Hazel Wallace, qualified doctor, personal trainer, blogger and author of The Food Medic
It was really my own health which inspired me to take control of my diet and lifestyle, and it all began when I was doing my undergraduate degree in medical sciences. By the final year of my degree I found myself in a position where I was far from healthy. I’d gone up two to three dress sizes, was riddled with acne, had dull and dry hair and would get out of breath climbing up a flight of stairs.
After receiving the news that I had got a place to study medicine, I took it upon myself to change my habits as I didn’t want to become a doctor who did not look or feel healthy. I joined a gym and started cooking from scratch.
I used Instagram as a personal log to make me accountable for my new lifestyle and to keep me motivated, and from there The Food Medic website just grew organically. That was about four years ago now and it’s still going from strength to strength, and so am I. I love how much food energises my body and mind. I feel strong both mentally and physically and I know that I owe that to my lifestyle.
I believe that good nutrition is the foundation to our health and something that we really under-emphasise in the medical profession. It’s up to us, all of us (not just doctors!), to take control of our health by looking at what we put on our plate.
Health benefits aside, I also want to show people how enjoyable and easy eating well can be. All of my recipes are simple to make, with minimal ingredients and little preparation, so you do not need to spend hours in the kitchen or a lot of money on fancy ingredients. I want to be a voice of reasoning amongst the noise and confusion created by the self-proclaimed health gurus out there. I’m here to offer evidence-based information and dispel those diet myths you see floating around the internet!
I would love to implement access to nutritional resources at a GP level. I think every practice should have a nutritionist, or specialist nurses, to work with patients to help them understand nutrition and how they can improve their diet. The largest part of a doctor’s workload these days is dealing with ‘lifestyle diseases’ such as high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Most, if not all, of these conditions can be prevented and in some cases reversed through our diet. I think that’s worth putting our funding into.
My biggest piece of advice for people who want to improve their health is to start cooking from scratch. In my opinion, this is the single biggest change you can make to your diet.
If you struggle with a lack of time, always opt for quick and easy recipes. I plan ahead by cooking my week-day lunches and dinners when I have time – this is great for the days when I’m working late as I can just pull them out of the freezer and heat through. I always carry emergency snacks such as nuts, dark chocolate, and popcorn in my bag for those times when hunger strikes and I’m out and about – that stops me running to the nearest shop for a cheeky bag of Maltesers!
One of my favourite meals is a fresh salmon fillet, some Asian-style vegetables and miso aubergine! It’s so tasty and full of omega 3, protein, and nutrients.
This is in season in August and my all-time favourite vegetable - when cooked correctly! I like to marinate it in miso and soy and slow roast it for 45 minutes.
Growing up in Ireland we had apple trees in our garden and I remember how exciting it was when the apples were ready to harvest. I like to use them in my salads, curries, and desserts!
This is full of fibre and vitamin C and tastes wonderful when cooked in coconut oil, cinnamon and paprika! Roast it on the barbeque and serve it up with some sticky chicken wings and thighs!
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