When Gemma Mullinger heard about juicing back in 2012, she was cynical and wondered why not simply eat fruit and vegetables instead. Now, she believes it helped reverse her Ulcerative Colitis. This is her story…
When did you first start juicing and how did you first learn about the idea?
I began juicing in 2012. I had been training to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer for about 6 months and one of my tutors told me about juicing. I was initially cynical, and wondered why she didn’t just eat the fruit and vegetables instead.
What made you decide to start juicing?
I did a bit of research and soon realised the benefits that could be enjoyed from juicing. I was particularly keen to improve my IBS and Ulcerative Colitis symptoms (I was diagnosed with these conditions in 2011) I purchased a low-price juicer from a local department store and gave it a go.
Did you follow a specific program, if so which one?
I did not follow a specific program. I started by having one juice every morning before breakfast, and this is pretty much how I have carried on. I have tried a couple of juice cleanses in the last 5 years, but I have not used set recipes for these.
Did you have any medical conditions prior to juicing?
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and IBS in 2011.
I was very unwell for 3 weeks prior to the diagnosis and had to take time off of work for the first time in my life. I ended up being admitted to hospital and prescribed steroids to initially get things under control.
Upon returning to work as a deputy supermarket manager after a month off, I felt weak and unable to cope with the physical and mental demands of my job.
I resigned and shortly after signed up for a course to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer. I wanted to be part of an industry where I could help people be happier and healthier, but also achieve these things for myself.
Was weight loss one of the reason you started juicing? If so, what other diets had you tried and how successful were they?
I had already undertaken a weight loss journey the year before I started juicing.
In 2011, having previously hated fitness, I started attended group exercise classes at my local leisure centre. It was there that I started to develop a passion for something I never thought I would even be able to tolerate.
I lost over 2st. I am convinced that juicing has helped me to maintain my weight.
What have you found to be the biggest changes / benefits you’ve experienced since you started juicing?
My digestion is very much much improved.
Since coming off of my medication for Ulcerative Colitis in 2012, I have since had no flare ups and have controlled the condition with no further medical intervention. In fact, I would currently go as far as to say I feel completely cured.
As for IBS, I have realised that this is not a specific health condition, but instead a term used to describe digestive health issues which cannot be attributed to a particular condition.
My problems were almost certainly caused by my diet. My skin is healthier and my energy levels has changed dramatically.
Since you started juicing what have you found most challenging and how did you deal with this challenge?
I thoroughly enjoy drinking the juice, and have no problem planning, preparing and shopping to enable me to juice every day. However, my biggest challenge is a silly one really! I just don’t like cleaning the juicer!
How has juicing changed your life?
My health is excellent now, and I don’t suffer with nasty symptoms from my digestive health conditions.
It is a habit which is just as important as having a shower and brushing my teeth every morning. I love the feeling of vitality I get from having a juice.
I drank juice daily throughout my pregnancy in 2016, and felt sure it helped me – I have no cravings, gained minimal weight and was able to stay active throughout.
I unexpectedly had my baby 7 weeks early by emergency C section, and my partner Tina brought juice in to the hospital the day after our son was born. I was discharged from hospital less than 24 hours after his birth and my recovery was quick and problem free.
Our little boy had a few problems in the first days of his life, but surprised us all by being fighting fit after that. I like to think that my juice drinking and healthy eating in pregnancy helped him to get better too. He has now got a great immune system and loves having little samples of our morning juices!
Any juicing tips you have picked up along the way?
Ginger is good for preventing colds – I actually think it really works!
What resources (books, websites, movies, etc) have helped you on your journey and why?
Which do you think is more essential to health and wellbeing, exercise or diet and nutrition?
I think that both are obviously important but if I had to choose one I would place more value on nutrition.
How much and what kinds of exercise do you regularly do?
I exercise most days. I am almost constantly active during the day anyway – pottering around, cleaning, tidying, playing with my 10 month old etc. I teach 2-3 spin classes a week, a mother and baby fitness class, and a yoga style session, all of which I participate in. I also walk a lot and try and squeeze in a weights session at the gym when I can.
What do you eat / drink on a typical day?
Breakfast is something different every day – an omelette, mushrooms on toast, avocado and eggs on toast, baked eggs, porridge etc. And a juice of course!
Lunch might be left overs from the night before, salad, homemade soup.
Our evening meals are full of variety as I love cooking. I’m loving cauliflower steaks right now, spinach and ricotta canneloni, stuffed courgettes, vegetable curry etc.
Is your diet completely vegetarian / vegan?
We have been following a predominantly vegetarian diet over the last 3 months, since watching a documentary called ‘What The Health’.
Tina and I had watched several programmes like this before, but this one had more of an effect on us both, for some reason. We decided to try going meat-free for 3 weeks initially, just to see how we felt.
We both were surprised to feel much healthier, and we wanted to continue. We had both been big fans of meat previously and ate a lot of it. We now eat meat perhaps once a fortnight, but do include fish once or twice a week. This works well for us as a family.
What are your thoughts on caffeine and alcohol?
I tend to drink herbal tea, but do enjoy a cup of earl grey in the morning. I don’t drink coffee because I don’t like the taste. I personally think that moderation is key for both of these. I have alcohol occasionally at social events – perhaps once a month.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about adding juicing to their life?
Do it! Give it a try and when you feel the benefits you won’t want to stop.
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