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Melanie Leyshon is the editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine. She's a flexitarian and couldn’t get through the week without yogurt and yoga.

With her focus on ‘real’ food, Amanda says good health is more important than fitting into skinny jeans

 
I’ve always been sporty. I played badminton internationally at school and did sculling [a lighter version of rowing]. I’m a big advocate of team sport as it works so well socially and for body confidence – I work at grass-roots level with younger people. I also took up netball when I was 40! I do resistance training at the gym twice a week and yoga, plus I walk our Labrador every day.

I had a severe and rare illness when I was six (don’t go there – it’s unpronounceable!). I had bruises all over my body and needed blood tests every day. It kept me in hospital for months. As a teen, I had the usual body angst, but I was lucky that I had a healthy, balanced upbringing. The key for me is being realistic about my body shape and my frame. It’s about being as healthy as I can. When you try to be something different and drop to a certain weight by putting restrictions on yourself, trying to get into those skinny jeans, it becomes unsustainable.

In my early 20s, I suffered from IBS and bad skin, but solved it myself through nutrition – fundamentally by taking out ‘fake’ or processed foods. I saw results quickly when I changed to eating real foods.

We all need to cut down on refined carbohydrates and the amount of sugar in our diets, and eat more vegetables, high-fibre foods and good fats. Get the proportions right and we can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes and tackle obesity.

I’ve found gut health is the answer for so many conditions: IBS, anxiety, inflammation and obesity. There’s a huge amount of research being done on the gut and microbiome and the science is emerging. Stress plays a big role, too. I love being a body detective with my clients. I look at their whole picture and plot their timeline to see what it is in their lives that’s creating their health issues.

My body weight doesn’t really change that much (maybe about 3–4lb). It can be down to Christmas and that natural hibernation. In the spring, like everyone else, I have a wee bit of a diet kickstart.

To lose weight I do intermittent fasting – intermittently! I’ve looked into the research and follow 16/8 fasting. You stop eating in the evening around 8pm, then start eating normally at noon the next day. You do this six days a week and then eat as normal on Sunday.

I manage energy slumps, like a lot of Scottish people do, by snacking on oatcakes. I was thrilled recently to work with my favourite brand, Nairn’s. Their oatcakes are a good source of fibre and protein, so I keep some in my handbag.

We avoid fast food. I took my children to a drive-thru once, hoping no one would see me. My four-year-old didn’t like it and thought it ‘tasted dirty’. We’ve never been back.
 

Three things I love

GUT-FRIENDLY FOODS I’m passionate about gut health, and have launched a juice range called Rhythm with natural kefir cultures.

THE OCEAN I adore living by the sea. I love the smell, the sand, the peacefulness. I’ve recently taken up paddle boarding and like to practise yoga on it. My aim is to do a headstand!

MAKING SMOOTHIES A big favourite is spinach with banana, almond milk and agave

Related article: How I stay healthy: Mark Porter