Hooray for Hummus – Nutrition, eating well and why it really does matter with Miranda

Not only is Miranda passionate about her food, she really knows her stuff and she has the piece of paper to prove it! She has a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine) and is a nutritional medicine practitioner and wellness coach. Rather than taking on needlessly complex strategies and ludicrous gimmicks Miranda uses her knowledge to advocate simple, easy and nutritious eating with her recipe page and in her professional career. Here’s what she had to say about accessible health and wellness and her own personal journey.

What are you talking DIY Itchy Kitschy about today?

Food, nutritional medicine, and making wellness and health accessible and affordable for everyone

What is your favourite food?beach photo 2

This is hard one, because I just LOVE food – eating it, cooking it, buying it, sharing it, talking about it, creating with it, writing about it, studying it. Food is just such a huge part of my life.

I suppose I’m quite a simple girl, if I had to narrow it down, the top foods would be eggs, chicken, hummus (I’m in a relationship with hummus!), fresh coriander, broccoli, lamb, and Bolognese sauce (I actually recently discovered that I prefer to eat this with chopped spinach, grated carrot, avocado and a generous dollop of hummus MUCH better than with pasta – I barely believed it myself!). I love to cook breakfast, and with the posts I put up on Instagram I’m beginning to be known for my breakfasts, which is kind of incredibly cool!

As long as I’ve got veggies and protein in a meal, I’m generally a happy girl.

When did you first take an interest nutrition?

I’ve always been a fan of food (obviously), and always wanted to have a profession where I can have personal relationships with people to help make their lives better. I was always interested at writing and science at school, and knew I wanted to go to uni, but because I grew up without money and without much encouragement to explore my own interests, I knew that I didn’t want to start a course just for the sake of “going to uni”. Its an expensive endeavour, and a decision I didn’t want to take lightly because I knew that if I didn’t have the passion for what I studied I wouldn’t finish the degree (even with my passion there were times I didn’t think I would finish).

The year I turned 21 I made the decision (with the inspiration from my Aunty Penny, Uncle Ken and my cousin Merrin) that I wanted to start looking after myself. So I joined a gym and started buying magazines centred around health and wellness. I started to realise how important food was to achieving my goals, and all of a sudden I was eating foods I’d never even liked before. By the end of that year, I lost 10kg and had found the perfect course for what I wanted, Nutritional Medicine at the Melbourne campus of Endeavour College of Natural Health, and a year later (2010) I started the course, which opened up a whole new world to me.

Who if anyone inspired you?

There are a lot of people in my world that inspire me, but I suppose it all began with Penny, Ken and Merrin, when I moved in with them at 17. Before then I was living in an environment that wasn’t at all supportive of me, and all of a sudden I was living with a family that asked me things like, “Do you want to travel after high school?”, “What inspires you?” and made me realise that no, I don’t have to go university straight after high school, I can study subjects at school that interest me, I should try new things, dream big, work hard and be responsible for my own health and happiness.

A large part of who I am today – my open mind, open heart, motivation, self-belief, passion and honesty – are all here because they made me realise I had it all within me and I feel so blessed to have such amazing people in my family and in my life. Whenever I’m losing my sense of direction or my motivation, I just think of them and the people they are and it reminds me of the passion and determination that they showed me I was capable of. (Oh gosh, and now I’m crying – happy tears, I promise).

What are you involved in at the moment?

At the moment I am working hard at getting my Nutritional Medicine and Wellness Coaching business, Miranda’s Wellness, up and running. I was lucky enough to qualify for the NEIS Program (New Enterprise Incentives Scheme) so I’m spending most of my time working on that, while doing a bit of casual work on a charter boat (Pure Adrenalin) on the lovely Brisbane River and Morton Bay.

On top of that, I regularly write recipes, insights and information on my website, www.mirandaswellness.com with the goal of making nutrition and wellness accessible and affordable to everyone. I know that nutrition is something that doesn’t have to be achieved with expensive superfoods – its about eating real whole food, cooking it yourself, and making healthy eating a normal part of your lifestyle.

You can also find a lot of the delicious and healthy meals I cook for inspiration both on my Instagram account, @mirandaswellness, and Facebook.

I’m currently brainstorming ideas and writing pieces for my very own eBook (you heard it here first ;P) and have another project that I’ve been involved in since March that I will be able to announce very soon that I’m very excited about.

10609473_685370568220251_5527441778110777365_n (1)Do you think nutrition is becoming increasingly relevant?

Nutrition has always been relevant, but I think that people are starting to realise the connection between the symptoms we’ve been experiencing as a community (allergies, digestive discomfort, eczema, depression, behavioural disorders (ADHD), infertility, diabetes, asthma, obesity, heart disease, cancer, etc) and the processed foods and chemicals we’ve been eating, that for a long time, a lot of us thought was healthy. The prevalence of all of these things continue to rise, yet the same foods (margarine, low fat products, such as yoghurt, a high intake of dairy and grains – wheat in particular, low caloric intake in general) are being marketed to us as “healthy” when they are heavily processed, doused in chemicals, difficult for the digestive system to properly break down and stripped of essential nutrients our bodies need in order to prevent such disease.

I feel that the community of the world as a whole is appreciating that something needs to change, but at the moment, a lot of it is still wrapped up in the emphasis of how we look instead of how our bodies function. It is slowly getting there, and I believe that Australia plays a big role in the awareness of the global health community because we have women like Sarah Wilson (I Quit Sugar), Lorna Jane Clarkson, Belle Gibson (The Whole Pantry App), Katie and Jayne from Sweat and Oranges, Dr. Libby Weaver
(watch her TedX talk, its amazing!), Lola Berry and many others bringing whole food nutrition and holistic wellness to the table, inspiring everyday people with each of their personalities, personal stories and wealth of knowledge.

What has been the biggest challenge?

By the end of my second year of studying I was struggling to finish subjects and quit my job. In February of 2012 I started to realise that I really wasn’t happy and it was affecting my abilities to study, my relationship at the time, my diet and my overall wellbeing, and was diagnosed with mild depression and anxiety.

It never got to a stage where I wanted to end my life thankfully, but for a lot of that year I struggled with insomnia, staying awake most nights until 5am, slept through the daytime, avoided social engagements, read way to deeply into the things friends said to me (letting it affect my self-esteem and self-worth), failed a lot of subjects, handed in assignments at least 5 days late, ate 1-2 family blocks of chocolate a night, fought with and mistreated my boyfriend, cried a LOT and struggled with the grief from the loss of my beautiful Aunty Mae-Mae.

This was something that affected me for at least 2 years and made it incredibly difficult for me to finish my degree and skewing my thoughts about the people I considered my friends.

Moving to Brisbane was one of the best decisions that I made because throughout last year I found the push I needed to stop making excuses and put my own health first. This all began with one thing an intimidating but incredibly inspiring lecturer said to me; “Miranda, you need to come in to clinic looking like a health practitioner; like you practice what you preach. Right now I can see that you are not doing that.” (pointing at the mountain of acne on my chin). She was blunt, but blunt was what I needed.

That sentence made me realise a lot about myself and as a result my life is the complete opposite of what it was before this year. I’m learning so much about who I am and growing stronger and more confident with every struggle because I have to do it on my own, and I do.

What has been the highlight?

There are two;

-Having an article published in the Endeavour College of Natural Health Alumni magazine, Wellspring
-FINALLY finishing my degree!

What is the most exciting thing you have learnt?

I’m a bit of a food nerd, so for me learning and actually experiencing the healing power of nature and food itself is probably the most exciting. For example, when I first started drinking green smoothies, I drank one every day for a month and the next time I had my period I experienced no PMS symptoms (especially noticeable was the lack of cramps). The smoothies had provided me with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties in the ginger and an increased intake of magnesium and calcium for the relief of muscle spasm and pain.

I’ve even managed to relieve acute inflammation within 30 minutes by drinking a turmeric chai tea (made on almond milk with black pepper as the fats and piperine in these both enhance the absorption of curcumin, the phytochemical in turmeric that reduces inflammation) – THAT was cool!

What is the most important thing for readers to remember when making dietary decisions?

EAT REAL FOOD.

We have too much reliance on processed foods in the creation of meals that we forget how simple and powerful the addition of herbs and spices and the natural flavours available in vegetables are. We also revolve WAY too many of our meals around the bread/rice/pasta, when meals are much more nutritious and flavorsome (and still filling) when the vegetables and herbs are the hero, and those grains aren’t even included.

You can never have too many vegetables, and there is such a wide variety available each season, there is no reason you can’t fill your plate with different vegetables and something new every day.

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