Forget the white coat. Dr Hazel Wallace is one of the growing breed of next-gen medical doctors putting lifestyle first. The London-based blogger, podcaster, best-selling author, nutritionist-in-training and PT (yep, so many hats!) started her site, The Food Medic, in 2012 to cut through the health clutter online. It’s since grown into an institution with over 300,000 Insta followers, all tapping into her delicious–but–refreshingly–simple recipes. Here, she talks about the future of medicine and why being the black sheep isn’t always such a bad thing.
Making science sexy and useful!
“The Food Medic started off as a personal project. After my first year of uni and living away from home, I wasn’t exactly the picture of health, and I’d gained a bit of weight. So, I joined a gym, started researching about nutrition and used Instagram to share a personal log. I wasn’t learning any of it in medical school ... which blows my mind because there’s such a huge link between food and health. That’s when I realised I could extend this to more people in more locations, so I turned The Food Medic into a blog. Now, it’s an educational hub, where scientific-based content is shared with a non-scientific audience.”
Prevention is key
“[These days], we’re seeing a whole cohort of diseases that are largely lifestyle related, and they can’t all just be treated with one pill or surgery. Although medication is so important, what we should really be focusing on is the preventative side of things and trying to see what we can do in someone’s lifestyle before [anything else]. When we look at, say, patients who are at risk of type 2 diabetes, and get them to stand up and move around – ‘exercise snacking’ – throughout the day, they improve their blood glucose levels. Getting physically active can save a life.”
True balance takes practice
“Last year, I was in my core training as a junior doctor [and] I was also writing a book and running a business. By the end of that year ... I was so tired and run-down. I made a decision to take a step back from full-time training. It’s allowed me to claim my weekends again and I went on my first proper holiday in I-don’t-knowhow- long. [Finding balance] definitely takes trial and error, but it’s really important that when you work for yourself you need to remember to have days off. It’s important to treat yourself well.”
Own your power
“A journalist once called me the black sheep among other doctors, because I did things differently. My [mentor] consultant told me to not take it as a dig and to see it as a compliment. I’ve now embraced the fact I’m a black sheep. Sometimes it’s not a bad option to do things a little bit differently.”