Written by Kerrie Alexander
Wind back the clock about five years and Kelly Econonidis was fighting an auto immune disease, Relapsing and Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and had lesions on her brain, neck, and spine.
There were days when the Maryborough resident couldn’t get out of bed, walk or talk because she was in too much pain.
Fast forward to today and Kelly is in full remission without any medical intervention.
She is MS-free, the lesions have disappeared, and her good health meant that she could start her own vegan-based food delivery service called Everybody CHILL, with about 40 grateful customers receiving her meals each week.
Her journey to this point can only be described as phenomenal!
This is the first time the incredibly private but passionate foodie and yoga instructor has shared her story, but she has done so in the hope that it might inspire others in a similar situation to better their health through nutritious, clean eating and exercise.
Kelly’s journey started when she was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease.
She had been a vegetarian for 14 years prior but found it “just wasn’t cutting it” for her health and research showed that eating dairy only worsened the disease.
However, going vegan and eating a clean, plant-based diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, legumes and nuts and seeds had proven results for auto-immune sufferers.
This was backed up by an information pack and recipes from a renowned vegan expert in India who Kelly had signed up to go and have Panchakarma treatment with.
It is an ayurvedic treatment methodology which specialises in intensive waste elimination from the body at a cellular level.
“I didn’t want to take any medications so I allowed myself a certain amount of time to see what I could do, and I was going to India to have (alternative) treatment with a doctor over there,” Kelly said.
“When I got the pack, it described everything that was involved and everything I needed to do and eat three months before I went and I thought ‘why don’t I just do this now’, and I did!
“If this is what I needed to do for my health, then why not do it now.”
Now, keep in mind that Kelly could “barely boil and egg” so it was her Greek husband Shane – a trade qualified chef – that did the cooking for Kelly and their four children prior to the lifestyle shift.
But the will to heal her body through the power of vegan food, yoga, exercise and surrounding herself with like-minded positive people ignited her love affair with food.
Of course, it was trial and error and plenty of recipes gone wrong, but with her children and husband as both her biggest critics and supporters, she has perfected the art of not giving up.
“I became more and more creative with food.
“I’m yoga teacher trained and have a big yoga life path and passion, and so from putting myself around the right positive people, cooking the right food … it all just grew from that passion for health.
“With that lead up to India I had to have all my tests and MRI’s ready to go for the doctor over there but before I left there was not a lesion to be found.
“I haven’t had a relapse from MS in three years.
“I was in full remission. It was just amazing to me!
It wasn’t an easy change to make but one that Kelly said she would do over again in a heartbeat.
“I was strict and disciplined at the time with what I ate.
“There were lots of little things like intermittent fasting, lots of tweaking, a juice day once a week, Yoga 5-6 times a week, and meditation; it was a whole holistic approach to my health and that’s what worked for me.
“I’m not advocating that this works for everyone but there were days that I couldn’t get out of bed or days when I couldn’t put words together and that was a big scary thing.
“My passion for what I do now definitely came from that.
“It’s just completely changed everything, my health and vitality and trust in my capabilities. It’s just amazing!”
Kelly shared her story with a close friend who was battling ill health and had seen first-hand the difference the food she had been cooking made to her life.
So, she asked Kelly to cook for her family, and she did, followed by another friend of a friend and so on, and that’s when her business Everybody CHILL came to fruition.
More and more people are moving to a plant-based or vegan diet – for varying different reasons.
Choice, lifestyle, health… no matter what your reason is, vegan and vegetarian food, as delicious as it is – takes quite a bit of preparation.
Kelly has taken the hard work out of eating clean for anyone wanting to give it a go, with a minimum of four bowls (one non-vegan) and options of three desserts delivered to your home.
Hence the name of the business.
“My few first families and friends all kept saying the same thing over and over: “When I come home from work I just want to ‘chill’. I want to eat healthy, but I don’t have time”.
“So, I thought Everybody CHILL “I cook you chill” was a catchy name and stuck.”
All the products used in the bowls are sourced from local businesses or markets.
I was lucky enough to have been treated to two of the meals including Cuban Chicken with orange, oregano and jalapeno marinated chicken with roasted radish, beets, cauliflower, quinoa and citrus almond dressing.
The second was a Kofta Masala with cashew koftas with masala, jasmine rice and roti.
They were to die for!
Kelly said the business has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response in the past four years.
She is grateful to her clients, with many sharing similar stories or stories of why they felt they needed the change.
“I get goose bumps when I talk to some of my customers in the same situation and that’s truly why I started this.
“I don’t want to expand or grow because I want that connection with my customers and the community for people’s health.
“This isn’t about smashing out as many meals as I can.
“I just pinch myself. It just feels like you are putting your heart on a plate and it’s just awesome!
“It’s really nice and I’m super grateful to be invited in people’s lives.
“Even if it’s just because they a super busy and need their meals made.”
Kelly only takes a maximum of 120 orders each week so if you want to try the food make sure you get in quick by placing an order on the Everybody Chill Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.