I asked Nikki, from NOOD, a range of questions from her favourite book and quote to what foods to eat to keep your hormones happy and everything else in between.
Find out what she had to say here >
Your mission in the wellness world: To educate in as many ways as possible on how to nourish your body and soul through the healing power of wholefoods and how to gain a true, meaningful connection with your own body.
What’s your favourite?
Book – ‘Shantaram’ or ‘The Dalai Lamas Cat’ … ‘Marching Powder’ is also a good one
City – Perth! Lucky me to live somewhere I love
Sunday meal – Normally on Sundays I like cooking meals that are more complicated because I have the time to dedicate myself to experimenting with ideas – this could be a 3 course dinner or a complicated dessert. I don’t have a ‘favourite’ – I’m definitely not your typical ‘Sunday Roast’ kinda girl.
Instagram page – ‘National Geographic’ (@natgeo) has some amazing images, ‘The Tomorrow’ (@thetmrw) gives me lots of interior inspiration for my (one day) home or wellness centre!
Coffee substitute – home-made chai latte with almond milk & coconut sugar
Quote / affirmation / mantra – ‘Happiness is a state of mind’… I love it. We can’t control what happens in life, but we can always control how we react to it. I think we definitely are in control of our own state of being.
Yoga pose – love back bends and chest / heart chakra openers… One of my favourites would be ‘Rajakapotasana’ which is the one legged ‘King Pigeon Pose’… such a good stretch!
What’s your favourite way to start the day?
Wake up is usually 5:30am… stretch & meditate for 10 minutes. A big glass of water followed by some fruit and home-made grain free granola with coconut yoghurt. If I don’t have to rush anywhere, I like to take my dog for a big walk while it’s still peaceful outside.
A little more on the health side now –
How did you originally get in to the health industry?
With my love of food. It’s in my blood to be obsessed with food (Dad is Asian/Arabic and mum is Italian)… When I left the corporate world, I took a bit of a dive and went to work as a kitchen hand in order to learn the ins and outs of how a commercial kitchen is run. Over the 3.5 years that I was there, I ended up running the kitchen and gained amazing experience managing the restaurant as well. It was during this time that I also started experimenting with healthier options to the foods I loved. Being a chef can be pretty stressful and working long hours, you can neglect your body a bit. So I started looking at ways to make ‘naughty foods’ healthy and then decided to start studying nutrition as well as working the morning shift in the kitchen.
When I finished my studies, the initial intention was to open a health food restaurant but I think when the business started, the concept changed into what it is today – workshops, public speaking, one-on-one nutritional coaching, corporate health & wellbeing workshops… and then the food side of the business provides healthy private catering for events, wholesale healthy catering to cafes/fitness studios and cooking classes.
Where do you think the world has gone wrong in terms of looking after our health and well-being?
I think it has gone wrong in so many ways… to accommodate for the fast pace of life these days, the introduction of fast foods, junk food and highly processed meals has led to serious health issues including CVD, type 2 diabetes, obesity, digestive issues, mineral toxicity and so much more. Coupled with that, the pharmaceutical industry and the mindset of some (not all!) doctors to just fix everything with a pill without actually assessing the root cause of an illness or problem has led to even more
What are your best tips for someone who is trying to start meditating?
To not give up after only a few tries. I am one of the most impatient people I know (which is why meditation is great for me!). But when I started, I found it incredibly frustrating to try to simply focus on one thing… I admittedly gave up a few times myself.
One day I just decided to stick to it for a period of 4 weeks – twice a day for 10 minutes. And now it’s become routine! And I think it helps me immensely… I feel calm and clear minded which I am hugely grateful for.
So don’t give up. Keep going and you will most definitely start to notice a change.
What would be your 3 best ingredients to ‘pimp your salad’ into a super salad this summer?
1. Blueberries or any berries (take advantage of them while they are in season)
2. Toasted nut & seed mix (I grind up dulse and mix it with my sea salt and sprinkle over the seeds before toasting – so delicious)
3. Sauerkraut – I love the little burst of sour freshness that sauerkraut adds to an otherwise normal salad – it’s also great for digestion and is beneficial for healthy gut microbiome
What are your 3 favourite healthy snack ideas?
Just like with any other meal, snacks need to be a balance of good fats, protein and fibre in order to keep us feeling full, provide a slow release of energy, and balance our blood glucose levels.
1. The NOOD Paleo Loaf is a great one which can be kept in the fridge or pre-wrapped into slices to take to work. I like adding avocado onto mine! http://www.nood.net.au/recipes/high-protein-savoury-paleo-loaf/
2. A smoothie can be a great mid-morning or afternoon snack but once again make sure it’s balance and too heavy on the sugar (some people add honey + fruit + a flavoured or sweetened protein powder and it’s just too much). Here’s my recipe for the NOOD
2. Green Goodness Smoothie:
1 small banana
1 kiwi fruit
2 handfuls baby spinach
½ tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. almond butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
Juice of ¼ lemon
1 heaped tbsp. vegan protein powder (I use either RAW by Amazonia or hemp seed protein)
1 tsp spirulina
1.5 cups cold coconut water (I use Natural RawC)
- Blitz until super smooth and creamy!
3. Another great snack option is a chia pudding – easy because you can pre-make a big batch of it and then add to it whatever you like. It’s a great source of fibre and protein and then you can add fresh berries, toasted coconut, almonds etc to boost its nutritional profile.
What is the most common problem/illness or concern you see in your clinic/practice?
Digestive issues!!!!!!!! So many problems are linked to the health of our gut and the most common thing I see is clients who suffer from bloating, inflammation, cramps, candida, intolerances and too much sugar in their diets… all of which trigger other symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, weight gain, insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue, autoimmune conditions and even anxiety and depression.
I would say that nearly everyone I meet suffers from or
has suffered serious digestive issues at some stage of their life. Our body is
amazing but it wasn’t designed to be bombarded with toxic, processed foods,
alcohol, chemical drugs and refined sugars on a day to day basis. For some
silly reason, we as humans forget to read the signs and tend to wait until we
are in pain before we start doing anything about it.
In a few words, what is your take on:
· Soy milk – not in excess and always try to find one that is organic and non GMO. The soy isoflavones can act as phytoestrogens in our body and therefore have the potential to disrupt our endocrine system if we consume it on a very regular basis. In small amounts, I don’t personally have a problem with it.
· The pill – can disrupt our intestinal microbiome which leads to digestive issues, malnutrition, and stomach aches and cramps. Long term use of the pill obviously also disrupts our natural ovulation cycle, disrupts our normal hormonal balance, and has been linked to infertility and breast cancer.
· Whey protein – personally I prefer plant based protein powders, but that’s just me.
· Coffee – once a day or every few days is fine, not in excess. It can increase stress & anxiety, decrease absorption of nutrients, supress appetite, and interrupt sleeping patterns.
· Coconut oil – love it for so many reasons – energy boosting, balancing blood sugar, anti-bacterial & anti-fungal properties, beneficial fats, lauric acid... the list can go on! I not only cook with it but also use it as my moisturiser, as a base for my body scrubs and even as a make-up remover.
· Vitamin supplements – essential for many people, unfortunately our diets just aren’t balanced enough and many foods that we eat don’t contain enough essential nutrients due to poor soils, pesticides, chemicals etc.
· Vegetarian/vegan diets – doesn’t bother me at all providing you do your research and try to compensate where you can for vitamins and minerals that you may not be getting enough of due to lack of meat/eggs etc, eat a balanced plate every meal, opt for whole foods and supplement where necessary.
What is your favourite healthiest oil that you cook with?
I use coconut oil for cooking (heating) and olive oil, hemp seed oil, or avocado oil for salads or cold foods.
What is the biggest health myth you have heard over the years?
Oooh there are quite a few. I guess a pretty generic one is the whole ‘low fat is good for you’ myth. Low fat is not good for you so avoid it where ever you can. Low fat yoghurts, dairy, sauces, packaged foods are higher in sugar and get converted into glucose much quicker in our body leaving us feeling unsatisfied and often hungry again not long after eating.
Low fat products are often also loaded with other preservatives, additives and thickening agents to prolong their shelf life, make them seem ‘creamier’ and to enhance their flavour. Some products are high in chemical additives which can act as hormone disruptors and cause inflammation in our body.
So please always read the labels, choose organic whole foods, choose full fat and know where your produce is coming from. If the label contain words that you don’t understand, chances are, it’s not meant to be in your body!
If you could give 5 pieces of general health advice to the world, what would they be?
1. Listen to your OWN body – too many people follow the diets of girls on Instagram or adopt a certain way of eating because it’s ‘cool’. This is when problems can occur – listen to what your own body is telling you and eat in a way which works best for it. Seek the help of a professional to ensure that your diet is balanced and nutritionally dense.
2. Detox your home – get rid of all the crappy food in your fridge and pantry and re-stock it with fresh, seasonal whole foods. If it’s out of sight and out of mind you will have a better chance of eating the good stuff.
3. Don’t compare your body to other people – ‘a healthy body looks different on everyone’ and once we can come to terms with that and be realistic about our body type and shape, and learn to love all of our perfect imperfections, we will genuinely want to look after it better.
4. Move more – stop being so lazy and WALK to the shops, take the stairs, organise active catch ups with your mates. We sit down way too much these days.
5. Find peace in your day – whether this be through yoga, meditation or simply leaving your phone at home while you take a leisurely walk around the block. Keep at least 20 minutes each day just to stop, breathe, take in your surroundings and allow your body to truly relax. Practice being mindful and grateful… it’s amazing how much positive psychology can transform your day.
Best advice for a good nights sleep?
1. Don’t eat too close to bed time
2. Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon
3. Don’t look at your phone or computer in bed (the light confuses the melatonin – our sleepy hormones)
4. Don’t eat sugary foods before bed – this includes refined grains, chocolates, flavoured yoghurts, juices etc. The sugar spike won’t let your body properly rest.
5. Relaxant tea – try lavender, chamomile, ‘sleepy time’ tea, or passion flower
6. EPSOM Salt bath – can buy these magnesium salts from any chemist or health food shop – soak for 20 minutes and allow the minerals to infuse through your skin – amazing relaxant
7. Magnesium powder or capsule before bed – used in over 300 biochemical processes, magnesium deficiency is really common. Along with a whole host of other things, magnesium is known as the ‘relaxant mineral’ as one of its functions is to help the muscles (including our brain) to relax .
8. De-stress – clear your mind whether it be through meditation or journal writing. Sometimes we get caught up in the clutter of our own mind and it can be really helpful to get it out and onto paper or practice meditation for 10 minutes before going to sleep.
What are your 5 top tips for healthy digestion?
1. Avoid all processed foods (this includes bottled salad dressings, lollies, bottled fruit juices, frozen food etc)
2. Eat enough fibre (vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds) plus plenty of water to promote healthy bowel movements
3. Balance your blood sugar levels by including protein and good fats at every meal – this stops you from having sugar crashes which inevitably lead to bad food choices!
4. Introduce pro-biotic foods into your diet – kombucha, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kefir – all these foods can help to strengthen the good bacteria in your gut which in turn promotes healthy digestion
5. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – if you feel crampy or bloated or lethargic or headachy after eating something in particular, eliminate it for a period of time and monitor how you go (in most cases, the types of foods that can cause these symptoms are wheat, dairy, sugar, fried foods or fructose).
The best way to start becoming a bit more mindful of our bodies is to keep a food diary to monitor your eating habits/moods/bowel movements and then reflect back on it after a week or so to see if you notice any patterns.
Key signs and symptoms you look out for that could indicate a hormone imbalance?
1. Low sex drive
2. Accumulation of fat around our waist and stomach
3. Feeling extremely lethargic and/or most energised after 6pm
4. Cravings for sugar, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine
5. Anxiety, irritability, depression
6. Irregular periods, bad PMS
7. Never feeling full or satiated after eating
8. Consistently having cold hands and feet
9. Goiter (swelling of the thyroid gland)
10. PCOS, Endometriosis
5 top foods for healthy hormones?
Hormones are predominately made up of fats and proteins so a diet rich in good fats and healthy proteins is a must.
1. Wild Salmon
4. Nuts & Seeds
5 top foods for fabulous hair?
1. Brazil nuts – only 4 a day give you your RDI of selenium which is a mineral that promotes hair growth and encourages thick hair follicle growth
2. Walnuts – rich in omega 3, vitamin E and biotin which helps to protect your hair from DNA damage
3. Sweet Potatoes – rich in beta-carotene which gets converted into Vitamin A…low levels of Vitamin A can lead to a dry, itchy scalp
4. Oysters – rich in zinc which boosts our immune system and prevents hair loss.
5. Protein – whether it be from organic, grass fed beef, free range chicken or organic non GMO tofu, our hair is predominately made of protein so including small amounts of protein at every meal is essential for healthy, strong hair
5 top foods for glowing skin?
1. Berries – loaded with antioxidants to prevent oxidative stress
2. Avocados – high in Vitamin E and healthy fats to reduce fine lines and wrinkles
3. Oily Fish - omega 3 fatty acids for smooth skin and plump cells
4. Filtered Water – helps to keep the skin hydrated and aids effective detoxification
5. Tomatoes – high in antioxidants including lycopene which helps to protect our skin from UV light and aids with repair (tip: lycopene is better absorbed when the tomatoes are cooked)
3 things you always have in your fridge?
1. Avocados – such a great source of good fats and Vitamin E
2. Sauerkraut – an amazing natural pro-biotic and excellent to add to salads or have with breakfast
3. Eggs – full of the good stuff – protein, fats, all our fat soluble vitamins, iron and B12
3 things you’d never have in your fridge:
1. Fizzy drinks – yuck
2. Dairy – I am lactose intolerant
3. Bottled sauces, curry pastes, salad dressings etc – loaded with sugar, additives, preservatives and too much salt
Thanks so much for sharing all you wisdom with us Nikki, you have certainly given everyone a lot to think about.
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