Natasha Amodio grew up in a city (Durban, South Africa) where flip-flops were regularly worn. Studied at a local University – Durban University of Technology – for 4 years where I obtained my Bachelor of Technology in Food Science and Nutrition. I then moved to London to become more involved in the field of food and nutrition, as well as to grow in responsibility and to grow my skillset (and of course explore big city life. London has always been on top of my list). As cliche as it is, I am passionate about nutrition and food. My goal is to teach and instil knowledge about food and how we can use it to heal us. After all, “let food be thy medicine” right?
Thank you for the opportunity to interview you. I would love to know how you became interested in food. Was it an early passion? What was your motivation?
I grew up in an Italian household where food was always the centre of attention. I guess you could say it stemmed from there. As I grew older, my passion turned to helping those live healthier life.
Motivation – seeing obesity statistics rise in the UK and all the bunch of misleading and misinformation on the web.
As a nutritionist, what are some of the changes and trends you’ve observed in the food world over the last 20 years?
Fad diets and trends range from cabbage soup diets to low-fat diets. I must say, the transition from hating fats to loving them has been the biggest change, and a great one too. Fat has been the enemy for far too long.
It is such a shame that a lot of us have gone to extremes to lose weight, or just to start a “healthy” lifestyle.
Can you tell us about the idea and mission behind ‘Love Yourself’?
Love Yourself mission is to help those choose a better, healthier, and happier lifestyle.
Tell us about eating healthfully.
Health is different for everyone. General guidelines to follow would be:
- Choose whole foods over-processed as much as you can
- Including lots of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. They’re great and provide all the vitamins and minerals your body needs
- Choose wholegrain and high fibre foods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, quinoa, and wholegrain pasta, to name a few
- Include protein at every meal – choose sources such as lean meats, eggs, beans and legumes, nuts, tofu, tempeh
- Make sure you’re eating enough during the day. Skipping meals is a “no-no”.
Can you define the term “healthy eating?”
Choosing foods that are going to nourish your body the right way. Choosing the “right” foods 80% of the time, and allowing the extra 20% to indulge in the foods you love.
What if you’re not a “portion” person?
What if you just can’t stop yourself from eating everything you see in front of you? Can you eat everything you see? Learn which foods to downsize and which you can supersize. If you can’t stop yourself from eating certain junk foods (cakes, crisps, biscuits, chocolates etc), I’d suggest not bringing them into the house and enjoying a small taste when you are out.
Can you please provide a tip for each of the following:
- how to eat out; If you know you’re going out to eat, don’t starve yourself the whole day. Eating regular meals throughout the day will ensure you make better choices when eating out. Making simple changes will in turn decrease the number of calories. For example, choosing roast veg over deep-fried chips
- enjoy special occasions; They’re called “special occasions” because they do not happen often. Remove the guilt and enjoy your favourite foods.
- indulge in a favourite treat, all while still losing weight and eating healthfully. Adopt the 80/20 mindset. Eat healthily 80% of the time and enjoy your favourite foods 20% of the time.
What non-related issues (e.g., sleep habits) are important to healthy eating?
Research has shown that a lack of sleep can cause overeating later on in the day. Try to aim for 8 hours of sleep a night. Getting regular exercise is also very important for adopting and living a healthy lifestyle. Exercise not only burns calories but also increases blood flow and releases endorphins.
How can people cook and eat more mindfully?
- Be mindful of each step in the cooking process – Mindful cooking starts right from the meal planning stage.
- Set your intentions – Many of us feel like it’s a drag to cook the daily meals, but a bit of fun to bake sweet treats. Are you seeing food preparation as a chore or as an opportunity to be creative? How hungry are you and how aware are you of the sensations of hunger in your body?
- Appreciate the food – Part of the mindful cooking experience is a sense of gratitude for the wonderful food we have access to.
- Focus on just one thing – Turn off the distractions: the YouTube video, TV or podcast.
- Tune in to yourself and your senses – Dialling into that sensory experience brings you right into the moment.
- Start to enjoy cooking and eating
What is your advice for those who don’t like or enjoy cooking, but want to eat healthily? Where do they start?
Order from Love Yourself. We offer a range of meal plans with different calorie options, suited for everyone; All freshly prepared and delivered to your door, daily.
What’s your favourite healthy ingredient?
Extra virgin olive oil. There’s nothing better.
What’s the one thing you’d suggest people keep in their kitchen if they want to cook healthy meals?
A kitchen scale – eliminates the need for multiple measuring cups and spoons.
What food person do you respect most, or who motivates you?
There are a few, but I must say I do admire Jessica Sepel and her holistic approach to health and nutrition.
What makes it so difficult for people to lose weight and keep it off?
Those extremely low calories diets cause people to have a negative mindset toward food. Losing weight should be made out to be difficult and/or quick. There’s no need in the sense that you need to limit your intake of certain foods. We live in a world where fast weight loss-promoting diet plans, pills, and programmes rule the world’s schemes.
Tell us the biggest secret dieticians typically don’t tell their clients, but should.
You can have too much of a good thing – just because snack foods like dark chocolate, nuts, nut kinds of butter, and avocado have earned nutritional kudos for being good sources of heart-healthy fats, and other nutrients, doesn’t mean you should eat a lot of them. People think they can eat as many ‘healthy’ snacks as they want, but they’re still high in calories.
How would you describe healthy foods?
Delicious, affordable and abundant.
Your proudest moment?
Completing my studies and moving to London.
What’s your motto?
A healthy body holds a healthy soul and mind.
What is the best advice you have been given?
“Live life to the fullest” – Sounds cheesy, but we only have one life. Do what makes you happy and you won’t have regrets later on in life.
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