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Celebrity Health - Amanda Hamilton

A photo of Amanda Hamilton

“My passion for eating naturally”

Nutritionist and TV presenter Amanda Hamilton talks to Liz Parry about her love of healthy eating, detoxing and exercise

Q: Where did your passion for nutrition come from, and what inspired you to become a nutritionist?

Amanda: I did quite a lot of sport at international level when I was in my youth – I played badminton for Scotland and I was a sculler, which is a form of rowing. As a result I had a kind of viewpoint about food as fuel for exercise. Also, I spent a year’s scholarship at a university in the deep south of America, where people’s diets were extraordinarily bad, and a combination of those two factors set me on a quest to find out more about nutrition and health.

Q: Have you always followed a healthy diet and lifestyle?

Amanda: I did a different degree before I studied nutrition and at that time all my good intentions went out the window while I was at university. I had IBS and bad skin, so it hasn’t always been plain sailing. It was only when I started working from the inside out, and took a more holistic approach, that my problems resolved themselves. I have a real fascination with gut health because that’s where all my initial health problems lay. Although I was never overweight I noticed that when I started eating differently I lost about 10lbs and, apart from when I had my children, that weight hasn’t gone back on again.

Q: Can you give us an idea of what you might eat on a typical day?

Amanda: I wouldn’t say I’m a saint – I do like a strong coffee in the morning! But I’ll also have one of my vegetable kefir juices or a green juice. I might have porridge or eggs on sour dough bread. I like good quality food and natural ingredients. I often have healthy snacks in my handbag like oat cakes, some nuts or a banana because I’m always on the go and I travel a lot. For dinner I tend to have fish and veggies. I particularly love Thai and Indian food. I spent a year out in India where I worked with an Ayurvedic doctor and did some meditation retreats and yoga training. I was vegetarian at that point and became very interested in Indian food. When I was pregnant I felt the need for iron so I started eating some meat and fish again but I always make sure that it is locally sourced, good quality and I eat it in moderation.

Q: You’re currently the brand ambassador for Nairn’s oatcakes. Can you tell us a bit about this?

Amanda: Their products are based on oats and I grew up eating oats, so it’s a great fit for me. I always have some oat cakes with me in case I need a snack. We are working on recipe ideas for toppings and improving people’s understanding about certain issues, like gluten, sugar and protein. The idea is to help people find good, healthy, natural options without feeling like they are depriving themselves.

Q: Do you take any vitamins, minerals or supplements?

Amanda: I never used to but I do now. I have quite a demanding schedule and although my diet is always pretty good I take vitamins as a kind of buffer. I’ve developed my own formula which includes high strength omega-3, co-enzyme Q10, a multivitamin and mineral and a probiotic and I take that every day.

Q: What are your top tips for keeping your energy levels up throughout the day?

Amanda: Well I always start my day by doing a short high intensity interval training workout which sets me up for the day and makes me feel energised. A good sleep is vital too. I need seven hours minimum, ideally eight. In terms of nutrition I try to eat foods that provide a slow release of energy, like Nairn's oatcakes, with some apple and nut butter. I try not to do any work after 10pm so that I can wind down. I think having a good routine really helps.

Q: What types of exercise do you enjoy?

Amanda: Well, as I said before, I do my high intensity interval training in the mornings but I’ll also do resistance training in the gym perhaps twice a week. Other than that I might go for a jog, or walk with the dog, or I might play tennis or do a CrossFit workout. I do like participation sports because I come from that background, so I play netball locally too.

Q: You run your own detox retreats. What would you say are the main benefits of detoxing and fasting?

Amanda: The good thing about detoxing and fasting now is that there is much more awareness of the scientific evidence behind it. The type of detoxing I do involves a juice fast where you optimise nutrient intake and you minimise digestive stress and the amount of toxins coming in. Basically you have four juices and one broth a day, on a short-term basis. It’s all about optimising the body’s natural detoxification processes with a great side effect of losing weight, hydrating the body and giving the digestive system a rest with significant, measureable health benefits. I’ve been running retreats for nearly 14 years now and I love it. It’s probably the most satisfying thing I’ve done in my career.

Q: Detoxing can sometimes be a challenging process. Do you have any tips for how to make it a bit easier?

Amanda: I would suggest looking at it from the mental side. As well as detoxing the body, can you detox your mind as well? Can you take time to step out of the normal routine and get some perspective? A digital detox can be very beneficial – just stepping away from the computer and mobile phone for a few days can really help you to recharge. I would also suggest stocking up on natural sources of beneficial bacteria, such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi, to support the gut.

Q: Do you have any other tips you can offer our readers?

Amanda: Choose natural, unprocessed foods. If you can’t pronounce something that’s on the ingredients list of a label then you probably shouldn’t be eating it. I would say that a lot of people can become overwhelmed by trying to make changes to their diet and lifestyle, so try to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t overcomplicate things. If you restrict yourself too much it can feel demotivating. Make small, simple changes and you’ll reap the rewards.

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