Why I'm passionate about healthy eating by Julie Neville
Julie Neville has helped herself and her family back to good health through her own formula of complementary medicine and healthy eating. Now she wants to help others WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
I think Phil thought I was losing my mind,’ said Julie Neville, about the day, seven years ago, her husband, the former Manchester United player and current Everton captain, came home to discover many of their possessions outside. ‘He came back from training and anything I’d found in the house that had chemicals in it had been chucked on the drive. I wanted rid of anything that could harm my family.
‘I’d spent that whole day writing down everything I had used that put chemicals into my body. The list covered four pages of A4. No wonder our immune systems were shot. That was it. I’d had enough: even the toothpaste went.’
While this may seem drastic, Julie’s behaviour came at the end of a difficult two-year period where she and her daughter Isabella, who was born prematurely at just 28 weeks, battled life-threatening illnesses.
Isabella was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy at around 18-months old and the couple’s son, Harvey, had been struck down with several illnesses. When Julie was told she would be on medication for the rest of her life, she decided enough was enough.
‘When the doctors told me that, I was so upset,’ said Julie, who recently moved with Phil and their family to Hale, near Altrincham. ‘I remember ringing my mum and crying. I was in my late twenties and I didn’t want to live like that. I was going from one life-threatening illness to the next. Isabella and I were spending a lot of time at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester and the whole family were feeling terrible.
‘I lost my faith in conventional medicine. I felt it was good at keeping people alive, which is obviously fantastic, but it wasn’t good long-term at giving a great quality of life. I decided to educate myself on it but I also started to look at natural options.’
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Julie, left with no alternative because she had thrown so many things out, started to research natural products that didn’t have the chemicals in them that she was so keen to avoid. The search was fruitless at first but then she started to find good foods and products that helped her with the various conditions she was suffering from, which included an underactive thyroid. With a lot of research – usually done during the night while sitting up with Isabella – she has gradually weaned herself off medication and had been treating her conditions with complementary and natural products for five years.
She said: ‘Within two or three weeks I felt like a different person. For the past two years I had been struggling, thinking I was going to die. But then, miraculously, I started to feel better. As I started to make the changes, I began to realise that I could change my life for the better, and do it permanently.
‘In six months I was completely off the medication. Taking yourself off medication is not something I go around telling people to do. I still go back to the hospital every three months to get checked. Conventional medicine does have a place but sometimes I think there could be a much simpler, less invasive way to treat something. For me, it felt like I’d got my life back.’
Julie is now hoping to help members of the public to live healthier lifestyles with her new business, Win Naturally, which she launched last August. As well as selling the organic, healthy foods and complementary products that she discovered from around the world, the 36-year-old has her own blog which she fills with recipes to combat health issues as well as others to give your body a boost.
She supplies many of her celebrity friends as well as some Premiership football clubs and the company is in the early stages of doing research into her own products.
She said: ‘I’ve had lots of good feedback but I want to do more to increase awareness and to educate more people that there are alternatives.
‘People can sometimes think that by taking medication they are doing themselves a favour. But there are often natural, herbal remedies or healthy alternatives available. When you’re promoting products like this, people assume that you’re a tree-hugging character. It’s not like that at all. It’s a different way of life. And I’m still the first person to crack open a big pack of chocolate.’
Julie’s determined attitude has clearly been passed on to her daughter, Isabella, now seven, who despite having cerebral palsy and being told that she may never walk, has recently signed up for her school’s cross country team and is living a full life.
Julie said: ‘The day the doctors said she might never walk I cried myself to sleep. I looked at it as Isabella’s ability to lead a normal life. I thought if I accepted what they said then she never would, but if I gave her the opportunity to achieve these things then she might do it.
‘I had low rails put up the length of the house and put toys along it. She would drag herself along to get to the toys but it worked. It’s all been down to her fighting spirit. When she told me she had put herself down for cross country I wasn’t going to be the person to tell her she couldn’t do it. I will help her.
‘There’s not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t break for her. Simple things like she can never wear spangly shoes like her friends because she needs special shoes. The heartbreak comes from seeing her struggle to do things her friends takes for granted. But when I get that moment, I do remember where we were and how lucky we all are now.’
Now, the Neville family are happy and healthy. Their recent move to Hale has been a fresh start.
Julie said: ‘I know we’ll be very happy here. Phil and I have both always loved Cheshire. It’s got everything we need with good schools nearby for the children and the people have been really welcoming.
‘We take the kids to the park on the bike, Harvey does football and there is Isabella’s cross country. Phil and I love being in Cheshire too. We love our new home and the business is going well. I couldn’t be happier.’
For more information about Julie’s business visit www.winnaturally.com
The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Cheshire Life
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