Zoë Stirling is Nutritional Therapist offering consultations from Akasha Wellbeing in London and also works with CPRESS on the Fulham Road. I have known Zoë for many years and she has been so kind and helpful to me as I have embarked on my health and fitness journey. I have turned to Zoë many times in the last year, which is when I really decided to make huge changes to my lifestyle and she has always been so generous with her advice and most importantly so incredibly knowledgeable. Zoë keeps her finger on the pulse of the nutrition world and so you can feel truly confidant talking to her about pretty much any area of nutrition you are interested in (or in my case – confused about) and she will set you on the right path. Zoë’s enthusiasm and passion for what she does is so infectious and she literally radiates good health…. if there was ever a testament to leading a healthy, nutritious lifestyle – Zoë is it!!
Where did your personal wellness journey begin? Did this take you directly into the world of nutrition?
I started thinking more about nutrition way back at University when I was studying Anatomy & Physiology; in reading the subject it made me think more deeply about the body and how it functions. During my time at university I also noticed I was less tolerant to alcohol than others, a hangover would last for days, I just felt tired all the time and through the stresses of studying I started having sleeping issues. I quickly made the connection that eating well made me feel well and that’s when I started to look more deeply into the area; I’ve never looked back.
What can a client coming to see you at Akasha expect?
A totally holistic experience! The wonderful thing about Akasha is how tranquil it is; you’d never know that you were beneath the hustle and bustle of Regent Street. I start by having an in depth consultation with clients, finding out about their lifestyle, current diet and any symptoms that have been bothering them. I find a lot of clients don’t realise they’ve just been getting by rather than thriving day-to-day. Using all this information I put together a tailored programme, which focuses on correcting any underlying imbalances through diet, lifestyle and supplement measures. No two people EVER have exactly the same programme so it really is an individual experience.
What have been the key moments of your career so far?
There is still nothing better than being able to truly help clients achieve better health and wellbeing. Receiving a thank you email is ALWAYS a key career moment for me as ultimately that’s why I’m in the business!
Why do you think people aren’t as clued up on nutrition as they should be?
I think people are getting there but what I’d really like them to realise is that just ‘being healthy’ might not be healthy for them! There’s a lot of information out there at the moment, but each of us is unique both in terms of our diet and lifestyles and therefore I believe in a much more focused nutrition approach. If you’ve broken your arm then why bandage up your leg? In other words, if you’re suffering from digestive issues then why follow a weight loss diet? I believe in the targeted and therapeutic use of foods, which support functional imbalances that make us all different.
What are the most common nutritional mistakes you find even people leading a healthy life are making?
Over ‘nut-ting’. I personally feel that most people over consume them. Don’t get me wrong, I think nuts are a great food, but in balance and moderation. Some people are having them for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snack times! That’s just too much.
What’s your perfect breakfast?
That’s a hard one as it’s my favourite meal of the day! Hmmm….. probably boiled or poached eggs with avocado topped in dried rosemary, chilli and olive oil plus grilled Shiitake mushrooms, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Obviously this is more of a weekend breakfast when I have a bit more time for preparation!
Post workout food/snack?
This is totally dependent on what type of workout I’ve done: cold-pressed juice post yoga, smoothie post cardio and I time my next meal soon after a more resistance based session.
Who is your nutrition muse?
Dr Marilyn Glenville. She is truly inspiring when it comes to women’s health. She has written some incredible books such as the The Natural Health Bible for Women and Natural Solutions to PCOS. She has helped so many women and continues to do so. She is also incredibly up-to-date in terms of scientific advancements in the nutrition field, which is really is key for all of us Nutritional Therapists, just like it would be for scientists or doctors.
Who is your fitness muse?
Maria Sharipova – she has a strong and athletic physique, yet is slim at the same time. I sometimes feel that we’ve all gone loopy over working-out and trying to sculpt the perfect arms or behind. Maria Sharipova trains, she eats and it’s not about aesthetics for her, she does it for the love of the sport, I like that kind of attitude when it comes to fitness. On top of that you don’t catch her taking a selfie of her perfectly sculpted abs do you?!
Who has the biggest influence on your life and what have they taught you?
Without sounding cheesy it would have to be my husband. He is the most thoughtful and kind man who not only supports me in everything I do, but also inspires me. Through his advice, he has given me strength when things have been tough and challenges me to take steps forwards that I didn’t even dream were possible.
How do you manage your life/fitness/health balance? What advice would you give someone that struggles with this due to work/family commitments
I know this isn’t always easy and I sometimes feel that we’re all just feeling constantly guilty about not going to the gym, eating better or relaxing. My advice would be to do the best you can in the situation you’re in. If that means you can only get to the gym once a week then do it and make sure you do something you enjoy! The worst thing you can do is get even more stressed about it.
Where is your favourite London wellness spot (fitness/wellbeing/nutrition)
Other than Akasha & CPRESS (I work with both so I’m slightly biased), I do love Daylesford on Westbourne Grove and I think that The Detox Kitchen have got some great things going on. I also love the Retreat Café both in Parsons Green and Soho.
One inspirational book? (can be nutrition/recipes/health or just life)
‘I wish I hadn’t eaten that’ by Maria Cross. Super book that is more Nutritional Therapy focused but written in non-scientific language so it’s suitable for everyone. This book really hits home about the concept that everyone should be eating food dependent on their individual needs and symptoms.
When you have an off (unhealthy) day (or more) how do you motivate yourself to get back on track?
Unfortunately my body doesn’t take to anti-nutrients very well and therefore I feel totally out of balance when I eat badly. This feeling is a motivator in itself!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Carrot cake – I kid myself that it’s ‘healthier’ because it contains carrots, obviously it’s totally sugar laden!
One bit of advise you would give to HLL readers?
Always think about the nutritional value of food i.e. what is this food going to give me, how is it going to nourish me and benefit me. I find this helps clients to be more mindful about food and what they’re putting into their bodies. Remember, no fast food tastes as good as being healthy feels!