Q&A with Nutritionist & Wellness Coach on mood food, plant-based eating  & the emotions behind our food choices

Q&A with Nutritionist & Wellness Coach on mood food, plant-based eating & the emotions behind our food choices

Holistic Nourishment with Roberta King

Roberta, I love your holistic approach on how we nourish ourselves and I am keen to shift our family to a more plant-based way of eating.  I know you are the perfect expert to advise me on this, but for my readers, can you tell me a bit about what you do. 

Sure Meredith.  I’m a plant-based nutritionist and wellness coach and I approach healthy eating from a holistic stance, addressing the mind and soul as well as the body.

As a wellness coach I support and encourage my clients to make healthy lifestyle changes. Many of us lead busy lives and often we make poor choices regarding our health. In my coaching sessions I provide clients with personalised holistic advice and tools that fit in with their lifestyle and goals. I provide expertise, support and keep my clients motivated on their path to a healthy lifestyle suited to them.

As a plant-based nutritionist I assist clients wanting to transition from a regular diet to one that’s plant based with ease and at a pace that works for them, be it for health, environmental or ethical reasons. Done right, a plant-based diet is cost-effective, extremely nourishing with many health-giving benefits as well as the best for our planet. 

And I’m a big advocate for meditation as a wellness tool. Stress has a number of negative effects of the body, creating cortisol, the stress hormone, which increases sugars in the blood stream and causes us to gain weight, especially around out middle. Mindfulness and meditation can help us gain peace and clarity, allowing us to look and feel great. Master your mind and you’ll master the effects it has on your body.

If you are curious about working with Roberta, get in touch to have a chat:  info@robertaking.co.uk  or 07792642892 and she’ll talk you through the options.

OK cool, I think everyone could use your help! Nutrition can be a bit overwhelming. Let’s jump in with some FOOD and MOOD tips. What are a couple tips for eating in a way that supports us emotionally?

The gut is connected to the brain so keep the gut healthy by cutting back on the CRAP, as wellness extraordinaire, James Duigan likes to say. That’s CRAP being Coffee, Refined sugar, Alcohol and Processed foods. Try taking a probiotic which contains good bacteria and helps to restore the gut. And a top tip is foods rich in omega-3 are thought to benefit those with depression. Up your omega-3 intake with foods like chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds and walnuts. You may also want to try a vegan omega-3 capsule like this one.

Afternoons can be a particularly tricky time, both for mood slumps, snacking and sneaky sweets.  What are your tips?

Try not to buy sweets if you can, to avoid temptation.  Always check the contents of snacks and learn how to read labels. A surprising number of ‘healthy’ foods like protein bars and granola bars are loaded with hidden sugars – rice syrup, maltose, sucralose or high fructose corn syrup to name but a few. Instead opt for wholefoods, nuts and fruits for a healthier, less sugary alternative.

Choose snacks and foods that are high in protein. Protein has been known to reduce appetite and hunger and curb sugary cravings. Nuts, seeds, humous and edamame beans, are all good examples of high protein plant-based snacks. I also like the roasted chickpea snacks from the happy snack company.

I would also suggest keeping some berries in the fridge for snacking. I like to pick at frozen berries especially as we’re coming into summer. They’re really refreshing. As a dessert I eat them with a dollop of nut butter and a sprinkling of cacao nibs.

Substitute any sugary drinks with sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon.

For dessert I eat a few squares of dark chocolate if I’m craving something sweet. I especially like the Sooper Good vegan dark chocolate bars – as they use stevia instead of refined sugar. Stevia a natural alternative to refined sugar that has virtually no calories and has been known to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in people that have diabetes.

Dates are also good as they have naturally occurring sugars and are nutritious.

With all this being said though, it is important to address why it is that you are having these afternoon slumps. Could it be that you’re experiencing a high amount of stress? Not getting enough sleep? Consuming too much caffeine in the mornings? Once we get to the root of the problem, we can make the appropriate lifestyle changes and you’ll see better results.

I love how your approach is to not only to provide know-how & meal planning but to get under the hood and really look at why we aren’t feeding ourselves well.  And how understanding and addressing that is massive catalyst for change.  Can you tell me more about that?

Often, I think we don’t know what it is that’s causing us to eat badly, we just crave sugar or caffeine, or whatever our crux may be, and we reach for it without being mindful. But really, if we were to actually sit down and identify why it is that we’re reaching for those things – the root cause – we’d likely discover that it’s linked to something emotional. Perhaps we think it’s because we’re bored, or that we don’t feel we have enough time to create something healthy, or we’re tired and immediately want coffee. But the question is, why are we bored? Can we make time to create healthy meals? How important is it to us? Why aren’t we sleeping well? There are so many factors that may be stopping us from reaching our goals and coaching can help us to break through these barriers. This is where a holistic approach comes in and changing behaviours that might seem unrelated to food will have an impact on our overall health including how we feed ourselves.

I love that. I notice for instance when I am more regular and consistent with my yoga & meditation that my cravings pretty much vanish. Or when I am around certain situations or people, I might eat to comfort myself. It’s all connected.

I’m curious…what is your personal go-to well-being practice? Something your clients get impact from as well?

I think book-ending your day has the most positive impact on people’s lives. Creating time and space in the mornings and evenings to incorporate wellness techniques into their lives. It doesn’t have to take long. For example, I like to spend 5-10 minutes in the morning journaling, writing down three things I’m grateful for and how I’m going to make the day great. I think the universe thanks me for this in return. Then I do a 10-minute breathing meditation to ground myself. I also like to have a cup of warm lemon water before eating a healthy breakfast, it helps to cleanse and detoxify my system.

In the evenings I make sure to unwind with some combination of having a bath, reading in bed, drinking a chamomile tea. I also do 5 minutes of journaling, jotting down things that were positive about the day. I find this keeps my thoughts clear and helps my quality of sleep.

OK, lastly, there’s so much awareness now about how our diets affect our planet and how plant based eating is good for us and our planet. So what are your tips for the home chef who is a bit bored of cooking from lockdown and wants simple family friendly plant-based meals?  Bonus for batch cooking! 

I’d suggest making curries, pastas, stews, soups and pies which are easy to make, health-giving and keep well in the freezer. You can meal prep things like quinoa, sweet potatoes and roasted veggies which stay fresh in the fridge and can be quickly added to lunches and dinners, either eaten hot or cold. Here’s a simple bean stew recipe that’s quick & easy to play around with.

During lockdown I’ve had an organic veggie box delivered once a week.  I’ve found it’s the only way to ensure a delivery spot. It also adds a bit of excitement to my week, not knowing what vegetables I’ll receive in the next box (yes, this is what my life has come to!). From them I like to make soups and salads, knowing that the vegetables are seasonal and organic.

Prioritise one pot recipes to reduce work & minimise washing up.  Curries are great for this and you can load them with plant-based proteins like beans, lentils and chickpeas plus whatever veg is in the fridge. There’re also so many easy plant-based pasta recipes out there to try; pesto, carbonara, Bolognese – all of which can be adapted so that they’re plant-based. If you’re worried about the carb content of pasta, or of it containing egg, then try lentil pasta. Lentil pasta is a great protein rich alternative. Spelt, wholewheat and buckwheat pasta are also healthy alternatives.

Also stews are easy to make and good for feeding the family, again requiring only one pot. Brown rice and quinoa make for a healthy accompaniment to these types of dishes and ensure that you and the family are consuming an adequate amount of wholegrains. Experimenting with spices can keep things interesting.

Thank you so much. Roberta.  If someone is curious about working with you what should they do?

They can send me an email or give me a call and I am happy to discuss the various ways I work with clients to find something suitable for them. I’d love to have a chat and hear more about their goals – info@robertaking.co.uk or 07792642892.

Roberta King, Nutritionist & Wellness Coach

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