We’ve never been ones to shy away from understanding the ins and outs of nutrition and the effect our diet can have on our mental and physical wellbeing (as well as our skin and hair). But it’s always refreshing to meet someone who pushes the boundaries that little bit further. Which is why it was a pleasure to spend a morning in nutritional therapist Antonia Magor’s light and airy West London home.
With a background in fashion, Antonia started her career at Rick Owens in Paris, before spending two years in Florence and finally returning to London to study nutritional science. These days she runs her own freelance nutritional therapy practice and contributes regularly to the likes of Refinery 29 and Byrdie. What we love about Antonia is her holistic yet practical, honest approach to nutrition - as a young woman herself, she understands (and provides solutions to) the pressures and fads that seem to more prevalent and pressurised than ever. With that in mind, we caught up with her to talk food, balance and the perils of clean eating.
Tell us a little about your background and what you were up to before training to be a nutritionist.
My background was initially in fashion and art, I worked in Italy and Paris before coming to London and it was there that my passion for health really started to really develop. I loved my role within the creative side of the industry but I felt that the pressures and misrepresentations were really unhealthy.
Have you always been interested in food, health and wellbeing?
I’ve always loved food and growing up on a farm meant that understanding where your food came from was just a natural part of life. It was really when I moved to Italy and started to cook for myself and friends that’s when I became so excited by cooking. The Italian attitude towards fresh produce, home cooking and showing love through eating and sharing food together was so inspiring. That’s what I really love about food, it’s such a powerful part of our health and also as a way of connecting, whether that’s to friends and family or to yourself.
What kind of approach do you take with clients?
My process very much depends on what the client needs, and also what can be practical for them and their lifestyle. I’m really aware that everyone is very individual and tailor my advice accordingly. I find that knowledge is empowering so explaining to my clients what is happening within their bodies or why I’m making the suggestions I am is a really important part of my approach.
What are some of your best pieces of advice when it comes to nutrition?
It’s difficult to say one thing! I think the main thing is that nutrition is complex and a healthy relationship with food and diet looks a little bit different for everyone.
Do you think women have a different relationship to food than men? How do you tackle this with your work?
I think historically there has been a lot of pressure on women to look a particular way and unfortunately this can unconsciously complicate our relationship with food. We’re also bombarded with extreme headlines, fads and different diets constantly, which is hard to be immune to and creates a lot of confusion and pressure. Although more often than not this is targeted towards women I also do feel this is in increasing burden for men as well. However on a positive side I do see a lot more awareness developing for men about the power of nutrition on health rather than just a traditional fitness focus. In clinic I work to create positive relationships with food as well as improving someone’s medical condition or health goal. I always analyse where the root causes of issues or illness are coming from, it is really individual and everyone’s relationship with food is different.
In terms of your beauty routine, do you take a similar approach to your diet as you do to your skin and hair?
When I started to learn more about nutrition I took more of an interest on what I was using on my body as well. I phased out some of the synthetic products and started to replace them with natural ingredients or ethical companies. It’s definitely a “less is more” approach now with fewer products than I used to use! But there are some great make up brands like RMS and for skincare I like Pai. It’s a personal choice and it can be a lot to do in one go so I started piece by piece replacing each old product when needed with a natural version. For hair care I definitely take the “less is more” approach and hardly ever style it or blow dry it myself! Good simple oils or products, and nutrition wise having adequate protein and fatty acids in your diet is my secret to good, strong hair.
What would be a typical day on a plate for you?
I’m a big advocate of protein for breakfast, I’m also more of a savoury person so it’s usually scrambled eggs on toast with greens or even some leftovers. I don’t really understand why breakfast time only seems to be limited to “breakfast foods”! Lunch is typically a combination of grains, greens, proteins like chicken, oily fish, tofu, nuts, seeds or legumes and topped with a dollop of hummus. A kind of fridge mash up of whatever I’ve got. Then in the evenings I love cooking for friends so I might slow cook a piece of meat with a whole bunch of salads or if I’m cooking for myself I focus on having plant proteins for variety. Dahl with coconut rice is usually on repeat and my supper at least once a week. Probably finished off with some fruit and dark chocolate.
What do you make of the current ‘clean eating’ craze and it’s effect on young women?
I work with a lot of young professional women, it saddens me that there isn’t just the pressure to look a certain way, there’s now pressure to eat a certain way. The “clean eating” movement may have started with good intentions however it seems to have created a morality around food and huge divisions in nutrition, which isn’t helpful for anyone. Young women are particularly targeted by these messages and I think it creates a lot of confusion and disordered eating. It’s really important to understand we can enjoy being healthy without being labeled as “clean” and that no food is “dirty” or “bad”.
Finally, where are your favourite spots to eat in London?
I think London is one of the best cities for restaurants and it’s pop ups and I love places like – Kricket London for their flavours and sampire fries, Bao for it’s buns which are my favourite things ever and Salon in Brixton. If it’s a treat Petersham Nurseries is a very special spot or The Shed in Notting Hill for their farm to fork ethos. For healthy food I love the Good Life Eatery (in particularly their chicken meatballs), Daylesford, Farmacy for their LA vibes and Juice Baby’s Skin Soother juice.
Words: Lucy Vincent
Images: Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Journal