May is the month that reminds us to be mindful. With the year already in full swing and schedules filling up, it's the perfect time to take a step back and refocus on slowing down... and becoming more mindful in our busy lives.
This month we launched “Ask The Expert”, an IGTV LIVE series, where our Founder Libby Babet chats to experts about mindfulness.
This week, Libby sat down with Clinical Nutritionist and passionate foodie, Mollie Caughey-Wade, who has a commitment to personalised nutrition, a passion for good food and helping women with their health issues and relationship with food.
When did you first develop a passion for food?
I think this actually came to me from a pretty young age. My Mum's a little bit of a health nut herself. And so I was always given these big packed lunches full of amazing nutritious salads and curries and stuff like that, which at the time I was very upset, because I didn't get to eat Vegemite sandwiches with white bread like everyone else. But I'm very grateful for it now. It definitely contributed to the passion I have surrounding nutrition today. My Mum always encouraged me to get in the kitchen and help her cook and it really became kind of almost a social part of my life as well as enjoying the food itself.
What does putting the “Clinical” before “Nutritionist”actually mean?
So I work predominantly with clients one-on-one in a nutrition consultation. I help them with their eating, doing a diet analysis, but also looking at their previous health issues and their stress levels, their physical activity, because I believe you need to have a look at all of these aspects of your life holistically, in order to really determine what's going on in your health.
You help women in particular with their health, but you're especially focused around women's relationship with food. What led you down that path? Was it personal experience? Was it after seeing so many clients that you found that was a gap to be filled?
It definitely sprouted from personal experience, struggling with my relationship with food in the past, then sharing that through my social media and throughout my practices... I've been really open with that as well. I personally struggled to find adequate support to help me with that, because a lot of practitioners just focused on the scientific aspects. There was no emotional aspect or I guess empathy and true understanding, so that's why I became so passionate in this area and why I want to help other women in these same kinds of areas.
How would you say that you integrate mindfulness into your practice with clients?
Yes mindfulness is so important not only in your daily life, but in your eating practices. So paying attention to what you're eating, how you're eating, how much you're eating in comparison to how much you actually need… your emotional response to that is really important in not only helping with your digestion and your absorption of nutrients and your gut health, but it also helps in developing a healthy relationship with food. A lot of people do struggle with this, especially with so many distractions; our phones, eating at our desks in front of the computer or in front of the TV, along with the dieting industry and having calorie controlled diets, where we've lost the ability to know how much our body actually needs.
Is that just about slowing down and paying attention? What are the big things that you find people are missing when it comes to the mindfulness around food that's leading to other issues?
The biggest question that people in clinic come to me with is “how much do I eat?” What do I eat?” And they want me to give them a specific guide of exactly what they should be eating, to fill their energy needs and to lose weight or whatever their goal is. The fact is, you already have that inside you and it really is just about slowing down, paying attention, taking each bite and noticing the taste, the texture, the whole experience of your eating rather than grabbing a muffin on the run or having distractions whilst you're eating, because that will affect your body's ability to tell you whether you're still hungry or full.
Okay, you can bust this myth for us. As Women, do we have different nutrition needs at different times of the month?
Yes, definitely. Physical activity levels, what you've got going on in the day, your stress, your emotions AND your hormonal changes throughout your cycle will all definitely affect your hunger levels.
What are some of the things that you've learnt from working with all these clients that you've brought into your own daily practices or nutrition guide?
One of the most important things I have learned is that food is important, but it's also not the be-all and end-all. Your relationship with food and your mindset towards food and how you interact with food is such a vital aspect of your health and how your nutrition is integrated in your life. You can be eating a healthy diet, but if you have a negative mindset towards it and you're not enjoying it, then that's not healthy. It's all about balance, so making sure that you are treating yourself and not feeling guilty after that, moving on from the experience and carrying on with your daily life.
What are two or three really simple nutrition tips that you give almost every client that we can all integrate into our lives?
I know a lot of people are very busy nowadays, so the main tip that I give to people is to meal prep. And this is not the kind of meal prep that people do when they're going to the gym and looking to build muscle, body build etc. I mean, just cut up some vegetables and put them in a plastic container, so you have some healthy snacks on the go. Or have some pre cooked proteins, boiled eggs and some cooked grains. So you can throw together some really quick and easy meals that are nourishing and will keep you energised for the day ahead. Then you won’t have to spend a lot of money on a meal out and end up with a less nutritional option. How easy is it to have to throw together a meal when you have roast veggies already ready in the fridge and some brown rice, chicken and wash greens already?
So, if I gave you access to whatever ingredients and I gave you a plate, how would you roughly divide your plate into different parts eg. plant foods, proteins, carbs etc. Do you have rules about that, is there a rough guide?
There is a rough guide. The guide that I generally tell my clients or anyone who asks me is to fill up half your plate with those non starchy fruits or vegetables, fill up a quarter of your plate with protein, another quarter of your plate with starchy carbs to give you that long lasting energy. And then a little bit of fat on top, so one or two tablespoons of avocado or something like that. I find that this really helps you not only stay full and stay satisfied, but keeps you energised for the day ahead. If you don’t have that source of complex carbs, then you can't keep on going for multiple hours, and that's when you end up crashing for a few hours after you've eaten your meal.
Okay, favourite carbs? Talk to me...
That's a hard question. I’d definitely have to say, I love my sweet potato and potato. I'm a big fruit fan; I love my berries, kiwi fruits and bananas. And then… does pizza count? It’s all about balance, right?
So one of the reasons that we created Beauty Food was because I was quite horrified by the number of health, food products, protein bars, health bars, out there that just contained ingredients that were absolutely not healthy in my mind. Like those chemicals or fillers, or 20,000 dates in one bar... One of the things I'm big on is knowing how to read a label and knowing what's healthy or not. But moment of truth, what do you think of Beauty Food?
Well, I think you nailed it there when you said that a lot of the snack products out there are filled with fillers and artificial sweeteners. There are so many “non sugar” sweeteners that are looked at as healthy, such as rice malt syrup or dates. They're still sugar and still get digested the same. I love your products. And not only do they really actually taste good, but for a collagen supplement you do want enough collagen in a serving and yours do - tick! You also want a good amount of protein, which yours does, to keep you satiated, a bit of fat to keep you satiated as well. And I really like how researched your products are. They contain Vitamin C, which is not only good for skin health, but also helps with the formation and storage of collagen. And again, low sugar, which helps with the absorption of college as well.