Celebrity Health - Julie Montagu

Yoga and nutrition guru Julie Montagu talks to Liz Parry about her passion for the plant-based diet and her favourite superfoods

©Image courtesy of Karen Yeomans

Yoga instructor and nutrition expert Julie Montagu appears on our screens in the reality TV show Ladies of London. However, the 42-year-old is also the author of three best-selling healthy eating books, the creator of a range of energy snacks and the founder of the online nutrition course the Flexi Foodie Academy. The US-born former model is married to Luke Montagu, the Viscount Hinchingbrooke, heir to the Earl of Sandwich, and the couple have four children.

Q: You’re known as the Flexi Foodie, but I understand you weren’t always super healthy when you were a teenager?

Julie: As a teenager growing up in the States, I was the skinny, outgoing, cheerleader type... who gorged on junk food believing that it was doing me no harm because I was thin and I looked OK. But I did not feel OK. I was exhausted, moody and fed up – and my skin didn’t look so hot either.

Q: How did you go about changing your diet and lifestyle?

Julie: I began reading up on nutrition, diet and exercise, and decided to give the plant-based approach a try. Everything got better! I suddenly understood the feeling of ‘healthy’, and my energy levels rocketed. When I added yoga to the mix, it was a revelation. I was strong, capable, healthy and energetic. My skin looked great, and my body was toned, muscular and supple. After I had my fourth child, I stepped up the yoga a few notches and got more into plant-based nutrition. I gained a few qualifications in the process so that I could get even more experience and start spreading the word.

Q: What are the main benefits of following a plant-based diet?

Julie: Digestion is one of the hardest processes on the body – it uses a lot of energy. And when we eat meat, dairy, processed and packaged foods it makes digestion even more difficult. Our energy is being depleted because it’s being used to digest those foods. However, a plant-based diet, a whole foods diet is much easier on the body to digest which in turn doesn’t take away from our own ‘energy’. Plus, the injection of nutrients, minerals and phytonutrients is overwhelming compared to eating those processed and packaged foods.

Q: What are your favourite superfoods?

Julie: My view is this: get one dark green, leafy veg in a day (kale, spinach, cabbage etc.) to help clean the blood; eat one whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, millet etc.) to help with energy levels; get one natural sweetener in (honey, maple syrup or coconut palm sugar); one healthy fat (avocado, nuts or seeds) and one superfood (goji berries, bee pollen or cacao). So if you pick one food from each of these five food groups a day, well, your body will love you.

Q: What do you eat during a typical day?

Julie: So, a typical day would be avocado on toast in the morning with a big mug of green tea. For lunch, if it’s cold outside and I’m cycling around like I am most days, then it’s a huge bowl of hearty all-veggie and whole grain soup and then for dinner I’m obsessed with veggie burgers and sweet potato fries at the moment.

Q: Do you take any vitamins or supplements?

Julie: Yes. I take vitamin B12, vitamin D, bee pollen and chlorella.

Q: As a mum of four, do you encourage your children to learn about healthy food and exercise?

Julie: Absolutely. I try to get them out of the house – cycling, walking, playing football – something where they are outside and in the fresh air. And they do eat healthily most of the time. But that didn’t come from me shoving it down their throats. I softly introduced certain ‘new’ foods to their diets like quinoa, sweet potatoes, squash, kale, honey, red peppers and even brown rice and explained why they were so good for the body, mind, energy levels and moods. It’s definitely caught on.

Q: You are a certified yoga instructor. Where did your passion for yoga come from?

Julie: Literally after attending one yoga class and I walked out and felt better than I had ever felt before. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. I just feel like 100 bucks every time I finish a yoga class and that’s what did it for me – feeling so good. And I’ve never looked back.

Q: Do you do other types of exercise besides yoga?

Julie: I am a cycling enthusiast! So, you’ll rarely see me not on my bike. I cycle to all my yoga classes and meetings – rain or shine! I think I get about 12-15 miles in a day.

Q: Do you meditate regularly? How important is it to your life?

Julie: I meditate daily – anywhere from five to 20 minutes. I find it creates space between my thoughts and I can think much more clearly, which is so important to me. Living in a fast-paced city like London and looking after four kids – I need clarity!

Q: How did you become involved with Ladies of London?

Julie: No joke – I randomly received a phone call from the BBC, who are the production company involved in making the show, and the rest is history! Season 3 is just about to air in the States.

Q: What do you enjoy most about appearing on the show?

Julie: For me, it helps to get my message out. I’m all about small moments of self-care and being on a TV show that gets aired to millions of viewers is a great way to showcase how important those small moments of self-care are in one’s life.

Q: What is your top tip for readers on how to be naturally healthy and happy?

Julie: Do the things you absolutely love to do – every single day. Even if you only have a few moments a day on those crazy days – do it. Do what you love. For me, that’s health and happiness.

To find out more about Julie, visit www.juliemontagu.com and www.truly-julie.com

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