For Fulham girl Madeleine Shaw readdressing her diet not only soothed her stomach complaints, but changed the direction of her life. Here she tells Camilla Davies how, as her new healthy recipe book Get the Glow comes out today
Spending her early 20s in the capital, Madeleine Shaw found herself plagued with stomach issues. ‘I was eating your typical low fat, no calorie, lots of Diet Coke diet; everything I was having was so sugary I was actually causing quite a lot of gut problems for myself,’ she realises now. ‘I wasn’t looking after my body at all.’
It took the South West Londoner a stint living halfway across the world in Australia to feel like herself again: working in an organic café in Sydney she was encouraged to re-evaluate her diet, eliminating sugars and introducing an abundance of healthy fats.
‘It took only a few weeks to really see that it had made a difference, and then the real healing took a bit longer, maybe six months to completely heal my digestive system.’ And the effects were felt from inside to out: today, Madeleine’s hair is thick and silky, her skin glowing. ‘It’s the energy levels that I felt the most, when I started to eat healthier I actually woke up in the morning with energy, I didn’t feel rubbish all day!’
Madeleine soon enrolled in a course at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in Sydney, moulding her own foodie philosophy. With a newfound addiction to coconut and living a life free of ready meals, she returned to London – after a detour to France – and launched herself as a nutritional coach, offering a personalised six-step healthy eating programme, counting celebrities Millie Mackintosh and Caggie Dunlop among her clients.
Her ethos is holistic, and she believes that the simple things can make a world of difference. ‘Chew your food,’ she says. ‘I know that sounds strange but most of us eat on the run and we don’t actually digest all of our food. So if we take a little time to slow down, to munch everything down, it makes a difference. It makes you feel fuller, it digests a lot better in your body, and it’s good to practice a bit of mindfulness and relaxation in the busy world that we live in.’
Madeleine is confident that a balanced, healthy diet goes further than fasting or counting calories – and it’s never about denying yourself. ‘The key message that I really want to get across to people is that it’s about what you do every day, not what you do one week a year.’
Happily settled in Fulham, she is surrounded by foodie inspiration and delights in sourcing produce locally. ‘I love a farmers’ market, that’s my ideal weekend. There’s a really great one at Parsons Green, which I often go to on a Sunday, and I also love the one in Clapham on a Saturday, which has a really great range. It’s got some beautiful stands with produce grown in the UK.’
‘I do try to buy locally grown food as much as possible, especially vegetables. Obviously things like coconut oil, nuts and seeds aren’t really grown in the UK as much, so I get those imported in.’
On moving in with her boyfriend in Fulham, Madeleine was able to enjoy City life with a slightly slower pace. ‘I grew up in Wandsworth, so I’ve always been a bit of a South West London girl and it just so happened that Fulham was where I ended up, but I do really love it. It’s got a really nice, relaxed feel and I like being somewhere that’s quite green. I like having parks and leafy streets so you get a little bit of peace and quiet, because London can be quite full on.’
Armed with 100 healthy recipes and a yoga mat, her latest project has seen her channel her healthy ethos into book form, offering an outlet for healthy hopefuls. ‘It’s based on a six-week holistic health program so each week we connect and look at ditching sugar, eating healthy fats, and there’s an mindfulness element too. It’s not just about eating clean, it’s about thinking clean. So thinking positively about your body and your attitude to food and also calming strategies.’
Madeleine wants people to immerse themselves in her recipes and have some fun in the process. ‘It’s amazing to put your food and recipes into book format because you get to see them looking so beautiful on the page,’ she grins. It’s easy to imagine her in the kitchen, sleeves rolled up, flour in her hair, bouncing ideas. She’s hosting themed Clean Eating Supper Clubs in the capital and her approach is anything but militant. ‘The last chapter in my book is called Live Your Glow and basically says that this isn’t just about a faddy diet, it’s about a lifestyle and something that you can take on every day. You don’t have to be perfect, you can still enjoy a bit of a drink and a treat here and there but it’s laying it out that you can live it as a long term thing.’
Get The Glow by Madeleine Shaw is published by Orion Books as a hardback and eBook, priced £20/£10.99, on 23 April 2015