Avid yoga bunny, author advocator of a plant based diet; Julie Montagu is a yoga and nutrition teacher at London’s top studios and recently named one of the Top 10 holistic health icons in the world. She runs The Flexi Food Academy, an online nutrition course, author of best-selling cookbook Superfoods, and is a mom of 4. We caught up with her to discuss her new book Eat Real Food: Rules For Health, happiness and Unstoppable Energy!
We are so exited to read your new book Eat Real Food, Happiness and Unstoppable Energy! Tell us all how it came about?
I received an email almost 2 years ago from Amy Kiberbd, commissioning editor at Hay House Publishing, who wanted to set up a meeting. At first I was like, Um – I already have a cookbook published and she said, ‘yes, we know that but we still want to meet with you about another book’ and well, we met and that’s where the ball really started rolling because this book is about much more than food and/or recipes. Yes, of course, it has those in there as well, but I wanted to really go into detail about why certain food groups were so good for you and what they did for the body AND the mind. And then there is the other ‘food’ – the yoga, meditation, breathing and affirmations that have pretty much saved my life and I wanted to bring those ‘foods’ into the book as well.
What benefits do you hope your book can bring to its readers?
I really hope it shows readers that yes, it’s super important to eat well with the foods we can find at our supermarkets for the body but that it’s just as important in my view to eat well for the mind with foods that we can find in our yoga, breath, stilling the mind, being present and affirming a positive mindset.
You mention your love for superfoods in your book – which are your favourites and how will they benefit our bodies?
My view is this: Get one dark green leafy veg in a day (kale, spinach, cabbage etc.) to help clean the blood, eat one whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, millet etc.) to help with energy levels, get one healthy fat (avocado, nuts, seeds) and one superfood (goji berries, bee pollen, cacao) – so if you pick one food from each of these food groups a day, well, your body will love you.
What do you mean by having a ‘simple’ food philosophy?
I am a firm believer of 80% eating super well for you and your body and then 20% NOT stressing at all about what you eat. Because most of the time the stress from worrying is worse for our bodies than eating something bad. And I talk about the effect of stress on the body in my book as well. So, what I’m saying is this: Have those french fries with mayo when you want rather than stressing about should you shouldn’t you and if you do, you get mad at yourself afterwards. Just enjoy and let it go.
What would your three top tips for maintaining a healthy diet be?
I’m going to give you five! Stop buying and eating processed and packaged foods, follow my ‘Flexi Five a Day’ (it’s easy!), Meditate 2 minutes a day (it actually can help with weight loss and reduce stress), breathe consciously for 5 minutes a day (this will help calm the body but increase the mind) and try to get in 10 minutes of movement a day (this will kick start the endorphins and put you in a good mood!)
Could you describe your typical day?
Life has become a bit easier this year as my youngest was old enough to take the school bus. So, not having to do the school run for the first time in nearly 14 years was sort of shocking!!! (but I’m not complaining!) So, once I get all 4 kids out of the house around 7:45am – my day begins! Emails, cycling to teach yoga, followed by meetings usually, a quick and healthy lunch at one of my favourite spots in London, somedays I’ll be blogging or public speaking and recipe creating in the afternoons, other days it’s editing my next book and then it’s always back home by 5pm when all 4 return from school. Supper is made, homework is done and on 2 nights of the week, I head out to teach an evening yoga class. So my days are jam packed but I love being busy doing what I love.
What does happiness mean to you and how do you maintain it?
For me, it’s all about doing at least one thing good a day for you and your body. So wake up in the morning, and tell yourself you’re going to do one good thing – whether that’s having a home-cooked meal, a green juice, 5 minutes of meditation or simply repeating a positive affirmation. And then once you start incorporating one thing in each day, your pile of ‘good stuff’ will start to grow and so will your happiness. I truly believe that happiness starts with ourselves. If we love ourselves, then it’s much easier to love our life and when we love our life, we are happy.
What is your typical morning routine?
Legs up the wall pose (well, against my bed!) and do some breath work for a total of 2 minutes – I time it on my iPhone! Followed by a quick round of Sun Salutations and a big mug of my favourite green tea!!!
We all have bad days from time to time – how do you cope with these times and keep on top of things?
One word: BREATHE. I will stop what I’m doing, put myself into a forward fold, close my eyes and breathe for the body anywhere from 2 – 10 minutes. I’ve been doing this for years and trust me, it works!
We know you adore yoga – what does your weekly exercise routine look like?
I honestly don’t think I could live without yoga. Seriously. When I step onto my mat, I expose my strengths and weakness to myself which allows me to look at them deeper not only in my practice but in my life! And within the course of development, you often find the greatest accomplishments. Yoga is so much more than the poses because within each pose there lies the ability in yourself to bring about healing and awareness. And so this may surprise a lot of people but I do one Dharma yoga class a week, two vinyasa flow classes, one Kundalini and one restorative. I need them all!
Get your copy of Julie’s book, Eat Real Food here!