Digital & IT

Published: May 3, 2020 | Updated: May 3, 2020

Long-term illness that led to a healthy living business – and a marriage to a devoted wife

James Wythe of Healthy Living James.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

James Wythe still remembers in vivid detail the day his life took a dramatic – and frightening – turn.

It was December 2010 and the then 21-year-old had just completed his BSc degree in sports science at Bournemouth University.

A talented golf player – James played for both the university and also the Dorset County 1st team – he had been out for a meal with friends.

He said: “I woke up the next morning and felt horrific. I was dizzy and just not with it.

“I thought at first it was a touch of food poisoning but for some reason I didn’t recover and the symptoms just seemed to get worse and worse.

“It reached the point where I had to be rushed into hospital for a suspected brain tumour.

“I had several brain scans but I was so weak at that point, having lost nearly three stone in weight, that I couldn’t eat, drink or even stand up.”

Eventually, after undergoing repeated tests over a period of six months, James was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), otherwise known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or ME.

He was told there was no cure but, instead, he should rest and wait.

Thanks to the care, love and devotion of his parents – but especially his mum, Sheila, who stayed with him 24 hours a day for several months – James began the long haul to recovery.

But, in a remarkable twist, his poor health led to not just the creation of a successful business but also to meeting, and then marrying, his future wife.

Luise had heard about James’ plight through mutual friends and started to visit him.

Day after day, week after week and month after month she sat patiently by his bedside as he struggled to get better.

James said: “She never failed to come and see me and that’s when our relationship developed into something more serious.

“Luise also really helped my parents in sharing the hard work and, in particular, supported my mum during the long journey towards my continued recovery.”

After two years of mostly being confined to his bed James and Luise moved into a flat together and what was become his future business took shape.

For James, who married Luise in 2018, discovered an enjoyment for researching and preparing healthy and fresh food with the emphasis on easy and quick gluten and dairy free dishes.

And after seeing a local nutritionist he cleaned up his diet, cutting out processed sugars as much as possible.

James also found inspiration by reading as many alternative cookbooks as possible.

It all helped build his passion to cook and eat and live as healthily as possible with the resultant improvement in his energy levels.

The seed of an idea started germinating.

Perhaps his experiences, and conversion to a healthy diet, could help others?

Four years ago James started writing blogs for social media and publishing his own recipes.

They quickly proved popular and what started as an interest turned into a full-time business.

Today James’ website – Healthy Living James  – is a huge hit around the globe, especially since the lockdown, while he has just under 80,000 Instagram followers and 23,000 on Facebook.

The site, alone, features more than 200 recipes from James while an e-book of 25 exclusive recipes, released eight months ago, has sold 2,500 copies at £6.99 apiece.

Currently James, who lives in Bournemouth, is featuring ’15 Fan Faves’ on the website comprising of 15 of his most popular and highly rated gluten free ad vegan recipes.

They are available free here.

As for the future the 30-year-old said he hoped to find a publisher for his modern and quick recipes which take no more than 15 minutes to prepare.

James said: “I’m about 90 per cent back to full health and have started playing golf again but I still have my bad days.

“I can’t really put my finger on where the inspiration for my recipes comes from but I love doing it.

“My followers are mainly UK-based but they’re also in America, Australia and other parts of Europe.

“It’s unusual for a guy to be doing what I do but I think my story is very strong and strikes a chord with people.”