Dr. Hazel Wallace is the girl behind The Food Medic. Hazel is a practising doctor with a special interest in nutrition, and a qualified personal trainer.
The big diseases of today are diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. What do all of these diseases have in common? They are all linked our lifestyles – the food that we eat, how often we exercise, and even the stress that we experience.
In her book, The Food Medic, Hazel shows you how to maximise your health through nutrition and exercise, and teaches you, step-by-step, healthy habits for life!
The Food Medic isn’t simply a book with a collection of recipes that will just help shift a few stubborn pounds before a holiday; it is about health, confidence, happiness and feeling great for good. For more on The Food Medic, visit Hazel’s website here.
Hazel speaks to me about the life-changing decision she made to teach herself about nutrition while at university, the ethos behind her book The Food Medic, and the importance of making the social aspect of eating as important as the physical act of it.
What this episode has in store for you
“I fell into the trap at University of enjoying myself, but also not looking after myself in terms of diet and fitness. I didn’t go to the gym and found myself living on whatever food was the quickest. I then got my acceptance into medical school so, I had a long hard look at myself and thought, If I’m going to be a doctor, I want to look and feel healthy, so around that time I set myself a target to start learning a bit more about nutrition.
It is interesting in that in both degrees I took, I learnt about nutrition, but I didn’t learn how to practically apply nutrition to my life or the lives of my patients. Yes, I knew what carbohydrates and insulin were, but I didn’t really know what a healthy diet entailed, so I researched it myself and ended up getting really really into it.
I was basically my own guinea pig, because when I started, nutrition and the science of it was still something that wasn’t really at the forefront of things. I didn’t do any fad diets, but I was experimenting with which nutritional protocols worked for me. The biggest change I made was that I started cooking from scratch. I don’t want to bash processed food, as there is a time and a place for them, but I do think that if you start making food from scratch with whole food ingredients, and getting your meat from good quality sources that you can massively improve your diet and your relationship with food, because you actually understand what food should look like. It is incredibly astonishing how many people don’t know what vegetables look like in their whole form.
I’m always asked, ‘how do you stay motivated?’, ‘how do you always meal prep?’ and all of the answers to these types of questions is actually that it is sort of effortless. It becomes part of your lifestyle and once you start, you don’t want to change that. It’s not to say I never go out and have a drink or a pizza, but the majority of my life I try to fuel myself right – I know that I’ll feel good if I eat well and I know that if I was to go back to my university diet, I would feel crap and I wouldn’t be able to do my job.
When it comes to the gym – if that works for you, then that’s fantastic but I know for some people they find it hard to be motivated if they don’t enjoy doing those things, which is completely understandable, so what I say is find what keeps you motivated – if it’s cooking, then that’s amazing, but if you’re not good at cooking then don’t worry about it, you can build it up by habit. I don’t run, I’ve tried it – I don’t like it, I’m not good at it – I’m not going to do it.
I try not to focus on aesthetics, but if you look after yourself and your body by eating and training well, your body changing and improving is a byproduct – that’s just science. Personally, when I went through a period of under nutrition and then started eating well, it massively improved my concentration, energy and love for life and there is a lot of science behind that. What we are starting to learn now, more so than ever, is that there is a very intimate link between the gut and the brain. We even refer to our gut as the ‘second brain’ now.
I think we need to make concepts like ‘bringing a pack lunch’ normal. I don’t want to romanticise the art of cooking but you can make little change and shortcuts – that might be simply picking up a bag of chopped veg instead of whole veg. I do understand that there are times when you just need to Deliveroo – but 80% of the time if you just spend a little time cooking over the weekend, you will save yourself a ton of money and time, and you’re going to feel a whole lot better.
We can go in and teach kids about nutrition, which I think is really important, but it is also about the people who are providing them with food and making sure they are getting the right nutrients. Getting kids more involved with the cooking process would be really great, and getting them to understand food. For teenagers, it’s up to parents to get them to make food themselves and learn before they go off to university – even getting them involved while they are cooking. Getting everyone involved in the process makes meal times even more important to the family – We’ve lost the social aspect of eating which is just as important as the physical act of it.
The best diet in the world is probably the Mediterranean diet, full of healthy fats and good protein, lots of fruits and veg etc, but the Mediterranean people themselves have such good approach to eating because there is no restriction, and it is very family orientated. But here in the UK and also in the US food has become just another thing on the to do list, and we don’t really respect it anymore.”