At Moos we are always seeking ways to make our meals more healthy and balanced. To improve our menu we are teaming up with a nutritional therapist Anna Avocado. Read this interview to find out more about what she does and what can you expect from our cooperation.
Can you tell us where are you from and what brought you to Ibiza?
I’m from London originally. I have always loved travelling, but I saw myself as a London girl at heart and thought that it would always be my home. I met someone (a boy) who lived in Ibiza and although I was reluctant to go visit him in Ibiza as I had this horrible idea about what it was like, I eventually did. I fell madly and deeply in love – not with said boy, although we are still very good friends, but with the north of the island and the people I met. I visited regularly for a year until holidays were no longer enough for me and I literally had no choice but to follow my heart and move to this magical place I now call home.
You are really passionate about food and its relationship with our health. Can you tell us what inspired you to become a nutritional therapist?
As a child I was sick a lot and constantly had digestive issues which the doctors labelled as IBS but offered no answers. In my late teens I got quite severe depression which lasted for over a decade and towards the end of that I was having a lot of panic attacks. I was on a lot of different medication and nothing really helped, and the side effects were horrendous. A friend suggested Nutritional Therapy and it quite literally changed my life. I got off my medication, I had energy and finally experienced what it was like to have good health. It took about a year to heal my gut, balance my nervous system and work out the right diet for my needs but it was an amazing journey to go on and I learned so much. I decided that was what I wanted to do, quit my job and went back to uni to study Nutritional Therapy. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
What does a consultation involve and what can people expect?
An initial consultation allows a thorough analysis of each client’s unique story: their health issues and symptoms, their family medical, both their current diet and dietary history (the good, the bad and the ugly as I always say), their social, lifestyle and exercise history. We do always talk a little about poo (it’s a hazard of the job) as I firmly believe our gut health is central to everything and stools can reveal a lot about our health. Having taken a detailed case history, we will identify some underlying contributing factors and I’ll explain how these may be impacting on their health. With Nutritional Therapy the client has to do the hard work, so I like to inspire by explaining how our bodies work and sharing the science in a digestible way (excuse the pun) as I think this is motivational to make changes.
Then we talk food! I love food and I think it’s really important that we don’t see diets (actually I hate that word!) as a restrictive or negative chore so I always try to get people excited about eating healthily. We talk about shopping, cooking, ingredients and agree on goals the client feels are manageable for them and their lifestyle. Recommendations may include guidance on supporting the core systems in the body such as hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances, energy metabolism, detoxification, digestion and absorption, immunity and inflammatory function and structural imbalances from cellular membrane function to the musculoskeletal system. We may also talk about what tests may be helpful or run over my analysis of their results if these have already been done. After the consult I follow up with a detailed personalised report which covers what we talked about, handouts, lots of recipes, meal suggestions and a supplement plan.
As a nutritional therapist have you seen any trends or increases in health issues over the last few years?
Yes, I’ve definitely seen an increase in how stress is impacting on people’s health. I think most of us are living with an abundance of stress in one way or another now and the implications can vary massively from person to person depending on what their ‘weak’ link is – gut, hormones, energy, mood etc. The adrenals are our stress glands and if they aren’t functioning optimally it’s very hard to achieve good health. I would say adrenal testing is one of the functional tests I use a lot in clinical practice. When we test we can see what stage of adrenal dysfunction they are at and then really tailor their protocol with food, herbs and specific nutrients (and the timing of these) to support a healthy stress response. I have also noticed a big increase in the number of women who I see who have been diagnosed with some female hormonal condition such as PCOS, endometriosis or fibroids. And finally, I don’t think there’s necessarily been an increase in digestive issues but there is certainly more of an awareness around gut health, so rather than people just accepting this as IBS I feel people are being more proactive in seeking help with digestive symptoms. I get quite excited when clients go on the journey with me to heal their gut. There are many factors to consider with gut health and the order in which to support, and what needs supporting varies massively from person to person.
There are so many interesting debates around vegan, vegetarism, pescaterian, meat eaters and also raw food diets. What is your take on this?
Ah yes, I thought you would ask me about this. We definitely discuss this a lot here in Ibiza. Well, my answer is it’s complicated. I approach nutrition from a functional medicine perspective which recognises we are all biochemically unique. By this I mean that each of us has a unique response and need based on our genetic make-up and interaction with our environment, as there exists a dynamic balance between external and internal factors. Basically, there is no one size fits all! Firstly, we all have a right to our ethical beliefs in choosing our way of eating. There is no point in eating in a way which causes some kind of discord between your desires and your beliefs because that’s going to create an unhealthy stress response. I have seen people thrive from going from eating meat to vegan / raw, and I have also seen people who have not functioned well on a diet without some animal products. If we do eat animal products they need to be wild, organic, pasture raised etc. as this is not only more sustainable for our planet and less cruel to animals, but it also affects the nutrient profile of what we are eating. Sadly, these foods are more expensive but every time we shop we are voting with our forks and we can influence farming methods. If we eat good quality meat, fish and eggs we need less, as they are more nutritious. I have clients on all of the above and my job is to help them identify how they can reach their nutrient requirements on that diet. What I do believe is that there are good and bad versions of every diet. Eating lots of intensively farmed meat or fish is not good for either us or our environment, but then neither is eating a lot of genetically modified soy products. We should all eat more as nature intended, and whatever diet we choose, we need to focus on being plant-based, on variety and on quality.
What do you love most about your job?
Helping people. Meeting and talking with them. Sharing and connecting. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping others to feel good using nature as medicine. I love watching people on their health journey and supporting them through it. There can be ups and downs and I really understand that process as I went through it myself. But when you see someone or get that email to say how good they are feeling it’s just amazing. And I am so happy for them because nutrition changed my life and now it has changed theirs too.
You are going to work with Moos Salad Delivery. Can you share with a bit more about this project?
Well, Moos contacted me as they wanted to work with a nutrition consultant. The first time I met with Moosa a twenty-minute chat turned into two hours of laughing, debating and discussing nutrition. Moosa has a great vision and I think he is definitely offering Ibiza a much-needed product. He wants to make sure that his salads are nutritionally balanced and to learn more about nutrition, so he can be more confident in his choices. So, I am going to help review the recipes, the ingredients and the labelling to help guide on food intolerances and dietary needs. He is committed to delivering quality and health which I love. We’re talking about the details – it’s all about the details. When you look at the details this can have a big impact on the nutrient quality of a salad. So that’s what we’re doing together and it’s going to be fun as we both have a similar sense of humour too. He is already making changes to reflect my recommendations. We’re also thinking about having specials to increase variety and some of them being designed by me.
What does your perfect day on Ibiza look like?
Oh, a tough one. It has to be a late summer Sunday. A slow, lazy start to the day with a green juice (green juice blended with half an avocado – obviously) and my puppy Bear outside with tummy tickles and soaking up the beautiful surroundings of the campo around my casita. Ibiza’s beauty never tires. Then going to one of the wonderful retreats where I work to do a group talk (which the fact I love doing now always amuses me given I used to be petrified of public speaking) and maybe a consult or two (yes, I don’t mind working on my perfect day). Then home and skipping down the garden path to my neighbours’ house for a potluck get together lunch with friends. We do this a lot here and it’s one of my favourite things – sharing healthy delicious food with friends, chatting, laughing and maybe a little dance in the sunshine. Followed by a group walk over the hills to the San Juan market to mooch around and bump into other friends. A trip to the beach late afternoon for a snorkel with my boyfriend and Bear. He taught Bear to swim even though he was initially scared of the water, so it really makes my heart sing to see his little ears bop around and other snorkelers can’t help but smile to see a puppy happily swim alongside us. It’s very cute. Then swimming back to the beach to sit and watch the sun go down. The sunsets here are simply breathtakingly beautiful. A perfect day has to include me getting creative in the kitchen with a friend – cooking is therapeutic for me and a lot of my friends are great cooks, so I love cooking together. Then maybe just sitting by the fire (if cold) or outside under the stars with my boyfriend playing his guitar and me repeatedly asking him to play the same songs so I can sing along – usually Fleetwood Mac.
Find out more about Anna Avocado: http://www.avocadonutrition.co.uk