IN CONVERSATION: Gabriela Peacock

First of all, congratulations on the huge success of your book 2 Weeks to Feeling Great: Because, seriously, who has the time?  With such a wealth of information, advice and tips across every aspect of our health and wellbeing, it’s definitely a book I am going to be turning to again and again! Can you share a glimpse of what readers can expect?

I would describe my book as a realistic and approachable guide to healthy living that’s achievable and sustainable within the busy lives we lead, without any judgment or strong restrictions. I wanted it to be easy to read, clearly written and comprehensive – particularly the science – and with a light, humourous tone that doesn’t preach.

The chapters are easy to follow, and each one has my methods and tips as a nutritionist that can change your health for the better. There’s a chapter that talks about weight management that includes two intermittent fasting plans and recipes, and alongside this, with my clinical background, there’s also a mixture of science in there. I do think it’s important to know how your body works in order to help your body – so I’ve written the science in digestible and easy to read texts that will help improve your daily wellbeing, but without having to make huge and drastic changes.

We’re all so busy with family, kids, careers and travel, I really wanted to write a book that has realistic plans, ones that fit in with our lifestyles, but that at the same time are extremely effective and produce great results – which I think these definitely are!

You Magazine has described you as: “the game-changing nutritionist ripping up the weight-loss rule book” – what inspired you to write this book?

I really felt there was a need for a realistic approach to nutrition. There are so many nutrition and cookery books out there that can actually be quite heavy, so I couldn’t find anything on the market that I felt inspired me to change my lifestyle and feel great without feeling judged by the information I was reading. Nutrition doesn’t have to be heavy – I think you can be start to be healthy in just a few steps, and when you see the ways in which you and your body are improving, it motivates you to do a few more steps.

As a clinician, I’ve also been very much inspired by talking to my patients and knowing the information they want to read – what they can do and what they are willing to do to improve their health. For me I don’t think it works to just tell someone to do something if they don’t actually understand why they are doing it – people are cleverer than that. They want to be in control and in charge of their bodies, so it’s also very motivating for someone to read and understand the science behind the changes they are making.

Many of us have been seduced by a trending diet or innovative ways to boost our wellbeing at some point in our lives – what do you think has made your book so different and successful compared to others out there? 

I think we can all relate to the information in my book, and when the reader applies the methods and tips – fun tips that are digestible and really not rocket science – they see that it works, that it’s effective with great results and that it doesn’t have be a diet misery. There’s only one chapter in my book that’s dedicated to weight loss because, as a clinician, I look at my patients on a holistic level – I look at the way they sleep, their hormonal imbalances, energy levels and so on, so that my recommendations never come with a one sided approach. Everything in our body works together. You can’t just focus on one system because it will imbalance others. You can have a diet plan, but if you’re not sleeping well, your energy levels will become low and you won’t actually lose any weight, you’ll gain it. So it’s really essential to look at everything as a whole – and my book does this – with comprehensive explanations and science that I think people want to read and understand.

In the book you set out two 14-day programmes – can you explain what intermittent fasting is and the ideology and benefits behind this method?

I love intermittent fasting! Not only is it one of the healthiest ways to lose weight, it’s probably one of the most well-researched weight management methods out there. There’s literally tons of research to support the benefits – because it makes the body more resilient, it’s linked to the prevention of chronic disease, inflammatory conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular health and supports your system in its natural process to find and remove cells that are not functioning effectively and create the regeneration of new ones. I also find it fascinating that intermittent fasting supports healthy ageing and the idea that how we eat can help our body to age healthily is so interesting. Certainly as a nutritionist, knowing that the timings and ways in which I eat can affect the overall health of my body is really powerful.

There are two intermittent fasting plans in my book, both designed to make life easier for people who are looking to control their weight within the lifestyles they lead.

The 4/3 plan is based on alternate day fasting where you fast for three non-consecutive days a week and eat mindfully on the other days. This is an extremely effective plan over a short period of time, but it does require a little more organisation than the 16/8 plan because you will need to organise your week in advance and select the days when you can fast based around your schedule.

The 16/8 plan is more easy going and less restrictive where you have 16 hours of fasting over a 24 hour period (which is overnight and part of your day) and an eating window of 8 hours. Both plans are fantastic and effective, but the 16/8 is a little easier to follow, although the weight loss will obviously be slower. Again, it all depends on what your goals are and what fits in with your lifestyle.

Finding the right mindset for healthy living can be hard – not to mention the hectic lifestyles we seem to lead – how can we kickstart our motivation and sustain it?

You need to understand first what it is you want to address and what you want to achieve. Look at what you want to improve with your wellbeing and health, and if the information you are given and the steps you take are realistic, you’ll realise that it’s not actually that hard and that you can do it. You’ll feel better and healthier with more energy and this will give you the motivation to sustain it.

There are a lot of tips in my book. I don’t think you need to sit down and read it from start to finish, but see which chapters relate to you and what you want to achieve. Not everything will be relevant at each stage in your lifestyle throughout the year because, if you think about it, we don’t do the same things to our bodies all year round – our lifestyles change with the seasons. Autumn is the time of year when colds and bugs start to appear so maybe look at your immunity; Christmas can be such a stressful time so look at addressing your hormones and how you sleep, and after Christmas perhaps look at weight management and intermittent fasting. It’s all about doing what’s relevant to you body’s needs at certain times throughout the year – and it’s about putting less pressure on yourself by finding what’s right for you.  

As founder of GP Nutrition, tell us a little about your clinic and the GP Nutrition products?

For me it’s really important to have my clinic and see real people. Having studied science at university, it’s easy to go back to those days and rely on that science base alone, but actually you need to see your patients to listen to what they want and need and to see the humane aspect of your treatments. I spend an hour with each patient when they first come to see me. Usually the first 45 minutes are spent asking why they are there, what their goals are, any nutrients and medications they may be taking, energy levels and sleep, what they’re eating in a typical day, together with any blood and diagnostic tests that may be required. At the end of this I have a very clear perspective about what the patient wants to achieve, and with this information I can create a bespoke plan tailored exactly to their needs and goals.

I designed my supplement range 5 years ago because although there are a lot of high quality supplements on the market, I think many of them are actually quite unapproachable – just too many plastic bottles of endless different pills and powders. So part of my reasoning was to make it easy and more convenient for busy people who want to take supplements. I focus very much on the goal my products will deliver, so I don’t sell them separately. Essentially you buy the programme based around what it is that you want to achieve – whether that’s more energy, hormone balancing, weight loss and management, etc.

Hardest challenge you’ve had to face?

It has to be founding GP Nutrition. I’m a qualified nutritionist who initially had no business background whatsoever and I learned the hard way! I quickly realised that to start a supplement business, you can’t just be a nutritionist, you need to be your own CEO and your own operations manager, and at the beginning I had no idea how any of this worked. It really wasn’t just about designing these beautiful and functional products, it was about everything else that came with that, which at times was so hard and draining. Now I have a very solid business with a great team – but it’s certainly been a big challenge to get here.

Proudest achievement?

Firstly it would be my children of course! But after that it’s a combination of setting up the business and writing my book. When I go back five or six years to the beginning of GP Nutrition and see how far we have come, I am so proud. We are in control, we know what we’re doing and we have learned so much throughout the whole process. Writing my book in some ways really was a combination of pleasure and pain! So many aspects of writing it were great fun and with a sense of humour I was able to carry throughout the writing tone, but because it’s also a science book, there were endlessly long hours of research going right back to university and through everything I have ever learned. Condensing hours and hours of this research into short and comprehensive paragraphs that the reader can understand and find interesting was tortuous at times! But then the book came out and had amazing reviews and that makes me so happy – it was all worth it!

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