episode 76 | show notes & advice
This week Sarah chats to Amelia Freer, a nutritional therapist, author and self-taught cook on her helpful approach to eating which focuses on what to include instead of what to avoid. Amelia’s latest book, Simply Good For You, is a beautiful collection of recipes that are incredibly simple and easy to make, largely using veg and perfect for the busy, working parent. She encourages freedom, creativity and enjoyment, and is an advocate of enhancing recipes to make them your own.
In this episode discover
- What brought Amelia to the study of nutritional therapy and how it has helped her
- The Positive Nutrition Pyramid approach and why it works
- Why veg are so fundamental to our health
- Consistency is key when it comes to nutrition and our health
- Knowing your hunger and our individual emotional connection to food
- The importance of helping the individual to find their path to good health, which given we are all unique, is unlikely to be through following strict rules, fads or popular trends
Episode 76 advice sheet
Despite growing up in the Northumberland countryside, with homegrown food and home cooked meals, Amelia had no interest in food and cooking, and with a move to London in her early 20s, quickly took advantage of all the new and exciting fast-food options on offer. She soon began to experience terrible digestive issues, chronic acne and fatigue, and without initially making the connection between food, lifestyle and health, or finding any helpful solution to her poor health, it was suggested that she start to look at her nutrition.
A move towards focusing on nutrition
“At the time my diet was pretty much beige . . . I was drinking 12 cups of tea with sugar in and surviving on toast and that was pretty much it.” Amelia describes her first visit to a nutritionist as a light bulb moment that changed her life. “It was the most amazing hour of my twenties”, primarily because, “she didn’t tell me to give up everything that I loved, she just told me how much I was lacking”. It was a very fresh and positive approach for Amelia, one that focused on inviting in a few more veggies and in so doing, a little more balance, rather than sacrificing anything.
This was enough motivation for Amelia to go and study nutritional therapy for herself, and on the completion of her course, restored to good, thriving health, she wanted to help others experience their own best health.
Amelia’s expertise lies in working with individuals on a personal basis and in the context of a therapeutic setting. She admits is is the side of her career she loves the most - “being able to really listen and help each unique individual pick apart their complex health, work out the way to move forward, and how they can improve it through food.” From her own experience, Amelia knows that working with food and health in a therapeutic way can be “a very pleasurable, enlightening and positive experience. It’s not about making you feel you haven’t done it right today.”
The Positive Nutrition Pyramid
Primarily a guide not a rulebook for what we need on a daily basis to ensure good health. The suggested eight glasses of water are at the bottom of the pyramid, followed by vegetables, fresh fruit, proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, with nuts and seeds at the top. it was Amelia’s business partner, Dr Rosamund Yoxall, having trained in medicine and then nutrition, who came up with the pyramid as a helpful visual tool for Amelia. “It was always about how can we make people feel better about themselves (while they are) trying to do this, rather than embark on a period of deprivation.” Amelia often refers to the Positive Nutrition Pyramid if ever she feels she is going off track, to “see what I haven’t been eating enough of”
Consistency over fast fads that fade
“It’s what we do consistently that has the biggest impact on our health, not a perfect day or a perfect week.”
The key to good health, according to Amelia, is consistency, and consistency is more likely to happen if there is pleasure and enjoyment. She adds, “Humans are programmed for pleasure, so if we remove pleasure from our lives, we’re pretty much guaranteed to not stick with it. If you know that depriving yourself from Monday makes you bored by Thursday – it’s simply not going to work for you.” Hence why Amelia puts such focus on preparing, cooking and eating joyfully, so that’s it not about depriving or starving yourself or making you feel as though you’re missing out.
Sarah is a huge advocate of the Positive Nutrition Pyramid approach and since using it, has been finding that a glass of water half an hour before eating really helps to calm and centre her. She also finds that a glass of water can help to suppress any (head or mouth) hunger, i.e. hunger that is not true stomach hunger. Following her own experience, Sarah suggests, “Think of this as really spoiling yourself and perhaps introduce one level (of the pyramid) a week, so it’s more of a gradual getting better forever.”
Amelia’s advice before eating, and on knowing your hunger
· Take a little moment to connect with yourself and work out what kind of hunger you’re experiencing. Ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?”
· There is a very big difference between actual hunger and not being full and sometimes we mistake ‘not being full’ for hunger.
· There is a difference between head hunger, mouth hunger and genuine stomach hunger.
o Head hunger, for example, if you’re feeling anxious or worried about something, and you eat to avoid or quash that feeling.
o Mouth hunger is a need to change the flavour in your mouth, perhaps after doing a lot of talking or the stale taste of coffee.
o Stomach hunger is usually a good five hours after your last meal, when the stomach is rumbling. This is true hunger and when you know you need your next meal.
· Work towards the simple equation of fasting for five hours between meals and then fast overnight following your evening meal.
Amelia on fasting and other trends
“There is a lot of science towards fasting, however, anything that anyone does – if it feels stressful or hard or deprivational, it’s not going to be healthy for them.” Put simply, Amelia says, “I don’t find that a part of the health picture.”
“Essentially, we need lots of fibre and a variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals in order for us to thrive – which means quite a lot of food in order to get what we need. Therefore, if you’re reducing your meals, you’d have to eat a large amount of food when you do eat.”
Amelia’s experience with her own past health issues and the need to adjust recipes according to the restrictive diet she was following at the time (gluten-free, dairy-free and reducing processed foods), meant she was often recreating recipes with ingredients she could use, or adding to recipes. She still plays about with recipes today, although having returned to her rural roots, and now with the luxury of a walled kitchen garden, it is often more of a recipe enhancement with seasonal fruit, veg and herbs.
Amelia’s books referred to in the podcast
· Nourish & Glow: The 10-day plan
Amelia’s first book, referred to by Sarah in the podcast, and introducing the Positive Nutrition Pyramid.
· Simply Good For You
Written as a new Mother, so with little time and yet very much in need of good nutrition for herself and her young toddler, Amelia includes incredibly easy and good ideas for home cooking, with really tasty, flavour-packed meals. Perfect for busy people who want to eat well with lots of suggestions for batch cooking.
Tips on home cooking for busy people
· Batch cook and freeze them in separate portions
· Presentation is key. Sarah suggests having good quality Tupperware with nice labels – so it’s almost like going to a shop and buying a really good, ready-made meal
· Once or twice a week, make a huge tray bake of veg. When you’re ready, add in fresh salads and seeds.
For more information on recipes visit ameliafreer.com