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A SALUTARY LESSON FROM MY BIG TOE

Ahem, this admission is going to be a little, well, embarrassing. The other morning, I got decked out in a posh frock and 5-dernier, nude-coloured tights with my heels. While having my lunch, I noticed that my left big toe was hurting a bit. “Odd,” I thought, “don’t remember stepping on something.” As the afternoon wore on, it hurt some more and then a lot more. By about 3pm I was walking with a pronounced limp and, a rare thing for me, actually toying with the idea of taking a painkiller.

Ridiculously, throughout all that time, I didn’t actually take my shoe off and look at my toe to see what was wrong. Why? Honestly, I’ve no idea. Possibly I just couldn’t be bothered. When the pain became too much to ignore and I finally removed by shoe, guess what? My posh, nude tights had a gaping hole (I’d clocked this when I put them on that morning). The hole was hooked round my big toe which, starved of blood by M&S’ Autograph tights, was beginning to turn a funny colour. I immediately liberated my poor toe, at which point the blood flowed back and, hey presto, the pain disappeared within a few seconds.

Why do I share such a preposterous story with you? Because it made me stop and consider a couple of things:

No. 1: How very rubbish many of us can be at listening to what our body is trying to tell us… and I include myself (a health coach!) in that bracket. We ignore the nudges and whispers, forcing our body to start whacking us over the head to get us to take some notice.

and

No. 2: How quickly our body gets itself back into balance once we take away the thing that’s harming it.

Now, you may think that you’d never do anything as stupid as cut off the circulation to your toe. But take a moment to consider: what are you putting into your body that’s the dietary equivalent of the hole in my tights? What red alerts – from bloating to eczema to brain fog – is your body throwing out?

Of course, it would have been crazy and utterly nonsensical for me to deal with the situation by taking a pill and leaving my tights strangling my toe. And yet, this sticking-plaster approach happens so often in conventional modern healthcare. We ignore the root cause of what’s wrong and focus instead on snuffing out any symptoms. A bit like tackling a fire with a smoke extractor, while leaving the flames raging away.

Functional medicine takes an altogether different approach by focusing on treating the system rather than symptoms. It looks to take out what’s bad for the body and put in what it needs to thrive. It’s a subject I’m passionate about, particularly as my son needlessly suffered a chronic condition for most of his childhood (you can read his story here). Functional medicine is the future of healthcare and, as a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach, I’m excited to be a part of that future.

Over to you now. Is something making you “limp” rather than “sprint”? It’s time to (metaphorically) take off your shoe, figure out what’s throwing your finely calibrated system out of kilter… and allow your body to thrive as it’s designed to.

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