Q&A with naturopathic nutritionist, Jess Shand

Before the end of 2022, we sat down with Naturopathic nutritionist, Jess Shand.

Having previously been diagnosed with PCOS, Jess felt lost & frustrated, battling low energy, gut issues and other symptoms. It was at this point that she turned to nutrition, becoming fascinated with the naturopathic approach to diet and lifestyle. 

Q1. Where does your passion for nutrition come from?

I’ve always been into cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, I’m a true foodie at heart. I think it’s my Maltese heritage, my family are into food in a big way and my love language is definitely home cooked feast food with family and my closest friends, it brings me SO much joy. Eating for me is as much about what the food is as it is the experience and how its eaten. 

But my passion for nutrition really evolved when I was diagnosed with PCOS, I wanted to naturally manage my symptoms and support my body as much as I possibly could. I was feeling lost and frustrated and didn’t know what to do or where to start. I had low energy, breakout skin, gut issues that sometimes made not want to eat out, my hair was brittle and wouldn’t grow past a certain length and I just constantly craved sugar and felt guilty when I ate it. I’d then kill myself at the gym to make up for it, it was such a negative cycle. I didn’t have a good relationship with food or myself in all honestly, I was the most anxious I had ever been and just feel disconnected to my true self. So it was at this point that I turned to my nutrition, I become fascinated with the naturopathic approach and the more I read the more inspired I felt to make changes to my diet and lifestyle as I wanted to take control of my health in a practical way so to me that was the food I was putting into my body each day that I knew I could change and improve in order to for me to try to feel better.

It was also around this time I was wanting to prepare my body for pregnancy too, which was the biggest driving factor and motivator to stick with it as I was worried about my polycystic ovaries. I gradually started introducing more and more plant-based foods into my diet which made me feel better and better and better… i can’t even put into words the difference I experienced in a relatively short period of time! not only did it help me balance my hormones and improve my skin but also healed my gut symptoms too. When I think back to the start of this whole journey, I genuinely feel like I was almost a different person in both mind and body. 

 It started with food and it will always be food at the core as I know first-hand and see it over and over with every client I’m lucky enough to work with, just how powerful and healing it is but it’s become so much more than just the food which is why my naturopathic approach aligns so much to my core values and how I want to feel in myself and how I take care of my clients and empower them to enhance their lives too starting with the food they nourish themselves with.  

Q2. What made you begin your @eatnourishglow instagram account as an outlet for wellness and food?

I first started @eatnourishandglow to document my hormone and gut health enhancement journey because I found it really motivating sharing my journey with food and how I was self-healing and it soon become one of the most important parts of my life and something I’m beyond grateful I started because of the lovely little community I have built and the opportunities I’ve been fortunate to have had since starting my Instagram account. In the early days I just shared the meals I was cooking and the foods I was buying and eating that were making me feel good and since starting my nutrition practice and focusing in on the power of plants and naturopathic health, its evolved into a space for not just sharing nourishing foods and predominately plant-based recipes, but also easy tips on how to easily enhance mealtimes, increase plant-diversity and eat to feel better and taking it back to basics and ultimately embracing the power of plants-  plus nourishing daily habits, toxic-free health & beauty recommendations as skin health has always been a huge passion of mine. I want my content to be accessible, relatable, and to show just how easy it is to enhance your nutrition by embracing the nutritional value plants have to offer and taking a more mindful, nourishing approach to food and mealtimes. 

I so strongly believe that health and wellness doesn’t need to be complex or have a set of rules attached to it like diet culture has led us to believe for so long, I like to strip it back and focus on real nourishing whole foods and positive daily habits.  

The areas I’m mostly passionate about are gut, skin, and hormonal health as these are the areas I’ve personally struggled with in the past and that I’ve been able to transform thanks to the power of good nutrition, these are also the areas my clients most commonly suffer with too. 

Q3: Can you tell us more about the pillars of nutrition that you focus on?

I use a holistic food and lifestyle approach as medicine to enhance the body’s ability to function well and therefore optimise overall health & wellbeing. 

I believe in the power of a predominately plant-based diet rich in colourful whole food varieties and building delicious balanced meals to support a thriving gut, consistent energy levels and balanced hormone health. 

 Eating at predictable times and allowing the body to rest and digest in-between meals and overnight to support good digestion and help the body eliminate toxins and hormones to support hormone balance and increased vitality. 

Using the three main meals breakfast, lunch and dinner to pack in the nutrition needed to optimise your health. 

Establishing and cementing nourishing daily rituals both via the food you eat and the way you eat and take care of yourself. I love to help my clients prioritise their health and wellbeing by encouraging them to reconnect with their bodies so they’re able to hear the signs and signals that their bodies are giving them and are able to tailor their diet and lifestyle to suit their individual needs both physically and mentally to feel balanced each day. 

 Q4: What are some of your proudest ‘pinch me’ moments to date?

Lots of lovely little moments I’m really proud of such as getting to regularly contribute to magazine articles in some of my fave titles such as Vogue, Sheerluxe, Harper’s Bazaar and also getting to regularly work with brands I genuinely love and use myself including being asked to be the official brand ambassador for @manifesto.nutrition & working on @wildnutritionltd campaigns which are two of my most loved health brands. I also had a real pinch me moment last year when I found out I was chosen to be part of the Sheerluxe wellness influencers guide, such an honour and I still can’t believe I was picked!

Q5: What are some of your favourite foods to eat?

As you know already, I’m SUCH a foodie, the more colour the better as colourful plants taste good and make me feel amazing. Its impossible to pick only a few of my fave foods as I love soooo many foods but some of my current faves are my roasted squash autumn salad bowl, beetroot and ginger soup, my dairy-free creamy mushroom pasta and I’m really into peanut butter porridge loaded with berries crushed nuts and seeds I find it such a comforting yet energising start to my day. 

Q6: What have been some of the most significant challenges faced whilst growing your own online business?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced and still very much struggle with is juggling my time as I’m definitely someone who puts full energy into everything i do which is great but also can be mentally exhausting and overwhelming at times. Thankfully I do very much value & prioritise down time when I can so I can practice what I preach as its the only way for me to be able to function mentally and physically and give my family and my business what they both need, but sometimes this is sooo much easier said than done as anyone with kids will be able to relate to I’m sure and lately I have not being doing a great job of- something I’m definitely working on! 

I’m a mum to my 2 year old Sebby and being present and giving him the best of me has always been my number 1 priority but the business has grown more quickly than I could’ve imagined and the whole instagram thing was never something I planned for or thought would be something I’d need to make time for so I’d say time management for creating content and shooting recipes is a challenge at times as carving out time to plan, shoot and create content is extremely time consuming and I always feel it could be better so I just need to manage my own expectations on that front. 

The other half of my heart outside of my family goes to my work as having the privilege of working so closely with so many incredible women and supporting them in their health journeys is by far the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever, ever done in my career and as cliche as it sounds really doesn’t feel like a job for the most part I put my heart and soul into it and genuinely love it. So being a mum and looking after my nutrition clients to the best of my ability are my two proprieties but the challenge is content creation! 

Q7: And lastly, what does a day in the life of a Naturopathic Nutritionist look like?

Right now its hard to give an accurate description as everyday is so different and things are crazier and busier than ever as we are in the middle of doing a full house renovation so maybe I will get back to you on this one when normal life resumes!

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