Chelsey's Rosanna Price chats with Dr Libby, who will be at The Wellington Food Show this month.
Over the years you have helped a lot of women struggling with their weight. Is it really as simple as eating right and exercising? Or is it more complicated than that?
I have a problem with the equation that has defined many people’s lives, that our body weight is controlled simply by managing our energy consumed vs our energy expended. Maintaining an optimal body weight or losing weight isn’t as simple as controlling your calories, otherwise this would work for everyone – it doesn’t. This equation doesn’t consider so many things. In my14 years of research and 15 years in clinical practice I have identified 9 factors, which are involved in successful weight loss and these formed the chapters of my book, Accidentally Overweight. I would work with people who ate amazingly and exercised regularly but weren’t rewarded for their efforts; in some cases they were gaining weight. Thyroid function, liver function, stress hormones, sex hormones, alkalinity and of course calories are all part of someone’s weight loss puzzle. For many women, their biochemistry is triggered towards storing body fat, particularly with their current lifestyles. Another key factor involved in successful weight-loss is emotions, or your emotional connection to food. Exploring and uncovering your relationship with food can facilitate the most amazing and long-term changes.
What do you aim to achieve at The Food Show this year?
We are thrilled to be part of The Food Show! It such an honour to share the stage with some of the most popular and distinguished chefs in New Zealand. Our aim for the food show is to demonstrate how to transform simple and nourishing ingredients into meals or snacks that are easy, adaptable and sure to impress event the most discerning diner or fussy eater. We want to empower people to incorporate more “real” food into their diets and to demonstrate how easy and most importantly delicious it is to eat a diet high in plant foods. We are also beyond excited to be introducing for the first time, our new Real Food Chef DVD series at the Wellington Food Show. We have created both an online version and a DVD boxed set, designed to be both educational and instructional. Chef Cynthia provides you with Real Food tips and shows you how to create the recipes and I discuss the reason we have included or excluded particular ingredients. So you get the why and the how! We are also exhibiting so we cannot wait to be interacting with everyone, sharing information about the Real Food Chef and our new DVD series.
What are your favourite recipes to make and eat?
I absolutely love making the vegetable burgers with coriander and cashew cream from the Real Food Chef. I make a big batch of them and freeze the leftovers so I can access them for a quick lunch or dinner, often with some steamed or sautéed greens. I also love using the coriander and cashew cream as a dip with a platter of raw vegetables. I’m a big fan of adding lots of greens and fresh herbs to my meals. My other favourite recipe from the Real Food Chef would be the Beetroot Chocolate Mudcake. I make this and eat it literally at anytime of the day. It provides so much nourishment and people have been blown away by what is in the cake. It is made with brazil nuts, coconut, psyllium, raw beetroot and it has a delicious cacao butter icing. I often have brain balls on hand as my husband loves eating them as an afternoon snack. They are made from raw cacao, walnuts and dates and are perfect for afternoon-tea when people typically crave sweet food.
It seems that recently the healthier food is, the more expensive. Do you think this contributes to a lack of nutrition for a lot of families? For eg. it's cheaper to get deep-fried fish and chips from the takeaway than to buy fish and potatoes fresh and cook them healthily.
This is a complex issue and it isn’t just as simple as the cost of food. It is partly about educating people of the benefits of eating a diet primarily based on plant food and empowering them with the tools to do so. I also think sometimes we need to address our priorities. Most people think nothing of buying a few bottles of wine over the week or even during the weekend but are frustrated that they don’t have the money to buy fresh produce. I was a student for a long time and I learnt to prioritise my finances so I had enough money to cook simple but nourishing meals as well as pay for all other essentials. You have to make eating well a priority. A lady once shared with me that she decided she’d bought enough shoes and that she’d rather swap buying any new shoes for eating healthier.
Plus there are many ways to eat well on a budget, including visiting local farmers markets, green grocers or buying ingredients in bulk and freezing them. It is a great concern that many foods that provide no nutrition are cheap and easily accessible. Ideally as a society we need to be aiming to foster a set of values around the benefits of eating well and looking after our health. Encouraging those who need the encouragement and providing support to facilitate change. Small steps such as swapping fried for grilled, packet for homemade can make a significant difference to an individual’s nutritional status. What is often not considered when it comes to discussing the cost of eating healthily, is what you actually save in the long run. Prevention is a much more cost-effective approach than treatment.
What are your goals for 2013?
My message is to educate and inspire, enhancing people’s health and happiness, igniting a ripple effect that transforms the world. This year my focus is on spreading this message and educating more people to take better care of their mental and physical health. People are living longer, but not necessarily with quality of life. I want to encourage people to return to a nourishing wholefoods diet, to consider the impact of their thoughts on their health outcomes, to move their bodies in a way that is suitable to them and in all cases to get to the heart of the issue. Whether there is an underlying problem with their biochemistry, their nutrition or perhaps they are too busy to prioritise their health. I have some very exciting projects set for release including the Real Food Chef DVDs and a support system for Rushing Woman’s Syndrome called Quickstart. I am also working on my fourth book, which I am beyond excited about!
How are New Zealanders in their cuisine and diet compared to the rest of the world, do you think?
I think New Zealanders have a real love for good food. The café culture and genuine interest in food here is definitely unique. I’m so thrilled to witness farmers markets experiencing such a surge in popularity. I also meet many people with a real passion for growing their own food and for organics, which makes my heart sing. New Zealand has such an abundance of beautiful produce it is truly refreshing to see so many chefs and inspired cooks using what is in season or available in their area. However, I think many people still struggle with how to base their meals around vegetables or how to make vegetables appealing to the whole family. I have also seen a significant increase in the consumption of refined sugar, which is of the most concern to me due to its effects on liver health, cardiovascular health and of course weight management. We created Real Food Chef to encourage people to increase their vegetable consumption and decrease their refined sugar consumption. My work aims to remind people how precious live is, how precious they are, and to treat themselves accordingly! And great food is a big part of that!
The Wellington Food Show is on from May 24th - 26th
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