Celebrity Health - Amelia Freer

“How I changed my relationship with food”

Amelia Freer, author and nutritional therapist, talks to Liz Parry about her own journey to good health and philosophy for healthy eating

Q: Tell us about your own journey to good health.

Amelia: In my twenties I suffered terribly from acne, bloating, IBS and very low energy. I thought I was eating well but in reality my food was mostly pre-packaged and processed, plus I drank a ridiculous amount of sugary tea every day. My flat-mate suggested I see a nutritional therapist and it was through her guidance that I changed my relationship with food, resolved my physical problems and became inspired to pursue a career in nutrition.

Q: What changes did you make to your diet?

Amelia: I had to make many changes, as I was intolerant to a number of foods. I made the changes slowly and cut out refined sugar, gluten and dairy, plus I started cooking my own food using fresh ingredients. I became more energised, my skin cleared up, I lost weight and I no longer suffered from the stomach issues. It takes time but our bodies want to heal – they just sometimes need some help.

Q: What is your diet like now?

Amelia: I eat three meals a day and make sure each meal is made up of protein (eggs, fish, meat, nuts and seeds) and a colourful array of vegetables. I try to eat only organic food as much as possible.

Q: Do you take any supplements?

Amelia: I take a probiotic, liquid vitamin D and essential fatty acids. I take other supplements from time to time that are particular to me and my current needs and I strongly recommend that everyone gets professional advice from a qualified nutritional therapist before choosing to take supplements. You can find one here: www.bant.org.uk

Q: Can you explain a bit about your healthy eating philosophy?

Amelia: In my first book, Eat. Nourish. Glow., I wrote about my 10 principles of healthy eating – change one thing, detox your kitchen, cook from scratch, eat with grace, give up snacking, drink plenty of water, be consistent not perfect, eat good fats, cut out sugar, see a nutritional therapist to find out if you need supplements and exercise.

Q: What would you say is the key to finding the right diet and keeping the excess weight off?

Amelia: Removing refined sugar from your diet. Only buy fresh, unadulterated ingredients and cook for yourself regularly.

Q: Do you think that a lot of people’s issues with food stem from emotional causes?

Amelia: From my experience I think many people have a complex relationship with food. Stress, comfort eating and old eating habits ingrained from childhood can lead people to make on-going bad food choices and create addictive, negative cycles for their health.

Q: You have recently published your second book, Cook. Nourish. Glow. What inspired the recipes in this book?

Amelia: The inspiration came from the way I cook for myself and my friends and family. I am not a trained chef and I wanted the recipes to be simple and quick so that anyone could make them, no matter what their skill or healthy food knowledge might be. I found the ‘Naughty’ chapter quite challenging as I rarely eat sweet things but I knew my readers would appreciate some occasional healthier sweet things.

Q: What is your favourite healthy meal that you like to cook?

Amelia: I love making soups, casseroles and curries. I find them comforting and filling – I prefer warm foods. They vary so much each time you make them depending on the protein, vegetables and flavours that you use.

Q: Are you a fan of organic food?

Amelia: Absolutely. I grow my own organic vegetables and only buy organic meats. I believe they are better for you in a myriad of ways and they certainly taste better.

Q: If there was one food or ingredient you couldn’t live without, what would it be and why?

Amelia: Well, in truth, none of us could live without water. There are lots of foods I love but I’m sure I could keep alive without them! It’s a difficult one as I eat, and encourage that we all eat, a varied diet. I do love avocado. But I love so many foods for different reasons.

Q: Do you enjoy exercise?

Amelia: I work out with a personal trainer each week and enjoy any exercise that gets me in to my local park just because I love being outdoors. I also enjoy yoga and taking my dogs for daily walks. My boyfriend and I play squash and often go for bike rides.

Q: What do you do to relax?

Amelia: A long, warm bath with Epsom salts really helps me unwind but I find cooking incredibly relaxing too – my kitchen is my ‘happy place’. I also make sure that I get proper sleep.

Q: Lastly, what is your top tip for good health?

Amelia: Start cooking for yourself from fresh ingredients, use colours and flavours in your meals so that eating healthily is an enjoyable and satisfying experience. Don’t deprive yourself – be consistent not perfect – so eat well most of the time but don’t deny yourself the odd treat.

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