Dr. Hazel Wallace, A.K.A The Food Medic is a fascinating person. She is one of our own doing amazing things abroad in the UK and she’s also making waves in the medical world with her progressive approach to lifestyle medicine.
She was one of the headline presenters at WellFest this year and we managed to have a quick chat with her between her cooking demo and Q&A session.
Having grown up in Dundalk, she is now based in the UK where she is one high-achiever practising as a GP, being a qualified PT and having just launched her second book, The Food Medic For Life, all while also being a huge Instagram sensation.
It leaves us wondering how she manages to do it all! Thankfully, she admits that she doesn’t always get the work/life balance right and she probably does work too much but it’s her passion for lifestyle medicine and its benefits that drives her.
She explains that lifestyle medicine "looks at how our lifestyles impact our health and that might be sleep, exercise, physical activity, supplements and stress management and also social life."
According to Hazel, this is an area that is already huge in the States, is growing in the UK and is really on the rise here in Ireland so it’s a really exciting time for the health and fitness industries here. She believes that healthy eating is very much part of our culture here.
We tend to stick to good, basic and wholesome foods rather than going after "niche superfood practices". This feeds nicely into Hazel’s own philosophy as she promotes healthy living in an accessible way.
One big driver for her to keep bringing the message of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles into the mainstream is that the conditions and diseases that take up time for doctors are largely lifestyle related.
"Chronic diseases happen over time like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression…and although they’re very complex and there’s genetics involved… our diet is involved, sleep is involved, exercise is involved. These things we can change. That’s free medicine that we don’t tap into."
Hazel would love to see lifestyle factors being addressed first before turning to the pillbox. So does this bright and busy Food Medic ever switch off? She does, but it’s more about her approach to life, which she summarises for us:
- Sleep: She tries to get her 8 hours or as many hours of good quality sleep as she can.
- Meditation: She does 10 minutes every morning to clear her head and set her intentions for the day.
- Switch off devices: She powers down in the evenings and doesn’t own a TV so reads, has a cup of tea or does whatever makes her feel calm.
Hazel’s top 3 tips for staying healthy:
- Cook from scratch. It doesn’t have to be complicated but get really comfortable with a handful of recipes as a starting point.
- Variety. Mix up the fruit and veg you buy as each has its own spectrum of nutrients that are good for gut health and overall health.
- Go Mediterranean. So, lots of fish, olive oils, nuts, seeds and minimal meat. It’s not just the foods we eat though, it’s also how we eat. Take time and share the experience with family or friends.