Nutritional therapist, former model and our new Eat, Play, Heal columnist Rosemary Ferguson shares her top healthy living tips and her journey from catwalk to kitchen
As a busy mum of three, Rosemary Ferguson knows a thing or two about how tough it is to ensure your family eats well. From catwalk to kitchen, the former model turned naturopath and nutritional therapist has seen first-hand the benefits a healthier lifestyle can have on a person's energy levels and sense of wellbeing and the importance of instilling good eating habits in children early on.
With an approach to nutrition that’s as results-driven as it is refreshingly achievable, she’s an advocate of making food work for you and how small but noticeable changes can make all the difference when it comes to better equipping body and mind for life’s challenges. We caught up with our new Eat, Play, Heal columnist to find out her top advice for healthy living, the power of a good juice, a peek inside her kitchen cupboards and how to see food in a completely different light.
GTG: How would you describe your approach to food, health and wellness?
RF: I think for me, it’s about balance. It’s not about going from one extreme to the other. It’s about finding a way to live which allows you to feel as healthy as possible both physically and mentally.
Life’s for living though. You can tweak little things here and there and make healthier choices throughout the day - have a herbal tea instead of a normal tea, drink water instead of juice, or if you do have a juice, have it squeezed rather than out of the carton. I think that’s better than changing everything at once.
I eat really well most of the time, but I couldn’t live without a really great night out, a nice dinner or a boozy lunch every once in a while. Laughing is a really great tonic. If you’re happy, then you feel so much more positive and you’re more likely to take care of yourself as a result.
GTG: How did you get into the world of nutrition?
RF: I’ve always been interested in what food can do for you, especially so when I was living in New York and seeing all of the health food shops there and even more so when I had kids. I had my last two children back to back and so there was no going back to modelling in between. By the time I had my third child, I was 31. Modelling’s a fantastic career, but it does usually tend to have a stop somewhere, (unless you’re Kate [Moss] of course). I wanted to go into nutrition but I wanted to be qualified, so I went back to college.
I did a very lovely part-time course at the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) for three years which fit in well with the kids. Then I started seeing clients and then started writing a bit too. It’s been a great journey so far.
GTG: If we were to take a peek inside your kitchen, what would we find?
RF: It would probably live up to expectations I would imagine! I love my kitchen. Because of what I do, I test out supplements quite a lot and so I have a massive drawer of them and a whole rack too. I also have a whole tea drawer with all sorts of tea in there. I have beans, pinenuts, pulses...and there’s always a lot of fruit and veg about. I don’t normally keep rubbish in the house - it’s not that we don’t eat it, it’s just that if we’ve had one of those days, we find it’s best just to stop off at the shop and just pick up a packet of crisps from there instead. This is partly because if they’re in the house, I’ll eat them! Plus the kids would too. So I just don’t have them in there to begin with.
GTG: What are your top tips for busy mums?
RF: I would like to say to be organised. If I’ve come home and I haven’t had a chance to get to the shops, it’s great to have a well-stocked cupboard at the ready. Soaking is the best way to prepare beans and pulses, but I do keep cans of organic beans too or mung bean pasta in there too - things that you can just make quickly.
If you’re eating on-the-go, make sure you prepare some snacks before you go - I tend to have crudités and healthy snacks in the car, (because I spend a lot of time in the car driving the kids around!) I would also recommend batch cooking. Always have things in the freezer because if you’re tired and hungry, then you’re more likely to make bad choices.
GTG: How do you encourage good eating habits in your children?
RF: My kids will pretty much eat anything. They are good on the whole, but from a scientific perspective, children’s tastebuds get used to certain things. The broader the range of tastes that you give your child as they grow up, the more likely they are to eat more healthily. If your child is 10 years old and they’ve been used to eating burgers and chips and things like that (which lots of kids do eat), then you have to just slowly but surely wean them off them. If you just go straight in and give them a bowl of kale, they’re going to flatly refuse it. It’s more effective if you put a bit of lettuce in their burgers or use vegetables that kids like, such as broccoli or peas. Pasta sauces are also a really easy way of hiding things.
The other thing I love doing is making juices and smoothies. When my kids started making their own smoothies they’d always use berries, but then I suggested putting a handful of spinach in there and they didn’t notice it. So then I suggested adding a carrot and so on. If they get involved in making them too, that seems to help.
GTG: How do you keep fit?
RF: I do a lovely keep fit class in my village hall on Tuesdays which I love! I always seem to be able to get it and am always able to make it too. So I do that every week. I also do yoga, I ride my horse and I play tennis at the moment on Fridays. I like to change it up. I don’t like going to the gym very much but I love going for a run and I try to go for one once or twice a week. I put my little iPod on and use the Nike Running App which prevents me from stopping after two minutes. It’s almost like you’re competing with yourself, which pushes you that much more. I love running in London in particular. It’s funny because living in the country, people often think it’s a wonderful place to run. Solitary isn’t even the word to describe it though. You just end up running through fields after fields after fields on your own. Whereas at least in London, there’s a bit of action!
GTG: What was the inspiration behind your book, Juice?
RF: There are lots of juice books out there and so I thought because of what I do and the issues I deal with in my clinic, I’d write it from an ailment perspective. It’s not going to change your life, but gently, gently with the nutrients you’re getting from the juices, it will help give you a boost in the right area if say you’ve got a cough or a cold.
One of the philosophies that you’re taught at college as part of the course is that it should be about educating your client. It shouldn’t be about being told what to do and then you go away and just do it. It should be about explaining why you’re doing it. Food is still a bit of an alien issue and it shouldn’t be like that in this day and age - people should understand how their bodies work and part of that is imparting knowledge. That was part of the inspiration for the book, to show people that they can do this on their own and how it works - there’s no big mystery about it. It’s just that somewhere along the line we’ve lost our way with regards to nourishing our bodies with food. It’s fuel we’re putting into our tanks and we don’t do it very well.
GTG: The section in the book about juice fasts was really interesting. What are your thoughts on detoxes? In your view, what’s the healthiest way to go about doing one?
RF: Detoxes are designed to remove toxins out of your tissues. Some you can remove, some you can’t. It starts with making simple changes - what you wash your clothes with, what you put on your skin, the preservatives you drink, what you brush your teeth with etc. You can change lots of little things however, you can only do what you can do as well. Some organic paraben-free products are really expensive. Ultimately, you want to reduce the toxic load in your body, which will therefore mean that your body is more able. By supporting your liver as much as you can, it’ll allow it to better deal with the number of toxins that you’re exposed to every day. Eating lots of antioxidant foods helps start the detox process. It takes a lot of energy to digest food and so even if you do a 1-day juice fast, that extra energy can help your body deal with other issues.
People who go straight into a detox who have never done one before and who usually drink lots of coffee, are probably going to feel unwell throughout the cleansing process. They will start to feel better, but that will only happen if you create the right environment.
I always recommend that you spend the week before not drinking coffee or alcohol so that when you do start the juice fast, you’ll be in better shape for it.
GTG: What are the best beauty tips you learned during your time as a model?
RF: I learned that a good foundation’s really important and how to best apply it - slowly rather than rubbing it all over your face. I remember the makeup artists were very much about skincare - they took a lot of time to cleanse the skin and moisturise it, putting lots of moisturiser on and just letting it sink in.
GTG: What are your favourite beauty products?
RF: I love any of the Aromatherapy Associates Facial Oils , £41 and Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder foundation , £32. It’s perfect because it’s not too heavy and not too light either. I also love Sisley Lip Balm , £44 - I’ve used it for years and I swear by it.
GTG: What would be your advice for anyone looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle?
RF: Just take a little step at a time. Don’t change your whole life because then it won’t last. Little changes lead to big changes eventually, even if it’s one change a week initially. Be creative, it’s quite fun trying things like maca powder or spirulina. Buy one to begin with and then just try it out.
GTG: What would you recommend to people who want to eat more healthily but are worried about the perceived expense?
RF: A stick of broccoli isn’t more expensive than a bag of crisps. Organic vegetable prices are also coming down a lot too. Take more vegetables to work to snack on as snacks seem to be a big downfall for most people: take some houmous, some carrots, some cucumber, some celery and that won’t be more expensive, it’ll be cheaper and healthier too. If you usually have 2 biscuits a day as a snack, that’s 14 biscuits you won’t have eaten by the end of the week.
Eating seasonal foods are often cheaper too as they don’t have all the air miles on them as they’re grown at home.
GTG: What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
RF: There are loads! I quite like a little bit of everything like a glass of wine or a pizza. Hawaiian’s my favourite. My middle daughter and I are the only ones who eat meat in our house, so we often share one while the others are having their vegetarian ones.
Juice: Cleanse. Heal. Revitalize: 100 Nourishing Recipes and Simple Juice Fasts by Rosemary Ferguson, (Ebury Press) is £15.99 and available to buy from www.amazon.co.uk .
Photography within feature: Nassima Rothacker.