Leeandra Norman is a Far North Queenslander with an inspiring weightloss and wellness story. She has transformed her family’s life through a simple change in eating habits and routines.
What was your inspiration behind Love-Lee Cooking?
My son was the main stimulus to get me started on this cooking journey. I already had a passion for cooking and my son has special dietary requirements. I wanted to be able to make him yummy treats that were nutritious. Eventually people started asking me to make them some too. Also, through my own journey with food I found that it helped empower me. I found passion for having organic food as a healing medicine: nourishing the body, rather than poisoning it.
I had been overweight all my life. On my wedding day in 2001 I was 187kg and had tried everything to lose weight. When our family changed our diet for my son’s needs we started eating whole foods with no preservatives, additives or processing. The weight I had struggled for years to lose just naturally came off without me even having to focus on it.
Moving to the Tablelands where there is an abundance of organic local food I felt further inspired to become a part of my local community of farmers.
Take us on your food journey, where did you start and how did it evolve?
I taught Home Economics as a teacher for 20 years but looking back, I didn’t know very much about nutrition. I had no idea that many widely consumed foods in society are actually not good for us. When my son was diagnosed with autism his paediatrician suggested a link between diet and behaviour. My own research and experimentation with the effects of diet on behaviour then sparked a journey to better health and wellness for the whole family.
Now the food I cook is not just healthy but also locally grown, meaning that I am not just looking after my health but also the environment we live in and sustaining our local economy. I am passionate about being part of building a resilient community.
What are your beliefs when it comes to healthy nutrition?
80% of the time follow good wholefood nutrition and be vigilant. The other 20% will take care of itself. It is all about balance, stressing too much about what we eat isn’t healthy either. Everything is about balance: work, food, play, I am still learning all the time!
How has this path changed your life?
This food journey changed my life completely. For me losing weight meant that I gained health, not just for myself but for my family as well. Gareth went from daily traumatic meltdowns to one every three months or even less. That alone is enough to make it all worthwhile. But this journey has changed everything for us.
We now live a totally organic life, with no chemicals in the house. Not in our food nor in our cleaning products or personal care products. In the end I was so inspired by our own evolution to health that I started a whole new career just so that I could share the joy of healthy food with others. I see my role as helping people to be aware of their diet and make positive changes. Food can heal you. Food is also a social sharing that brings people together and I love to see people using healthy whole food as part of their community.
What is the most important tip you can give others when cooking at home?
Use whole foods and keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal every night. My favourite food to eat is plain dahl – just onion, garlic, butter & dahl, divine! Also, learn one thing at a time. People can get overwhelmed by trying to do everything. Don’t try to change too much at once, master one thing then move onto the next. Create new habits and routines as a part of your everyday life. Cooking should be joyful, not stressful!
ABOUT LOVE-LEE COOKING
Leeandra is the owner and founder of Love-Lee Cooking – a business with three specialties: Catering to specific dietary requirements – gluten free, vegan, dairy free, egg free, wheat free and chemical free; Cooking School Workshops and Retreats; and Products. All Leeandra’s food and catering uses local, organic produce and activated seeds and nuts.