Find out how Sally Bee saved her life

Sally Bee suffered three heart attacks in one week when she was only in her thirties. She had no family history of heart problems and was young, fit, and healthy. It took her six years to regain her health. Sally knew that she had to find a better way to eat. She believes that family meals can and should be healthful and tasty. For Sally meals are also a special family time. That is the basis of her refreshing and enjoyable book, The Secret Ingredient

Her recipes are as advertised: simple, delicious, and healthful. Be inspired by Sally Bee in this special interview.
DD:  How old were you when you suffered your first heart attack and how did it affect your life?
SB: I was 36 when I suffered my heart attacks. I had three in one week. My children at the time were aged four, two, and nine months, so it had a massive effect on my life. I couldn’t look after my children alone for a long time, I was afraid of everything – laughing, crying, loving – and I was constantly worried that it would happen again, and that I wouldn’t see my children grow up.
DD: Do the doctors know why you had three heart attacks?
SB: It turns out that I suffered from a very rare heart condition called SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection). This was going to happen to me at some point. I was very lucky it didn’t happen when I had any of my three babies. Had I known that I had this condition, I wouldn’t have been able to have any children. So I didn’t suffer my heart attacks because I had an unhealthy lifestyle, but I survived then because I had a very healthy lifestyle.
DD: How did you regain your health?
SB: It took me a long time. About two years to feel physically better but probably about four years to get my full emotional strength back. So it was a long slow progress. Food played a massive part in regaining my health. I quickly realised that if I ate, say a cheese sandwich for lunch, I would feel so very tired and need to sleep for maybe three hours. Yet, if I ate some fruit or vegetables and a little chicken or fish – a meal with lots of nutrition – I had a little more energy to do what I needed to do. My body was like a touch pad for healthy and unhealthy food. I also started to exercise, but this doesn’t mean I went to the gym. I was suffering heart failure so I had very little ‘power’. But I would go for a walk. At first I could only manage two minutes out of my gate then back again, but baby step by baby step I built up my strength and now – almost six years on – I can cycle for six miles, walk for a good hour every day, and swim regularly.
DD:  Do you feel the type of diet you advocate is good for the whole family?
SB: Totally! My recipes are all really easy to make, healthy, affordable, and enticing for the whole family. I never cook one meal for myself and my husband and another meal for the children. We all eat the same food. If I make a curry for the whole family, I will make it a little milder, but we all still sit together and enjoy it.
DD: Can healthful foods be tasty?
SB: In my opinion healthy foods are the tastiest! The problem is that people who eat too much processed food that is high in fat and salt content don’t taste food properly. The taste buds become desensitized to flavours and eventually all they crave is the salt. But if you can cut down on this type of food, you can begin to taste the real flavours of the fresh food. Delicious!
DD: Is healthful a lot of work to make?
SB: No, healthy food is not a lot of work to make. I would say you need to plan a little more than eating ready-made convenience food, but that is it. The healthiest snack is an apple or a banana. And healthy meals can be prepared in minutes – all my recipes are very quick and simple. I’m not a chef but a ‘home cook’, and if I can these dishes, anyone can.
DD: What is your favourite treat?
SB: I adore dark, minty chocolate – and that is allowed. I believe that as long as your meals offer you nutrition and you do a little exercise such as walking every day, a little bit of what you fancy is a good thing!