We talk to leading nutritionist, Fiona Campbell, about dispelling the myths around healthy eating, jumping off the diet band wagon and getting back in touch with real food. Also take a sneak peek into her jewellery collection and her incredible Tiffany engagement ring!
The Nordic Way
After research deemed the Nordic diet as one of the healthiest in Europe, Fiona started her 21 day plan called the Nordic Way. The plan encourages people to eat local, fresh, seasonal produce that they can find close to home. “What was different with the Nordic diet is that they eat local, seasonal produce and it’s all natural. When they eat animals they’re from the wild, and when they eat fish they’re from freshwater sources. Food that is eaten fresh and in season has more nutrients, so therefore it’s like eating superfood all the time.”
Fiona creates a 3 week meal plan for each season that is specifically tailored to include produce that naturally grows at that time. “It’s all about using seasonal fresh herbs and natural ingredients to add flavour, for example using samphire instead of salt. It makes food more interesting as well as healthier. A lot of people are growing up on processed foods, and because of the sugars and salt it dampens your taste buds, so once you slowly start to remove some of those influences you’re more likely to be attracted to healthier food.”
Jumping off the diet bandwagon
Currently running her own clinic in Bristol, Fiona couldn’t be more passionate about helping transform people’s lives through their diet and the buzz she gets from it never gets old. “I love my clinic work. It’s a huge privilege and so rewarding to hear people’s stories. It's fantastic that they feel better about themselves.”
“My whole practise is focused around dispelling the myths around what healthy eating actually means, and just getting off the diet bandwagon and getting back in touch with real food. I’m totally up for feeling comfortable in a swimsuit but the bigger driver is health.”
And the best thing about following Fiona’s mantra is that you don’t have to give up everything you love. “One woman who I worked with lost 6 stone, and that wasn’t through giving up naughty food, but actually having a balance between enjoying yourself and eating healthily, and then training your taste buds to actually appreciate the natural flavours in food, which taste better anyway!”. Fiona’s philosophy places huge emphasis on shape and health, instead of purely weight. “A lot of people jump on the scales every day to check whether or not they’ve lost weight, which is really demotivating, especially with my clients as their weight may not change but their body and lifestyle is.”
“I’m totally up for feeling comfortable in a swimsuit but the bigger driver is health."
Where it all began
After emigrating from Kent at the age of 6 and spending the majority of her childhood in Northern Ontario in Canada, Fiona’s healthy lifestyle was instilled in her from a young age. “My family have always been very active as we grew up outdoors, next to frozen lakes and forests, with all the bears and the raccoons, so I was always outside playing.” Her first taste of nutrition came aged 11 with her first ever science project, which was about vitamin C. “When looking back through old family photos Mum pointed it out. I had completely forgotten about the project but it made think wow, I guess I have been into nutrition for a really long time!”
Fiona’s passion for nutrition didn’t fade throughout her childhood, and when she had to choose where she wanted to take her life and career she decided upon the health industry (after originally enrolling on a fine arts programme). “I went to a career fair where they were talking about naturopathy, which is multidisciplinary training where you become a herbalist, a homeopath and a nutritionist. At the time the programme was $100,000, which I didn’t have, so when I was 20 years old I decided to move to the UK so I could study part time and work.”
After writing to 35 different collages across Europe, Fiona settled on Bristol as the perfect place to study natural medicine and work at the same time. After studying as a homeopath and massage therapist, Fiona then trained as a nutritionist, which in addition to remedial massage is her main focus. “What I learnt is that the maintaining cause of disease is food, so even if you give someone the best-chosen remedy, if your basic nutrition isn’t right and you’re eating bad food every day you won’t see the benefit of the remedy.”
Sky News’ nutrition expert
Her role as a nutritionist has given Fiona some incredible experiences and helped her build a presence in the media; from working with Sky News as a health correspondent to writing features for Your Fitness magazine. “I can’t keep my head straight sometimes, because there are so many different things going on! I write for an African magazine called Smart Choice and I bizarrely ended up with a 30 minute call in talk show when I went to Kenya. It was a bit crazy as I quickly had to ramp up my knowledge on traditional African food!”
As one of Sky News’ go-to experts for health and nutrition, Fiona is there to help set headlines straight. “Whenever a health headline hits the press (which is usually garbage!), I go in and politely say ‘don’t worry, it’s not all about low fat vs low carbs’. If you strip out all the fat or carbs in your diet you’re not going to get any healthier, period. Headlines are scary, it plants messages in your brain that are hard to get rid of.”
When it comes to jewellery, Fiona believes simplicity is key and opts for pieces that focus on design and quality. “Pieces that are really simple, tasteful and elegant, that you wear on their own, can make more of a statement than a massive pieces of in-your-face jewellery.” As with most of us, Fiona tends to wear the same pieces over and over again. “I wore one pair of earrings so much that the clasp broke and the gold wore off, because I literally slept in them!”
Travelling has been a huge part of Fiona’s life, and she loves to experiment with her jewellery depending on where she is in the world. “When I’m in Thailand I’ll buy little anklets in the markets for a boho look, and then when I’m in Kenya I’ll wear the traditional African beads.”
And as for her current favourite piece of jewellery? Well it’s difficult to miss the radiant diamond ring on her ring finger. After knowing each other for many years, her now fiancé, Martin popped the question in February of this year whilst on a trip to Dubai. The whirlwind nature of the proposal meant Fiona had the luxury of choosing her own engagement ring, and in Dubai of all places! “Unfortunately I have a very simple, but sometimes expensive taste, and I knew I wanted either a rose gold or yellow gold.” After walking into Tiffany’s, Fiona fell in love with a simple solitaire diamond ring. Having previously only owned Swarovski, this ring is in a league of its own. “I’m really excited about it. I look at it 20 times a day just to make sure it’s still there!”
As well as having the small matter of a wedding to plan, Fiona also has lots of exciting projects coming up. She’s recently helped a new Icelandic yogurt with a unique bacterial formulation, called Skyr, launch into Waitrose stores across the UK. “I ended up in the Icelandic embassy alongside the prime minister of Iceland and the ambassador of Iceland having to talk to them about it for 30 minutes. There were loads of journalists and there was a massive media buzz about it.” After the success of that launch, Fiona is now working with two different food companies to help them with exciting new product design.
With her clinic based in Bristol, Fiona has decided to open up another clinic in North Devon. “I have a couple of days a week working at my clinic in Bristol, and then the rest of the time I’m working on new product design, writing articles or running to London for meetings.”
We admire the way Fiona is so motivated by the health and happiness of her family, friends and clients, and the way she is helping hundreds of people achieve a positive balance between naughty and healthy foods. Visit her website here.