Get your glow on, how to develop healthy habits, featuring Madeline Shaw
A leading voice in the wellness space, Madeleine Shaw discusses a wide range of healthy habits in this episode with our host, Dr Gemma Newman. Starting with an IBS diagnosis years ago, Madeleine embarked on her own wellness journey which has led to her becoming a qualified nutritional therapist, bestselling cookery writer, podcaster, yoga instructor and mum.
In this episode, we explore her morning and evening routines, her favourite healthy snack ideas for on the go, how to meditate and why it provides so many people with comfort, plus tips on instilling healthy habits in the generation to come.
Leading cookbook author and yoga coach Madeleine Shaw is one of the best-known names on the wellness scene – an ‘influencer’ before we really knew what that was! Her ‘Get the Glow’ philosophy is all about being happy and healthy through a combination of eating well, movement and meditation – and when you’re feeling so good, you glow. Get her top tips on all things wellness.
When it comes to beating stress – and the sleeplessness that follows – Madeleine’s go-to tool is meditation. What if, like many, you’ve tried it and didn’t get on with it? She advises us to persist. ‘Everyone thinks during meditation. It’s hard to completely still your mind.’ Madeleine also understands people are ‘fearful of stillness. We’re so used to distracting ourselves with telly or Instagram.’ Her advice: start small with three deep breathes: inhale for four, exhale out for six, ‘then build up like you would with exercise.’
Her third pillar (alongside yoga and meditation) almost goes without saying – eating well. Her approach is, famously, about delicious, easy, healthy food. So, what are her top tips? ‘I’ll do a Sunday prep where I’ll make two dressings, roast some vegetables. The week is easier if I have things in the fridge ready to go, not frantically running to the supermarket.’
Snackwise, she’s a fan of home-made bars ‘where you blend seeds with coconut oil and dates, press into a tin, freeze and chop them up.’ Her on-the-go breakfast is bircher muesli: ‘soak oats with some apple juice and oat milk, and that lasts a few days in the fridge.’
You’d expect a fresh, balanced diet to be important to Madeleine, but she also values supplements. ‘Of course, it’s important to get nutrients from foods, but I do think there are areas, especially something like vitamin D, where it can be really hard to get enough.’
We asked Madeleine to share her wellness routine and the things she always tries to incorporate into her daily life.
'Moving & meditation are my absolute must. I would say, sometimes I won't do the movement but I will always meditate every morning. I do something called transmeditation - it's a mantra based meditation, where you are given a mantra that you repeat in your mind'
'The other thing I always do in the morning is go outside. So much research on circadium rhythm and sleeping well is to have as much natural light as possible, so I tend to either meditate outside or at least go outside for a minute to get some fresh air.'
'In the evening, I always wind down and turn off my phone quite early and try not look at a screen past 9 oclock, read my book, do some skincare or some journalling, or sudoko! I try to do something chill in the evening'
Tellingly, her gut issues began resolving once her lifestyle changed. Does she have any advice for others with IBS? (Up to one in five UK adults are affected.) ‘For me dealing with stress has been the best way to manage my symptoms. IBS triggers differ from person to person. It’s definitely about a holistic approach. Keep a food diary, where you analyse what you eat, or incorporate yoga and see if that helps. Being your own detective is important.’
Careerwise, her eureka moment came when a woman she knew approached her in the street in Sydney. ‘She said: ‘You look so great, you’re glowing’.’ The encounter inspired her to focus on the word ‘glow’. ‘I thought it was a beautiful way to describe how you look and feel when you look after your insides. If you’re sleeping well, moving well, eating lots of plants, it does shine through.’ Her 2015 cookbook –Get the Glow – went on to become a best-seller.
Her new vitamin range, a collaboration with BetterYou (available at Holland and Barrett stores and online here), was born out of an understanding that not everyone gets on with traditional tablets. ‘For a lot of people, swallowing pills is difficult and unsettling for their stomach. In my pregnancy, I was really sick. There was definitely no way I could swallow any.’ All four products are easy-to-use oral sprays: a conception supplement, a pregnancy supplement, a hair, skin and nails supplement and a children’s health supplement.
As a parent, being a role model is particularly important to her. ‘I’m quite unusual as a mother,’ she says. ‘I don’t feel guilty if I want to do yoga instead of play with my son. I want him to see I value movement and take my health seriously.’
A doctor for over 17 years, Gemma Newman has worked in many specialities as a doctor including elderly care, endocrinology, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, psychiatry, general surgery, urology, vascular surgery, rehabilitation medicine and General Practice.
Dr Newman's specialist interests are in holistic health and plant-based nutrition as well as lifestyle medicine. In her practice she has come to understand that body, mind and soul are not separate, and that it is only in addressing the root causes of stress and disconnection that we can truly heal, from the inside out.