Breakfast with Amelia Freer
What is your definition of a good diet?
The definition of a ‘good’ diet will vary widely from person to person, but for me, it simply means tasty, seasonal dishes, mainly cooked from scratch, including lots of fruit, vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts & seeds and other healthy fats like olive oil.
Do you agree with “you are what you eat”?
Absolutely. I think the language that we use, particularly around food being simply a ‘fuel’ that is ‘burned up’ misses the point that our food also goes on to provide all the essential building blocks for our cells and metabolic processes. So whilst ‘you are what you eat’ might sound a somewhat trite phrase, it is also fundamentally true.
What is the first question you ask your clients looking to lose weight by improving their diet?
In all honesty, there are a hundred and one questions I ask to anyone looking to lose weight. They vary from ‘how well do you sleep?’ to ‘tell me about your snacking habits’. That’s because there are so many different reasons for someone to gain weight in the first place (which stretch far beyond food choices). It is my role to help each client isolate those potential contributing factors and then gradually reduce or remove them. The initial questions and answers are therefore a vitally important part of the puzzle.
We often have good intentions but at times struggle to stay motivated. What advice would you give us to exercise our will power and stay on track?
Try to make lifestyle changes from a place of positivity – because you want to fully nourish and be kind to yourself, rather than as a way out of self-loathing or low self-esteem. Finding the pleasure or joy in habit changes makes them far easier to stick to in the long term.
How did you first discover your passion for food?
I think I’ve always enjoyed food, and I love to cook. But I found my passion for healthy eating, and then nutritional therapy, following a personal health transformation achieved through dietary changes. I realised that food can be a very powerful tool for wellbeing.
You speak about focusing on a healthy gut- How might a healthy gut affect weight and energy levels?
I see gut health as the key to overall health, and therefore also to optimal weight and energy levels. It is fundamentally important that we are able to digest, absorb and assimilate the essential nutrients we consume through our food, yet so many of my clients have poor gut function.
Are there any foods you would avoid or recommend for a good night sleep?
For any client who is struggling with sleep, the first place we turn is caffeine consumption – even if it is mainly drunk in the morning and early afternoon. I often find that by gradually cutting this down, or even cutting caffeine out completely, sleep improves.
What are good mood foods?
Lots of colourful fresh fruits and vegetables, regular oily fish, water, healthy fats (like nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado) and minimal highly refined or processed foods or sugar. Plus, not forgetting plenty of sunshine (for that all-important vitamin D).
As a mother, have you had to adapt your recipes and change the way you cook?
The main change is that I have stopped adding salt. On the whole Willow is now eating what we eat – I don’t want to make separate “baby” food for her. Above all, I am aiming to give her lots of variety – she loves curry and courgette the most as the moment.
Where do you get your recipe inspirations?
My vegetable garden, travel, restaurants, friends, old cookery books, Pinterest – all over the place really.
What is your favourite breakfast recipe?
Currently, anything quick, filling and easy. Toast (gluten-free for me) with nut butter and squashed blueberries or a couple of boiled eggs with rocket and avocado are current favourites.
The best part of what you do?
Seeing my clients achieve their goals. It is endlessly energising and deeply satisfying.
Quick fire questions:
1. Starter or desert? Starter
2. Night out in heels or cosy evening in pyjamas? Cosy evening in PJ’s
3. Sunset or sunrise? Sunrise
4. English countryside or California beach? English countryside
5. What can you not travel without? My headphones6.Big suitcase or nifty overnight bag? Nifty overnight bag
6.Favourite quote? ‘Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much’ - Michael Pollan. The most succinct and accurate summary of good nutrition I’ve ever come across!