In 2004, after 12 years in advertising and marketing I realised I was unhappy, unhealthy and unfulfilled. I went to see a wise old Ayurvedic doctor who changed my diet and gave me Ayurvedic medicine. I’d always loved food and cared about what I ate but this was something quite new; this was eating in a totally different way. Yep, I had to make changes and it was a challenge but it was an adventure and after a matter of days, I felt SO different. Clearer headed, the fog had lifted and I was hooked. From there it was clear, I was going to quit my job and retrain in nutrition. It was a plan that made no sense on paper but I didn’t care, I was following a passion.
In 2006 my father went out for his usual run, suffered a massive heart attack and never came back. He was 58 years old and by most standards, extremely healthy. He didn’t drink to excess, didn’t smoke, he ate porridge for breakfast and got more than his 5 a day. But the autopsy showed his arteries were very furred up, it was a time bomb waiting to go off.
Whilst personally devastating, the gift that it gave me was first hand experience that there is no single healthy diet or lifestyle. We have to understand genetics and our family history to put each persons needs in to context. This is what functional medicine approaches to nutrition or personalised nutrition is all about. My dad had no contact with his Argentinian side of the family who I later found out had lots of incidences of circulatory health issues.
I dove deeper and deeper into my subject. I finished my BSc and took post-graduate courses in functional medicine with IFM (Institute for Functional Medicine) and FMU (Functional Medicine University). There is ongoing tension between personalised nutrition and functional medicine approaches to the more conventional, mainstream advice. The arguments always involve having or not having an evidence based approach. I realised if I wanted to master this subject, I needed to understand the conventional approach more deeply and so, I enrolled and completed the MSc programme in Nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey.
I also realised that an integrated approach was called for, nutrition wasn’t always the only answer to people’s problems. I was asked to join the leading integrative nutrition clinic in the UK, the Optimum Health Clinic, which also gave me an opportunity to specialise in Chronic Fatigue. I’ve been a key member of the nutrition team there since 2011.
Around the same time I was invited to join Tignum as a performance nutrition coach. Tignum are performance catalysts, working with leaders and executives in sustainable high performance. I’ve worked with executives across the globe on the performance aspects of nutrition and how we can enhance cognitive function.
In 2013 I realised London, which had been my home for 18 years, no longer made me happy. I craved a quieter life with animals and countryside. I now spend my time between Ibiza and the UK. Ibiza life for me revolves around my dog Maude and a polo pony called Juan.
When life is sweet, my food doesn’t need to be.
Angela Walker MSc