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Our Free-From Family Story

Hello and welcome to Our Free-From Family.

free-from family picture with 20 week baby scan
Our free-from family

James


Hey, I’m James! I’m in my early 30’s and also known as Healthy Living James online.


Growing up I was extremely sporty and just seemed natural at all sports I tried. I started to focus on golf at the age of 12 and quickly represented my county at junior and mens level. I travelled across the country playing big amateur events and wanted to pursue a career in golf.


Suddenly, at the age of 21 just after finishing my degree at Bournemouth University I became seriously ill. I was bed bound for 2 years and house bound for the next 4 years. I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E) and told there was “no cure”. During my house bound stage I taught myself how to cook from scratch with a chair in the kitchen. Cooking was a way of helping my recovery through nutrition and mentally to deal with such a huge change in my life. It quickly became a passion of mine and all I thought about was food and new recipe ideas to try. You can find out my full illness and recovery story.


I started Healthy Living James in August 2016 where I share gluten, dairy and egg free recipes via my website and social medias to inspire others into the kitchen with my easy, accessible and allergy friendly recipes. To this day my blog been hugely successful hitting 1 million followers across social media and publishing my first cookbook in 2022.

Now my next journey is raising our daughter and learning how to cook for my own family.


Luise


Hi all, Luise here, I’m in my early 30's and currently pregnant with my first child. But before we get into that, I thought I would tell you a bit more about who I am and how we got here.


I grew up in East Germany in a small village and finished school before relocating with my mum, step dad and little brother to the UK. That was quite something at 16 to leave all your friends, family and pack up and try to get into a college in the UK without speaking English at all. But here I am all these years later and still living in the South of England. 😅


I studied Events management at Bournemouth university for 4 years and then went into wedding and events planning for a several years, until I felt like I needed a change - and my weekends back, so I went into developing and production of a variety of products (too long to explain). I now am head of commercial (I know what a change) but still heavily in the product world, for retailers all over the world.


I suffer from Endometriosis stage 4 as well as IBS (really linked). And I have a dairy and egg allergy and choose to be gluten-free. You can find out more about my journey and getting pregnant with Endometriosis here, I will share much more with you all.


I love food (thank goodness I married James and locked that in) 😅, I love to read and am such a workaholic. I love to travel (who doesn’t) but I am also such a home lover, I enjoy hosting my friends and family at home a lot as that is my comfort (in control what we serve, I know what I can eat). But I also love adventures, from hiking to water-sports and I am always up for a fun workout.

I have loved going to different parts of the UK recently but you never hear me say no to a day in London for food, shopping or sightseeing, just love it.


I would also say that I am definitely, 100%, undeniably the funny one in our relationship and the extrovert to James’s introvert. ( I had to add this last minute before going live on the blog as James would have never let me post this 🤓).


This is just a small snapshot of who I am - like an onion I have many layers and I hope you get to know me and my little family better on this blog.

Our story


James and I met through a mutual friend whilst I was working and it was just a very basic introduction. We continued to see each other with other groups of friends on odd occasion, and yes we totally are happy to share that neither of us fancied each other. So sorry there was no love at first sight in our story! 🤣


Then my friend told me that James was suddenly very unwell. He was in and out of hospital and no-one knew what was wrong with him, at that point something inside me was so worried for him, I still can’t explain it but I asked my friend to please give me his number and so I started reaching out to James.


It took some time but James finally agreed to let me visit him and knowing James now and what he has been through this was huge - he didn’t even let his best friends come to see him - but because I was an outsider and didn’t really know James, he always says he felt more comfortable and less judged knowing that.

Bed bound with M.E. long term illness
James and Luise 11 years ago

So I began my weekly, which quickly turned into daily visits to James’s house, who was completely bed bound. I tried to spend every available minute I had with him - I did my university work at his house sat beside his bed and just wanted to spend every spare minute with him. I know this might sound weird and I know we were so young but I was so incredibly drawn to him and just knew I didn’t want to not have him in my life anymore and felt part responsible to help him get better. So somewhere along all this time we spend together, sometimes not even talking as he was too exhausted, I completely and utterly fell for him, his strength, his soul and against everything and everyone that told me/us we were idiots and completely crazy, I said I won’t leave him again and made him tell me that he is indeed my boyfriend. And for some reason that was the hardest part to do for him, as James didn’t want to let me down, look at this stage we haven’t even been on a date let alone sat at a dinner table together. Call me crazy but I knew that he is going to get better and we will try our best to build a life with or without his illness.


Fast forward a few years, we eventually moved into a flat together in Bournemouth - James at this stage was still not fully recovered, I was still at Uni and working when I wasn’t at Uni but we had to do this for us and for him to get to the next stage with his recovery. So, we started our little life together there and then. James slowly started to improve and this is where his cooking journey began and Healthy Living James was born (we didn’t even know at this stage what it would eventfully turn into).


Finally the Proposal (about time)


After a few years and many hints along the way James and I went to Corfu. We stayed in this little tiny affordable AirBnb and rented a car to explore the island and of course, buy all the ingredients to make sure we have plenty of food to cook and eat whilst we were there. I remember the day like it was yesterday, we decided to go for a drive and find somewhere stunning for a walk. James and I have very structured days with our jobs, so on our holidays we never really plan anything we just go with the flow and see what we can find to do. We jump in the car and go for a drive and just can’t find anything amazing, so we just keep going - James at this stage is getting really agitated which is really unlike him and I was thinking to myself he must have gotten out of the wrong side of the bed this morning. Meanwhile, the poor bloke had done some research and was trying to find this little church he wanted to take me to but without telling me that as it is all supposed to be the biggest surprise. Anyway, as I drive I suddenly stop on the side and shout to James OMG look at that little mountain it looks like it has something on top, and there it was James scored big we just stumbled on the exact point he wanted to take me to… Such a luck box! So we get our stuff and I take the backpack and wanted to put some water in, and James just shouts what are you doing I am carrying that… I was like ok princess calm down here is the backpack… Again I had no idea why he was being so on edge that day… Sleep??? We hiked up this trail lined with beautiful olive trees and reached the top of this amazing view point right overlooking the sea and what a backdrop. Right on the top of the viewpoint was the smallest little church - Called the ‘church of angels’ and it was just so romantic, I continued to explore and was taking pictures until I turned around and yes there was my James on one knee, shaking like a leaf with a box in his hand and a sock on the floor (yes it was hidden in a sock) and he just looked at me with tears in his eyes and I remember looking at him and I was waiting and waiting until James got his words out and ask me to be his wife. I was completely beside myself, it was so unexpected. We have been on many trips and It never happened, so I was not expecting this whatsoever. I loved every single moment of this story even the German tourists that offered to take our picture after. James hadn’t told a single soul that he would do this, it was our secret and we had the biggest adrenalin rush knowing it's our little secret to keep for a while longer. We carried our little adventure on and went skinny dipping in little coves we could find and just enjoyed the day to the fullest. I still love that story with every ounce of my heart.


James asked Luise to get married in Corfu
Corfu Engagement

Our Wedding


What comes after a proposal a wedding!! In our case just 2 years later - we didn’t want to rush into getting married and also needed to save some money to pay for it 😅 For us it was important that our wedding felt relaxed, effortless and gets our families together, for the first time ever as mine are all in Germany. As I used to be in the industry I felt the pressure even more than others as everyone said “OHHH your wedding is going to be perfect”! No it won’t trust me there is always something that slips up but that makes it so individual, amazing and special. James and I fell in love with a barn that was truly a barn, an empty canvas for us to do with what we want. From chairs and tables to lightning and building an aisle outside, we did it all with friends and family. It was again such an amazing time, doing all the crafts together with James parents, getting my visions to come to life for very little money. I had my amazing work colleagues from my time as a wedding planner support me and they agreed to do the catering for us, which was just incredible especially how important food was for us on the day! We wanted everyone to eat like us and not to worry about any cross contamination, so we planned the menu exactly how we wanted and even had James’s recipe served for dessert, which was just a complete highlight for us on the day. Again the wedding day was just such a joy, I loved every single second of it - from start to finish - even with huge language barriers between families everyone had the best time and it made my heart grow so much bigger that day. And not sure if it is only me (most likely) but I thought I was more in love with James that day then ever before - every-time I looked at him I was just like, that’s it we done it. We are here both healthy (as we can be) we organised a wedding together, you are no longer bed bound and you are running your own business James, we made it! I will forever remember that feeling seeing him standing there and just being so excited to spend the rest of my life with him!


Some facts about our wedding


  • We had a secret wedding beforehand (I don’t even think my family knows) as you couldn’t get legally married at our location

  • We had a fake wedding on the day (LOVED IT)

  • We served all gluten free, dairy free and egg free food

  • We had best man speeches, bridesmaids speeches and I even did a speech myself

  • Wedding favour was a shot of Jager to cheers with at the end of speeches

  • We had a mash up for our first dance of “Fast Car” and “Sail Away”

  • Had a mini moon and waited for our honeymoon as we needed to save some more money to go to the Maldives




James and Luise wedding September 2018
Wedding Picture

Home-Owners


After we got married and after a few years of renting we decided to save again (at this stage I just wanted to blow some money haha) and try and buy our first flat together. We needed something that James can work from and have an outside space for us to relax in the evenings. We came across this flat that had amazing potential and was really close to where we were already living, but it was a complete renovation from ripping out the kitchen, bathroom and all the floors, ceilings…. Oh the lot. That was our first little renovation project and probably the last haha I am joking. But we loved it - we managed to put our stamp on something and it felt so special but we also designed it to be amazing to sell when we have again you guessed it right, saved up enough money for the next move which would be the house we are now living in now.


James DIY in the kitchen of the flat
Our first flat renovation

Deciding on baby


The time is never right! That’s what everyone tells you and to an extent this is so true. We have been talking about kids for a long time, naturally with Endometriosis and having to make some tough choices early on in our life. We both for years always said that we needed to achieve more and needed some more freedom. With James being bed bound for so long we never had the chance to travel the world, party all night, girls/guys trips you know lot’s of exciting experiences that most of our friends have had so it is really tricky to come to a conclusion that this is just not the life that you going to have right now - but you know, never say never :) don’t get me wrong we have travelled and ticked a few of these bucket list experiences off and we are learning a lot that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others and do what is right for us.


The older I got, I felt this huge time bomb over my head, that as soon as I hit 30 you can’t have kids, based on what the doctors and society tell you with endometriosis, and on top of that the uncertainty of James’s ME would have any impacts on his fertility. So the conversations each year became more and more serious for us.


In 2021 we came to the conclusion that we are somewhat ready and with everything that is going on that we need to take the plunge. You never know how long it is going to take us, it might be a few months, years or not at all. And here we are 😍


I will continue to share about my pregnancy on this platform and will share a post soon about how I got pregnant.


6 week Scan

Private scan at 6 weeks pregnancy
First scan at 6 weeks







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