra good. We had ze sun, yes ze sun waz shining in ze Paris a lot more zhan I am used to so zhat meant more of ze bistro lunches on ze terrace, more lying on ze floor warming ze heart and ze fur on ze tummy and ze sleeping it comes very eazy with ze sun.

When you are born in ze Paris like me you appreciate many of ze French tings.

Like we like ze talking in ze low voice (I even purr quietly), we like ze fine things (ze duck and ze foie gras) and zhose chocolates like ze new man in me building makes (Pierre Herme). When we go to ze café we sit at ze tables zhat are really close together but we never look ze cat next to us in ze eye. And ze waiter when he wants to ignore us he never looks us in ze eye. Looking in ze eyes is big code in Paris. If you come to Paris and no one looks you in ze eye it just means zhey aren’t ready to serve you. Parisian catz know zis isn’t ze rude way it’s just ze French code.

If you haven’t been to ze Paris you will see on the streets ze poulet roti (roast chicken) and zhey drive me wild and me dreams are filled with zhose little terrines of ze piggy and ze livers. I have ze dream of being a vegetarian zhen I take ze walk through ze Marais and see the golden poulet going around and around in ze machine and me little head starts to spin and I want to attack ze whole machine and take zhem all home to eat. Grrr.. and me plans of being a vegetarian are spoiled for anozer time.

Ze Marais is really having ze shaking up lately. More of ze fine tings in ze pretty shops are here like le ze candles of ze Cire Trudon who have moved onto me street (I swear zhey have the poulet roti candle I can smell it in me dreams) and de chocolate man Mr. Pierre Herme haz ze pretty shop in our building. He makes ze macarons with ze strange flavours zhat us Parisian cats like, foie gras (what waz he tinking) and ze truffle.

In ze summer when it’s not freezing me paws off I go down in ze morning to say hello at ze window and see ze lovely macarons and ze chocolates. I give them me ‘starving Paris cat face’ in ze hope zay may bring a little something to ze door with ze foie gras in it. No chocolate pleaze.

I am a king cat (zhat means I am ze boss around here) and someone needs to rule zees two ozerwise I wouldn’t get the best tucker and me bed wouldn’t be made of cashmere and me dinner wouldn’t be 3 courses. I give zhem ze shaking up when zhey get a little lazy and do the relaxing a little too much.

In me next life I am going to be a pirate and sail ze seas with ze other cats and we we will go to ze places with ze sun, ze Bahamas, ze Greece and ze Morocco where you find ze curvy girls catz. Did I mention I love ze sun? Sometimes I need to push the poulet roti over in me dreams to make space to dream about ze sun. Ze perfect life I tink would be hugging a poulet roti in ze sun maybe in ze Greece with ze curvy girl cats nearby.

I know youze will have a good year zhis year and I know youze love ze travel like ze furless mummy. We have a lot in common. Ze FM and I we both dream of ze sunny places lying on ze beach on ze stripey beach bed, me with ze poulet roti and FM with ze camera.

I know ze 2015 is going to be ze best year of your life. Us Parisian catz we do ze meditating, we tink a lot about what we want in ze life (you know we have many) and zhen we close our eyes, hold our paws together and say ‘puuuuurrrrrrrrrr’ and what we want comes true.

Itz ze same for you. If you want a poulet roti or to be a photographer like FM you just need to meditate on it, close your eyes, believe you catz can do it oh and zhen work very hard to make it happen.

Ze important ting is to believe in your dreams (even if they are dominated by poulet roti). Ze dreams are ze little messages to us catz and zhey are important especially when you live in ze Paris.

I know zhis because I have had ze many lives. Every life I believe in me dreams and zhey come true and ze same can happen for you catz.

So if your dreams for 2015 have ze Paris in zhem please come to see ze Marais with ze shaking up and when you are walking down ze street one day you might see me looking in ze window of ze Pierre Herme. You will recognize me cause I am ze spicy one.

Peace, love and light (and poulet roti) from your favourite Parisian cat

Happy 2015..

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” Voltaire

Avedon..








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Mini Italian Joy

italian joy, carla coulson, lantern books, italy, escape to italy, starting over in italy, photography, photographer,

‘There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning”. Louis L’Amour (from Italian Joy)

It’s such a beautiful thing to have a book published, it’s the most extraordinary feeling to have your story wrapped between two covers. It’s even better when you slowly find out other people love it.

I have officially been part of 8 books (photographed and written 3 and photographed 5 others) and I have loved working beside such incredibly talented people.

But there is nothing like your first book, in my case it was my story about leaving my life, chasing a simpler life, finding Italy, photography and love. It was story it seemed that resonated with many people around the world who too were looking for a life with more meaning. And many slowly made their way into my life.

Italian Joy was first published in 2005 and this year it has been re-published in a smaller, soft cover version and it’s adorable. I want to tuck it into my handbag and carry it with me!

It’s a story many generations can relate to, a common story that in a funny way has no time or era, it’s just about living life the way you thought you wanted to live it and finding emotions and happiness you never thought possible.

If you have someone in your family who has itchy feet, not sure where they are going or loves Italy they may just love the “mini me’ version of Italian Joy. Oh and the great news it’s only $31.95!!

You can find it online here or in all good bookstores in Australia.

The lovely Jilly Bennett just sent me a note to say most of my books are available in the Uk via The Book Depository

Wishing you a fabulous Christmas and holiday season.

 

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PS> I would love you to tell your friends x








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Why The Gods Gave Me A Cat And You..

carla coulson, susan papazian,

Photo Copyright the marvellous Susan Papazian

On Tuesday I had a big FAT birthday.. I will let you figure out which one but a week or two prior it was sending seismic waves through my life, loads of thoughts and emotions about life in general.

There are moments in life that make us stop, reflect on where we are, how far we have come and where we are going. I had the great fortune to celebrate with a photo shoot by photographer Susan Papazian and boy did we have fun (see image above).

So much has happened since I left my old life, dare I say it, 14 years ago. So many extraordinary moments I would never have had the chance to live if I was still sitting at a desk doing something I didn’t care about. I’m grateful for every day.

Looking back I can hardly believe it’s true, so many wonderful people have helped me, gave me a chance when they didn’t need to and supported me in what I was doing. For me I have never felt it has been a solo effort,  I have always believed that the universe and ‘you’ wanted it to work out.

When I walked into a darkroom in Florence in 2000 I had no idea I was starting the first day of a new life, if I had known all of the living that was in front of me I probably would have done it a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong there has been anxiety, tears, hardship, and fear in large doses but the love, happiness, excitement of doing something I love and personal reward and meeting you have far outweighed the rest.

I really feel as though the universe has already handed out too much to me. How come I was so lucky to have found my way to photography? You see photography for me is more than taking pictures, photography is my emotional language, the way I see the world, the way I communicate, the way I feel and interpret people and situations and it has connected me to you.

There was a time in my early forties when it hit me like a head on train crash that I had forgot to have a baby? I remember wandering around Paris hearing that clock ticking in my head and freaking me out like it has done to so many women of my generation.

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Auto-Immune..Going, Going Almost Gone

Carla Coulson Loc Boyle

Me by fab photographer Loc Boyle


I have been meaning to write this post for the longest time.

I know many of you are in the same auto-immune boat as me although you may have a different auto-immune condition such as fibromyalgia, vitiligo, sarcoidosis or one of the hundreds of auto-immunes see here (staggering).

I have received loads of emails and questions from my original posts here and here about my progress with my new way of eating and my wholistic approach to Graves Disease, Alopecia Areata and Lichen Sclerosous.

Before I go on, I am not recommending anyone on medication to stop. If you want to change your diet you need to do it with the supervision of a good naturopath or Functional doctor.

One of the stand-out things I have found about auto-immune conditions is that we are surrounded by them, it seems degenerative disease is our generations gift for eating way to much processed food, living a fast lifestyle and not listening to our bodies and not taking enough time out. Ask a friend, family member, work colleague and you will be surprised who is suffering.

I have tried to quantify this diet and my lifestyle changes since January by having regular blood tests and the results have been overwhelming. So overwhelming I kept going.

As a reward after my recent holiday I had a blood test and the news was so fab I wanted to share the results with you.

Thyroid problemResolved!!! When I started this diet back in January my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was almost nonexistent. In December 2013 my TSH was 0.005 and as at Mid August it was 2.240 (so in the range it’s scary). Do the math (cause I am a photographer and not very good at it) but that is a massive jump. See comprehensive test results at the end of the post with monthly moves..

Auto-immune Antibodies – Down from 11. 9 in December to 4.8 in August. They need to get under 1.75 to be home free (in remission) so not there yet but getting closer

Alopecia Areata – Hair growing in all 3 bald spots. Gawd this makes me happy. Lovely little black and grey hairs 3 inches long filling all three baldies!

Lichen Sclerous – Prior to March I was still having problems with Lichen Sclerosous. I ended up in this private forum and discovered Oxalates. A word I had never heard before and one that has changed my life. I added a Low Oxalate diet to my Paleo Diet and I believe going on the Low Oxalate diet was the thing that hastened healing of all three auto-immune conditions.

Is the Low Oxalate diet fun? NO, but neither is Lichen Sclerosous or any of the others AI’s. I had almost instant results once I started this and then my thyroid values moved enormously so I have a sneaky feeling Oxalate is the new black. I think Oxalates are to blame for auto-immune as much as Gluten.. And I never believed in detox symptoms till I met Mr. Oxalate..

Without a doubt cutting Gluten and processed foods out was the first great step I took but discovering the Low Oxalate Diet was the second one.

There is so much great information out there and I will try and share as many links here as possible but all Auto-immune disease stems from a leaky gut so the important thing is to heal your intestine and then your body will heal itself. World expert Dr. Alessandro Fasano explains it here

Snapshot of Auto-Immune

  1. Leaky Gut – We all have compromised digestion thanks to years of processed foods and food intolerances. Sarah Wilson explains it simply here
  2. Inflammation – Is the root of all auto-immune and most disease. Things that cause inflammation are sugar, coffee, refined foods, alcohol and processed foods. Dr Mark Hyman explains it here 
  3. Food Intolerance –Weakens the immune system..seems a large part of the human race is allergic to lactose and gluten.. more info here
  4. Give your system a break – By taking away irritating foods and flooding it with nutrition from whole foods and supporting it with complimentary holistic treatments such as acupuncture, massage and shiatsu.
  5. Get Moving – One of the best anti-imflammatory of all time, you don’t need to run or go to the gym. Walking is great.
  6. Practice deep relaxation – Such as yoga, meditation and long walks
  7. Be patient – Let your body heal itself naturally.. We took a lifetime to get into this situation its going take time to get out of it.

Carla Coulson greens

The Way I Eat

No Gluten

No Dairy

No Coffee,

No Alcohol,

In general no grains or legumes but I do eat rice a couple of times a week

No Sugar (sugar is in everything once you read the labels) this includes almost all sauces

No processed food, this pretty much knocks out everything on the supermarket shelves

Organic fresh fruit and vegetables, a small amount of nuts, organic eggs and meat and wild fish (I eat meat once a week)

Good fats, such as avocados, organic butter, cold-pressed olive oil and coconut oil – this is really important.. I have learnt fat doesn’t make you fat. I have never eaten more fat in my life and it has had no impact on my cholesterol only my waist (it’s thinner).

I started eating fermented foods 

Most auto-immune diets also knock-out nightshades, I reduced them but still put capsicum in salads and ate the odd tomato.

I Stopped:

Using all perfumes and non-organic body products including hair shampoos, body creams

Flouride toothpaste

Being connected 24/7 to social media and working like a maniac

Got rid of all cleaning products in the house and replaced them with eco versions.

I Started:

Walking everyday for 45 mins (exercise is the best anti-inflammatory there is)

Getting 15 mins of sun where I could (to help with low Vitamin D levels)

Meditating twice a day

Making bone broths to substitute eating meat.

Drinking filtered water

Drinking herbal teas, Rosehip for Vitamin C and Nettle for Iron

Bought an earthing mat for our bed – these videos are interesting

Reduced stress and my workload

Supplements:

These are some of the natural supplements that were prescribed to me by my naturopath. I would suggest seeing a great naturopath for your specific health needs.

Cod liver Oil once a day – a teaspoon

Silica

Magnesium

Vitamin B12

Hawthorn

Vitamin D3 1000 u

Grapefruit seed oil

Symptons of Auto-Immune:

Chronic tiredness (like falling asleep at lunch)

Heart palpitations (thyroid)

Anxiety (thyroid)

Chronic Candida

Muscle fatigue (I could hardly climb to the 2nd floor without feeling like it was Mount Everest)

Sleep problems (thyroid)

Baldness 3 totally bald spots on my head (Alopecia Areata)

Itchiness and lesions (Lichen Sclerosous)

Brain Fog and a sense of not being here (thyroid)

Itchiness on the front of my shins

Bumps on the backs of the top of your arms

Phlegm

Millions of small pimples that look like a heat rash but were discovered in the middle of winter

There are a million other systems but these were some of mine.

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

Was it difficult to go on the Paleo diet? and how much meat to you eat? No. I have always loved eating well and had previously bought organic food but was almost exclusively vegetarian unless eating at someone’s place and I didn’t want to cause a fuss. I was eating loads of carbohydrates and almost no protein. When I made the switch I found I was rarely hungry and no longer had sugar highs and lows thanks to the whole food diet and eating good fats and protein. I eat pastured raised meat once a week and make bone broths to put in soups and stews. For me the focus is on fruit and vegetables and I eat a lot of eggs.

What was the hardest thing to give up? For me it was coffee, I love coffee and even now my morning doesn’t feel like it ‘starts’ because there is no coffee ritual. In the past couple of weeks on the weekend I make a big deal of going out and finding a great coffee in Paris and enjoying it like it is truly special instead of using it like a crutch as I did before.

Any setbacks? Yes. Once early on when my system was very fragile I kicked off the Graves again by eating lots of sugary fruit (bananas, pineapple and mango together). I did the same thing this summer when I ate an enormous gelato (first one in 8 months) and nothing happened so I ate another one the next day and then thyroid was off and running again with heart palpitations and exhaustion for a week.

How do I handle travel? I travel regularly for work and take my own food stocks. When I worked in the mountains in Italy for a week I took canned sardines, pre boiled eggs, avocados, baked banana bread (I substitute the almond flour with chestnut flour and go light on the honey) and fruit in case I couldn’t access what I needed when I arrived. Guess what? I couldn’t..

Do I eat out? I rarely eat out preferring my own food!!! Gluten is in everything, in Thai sauces and other foods I love. I eat Japanese and take my own gluten free Tamari, chose things like Omelettes or ask how the fish etc is cooked. Have been caught out with batters and breadcrumbs many times.

If and when I go into remission will I go back to eating gluten? Getting off Gluten has been one of the greatest and liberating experiences in my adult life. I no longer need to walk into the local bakery ever again and the bonus has been a slimmer waist and better health. It has allowed me to reconnect with real food and cooking it in a respectful way.

Any health bonuses you didn’t imagine? I have been plagued with headaches my whole life. Since changing the way I live and eat I haven’t had a headache for 6 months and I have lost four kilos. My husband who has had chronic ‘wake you up at night’ Eczema since he was a teenager has lost 12 kilos and his eczema has gone. He wasn’t convinced about the diet till he saw this film. Now he is the world’s number 2 fan (after me).

Where there any times you felt like giving up? There was a day afterI had been on the Low Oxalate diet for a couple of months when I realised there wasn’t a lot of fun in my life at the time. I had read everything I could on diet, I was not only gluten, sugar, alcohol, coffee, processed food free but also free of almonds, sweet potato, chocolate, figs and many other heavenly foods I loved. I was miserable, from that day forward I decided to lighten up and have more fun, have a massage, go to the cinema and forget my oxalate obsession for a while and be kind to myself.

Is it expensive? Yes, without a doubt I am spending twice the amount of money on food that I previously did and wholistic practitioners aren’t covered in the health care system in France. I cart home a shopping caddy full of fresh fruit and vegetables twice a week but being sick is also expensive. I am investing in my health now instead of later and seeing the benefits makes it worth while.

Any Tips on making the change? The toughest thing about eating this way is that you need to be organised and always have food handy. This means thinking and preparing in advance, always having the fridge stocked and something in your camera bag or handbag.

What reactions do you commonly have when you tell people how you are eating? The most common reaction is suspicion. People tend to not believe you and think you are slightly kooky. Try telling an Italian that the pasta they have been feeding their child it’s whole life is causing him/her harm! It’s like saying the very fabric of their culture is turning on them. Much easier to walk away from it than believe it.

Anything else you would like to add? This has been one of the most empowering experiences in my life. Seeing that my body can heal itself with kindness, good food and love is a powerful feeling. We all make such a big deal about eating like this but it’s simply returning to the way our Grandparents ate.

Want to learn more:

The Perfect Human Diet – A documentary that explains the concept of Paleo eating

The Wahls Protocol
– Written by the doctor who had MS and was in a well chair for years) after one month on her diet she could walk with crutches, after 5 months she rode a bike and after 1 year she rode 50kms. This book explains degenerative disease in simple language and gets into the details of what to eat.. Wonderful.

Minding Your Mitochondria – Terry Wahls Ted Talk on diet and disease

Sarah Wilson – Sarah has a section on her blog discussing auto-immune here

Practical Paleo – A great practical guide to understanding your particular auto-immune condition, what to eat and some great recipes.

Nourishing Traditions – One of my favourite books recommended by a dear friend and tells us the traditional ways to prepare foods.. Love this book

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration – If you want to go the whole way this is a study done in the thirties by Weston Price. He travelled the world to find people who were still eating traditional diets untouched by white man’s food. I loved it.

My Blood Results from December to August

Red Means the values are out of the range

TSH – The accepted Range is from 0.270 – 4.20

23/12/2013 – .005

4/2/2014 – .005

22/4/2014 – .770 (woohoo in range)

14/8/2014 – 2,240 (woohoo in range)

T3 – The accepted range is from 0.93 – 4.40

23/12/2014 – 5.6

4/2/2014 – 4.5

22/4/2014 – 2.50 (woohoo in range)

T4 – The accepted range is from 9.3 – 17

23/12/2014 – 20.1

4/2/2014 - 16 (woohoo in range)

22/4/2014 – 12 (woohoo in range)

Auto-immune antibodies – The accepted range is under 1.75

23/12/2014 – 11.9

4/2/2014 – 7.54

22/4/2014 – 6.49

14/8/2014 – 4.86

 If you are wondering why I have gone to the trouble of adding my test results its because throughout these eight months its the one piece of information I couldn’t find on the internet. Nobody had quantified their results and shown their progress although many spoke of healing.

I did this for all of those like me who were searching for an alternative to the doctor’s standard response of ‘its incurable you will have to live with it for the rest of your life.’

I believed it was possible and I can see it is.

Wishing you all good health and happiness.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

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Please share for the good health of those we love..x








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