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Meet Anne Coates – One of the Family

Meet in UK
  • Anne and Alastair Coates family eating recipe for Quinoa, mushroom and walnut salad and pineapple tomato salsa Foodadit
  • Anne Coates shares her story about diet, nutrition and food with Foodadit
  • Anne Coates enjoying Quinoa Burger Salad and Pineapple Salsa Foodadit
  • Anne Coates Alastair Coates after cooking together for Foodadit
On 11th October 2015

Anne, also known to us as Alastair’s Mum, is feeling great. But that hasn’t always been the case. For almost 14 years, she was plagued with daily symptoms of extreme fatigue, stomach problems, constant headaches and survived on three or four hours of sleep each night. One day, a chance encounter with a naturopath changed her life. Since then, Anne hasn’t looked back – she’s feeling stronger, happier and more energetic.

How much support did you receive when you first started experiencing symptoms?

At the time it was was virtually unheard of to be intolerant or allergic to something and when I first visited the doctors I was made to feel like it was all in my head. I was definitely put off from seeking help because I felt that they didn’t believe me.

However, I was eventually sent for a colonoscopy and the nurse who carried out the procedure insisted on sending me to see an allergy specialist who was in the hospital at the time. I was then quickly referred to a private allergy specialist who rang my GP to make sure that the NHS would cover the treatment. Under this specialist I had Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD) through a series of injections. I saw her for these injections over the course of five years and my health gradually began to improve.

For me, she was my heroine, but for others in the medical world she was incredibly controversial and she was constantly having to defend her approaches. When she moved away I was ok for a few years but gradually my health deteriorated and the cycle of not sleeping, headaches and fatigue started again.

At what point did you feel like you had to seek medical help again?

It came to a head on a holiday to Berlin with my daughter when I was so ill that I was having to run from toilet to toilet. When I got back to the UK I went back to the GP, who told me that it was quite normal to have diarrhoea for three weeks.

The symptoms continued and my family nagged me to go back, but of course, it’s discouraging when a medical expert doesn’t really believe you.

How has seeing a naturopath changed the way you are approaching your diet?

At the moment, I’m quite lucky because I’m in a good place.  I’ve had some help from a naturopath and she was the first person who suggested I keep a food diary to keep a note of what I was eating and how I was feeling. It was really good to have someone say, stop this, but try this as a replacement. Simple things like incorporating rices cakes into my diet and providing me with links to a few websites to find ideas and recipes helped me to get off to a good start.

She was horrified to see how much wheat I was having and that my diet had barely any protein in it.  I’m a vegetarian but I can’t eat beans, and lentils or soy and so I was just getting my protein from cheese and nuts which really wasn’t very healthy for me at all. Now I have a rice protein that I put into drinks but I have to admit that I’m sometimes bad at remembering to take it, so I could probably still do with more in my diet!

Was it worth seeking alternative treatment to support your health?

Over the years I’ve spent an absolute fortune with all the different supplements but it’s been worth it. Every time I go to see her I know there’s going to be a big bill but this is having a really beneficial impact on my health.  I know if I went home and told my husband that I hadn’t got all the supplements I needed he would just tell me to do it. It’s cost a lot but I’m feeling really well now and so it’s worth it.

Do you find there are enough alternatives out there for you?

I don’t like milk so I don’t miss dairy too much, and when I make sauces I use almond milk.  I’m very good at finding alternatives or going on the internet to find lots of recipes that are delicious. They aren’t necessarily good for my weight, but my naturopath agrees the focus should be to get stronger, and then make adjustments later on.

Do you eat out a lot?

That is always a challenge and we don’t eat out very much at all, partly because I’m a very adventurous cook so I like looking for new things. It’s often difficult to find somewhere that serves something I can eat.  I worry that they’re thinking that I’m very fussy, though they probably wouldn’t be thinking that at all. There are times when I feel very uncomfortable and I think that is also a reason why we don’t go out as much. I used to like Indian food a lot but because I can’t have lentils and beans and cream it limits me a lot. On the odd occasion we do eat out, I research the place on the internet before we go.

When you’re constantly ill it puts a huge amount of pressure on your family as well as on you. It also affects your confidence. Even now, although I’m feeling so much better, apart from going to work, I’m not keen on going out to socialise.

What’s your favourite dish that you like to rustle up?

My favourite quick meal would be something like a very thick minestrone soup with pasta, chopped tomatoes with lots of chunky vegetables. But if I have a bit more time, I really love making Quinoa Burgers, and my family loves them too. I also bake a lot of cakes and that’s what I’ve got to stop! But my approach has definitely changed. Even when Alastair, who is vegan, isn’t at home now, I use puréed apple instead of eggs as I just think it tastes nicer.

As a family we’re very tolerant to any sort of dietary requirement and we always find a way to fit in around everything.

What would you advise people who are experiencing similar symptoms to yours?

Don’t take no for an answer – go and get medical help first to eliminate any serious conditions but then if they’re not being taken seriously, seek alternatives. Some GPs might have the right knowledge to guide people in the right direction, but it didn’t work for me.

I‘ve seen acupuncturists and all sorts of alternative therapists and the first person you see isn’t necessarily the right one for you. But then, when you find the match and someone listens, understands and helps you, everything starts falling into place.

Article by Alanna Lawley
Pictures by Kasia Zacharko

Anne Coates

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Seek alternatives until someone listens to you and is able to help you.