Eat Well and be happy
With the BBC Good Food Eat Well Show on the horizon and our new year’s resolutions to eat healthier still firmly in place, we caught up with nutritionist, chef and all-round health guru Christine Bailey. If you want know how to eat for glowing skin, glossy hair and all-round radiant health, this is the woman to ask.
Bailey has a string of science and nutrition degrees to her name, as well as being an accomplished chef and author, so when it comes to eating healthily, no matter what your dietary requirements, she really knows her stuff. Needless to say we were after a few helpful hints.
Tell us a little about yourself, have you always had an interest in health and healthy foods?
“I have always loved food. Some of my earliest memories were standing on a chair to reach the cooker in order to make dishes with my mum and gran, who were both fabulous cooks and always cooked from scratch, using our own vegetables from the allotment and made the most of leftovers too. I also love exercise and soon realised if I did not fuel my body properly my performance would suffer.
However in my late teens to early 20s I started to develop serious digestive symptoms which resulted in my undergoing a life saving operation. It was then I realised gluten was a problem for me and was diagnosed coeliac. In those days gluten-free food was awful – bread was like bricks and the range of foods very limited. So, I started creating my own gluten and dairy-free dishes, breads and healthy treats. I already had several science degrees before I decided to train as a chef and I then went on to gain a first class degree in nutrition. One of my main drivers is my own children. My eldest son (who is also my sous chef) is coeliac and one of my twin boys has an autoimmune condition we have completed resolved simply by making changes to his diet. This is the power of diet on our health and vitality.”
Do you live by a motto? If so, what is it?
“Our greatest gift to our families, friends and ourselves is to live well with good health and that starts with what we put in our mouths every day. Of course you need more than just a fabulously healthy body – you need the right heart and soul to go with it.”
What is your favourite food/dish?
“Healing bone broth is a staple but I love raw veggies – the greener the better.”
What is the most common food misconception you come across?
“All fat is evil.”
Sugar is currently being branded the new enemy: what is your professional opinion on sugar in our modern diet?
“I have written a lot about sugar. Refined sugar has absolutely no nutritional benefits and is significantly associated with numerous health problems. We don’t need it and you can wean yourself off sugar. Try some of my recipes and you will see how to enjoy nutritious, real food.”
What advice would you give a complete novice: someone who wants to incorporate more healthy food into their diet but is unsure on how to get started?
“Keep it simple – don’t complicate your food. The focus should be on the best quality you can buy – organic and grass-fed where possible. Aim to have at least half of your plate colourful vegetables, sufficient lean protein for your body needs and don’t be afraid of healthy fats – our bodies need them.”
We work in an office-environment where it’s easy to fall into the trap of snacking on biscuits and unhealthy foods. What can we do to encourage a culture of nutritious foods in the office?
“Firstly most people snack out of boredom not hunger so consider why you are snacking – mindful eating is essential. Take time over eating and be conscious about what we are putting your mouth. Often out of sight means you won’t be tempted, so ditch the sugary rubbish. If you need a snack then think healthy proteins like nuts, seeds, slices of chicken, meat or fish and those all important healthy fats which can be found in olives, avocado on oat cakes or raw crackers etc. I love kale crisps too.”
What can we expect from the BBC Good Food Eat Well festival? What are you most looking forward to?
“I absolutely love food and health shows. It’s a wonderful time to share with people easy, healthy recipes that anyone can create. Sharing my nutritional expertise with others and of course sampling the great products on offer are highlights and my children get so excited – they love coming and trying everything.”
What is your favourite event/food festival of the year?
“I’m really looking forward to attending BBC Good Food Eat Well Show and I’m currently judging the Free-From Food Awards. I attend such a range of events and festivals and they are all different and all brilliant. As long as I can demonstrate my recipes and present on nutrition I am happy.”
Dream dinner date: Who would you most like to take you to dinner and what would be your top restaurant destination?
“To be honest my family – life is so busy that it can be easy to miss out of the precious time we have with them. When it comes to where I still haven’t been to Nama, a gorgeous-looking raw food, vegan restaurant, but it’s firmly on my radar. My friend Holly runs a wonderful Paleo restaurant called Pure Taste so that would be a top dining destination. While my kids love Inspiral in Camden because it’s funky and healthy.”
Christine’s top foods for:
SKIN: Water; coconut water; herbal teas like nettle tea and green tea; avocado; dark berries; superberry powders like acai; organic, virgin coconut oil; collagen powder.
HAIR: Collagen powder; lean meats and fish especially oily fish like salmon; eggs; nuts and seeds; dark berries.
DIGESTION: Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, homemade yogurts, kombucha and bone broth.
ENERGY: Superfood greens like spirulina, chlorella, spinach, kale, broccoli; organic virgin coconut oil; coconut water; water; grass-fed meats; oily fish; goji berries; maca powder; gluten-free oats.
INSOMNIA: Montmorency cherries; almonds; bananas; plain yogurt; coconut yogurt; almond milk; gluten-free oats; pumpkin seeds.
Bailey will be running workshops in the BBC Good Food Eat Well Healthy Kitchen on how create raw, healthful dishes and get you supercharged for spring. Head on over to her website for 20 per cent off your ticket.