Amelia Freer Image by: Susan Bel
Uncomplicate your relationship with food.
Let’s not overcomplicate things. According to Amelia Freer, nutritionist to celebrities, like Victoria Beckham and Sam Smith, and author of The 10-Day Plan to Nourish & Glow, the single most effective dietary change you can make without consulting a professional is eating more vegetables. “It is a rare client who comes to me already consuming the recommended quantity of vegetables each day, particularly the leafy green ones,” says Freer. Just add one extra clenched-fist-size portion of greens to your daily diet. (You have our permission to feel appropriately smug about it.)
To take things to the next level, read on.
What do you hope people will take away from the book?
Before writing this book, I had become increasingly aware that the culture around food, particularly as women, was becoming very focused on what not to eat. There was an ever-growing list of foods that we supposedly ‘should’ avoid, hold back from, or restrict. And the focus on energy balance, body weight and calories was all-pervasive.
However, from a biological perspective, we all need to eat a very wide variety of foods every day to obtain the essential micronutrients our bodies require – the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids. And in fact, we need to eat a relatively large amount of certain foods, such as fruits, vegetables, high quality protein, unrefined carbohydrates and healthy fats, to achieve this.
In all the pervasive focus on restriction, however, I felt we had lost sight of what we should be eating to nourish our bodies with the essential building blocks we need for health. From this idea, I developed the ‘Positive Nutrition Pyramid’ – a simple tool that helps you plan and do exactly that - and the rest of the book developed organically from there.
So this is my Positive Nutrition Pyramid. It is an example of how a day of healthy eating might look. I am hesitant to jump in to the January “new year, new you” arena, however I also realise that this is probably a time when many of you are keen and open to learning about health and wanting better and longer term health solutions than a quick “detox, cleanse or diet”. So I thought I’d quietly introduce my concept of Positive Nutrition which I hope might take the pressure off in many ways and help with that focus and certainly those long term goals. Because I know from working with thousands of clients that a) there isn’t one diet that works for everyone b) that detox’s, diets and juice cleanses don’t work long term and often lead to binges later; and c) that many many of you are keen to avoid the “on/off” mentality with food and health and instead find a lovely balance where stress around food isn’t another issue to deal with in our busy lives. Head to my stories now to see my videos on how to use this pyramid to help you embrace nutrition positively and join me this weekend for the start of my 10 Day Plan. I’ll be sharing more tomorrow for how to get started X
Both Sam Smith and Boy George say you helped change their relationship with food. What are some of the most common food “hang-ups” you see clients presenting with, and where do you start in overcoming them?
No two clients ever have exactly the same issues or ‘hang-ups’ when it comes to food, so I always start by trying to identify what may be the root causes, the fundamental underlying factors, that are driving the eating challenges that they have come to see me with.
So whilst the ‘symptom’, such as craving junk food, may be the same between two clients, the causes could be wildly different; client A may crave unhealthy food because they associate it with reward for a hard day’s work and are feeling particularly stressed at the moment, whilst client B may be reaching for the burgers and fries because they have poor sleep, and the subsequent changes in hormonal regulation of appetite drives them to seek out high-energy-density foods. By working together, we start to identify, and then resolve, as many of the different causes of food hang-ups as we can. The symptoms can then start to take care of themselves, without having to resort to willpower or any sort of food ‘rules’.
What are some of the other most-common food-related struggles you help clients with?
Aside from wanting to lose weight, and all the different challenges that may be faced when trying to achieve this, I honestly don’t think that there is a specific set of food-related struggles I see. It is wildly varied from person-to-person, which is what makes my job interesting and keeps me constantly learning.
What are your thoughts on making food/health-related New Year’s resolutions? Helpful, or doomed to fail?
There is nothing wrong with trying to make positive lifestyle changes in the New Year – even if they don’t last until the end of 2018, you will likely have learnt a few things along the way. However, resolutions should never be an act of repentance for the past food and drink you have enjoyed. The festive season is an opportunity to feast alongside those we love, and eating for our social and emotional health occasionally is not something that requires any sort of punishment come January 1st.
Instead, I encourage my clients to add one or two healthy habits into their January if they would like to make a resolution. For example, drinking more water or herbal teas, starting a daily 10-minute mindfulness practice, or making sure they have a portion of protein at breakfast. I find that helps to keep it realistic and more sustainable.
Try this: Amelia's Spicy Tomato and Shrimp Zucchini Noodles Recipe
Spicy Tomato and Shrimp Zucchini Noodles.
"I have been making this dish for years and just love it. It’s a rich and tasty bowl of goodness, just as satisfying as eating any bowl of pasta. And it takes only a few minutes to make. Tomatoes contain all sorts of health-giving compounds, including lycopene, and powerful antioxidants such as vitamins E and C. Eating tomatoes alongside olive oil can actually boost your absorption of some of these beneficial compounds, so it seems like the Italians have it exactly right!
Put the cherry tomatoes, garlic, chopped chili, tomato puree, a pinch of salt, and some black pepper into a small blender (I use my handheld blender, which has a jug attachment). Blend to a sauce consistency.
Heat the oil in a wide saucepan, then add the spicy tomato sauce from the blender and simmer for a few minutes. You may need to add a little water if it’s on the thick side.
Add the shrimp and simmer for a further 4–5 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Add the arugula and stir through to wilt.
Toss the zucchini noodles through the mix, just until it begins to soften. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs, a little extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, and season to taste. Serve immediately."
- 8–10 cherry tomatoes 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- 1 red chili pepper (remove the seeds if you don’t like it too spicy), chopped
- 1–2 tablespoons tomato puree
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon light olive oil 4½ oz jumbo shrimp, no
- shells (defrosted if using frozen shrimp)
- a large handful of arugula 1 zucchini, spiralized or grated
- a bunch of finely chopped fresh basil or flat-leaved parsley
- a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
- lemon zest (optional)
Excerpted from The 10-Day Plan to Nourish & Glow: Lose weight, feel great, and transform your relationship with food by Amelia Freer. Text copyright © 2017 Amelia Freer. Photography copyright © 2017 Susan Bell. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.