British beauty Ella Woodward led a charmed existence. As the eldest daughter of supermarket heiress Camilla Sainsbury and former cabinet minister Shaun Woodward, her childhood was filled with parties, elite private schools and extraordinary privilege.
But at 19 her life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome that left her in constant pain.
If you eat broccoli steamed or boiled it’s not very exciting, but you can roast it with things like turmeric and make it amazing.
The little-known disease attacks the automonic system which, which regulates everything in the body from the heart, digestion and immune system. It left her bloated, dizzy and tired --lying in bed for 16 hours a day. Doctors told her she needed to be on long-term medication and prescribed steroids. But when they failed to make a meaningful change, Woodward, who’d always eaten poorly, decided to radically change her diet.
That’s when she cut out dairy, meat, many grains and anything processed.
Within 18 months, she was off all medication and showing no symptoms. Friends encouraged her to start a blog to share her experiences and recipes. She called it DeliciouslyElla.com.
Woodward, now 23, has grown her clean living brand into a thriving business. Her website now gets over 2.5 million hits a month, while her Instagram account has 242,000 followers. Hailed as the Nigella Lawson in the British press, she hosts cooking classes, has her own products and released a new cookbook featuring her all-vegan recipes named, of course, Deliciously Ella.
She spoke to FoxNews.com about her fascinating journey to health and why she doesn’t consider herself a vegan.
Ella: My whole thing isn’t about being vegan to be honest. It’s more about a more natural diet. My diet before was very normal. It was a lot of pasta, quite a lot of candy. Not a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
FoxNews.com: What did you give up?
Ella: Overnight I gave up gluten, dairy, refined sugar and meat and anything processed and refined. After a couple of weeks I noticed a difference but it took me 18 months to get totally better and come off the pills. I came off everything in September 2013.
FoxNews.com: What are some of your favorite healthy substitutes when cooking?
Ella: I really focus on natural products, so I love using unrefined products instead of refined ones. I swap white rice for brown rice or quinoa, I use brown rice pasta instead of regular pasta, nut milk or oat milk instead of dairy milk and coconut yogurt instead of cows yoghurt etc. They’re such simple swaps but they make a huge difference to how I feel.
FoxNews.com: What’s a much-maligned ingredient that’s worth a second look?
Ella: I don’t know that there’s one, but say Brussels sprouts, which people are always very skeptical of. And if you roast them with chili and maple syrup they’re amazing. Same with loads of green veggies. If you eat broccoli steamed or boiled it’s not very exciting, but you can roast it with things like turmeric and make it amazing. It’s all about how you cook something and what you pair it with.
FoxNews.com: Do you use any meat substitutes?
Ella: I don’t, I much prefer embracing veggies for what they are rather than trying to replicate something because I don’t think it tastes as good. There are so many amazing plant-based foods out there that I don’t feel the urge to eat tofu bacon.
FoxNews.com: What are some of your favorite foods or ingredients you use all the time in your cooking?
Ella: I have too many favorites. I am obsessed with avocados, dates and almond butter though. I try to sneak at least one of them into every meal.
FoxNews.com: What would you say to people who grimace and think, ‘yuck’ when they hear plant based and gluten free?
Ella: Oh I totally understand that. I thought the exact same thing before I tried it. It’s about being open-minded and realizing that that kind of food is more than just that. You can still have sweets. I’m a big believer that healthy living is not about being on a diet, it’s not about deprivation. It’s about finding things that make you feel really good. There are so many amazing things that you can make and are really easy to do that will take away any sweet cravings that you might have.
FoxNews.com: When eating out, it’s easier to find fast food than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Ella: Yes, exactly. You have to take responsibility. It’s all in your hands. That’s not necessarily something that everyone wants.
FoxNews.com: Have you converted any friends?
Ella: Yeah all my family and friends are really into it. They were skeptical and then they tried it and said, ‘Oh this is really good!’