Become a Paleo Pro with Nutritionist Suzie Walker
- 06 June 2017 06 June 2017
Suzie is a nutritionist and founder of The Primal Pantry. She transitioned to a paleo lifestyle 6 years ago, and decided to set up The Primal Pantry in 2014 after struggling to find healthy, on-the-go snacks that support a paleo diet. Suzie is on a mission to challenge the packaged food industry by forging a real food revolution.
Interview with Nutritionist Suzie Walker
What was the motivation behind creating The Primal Pantry?
When I was practising as a nutritionist, my clients were coming to me for ideas on healthy snacks that they could eat throughout the day. They were struggling to find products on the market that were healthy, gluten free, natural, and clean. So I got my blender out and some of my favourite ingredients, made up some samples and they went down well! I developed the recipes, found a manufacturer, created and designed the packaging and here we are! My daughter Grace was also a heavy influencer, as I didn’t want her to grow up eating food that was overly processed and full of sugar and junk. She still approves each new flavour that we bring out!
What is the Paleo diet and why is it good for you?
The Paleo diet is also known as the ‘caveman diet’, and is based on the foods that were available to our ancestors (high quantities of meat that could be hunted, and fruit and vegetables that could be picked from the ground). Everything is eaten in their natural state. The Paleo diet is based upon following our ancestors example, and only eating the foods that our bodies have been designed to eat for 1000s of years. As years have gone by, advances in technology have made foods like dairy, gluten, grains, and processed foods more readily available. Currently 70% of our calories come from foods that would never have been available to our ancestors. Although we might have discovered new foods and used new technology to process them, human evolution hasn’t caught up yet and our genetics are not evolved enough to digest these foods properly.
The Paleo diet avoids gluten, grains, dairy, refined sugars, starches, and processed foods. However, you can enjoy meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. The Paleo diet is good for you as it lacks many common allergens and food culprits as it avoids dairy and gluten. It can help with reducing inflammation, improving sleep patterns, stabilising blood sugar and balancing hormones.
How did your interest in nutrition start?
I’ve always been interested in healthy eating and nutrition from when I was a teenager. I think it’s extremely important to be aware of what you put into your body, and the health benefits various foods can bring. Previous to The Primal Pantry, I was practising as a nutritional therapy consultant, working with clients on a one-to-one basis. Before this, I was working within the food industry in marketing for companies such as Nestle, Innocent and Little Dish. Therefore, my interest in nutrition has always been reflected across my career!
Talk us through what you eat on a typical day.
I follow the Paleo diet myself – I always start the day with a bulletproof coffee (fresh black coffee mixed with butter and coconut oil), I can’t function without it! Lunch is normally meat with vegetables (I tend to prefer chicken thighs but I keep it mixed up), and a chunk of dark chocolate if I need a sweet taste. Dinner is similar (in that it is meat and veg again) – normally its steak with vegetables on the side. If I need a snack? Primal bars of course, we always have them out in the office so people can help themselves.
Do you have any foodie guilty pleasures?
Dark chocolate! The darker the better for me, it’s what I use as a sweet treat.
What makes Primal Pantry bars different from other healthy bars?
We pride ourselves on only using the finest of fruit and nuts that have been carefully selected to make sure that they are not preserved with sulphites or with added sugars. We are also free from gluten, grains, dairy, soy, vegetable oils, and refined sugars, making us suitable for all. Plus, we are just incredibly tasty!
What would be your main advice for someone looking to start a healthy diet?
Aim to cut down on processed foods (generally if it has more than 5 ingredients or contains an ingredient you don’t recognise its processed) and eat real foods instead – so meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. Try avoid gluten, dairy and refined sugars if possible, as our bodies tend to work against these ingredients and you will often notice headaches, stomach pain, bloating or digestive problems when consuming them. However I am a big advocate of the 80/20 rule – do your best to stick to a healthy lifestyle, but if you slip up and reward yourself with a big slice of chocolate cake, it’s not the end of the world! Just pick up the healthy lifestyle again the next day and continue on. Life isn’t about calorie counting, it’s about enjoying the food you eat and health benefits they bring.
Have you ever been or considered going on a wellness retreat?
I haven’t been on one yet unfortunately, as my daughter is still quite young I will probably wait until she is older. I would definitely be up for one though!
Which is your favourite Primal Pantry bar and why?
The Apple & Pecan bar is my favourite flavour as it tastes like an apple pie. The combination of apple and cinnamon is just amazing. One of my favourite things to do is to top the bar with goat’s cheese and fresh fig for when I need a treat.
How do you keep fit and active?
I’m really into my CrossFit at the moment (I aim to go twice-weekly to my local CrossFit Box in Slough), as it works every single area of the body and sets me up for the rest of the day. It also allows you to keep track of weights and reps you do so that you can consistently strive to improve week on week.