There is so much talk about a balanced lifestyle and diet. What does this actually mean? In a world where we are obsessed with 'dieting', quick fix 'transformations', juicing, low carb, clean eating, whilst at the same time buying into the 'treat yo-self' tags we see everywhere, what is actually normal?? Is there even such a thing anymore? If there is, how do we work this into such busy lifestyles?
We interviewed nutritionist Sarah Jackson from the blog Nutri Bloom. Sarah is a Registered Nutritionist, specialising in food, nutrition science. She works full time in this role within the food industry and also teaches yoga in her spare time!! So who better to ask!
What are your go-to staples to have in the cupboard on those days when you need to cook a quick meal, but haven’t been shopping?
My cupboard staples at the moment are tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk and packets of microwave wholegrain rice and then in my freezer, I always try and have frozen vegetables such as peas, spinach and broccoli. I work all over the country some days and so if I am stuck for time I just make a quick chickpea and vegetable curry or stew (I have a cupboard full of spices and herbs too for these occasions). They are so easy to cook and I can use either fresh vegetables that may be near the use by date or the frozen veg for when my fridge is empty. I always find I can make something fulfilling with those basic ingredients and they cover most of our food groups.
There is a more focus now on balanced lifestyle and balanced living, what does this look like to you personally?
For me a balanced lifestyle is so much more than just food, it is finding work-life balance and actually enjoying exercise. My work life is all about food and yoga but my hobbies are cooking and yoga too so sometimes it is hard to switch off, to try and get a nice balance I try and make sure I find time to read a book that isn’t about nutrition or attend a yoga class I am not teaching just so I can relax. When it comes to exercise I think finding something that suits your lifestyle is key, for example, I used to force myself to go on long runs, whereas now I have accepted running just isn’t for me so I go for power walks/hikes which I enjoy so much more.
When it comes to food a balanced diet may take a while to adjust to, I try to follow the traditional 80/20 rule which suggests 80% of the time filling your diet with nutritious, healthy foods and the other 20% of the time eating foods that may be considered a ‘treat’ or may be high in the nutrients we should eat in moderation such as saturated fat and free sugars. When I eat out or it is an occasion I don’t worry about what I am eating, I have learnt to switch off and enjoy it to me that is balance, being able to enjoy your food whilst still getting the all-important nutrients that our body needs.
What is the biggest thing you have learnt on your journey so far when it comes to food and nutrition?
That every single body is different. It has taken me a while to have the relationship with food that I have now and it was never a quick fix, it was learning what works for me. I always take that with me with clients, some people want quick fixes but they have to trust the journey and it will be all worthwhile in the end when it becomes a lifestyle. When I finished studying nutrition at University I was so determined to get everyone eating the same diet, the same number of calories, the same snacks whereas now I look back and cringe – having a healthy diet is so much more than calories and weight loss.
How do you encourage your clients and the people around you to lead a balanced lifestyle?
I try to keep the food simple so where you can cook from scratch, make it a lifestyle you want to live every day, not something that deprives you of energy and nutrients and makes you miserable. Small changes make for the best outcome overall and so if you don’t each many vegetables making a small change to increase them from say 2 portions to 3 is more realistic than 2 portions straight to 5.
What are your top tips for anyone who is looking to eat healthier and make some positive changes to their diet?
Try and change the way you approach food, look at what you are getting from the food you eat. Is your food high in vitamins, minerals, fibre? A tip that always seems to work is to look at what you are already eating and see if you can throw more vegetables in there, more oily fish or complex carbs – are there any quick swaps you can make to contribute to a more balanced nutritious diet?! You may love pasta which is great, but if you are only eating white pasta why not go half and half with some wholegrain until you start getting more of a liking for the wholegrain pasta.
What do you find are peoples downfalls when it comes to nutrition?
There are quite a few things I see online that drive me bonkers, such as celeb-endorsed products that are so well marketed people spend their hard-earned money on something that is usually rubbish. But this is not the customer's fault, people are deprived of time nowadays and so with evidence-based knowledge not being the coolest thing to follow on social media people see these advertisements and think it will be a quick win. There is no quick win in nutrition, it takes time to understand your body to see what works for you and what is sustainable and healthy. I see people cutting calories so dramatically that they lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time but then either stop socialising and enjoying food leading to an unhealthy relationship with food or start to binge eat and so their weight is forever ‘yo yoing’.
Like a lot of people, you lead a busy lifestyle working full time, the long work commute and in your spare time teach yoga, nutrition and write a blog!!! How do find the time to also eat healthily? Any tips?
I think planning a good shopping list and having some recipe inspo for the week ahead is crucial. If I know I am travelling around a lot a particular week or I have lots of late night yoga classes to teach I will buy things that I know are easy to cook. If I walk through the door at 8.30pm from teaching yoga I will run in the kitchen turn the oven on, throw some frozen fish in the oven and an aubergine bake them for 30 minutes whilst I have a shower and then cook some rice or a sweet potato in the microwave and serve with some cherry tomatoes and spinach, I can then get other things ticked off my list whilst its all cooking. I also find cooking foods in the evening that you can then take leftovers to work the next day a great way to stay healthy rather than reaching for the meal deals (and I find it saves money too). I am not a big ‘meal prep’ kind of girl where you spend an entire day steaming veg and boiling chicken for the week ahead but doing that extra portion for the day after really helps me.
For the mornings I am up at 5 am I will make some ‘overnight oats’ the night before and then my breakfast is done for when I wake up to either have at home or take to the office if I pressed snooze too many times.
We think you are really inspiring here at Kiht and we love the positive message you are spreading! Who inspires you?
Ahh, thank you!! There are some amazing Registered Nutritionists that have inspired me throughout my career, probably too many to name but I have always been a big fan of Jamie Oliver, his passion for improving the quality of children's food is amazing and has resulted in some great changes in schools, he uses his platform to educate people on food and I have huge respect for that. Yoga wise I love Shona Vertue, she is a true girl boss. Shona is a PT and Yoga instructor but her outlook on exercise is so refreshing and her knowledge is incredible, she also knows a thing or two about food too!
What is one of the biggest misconceptions about food and nutrition/myths that you come across in your work?
I think the whole superfood/clean eating trend has been one of the biggest misconceptions I have come across in my time as a nutritionist. Spending a ridiculous amount of money on one ingredient because it has been called a ‘superfood’ is usually not very beneficial or different to what you can get from your ‘normal’ everyday foods. Most of the time there is little evidence to support the claims that some of the products make and are meant to do. Don’t get me wrong I love some of those types of foods but that’s because of the taste not because I think it is going to cure an illness. The clean eating debate really kicked off a couple of years ago after turning into such a big industry. The ‘clean eating’ that started with good intentions such as cooking from scratch and eating fresh foods turned into a million pound industry and turned into demonising essential foods such as carbohydrates, gluten and dairy. It really turned people into thinking particular foods were ‘dirty’ and were going to harm you, I think we have got past this trend now and people are starting to focus more on a healthy, balanced diet.
What one piece of advice or lesson you’ve learnt would you like to give or pass onto people reading this, it doesn’t have to food-related, could be a life lesson, anything?
My advice would be to do what makes you happy not what you feel you should be doing – it is so easy to compare yourself and your journey to others with social media being such a big platform, I find people feel guilty for not doing the same as other, but do what suits you! Eat your favourite foods but don’t forget those extra veggies too, if you hate lifting weights find something else, maybe yoga or swimming. If you have a busy or stressful job try and find 10 minutes a day to do something that relaxes you such as listening to your favourite songs, meditating, or going for a quick walk and then build in more time from there. Just find time to make memories and relax.
What is your go-to snack?
It may not sound the most exotic but for a savoury snack recently I have been loving wholegrain crackers with cottage cheese but for my huge sweet tooth I love any type of dark chocolate, I have recently discovered one with caramel bits in and it is delicious! Some days though I will just casually snack on rye bread and avocado it depends how big my appetite is.
A huge thank you to Sarah for agreeing to this interview! If you would like to know more about Sarah and her blog - please check her out here
Thank you for reading, if you have any questions, please drop below and we will come back you.
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