Firstly, I need to say, thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview! We love your blog and what you are doing!!
Reading through your blog and also getting the chance to meet you, you have been studying Psychology to PhD level, which is incredible!
What led you down this path initially?
I think I’ve always been interested in psychology. I took psychology for A-level and it was my favourite subject, so I decided to study it at uni and I’ve just kept on learning since then. I’ve never had a master plan that I wanted to be a psychologist or an academic, I’ve just found myself here.
You've also specialised with your PhD in behaviour change psychology and healthy eating, what led you into this?
My MSc was in Health Psychology and I did an intensive module around behaviour change interventions which I found fascinating. Also, during my MSc I learnt more about how the things that we eat can affect us both physically and mentally. This motivated me to eat healthier* and try to help other people to do the same. I that think a lot of people struggle to stick to their good intentions to eat less chocolate or to get their 5-a-day. My research is trying to understand why people don’t always act according to their goals and also trying to improve the way that researchers can address this question.
*I don’t pretend that I eat perfectly all the time, but I try and get a good balance of greens, which are good for my body, and sweet stuff like homemade chocolate fudge brownies, which makes me happy.
You've been blogging for a few years now, have you changed in that time, and has your blog changed?
I think I have a different understanding of what it means to be healthy now; I used to think that being healthy was about eating well and going to the gym a set number of times per week, but in the last year I have learnt the importance of balance. For example, it wouldn’t be good for you to eat cake all of the time, but if you’re in the mood for cake or you go to a birthday party and want some cake then go ahead and eat it.
Also, I feel like I have less headspace for blogging recently. My PhD is quite time consuming and I am setting up my business re:Wellbeing to help women who want to break out of a cycle of bad habits (e.g. binge eating) and develop a healthy lifestyle that is right for them. Sometimes I am really enthusiastic and write lots of blog posts but other times I feel a bit overwhelmed and won’t post for 10 days. I’d rather keep my blog natural than to force myself to push out a post that I probably won’t be happy with when I look back on it.
What has been your best blog moment over the last two years? – We can imagine you've got a lot to be super proud of, but is there anything that stands out ?
I don’t think I am naturally a proud person – I don’t often take enough time to reflect on what I have achieved. I think my best blog moments are when I get invited to events and I’m like ‘how do they even know about my blog??!!’. For example, I was invited to dinner at the Sainsbuy’s HQ in London to celebrate one year of vegan cheese in their stores and also a Deliciously Ella book launch, which I was so excited about because she is a big inspiration to me.
You've won a few awards for your blog, which is amazing! What are your plans for the future?
I would definitely like to work with more companies to create recipes for their customers or my blog and instagram. It’s important to me to use ingredients that are accessible for most people, but I have to balance this with being able to make money from my blog; companies with special healthy ingredients are often the ones who are keen to work with me. My most recent collaboration is with That Protein who sponsored my award – Best Vegan Blog at the Health Bloggers Community Awards.
(Photo credit: Anna Rachel Photography)
If anyone out there is thinking about starting a blog, what would be your advice to them?
My main advice would be to just go for it, especially if you’re really passionate about a topic. Don’t worry about getting followers or getting your blog to look perfect. People who have similar interests will find you and your blog will grow with time. Plus, I think there will always be things about your blog that you’re not 100% happy with, so don’t let that be a reason to stop you.
I have written a whole blog post with tips for new and aspiring bloggers which you can read here.
Your blog is healthy and plant based recipes which are really inspiring, and look soooo yummy!! What led you to become 'vegan' (sorry we don't like to label too much!)
I totally agree, I don’t really like to label either. I decided to take part in Veganuary in 2015, which is a challenge to go vegan for the month of January. Then I just kept on going from there! Originally I thought that being vegan was healthier, but I’m not sure that is actually the case- there seem to be arguments for why every diet (e.g. paleo, low-fat) is ‘healthy’ and the one you should be following. I would consider myself more of an ethical vegan now, for example, I do try to buy cruelty free products, but if I have a sore throat I will still drink honey and orange. Overall, I prefer the term plant-based to vegan because it gives me some flexibility for if I do decide to change my mind about eating animal products in the future and I think it has less negative connotations than the term vegan.
Have you noticed any differences to how it makes you feel? A common misconception is that you dont get enough nutrients if you restrict your diet! What has been your experience?
First off, I didn’t really notice any differences when I switched to a vegan diet and I don’t really have anything else to compare it to now. Second, I would say that it’s important not to restrict your diet too much. I think that people who want to go vegan to get healthier often decide to cut out gluten and consequentially many sources of carbohydrates. I went on a vegan diet a few years ago and decided to try and only eat raw food- I lost an unhealthy amount of weight, lost all my energy and looked awful – but it wasn’t the vegan diet that was doing it, it was because I wasn’t fuelling my body properly. Now I eat a healthy balanced diet, albeit vegan, and I feel fine. I had blood tests several times last year and I was never deficient in any vitamins or minerals, but I think if you are worried then you should go and see your doctor.
What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about eating more of a plant based diet?
I think that one of the best things that you can do is to decided on several quick and healthy vegan meals that you can make when you’re tired, stressed or in a rush. Most convenience food isn’t vegan friendly, so it helps to have a plan of what to cook in a hurry. Two of my favourite options are 1) a stew made with a can of tomatoes, a can of beans, frozen peas and spices, served with microwaved rice or 2) a stir fry with whatever veggies are in your fridge, edamame beans, soya sauce, ginger powder and soba noodles (which take literally 4 minutes to cook!) .
I have written blog posts about
- How to transition to veganism
- How to approach meat free meals
- Eating out as a vegan
We've also seen that you have launched another website – re:Wellbeing – it looks amazing, in your own words can you tell us about this and why you have set it up?
Re:Wellbeing was created for women who feels like they are stuck in a negative cycle of behaviour (e.g. binge eating, never making it to the gym, not getting to bed on time) or that they have thoughts that are stopping them from living a healthy and fulfilling life. I help women to build a healthy lifestyle that is right for them rather than rigidly following diet and exercise rules and then feeling guilty when they fall off the wagon. I believe that everyone is different and we have the answers inside ourselves to be able to change our mindset and our behaviour (but sometimes we need guidance to see that).
In my practice I combine science and my lived experience of an eating disorder and mental health struggles. I know that when I was at a low point I felt like there was no one who I could talk to who would understand how I felt or how to help - I honestly thought I would never be able to get through it. But I did and now I want to be there to help others so that they never have to feel the way I did.
I have also set up a facebook group to create a supportive community of women and a safe space for people who are ready to change their life for the better.
Also you must be super busy!!! How do you manage your time?
Erm… not very well to be honest. I just try to take things slowly and set myself small goals each day, otherwise I end up getting stressed and playing games on my phone for several hours to avoid my work. Then I freaking out and have to cram in all the work I need to do!
When you are not studying, or creating recipes, what do you enjoy doing, fave activities, hobbies etc?
I have recently got back into running –if I have been sat down all day it feels good to get moving. Usually I try and go running with my friend once a week so we can have a chat and it doesn’t even feel like exercise. I also like cuddling up on the sofa and watching TV with my boyfriend.
Here at Kiht, we think you are a really inspiring woman, but who do you look up to and aspire too? Who motivates you?
My friends are a big inspiration to me, especially Elly who set up her own frozen coconut yogurt company and Jordan who makes and sells the most delicious vegan chocolates (see photo below!!). Also, my friend Sam who I go running with is always so positive and we always talk about our aspirations and how to achieve them. She encouraged me to become an independent consultant with Arbonne (a vegan cosmetics and nutrition company) and is very supportive. I am also motivated by the big names in health blogging, but I don’t find them quite as relatable as people who I actually know.
As a blogger yourself, who's blogs do you read and why?
I’m just going to list you 5 of my favourite blogs (in no particular order)
- Charley’s Health has the most AMAZING food photography and delicious recipes.
- Nourishing Amelia is also one of my favourite food bloggers. She recently became a full time blogger and I like watching her instagram stories to see which brands she is working with next.
- Ana at Faded Spring has very diverse content. She has some great tips on how to grow your blog, but she also posts some very honest articles about her personal life and what she has been through.
- I don’t think she has a blog, but I love Hayley Tapper’s facebook group. She’s a mindset coach and she is always doing live streams to help business owners to manifest what is it that they want to grow their business e.g. confidence, more clients, money.
- I have also been inspired by Zero Waste Life, which has tips on sustainable living.
In your journey so far what is the most important thing you’ve learnt?
I think that it’s really important to trust yourself. I see a lot of people posting in facebook groups and asking people if they should go on a certain diet or what to do in a situation. But at the end of the day, what has worked for someone else might not work for you and you’re the only one who really knows your situation. When I speak to clients, most of them are on the right track, even if it might not feel like it. I just give them the confidence to keep going and help them to build better skills of self-awareness to help them change what it is that’s keeping them stuck.
Can you tell us one interesting or random fact about you that we dont already know from your blog??
Erm… Once I decided to try and eat a banana a different way every day for a year – there were some good things like chocolate covered bananas and banana cake, and some really awful ones like banana soaked in vodka or banana in jelly! I made it to about 120 days before I decided to stop. It got to the point that I was spending a lot of money to make banana dishes and adding whole extra meals to my day!
Be sure to check out Rachel and what she is doing on the below!
A huge thank you to Rachel for doing this amazing interview for us, please comment below with any question and we hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading x