Hi Sweet Ones,
Today I have a fabulous treat for you—an exclusive interview with Ella Woodward, a woman on a mission to make the world a healthier place. Four years ago, she took a diagnosis of Postural Tachycardia Syndrome and turned it into a personal revolution. Today, she’s sparking that revolution in others through her teachings and plant-based cookbook, Deliciously Ella.
Ella has a very special place in my heart. Earlier this year, I was reading about her in SELF Magazine while sweating it out on the bike at the gym. To my surprise, she mentioned how my books have helped support and inspire her journey—I nearly fell off the bike. What an honor! Since then, it’s been a joy to watch the meteoric rise of the ah-mazing Ella. Her tips, insights and delicious food will inspire you to make healthy changes in your own life. Let’s dig right into our conversation!
Kris: I know you did a 180 when you decided to change your diet—do you think that’s necessary for everyone?
Ella: Not at all, we are all so different and what works for one person isn’t going to be the best thing for someone else. It’s all about finding a balance that you enjoy and that works for your lifestyle. I love eating the way I do all the time but you shouldn’t feel guilty if that’s not the case for you!
Kris: How did you handle cravings for old comfort foods and what tips would you give readers dealing with the same challenge?
Ella: I struggled with cravings so much to begin with, especially for sugar. I hadn’t realized that you could make sweet, delicious treats that weren’t full of refined ingredients, so I wasn’t ever able to satisfy my cravings. Once I figured out how to make things like Sweet Potato Brownies and Almond and Chia Energy Bites (get the recipes below!), my life got a lot easier! I think the best tip to beat cravings is to never ignore them. If you feel you need something sweet, then have something sweet—just make it a healthier option.
Kris: When readers think about your healing path, they probably think of food as being your primary focus. What else is in your self-care tool kit?
Ella: As I got increasingly interested in a natural way of eating, I began to look more at other areas of wellness—from natural beauty to yoga, exercise and mindfulness/meditation. For me, including exercise in my daily routine is magic—it’s definitely equal to food now when it comes to my self-care. I try to exercise for an hour every morning during the week and it really balances me and helps me deal with any stress or anxiety.
Kris: Walk me through a typical Ella day… (body, mind, spirit and FOOD)
Ella: I start every morning during the week with some kind of exercise like spinning, boxing, yoga or pilates. My morning workouts are just as important as meetings and they never get changed for anyone or anything because otherwise I find I just don’t have the mental energy to achieve everything I want to do! After that, I head to my office and make an awesome breakfast before I start work—a green smoothie filled with spinach, banana, almond milk, almond butter, hemp seeds, dates and anything else I find in my cupboard, or a big bowl of oatmeal with almond milk, berries and homemade granola. For me, breakfast is super important—if I have a delicious breakfast then I’m happy all day!
When it comes to my work, every day is different, which I love. I’ve just finished writing and shooting my second book, so that’s been my biggest focus, but I also spend a lot of time blogging, in meetings about exciting projects and collaborations, teaching cooking classes, organizing events, running demos, holding talks, creating new recipes, taste testing and doing social media.
Lunch is normally a recipe that I’m experimenting with that day or leftovers from the experiments of the day before! There’s always so much food in my life that I really try and get through the leftovers so that it doesn’t go to waste.
I’ve found striking a work-life balance pretty challenging over the last year so I’ve put a few helpful practices in place. Every night I leave my laptop and all thoughts about work at the office. I turn off my emails, log out of social media and go home to make dinner or meet some friends.
For dinner I love making warming, nourishing meals like big veggie curries with brown rice or homemade pesto pasta with lots of peas, spinach and zucchini. Then I need some kind of dessert, as I have a huge sweet tooth! At the moment I’m obsessed with a chocolate cashew ice cream—it’s full of beautiful ingredients but it tastes so indulgent and amazing!
Kris: I went on an emotional roller coaster journey with my health challenge and I’m sure you did too. What have you found to be most helpful in handling the darker days?
Ella: I have to admit that I do still struggle to stay positive when I’m having a health wobble. I have a tendency to push my body too far and when I burn out, I really crash! I’m very lucky and find this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I cancel everything and invest in myself for a few days.
I used to go and hide in bed whenever I felt unwell or got bad news from a doctor, but I found that sitting alone with my negative thoughts really didn’t help me, so now I’ll book a massage, a facial, a restorative yoga class and anything else that will boost my body and mind. I go back to basics with my food and eat a lot of greens, drink a lot of water, etc. and just really focus all my energy on making positive decisions that will help my body. It’s not always easy, but feeling like you’re being proactive in your recovery does wonders!
Kris: I have to say that every time I see a video interview or photo of you, your skin is glowing! Have you found any diet or lifestyle practices to be especially helpful in this department?
Ella: Thank you! I’ve seen a huge difference in my skin and hair. I’ve never had terrible skin, but now it always looks so happy and I have the confidence to wear no makeup almost all the time. In fact, I actually feel more comfortable when I’m fresh-faced, which is an amazing feeling! It took a good few months to start really seeing a difference, but within six months of eating this way, my skin was brighter and glowing, and my hair was stronger and grew faster.
Kris: And, what’s in that makeup bag of yours, girrrl?
Ella: My makeup bag is so limited! I have a couple of natural beauty brands that I love though and I’ll use their bronzers, mascaras, eyeliner and blush when I want to look fancy. RMS, Neal’s Yard and Ilia are my favorites—they all make awesome products without all the nasties.
Kris: Can you leave us with one easy tip that readers can start doing today that would help them gently lean into a healthier lifestyle?
Ella: Focus on counting goodness, not calories, and enjoy your food! The way we eat is so important to our happiness and you have to love how you eat if you want it to be sustainable. Don’t look at healthy eating as a diet or as deprivation, because that should never be the case. Enjoy an abundance of nourishing goodness, satisfy cravings with healthy alternatives and don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect all the time! Remember, healthy living is a joy, not a curse.
Kris: Thanks, Ella!
Now it’s your turn: Which one of Ella’s tips or recommendations resonates with you most?