Hi. I’m James Wythe: a guy with a passion for simple, healthy, tasty food. I’m so happy to welcome you to my blog.
I spend most of my time cooking up a healthy storm in the kitchen.
Who’s my food for?
I create recipes to make living healthily easy for everyone using accessible supermarket ingredients. That includes people with coeliac disease, people with allergies and intolerances, vegans and vegetarians alike. I design balanced meals that make use of feel-good and healthy foods.
Why did I start my Healthy Living blog?
To read more about my long-term condition, the reason for starting on this path on the first place, read my story below.
After I began my own journey to wellness and healthy living, people who tried my food began asking me to share my secrets. I realised that my passion for creating healthy recipes was about more than just me.
I want to show anyone who is curious or keen to try healthy living that it can be easy, fun and tasty.
I want to give you an insight into the main reasons why I decided to change my lifestyle and what motivated me to share this with more people.
The last 11 years have been quite the journey for me. On 4th December 2010, I went out for a meal with friends feeling completely fine, but when I woke up the following morning, I could barely move. I felt extremely nauseous, dizzy and could not get out of bed. Little did I know that my whole life was about to change.
Growing up I had always been an extremely active, happy and sporty guy. As a child, I regularly competed in swimming galas and played for my school’s football, rugby and hockey teams. Aged 10, I took up golf and soon realised that this was the sport for me. By 13, I was in the Dorset junior team and, aged 15, I was one of the youngest-ever members of the Dorset men’s first team. I travelled around the country competing in national tournaments, and I knew that golf was the career path for me. I then went on to study sports coaching and development, initially at Merrist Wood College and then at Bournemouth University, where I gained a BSc Sport and Exercise Science degree and represented their first team at golf.
Then things drastically changed. It all started just a couple of months after completing my degree at Bournemouth. I thought my illness after that night out was just a touch of food poisoning, but for some reason I didn’t recover and the symptoms just seemed to get worse and worse. I tried to push through this but reached a point where my dad had to physically carry me into the doctor’s surgery. I remember the doctor talking to me and the only word I could reply with was ‘ambulance’. I was immediately rushed into hospital for a suspected brain tumour. I had several brain scans, which all came back fine. I had lost nearly 3 stone in weight and couldn’t talk, eat, drink or even stand up!
I was kept in for 11 days and tested for everything they could think of, however all the tests came back ‘normal’. At that point, I had also become hypersensitive to more and more of the medication they were giving me. One of the medicines gave me an anaphylactic reaction, which left me struggling to breathe and was incredibly scary. I also developed a sensitivity to light, smells and certain foods. The doctors were unable to give any diagnosis apart from saying that I had some kind of viral infection, so they just sent me home and told me to rest and take it easy for a while.
I did go home and rest, but unfortunately I didn’t recover or feel any better. In fact, I just got worse. I was bed-bound, unable to stand up or walk by myself. I couldn’t watch TV or look at my phone as I was extremely sensitive to the light, which would give me awful headaches. And to make matters worse, I suffered from severe insomnia, often going days without any sleep at all.
After multiple attempts to get help from the doctors, it was nearly 6 months before they finally diagnosed me with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), also known as CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I was told there was no ‘cure’ and all I could do was rest and wait. It was a bittersweet feeling as I finally had an answer, but I was also being told there wasn’t any cure, which left me feeling very worried.
My mum refused to accept that my life going forward would be like this and put all her time and energy into finding answers. She arranged for a nutritionist to visit me and it was then that I was advised to cut out gluten and dairy from my diet, which I did immediately. Having made these first adjustments to the way I ate, over the next 12 months I slowly began to see improvements in my health. I was at last able to get out of bed and walk to the window (a mere 2 metres away) and I could finally hold a conversation that lasted longer than 5 minutes. For me, these were huge achievements. During the 2 long years of being confined to my bed, the one thing that kept me going was telling myself that I would get better and that as soon as I did, I would help inspire others in similar health situations. I could not accept that this was it for me, and I knew that someday I would get to share my story to support and motivate other people.
During my bed-bound stage, I withdrew myself from all social situations and had to back away from most of my friends, many of whom questioned the truth of my condition. The last thing I needed was to be judged or told to just get out of bed. It was easier to be alone. Then a girl called Luise miraculously came into my life. We had met through mutual friends before I was ill, but we had hardly spoken. She heard I wasn’t well and asked if she could come and visit me. I came up with endless excuses as to why it wasn’t a good idea, but she kept insisting. I was incredibly nervous but ended up saying yes and I am so grateful I did. Luise would turn up day after day, even though it was a 90-minute round trip, and just sit on the end of my bed and talk to me.
She said she knew I would get better and that she wanted to be part of this journey with me. We fell in love and have been through this whole 11-year adventure together, from her seeing me at my worst, having to carry me to the toilet, to watching me take my first steps, and then me being able to see her walk down the aisle at our wedding in 2018. She has been an incredibly important person in my life and helped so much with my recovery. Luise was there from the start and is now chief recipe tester for the blog!
After 2 years of being confined to my bed, and then recovering at a very slow pace, Luise and I decided to move into a flat together in Bournemouth. Luise was still at Bournemouth University and also working part-time to pay our rent, so I was home alone more often than not and had to again push myself outside of my comfort zone in order to feed and take care of myself.
During that time, I taught myself how to cook from scratch with the precious 5 or 10 minutes of energy I had. I took a chair into the kitchen so that I could sit down and rest whilst making my food. I soon discovered that I really liked researching and preparing healthy, fresh food, as well as looking for quick gluten- and dairy-free dishes as I didn’t have the energy to cook for hours.
My passion for food began to grow, and I saw the incredible results it was having on my health and mental well-being. Cooking became my daily challenge. It was what got me out of bed three times a day. During the 10–15 minutes that I was cooking, I completely forgot what I couldn’t do anymore and focused entirely on what I was now able to achieve.
During 2015, my friends and family began to show an interest in my passion for cooking and encouraged me to share my healthy and easy-to-make recipes with them. So, I decided to start a blog. I was nervous about this first step, but I thought it would be a brilliant way of storing recipes for my own use and for easily sharing with close family and friends. I had no idea that, 5 years later, I would have achieved so much with it! At the start of 2016, I began to build my website, typing up and photographing my recipes, and by August 2016, Healthy Living James was born.
Eleven years into my recovery journey, Healthy Living James continues to be an incredibly rewarding and inspiring project for me. I am at a stage where I can now look back and see what a huge impact food has had on my recovery. And I keep discovering more ways to eat healthily, without making it super complicated or time consuming.
Ever since falling ill, and throughout my ongoing recovery, I have been keen to identify and help others suffering from similar health issues, as well as promoting a healthier lifestyle to those wanting to improve their well-being. My passion is to create recipes to make living healthily easy, tasty and fun for everyone. That includes those suffering from long-term illness, people with allergies and intolerances, vegans and vegetarians alike.
I have been totally amazed by the support of my readership over the last 5 years. The daily messages from followers who have suffered from, and continue to suffer from, the incapacitating effects of illness really move me. Although my recovery is by no means over and I have my bad days, it gives me great pride to have inspired others through my journey, along with sharing my ups and downs in an honest and relatable way. Many of my followers have been looking forward to the day I publish a recipe book. It’s been my biggest dream, which has finally come true!
Today, I am still in shock that you can see my face on the cover of a book in bookshops and supermarkets! Crazy.
You can find out more information about my cookbook “Healthy Living James” here.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Media Enquiries: For all media and brand collaboration requests, please contact me here.Alternatively, I’ll always be announcing my latest news and services via my Healthy Living Club, so if you’re not already a member (why not!?) go ahead and sign up for free here. Guest Posts: Sorry I don’t accept guest posts on my blog.