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Lee Holmes is a holistic nutritionist, yoga teacher, wholefoods chef and author of the bestselling Supercharged Food: Eat Your Way to Health, Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful and Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian. She is a columnist with Wellbeing Magazine and her articles have appeared in leading Australian newspapers and journals, as well as The Times and The Daily Express in the UK and The Huffington Post in the US. Lee’s blog won the overall award at the Bupa Health Influencer Awards in 2014 as well as the best blog in the Healthy Eating Category.
Where did your wellness journey begin?
Before I tell you about my wellness journey, I think it’s important to tell you how I got there. I was a single mum who worked full-time and, like some of you I’m sure, would never stop. I was always on the go, rushing to work, running home and looking after my daughter. It was always okay and I thought I was managing just fine.
Until I wasn’t.
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and fibromyalgia several years ago. I became accustomed to feeling depressed, exhausted and lethargic. I was on a cocktail of medicines and antibiotics but didn’t feel like I was getting any better. While the antibiotics and drugs were going to help fix my symptoms, I knew they weren’t going to make me feel better or heal me. This is when I turned to food and nutrition. I started doing lots of research into health and learning all about the gut. This is when I started writing www.superchargedfood.com as it gave me a forum to express my ideas, create recipes and connect with others.
Do you have a rule of thumb when it comes to nutrition or are there different approaches for different people?
I do think everyone is different and therefore, requires a different approach; however, our bodies, minds and selves thrive much better on food that’s been minimally processed. Eating whole and real food is the best approach for everyone.
What are your recommendations for a healthy lifestyle?
Eat your vegetables! Vegetables are high in fibre, water and nutrients. I like to sneaky vegetables into every meal if I can. The more you eat them, the more you crave them.
This may be a simple one and I know everyone’s heard it before but I can’t stress it enough. Water! We often eat because we think we’re hungry when in fact, we’re just thirsty. Drink lots of water throughout the day and replenish your body. It can help clear your skin and your mind and get things moving on your insides!
Speaking of getting things moving on your insides, it’s so important to look after gut health. The gut is the epicenter to health and is connected to every other system in the body. The gut is at the forefront of a range of diseases. If you want to find out more about gut health, check out my book Heal Your Gut, my 4 week Heal Your Gut program or bi-weekly Love Your Gut program.
Why do you think moving has such a great impact not just on the body, but also the mind?
You only have to look at the prevention and treatment lists of major mental health organisations like the Black Dog Institute or Beyond Blue and you'll see exercise right up near the top. It’s easy to forget that we’ve got these natural hormones like endorphins just waiting to come on out when your heart starts pumping and oxygen starts flowing into your body. Exercise is also something that you choose to do for yourself and therefore you get a nice little fill up of your self-worth bucket. You also get a great moment of mindfulness while you're exercising because when you're concentrating on doing some pushups at your kitchen bench or some squats while you're brushing your teeth, your mind can’t wander nearly as much. It means you're focusing in on the moment which can really help to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.
How can people best begin making changes towards a whole food diet?
As we said before, there are SO many different ways to approach health and diet. I think when beginning to transition to a whole food diet, we often take on too many steps and ideas, get overloaded and then eventually, give up. I recommend trying one thing at a time to make it less overwhelming. If you can’t stick to it 100% of the time, it’s okay. Health is not about perfection.
What does your day on a plate look like?
I take part in intermittent fasting two days a week, which involves 500 calories for females and 600 calories for males. Intermittent fasting has proven to have a whole range of health benefits including weight loss, a reduction of inflammation, improvement of brain function and even increased muscle strength. I thought it would be interesting to show you my fasting day on a plate. If you want to find out more about intermittent fasting, why not check out my book Fast Your Way to Wellness?
For breakfast I may have eggs with avocado or maybe, a slice of my Coconut Banana Bread if I feel like something sweet.
At mid-morning, I’ll probably have a chai tea… I’m a little obsessed.
For lunch, I may have my Supercharged Bento Box, which is kind of like a throw-together of sesame slaw with tahini and orange dressing, sardines and zesty quinoa. Delicious!
In the afternoon, I may have another cup of chai (the addiction is real), or maybe some cut- up veggies and berries if I’m hungry.
I like to end the day with something warm and nourishing like a soup or a stew. I’m loving my Rosemary and Thyme Chicken Stew for those colder spring nights at the moment. I sometimes throw all the ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning and come home to the delicious smell wafting through the air and the delicious meal ready to go.
You are very busy, how do you ensure you stay healthy when you have a lot on?
I start my morning nice and early with a walk to the beach. I like to make this my me time which means no phone, no emails, no friends. Just me and my walking shoes. Walking helps clear my mind and keep me sane plus, it’s the easiest and cheapest form of exercise there is.
Can you share some tips for healthy travel snacks?
People tend to overcomplicate snacks! Never underestimate how delicious a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit or a Bliss Ball can be. If you want something a little more adventurous though, you should check out my Turmeric Tummy Bark.
How do you like to de-stress?
Putting on a candle, running a warm bath with Epsom salts, a big mug of chai tea and a face mask. My favourite is my Earth, Mask & Scrub.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Malibu! I was just there for my 50th birthday and it was beautiful. It’s so calming and quiet. I love the waves of the ocean and the community feel.
What’s next for you?
My new book Supercharge Your Gut is coming out early next year. Get excited… I know I am!