Healthy-eating bloggers and foodies posting pictures of avocados on Instagram are in endless supply, but one nutritional guru in particular is casting a spell over celebrities.
James Corden, Sam Smith, Boy George and, most recently, Kirstie Allsopp have all credited her with helping them to shed the pounds but Amelia Freer insists she has “no magic wand”.
She puts her success down to rigorous training, which she says sets her apart from the amateurs. Having turned her own diet around with the help of a nutritional therapist, she studied the discipline at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, in Richmond, southwest London, before writing her bestselling books Eat. Nourish. Glow and Cook. Nourish. Glow. Another, Nourish & Glow, is to follow in March.
“My training taught me to understand a person’s history, their goals, and really listen to them. I was really well trained. There just isn’t a one size fits all to healthy eating — that is the biggest dietary myth for years,” she said.
Before their first visit, Freer, 40, asks all of her clients to fill in a health questionnaire. They are then offered a consultation, during which she unpicks their concerns.
“We create a health timeline, where we identify changes in a client’s life that may have led to an underlying health issues, such as exhaustion or acne. We go back to childhood. It’s like putting a jigsaw together,” she says.
Smith, the Grammy award-winning singer, has praised Freer, saying that she “completely changed my life”. The nutritional therapist acknowledges that for many people their diet is an emotional subject.
Freer works with a psychotherapist, to whom she refers clients who she thinks are particularly “vulnerable” to becoming obsessive about their food. She is keen to distance herself from criticism levied against proponents of “clean eating”, or avoiding processed foods, which critics say can act as a prelude to obsessive behaviour and, sometimes, anorexia.
Frustrated by bloggers and Instagram stars “who are giving eating and wellbeing advice without really understanding enough about it”, she said “people giving advice need to be regulated” and hit out at those who advocated extreme diets, such as the Australian Instagrammer Freelee the Banana Girl, who says that she maintains her slender figure by eating 51 bananas a day.
For Freer, the solution to our dietary concerns lies with a return to the classroom and a look to the past. “It’s so sad now that schools don’t teach home economics. People have maybe lost that skill, that connection with the kitchen. Sixty years ago we had to cook from scratch. Quite a lot of people I see aren’t confident cooks but it doesn’t have to be to an amazing standard; it just has to be real food.”
It’s all in the mind
Be positive Focus on what you need to eat, not what to avoid. I call it Positive Nutrition. We need to eat a wide variety of foods to get all of the nutrients required to be healthy, so focus on whether you are eating vegetables, fruit, proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates every day.
Analyse If you overeat or graze all day, invest time to look into how you are using food. We are often unconscious about the real reasons that we are over-consuming.
Forget perfection Don’t try to be perfect. It is the choices that we make consistently that have the biggest impact. There should always be time for a joyful piece of cake or slice of pizza, just not every day.
Plan Cook and prepare your food ahead so that you have extras in the fridge or freezer for busier days.
Listen to yourself Do what feels right for you, not what anyone else is doing. We are unique and our needs are varied.