I wasn’t always a healthy eater, I have to admit to you that I am a lover of all food and it hasn’t always been a natural choice for me to choose the healthy options.
So where did my passion for healthy cooking and living come from?
I was a young mother at 22 and I was also someone who was either all on with food or all off and on a restrictive diet. Back then I had pretty much done all the diets! I would eat separately to my kids, on the couch in front of Home and Away, after they went to bed. I would give my small children chicken nuggets or something just as processed and unhealthy, every night! My meals would often be a highly processed diet meals in a box or some other diet that I was trying. I am embarrassed to admit it, but that is the truth and how it was for me.
In 2012 we went to Thailand for 4 weeks. I recongised at that point that I was not doing the best for myself or my family in terms of wholesome food. I had been in survival mode after being at university as a law student for 4 years so what ever was easy for me was what the kids ate. I felt exhausted by the drama, tears and fuss if I fed them anything remotely healthy, so it was easier to just give them the, food that made them happy (not healthy).
I made up all the excuses that my kids just didn’t like healthy food, they were fussy kids. But I know now, that I had created the entire problem myself.
When arrived in Thailand, I really wanted to experience the culture and the food, so I told my family that we are only eating local food and nothing else for the entire trip. At this stage the kids would have been 12, 8 and my daughter was around 2 years old. We were in an environment away from home and they believed that there were no other options, this it made it easier.
We went to local places and the kids ate a lot of rice! I ate lots of vegetables, fruits, meats and seafood, which I really enjoyed.
After 4 weeks of eating this way, I felt incredible. I have lost weight, my tummy was happy for the first ever as it always seemed to be upset with constant constipation, hot and cold sweats and diarrhea. My skin was glowing, I have no sugar cravings (I was a major sweet tooth) and I had zero bloating, plus I had loads of energy.
I came home and went back to my old way of eating, then all the symptoms returned. One day I was at my office and had a sudden tummy ache, I went to the loo and I sat there for so long, in pain that the automatic lights in the bathroom turned off. I sat there in the cubical in the dark and thought, Caralee you are ridiculous, you know what you need to do to feel good, why do you keep eating food that makes you feel this way, overweight and unhappy? I left the toilet that day and had decided I would start a new life, a new way of eating, not a diet but that I would commit to eating real food and cut out processed food. So I did!
I started my food blog, called Real Food Pledge (which is now caraleefontenele.com). I had always loved cooking but because I was always on a diet or had the self-limiting belief that all food made me overweight, I had not had been giving myself the joy of enjoying cooking or creating food.
With my new focus on real food, my passion for cooking and creating delicious food was able to be reignited.
I created recipes that I loved from the past, but with real food ingredients. I would tweak and create until I was happy with the recipe. I loved it.
This was and still is my creative outlet away from my day job which is hectic as a business owner and lawyer. I flourished in my mind, body and passion and have continued to do so. Since then I have published two recipe books Real Food Pledge and Real Food Everyday, which have been a great joy in my life. Now a third and even more amazing book is underway.
Today, I still love to live a real food life. I really believe that in our modern life we do tend to over complicate eating with all the things being thrown at us through marketing.
Keep it simple, eat the way that generations before us ate, simply, local and fresh.
Now I love to run my online program where I teach others how to cut out processed food, learn to love real food and live their best life.