She was 23 when she had tonsilitis nine times in one year and was in and out of hospital with glandular fever.
Now, 31-year-old Angie Cowen's health has improved, she has an organic gluten-free business, a new recipe e-book and is running a gluten-free Christmas cooking workshop this Saturday in Corrimal.
"I was quite a sick young adult," she says.
"When I started to look at food and how it was affecting my body, I saw dairy affected my immune system and gluten was also affecting my mental space.
"From there I started a business in 2011, because I was so passionate about feeling good.
"[Before] I was running a restaurant and I had a lot of yoga retreats that I was catering for.
"People were feeling good when they ate that food, it was profound for a lot of people."
She wrote her e-book Angie Gluten Free Wholefood Sweets & Treats to share the knowledge she's gained.
The wholefoods chef plans to showcase a range of foods made from organic gluten-free ingredients during the workshop.
"You can make anything, it's about being creative and understanding how ingredients work together," she says.
"Things like gorgeous crunchy almond cookies, decorated with gogi berries, and chocolate avocado mousses, they look stunning.
"They taste delicious, look beautiful and it leaves the eater feeling energised rather than depleted. It is a different flavour, but it's deeper, more satisfying."
Despite building a gluten-free-based business, Angie says she isn't an advocate for the diet, rather she encourages people to listen to their bodies to figure out what works.
"The world is full of information, nothing is ever really conclusive, all we have is ourselves and what our body is telling us," she says.
"I don't think it's a fad ... for some it's superficial and for some people it's a very real way of living.
"Ultimately the food we eat is meant to energise us, make us stronger and happier."
Kelly Ryan, owner of Little Branches, Big Trees, says she organised the workshop to celebrate gluten-free wholefoods and provide people the chance to prepare for Christmas.
"It's all about being ready for Christmas, getting you through the festive season without a massive food hangover," she says.
With Christmas almost upon us, sweets, treats and sugar have a tendency to creep into many people's diets.
For the gluten intolerant, biting into many desserts and savoury snacks can cause pain.
Although the workshop this Saturday has sold out, there will be more in 2014.
Chocolate avocado pudding
By Angie Cowen
Gluten-free, nut-free, vegan. Blender required (serves 6)
Of surprisingly decadent taste and texture, this is a long-standing crowd pleaser at many of my events. Enjoy it as a simple chocolate mousse or as a soft vegan icing.
2 ripe small/medium avocados
cup real maple syrup
1 cup coconut cream
Pinch of Himalayan crystal or Celtic sea salt
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp virgin coconut oil – melted and cooled
Fresh berries or mango for decorating
Put all the ingredients (except fruit for decorating) into a blender and blend until smooth. Spoon mix into desired serving glass. (It may be cheesy but I do like serving it in an old school martini glass!) Top with fresh berries or mango and shavings of raw mint chocolate.