What is your name & location?
My name is Rachel and I live in New South Wales, Australia, about an hour south of Sydney.
How do you help people heal?
My food does! I’m a lifelong home-cook and a qualified chef who uses wholesome food as a wellness resource.
What type of benefits does your method of healing provide?
Consistent eating of a diet rich in whole foods has numerous health benefits but can include good gut health, increased energy levels and less brain fog.
When did you realize that you wanted to heal people/why did you start?
A few years ago I was battling serious post-viral chronic fatigue as a side effect of Epstein Barr Syndrome. I was also severely iron deficient, sick all the time, burnt out from juggling too many commitments and working through some unrelated weighty emotional issues. All of this took a toll on my body as well as my mental health. I was in hyper-stress mode, running on adrenaline, and - without meaning too - depriving myself of the the nutrients I needed to keep up with my demanding lifestyle! Following the stern word of my GP, I began the slow but intentional process of making lasting changes to my overall health. I built on my existing knowledge of plant-based nutrition, then changed my eating habits accordingly, all by using affordable and accessible resources and produce. I started listening to what my body needed: not only in terms of the foods that worked for me (and not against me) but also when it came to rest, sleep, exercise, my spirituality and relationships. I learned to say no when I couldn’t cope and needed time to myself; even time off work. I had to let go of a few toxic relationships which were draining what little energy I had. I prayed for healing. Gradually, my health became better than it had ever been. I finally had the strength to do many of the simple things I used to, from carrying a conversation without running out of breath, to running (one of my favourite forms of exercise), to staying out past 9.30pm without feeling completely wrecked the next day. My new focus on wellness became such a passion that I couldn’t help but want for others to give whole foods and a balanced lifestyle a try.
How does your personal healing journey reflect in how you hold space for others?
When the people in my life have expressed an interest in learning how to eat well they’re usually at a place of feeling stuck and frustrated. Having once been there myself, I always try to respond with compassion, patience and without judgement. A friend of mine recently suffered a bout of poor health that landed her in hospital. In a safe space she confessed to me that she has an unhealthy relationship with food and as a result her body had been breaking down. This is where I reminded my friend that she isn’t alone, that change takes time (it did for me) and that it’s crucial to be patient with and loving towards yourself as you heal with honesty.
Why is what you do so important?
I believe that it’s important for people to feel empowered by the fundamental knowledge of what qualifies as ‘good food’ - plus how they can source it and prepare it themselves. We’ve become so reliant on buying soulless processed and pre-packaged foods that often contain little to no nutritional value. I would love for people to find joy in cooking and in growing their own fruits and vegetables. To care more about the origin of our foods and the foods of our origin! You really don’t need to be a dietician to know how to eat well, or a chef to cook up tasty, wholesome meals.
What is your inspiration to continue doing what you are doing? What is the fuel that keeps you going?
Seeing so much positive change in the health of my loved ones once they’ve embraced holistic foods has been uplifting, to say the least. They then become ambassadors for change in their own circles and spaces! It fuels me to continue to cook creatively with natural foods and motivate others to do the same. I am also inspired by my own cultural upbringing and my mixed Burgher Sri Lankan and Caribbean roots. I feel as though I’m preserving my family’s rich duel histories with food by creating the dishes I grew up with and encouraging others to try them.
How does it make you feel when you are helping people heal?
The food gets all the credit. But I feel happy and humbled to help, knowing that I am making a difference in people’s lives, in some small way.
What is your definition of healing? (What does it look like, feel like, sound like, etc.)
Sometimes it’s more of an internal shift, but as we nourish ourselves with healing foods I believe we do glow a little! People often comment that I look healthier, stronger, seem more at peace and more energetic than I did prior to my recovery. To me, healing is first and foremost spiritual. God is my only higher power, so any blessing I receive is of and from Him. He is my healer, my provider and the one who sustains and restores me when I’m off balance.
What are your visions &/or goals?
I dream of being able to occupy as many diverse spaces as possible, so I can demonstrate how easy it is to fall in love with natural foods and how fluidly they can be woven into anyone’s pantry. I want to share my delicious recipes and have people connect in community over traditional and contemporary dishes, shared stories and laughter. My current primary focus is to do this through cooking workshops, meal coaching and collaborative events, but in time I’d like to have multi-platformed online content readily available to reach a wider audience.
Tell us a fun fact about what it is that you do or something people may not know about you.
I have always loved to be in the kitchen but being a chef wasn’t my first career choice: I dreamed of becoming an acclaimed writer, filmmaker and actor and did formerly work in Britain’s film & television industry. I continue to dabble in the arts but get a kick out of telling people who haven’t seen me in years that I’ve traded film scripts for foodstuff! One day I’d love to combine my two loves and make a food/travel documentary about discovering both my ancestry and the foods of those countries.
In one sentence, what is your message to the world?
Food is your friend and an invaluable resource; make ‘naturally good’ choices and it will always benefit you.
Is there is anything else that you would like to share about yourself or what it is that you do?
I love connecting with other individuals/companies within the food & wellness sphere, as well as anyone who’s new to it and wanting to know more about cooking with whole foods. Follow me at @righteousrootscollective or shoot me a DM and say hey girl, hey!