Anna Hunter meets nutritionist and Honestly Healthy co-author Vicki Edgson to discover where her interest in healthy eating began and how she turned her passion into a career
Each week GTG profiles an expert to find out how they got where they are, what they love (and loathe) about their job and their plans and predictions for the future.
To kickstart the series Anna Hunter spoke to nutritionist, author and energy powerhouse Vicki Edgson about the healing properties of food, making it as a nutritionist and staying healthy and happy in our hectic day to day lives. Ibiza retreats, chocolate and love-making all feature.
How did you get into nutrition?
I got into nutrition through my own suffering of migraines, when my (very enlightened) GP diagnosed typical food related intolerant reactions, and suggested I cut out dairy, cheese and chocolate for a year - I only had one headache in the whole of that year, and I immediately went looking for the right course to follow!
What’s the most common reason that people visit your clinic?
The most common reason people come to my clinic is to manage their fatigue - hence my brand of Vital Energy.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love motivating people to make the changes that they need to get more out of their lives through their health.
Are there any aspects of your job that you find tough?
The aspects of my job that I find tough are when clients come back admitting that they 'fell off the wagon of healthy eating and increased energy' and they are furious and disappointed with themselves. To me, health is a choice, not a luxury. As Nike say - 'Just do it!' Why wouldn't you want to feel great and look fabulous when you know how?!
You’re a passionate advocate of alkaline eating - have you always eaten this way yourself? What are the main benefits of the alkaline lifestyle? Is it suitable for everyone?
Yes - I have seen how it has transformed so many people's lives. What you put into your body can have a profound effect on how your mind works, and your body performs. The difference between feeling good and feeling absolutely fantastic can all be down to lifestyle choices and eating more alkaline foods.
Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow are fans of your Honestly Healthy cookbooks (not to mention GTG) - what are your favourite recipes from the books?
My favourite recipes from both books are:
Honestly Healthy : Sticky Seed Flapjacks, Beetroot and Walnut Dip (I love beets), Thai Yellow Curry and Raw Pad Thai (I’m a big advocate of raw food in spring and summer)
Honestly Healthy for Life: Raw Banoffee Pie (this recipe is my co-author Tash Corrett in her element!), Lemon Risotto (it reminds me of being in Capri) and Wild Mushroom Quinoa risotto (I love both mushrooms and quinoa).
You run globally acclaimed ‘Vital Energy’ retreats in Ibiza- why did you make energising the focus of your retreats? Why did the White Isle hold so much appeal?
My Vital Energy retreats in Ibiza are the answer to so many of my clients' needs - how to find the balance between exercise that's effective as well as fun, combined with learning how to cook casually and nutritionally in a time-efficient manner and with confidence. Add a sprinkling of relaxation and meditation (many people have simply never tried) and it’s so effective - especially for those returning home to hectic lives. I have been visiting Ibiza for over 20 years and love the combination of cool chic with the earthiness and wholesome approach of practitioners and therapists who live there. It's special, but you have to know what and who to tap into, as some of it can be rather woo-woo!!
What do you think stands in the way of people leading a healthy lifestyle? What would be your ultimate piece of health or nutrition advice to help people get back on track?
I think people's natural self-sabotage, combined with the plethora of evil temptation available at almost every checkout these days - it’s irresistible. This is why I encourage people to order from organic home deliveries such as Riverford , Abel and Cole , HH Fridge Fill and Purifyne Juice company. Why go down the aisles of negative temptation when you can have the best of the best delivered to your door. It may cost a little more, but it will save you thousands in doctor's fees and treatments!
Who are your top people in health, fitness and wellbeing?
In no particular order…
Kate Winstanley – a wonderful acupuncturist. What this woman can't do for your face isn't worth knowing about! I still haven't had a single injectable, and I’m proud of it!!
Jan Toledano at The Marion Gluck Clinic . Jan is a former client of mine. This doctor is THE go-to person for hormone-balancing - I truly admire her
Kristian Woods - osteopath and healer. This man has kept my back straight, my neck in line and head on my shoulders, as well as my mind sharp and my soul intact, for many years.
Ivana Daniell - Postural Analyst and co-worker at my Wimpole street practice. This woman has the body of a goddess and she is transforming mine to its former glory of my 30s. There isn't anything that Ivana doesn't know about your body - she sees it the minute you walk through the door. She's the best, and has been associate body-worker for all of the Aman resorts for the last 15 years. She's like a sister to me.
Andrew Wallas - aka The Modern Day Wizard. This man has come into my life now that I am ready - to understand why I am here, what I have to offer, and to own that. We all have a purpose, and Andrew has guided me, in a very short time, to that place. This Wizard provides an efficient way to tackle therapy when you've already done years of it.
Do you have a specific beauty regime? What is your must-have product?
I stretch for 20 mins every morning as soon as I get up. I also do facial exercises taught to me five years ago by Marja Putkisto (Method Putkisto). Our faces have muscles that need to be exercised like all others.
In terms of beauty I use mainly organic products. I love Kathy Phillips’ ‘ This Works’ range, as well as Philosophy skincare. As for my must-have product I have been taking PureLogical' s natural collagen supplements for 9 years, and swear they are one of the main reasons that people always comment on my great skin. Finally, going to bed with clean skin is THE most important thing, without a doubt.
What is your favourite way to unwind?
Aside from love-making?! Long walks in natural surroundings. Fortunately, we have over 400 parks in London.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Supremely expensive dark chocolate - Cluizel, Valrhona or Montezuma, but only occasionally, as it is still a migraine trigger for me if eaten too frequently!
What would your advice be to budding nutritionists?
Choose your speciality, as there are now a lot of us. Be the best example of what you are teaching to others, and know that you are NOT guru, but a motivator and teacher first and foremost. All the most successful nutritional therapists recognise that. This isn't about fame, it's about passion for what you do, and professionalism.
There have been a lot of food-related health scares in the media of late- how do you see the future of nutrition? What, in your opinion, are the most exciting developments in your industry?
There will always be a lot of food-related health scares, as the world seeks to feed an increasingly enlarging population. The most important recent alert is all about sugar, and it’s very real. Working in the industry, I have known this for 20 years - while everyone has been thinking that it’s fats that make you fat, it has always been about the sugars and processed foods loaded with additives and preservatives, as the body doesn't know what to do with those, so stores them in fatty tissue. But should we give up fruit, because it is high in fructose? Definitely not - just eat it in its whole form, complete with the fibre and goodness contained just below the surface of the skin. Scare-mongering about natural foods infuriates me. Eat all food in as natural a state as possible, and teach yourself to cook - there is now plenty of content out there showing you how - not least of which starts with Natasha at Honestly Healthy.
As far as new food trends go, I’ve seen a lot of ‘living food’, sprouted beans and seeds, and grow-your-own. I only have one window ledge, outside my bathroom, and I grow all my own herbs.
As for exciting new developments it’s exciting that people are beginning to understand that every part of the body feeds the other - the relationship between the Neuro-Endo-Immuno systems of the body has actually been around in our community for at least 15 years. Jeff Bland was the original visionary to bring our awareness to this complex and fascinating interaction in the body. Now it is becoming mainstream, and for the first time, people are talking openly about Integrative Medicine, rather than having specialists that you see individually - hurray!!
Finally, what’s next for Vicki Edgson? Are there any new retreats, books or projects in the pipeline?
I have a downloadable e-book titled "Sugar Busting - the Realistic way to Break Your Sugar Addiction", which is due to be published shortly. I’m also working on a whole new approach to the 'Retreat', which I shall be opening next year in unspoilt Portugal (watch this space!). There’s also ‘Understanding Fertility’, in association with a whole host of experts starting in September, as the problems with 'getting pregnant' are increasing, as are the number of women diagnosed with PCOS. I am passionate about this, having written It Must be my Hormones with Dr. Marion Gluck several years ago, and realising that, had I known what I know now, I probably would have had a huge family of my own!. There’s also a couple more books, due out at the end of this year and the beginning of 2015 - but first we’re getting Honestly Healthy For Life on the road!
Honestly Healthy For Life: Healthy Alternatives for Everyday Eating by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson. Photography by Lisa Lindner. Published by Jacqui Small, £25.