Dr. Michelle Braude
London, UK (but originally from South Africa)
What do you do?
I’m a qualified medical doctor and nutritionist. I work full-time as a nutritionist and run my own nutrition consultancy practice called The Food Effect. It’s now thankfully expanded into a brand, lifestyle, and philosophy in and of itself – thanks to my work, the results and success of my clients, my website and blog, and more recently my book called The Food Effect Diet, which came out in January 2018.
What or who inspired you to do what you are doing now?
I started The Food Effect, after graduating from medical school in 2012. It frustrated me that no emphasis was put on diet or lifestyle in a medical setting, so I wanted to combine my medical and nutrition knowledge to help people improve all aspects of their health and wellbeing through dietary change. At the time, it was merely a deviation in my career path, whilst I decided to take a year out from hospital medicine, to see people for nutrition “just for the year”. Back then my only plan was utilizing the knowledge I had from studying medicine to be a good nutritionist for a finite time. I never dreamt that I would start a blog and revolutionary approach to food and eating that would help so many people and also become my full-time career (now six years later).
What is your food philosophy?
My key principles that underpin all my work are – SIMPLICITY, PLEASURE, and SUSTAINABILITY. My philosophy grew from my desire to teach people how to eat normally and healthily in a way that can continue for the rest of their lives, whilst losing weight and staying slim at the same time!
By keeping things simple AND pleasurable, I found people were more likely to stick to things, and that way it worked! I also believe that healthy eating should be a pleasurable, colorful and vibrant way of life – one that can be achieved by everyone. And it is in fact incredibly simple if only we are shown how!
I don’t believe in cutting out any food groups. Healthy eating also doesn’t need to be complicated, expensive or time-consuming (a major misconception!) – there is no reason why “no time” or “too busy” should ever be an excuse for unhealthy eating.
Lastly, I believe the food we eat is so much more than just about being a healthy weight – it’s about our mood, energy levels, skin and so much more. What we eat should make us look AND more importantly, FEEL our best!
What is your favorite meal of the day?
Supper – it’s the only meal I finally get time to relax and unwind after a busy day, so I really take my time, have a delicious dinner and enjoy it.
What is your favorite healthy snack?
Nuts, especially plain unsalted cashew nuts – I have a handful or two almost every day.
What would be your last meal on earth?
Lasagne! Or truffle oil mashed potatoes. Or both 😉
What is your favorite cookbook?
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Victoria Beckham. Or JLo. Or both! And my late Grandma (perhaps not with VB and JLo) – she was the most amazing woman, full of life and energy well into her 90s, and also my cooking inspiration.
Can you take us through a day of your meals?
I always make sure to rehydrate in the morning. I have a glass of water or water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (I explain this in my book!). I don’t always eat breakfast (apparently I’ve been doing intermittent fasting my whole life without even realizing!) as I don’t have much of an appetite first thing in the morning. But, I NEED my coffee in the morning. So I always have one BIG coffee (I stick to this as my caffeine for the day!) with a generous amount of regular milk or plant-based milk for protein and calcium. If I am hungry, I’ll absolutely have breakfast. It’ll be Greek yogurt with no added sugar muesli, cinnamon and blueberries; or oatmeal with nut butter, blueberries, cinnamon and a drizzle of agave. Lunch varies a lot depending on what I’m doing. It’s usually something quick and easy yet filling and satisfying, such as cottage cheese and avocado salad with a few Ryvita, eggs and avocado on toast, or smoked salmon or egg mayo on sourdough bread with some avocado or salad alongside. In the afternoon, I snack on nuts (raw cashews or walnuts) or carrot sticks and hummus. Supper is usually a combination of protein, healthy carbs and vegetables or salad – such as grilled fish (I love salmon!) with vegetables or fresh spinach leaves and either sweet potato, brown rice or quinoa; or often pasta (I love red lentil or brown rice pasta) with veggies and a tomato sauce (perhaps some tuna or feta cheese added); or falafel balls with couscous, salad and tahini. I also love sushi!
Do you have any tips for healthier cooking habits?
Reduce the amount of oil you use to cook with. I’m all for eating healthy fats and olive oil (which has tremendous health benefits!) but if you are eating a healthy diet that includes things like nuts, avocado, hummus, oily fish, etc. there is little benefit to be gained from excess oil in cooking, apart from excess calories! I’m not suggesting cutting out oil altogether, but small changes like going less heavy handed when adding oil to roast vegetables will help save a huge amount of calories and make weight loss easier without even cutting out any food!
What is your advice for those who struggle to eat healthy?
Firstly – change your mindset. Don’t think of healthy eating and weight-loss as a “diet”– something you ‘go on’ and eventually ‘go off’. Reframe it as a new way of life. That way, when, or if, you do ‘slip up’ or have a few days of overindulging, you’ll be less likely to give up and get disappointment because you’ll realize that one or two meals (or even days!), of not-too-perfect eating, won’t undo your overall commitment to a healthy lifestyle. You’ll just get straight back on to your normal healthy routine afterward. Secondly, make it enjoyable! Make any new healthy eating or lifestyle changes fun and enjoyable. Try new healthy recipes, share them with friends or cook for others. Get ideas online or via social media – there are loads of great nutrition blogs out there, such as this one right here! 😉
What is your opinion on intermittent fasting?
I’m all for it! I don’t believe it’s necessary for everyone OR that it needs to be done every day of the week. I would never advise anyone to do it if they feel starving in the mornings or would struggle with it. But if someone naturally doesn’t have a huge appetite for breakfast, as many don’t (everyone is different – just like our circadian rhythm for sleep, we all have different hunger patterns and nutritional needs and different times during the day) – there is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to eating OR eating times!
I think intermittent fasting if done sensibly (i.e. a full day’s worth of nutritional and calorie requirements met in the chosen time window), can bring tremendous health benefits and there is scientific evidence to prove that.
It’s not what I prescribe in my book or to my clients, but if I feel someone would benefit from it, or someone wants to try it – I tailor The Food Effect way of eating to fit in with an Intermittent Fasting pattern. It’s not actually a diet, just a time frame for eating that can be helpful – both practically and physiologically.
Dairy products are controversial these days. Are certain dairy products better than others?
Yes, and yes! I think due to the recent popularity of low-carb diets and an increase in allergies, dairy has definitely gotten a bad reputation, and not always for good reason. For example, the milk in the UK is of an extremely high standard compared to the USA due to strict EU laws. I wouldn’t advocate cutting out this high-quality milk and dairy (here in the UK) if someone doesn’t have an intolerance or medical need to, especially not for teenage girls or young women who are laying down bone density, as high-quality dairy provides a rich source of bone-building calcium and Vitamin D.
Many people are, however, genuinely intolerant to dairy or have a genuine reason to cut it out. I just don’t believe that everyone should be cutting it out if there’s no real need, or that everyone needs to cut out ALL dairy. Because as you say, not all dairy products are created equal!
Things like all natural Greek yogurt (without added sugars), natural cottage cheese and other non-processed raw cheeses (such as feta cheese) are low in lactose and saturated fat and are amazing sources of protein, calcium and gut-healthy immune-boosting probiotics.
Things like processed, hard yellow cheeses, ready bought sliced cheeses and other highly processed dairy products (yogurts with a ton of added sugar), are high in saturated fat and calories (and often chemicals and additives too), so I’m all for cutting those things out!
For those who do genuinely suffer from lactose or dairy intolerance, there are so many amazing plant-based alternatives on the market, which make great substitutes. Just make sure they’re fortified with calcium where possible!
Even though low-fat products may have more additives and sugar to compensate for flavor, are they a better option than full-fat products?
Whilst it’s definitely true that many low-fat products have more additives and sugar to compensate for flavor, this is not always the case. For example when comparing something like natural (unflavored) full-fat Greek yogurt vs. low-fat or 0% fat varieties of plain Greek yogurt – the lower fat options don’t have any added sugar. They are much lower in unhealthy saturated fats and calories, and any extra grams of sugar you see on the label is only coming from the lactose naturally present in the milk (which is NOT the same as added sugar, has no harmful effect on the body and is nothing to be concerned about).
I think very often people compare full-fat natural products with low-fat flavored things, such as fruit-flavored yogurts to illustrate how terrible and high in sugar everything low-fat is! But it’s not always the case. We need to always compare like for like. Take regular milk for example – the calories and fat contents of full-fat and skimmed milk varies greatly (364 calories and 20g of fat per pint of full-fat milk, to only 199 calories and 0.6g of fat in skimmed milk), with skimmed milk actually having more calcium and protein than full-fat milk. Calcium is present in the watery part of milk, and without the fat, there is more protein and calcium in any given volume. As long as our diets contain sufficient healthy fats (from things like nuts, nut butter, hummus, avocado, oily fish, etc.) we don’t need the extra (saturated!) fat and calories in full-fat milk or yogurts.
Favorite restaurant where you live?
- Le Pain Quotidien, Hampstead
- Elan Café (Brompton Road or Market Place branches), London.
Favorite restaurants in the world?
Reserve Cut, New York (all their sushi for me, my husband loves their steak!)
Best place for date night?
The Punch Room, Edition Hotel London.
Any health tips when ordering?
Firstly, plan ahead. Check out the restaurant’s menu online and consider what healthy options (that you’ll enjoy!) are available. If you have a rough idea what’s available and what you’ll order before entering the restaurant, you’ll be less tempted to go for deep fried or butter and cream-laden when caught in the moment. Secondly, don’t go out to dinner STARVING… you’ll just set yourself up for disaster!
What does your workout schedule look like?
Unfortunately, it’s nothing rigid or scheduled at all! I just do my own thing.
I don’t attend a gym or any classes (or have a personal trainer!) – I just make sure I’m active every day. I’m always on-the-go so I walk a lot; on days I don’t I make sure I do a workout video at home.
What motivates you to get moving?
The fact that I feel so much better and know I have so much more energy after I exercise is motivation enough for me. I exercise for that more than anything else!
Favorite athletic wear?
Name one beauty secret?
Healthy eating! I really believe “you are what you eat”, and what you put inside shows on the outside.
What products are you loving right now?
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizing Cream is my all time favorite.
Is there a spa or holistic treatment you swear by?
Acupuncture. It’s great for stress, anxiety, hormonal balance, muscular tension and loads more. It’s done wonders for me – I just need to make time to go more often! Ross Barr in London is amazing! Also, lymphatic drainage massage by Ana Trida in London (thank you, Neda, for the recommendation!) is incredible.
Who is your beauty inspiration?
Favorite vacation spot?
Cape Town, South Africa
Favorite hotels in the world?
- The Milestone, London.
- The Edition Hotel, London.
- One&Only, Cape Town, South Africa.
- The Sandton Sun, Johannesburg, South Africa.
How do you stay healthy while traveling?
I just keep to my same normal eating habits. I think once healthy eating becomes an enjoyable way of life and you realize that staying healthy and slim doesn’t need to be associated with dullness or deprivation – it doesn’t require any major struggle, even whilst on vacation. I do however always make sure to pack a few essentials when traveling (bags of raw nuts, healthy bars, etc.) so I’m never stuck hungry whilst on-the-go or at the airport. And whilst on holiday, if there is something indulgent I really want, I allow myself to have it and enjoy every bite. I don’t feel guilty or bad about it, as one decadent meal or even day of eating, will not make any difference in the long run.
What’s your bucket list travel destination?
Dubai – I’m desperate to visit!
Favorite tv series?
I don’t actually watch TV – not on principle at all… I’m just terrible at taking time out or relaxing, so I never watch TV!
- @healthywithnedi – (not just saying it! Your page, recipes, and blog are one of my faves!!)
Where To Find You
Instagram – @thefoodeffectdr
Website – www.thefoodeffect.co.uk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/thefoodeffectdr