Madeleine Shaw has been building an empire over the past few years. With recipe books, a podcast, an app and now a family, she’s looking forward to what the future holds
In a world where health is the new wealth, it’s easy to forget that before pioneers like Madeleine Shaw, wellness wasn’t even a thing, let alone a multibillion pound industry. Renowned for being one of the most high-profile health influencers in the UK, with a string of successful books, an app and a podcast under her belt, Madeleine has been busy to say the least (her working day once started at 7am and finished at 10pm). But since the birth of her son, her outlook on life has changed. Her time, like most mums, is precious, and she’s aware that many people look to her for advice and inspiration. This, she tells us, is what keeps her motivated.
I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life when I was 18. I went to Australia when I was on my gap year and I loved it. I thought, ‘oh, I’ll just see how this goes’. But during that time I had really bad Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I went to see a doctor, then I went to see a naturopath – she was the one who taught me about the importance of nutrition and it was because of her that I started to eat in a more balanced way, exercise more, and practice yoga with meditation. I went on a health journey and it opened up a new avenue for me.
I grew up in an era where food was demonised. You were either dieting, or you were binging and being unhealthy. I wanted to create a lifestyle that meant living life to the full. I came back to London after my time in Australia sporting leggings and gym gear, and everyone was asking me what an earth I was wearing – the funny thing is, it’s so normal to do that these days! I guess I felt passionate about bringing that Oz lifestyle over here. That’s why, even when I’ve got lot of things going on (podcasts, recipes books etc) I feel motivated because the reward is so great for me. I care about the message that I’m putting out there.
I’m not always able to cook from scratch, but even if I can’t make a big meal, I’ll try and make food that is really easy, like overnight oats, and I’ll stock the fridge and cupboard with lots of nuts and dried fruit. But I’m also happy to go to the shops and buy something for lunch. I eat out quite a lot and I’ll take inspiration from menus and other recipes books. Of course, there is an element of how pretty something looks, but I’m mainly led by my readers; if they want quick breakfasts, that’s what I’ll focus on doing. I’m inspired by what people want.
I want my son to have real joy with food, to feel creative with it and to understand the beauty of learning how to cook. I try some of my recipes with him, even though he’s only one and a half and he doesn’t quite know what’s going on! I want him to have a good relationship with food and I don’t want him to feel there are strict boundaries. Of course I want him to eat healthily, but I would never say, ‘oh, he’ll never eat cake’. There needs to be balance. It’s something I want to create, and so far it seems to be going well – he’s not a picky eater!
Even if someone is accredited they can still say wacky things. When it comes to nutrition, it’s so important to trust that you know more about your body than anyone else. Listen to your intuition. We’ve gone full-circle with healthy eating and we’ve been told that lots of fat is good, then it was no fat, then lots of sugar, then no sugar, now we’re thinking, ‘what the heck is going on’? Healthy living comes through having a long-term healthy relationship with food.
I feel like I’ve been really powering through after the past few years. I’m in a space at the moment where I’d like to travel; take my family on the road before my son settles down for school. I’d really like to go back to Australia; that place was such a huge inspiration for me. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working. I still want to focus on children’s health and family health, but I also want to live and enjoy the life that I have.
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