This is part one in my series of Q&A sessions. I am talking to health practitioners who are passionate about healthy living and who appreciate the balance between traditional and complementary medical approaches to health.
So today, I have had a healthy lunch with the lovely Naturopath, Katie Ruane. Katie is based in London with clinics in Wimpole Street and the city. She also goes mobile for mother and baby sessions. I caught up with her after she’d been out to see to one of her pregnant clients who was getting close to her due date. So Katie-please introduce yourself in a nutshell.
My name is Katie and I’m a Naturopathic Physician. I spent 4 years full time at university studying a science degree in Naturopathy. What drew me towards it is that I am defined by a set of principles I follow, rather than therapies that I use. This means I can train in any therapy and never have to change my job title!
That’s great, so you have a real toolbox of therapies on offer for your clients. Which aspects of lifestyle health excite you the most and why?
This I such a hard question! So many things excite me depending on who I am talking to and what would benefit them the most. I suppose the most relevant one for everyone is nutrition, whether in pregnancy to support mother and baby or with someone who gets every cough and cold going and wants to boost their immune system. I also love the fact that I have around 16 different therapies in my ‘tool box’ so I can tailor what I do specifically to you. In my work, I suppose my most favourite thing to do, is meeting the baby I helped to look after during pregnancy with prenatal reflexology and diet advice. And to then be asked to teach mother, and so importantly the father baby massage and all my little Naturopathic health tips is also such a magical thing to do.
Basically I love all that I do, so everything excites me, especially now that common thought is turning more towards things I advise on. For example, that saturated fat isn’t the killer it was thought to be and eating butter is much better than margarine.
Yes, I agree, pregnancy related health is very exciting. Natural therapies can be so beneficial at that time. I certainly turned to them in my pregnancies, and so have many of my patients. If you want to get one message out there to the public for healthy living, what would it be?
Stop calorie counting. They work out calories by burning food which is not how we digest it. Wholefoods high in calories such as nuts and seeds don’t impact on your weight in the same way that an equal amount of calories in chocolate, cake etc would have. Avoid processed foods as generally speaking they have trans-fats and sugar in. It is this combination that is destroying our health. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient or don’t know what it is, why would you eat it? Eating a variety of foods that you have ideally cooked from scratch, or that doesn’t come premixed means that you will be making much better health choices for you and your family.
Totally agree with that one Katie! So, what factor in your own diet and lifestyle has had the biggest impact on your own health and wellbeing?
I really don’t know in all honesty. I grew up on home cooked foods and when I went away to university I cooked food from scratch for myself. I have eaten as organic a diet as possible since I was 22, so it’s hard to know what has had the biggest impact. I think the thing that has made the biggest impact on my waist line and emotional health is that I gave up drinking when I was 23. Oh and I suppose I should include giving up smoking when I was 21 as well… I was quite young when I made these lifestyle changes so gauging the impact over the last 10 years is hard.
Giving up smoking has a massive impact on health. I love your healthy approach to whole food and a balanced diet, lucky you to have been brought up on home cooked food. What a great start in life. What has been the most important thing about health you have learned in the last 6 months?
I learnt some absolutely shocking childhood obesity facts this week. Over 10 million children in Africa are overweight or obese. 10 million in Africa!!! The percentage of children under 5 in this country who are overweigh is also shocking. It really upset me and makes me even more determined to help families make more informed choices about their health. It’s not your fault if you eat poor quality food or the wrong ratio of protein to carbohydrates because the newspapers say it’s better to eat low fat and more processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cereal etc). By eating these foods and other processed already made foods, sugar intake is going up, insulin resistance is going up and type 2 diabetes is going up.
Yes, childhood obesity is a rising problem I see in general practice at the moment. So, now a mad question- If you had a time machine to go back and give your younger self some advice what would it be?
This is really hard as I made some big health and lifestyle changes in my early 20s. Probably to beat myself up less for having ‘naughty food’ when my diet overall is pretty good. It’s around 80% organic, I make 90% of my food, have a little bit of meat and a lot of vegetables. Doing the best you can in the moment is all you can do.
Thank you so much Katie. If you are interested in finding out more about Katie and her clinic click here.