How food & yoga can help make us FEEL a certain way & lead to a healthier mind

“Food is not just something we put into our body, it’s a philosophy!”

This week I wanted to share the interview I did when I sat down with the founder of Head Talks to discuss how I treat mental health in my naturopathic practice. In the video below I share all the best snippets from this interview where I share information on how to look after your own mental health through food.

Head Talks is an online platform which aims to provide those dealing with mental health issues the knowledge, inspiration and a sense of community so they can create their very own toolbox to fix and maintain mental health. They believe connection is everything and wanted to create a safe place online for those who want to have healthier relationships – with themselves, with friends, families and loved ones. I love their work and felt strongly about wanting to help their cause and promote their initiative.

“Listen up for my top tips to help you manage mental health…”

In this interview I explain which nutrients and foods are the most important to include in your diet for a healthy mind. I share which ingredients I add to my morning smoothie for a positive mindset each day and I explore the idea behind why yoga can help and how food can make us feel a certain way. 

I am convinced mental conditions like anxiety and depression can be cured by food and herbs. I see it in my my private practice all the time and it only reinforces my believe that education is key to helping us deal with mental disorders. When we have the knowledge and know which foods, and what elements of nutrition can help us feed our brains and gut micro-biome we start to take our own power back and see that we can control our mental state.

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If you are dealing with a mental disorder or would like more information on how to deal with stress, depression or anxiety then please get in touch. I offer consultations in person or over-the-phone so no one is ever out of reach from receiving the help they need.

If you or you know of someone who would benefit from natural methods to dealing with mental health such as herbal medicine or nutrition and food then please send me a message using the form below and I look forward to speaking with you and helping you find the right solution for you.

 

My tips on how to ‘QUIT’ The Food Industry

When you look at the pie-chart of what a typical person living in the west eats, it is very disturbing. The standard western diet is 63% highly processed refined foods, a lot of sugar, a lot of white flour and a lot of oil! 25% of calories then come from animal foods, most of which are consumed from animals which have been reared in a highly industrialised system where their fat has been exaggerated and the animals grow artificially quicker than they would in natural conditions. So that only leaves 12% for whole, plant foods. Not much is it? On this western diet 71% of adults are overweight or obese. Meaning 3 out of every 4 adults are seriously unhealthy and living with diet related health issues.

I suggest if we were to design a diet to kill people, in my opinion you couldn’t design a better system than the one we have right before us. There has to be a better way! 

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 10.30.30If more than 60% of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it; in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone – is not really eating. Instead of food, we’re consuming “edible foodlike substances”, no longer the products of nature but of food science. Many of them come packaged with health claims that should be our first clue they are anything but healthy. In the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion. Welcome to the era of ‘Nutritionism’ so termed by journalist and food industry research writer Michael Pollan.

Today the food industry trades on their ability to continually carry out research on foods. The term they use to describe this is ‘nutritionism’. A system of needing to breakdown the foods we eat into constituents so that they can do empirical and reductionist research on the food item meaning our terminology and understanding of food remains totally nutrient based. Therefore ignoring the idea that food is essentially the sum of their nutrient parts and ideally utilised as a whole food to receive its total healthful benefits.

What nutritionism has created are three pernicious myths about food:

  1. That what matters most is not the food itself but the ‘nutrient’ instead.
  2. That because nutrients are invisible and incomprehensible to everyone but scientists, we need expert help in deciding what to eat.
  3. That the purpose of eating is to promote a narrow concept of physical health.

Because food in this view is foremost a matter of biology, it follows that we must try to eat ‘scientifically’ – by the nutrient and the number and under the guidance of experts. We forget that, historically, people have eaten for a great many reasons other than biological necessity.

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Food is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationships to the natural world and about expressing our identity. For as long as humans have been taking meals together, eating has been as much about culture as it has been about biology. That eating should foremost be about bodily health is a relatively new concept and I think a destructive one. Destructive not just to the pleasure of eating and food culture in our societies but also to our mental states.

We are fast becoming a generation of orthorexic people: people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Although currently untested, I am willing to bet that researchers will very soon find an inverse correlation between the amount of time people spend worrying about nutrition and their overall health and happiness. That is why I never advocate diets, instead I advocate and educate people to listening to what their body needs and wants, making it easy and as stress free as possible to live in balance. I advocate the common sense rule when we look at health claims for our bodies.

I believe choosing to eat from the paradigm when food consisted of mother nature’s magic rather than the numbered gibberish we read on the back of ingredients labels is our only way to avoid the traps of the food industry. Eating from a time when we didn’t need a science textbook to decipher nutrition claims and when foods had a shelf life shorter than our attention spans.

Below is a list of 12 healthy eating rules adapted from Michael Pollan’s book titled ‘Food Rules’ to help you navigate a road towards being able to work out “what should I eat?” and understand how to decipher this confusing world of nutritionism and western diet gibberish:

  1. First and foremost is your decision to choose to eat WHOLE, VIBRANT, COLOURFUL FOODS, mostly from plants. Research has shown that a diet that consists of at least 80% of plant-based foods will lead to longevity and a healthier life as seen in the blue-zones around the world.
  2. If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t! Avoid all processed foods made in factories which contain ingredients that are either unfamiliar, unpronounceable or contain high-fructose corn syrup. Similarly avoid food products with wording such as ‘lite’, ‘low-fat’ or ‘non-fat’ and avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not i.e. margarine, skim milk, quorn.
  3. Avoid all food products that make health claims on their packaging or are advertised on television.
  4. Avoid foods that have sugar or sweetener listed among the top 3 ingredients. Instead eat sweet foods as you find them in nature such as ripe fruits or fresh coconut water.
  5. Shop for food outside of the supermarket. Utilise farmers markets, local bakers, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and local producers. Forage and eat wild foods where possible.
  6. Pay a little more; eat less of far greater nutrient-dense quality. Only eat foods that will eventually rot or you can picture in their raw state growing in nature. Eat well-grown food from healthy soil. You are what you eat eats too!
  7. Eat mostly plants, especially dark-green leaves. Treat meat as a side serving or an occasional food and if you do eat meat, eat animals that have themselves eaten well. Avoid fish at the top of the food chain such as swordfish, tuna and shark. Instead eat small, oily fish varieties such as sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
  8. Follow this Chinese proverb: “Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs and other mammals).”
  9. Eat foods that have been pre-digested by bacteria or fungi such as sauerkraut, tamari, kimchi and sourdough bread.
  10. Eat meals and eat with people, around a table (a desk is not a table). Its not food if it came through the window of your car and never get your fuel from the same place your car does.
  11. Eat when you are hungry not when you are bored and stop eating before you are full. Cook and if you can plant a garden, or at least a herb garden.
  12. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. But break the rules once in a while and treat treats as treats.

 

What should I eat? The Food Industry today

Hello my fellow yogi foodies & wellness warriors,

Sorry I went MIA for a week or so, I was off getting married to the man of my dreams! But I am back and really excited to share this next blog with you.

This blog post isn’t about overwhelming you with more confusing and contradicting rules about food and nutrition. I sense we are all confused enough as it is! Neither should the discussion be about whether we should eat meat or not, or whether we should adopt a raw, vegan or gluten-free diet. Truthfully, eating ‘food’ isn’t as simple as it sounds anymore. For a while, food used to be all that you could eat, however today there are thousands of other edible food-like substances on our supermarket shelves. These novel products of food science often come in packages elaborately decorated with health claims. A word of advice, if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication its not really food. That health claim was probably bought by the food product’s company for a hefty price and added to the label to help sell the product, not because it is genuinely healthy! Sad but true!

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Now you can see why everything is so confusing! And confused we are! We have the dairy industry telling us to drink more milk for healthy bones and teeth! The meat industry telling us its okay to eat meat with every meal. It’s no wonder we find ourselves the only species on the planet who has to rely on bloggers, journalists, doctors and nutritionists to tell us what to eat everyday. Surely this most basic conduct of our daily lives should be instinctual, embedded at childhood as it is in other species. (Cows know that grass has all the nutrients they require and they never feel the need to deviate from it.) In fact, for most of human history, humans have eaten healthily without the need to consult expert advice on the matter of what to eat. Instead, we allowed culture to guide us, or perhaps a simpler way of putting it, we allowed our mothers to dictate what we ate, how much of it, in what order, with what, when and whom with. But over the last several decades, mothers have seemingly lost their authority over the dinner plate, loosing it to scientists, government bodies and food marketers or an unhealthy alliance of all three, with their ever-shifting dietary guidelines, food-labelling rules and perplexing pyramids.

So how have we found ourselves in this mess? Well one force is the 32-billion dollar food-marketing machine that thrives on change for its own longevity. Another is the constantly shifting knowledge of nutrition science that, depending on your point of view, is steadily advancing in its research or is just changing its mind a lot because it is flawed science that knows much less than it cares to admit (with its suspect funding systems!). But humans deciding what to eat without clever marketing or professional advice is seriously unprofitable if you’re a food company; boring if you’re a journalist or blogger and career ending if you’re a nutritionist. Thus the need for the great scientific complexity of our food and nutrition needs.

Isn’t it interesting that with all this new and exciting research and professional advice we have at our fingertips we haven’t become any healthier? In fact, to the contrary, the opposite has happened. We are fatter and less healthy than our ancestors and for the first time in history we are looking at a situation whereby our children will live shorter lifespans than our own. We as humans are the only losers here. Our health and happiness suffer in order for food companies to keep making new food products. For the first time in history we are looking at a situation where over-nutrition is emerging as a more serious threat to our health than under-nutrition. I suggest that most of what we’re consuming today is no longer, strictly speaking, food at all, and how we are consuming it – in the car, on the sofa in front of the TV and increasingly, alone – is not really eating, at least not in the sense that our ancestors understood the term.

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Not surprisingly, due to all the processing, manipulation and confusion within the food industry we are now seeing a revolt against the western diet and a new modernisation of it. The craze and rise of the ‘healthy’ recipe book and health bloggers is testament to this change. However, this modernisation of the western diet still finds itself within the confines of the western diet. Reinventing itself in the same confusing and inadequately researched nutrition model that we have found ourselves in for the last century. The food industry is happy, this new craze gives them the opportunity to go and reinvent their products yet again and bring out new and ‘healthier’ versions (zero coke, hazelnut snickers (instead of peanuts) and Quorn). So what do we do? Give up on the western diet and move to Asia? Its not very realistic is it? In my opinion the confusion truly ends when we stop shovelling processed, packaged, chemical laden foods into our bodies. The simple answer to ‘What should I eat?” is simple if we learn how to tune into what our bodies really want and follow the basic natural laws mother nature has provided for us. Whatever comes after that is a personal decision and its one that no one else can make but you.

In my next blog I will offer my guidelines on how to eat foods in this current climate and how we can avoid the traps of the food industry so we can nourish ourselves and eat real foods easily and without fuss or confusion.

4 Podcasts I am loving right now

If you are a ferocious learner like I am then you will love what I am about to share with you. Podcasts have become my new obsession, I literally can’t get enough of them. I listen to them while in the kitchen, while I am commuting around London to see my patients, driving in the car and my favourite time is while flying.

These are my top 4 Podcasts I love right now:

The Rich Roll Podcast

Host: Rich Roll

Frequency: Weekly – every Monday

Why I love it: Gosh! How to describe how much I love this podcast is actually not possible. I am literally listening to hours worth of this podcast every day! I love how authentic Rich is and the conversations he has with some of the world’s brightest, most inspiring and thought provoking leaders is like liquid gold to my ears. These are the kinds of conversations you wish you could have with some of the most interesting movers and shakers in the world. His conversations range from veganism, athleticism, wellness, adventure and beyond. He has an inspiring story himself and I just love how authentic and real these conversations are. The guests he features are varied and all paradigm breakers within their own fields. Over the last month, I must have listened to over 50 of his podcasts and there are plenty to choose from as he has been in this game for the best part of a decade. My favourite guests have been Danielle LaPorte, Rachel Carlton Abrams, Darin Olien and Dr Frank Lipman (get it here).

From the Heart

Host: Yoga Girl – Rachel Brathen

Frequency: Weekly – every Friday

Why I love it: Known as Yoga Girl, Rachel has sparked a movement through sharing her yoga and heart which I find really inspiring. Her podcast is relaxed and filled with really lovely stories of being a new mother. She is deliberately honest and REAL which I also appreciate and love about her. Her podcast is still in its infancy, there are only 7 podcasts currently but I am loving the message that is coming across which is to be authentically you and listen to what you and what your body needs (get it here)

One Part Podcast

Host: Jessica Murnane

Frequency: Weekly – every Wednesday

Why I love it: If you are wellness junkie and real foodie then you will love this podcast too. Jessica Murnane makes this podcast so relatable for women and all her guests are super inspiring entrepreneurs with heart hitting messages. Some of my favourite guests have been my dear friend Jada Sezer, Sarah Britton from My New Roots and Ally Hilfiger   (get it here)

10% Happier

Host: Dan Harris

Frequency: Weekly – every Wednesday morning

Why I love it: Actually this podcast is hard to describe. It’s inspiration and information on just “living a better life,” whatever that might mean for you. Basically, Dan is obsessed with finding the answer to: Can you be an ambitious person and still strive for enlightenment (whatever that means)? His podcasts are all with super ambitious people who have found some level of connection to enlightenment or use mindfulness and meditation in their daily balance regime (get it here)

 

Get Your Glow On with these Beauty Foods & Nutrients

I am still buzzing from our GET READY TO GLOW workshop last night where Becky Crisp from Wild Spirit Naturally and I taught a bunch of green beauties about creating a healthy beauty regime. We sipped turmeric smoothies whilst I talked all about the best foods to incorporate into our diet for that inside out glow. Then, our goddesses got messy and enjoyed preforming a healthy facial regime under the instruction of Becky. We learnt all about the importance of oils and nutritional skincare ingredients for that glowing sexy skin and the best way to use each step within your regime. It was so much fun and I’m feeling so grateful to have shared such a special evening with so many beauties so I thought I would share it will you too! If you would like to join our next workshop then I have included a link at the end of this blog for you to purchase your ticket and book your place at our beauty table.

GREEN BEAUTY

Open a magazine or turn on the television and you’re bound to see advertisements for lipstick, anti-ageing creams and other magic elixirs that promise youthfulness, beauty and radiance. But if you’re here, reading this article then chances are you’ve discovered that these ‘quick fixes’ don’t build the long-term beauty that you are seeking in a natural and holistic way. What does build beauty is a balance of daily diet and lifestyle choices and attentiveness to mind-set, outlook and self-perception. Real, beautiful results come from ordinary, everyday actions that have the power to affect a dramatic overall change in the way you look and feel.

I continually hear from women just how important there skin is to them and the concepts around beauty nutrition, that is, the foods and nutrients that directly support and enhance our beauty by defending, repairing and strengthening it – and healthy vanity or our innate desire to look and feel beautiful are so relevant in our lives today. Our skin can literally ‘sell’ us and for Becky and I that is certainly very true.

More and more we are learning just how dramatically our mind-set creates our reality. When it comes to beauty the link between mind and matter is incredibly powerful. Yes, you are what you eat but you are also what you believe!

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What is absolutely central to our learning about beauty is that beauty is an inside job. We have to look inside ourselves for the answers to our own beauty. When we heal the beauty issues we carry about ourselves we restore the image that we carry about ourselves to be a healthy one that is based on healthy principles rather than perfection.

When we look towards natural beauty we can start to employ tools that are neither exclusive or expensive and we can literally watch as our skin transforms from painfully blemished, irritated and inflamed to calm, clear and healthy.

FOODS FOR A HEALTHY GLOW

DARK CHOCOLATE

Rich in cocoa flavones, plant compounds with antioxidant properties, which help hydrate skin and improve circulation. Women who consumed a high flavone cocoa powder drink daily for 12 weeks experienced less skin roughness and scaliness compared to a control group.

TOMATOES

The antioxidant lycopene (levels of which are higher in cooked tomatoes) improves skin’s natural SPF.

WALNUTS

These nuts have omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help the body retain moisture, giving your mane a healthy-looking shine. The protein content of the walnuts helps boost hair follicles, making hair fuller and stronger.

KALE

It’s one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that absorb and neutralize the free radicals created by UV light—including the wavelengths that actually get through sunscreen and reach your skin.

HEMP

Hemp seeds are made up of 30% pure protein and a full range of amino acids and essential fatty acids needed to maintain your skin’s structure. You can sprinkle a spoonful on cereal, or use hemp seed oil in dips or add it to your morning smoothie. According to a study noted in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, symptoms of skin dryness and itching significantly improved after using hemp seed oil for 20 weeks when consuming one to two tablespoons a day.

PINEAPPLE

This sweet treat is high in vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, which is known to be an effective skin softener. Drinking pineapple juice and munching on the fruit help the body synthesize collagen, which supports skin structure, while vitamin C and amino acids aid in cell and tissue repair, giving you a youthful appearance. Add it to your morning smoothie for a refreshing treat.

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NUTRIENTS FOR A HEALTHY GLOW

VITAMIN C

Foods: Strawberries, peppers, kiwi fruits

Vitamin C is a pre-cursor to collagen production and is also an antioxidant. When light hits your skin, it creates free radicals. These bounce around inside your skin and lead to DNA damage, which turns into aging. The antioxidants attach themselves to free radicals and neutralize them so that they can’t do damage.

ANTIOXIDANTS

Food: Green Tea

Why: Matcha tea helps skin stay more elastic and smooth, and is known to reduce damage caused by the sun to our skin. The anti-oxidants found in matcha tea boost blood flow and oxygen to the skin, which delivers key nutrients to keep your complexion look and feel healthy.

RESISTANT STARCH

Foods: Oats

Why: Oats also have high amounts of zinc, biotin, magnesium and potassium – a deficiency in these key nutrients can lead to more brittle hair and more breakage.

ZINC

Foods: Pumpkin seeds

Why: These little wonders are packed with zinc, as well as vitamins A and K and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are essential to building a healthy hair shaft. They’re also rich in fatty acids and vitamin C, which are important for producing sebum – your skin’s natural oil – to protect and repair skin.

OMEGA 3

Foods: Sardines & other oily fish

Why: Fatty fish is particularly rich in the type of omega-3 called DHA, an anti-inflammatory. “Inflammation is now known as the root cause of acne”

VITAMIN A

Food: Spinach

Why: Not only does spinach give you strength, but it’s also a major anti-ager. It’s rich in beta carotene, which converts into the powerful anti-aging vitamin A. This nutrient is crucial for allowing proper moisture retention to the epidermis, helping to prevent wrinkles and remove dead skin. For premium absorption, pair spinach with a food that’s high in vitamin C. Try a squeeze of lemon in a homemade dressing drizzled over a spinach salad.

VITAMIN E

Food: Avocado oil

Why: We all got the message about the benefits of eating whole avocados; now it’s the oil that’s getting all the attention. Avocados contain good amounts of vitamins A, D and E and omega-9 fatty acids – one of the building blocks of healthy skin – which is highly concentrated in the oil. All of these nutrients help to even out skin tone over time when added to your diet regularly.

PROTEIN

Food: Spirulina

Why: Spirulina is a popular energizer due to its high content of amino acids, making it a complete protein source and essential for healthy skin because it aids in cell growth and repair. Spirulina is also alkalising, contains detoxifying chlorophyll and is a good source of sulphur, which is an important healthy hair nutrient.

ALPHA-LINOLENIC ACID

Food: Flaxseed

Why: Flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is a nutrient our body converts to skin-friendly, anti-inflammatory omega 3’s that are essential for gorgeous youthful skin. They protect against oxidative damage by strengthening the cell’s natural defences.

Preparation: Add to your smoothie each morning or your cereal. Just make sure to grind the seeds so our body can access the nutrients for absorption and keep refrigerated, as the oils are unstable in heat and light.

CALCIUM

Food: Amaranth

Why: Ounce for ounce this tiny grain packs a huge amount of calcium into its small size. The calcium comes packaged for optimal absorption with a powerful line-up of amino acids from the 8g of protein that helps to form and strengthen the collagen found in our skin.

Preparation: You can cook amaranth into a creamy breakfast porridge with other grains or add it to salads as you would chickpeas or quinoa.

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HELPFUL FOOD PAIRINGS

Pistachios + Figs

The vitamin B6 found in pistachios helps the body to better absorb calming magnesium found in figs. Together they support rejuvenate sleep, stress reduction and healthy nerve function.

Matcha Tea + Grapefruit

Matcha green tea alone is fabulous for beauty thanks to its incredible high anti-oxidant content and anti-wrinkle phtyo-chemical compounds, but when you add a squeeze of grapefruit to your cup your body will reap far more anti-oxidant benefits since citrus juice allows the body to absorb even more of the green tea’s anti-ageing compounds.

WORKSHOP 2: GLOW FROM THE INSIDE OUT 

Wednesday 24th May 6.30pm – 8.30pm @The Farm Girl Cafe, Notting Hill

Learn: Beauty betrayer ingredients, skincare products, foods and lifestyle factors damaging your skins health. How detoxing can help your skin by increasing circulation and lymph drainage. What to avoid PLUS popular skin myths to ignore.

Hands on: Make your very own summer skin scrub to increase circulation and lymph drainage.

BOOK NOW

 

My Food Philosophy & Why I’ll Never Put a Label on my Diet

Growing up in an Italian family meant I grew up around food, and lots of it! Food was encouraged, enjoyed and talked about all the time; it was at the heart of everything we did. Every aspect of growing, picking, cooking, preserving, eating, composting and harvesting brought us all together as a family and a community. These rituals were common knowledge to me because I was exposed to it. I searched for the freshly laid eggs under the hens’ warm belly. I knew what was growing in the vegetable garden each season. I waited impatiently for the raspberries to be ripe enough to be picked and loved hiding in the rows of fresh garden peas, podding and eating handfuls all to myself.  The seasons and how to grow, cook and enjoy food was central to my daily life. Now, in my adulthood, food is still my connection to nature and to the natural ways of the world. The seasons are my guide to my own bodily rhythms and cycles and even though I don’t grow my own vegetables these days, I still find myself drawn to farmers markets and places where I can connect to food.

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For me, one of the most beautiful things about food, are the stories they have to tell and the lessons we can learn from them. If those stories start being told, then those lessons can be learnt and passed onto younger generations, as they were to me. As a chef, I am motivated to inspire others to search for their own stories and learn their own lessons from the foods they eat and prepare. Food can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. My interpretation of food is based on my life and the experiences I have had and the flavours I like to combine. I think the most important thing to remember is that food is extremely personal.

WHY I’LL NEVER LABEL MY DIET

Over time my passion around food has greatly changed and now I find I am at a stage where feeding my body what it needs and educating my patients how to learn this art is a true passion of mine. What my body needs at certain stages of life is different to every other person on this planet. This individuality is something I hold onto very strongly and respect in all of us. That is why there is no one-fits-all diet and never will be. We could also argue that is why we find our society, as a whole is so confused about what we should eat for our health. No government guidelines could ever cover the individuality of the mass population and nor should we expect it to.

I believe each one of us needs to learn the art of eating for our own bodies. We have to take responsibility for our own health and diet by becoming our own experimental guinea pigs. When we start to connect to how certain foods make us feel then we can start to piece together what works for us and what we need to leave out. We now live in a world where people consciously choose to remove large food groups or specific types of foods from their diet as a way towards health. It can be so hard to know where to position ourselves amongst the confusing information regarding nutrition and well-being. Often peoples, individual choices are made out of necessity due to an intolerance or allergy but what we must remember is that a grain-free diet for one person may be correct for a certain period of time and for a certain health related reason but cannot be assumed to be correct for another at that time in their life. That is why I will never label my diet, because I chose to listen to my body. What it needed as a teenager while I was training as an athlete was different to what my body needs now, it will be different in my pregnancies and my menopausal years, so calling myself a vegetarian or a vegan who eats some eggs is a limiting label and could cause me more harm than good over a lifetime. The message I want to convey here is that it’s about listening to our bodies needs and feeding it according to its many factors such as environment, age, manifesting symptoms and emotional needs at that very moment in time and if you are going to make a dietary change then you must be in tune with your body and make sure you are listening to its needs rather than following a trend.

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Most people assume I am a vegan or gluten-free in my dietary habits, but when they see me tucking into a breakfast of eggs and smoked salmon, they think again. For the majority of the time, I choose to eat a vegetarian, gluten, dairy and sugar-free lifestyle but I never allow myself to become dogmatic about it. My body is free to have whatever it lets me know it wants. I often have cravings for certain vegetables; rocket and mushrooms are a common theme as is yoghurt and halloumi cheese!

If I could make one wish, it would be that we could all become a little less controlling about our diets and live in a place of palate freedom with a good dose of connection to our own bodies and education around the good and bad stuff. Allowing a balance of connection, discipline, common sense and indulgence to be our approach. Mine is and I hope yours can be too.

The ‘YOU’ Connection & how listening to my innate intelligence changed the direction of my life

THE ‘YOU’ CONNECTION

I talk a lot about connection in relation to how I see and describe health. As humans we have been offered our beautiful individual bodies as vessels for our souls to journey through this life and this ‘connection’ I describe is our internal compass which allows us to find our ‘home’ within ourselves. It is our ‘innate intelligence’ which our bodies all possess and when you listen to this voice from your body that speaks to you, your whole life, you begin to understand your body’s language and you unlock the key to your own happiness and well-being.
I believe this intuition and ability to navigate towards your true self is the most powerful and creative tool we could ever unlock for ourselves. Knowing how you want to feel and be in your body brings the gift of fulfilment and an even stronger connection to ourselves. Without that true connection to our bodies and a sense of fulfilment in our lives our souls can be left feeling numb, confused and we often start to look outside of ourselves for a solution. We may look for constructive solutions such as a healthy diet or supplements, yoga or a loving relationship but more often than not we choose destructive solutions to combat the numbness such as alcohol, drugs, unhealthy relationships or an inactive, unhealthy lifestyle. What we missed in the confusion was the sound of our own internal voice speaking to us, letting us know what our bodies needed at the time. Or perhaps we heard it but ignored it and succumbed to our addictions or healthy obsessions instead due to our belief that the external world knows better than our internal voice. As a result our health suffers and we never truly understand how to look after ourselves and nurture our individuality. We never form a deep connection to our bodies and live a life of separation to ourselves.

MY OWN DISCONNECT

If you read my previous blog (Getting to know each other…My Story) you will know that in September 2013 I started a cafe business called ‘Retreat Cafe’. It was one of the first healthy eating, vegetarian food cafes on the scene at the time in London to offer a gluten, sugar and meat-free offering. The cafe was located inside a yoga studio and the yogi’s went wild for all the delicious, healthy food, juices and smoothies they could enjoy pre and post yoga. Word quickly spread and it wasn’t long until a well known yoga studio called Triyoga came knocking and asked me to open a second cafe from their Soho space in Kingly Court. We opened in May 2014 and by June 2014 we added a commercial kitchen to the mix as well. Life was happening at break-neck speed and I was barely able to take a breathe amongst the demands of two cafes open for 14 hours of the day, 7 days a week as well as a commercial kitchen producing wholesale items to other local businesses. In May 2015 I opened a third cafe in Putney and now life was truly, without any exaggeration, busy!
Retreat Cafe (81)
My daily life would consist of traveling from one cafe to another, hiring and training new staff members, managing and developing our systemisation, business development while also producing and packaging food from our commercial kitchen, meeting new wholesale clients, maintaining a constant daily social media and marketing campaign which was then topped off by hours spent in front of my laptop trying to manage the constant stream of emails, accounting and admin requirements to keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes. It was the typical life of a small business entrepreneur trying to wear all the hats required to manage and maintain a business. But by the autumn of 2015 I had reached a point of no return. I remember waking up one morning and feeling deeply unhappy, unmotivated and completely burnt out from running the ‘Retreat Cafe’ business. I had actively created a business which at the time I could only describe as ‘a monster’.
I had become solely focused on my external world and its constant demands of my energy and attention that I had completely lost my internal compass and stopped listening to my inner voice, which by this point had stopped screaming at me and had decided to shut down, leaving me feeling absolutely numb to everything in my internal and external world. So numb that I had stopped caring about almost everything and everyone in my life. When you wake up each day and pretend to be someone you’re not just to keep your business going you know there is something drastically wrong. Our innate intelligence gives us specific feedback on how our lives affects us and my life had been running at such break-neck speed that my first realisation of this separation from myself and numbness wasn’t from my inner compass but actually from my staff (my friends just wanted to be my biggest champions and supporters) but my staff had noticed I had stopped caring and it was their feedback that made me realise that I had completely fallen out of love with my own business. I was actively trying to fool myself that I loved running cafes but in fact, the biggest problem I had was that I was trying to fool myself of that fact everyday! It wasn’t my true calling, yet I had jumped at the opportunity when someone asked me to open a cafe and made it my own. Something in me wanted to say yes to such a great opportunity at the time but with hindsight it wasn’t the right opportunity.
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So here I was running a business that was making me miserable everyday and pulling me further and further away from my inner voice and suddenly I was hit by the shock that I had made a significantly wrong turn somewhere. But I couldn’t deny the fact that Retreat Cafe had brought me so much opportunity and brought some wonderful people into my life. Everything I wanted at the time was born from this business that I had thrown myself so wholehearted into – recognition, contacts, a book deal and a sense of significance and status. Yet, what I came to realise was I had chosen the wrong vehicle in which to drive me to find those goals. Being a cafe owner wasn’t my truth and now I had to work out how to get myself unstuck from the life I had created for myself and my staff.
The greatest dilemma I faced at the time of that realisation wasn’t actually how to close the business down or how to sell it on, it was actually that I was about to receive maximum exposure for the cafe’s with the release of ‘The Yoga Kitchen‘ which was written, printed and about to broadcast to the UK and many international countries that I was the owner and founder of ‘Retreat Cafe’! A business I was actively trying to remove myself from. I had worked really hard for 3 years and I was finally going to receive the recognition I felt I deserved from it but me and my body knew we wanted out! I avoided talking about how I felt to anyone within the business or related to my publishing deal and quietly started looking for solutions which would mean I could exit the business but ‘Retreat Cafe’ would continue on without me and no one would be none the wiser. But lease agreements prevented me from this solution so I decided I would hold on for 6 months and wait until the ‘The Yoga Kitchen‘ had been out for a while before I officially closed doors and started the road to finding my authentic path again.
Over time I’ve come to discover that my character is such that when I focus in on something, I have an insatiable need to do it in the most honest and authentic way possible. I believe I am lucky that to be wired that way and I have utilised the skill to my advantage on many occasions to create some of the most rewarding moments of my life. What ‘Retreat Cafe’ taught me is what happens to that innate intelligence and connection to yourself when things start to shift in an inauthentic way. What I perceived in myself was this very instinctual and natural retreat from my inner self. I put on a mask which helped me keep my true self hidden and safe while the mask fought the daily battle for me each day. My numbness came from a complete disconnection to the person I had become in order to be the person who could run a business like the one I created. What I am now grateful for is this teaching and understanding of that deep connection to ourselves. Once it was revealed to me I started to see it was the missing link in how I treated my patients as a naturopath and decided to completely flip my consultation and treatment strategy on its head and help my patients, followers and fans like you find that inner compass and learn how to tune in and listen to it. It has become my life’s mission to help others learn how to become aware of their own inner voice and use their innate intelligence to find their truth because its from this truth which our happiness, health and well-being resides. We all know what is best for us and our bodies give us daily nudges and signs towards it every day. Our job is to learn how to listen in and stay connected to it.

SO WHATS NEXT?

To be honest, after running cafes for 4 years in London, all I craved was a simple life. To be able to go back to basics and find the fragments of myself I had lost and start to put an authentic sense of self back together. Closing the cafes also coincided with the stage in my relationship where we were about to get married and what a beautiful stage of life that is. Getting married re-ignites your relationship all over again and I feel more connected to Tom than ever. Marriage has added to our lives in the most beautifully subtle ways that we had not expected. I also made the decision to move out of London and find solace in the countryside of Surrey. Having nature and a sense of space around me has allowed my daily natural rhythms to return and I now truly feel in sync with my body and its environment I choose to surround it in. In business, I took everything I had learnt from running the cafes and started to put together the foundations of a business which I truly love running. I looked at the aspects of how I work as an entrepreneur and decided to build on those strengths so that I now run a business which is solely structured around my authentic self. I feel truly blessed for the journey I took with Retreat Cafe and even though there are aspects I regret or would do differently if given the chance again, I know they are also the aspects which have built the person I am today.

Episode 2. Getting to know each other…MY STORY

I thought we should get to know each other a little before we get started on the more informative blogs that will be coming your way this week. This blog is all about getting to know each other and you being able to hear a little more about my story. I feel it is important for you to get a sense of who I am, my background and where I have popped my head up from in this wellness industry. My story isn’t one of recovery, I haven’t overcome any life-threatening health obstacles or had the experience of living outside of the principles I practice as a naturopath for any great length of time and in my day-to-day life. My story actually started with the very principles of wellness and healthy eating that have been popularised today. I’ll explain…

MY STORY

I am one of the lucky ones! As a child, I spent early mornings searching for the freshly laid eggs under the hens’ warm belly. Weekends were spent milking cows at our friends’ farm and by age five, I delighted in telling my friends what was growing in our vegetable garden, my pride and joy. I knew when the raspberries were ready to be picked, soon to be made into jam. I savoured the warm sweetness of a fresh fig straight from the tree and looked forward to the autumn bringing the prickly chestnuts to roast over an open fire. From a very young age, this was all common knowledge, for no other reason than my parents exposed me to it. My snacks weren’t sugary packets of processed foods found in the pantry, they were found by wandering into the garden and sneaking the fresh peas or ripe strawberries. That was the landscape of food I was taught and I grew up being surrounded by. Food made me feel a certain way and allowed me to express myself and I feel lucky to have had healthy produce, a passion for food, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle from my early years.

Brought up in a Sicilian/British household in Australia, my Sicilian grandmother had a passion for simple healthy food that tasted great. It was from the depths of her beloved kitchen where she taught me to create mouth-watering recipes that had remained unchanged through countless generations before her. Over many years I went on to learn the art of cooking in her company. Through her, true conviviality is in my heart, food that evokes emotion and connects to the body, people and the seasons. Even as a young girl, I have memories of play kitchens where I would cook with my grandmothers worn saucepans and crockery just as she had taught me using the seasonal produce grown proudly in my grandfathers vegetable garden. Thankfully however, these days my guests are a lot more passionate about sampling my creations than they were back then when I would try to convince my family to try my rose petal, green pepper and parsley smoothies or my scrumptious cumquat and basil infused mud cakes!

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Cooking for me, as it was for my Nonna (and my mother) is an expression of love. I am a feeder! I remember my Nonna cooking for us and standing over her little grandchildren feeling so happy she had fed them and therefore imparted her love upon us. She would hover and fuss over us while we were eating her pasta, adding more parmesan or olive oil, making sure it was going to be the best eating experience possible. She would say ‘mangia, mangia’ if we even so much as stopped for a breathe to admire the food we were eating. She loved nothing more than watching us eat the fruits of her labour. It made her beam from ear to ear and I know those days spent in her kitchen teaching me how to cook were some of her happiest. We never conversed in the same language, but that didn’t seem to matter. We didn’t need words to describe how food should taste or look. We had our bond and a true understanding of food. Once my Nonna had left my side, I continued to experiment and by my teens had become an accomplished baker. As a distraction from studying I would bake and feed my family yet again, following recipes from my mothers recipe book collection.

Somehow the idea of turning my passion for cooking and all things related to food seemed to bypass me as a possible career path through my teenage years. Fascinated by natural health and wanting to help others make the link between their symptoms and environment in my early twenties I found myself a graduate from the Southern School of Natural Therapies with a 4-year degree in Naturopathy. Looking back on it now, my fascination with natural health started on a day when my mother took me to see the local naturopath in our town. I remember sitting in her consulting room with her asking me questions that no other practitioner had ever asked me. I was 16, borderline anaemic and showing early signs of glandular fever. I remember she asked me to show her my nails (taking note of the white spots on each nail), then taking each lower eyelid in her finger and slightly pulling it down to expose my eyeball. She looked at my mother and told her that my body was under tremendous stress and the signs were clear that if I didn’t slow down and mitigate the stress I would continue down the road towards glandular fever and chronic fatigue. She had noticed and described everything that I had been feeling internally just from looking at the external signs of my body and it was all true! At that stage of my life I was an athlete, putting my body through hours of punishing training, sometimes up to 7-8 hours a day on weekends. I was the state volleyball captain for my age group and trying to manage school, exams, homework and a boyfriend in the mix as well. I loved every minute of my life but I was doing too much and my 16 year old body just couldn’t cope (having B vitamins injected into my arm just to keep me going at tournaments was the icing on the cake). My naturopath had seen the signs, I had been ignoring and I was fascinated by her diagnostic techniques. I was hooked! I changed all career aspirations of becoming a sports psychologist and started to steer myself in the direction of becoming a naturopath.

From a clinic in Melbourne and with mentor Greg Connolly by my side, I practiced for many years, treating patients’ will all sorts of ailments, from weight loss, infertility, hypertension, to many different types of cancer. It was here my passion for how the body related to its environment and what we fed it started to really make sense. Specialising in nutrition & herbal medicine I developed a strong understanding of how our bodies healed and interacted with their surroundings. But by the young age of 24, I felt there was a wisdom I lacked to become the practitioner I yearned to be. This also coincided at a time in my life when my curiosity of unexplored shores could no longer be ignored. The instinctual explorer within me began to grow restless and I yearned to be back in the same aromas my Nonna had produced from her kitchen. The destination was obvious and the excitement I felt at being free to explore a new unknown was intoxicating, however I was completely unaware at the time, just how big a step I was about to take onto that plane. Off to chase the sunset and a brand new sunrise, my step into the unknown took me to an enchanting 15th century villa, deep within the rolling hills of the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. This is where my childhood passion for cooking and all things related to food began to surface within me once more. Working as an au pair, Tuscany was an education of food, language, love and a journey of self-discovery I had not expected. After 8 months spent enjoying the pleasures of hot summer days, lazy afternoon siestas and the abundance of Italian produce I packed my suitcase yet again and embarked on my next adventure. This time en-route to the French Alps, I had enlisted myself as a chalet girl, hoping to find a winter of fun on the slopes. Not having ever skied before I was setting myself the task of learning a new skill. However, the universe had a different plan, as the chef was fired with only days before our first guests arrived, the apron swung my way and so began an alpine winter in my first ever kitchen as a chef. With literally only 48 hours to prepare before the first guests arrived eager to taste their winter chalet delights, I set to work creating dishes I knew well but had never thought I would serve to paying customers.

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And so, with two years of summer to winter seasonal chef jobs, I found myself moving to London on a whim of love. Having been swept off my feet by an Englishman, I took a position as a private chef in Notting Hill and continued my journey with food in the metropolis. Writing my first recipe book, detailing the memoirs and travel photography of the adventures from the previous two years ‘Suitcases of recipes’ was published by Vagabond in Norway 2012. Taking my inspiration from my surroundings, nature & the seasons. My creative mind feels at home when surrounded by fresh produce. To me, being creative is simply the experience of bringing attention to something and making it more beautiful than it was before you started. For me, I experience this every time I step into the kitchen. The simple act of taking 3 to 4 raw ingredients and bringing them together to create a dish is simply my heaven. There is a saying “the sum of its parts is greater then its individual parts” and for me, this is the art of cooking, of creating a dish from simple individual ingredients. I never tire of taking different ingredients and finding new ways to bring them together. All it takes is a simple image or visit to the local farmers market for a creative journey to spark a flow of ideas leading to a new dish.

MY JOURNEY INTO YOGA

Having spent 12 years through my teenage years and early 20’s as a sportswoman, my first experience of yoga didn’t come until a friend of mine invited me to join her for a candle lit class one evening in London. I was 28 and after an hour of twisting, stretching and sweating my way through a dynamic power yoga class I collapsed onto my mat utterly exhausted but also feeling completely alive. Somehow I had found peace, elation and clarity in the process of these difficult poses. Immediately quitting my gym membership, I took a part-time position as a receptionist at the yoga studio and again my life changed direction. Within 6 months, the yoga studio had expanded and so had my life with it. The owners of ‘The Power Yoga Company’ in Parsons Green asked me if I would like to open a cafe within their yoga studio and from there the brand ‘Retreat’ was born. In September 2013 I opened my first healthy eating, vegetarian food cafe, one of the first on the scene to offer Londoner’s a gluten, sugar and meat-free offering. I was finally able to combine my passions for food and holistic health.

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I opened my second cafe at Triyoga Soho in May 2014 and by June 2014 we added a commercial kitchen to the mix as well. Life was happening at break-neck speed and I was barely able to take a breathe amongst the demands of two cafes open for 14 hours of the day, 7 days a week as well as a commercial kitchen producing our wholesale items to other local businesses. In May 2015 I opened a third cafe in Putney and now life was truly, without any exaggeration, busy! By the autumn of 2015, I had reached a point of no return, deeply unhappy, unmotivated and completely burnt out from running the cafes. What a strange day to wake up and realise that I had actively created a business that I could only describe at the time as ‘a monster’! In my next blog I will go into this period of my life in much more depth, describing the disconnection from myself and how I found a way back to a balanced and fulfilling life again.

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2015 was a strange year, because it was a year of such despair and elation in equal measure. Receiving a book deal to write ‘The Yoga Kitchen‘ in August 2015, I achieved one of my life’s greatest accomplishments. With a six week deadline, I poured my heart and soul into this book and by May 2016 I was able to walk into my local bookstore and see my face looking back at me from the shelves. How surreal and utterly humbling at the same time. Publishing and having ‘The Yoga Kitchen‘ on sale in over 9 countries worldwide fills me with such pride and gratitude.

BEING A NATUROPATH

The key aspect to how a naturopath views the human body is the recognition of a vital force energy. Seen as the same energy which flows through the universe and nature. A depletion of this vital force is believed to be the root cause of illness and a naturopath will restore this vital force to a patient, so the body will heal itself naturally.

Therefore, we are able to see our symptoms as simply our bodies way of trying to tell us what it needs. We tend to pathologise and medicate the very signals that our bodies send us to direct us toward health. These symptoms are not annoyances that we need to numb or just ignore, they are important messages that we can use to seek our own wellness. I help my patients listen to the language of their bodies and together, we treat the underlying causes of their symptoms, so they can avoid more serious disease and discover real, lasting health.

Rather than some cookie-cutter perspective of health, my objective is always to offer the principles and practices that can support you in having the unique and vibrant life that you long for. I teach you how to listen to your body so that you can better understand its messages, when something in your life needs to change. Discovering a new way of being so you can know what you need, when you need it – and trust yourself to honour those beautiful needs. This is a simple and endlessly adaptable recipe for wellness.
As a naturopath, I am fortunate to have the time to really listen to my patients and to hear what is behind their symptoms. I schedule a long session with my new patients to hear about their concerns and complaints in their own words. I learn about their lives in great detail and piece together their manifestation of dis-ease by what their body language, body signs and by what they say. Every patient is like a jigsaw puzzle to me that I need to break apart and put back together.
Often, my patients describe feeling pulled in multiple directions by their many roles and responsibilities. They are overwhelmed and exhausted by the blessings and burden of all their commitments. They are quite perceptive about their busy worlds, but lack deep intelligence about their most important instrument, their bodies. I teach my patients about the innate wisdom inside each one of us right now, that can give us specific feedback on how life affects us – from the medicines we take to the food we eat, to the work we do, to the relationships we have. We need to pay close attention to the clues that our bodies give us to navigate our health and health care. Listening to your body is not just about avoiding future illness. It is about wellness and vitality now and about your being able to have the life you – and your body – will love. When you listen to the voice of your body thats been speaking to you your whole life, and you begin to understand your body’s language, you unlock the key to your own happiness and well-being. Decisions that were difficult before become simpler. Eating becomes more of a pleasure as you understand what your body really wants. A new level of energy and inspiration is possible when you move , eat and rest in the way your body needs. You develop a ‘second sense’ for choosing people who are positive influencers, with your body intelligence as your talisman. You are less likely to become ill, as you listen to the early symptoms that your body is communicating to you. and you have the power and potential to heal your own symptoms. if you want to have joy and vitality and longevity begin listening to your natural body wisdom and move from depletion to repletion – to a state of wholeness and full health.

 

 

Episode 1. Kim ‘The Blogger’

Okay, so here we go, I am writing you my first blog post! Adding ‘blogger’ to my seemingly endless list of job titles. I am truly thrilled to be starting this journey with you and finding out where this road will take us…
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TO OUR JOURNEY TOGETHER
Writing is a passion of mine, In the past I committed to travel blogs which detailed my life living in Tuscany and the French Alps. But upon my move to London in 2010, I stopped writing. London life didn’t feel inspiring and my creative juices literally dried up while city life took over. Now 7 years on and with many more exciting chapters of my life lived in the UK I am coming back to my passion of writing again and as timing should have it, this also coincides with my move out of London and into the green countryside of Surrey.
My friends, fans and followers in the past few years have been asking me why I didn’t blog. I have always thought of myself as a paper kind of girl. Having written ‘The Yoga Kitchen’ in 2015 I had been able to fulfill my biggest dream of publishing a recipe book. Becoming an author had given me those lovely feelings of accomplishment and acheivement but not that righteous self-worth that I think we all need a little of for our ego to want to project our opinions and knowledge onto others. I thought people would buy my book and not need any more from me as an author. But as the modern digital age expects and puts never ending demands on having information at its fingertips I was finding that I was being asked for more and more content. So much so that I was getting a little tired of rolling my eyes everytime someone asked me “can I find your recipes and blog online?” Furthermore, another reason why I didn’t blog before (apart from the fact that for the last 4 years while running retreat cafe I just didn’t have the time) I personally do not read blogs. I think there are some amazing blogs out there but I just never find myself sitting in a chair long enough to read them and so it took a few of lifes twists and turns to help me re-ignited that passion to write again and share the knowledge and experience I have.
So this journey will take us down a path towards creating a space for you to find authentic thoughts and ideas on wellness and hopefully, ultimately ‘the whole you’. My intention is to help you find that deep connection to yourself and understand how to navigate this confusing world of wellness which seems to consist of that elusive concept known to us as ‘balance’, nutrition, healthy eating and the misleading food industry today, mindfulness and what that actually means. We will travel together down the twisting roads that wellness has taken us in an attempt to unravel your authentic self and help you be the best version of yourself in a truly holistic manner. I am going to be honest in my opinions, I will share my experiences, stories and hopefully through my writing bring some clarity to this space which I feel so compelled and inspired by. All I ask is that you share and keep this knowledge moving outside of the devices in which you interact with it. So please share and talk about what you read here so we can all grow together and reach as many people as possible with our mission of health and innate connection.
 So, without further ado, let’s start this journey…

‘GET READY TO GLOW’ Workshop

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Naturopath and Chef Kimberly Parsons and Holistic Beauty Therapist Becky of @wildspiritnaturally present the

GET READY TO GLOW WORKSHOPS

These workshops bring together professional and natural skin care advice for the face, body and hair, coupled with expert nutrition and food knowledge on how to make sure you complement your daily skin regime with the right foods to GLOW from the inside out.

WORKSHOP:

GLOW FROM THE INSIDE OUT & YOUR DAILY GLOW GUIDE

Wednesday 14th June 6.30pm – 8.30pm @ secret location close to Little Venice

Learn: Beauty betrayer ingredients, skincare products, foods and lifestyle factors damaging your skins health. How detoxing can help your skin by increasing circulation and lymph drainage. What to avoid PLUS popular skin myths to ignore. Learn the benefits of dry body brushing & oil pulling PLUS Skin care daily non-negotiables.

Hands on: Make a strong hair and nails delicious dessert

Hands on: Make your very own summer skin scrub to increase circulation and lymph drainage.

BOOK NOW

PRICE:  

Green Beauty: £55 pp per
**each ticket includes refreshments, snacks and goody bags.

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