Introducing: The Amazing Pilar Manzanaro from Purple Carrot Nutrition.

Pilar is one of those unique women who walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. She understands the demands of a busy lifestyle, and works to help clients juggle their load with style, helping them to optimise their health within their life’s constraints. This in turn allows them to flourish, rather than just tread water.

Speaking and teaching around London, in addition to her personal consultations, Pilar runs fun and inspirational cooking classes and is a whiz on social media – having a look at her Instagram feed is one of the best ways to get a feel for who she is and what she does. I love it when a practitioner does herself just the same as she asks of her clients!

I caught up with her a few weeks ago to ask her some questions about herself, her work as a functional medicine nutritionist, her path to nutrition and how she manages to keep a work/life balance with three kids and something which is not just a job, but a career and a passion.

How did you find your way to nutritional therapy?

It all started with my love of  good food! I grew up in Spain, in a family that enjoyed cooking and catching up over lovely long lunches. After moving to London in my twenties, I embarked in a career in finance and my passion for cooking evolved into an interest on how food and diet affect health, especially because of my own gut issues which affected my energy levels and impacted my fertility.

Since conventional medicine couldn’t explain the recurrent pregnancy losses, I turned to acupuncture and nutrition. And that was my turning point, I quit my job in the city and started a degree in Nutritional Therapy at BCNH. Three babies and four years later I was full qualified and helping clients improve their health through a better diet!  Inspired by my own journey, I specialise in women’s health including fertility, pregnancy, and family nutrition.

I find the way you work, in the functional medicine mode, to be really effective. Can you explain what this is, and how it differs from standard nutritional therapy?

I use the functional medicine approach with my clients as our body systems are inter-linked and can affect one another, especially when looking at conditions that could be the result of hormonal imbalances.

I spend time listening to my clients and take a person-based rather than a disease-centred approach which helps identify the underlying causes of disease and makes finding personalised solutions not just easier but also more effective.  I find that working with my clients to find optimal solutions rather than telling them what to do increases the chances of success.

Why did you introduce cooking classes to your practice?

I have a passion for cooking using fresh and nutritious ingredients. I also believe that to have a great diet it is important to know what goes into the food we eat and how it is cooked.

Many of my clients were interested in learning to cook meals that were not just healthy but tasty, easy to make, and family-friendly.  Some other had more specific goals such as cooking to increase fertility, improve their energy, balance hormones, etc.  So I started doing one-on-one cooking sessions to address clients’ specific needs. As interest grew, I founded PurpleCarrot Nutrition to run group cooking workshops for adults. I also expanded into working at schools to teach children about healthy eating and basic cooking skills. Paula Quest, our nutritional chef, joined the team to work on recipe development, menu planning and co-host workshops.

We now run monthly workshops in Hampstead, covering topics such as Detox, Family Meals or Low Sugar Diets. We also run workshops at Borough Kitchen and work with Béaba and Thermomix. We continue to work with schools in North London to teach children about healthy eating and basic cooking skills.

How do you juggle your family life and your busy practice? Any tips for the working mums who will be reading this blog?

It can be challenging to juggle workshops, running my practice and making sure I am on time for the school run. A lot of fast walking is involved so no high heels for me!

The most important lessons I’ve learned in the last couple of years are to focus on what really matters i.e. family comes first no matter what; prioritise and learn to say ‘no’ as you are not going to achieve much if you get yourself completely exhausted; and last but not least, build a great team. PurpleCarrot is run by working mums, we understand the pressures and make sure we support each other in and outside work.

And of course there are two tools I use on a daily basis: planning and involving the family in what I do. Planning is key to make sure important things get done! I try to schedule our weekly activities, work and family meals to avoid dinner time stress. We do relax on weekends thought and tend to go more with the flow. As a family we love food and cooking: we go to farmers markets and we cook lots of things together from keeping our  sourdough alive, to making gyoza with Christmas lunch leftovers!

What is the number one thing you find yourself saying to clients? What would you like the opportunity to share with people who are reading this blog?

The one thing I always tell my clients, and anyone who’d listen, is to avoid going a diet that has not been designed for them. Especially those faddy diets off the internet that eliminate or massively restrict entire food groups and introduce difficult to find ingredients as they might not provide the nutrients we need, can be quite difficult to follow, and might do more harm than good in the long run.

My  advice is always to work with a nutrition professional to design a way of eating that works for YOU, and to ensure that overall your diet is balanced  – and not punish yourself for having a piece of cake. We all love cake and once in a while it’s not necessarily a bad thing… enjoy what you eat as long as it makes you feel great!

Pilar is based in Hampstead, and works mum, as well as working-woman friendly, hours.

Do pop on to her website and be inspired to make a change for the better to your daily life!

Naava.

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