You are all due another interview from another fabulous friend of mine. This post will be a little different. As important as it is to dress well and to be put together in whichever way best fits your personality, all the clothes and Hermes bags won't shine if you aren't healthy on the inside. Nutrition is the key to absolutely everything; our weight, appearance, moods and health.
After working at Jimmy Choo my childhood friend Jenna Barclay launched Upcakes and more recently her website Foods to Love. She is available for consultations so that people (like me) can learn what to eat and how to take care of your body.
1. If you could give anyone one piece of advice on maintaining a healthy diet what would it be?
I'd say try not to be extreme. One of the most destructive habits we do nowadays is beat ourselves up for being 'naughty', and then try to undo the damage by restricting our intake or depriving ourselves. Aside from being a negative mindset, it also wears down our metabolism and accelerates ageing. Our bodies can bounce back from extremities when we are young with relatively little damage, but you'd be surprised at how soon the side-effects will show. Yo-yoing between the super good and the super bad leads to things like papery skin, lines under the eyes, weight gain in the back of the hips and stomach, and pronounced lines between the sides of the nose and mouth.
It's really important to be ok living in the grey area and finding your body's happy place. There are times for indulgence and times for being healthy, so they key is to be realistic about it. Indulge sensibly in the things you really love, and refuse to feel guilty about it.
2. What do you eat on an average day?
I like to start my day with something liquid, usually a green smoothie or protein shake, but only once my hunger has kicked in. I experiment with different kinds of fruits and veggie combinations all blended up. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I believe that's true in the sense it's the best time to give your body a big dose of nutrients. I don't think this means you have to sit down for a full-on meal though.
For lunch I make a huge salad with whatever vegetables I've got on hand, mixed with plenty of leafy greens and herbs, and always some kind of healthy fat - like seeds, oils, and avocados. I'll eat some hummus or flax crackers on the side too.
Every afternoon, I'll have dark chocolate of some kind. It's my favourite treat food and I have a little every day so I don't feel deprived.
Dinner completely depends on the day - If I'm home for dinner, I'll roast a squash or sweet potato, sautee some vegetables, make quinoa, that kind of thing. This gives me some wiggle room for the nights I go out. When I'm at a restaurant I'll choose healthy items most of the time, but if I want pasta or bread, I'll have it. Same goes with a good glass of wine or champagne.
Jenna's green smoothie
3. What are your favourite healthy snacks?
I always eat something in between lunch and dinner or I get the 5pm 'blahs'. I love almond butter and couldn't live without it - I eat at least a tablespoon of it every afternoon. I also love Kale Chips; the ones from my website are great because they are made without cashews, so they're easier to digest and you don't feel so heavy after eating them. Another favourite are cocoa-dusted goji berries, which are ridiculously high in antioxidants and taste so indulgent for something so pure and raw.
4. What are your holy grail beauty products?
I slowly switched my beauty and skin products over to more natural alternatives, after doing some research about the ingredients that go into all our favourite brands. What I learned was really shocking and scary. Luckily, nowadays there are some amazing options that go beyond the cliches like hemp soap. The best place to sort yourself out head-to-toe for natural beauty products is Content Beauty off Marylebone High Street. They have everything in there. I came across this brand there called Live Native which makes raw, unprocessed beauty products, and their cleanser has literally transformed my skin. After maybe 7 years of struggling with problem skin, I started using it 3 months ago and people keep telling me my skin is glowing. I don't even moisturise at night after using it because it leaves my skin really supple and soft rather than giving me that taught feeling you usually get after cleansing. I have tried literally every product under the sun for problem skin and now I'll never switch.
I also love coconut oil as a moisturiser and eye make-up remover.
Butter London is a nail polish brand that makes great colours, all without the formaldehyde and other nasty chemicals that we wouldn't want to put on our nails. When you think about the number of times a day you touch your face, it makes sense to only want to wear good polish.
5. Favourite form of exercise?
I started going to TenPilates about 18 months ago and now I go about 4 times a week; I saw results so quickly, which kept me going back. I also love that no two classes are the same. I supplement that with lots of dancing as it's the only cardio I don't hate! But I dont think there's a right or wrong when it comes to exercise, so long as you do it and you do it often.
6. Exercise essentials
I make a turmeric tonic to drink while I work out, as it helps combat any inflammation caused during exercise. It's just a big glass of water with ice, lemon juice, powdered turmeric and cardamom, a dash of stevia to sweeten it, and some black pepper. I tried a version of this at Organic Avenue in New York and got hooked. I swear my face is less puffy when I'm consistent about drinking this!
Jenna's turmeric tonic
7. 5 foods to avoid
I think you should never make something off-limits if you really love it and want to eat it once in a while. Having said that, I think one of the most important foods to limit for health is dairy - we were never designed to drink it, so we have difficulty processing it. It encourages the formation of mucus in our bodies, is super acidic, and leaches minerals from our bones despite the fact that it contains calcium. Aside from that, it's the food most closely linked to cancer, arthritis, high cholesterol and obesity. If you can do without it, it's best to eliminate it altogether. (You can read more about dairy here)
The other food that is best to avoid is fried food - when you fry something, you essentially 'oxidate' it. This is essentially what causes free radicals in the body, which are the precursors for disease and illness (antioxidants are the nutrients that kill these 'oxidants').
Also, if you can substitute white sugar for healthier sweet fixes, such a agave, xylitol, or stevia, you will be doing your body (and waistline) a huge favour.
8. What's the best way to start changing your diet?
Start with the easy stuff. The meals that are easiest to improve, do those first. If you start by vowing to only eat salad when you're out for a birthday dinner on a saturday night, you're setting yourself up to fail. However, if you aim to make your weekday breakfasts and lunches as healthy as possible, that feels a lot easier. Work on one thing at a time, and once you've got one 'down', tackle the next one. So for example, you could aim to add a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie first, then you could take out processed grains like sushi rice from lunch, and so on. Once you hit your stride, every food 'challenge' that seemed insurmountable in the past won't fill you with anxiety anymore. When this happened to me, it was like a cloud of worry had lifted from my everyday life.
Another salad made by Jenna
9. Do you take supplements, if so what?
Supplements are a slippery slope because there is always something your body will need more of, so I try not to obsess about it too much. I like to take magnesium though, as our fast-paced lifestyle really depletes our magnesium stores, and it's such an important mineral for nerve function. When we have plentiful magnesium in our bodies, we feel calmer and sleep better. You'll know you need a magnesium top-up if you get twitchy eyes from time to time.
10. Any natural beauty remedies/treatments that you use?
I use Manuka Honey on my face as a mask because it's antibacterial, so it helps clear clogged pores. I also leave coconut oil in my hair overnight occasionally, to keep it conditioned.
For any further information please check out Jenna's website www.foodstolove.co.uk. To book a consolation with Jenna, contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.