An interview with Healthy Luxe

My close friend, Hannah Singleton, alongside her extremely qualified nutritionist of a mum, Jennifer Murrant, are a strong duo, developing the brand Health Luxe (previously Health Synergy) that not only has a large Instagram following (@healthyluxe), but also has been the feature of their app and e-book, the latter working in collaboration with fellow friend and health blogger, Sophie Fisher (@coconutandbliss).

We have spoken to the pair to gain an insight into where their passion for health and wellness comes from, how this feeds into sustainability and some other recommendations for budding health conscious consumers. 

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and where your passion for health comes from?

Healthy Luxe is a mother-daughter team that evolved from a mutual passion for health. Jen (mum) has been studying and/or practicing as a nutritionist/naturopath for over 20 years with qualifications in nutrition, psychotherapy and coaching psychology. Jen’s passion for health began in her teenage years. Somewhat bizarrely, she choose to read nutrition books rather than novels on her hour-long commute to work. Her dream to study nutrition at a tertiary level, however, did not become a reality until her early 30s after having children, when her desire to study health became even stronger.

As for me (Hannah), I have recently graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in media and communications. I am particularly interested in digital media/social media marketing, which is what inspired me to start the @healthyluxe Instagram page and blog. This provided a creative outlet for me to pursue my interests in photography, styling and of course, health, as well as being an ideal forum to showcase my mum’s delicious recipes and immense knowledge on health and wellbeing. We have since created many new recipes, including desserts that use wholesome, natural ingredients, reflecting our philosophy that eating healthily does not mean you need to deprive yourself of the foods you love. 

Since creating the @healthyluxe Instagram page, we have launched a mobile application that facilitates easy access to our large (and growing) database of recipes and nutritional information. We do not follow any particular diet as our fundamental nutritional focus is on balance and variety, and on understanding that no two people have the same dietary needs. This is why we strive to create recipes that cater to many dietary requirement including gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, etc. It is also important to us that the foods we consume and promote are derived from ethical, sustainable sources, taking into consideration not only health but also the environmental implications of our food choices.

What are some of your staple food items that you could not live without?

We have many pantry staples but something we cannot live without is our daily superfood-packed acai bowl. This has been our go-to breakfast since 2011, before it became such a big trend. We not only love the taste of acai, but also love the sense of nourishment and satiety it provides. Other staples for us are avocado, bananas and raw nuts. We have an entire shelf in our pantry dedicated to nuts that we add to stir-fries, salads and smoothies, and use when making homemade nut-flours, nut-butters and nut-milk.

We believe that a healthy life is inextricably entwined with a healthy environment. Would you agree and how do you ensure your individual practices are environmentally sensitive?

The science of epigenetics supports this statement.  That is, our health is not simply determined by the genes we inherit.  Our DNA is constantly responding to changes in the environment.  Consequences of ignoring the environmental issues are wide ranging.  For example, chemicals used in food agriculture, such as glysophates, can lead to gene mutations and disrupt endocrine function in humans. On a wider scale, the prolific use of these chemicals has a deleterious effect of bee populations, threatening the ecology of the planet.

We do our best to ensure our practices reflect these views by choosing, as much as possible, local, seasonal produce and those ethically produced. 

What have been some of the greatest health lessons you have learnt on your journeys of becoming health gurus?

A comment we often hear is something along the line of “you must have strong will power not to eat [X junk food]…”.  This always astounds us as the food we are ‘resisting’ has no appeal whatsoever.  This perception reflects a societal view that eating whole foods with a focus of nutrient density must mean deprivation in some way.  For us, this is the antithesis of our belief.

One of the most disappointing lessons we have learnt is that vested interests interfere with the achievement of optimal health.  For example, for many years it has been well known by scientists that excess sugar is detrimental to health on every level.  Yet, despite this being the view of naturopaths for centuries, it is only very recently that it has become common knowledge.  And still the sugar laden foods persist as the addiction to them has been established. Whilst there has been an influx of ‘health and nutritional experts’ to meet this gap in the market, it is disappointing that many are under qualified, leading to confusion and misinformation. There are many ‘natural’ sugars being used in excess and wrongly claimed as low GI, for example, there are also so called ‘natural’ sweeteners using stevia, that have transformed a green plant into white powder. Minimal processing is something we feel is very important and strive to attain.

What advice would you give someone embarking on a healthier lifestyle?

I think the best piece of advice we could give is to make small lifestyle changes, rather than a complete overhaul as it is more likely to be sustainable. That may be switching from white bread to rye bread, going on a 30 minute walk each day or swapping milk chocolate for dark chocolate - every change you make towards a healthier lifestyle will make a difference in the long-term.

We do not believe or advocate any short-term diets, but rather we believe health should be perceived as a lifestyle. Our hope is that people who try our recipes will realise that eating healthily does not have to be boring, nor does it mean you cannot indulge in sweet treats from time to time. Of course making lifestyle changes can be difficult to start with, but over time taste buds change and you will no longer crave sugar-laden foods.

What do you consider some of the greatest benefits and disadvantages that have emerged from/are associated with social media and its connection to health and the environment?

One of the greatest benefits associated with social media and its connection to health and the environment is the notion that it ‘gives voice to the voiceless’. That is, it provides an outlet for health/environmental enthusiasts to broadcast their views with the potential to reach audiences on an international scale. Social media movements have the propensity to drive social change and raise awareness which can have a profound impact on the environment and public attitudes towards health.

 Of course, social media and the extent of influence it has can also be perceived as cause for concern in that many unqualified people are adopting the role of an ‘expert’ in their relative field. This is particularly problematic in the area of health as many bloggers are giving advice on what foods should/shouldn’t be consumed, and some even advocating diets that are actually detrimental to one’s health. 

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