About Time You Met: Amanda Hamilton, NutritionistBy Alex Moore
Amanda has been one of the UK’s most prominent nutritionists for over a decade with a career that’s included more than eight internationally syndicated TV series and four books. Her approach to food is first and foremost realistic; farm to table, lots of plants, minimal processing, sustainable produce, adding in gut-friendly foods, and regular fasts for wider health benefits.
What do you do differently to other nutritionists?
A strong journalistic approach to the subject, if the evidence doesn’t support it, I wouldn’t advise it. I like to think I am also known for helping people get great results, I really care about helping my clients – it is my passion as well as my business.
What do you attribute your success to?
Over the years I’ve been a nutritionist – 17 years and counting – people have learned to trust what I say as I don’t just jump on the latest bandwagon. It helps that I have platforms such as BBC radio and TV too. I was a broadcaster and journalist before becoming a nutritionist and still keep my hand in.
When it comes to my clinic in Kensington or my juice fasting retreats here in the UK or in Spain and Sardinia, the vast majority comes from word of mouth where results speak for themselves. I’m now also a Pilates teacher so it’s not uncommon for me to add in some moves for clients to do at home too.
What is the most important thing most people overlook diet-wise?
Fibre, the forgotten nutrient. We talk so much about vitamins, minerals and good fats but fibre hardly gets a look in, and only one in 10 of us gets enough according to the World Health Organisation. To hit the recommended 30g a day you need to eat a whole foods, plant-based diet. Clearly, if you do that, the majority of other dietary issues are resolved anyway.
What is the worst thing we all eat but don’t realise?
Sugar, not the obvious stuff in sweets or chocolates but the hidden intake from processed foods. Labels can be deceptive, and it is easy to eat more than you realise. Un-process your diet and you avoid falling into this trap.
What foodstuff should we be eating but probably aren’t?
Many people are turning away from cows’ milk but are not replacing the calcium source. Goats’ milk such as St Helen’s Farm is easier to digest than cows’ milk and it also contains prebiotics (fibre that supports the health of the gut) and beneficial fats – it is an unsung superfood! My daughter was raised on it and has never needed an antibiotic in her life – it is actually the most commonly drunk mammal milk in the world.
Why are so many people starting to pay more attention to their diets?
Awareness drives action, so in that sense it is the media we have to thank. These days youngsters often drive the health agenda in the family household too, as schools are educating more on the subject, especially when it comes to the environmental impact of consumption. Saying that, I see a lot of attention given to healthy eating and nutrition in communities with disposable income rather than those that are struggling; the socio-economic divide when it comes to access to healthy food, and health outcomes is shocking.
What’s the best dietary advice you’ve been given?
I am my mother’s daughter. She is now 70 and looks 55. She simply eats when she’s hungry, and doesn’t when she’s not, preferably something she’s grown or something she knows the supplier of. Her family were from the island of Skye, so led a natural life. Her diet is varied, seasonal and includes the odd glass of wine or pudding. She is the least anxious person about diet I know, and yet she’s stayed slim and healthy all her life. So, she didn’t give me any advice, I just learned by example.
Talk to us about fasting, this seems to be catching on but very slowly?
I love fasting as it is something our bodies are designed to do. It helps fat loss as well as supporting health. When I want to fast as part of a regular week, I prefer the 16:8 approach where you fast for 16 hours a day (asleep for 8 of them hopefully) and eat within an 8 hour window. I do that at least once a week. However, when it comes to juice fasting, like most people I find it too difficult to do at home. My juice retreats are always busy as they get amazing results and it is so much easier to do as part of a group, away from temptation, with someone else doing all the hard work for you.
What are you currently working on?
I am actually working on some TV ideas in collaboration with some BBC producers, so that’s exciting. I have a book in draft too, but it is just sitting there, calling me to give it some more time and attention. I’m setting up my signature menus, retreats and a pop-up farm to table restaurant in Costa Smeralda in the north of Sardinia this summer – complete with our own farm animals. My friends think I am totally bonkers as I am at a stage in my career when I could do much less, but the ideas keep bubbling away regardless.
Give us a couple of healthy restaurant suggestions in London.
I like The Palomar in Soho, an Israeli restaurant, for a fun vibe with lots of healthy options, and my neighbourhood favourite is Mediterranean in Notting Hill – their Tuscan Vegetable Soup with Black Cabbage and Italian Beans is amazing and the Sea bream tastes as fresh as any I’ve found in the city.