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Sonia Hunt – NUT JOB: How I Crushed My Food Allergies To Thrive

Content by: Sonia Hunt

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Sonia Hunt to the podcast. Sonia is a food allergy activist, TEDx speaker, bestselling author advisor, and coach. In this episode, we discuss food allergies in detail. What happens when we react to certain trigger foods, why food allergies are on the rise and then dig into strategies to transform our health and wellbeing holistically. Over to Sonia …

Audio Version

Some questions asked during this episode:

  • Why do you think food allergies are on the rise today? (06:06)
  • What strategies do you utilise to manage your allergies? (17:42)
  • How can the right mindset help when tackling food allergies? (18:21)

Get more of Sonia Hunt:

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The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.

Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.

Full Transcript

Stu

(00:03)

Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the health sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve long lasting health. Now I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.

Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We are into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look.

Okay. Back to the show. This week, I’m excited to welcome Sonia Hunt to the podcast. Sonia is a food allergy activist, TEDx speaker, bestselling author advisor, and coach. In this episode, we discuss food allergies in detail. What happens when we react to certain trigger foods, why food allergies are on the rise and then dig into strategies to transform our health and wellbeing holistically. Over to Sonia.
Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Sonia Hunt to the podcast, Sonia, how are you?

Sonia

(01:18)

I’m amazing. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Stu

(01:21)

No, and thank you for sharing your time. Again, very, very intrigued and interested to dive into what you have to say this morning, but first up for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work. I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.

Sonia

(01:35)

Yes. So I am an author. I wrote my first book about food allergies, came out just in August. So not too long ago, I’m a Ted speaker, a food allergy activist, and I’m actually an integrative health and wellbeing coach as well.

Stu

(01:54)

Fantastic.

Sonia

(01:55)

So I have a business where I’m actually helping people with chronic health conditions, start to heal, start to hit their optimized health and wellbeing, which is a journey that I have been on my entire life, which is what we’re going to talk about today.

Stu

(02:12)

Yeah, absolutely. Well then I think it’d be a great place to start. I mean, you’ve written a book called Nut Job, which is, I would imagine a culmination of your life’s experience with food allergies and sensitivities and the reactions that you get when you eat certain foods as well. So if you don’t mind, I’d love for you just to map out that journey.

Sonia

(02:34)

Absolutely. So I was diagnosed at age three with three things, severe food allergies, severe environmental allergies and asthma. So it’s kind of three things you don’t want, you never want them all at the same time. It was an incident where I ate something, it happened to be peanut butter and jelly, which put me into anaphylaxis, which meant that my throat started closing up. I couldn’t breathe. I was getting hives on my body and I was rushed off to the emergency room. And that’s when I was diagnosed. It was a complete shock to my parents who came from India and were in their twenties and were like, can people be allergic to food? Didn’t even know that was possible. So that really started this long trajectory of my life of just the older I got, the more allergies I got as well.

And as you can imagine, it’s when the situation with food allergies is that you could eat something and go into anaphylaxis, like was my situation, you just feel crippled. And I always say that I was surviving somehow my entire life. I was never really thriving. And yet you have to manage growing up, going to school, getting your degree, going into the workforce, relationships, financial, all of that stuff. And so I got more allergies. I had more incidents as I got older. And then in 2008, it was the fourth time that I had had anaphylaxis due to eating out at a restaurant, some cross contamination of allergens in the food, as well as some brand new allergies that came up from dinner that night.
And that was my true, true, true rock bottom because it was the most toxic and severe incident I’ve ever had. It left me with hives all over my body for a year of my life. And that’s when I just said enough is enough. I’m tired of this. I’m tired of us not knowing why this is happening to me. I don’t have nine more lives and if I didn’t figure this out then it would result in death at some point if it happened again.

And so I began what was a 10 year journey to getting to root cause, to healing holistically body, mind, spirit, emotions. There’s so much mental health toxicity and trauma in my life. I didn’t even realize until 2008. And I basically went on this big journey and completely dissected my life if you will, in every single area and rebuilt all of those areas and came out of it on the other end, where in 2020, we learned that I had eliminated all of my over 32 severe food allergies. And I’ve been in remission since 2020.

Stu

(05:51)

What?! My word.

Sonia

(05:55)

That story was, I wrote a book about it. It became a number one best seller multiple times on Amazon. And I can finally say, Stu, that I’m thriving in life.

Stu

(06:06)

Unbelievable. That is unbelievable. And boy, there will be so many people that cannot wait to hear exactly the steps that you took to be able to even get to that, which is kind of a crazy conclusion, for a lot of people out there that are living in fear with the unknown as well in terms of trigger foods and if, and when the next attack will happen. So obviously super, super keen to hear more about your strategies, but first up, I’m just going to ask you, why do you think food allergies are on the rise today? Because I have three daughters that go to school and there are lots of people in their class that, like you, have severe food allergies have EpiPens, who have been exposed to trigger foods that have resulted in them having to go to hospital as well. And I just rewind back to when I went to school and it was just wasn’t on the radar. There were no food allergies and all foods were allowed in the canteen. So just wondered what your take was on that?

Sonia

(07:14)

Yeah. And I’ve been dealing with this for four decades. So it’s when I was in school as well. I mean, we didn’t know anybody who had food allergies, there’s nobody in school who had food allergies. So it was very, very shocking to my parents. And they came from India where you eat farm to table every day. You literally go to the market every day and you buy your food and you cook it and you eat it that night. And so when they came to the US and all my siblings and I were born and raised here, there was, I always say that I’ve been caught in this duality of east versus west. So east versus west culture, east versus west food east versus west medicine.

And back then when my parents said why is this happening? The answer was, we don’t know the exact cause of food allergies today. Today in 2022, it’s the exact same answer. So there’s theories and the theories are things like the way that we grow our food, what we spray on our food. The genetically modified, or GMOs and in the United States in particular, it’s that standard pyramid, that food pyramid of what we are telling people you should be eating. And a lot of that and that food pyramid continues to change. But what we’ve been telling people is to load up on many things that we are now learning just are not doing good for the body. So a lot of that process that the breads, the cereals, the grains, the sugars, the sodas. So all of that stuff together no one has really come out and said, yep, this is exactly what it is. But those are really all of the theories of what’s happening.

And if you look back just even 50 years ago, 100 years ago at how even indigenous tribes were eating kind of that foraging hunter gathering, they were just eating hundreds of, I think the number is 600 varieties of foods in their diet. Here today westerners are eating 10 to 15.

Stu

(09:32)

That’s fascinating, isn’t it? I’ve heard that. And it just, diversity has just gone out the door.

Sonia

(09:37)

Out the door. Wow.

Stu

(09:42)

So in terms of people that perhaps may react, become sensitive in some way, shape or form certain foods, what typically happens? I would imagine it wouldn’t just be a bang. You’re in hospital. Maybe you might have stuffy nose, dry cough, things like that. Where would we start if we think that we may start to be becoming susceptible to at least sensitivities?

Sonia

(10:14)

Yeah. So one of the things I always tell people is eat something three times before, you’re just like, okay, this is causing a problem. And one of the things you want to do is if you eat something that didn’t make you feel good, however way digestively, sluggish, brain fog to start actually journaling and writing that down. I know it sounds like a pain in the butt and difficult, but truly it was at the core of how you start figuring things out.

So when we’re talking about food allergies, we’re talking about something that affects the immune system versus when we’re talking about a food intolerance, we’re talking about something that affects your digestive system. So many times when you have an upset stomach or something like that, it’s not life threatening that most probably is in the category of a food intolerance. But when you’re talking about, I ate something and I have hives, I ate something of shortness of breath. I’m wheezing. My throat has closed up. Now we’re actually, even without testing, starting to see that maybe this is an actual allergy.

So if on the first time, like when I was three eating peanut butter, boom, my immune system was just rocked and I couldn’t breathe. Of course, we’re off to hospital. For some people. And I hear this all the time. It’s like, as an adult, they are eating citrus, some form of fruit and their throat is itchy. Their lips might swell. It’s non threatening because they can breathe and all of that. So I always say, just jot that down date, time, what’s happening. And then that next time you have it again, let’s see if it’s that same reaction right before you can even do that before you actually get tested and blood tested for food allergies.

Stu

(12:08)

Okay. Yeah. And do digestive, let’s say digestive issues and sensitivities can that morph into something more serious if left unaddressed? And I’m thinking along the terms of things like leaky gut, if you’re continually eating things that are compromising your digestive system over time, I would imagine food particles could get into your bloodstream and then start to react in a bigger form. Am I on the right track?

Sonia

(12:38)
Yeah, you’re absolutely on the right track. I mean most of, it’s so interesting right. Making that conscious decision, your microbiome really starts in your mouth or a microbiome before it really kind of trickles all the way down. So really making that conscious decision of what you’re putting into your mouth and then how you take care of your hygiene in your mouth, dental hygiene. It’s so, so important people kind of feel like, oh, well once the food’s in my digestive system that’s really where the issue is. So yeah. I mean, you could have a low grade sensitivity to a food that over time and over time, not kind of being aware of what it’s doing in your microbiome, in your gut bacteria, and then all of a sudden one day, boom, it’s like you have leaky gut, you have impermeability.

And in my journey, in this health transformation, one of the things we tested for was my gut health, was for leaky gut. And I will tell you that never in my life had we tested for that, even having all of these allergies. And then we found out that I had leaky gut. And it was unbelievable because all of my life the Western protocol was two things. Don’t eat anything you’re allergic to Sonia, which sounds easy, but it’s not because of food labeling, which is a whole other subject. And then the second is take these very strong steroid medications to suppress your symptoms. So that way, if you have a reaction, if something’s itchy, if you have hives, so let’s just suppress it, suppress it.
And in 2008, just, I think I was like going bonkers with that reaction, my mental health around that reaction having almost died and then having to spend a year with these huge red welts all over my body and having to still function and still go to work and still be social. And that whole negative cycle, I just said to myself, you know what? There’s something just bigger than what they’re telling me. There has to be an answer. We’re not testing for something or I’m eating something wrong. So at that point I just said, all right, apparently I’m doing everything wrong. Let’s figure this out from scratch.

And I say when you have food allergies, it’s like you work for the CIA, you become this investigator where you know everything about your body, about medications, about food labeling. You have to dig in and do so much research about this because there’s so much still that’s not out there.

Stu

(15:33)

And it could be so tricky as well, because oftentimes you may not react to a certain food for 24 hours, 48 hours. And so how on earth would you ever try and get handle on the things that are just not working for you in that instance?

Sonia

(15:48)

Yeah. No, and that’s happened to me as well, where I’ve eaten something and then 24 hours, I’ve had some form of reaction, but this is where I started kind of changing to jot all of that down and look at these patterns. It’s almost like a little analysis. And for me having food allergies, I did do testing. So there’s testing that you can do called you know, IGE testing, which is for food allergies versus IGG testing for sensitivities. And I would run those with my doctors every two years to see, and I would do the skin testing and the blood testing to really see so think about it as you’re doing skin testing it to see what’s reacting, you’re doing blood testing to get at the protein of the protein. And then there’s also just the food challenge, which is you’re eating something that’s kind of that final piece of, let’s eat this in small amounts and see what’s happening.

And it’s all this analysis that you’re pulling together to see the patterns. And the goal is to figure out, okay now that you see this pattern, every time you eat something, so now how severe is that reaction? And so this is what the doctors should be helping with when you’re actually doing testing. But a lot of it ahead of time, you can actually do on your own at home without testing by jotting all of this information down. And again, just being by aware of what digestively doesn’t make you feel good, because there’s so much research out there with common foods that cause digestive issues or top eight allergens, things like that. So you can start to piece together what are those trigger foods?

Stu

(17:42)

Okay. Okay. Well, I guess we’ll get into that then in a little bit more detail, because now I’m keen to hear your journey. So the strategies that you took to manage tackle and ultimately overcome your food allergies and issues to where you are today. I mean, for anybody that isn’t watching this on YouTube, I mean, you look like you’re absolutely thriving. You’re glowing.

Sonia

(18:07)

My skin is glowing.

Stu

(18:08)

Yeah. Completely different to the picture that you’re painting back in 2008, but where, so where did you start? Because there will be a lot of people listening, very intently to what you’re about to say.

Sonia

(18:21)

Yeah. So the very, very first thing was that I made this decision that I wanted this so badly. I needed this so badly. I believed that if I didn’t figure this out, that I would be dead the next time it happened. And it had already happened four times, there was absolutely going to be the next time. And so it’s kind of like when you hit that rock bottom place where you’re like, nothing is going to stop me from figuring this out. Even if it takes me the rest of my life. And that change in mindset. It was just a small spark that happened in the ER laying there for three days where I just said, okay, now I’m going to go change everything. And the first decision I made was that I spent decades only looking at my physical health, but there was a realization at the ER that we never touched mental health, spiritual health or emotional health.
And the state of my mental health was so, so, so negative at the time. And I mean, I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated that this was happening to me. I hated that I couldn’t do things that everybody else could, or I couldn’t eat or have the same experiences that everybody else could. And how was I even going to go about making the right decisions for my body if my head was so messed up. So my very first, even steps in my book is that I spent a long time on that mental health journey and mindset and really figuring out what did optimal health mean to me, drawing that picture physically, all the details.

And you have to imagine, I went to school, university and I’m an engineer. I graduate with an engineering degree. So I’m like very in the weeds of this stuff. So it was as if I was rebuilding myself. And it was like what kind of a mindset and mental health status did I want to have? And I knew that if I didn’t start to reverse the way that I saw this entire issue, I just was never going to be able to do it. So I went on a very long journey, which included a therapist, which included a ton of research on mindset strategies, growth mindset. How do you accomplish it? Reading stories and tons of books on mental health and mindset and how people have transformed their health, who are in much different situations than I am. Maybe they’ve lost a limb, maybe they’ve lost their sight.

So I really worked on all of that for a long time. And in that process basically strategized, I had this big whiteboard in my house and I strategized, here’s where I was, and here’s where I wanted to get to. And what are all those small steps. This is optimal health. Now I’m drawing out literally in a journal, on a whiteboard, what that looks like to me, drawing out every single piece of the weight, the skin the feelings. And then it’s like, okay, now what are those things that I can do every single day? The way I spoke to myself, the way I represented myself, the way I thought about how nobody has been able to help me figure out what’s going on. Now, I changed it in my head and I kept saying, I am going to lead the charge to figure this out. So the mindset piece was the biggest piece for me, because it is what allowed me to then start to clear away that negativity that was very toxic in my life.

And to start opening myself up to loving myself and start now bringing in the right resources. And again, adding on, I call them my team, adding on a therapist to my team was a huge benefit to me, to be able to start getting me out of this really negative place where I was.
So with that, I then worked on creating a brand new team. And when I say a team, it was not just the allergist. It was now my allergist who I loved, primary care doctor. And I also sought out and found an Ayurvedic doctor and a functional medicine doctor, all who were MDs. And then I have acupuncture and I had someone with traditional Chinese medicine. And the reason I say I created this team is because I no longer wanted them to tell me what to do.

My entire life. Everyone has told me what to do. Take these medicines, don’t eat this. Here’s how you live your life. Society tells us this every day. And with that change mindset, I said, “Nope, I get this one life. And I’ve lived enough for everybody else. Now I’m going to live this for myself.” And I interviewed them and I said, here’s what I have done in my strategy phase. I have a north star and that north star is aging healthily while getting rid of my food allergies. And we’re going to get to root cause. And if you don’t believe in that, and you don’t want to be on this journey with me, you’re out. But if you believe in it and you want it and you can help me, you’re in, I would love to work with you.

Stu

(24:00)

Brilliant.

Sonia

(24:01)

Right? And everything I’m telling you did not cost me thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars. It did not. I did so much of this work on my own, ton of research. And so what I did with them, the reason why function medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture and so forth is because these are practices that get to root cause. In Ayurveda they believe that even with food allergies, there’s a ton of inflammation toxicity in the body that is trying to get out. And when it gets out of your body, it can manifest as hives. Well, nobody had ever told me that my entire life. My mother will say she tried to tell me that 10,000 times, but I didn’t listen. But again, you see why the mindset piece was so important because I wasn’t listening. And I was constantly fighting this well, but I want to be this normal American kid. The thing is that I wasn’t a normal American kid. I had all these beautiful cultural elements of my life that I was just for a long time shunning.

So now we’re working together with these different sets of doctors and also now kind of going into a next phase of what I call expanding your awareness to other forms of healing. So through testing for gut health, through doing genetic predisposition testing we’re looking at everything from exactly what I’m eating. Because I was eating a lot of food that I was not allergic to yet was very unhealthy for me that was causing a lot of other issues. Like no gluten issues, no wheat issues, but I’m eating a ton of carbs. Eating a ton of dairy, eating ton of meat. So working with these doctors to understand about truly what clean diet means caused me to take everything out of the pantry that I had and fill it up with just herbs and spices. Whereas a refrigerator then is full of just the greens. The vegetables, the greens, the dairy alternatives. Even in some cases I’ve gone for a long time without meat and just done vegetarian. Vegan with a nut allergy was kind of difficult.

So we’re making these conscious decisions of the, what am I putting into my body. In addition we also tested the environment around me. So molds and air in the home and purification the products that I’m using, lotions, creams, ton of toxic ingredients. So it was like an entire deconstruction of kind of the outside environment in the home of what’s going on digestively and the gut testing as we then started to figure out, okay, what are really the right things that I should be eating. And in Ayurveda again they look at something called your doshas and they base a profile and they have a list of what foods are good for you, someone like me to eat, versus for someone like you to eat just based on what’s going on with the composition of your body.

And all of this is under what I would call is food is medicine. And again, I changed my mindset to truly say yes, I don’t want to be taking any more medications. So let’s see all the natural and holistic things that we can absolutely do. And there definitely is food as supplementations. I started taking a lot of just other supplements, like magnesium, and rather than taking a Claritin for environmental allergies I would just take natural ingredients and all of this kind of came through that process. So it was quite a deep dive into all these areas with that team.

Stu

(28:14)

And you’ve touched a lot on mindset and I’m fascinated by that because I know that the mind can be so powerful. And especially even thinking about things like the placebo, I was listening only yesterday to a doctor in the UK talking about the power of placebo can be anywhere in terms of 30% plus of your healing ability. And oftentimes I think if we are really living in that fear mindset, especially around food sensitivities and allergies, I wonder whether we can actually force it to happen just by the power of the mind in terms of just switching on all of those fear based hormones in our body that can then I guess, create a cascade of things that wouldn’t normally happen if we were living in the right mindset.

Sonia

(29:05)

Yeah. It’s so interesting. I mean when I say that I had to ask myself that question of just, how badly did I want to be rid of all of this? And also I kind of made it, I had to take all this pressure off myself. I felt like for decades, there’s been all this pressure to do things a certain way to take all these medications. And so it was kind of like a clearing of the decks. And starting to rebuild. And I had to bring joy and humor and laughter into this process as well. And part of growing a team that I talked about was also, it’s who is around you during this time that you’re going through this because people in your life can be toxic and not necessarily on that journey with you.

So it really is, and I went through this, important to figure out who are those people that you want by your side in a journey like this, because those are the people who will and in my case when I started to go back out and eat at a restaurant, every person I dined with knew how severe it was, they were trained on the EpiPen and the Benadryl. They knew my allergy list by heart. They would say to the restaurant and the wait staff that we can’t have any of these ingredients in anybody’s dish tonight. And then I would have a friend that would say, “That server didn’t look like they took it seriously. We’re leaving. We’re out of here. We’re going to go somewhere else.” Yeah. Even if I was like, “No, it’s okay.” They’re like, “No, no, no, no, no.”

Stu

(30:53)

That’s great.

Sonia

(30:54)

You have to kind of have these communities of people that are on this journey with you as well, because that is also very healing and it takes a lot of pressure out. So it goes back to the, how badly did I want this? And having to really reverse those negative narratives that have been instilled in all of us since childhood and the ones that don’t serve us anymore, I had to kick them out through a lot of hard work. And sometimes I’d go back in the dumps and then I’d call somebody who was on my little circle and they’d stop, they’d take those five minutes, 10 minutes and they’d get me back up and then I’d go. And those things you could say are placebo. There’s kind of nothing involved in them, but it’s the power of the mind.

Stu

(31:53)

Absolutely right. So what kind of timeframe then are we looking at from when you created this new template for your life to perhaps when you started to feel a difference or maybe even test and see a difference?

Sonia

(32:08)

Yeah. So over a 10 year time period, we tested and tweaked, tested and tweaked all of this, but halfway in, because we were testing in some cases every year, some cases every two years. At the halfway mark, I saw that through the testing, the severity of my allergies was drastically reducing. So I was always somebody on a scale of one to four, I was 4+++.

Stu

(32:08)

Right.

Sonia

(32:33)

Right. So now we’re in the threes and the twos ranges. Which is when I said to my allergist that something I’m doing is working or all of it together is working because in the first year after, when I was dealing with that year of hives, so in 2008, so for one year I was on strong medications and I was just kind of healing my body. And then what happened was I went lower and lower with the Western medications as I increased just herbal supplements. And all the things that were detoxifying for my body, including movement, including Ayurvedic massage.
Everything that would possibly detoxify, meditation, yoga that I could do that was natural, I tried it. And it was really a combination of all this. So by year five, I wasn’t taking those medications daily for sure. I just had them on standby in case there was ever an issue. So I always kept an inhaler. I kept EpiPen. I kept Benadryl. And then in 2020 when we tested, that was at least for me, I mean, it was a shock. I couldn’t believe it. And I didn’t believe it. I had three different doctors run the same exact test three times because I said, “No, no, no, I don’t believe the results.” But they all concurred and said, you’re in remission.

Stu

(34:05)

That’s fantastic. And so do you think that was partly due then to a reduction in inflammation from all of these external toxins that you decided to address in terms of your personal hygiene products that maybe were loaded with chemicals, moldy environment, micro toxins that again can ravage your health and then the elimination of all of the other foods that were just in it will just, I guess, just including as a low grade inflammation and everything. I look at it almost as a fire. You’ve got a flame over here, a flame over here and you’ve just got this slow burning fire. That’s almost impossible to put out until you address all of those things.

Sonia

(34:48)

Yeah, I think, exactly. So I think a lot of it was that inside of my body, all of that inflammation going on, it was that leaky gut and having to heal and repair that. It was other digestive issues that I was having and just having to kind of clean out the digestive system and detox and then from the outside, it was, are the products I’m using seeping into my skin? Yes. Which were causing also toxicity. Was there other things going on in my life that were toxic and burdening? Yes. So really, I think a combination of all of this kept me inflamed for 40 years.

Stu

(35:36)

Wow. Yeah. That’s profound, isn’t it?

Sonia

(35:39)

Right. I mean because when I started to see every piece and analyze it and work on it, I mean, my skin just started to, boom. Wow. And that’s one of the first places any doctor will say is when you’re starting to heal from the inside and out, it’s going to absolutely show on your skin.

Stu

(36:04)

Yeah. Fascinating. So we haven’t, I guess want to dive in then to the part of this conversation I think a lot of people are going to want to know the answer to, which is, do you eat the foods now or react to the foods now that used to be your absolute trigger foods? And if you do, how did you feel when you started to decide to test those foods?

Sonia

(36:32)

Yeah. So, yeah, so I have been, so it’s a long list and I have been slowly, so what we’ll do is called an oral challenge. So I’ll basically be in the doctor’s office and have a little bit of something while the nurses in the doctors are staring at me, saying, “Eat this”, just in case everyone’s ready with an EpiPen. So again, I was knock on wood.

The big stuff is really the severe peanut tree nut allergy was the biggest one. Before that again, because I wanted to change this process. So when you go through the testing and everything, and you see that things are coming off your list, the natural reaction for a doctor is like, okay we could start to incorporate this back into your diet. The first thing I tell people is, that decision is really up to you. I have not eaten peanuts and tree nuts since I was three. And it has caused such a reaction in my life multiple times. Do I really want to now stock up peanut butter in my house? My answer is no, but do I want to try at least small, small amounts of it so that if there’s ever any cross contamination when I’m eating out, my body can handle it? Yes. So that’s what we’ve done.

We haven’t gotten through the whole list. Some of the stuff just doesn’t even matter to me. I always had an avocado allergy, so, but yes, with the peanuts and the tree nuts, we have been eating that in small amounts and still, thankfully, no issues. Now, when you’re in remission, as I’m sure with every other chronic disease, I ask the question of, could this ever come back and it’s always, anybody’s guess. Could we test one day and they’re back again. So until then, I’m always going to be the person, if I eat outside of my own home, I ask the question of, did you make this? What’s in it? What oil is in your fryer? It’s just super easy to do that.

Stu

(38:42)

Yeah. Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah. It’s almost like the foundation you’ve built this machine now that is so robust. And I would imagine that machine would not slip back to the way that it was without perhaps years of abuse from any areas that weren’t serving you in the first place. And I think that, yeah, that must be so empowering to know that you’ve built that up and now you’re more resilient than you’ve ever been. Fantastic.

Sonia

(39:11)

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for saying that. It really it has been a journey and I think living out of fear for so long is just no way to live. And I had to believe that the way I went into it with, again, that team around me, as I said, that it’s a huge win if the severity of my allergies start to decrease. Even though I said, okay, north star, I want to eliminate these. But even if they started to get less severe so that I could just breathe that sigh of relief and take all of that, duress off of my being. That was really huge. But in the process, I yet, again, redefined my relationship with food and what I put into my body with how I live organically and sustainably with all of the products. It was just a really beautiful process to go through.

Stu

(40:13)

Yeah. Fantastic. And I’m guessing that, so this process, so your book titled Nut Job for our readers out there that are keen to dive in and grab a copy ASAP, that process that you’ve spoken about will be mapped out across the pages of the book. Is that what we’d expect?

Sonia

(40:32)

Yeah. I neatly package it up in a program that’s called Three To Be. So it’s three steps to be healthy, be safe and be well. And also in my business, I work with people one on one who want to go down the same journey I did. And again, I mean, I’ve been doing this for four decades and there’s so much experience and knowledge and empowerment now that is there. So yes. Check out the book or you can always talk to me if you’re interested in going on this journey as well.

Stu

(41:08)

Fantastic. No, that is unbelievable. So I have a question just popped into my mind, children with allergies. Okay. So children with sensitivities, severe sensitivities that perhaps are not in the right head space to start thinking about their mindset and really maybe just too young to even get on board with this whole mindset shift. What could you recommend in that respect? Because I know that I’ve got lots of friends around me that have children that are in a tricky space with food as well. But I know that if we said right now, we’re going to have to start to work on your mindset they’d kind of look at you like you were lunatic.

Sonia

(41:48)

Yeah.

Stu

(41:48)

Where would we start for children?

Sonia

(41:51)

So, so I actually, depending on the age of the child, I actually work with a parent. Because they are equally, if not more gripped with the fear. And when you’re gripped with the fear, and this is what happened to me, I couldn’t see all these other alternatives that I could be looking at to figure out what was going on and get healthy. So today, I mean, I work with a lot of parents and help them get in that right head space in that right mindset to open up and talk through different alternatives and test different things. I mean one path, if you’ve been doing it long enough and it’s just not working in the same results, it’s just insanity and that’s how you feel. So I always say opening your mind to these other healing forms of medicine from different cultures that have proven data and scientific evidence that are much more healing for your child, isn’t that something you would be interested in researching as an alternative or as a supplement?

I mean, I didn’t go off of any of the Western protocols for a long time until I could. So I think that Eastern or Western medicine, this is where they could both really work nicely together. And then it’s your decision on how you want to manage it. That’s where we’re trying to get you to that balance. So when kids are really young, I find that it’s working with the parent, but I also will say that there are very few, but even there are schools out there that started to incorporate just even a simple meditation into for small kids or yoga as exercise and the kids, they’re so beautiful to watch them be really into it. And especially for the kids that are dealing with all this and they feel like they can’t talk to somebody sometimes when it’s not your parent, but it’s somebody that has literally gone through the exact same thing you’re going through. And you can see them that’s when I will also work with a child and build that relationship because you really empathize.

Stu

(44:19)

Yeah. You absolutely do. Obviously they’re innocents and they need guidance, but no that’s fantastic advice. Yeah. So we’re just slowly coming up on time, just keen to duck into a couple more questions about you personally. And the first one really is around your diet. So what does it look like today, perhaps in comparison to what it used to look like pre Nut Job pre Three To Be, et cetera.

Sonia

(44:47)

Yeah. So previously ton of pastas, breads, even like low carb breads. Things like fat free milk. Typical, typical things. I was never a big like junk food person because of the nut allergy, but chips or things like that were always in the house ice cream. And today, I mean, I’m mostly vegetarian. I found that my body craves the vegetables almost after being a carnivore all my life. So I eat meat. But for the most part I try to really choose ingredients just weekly at the farmer’s market. Whatever is in season. I’ve been cooking since I was five years old out of necessity. So I can go to the farmer’s market every week, buy all the fresh stuff, start cooking really quickly and then get proteins from things like making dahls or beans or vegetables.

And then if I want to have a piece of meat, I want to. I’ve again, changed that relationship where I don’t diet or anything because I always say, they’re the word “die” is in diet and I don’t like that. So what I do is I enjoy when I want to and I don’t get down on myself about it, but for the most part I eat really simply and clean and I’d never let my food allergies stop me from eating out. What I did was, which is also part of the program is what I called humanizing your health. And that means I went out and started teaching restaurants and chefs how to cook for someone with food allergies.

Stu

(46:34)

Right. Yeah. No that is fascinating. So to back that up then with non-negotiables daily, non-negotiables for yourself. So perhaps the practices that you follow each and every day that you just do by default that helps you win that day. So for instance, it may be maybe you like to meditate in the morning. Maybe you like to do some yoga or get some sunshine, ground yourself outside, what might they be?

Sonia

(47:06)

So soon as my feet touch the ground, I just right away, like it’s going to be a great day with a vivid. The smiling for me is an non-negotiable I’m happy person and I just. The twice a day, morning and before I go to bed meditation. In the morning, it’s a lot around visualizing that day. And I take time for myself every single day, alone time. Nobody else, no dog, just me every single day. And the daily exercise, 30 minutes. Again, I used to be just overboard with all that. 30 minutes. It could be a walk. So those are some of the things that are just non-negotiable.

Stu

(47:55)

Excellent. And what’s next for Sonia Hunt? What have you got in the pipeline?

Sonia

(48:01)

So lots of stuff. I mean, so this kind of business that I’ve started this year I’m just really, really excited to be again, working with people. And I’m also taking these messages also from the book to the university level. So I’m working with universities, there’s no formal health and wellbeing education in the United States. I’m tired of that. We have one health class somewhere when we’re young and we don’t know how to manage our health. We don’t know how to eat. Then we go to university ton of stress, ton of stress. We go into the toxic work life, ton of stress. There are no resources and people are dealing with more chronic conditions than ever. So at the university level, right now my health and wellbeing programs that are more for groups for the students. Yeah. I’m taking those into universities and I’m really, really excited about that. Because this is just, it’s basically a huge public health initiative for this country.

Stu

(49:10)

Yeah. And I imagine that if the participants of those learnings take everything on board and make real change to their lives, then think about what that will do to future health and industry it will be absolutely profound. So fantastic. So for everyone then that’s been listening to this. They want to find out more, they want to order the book, understand more about your journey. Perhaps watch the TEDx get into the Three To Bd program. Where can we send them?

Sonia

(49:40)

Soniahunt.com has everything that you need. The book, the TEDx, how to connect with me on social media. You can email me at hello@Soniahunt.com. If you want to talk about health coaching, one on one I can tell you about the programs that I have. And yeah, I’m just really, really grateful to be here and be able to share this story.

Stu

(50:05)

Fantastic. Thank you so much. Look, we’ll put all of the links that we’ve spoken about on the show notes today, but Sonia been an unbelievable conversation and I can’t wait to share it with our audience. Thank you again.

Sonia

(50:15)

Thank you.

 

Sonia Hunt

This podcast features Sonia Hunt. She is a food allergy activist, TEDx speaker with over 1M views, best-selling author, and advisor + coach. She is a mentor to global organizations focused on social impact, and a proud first-generation Indian-American living in San Francisco, CA. Sonia is the creator of the... Read More
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