Ella Mills on the ‘devastating illness’ that kickstarted her health journey
Ella Mills, author and creator of Deliciously Ella, leads a plant-based lifestyle and we want to know all about it. The blogger-turned-businesswoman will join team IMAGE on the evening of 4th September to share her top tips for enjoying a healthy and balanced lifestyle (tickets available here). There’ll be canapés, champagne, and a Q&A; but ahead of that, Ella sat down to talk about the illness that kick-started her health journey.
“This whole journey started as a reaction to an illness I was diagnosed with in 2011, called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome,” she began. “The illness had a pretty devastating effect on my life; both mentally and physically. Physically, my autonomic nervous system struggled to function properly, which meant I couldn’t control my heart rate and blood pressure properly. My heart rate would go from about 60 when I was sitting to 180 as soon as I stood up). I also had other issues; from terrible stomach problems to constant headaches. I had lots of allergic reactions and chronic fatigue – so I spent almost all my time on my own in bed.
Related: Inside Deliciously Ella’s self-care routine
“I had just turned twenty at this point, and I felt so alienated from my friends,” Ella recalls. “I really struggled to get my head around what was happening and I cut myself off from everyone, allowing myself to sink into an incredibly unhappy place. I was taking a lot of medication, but sadly it didn’t do much for me.”
After a while, Ella realised she needed to try and help herself as much as she could. “I started reading and learning about diet and lifestyle, and the way that these factors can help manage illnesses,” she says. “I was incredibly inspired by what I was finding; I decided to change the way I was living to see if it would help. I cut out processed foods from my diet and took up a whole-foods, plant-based diet.”
This process was far from easy. “Changing the way I ate was so hard. It was a massive change for me, as my student diet had revolved around ice cream, chocolate, cereal, pasta and a whole host of other processed foods. I was a real sugar monster and I couldn’t really cook. I had never eaten quinoa, kale or almond milk before, and I certainly didn’t think about reading ingredients lists on foods. Over time (about two years) I was able to manage the symptoms of the illness and eventually come off all the medication. I’d simultaneously started seeing a nutritionist and undertook an exercise program from my doctor, both of which really supported this process.”
Ella admits, “It was a big challenge, but it was single-handedly the best decision I’ve ever made.” She started recording what she was eating and her kitchen experiments on her blog, in a bid to push herself to learn more. “I also desperately needed a hobby to help my mental state, so the website served two purposes and helped me to become who I am now. Sharing what I was learning was my way of turning a negative into a positive, and it’s been truly amazing to see so many people enjoy the recipes.”
“More than anything though,” Ella concludes, “I want to use this space to show how easy it is to create beautiful, nourishing, and delicious meals from simple, natural ingredients.”
Want to join Deliciously Ella on Tuesday, September 4 at Medley Dublin? She’ll be sharing her tips for enjoying a healthy, balanced lifestyle over canapés and champagne. There will also be a Q&A session followed by a meet and greet. Click here for tickets.