My Credo and Approach
My credo and approach is based on one simple belief: we can all create better health at any age.
I believe we create our own health and that energy, vitality and happiness is a birth-right – we can create health at any age.
I believe our body is much wiser than we are – we can learn to listen to its whispers, before we hear it scream.
I believe that mind and body are one; a healthy body is host to a healthy mind and the reverse is true; it cannot be otherwise.
I believe that real food is often our first and best medicine; what we eat will make – or break – our health. Traditional real foods, that are wholesome, nutritious and delicious, cleanly farmed and grown on a healthy planet, are not a privilege – they’re everybody’s birthright.
But food isn’t our only medicine: how we create purpose and meaning in our lives, how nurture our inner and outer ‘connectedness’, the quality of our sleep; how we move our bodies; how we manage stress, what we eat, digest and absorb, and how we look after our nest and our home environment are all essential for true ‘whole’ health.
We are much more than the sum of our parts; femergy and true whole health means living a ‘whole’ life.
I believe that each and every one of us is unique – no one-size ‘diet’ or lifestyle fits all, nor can it fix all. I believe that to lose weight, we need to get healthy first and that there are no ‘good’ foods or ‘bad’ foods – just foods our body can or cannot deal with and habits that either promote or undermine our health.
Good food is MUCH more than just fuel; it’s fundamental information for our body that switches on and tells our genes what to do…. AND it’s Mother Nature’s delicious gift to be enjoyed.
I believe that optimum energy, vitality, health and happiness isn’t a destination – it’s a 24/7 journey, for life. And it’s in our hands.
I believe that each of us is responsible our own health and happiness; information, inspiration and support open the door to self-knowledge and to better choices, better decisions and a better life for ourselves and for our children… but we must take those steps.
And I BELIEVE WOMEN MATTER – we really, really matter.
We women hold the family and the world in the palm of our hand and it’s a very heavy responsibility. Our roles of Queen, Mother, Wise Woman, Lover call on us to be deeply intuitive and intensely concerned with our young, our mate and our ‘pack’.
But overwhelm, fatigue and the feeling we need to do more, be more and care more haunts us daily and our health and happiness is suffering. So is our ability to hold it together – so we really matter – because if not us, then who?
As a Nutrition & Lifestyle Medicine Health Coach, a Nutritional Chef, an author, speaker and an active food and health campaigner, (and a Partner, Mum and Grand-Mum too!) I know what it’s like to be a busy, professional woman who’s tired of being tired, tired of overwhelm and tired of fighting fatigue and just… keeping on keeping on.
And I know too, what it’s like to witness my health go down the drain at the hands of a debilitating autoimmune disorder and feel helplessness and hopelessness steal my spirit.
But, with research, education, food and lifestyle changes, I reclaimed my health. And as I regained my energy, vitality and health, I got my life and my spirit back and vowed to make the rest of my life the best of my life.
And I knew then, that I could help other women do the same; women like you: switched-on, busy, caring women – but struggling with overwhelm and fatigue and sick and tired of saying “I’m so tired.”
There IS another way….
A Whole-Health, Lifestyle Medicine Approach…
The British Society of Lifestyle Medicine, the British Association for Holistic Medicine and Health Care and the UK Health Coaches Association approach to health creation all consider diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, emotions and beliefs, experiences and relationships, family and community and the world around us as determinants of our health. We are whole people at the centre of the complex and interconnected web that is a whole life.
My approach puts a whole ‘you’ at the centre of your whole life.
While it’s true that often our food is our first medicine, it’s absolutely by no means our only medicine! Make no mistake, no amount of perfect-for-you, nutritious healing foods will mend a broken lifestyle, the dis-ease of loneliness, poor quality sleep, or the impact of a toxic environment.
With my support, you’ll become much more aware of how fostering inner and outer connectedness underpins a truly healthy body and mind. You’ll understand how a healthy mind and body depend on a metabolically supportive diet that feeds each and every cell in our body. You’ll learn to prioritise restful, quality sleep; reduce stress and take time to rest, to relax and take regular breaks in nature to move your body. You’ll learn to create a safe, non-toxic home environment that supports, rather than undermines your health.
As importantly, and no matter where your starting point, with experienced whole-health nutrition and lifestyle health coaching you’ll be able to make the changes that really matter for you.
But, what are ‘you’?
Well, fundamentally, you’re 7 – 70 TRILLION CELLS that are carefully organised into tissues; a variety of organs; an interconnected system of organs; and ultimately the fully functional YOU.
And that functional ‘you’ is UNIQUE. Each of us has our own ‘blueprint’ – crafted from a combination of culture, geography, genetics, ancestry, the cumulative experience of your parents and grandparents – and, in particular, their nutrition. Prenatal, postnatal and even your actual birth circumstances all contribute to your blueprint, along with the more obvious formative period during your childhood. It’s not so much a case of ‘nature versus nurture’ as it is nature and nurture!
For us all, maintaining our health and quality of life, falling prey to, or recovering from illnesses, diseases and disorders and even how quickly we age, depends crucially on asking one simple question:
“Do our CELLS have what they NEED to be healthy?” Here’s my take on how to ensure they do:
Strengthen your ‘FEMERGY’! (our energy is the key to a healthy body and mind)
Fundamentally, our FEMERGY is our metabolism – the result of all the processes in our body working together, to create the energy that keeps us alive and kicking.
Every single one of our cells needs to produce sufficient energy to fuel not only itself, but the organ it belongs to and ALL our bodily processes – and that includes our mind.
The strength (or otherwise) of our metabolism dictates our levels of ‘Femmergy’ – and therefore determines our vitality, overall health and even how quickly we age.
It’s a complex plot, but every play has a hero. Our metabolism’s hero is our THYROID GLAND which works to regulate our metabolism through the action of THYROID HORMONE, which reaches and acts on EVERY cell in the body.
Improve your sleep (this is HUGE!)
Stress and SLEEP are toxic bed-fellows. Without quality sleep our body can’t repair from the daily toils of living, nor can it heal from disorder and disease.
Chronic stress disrupts our hormones and sleep physiology making restful, restorative sleep impossible.
Surprisingly, we need sufficient energy for quality sleep. If we don’t eat enough energy-rich foods during the day, our body will enter ‘stress mode’ during the night making us restless and we wake up.
And because our hormones are disrupted, we can’t get back to sleep. And so it goes on… and indeed poor sleep is one of the primary factors in the process of ageing. The old adage of getting your ‘beauty sleep’ is now supported by hard science!
Manage your stress and inflammation – (this is HUGE!)
We need to recognise that the STRESS that we are dealing with today is very different from our ancestors’ back in the day. While we no longer need to fear the occasional bear attack, we are inundated with emotional stress. For example: lack of purpose; dysfunctional relationships; money worries; unfulfilling jobs; chronic busy-ness; and disconnection from family and community. Added to this is the environmental stress from pollution; the side effects of toxic pharmaceuticals; and personal and home care products. We need to understand how the physiology of chronic stress not only promotes the inflammation that underpins chronic disease, but actually prevents the process of healing itself.
And if we do nothing else – we need recognise the truth in the wisdom “we are what we eat” and avoid the foods that stress our body – highly processed, chemically contaminated ‘fake’ foods, grains, vegetable and seed oils and fluoridated water.
Move your body (move it, or you’ll lose it!)
We were born to move… not waste gym membership. We humans have been pushing (as every mum will know!) and pulling, squatting, lifting and climbing for millions of years! Movement is so fundamental to every aspect of our health that regular, functional movement calms our sympathetic nervous system (‘fight or flight’) and reduces our stress load and allowing our body to thrive by lowering blood pressure and levels of LDL cholesterol; increasing our levels of helpful HDL cholesterol; and improving our blood flow and basic heart function.
In combination, these physical changes reduce our body’s stress response and turn on our parasympathetic nervous system (‘rest and digest’); allowing our natural detoxification and healing mechanisms to get to work.
‘Green exercise’ – physical activity performed in nature, like walking, cycling, boating, conservation activities – has a very positive effect on several stress-related states like anger, confusion, depression and anxiety.
Strength training is anti-ageing
After the age of 30, we lose around 5% of our muscle mass every 10 years… do the maths going forward!
Bodyweight workouts improve strength, muscle tone, increasing bone density and burning body fat. And you can easily incorporate a few basic moves into quick and easy daily routine to do at home … without costly gym membership…
Cook ‘whole’ REAL food and digest it
We’re not just what we eat, we’re what we’re able to digest… and as a Nutritional Chef, it’s no surprise that I’m passionate about showing you what to eat, where to shop and how to cook for optimum and therapeutic nutrition.
A metabolic supportive, pro-thyroid diet is absolutely central to our ‘femergy’, vitality and health. We need ‘whole’ easily, digestible foods in nutritional balance, for a strong DIGESTION. The nutrients in our food need to be quickly absorbed if they are to fuel our metabolism properly.
At the same time, we need to recognise how nutritionally worthless ‘fake’ foods and poor lifestyle choices can ‘break’ our digestion… and ultimately our health. We need to learn how to mend ourselves by understanding the complex role our digestive system and gut microbiome (aka gut bugs!) play in priming our immune system to protect us – and how stress can wreak havoc on both.
But I am a chef and a passionate real-food-foodie and I absolutely believe that we were born to enjoy eating! So, along the way I want everyone to fall back in love with delicious food! The bounty that Mother Nature has provided is there for us to enjoy, celebrate and yes, occasionally, to indulge in… guilt-free.
Optimise your ‘nest’ and environment
Our body’s chronic ‘stress response’ isn’t just provoked by our emotions and behaviours, but from our toxic environment too. Here’s a thought: when zoo animals get sick, the first thing that zookeepers look at is their environment: their cage, their food, their climate and their ‘entertainment’! Switched-on zookeepers know that for animals to be healthy in captivity, they need an environment which reflects what they would have in the wild. We human animals are no different!
In the process of evolution, Mother Nature’s hand works exceedingly slowly; she wants to get things right. It’s we humans who have designed our rapidly-evolving and largely dysfunctional lifestyles which ‘clash’ head-on with our much slower-evolving body’s need for a more natural environment. From un-natural and extended light/dark cycles; exposure to EMFs and chemical pollution; toxins in synthetic clothing and bedding; hormone disruption from EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) that contaminate our personal care products and our food; chemicals given-off by our cooking and kitchen equipment, to the thousands of chemicals and technological innovations which didn’t EXIST even 50 years ago… we live in a toxic environment. And our bodies are screaming “STOP!”
In common with every animal on the planet, the ‘nesting’ instinct is deeply ingrained into our behaviour and psyche. A safe nest is basic to our sense of security and contentment and we invest physical and emotional energy in creating and enhancing it; any perceived a threat to our nest leaves us feeling stressed.
It’s no wonder, then, that we have the saying “home is where the heart is” – because that’s exactly where we put ours! In relation to stress, an aesthetically pleasing and emotionally supportive physical home environment plays a huge role in helping us to detox physiologically. We need to hygge our home too!
Learn to ‘BE’ – nurture your inner and outer connectedness
In mathematics, ‘connectedness’ means ‘all one piece’. When a mathematical object has such a property, we say it is connected; otherwise it is disconnected.
We are, fundamentally, an organic ‘object’ (i.e. a big blog of organic matter made up of very smart cells creating energy, organised into a system of systems). And we are so much more than the sum of our parts; we too, are designed to be ‘all one piece’.
Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to life…neurobiologically, it’s how we’re wired. But, people’s stories are about disconnection
Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability
And our disconnection seems to be the scourge of modern life; in recent years we’ve seen an explosion of self-help, personal development and spiritual enlightenment books, websites and on-line communities seeking to guide us towards a sense of connection, purpose, fulfilment, peace and happiness.
We need other people to be healthy and happy, it’s a fact.
Whether we’re in a conventional or non-conventional ‘family’, have a partner or are single – belonging to a club or interest group, socialising with friends, volunteering to ‘give back’ we need connection in some form. Indeed, social connection it matters throughout life: Singletons at every age have poorer health outcomes than do those who nurture supportive relationships and isolated elderly people don’t live as happily, as healthily, or as long as do those with strong family or social connections.
So, building our ‘tribe’ – whatever that looks like for each of us – is important, healthful and unsurprisingly, it’s enjoyable! And we women are particularly good at it!
Does ‘inner’ connectedness matter?
Dr Kelly Brogan, a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, puts inner-connectedness at the very centre of women’s physical, emotional and spiritual health.
She has this to say:
Personally, professionally, nationally, and planetarily, we have all bought into the mindset that tells us we are here to dominate, to win, to master, to fix. That includes our bodies, nature, and each other. Every man and woman for themselves.
To do lists. Email. Facebook. Appointments. Commutes. Packing lunch. Making that call. Hustling for that deadline. Ignoring the elephant of your sexless marriage, looming in the corner of the room. Feeling inadequate. Feeling like it’s too much. Like you don’t care. But also like you can’t stop caring. The frenzy of productivity and functionality. The busy. Is this what it’s really all about? Until we die?
We fell in love with our minds, with the promise of expansion, growth, and accelerated evolution that led us down a path away from our essential selves.
Women have been brought deep down the path of the masculine principle: thinking, doing, organizing, planning, achieving, mastering instead of feeling, being, touching, dancing, loving, connecting, creating.
But we feel its absence. The absence of our wildness, and we are being called to reunite with it. This is waking up. We must listen to the call … wake up from our slumber… and feel the wrongness of this disconnection from ourselves.
We have been normalizing abnormal. We wither, we starve, we get depressed, tired, flat, stuck, contracted, scared, hopeless, lost.
This is burnout, and I am here to tell you that burnout is nothing more than a mismatch with this natural order of self, other, and nature-connectedness.
Nurturing inner and outer connectedness is an absolutely critical part of self-care for everyone – and particularly for women.
But as we’ve seen above, women’s’ roles, based on ‘Archetypes of the Mature Feminine‘ (Queen, Mother, Wise Woman and Lover) are challenging and hugely demanding and we are particularly good at putting other-care before our own.
A simple and unselfish take-home:
“Put on your own oxygen mask first… and then help others to put on theirs.“