When we hear the word ‘fast’ we automatically think of deprivation or starvation. Lee Holmes, holistic nutritionist and author of many best selling books, has challenged this perception by promoting the concept of ‘intermittent fasting’. This involves restricting calories for two days a week, allowing the gut to rest and repair.
Lee’s balanced approach to wellness, particularly her belief that we should eat foods as close to nature as possible and the notion that there is no one size fits all where nutrition is concerned, closely aligns with our health philosophy.
Here we chat with Lee about some of the benefits to fasting and how it helped her on her health journey, as well as some of the challenges. Lee also shares her top 5 health tips and sheds light on what has contributed to her success in the wellness industry.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired your interest in health?
I’m a holistic nutritionist, wholefoods chef, yoga teacher, Southernature and Natural Instinct Ambassador and the author of the number one selling books Supercharged Food: Eat Your Way to Health, Eat Yourself Beautiful, Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian, Eat Right for Your Shape,Supercharged food For Kids, Heal your Gut and, most recently, Fast Your Way to Wellness. I run two online programs for healing the gut, have my own Supercharged Food, Earth Mask & Scrub and Heal Your Gut Powder!
After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease several years ago, my body was full of foreign chemicals and medicines. I was accustomed to constantly feeling lethargic, having low moods and experiencing pain. While I knew that the medicines prescribed to me were going to fix my symptoms, there was a much bigger, underlying illness that I needed to heal. I needed to fix everything – not just the muscle pain or fatigue. This is what sparked my interest in health, and particularly, gut health. I started to eat clean and learn about different gut bacteria’s and processes. This is where I started to write my blog, www.superchargedfood.com as it gave me a forum to connect with others and express myself through my own recipes and ideas.
When did fasting become such a big part of your health regime?
Now, as healthy as I was sipping on nutty smoothies, eating lots of salads and chewing on bliss balls, I found out that the digestive system, just like me, needed a bit of a rest! This is where intermittent fasting came into my life. Intermittent fasting is a healing process that enables the body to be restored back to its true function. I have been fasting for several years now and can completely feel the difference. My body has been able to regenerate, enabling me to lose extra weight, boost my brain health and improve my hormones.
What are the benefits to fasting?
Intermittent fasting has so many benefits – it’s hard to just name a few. Practicing intermittent fasting can help you shed a few of those stubborn extra kilos and extra chins, improve the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, reduce blood pressure, improve mood, increase fat burning and normalise the hunger hormone for better control over the appetite.
What is the most challenging aspect of fasting?
I personally feel that the most challenging aspect of fasting is adjusting to it. Intermittent fasting can be a bit of a lifestyle adjustment to many people because it makes us think differently. Our globalised world has made us so accustomed to opening the fridge when we’re bored, rather than dealing with the boredom. Fasting teaches awareness and self-control – something that’s slipping out of our hands in the Western world.
You often speak about how a healthy diet healed your Fibromyalgia. Was fasting a contributing factor to your recovery?
100% By intermittent fasting I’ve given my body the time that it needs to flourish and heal itself. Constantly eating and digesting food means that the body is using its energy for these processes. My body needed the time to rest and recover. I really believe in the beauty of fasting as I’ve seen first-hand all the good that it can do to people.
What was it that made you seek an alternative approach to treating your illness?
I saw that changing my diet to one filled with wholefoods and chemical-free whole foods during my time of illness made a huge impact on my health and improving my symptoms. I was excited to see what else it could do. This sparked my interest into seeking alternative approaches to health and treatment. In my experience, the first step to getting healthy is taking responsibility for your own wellness.
You have become very well known in the health and wellness industry. What do you think has contributed to your success?
Coming from the busy background that I do, being a full-time worker and mum, I understand that many of us are time-poor and work-orientated. My approach to healthy living is simple; the recipes that I create are delicious but most importantly, are easy and quick to prepare! You don’t be a masterchef to cook nutritious meals from scratch. It’s easy. Every recipe that I create can be customised for people’s own taste and dietary requirements. I know that there is no one size fits all when it comes to food. I like to be honest, approachable and real in my everyday life and my attitude to work is just the same!
What are your top 5 health tips for anyone beginning their health journey?
- Take your time to find what you feel comfortable with. Let’s say somebody is promoting the latest health craze and you feel a little unsure about it, do your own research! Find what you connect with. We’re all individuals with our own intricate belief system when it comes to politics, religion, science and art. Health and nutrition is just the same!
- Find balance. Balance is something a lot of people tend to struggle with when it comes to starting the journey to health. Whilst running for hours every day and only ever eating celery may seem like a good idea if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s not a sustainable approach to living. Create healthy habits and stick to them. Make sure to not go overboard with too many healthy ideas, because you can burn out.
- Don’t forget to treat yourself. Being healthy doesn’t need to be the be all and end all. Some days you’ll be lusting over a chocolate-filled donut or ice-cream and that’s A-Okay! I like to create healthy versions of old-school desserts for times when my sweet tooth is calling.
- I used to struggle my way through gourmet recipe books and magazines with fancy foreign ingredients that I had never heard of before! Sometimes I felt like being healthy was too hard for me! I then realised that there must be a simpler way to simply cook nutritious food that tastes delicious and isn’t costing me a fortune. Stop with the low-calorie and low-fat processed foods and focus on real wholefoods – vibrant vegetables, fresh fruits and power-packed proteins! Look for real food that is as close to nature as possible. Healthy is simple.
- Being active is something I don’t take lightly! I love walking because it helps me clear my head and improves my overall wellbeing. Finding the right exercise for you – whether it’s sweating it out at the gym, finding zen in the yoga studio, swimming at the beach or strolling in the park is amazing! Find what works for you and stick to it. You’ll feel all the better for it.