Dr Libby Weaver is a hub of knowledge on all things health and wellness.
A Nutritional Biochemist, Author and Speaker, her messages embrace a unique three-pillared approach incorporating nutrition, emotions and the biochemistry of the body.
World Health Day falls on April 7th so who better to speak to than the Gold Coast woman with unrivalled wisdom on healthy living.
It’s World Health Day on April 7th, what is the biggest health problem facing Australians today?
To me wellness means thriving not surviving, yet I have met thousands of Australians who are doing the latter. The pace of our modern lifestyle is unsustainable – people are living in a constant state of stress, demanding more and more of themselves mentally and physically, and over time this compromises their health. Chronic diseases are a huge problem in Australia, and our lifestyle choices – the way we eat, drink, move, think, breathe, believe and/or perceive – play a big role in our risk of developing these.
You’ve lived on the Gold Coast for a while now, how does our health and fitness rate compared to the rest of Australia?
We’re so fortunate to live in such a beautiful environment that encourages movement (who doesn’t love to walk along the beach or in the bush!) and have access to nutritious fresh foods, including outstanding organic markets. With that said, only 1 in 20 Queenslanders eat enough vegies, so amping up your vegetable intake is something virtually everyone would benefit from.
You’re a Nutritional Biochemist, can you explain what that means and how you got to be where you are today?
It’s funny because in a way I don’t feel like I consciously ‘chose’ this career path. I spent 14 years at university and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics with honours, and a PhD in Biochemistry. Using my knowledge about how the human body works, I’ve spent almost two decades in clinical practice, helping people with my three-pillar approach to wellness – the biochemical, the nutritional and the emotional.
I believe my purpose is to help educate people about the importance of taking great care of themselves as I am concerned that far too many people live too short and die too long. Quality of life really matters and I want to wake people up to make changes now rather than waiting for a chronic health condition to necessitate that. I have now published 10 best-selling books, I speak regularly at live events all over the world, and I’ve developed a food-based nutritional supplement range called Bio Blends to support people to enhance their health. I feel very grateful to do what I do.
Why does what we put into our bodies affect our overall health so much?
The way you feed yourself is the most basic form of self care (love) you can show yourself. The nutrients we absorb from our food are essential for the billions of biochemical reactions that are happening in our body every second. There is nothing in the entire world that can replace a highly nourishing diet.
Yet I have met thousands of people who exercise frequently (and with intensity), especially after making poor food choices with the intention of ‘burning off’ the calories they consumed the day before. But the calorie equation we are taught to follow of ‘calories in versus calories burned’ is out-dated and doesn’t adequately take into account all the aspects that can impact on how our body metabolises the fuel we put into it. No amount of exercise can burn off the effects of a poor-quality way of eating.
Why is getting adequate sleep so important to our health?
Restorative sleep is one of the foundations of good health. Adults require 7-9 hours per night and we cannot fight our biology! Sleep affects everything from our mood, to our memory, our immune system, our skin and our hormonal function. When we are exhausted, everything in life feels more difficult. It impacts the foods you choose, whether you get off the couch and go for a walk or not, the jobs that you would apply for, the friends that you make, your self-talk and the way you speak to everyone you love. The ripple effect of lousy sleep and energy can be significant.
Adrenal fatigue is such a common thing these days, how is it best managed?
Stress reduction is absolutely essential, and nothing activates the ‘calm’ arm of our nervous system better than diaphragmatic breathing. It can literally change your life – and I don’t say that lightly. Any breath-focused practice, such as yoga, meditation, tai chi or qigong is fantastic, as is a nutrient-dense real food way of eating. Taking adrenal supporting herbs under the guidance of a herbalist can also be very beneficial.
What don’t women know about hormones?
Hormonal imbalances have become so prevalent that many women have come to accept that their symptoms (such as PMT) are normal. I like to say that these symptoms are common, but they’re not normal. Many women struggling with hormonal issues feel like their body is betraying them, but challenging symptoms are just your body’s way of communicating that something needs to change – such as the way you eat, drink, think, move, believe and/or perceive. Pay attention to your body’s communication – it has the power to change how you experience health and vitality on a daily basis.
Gluten – what is it and should we avoid it?
Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and oats. Some people have no problems consuming gluten, but many others feel better without it. There may be other substances in grains that impact poorly on gut health for some people, too. People with gut-based symptoms may like to trial a gluten-free diet for a period of four weeks to see if their symptoms resolve, however if they continue the diet for a longer period, it’s essential they consult a nutritional professional to ensure they are meeting their nutritional needs.
What advice do you have for someone who might be looking to start a health and fitness regime, but doesn’t know where to start?
I hear so many women say they don’t have time to cook for themselves or don’t have time to add anything additional to their schedule. It is undeniable we have more on our plates and while I appreciate that many of us are juggling many different tasks and roles daily, there is nothing on this Earth that replaces the power of a nourishing way of eating. In my book Women’s Wellness Wisdom, I wrote about taking responsibility for our nourishment and so many women could benefit simply by prioritising their own health and wellbeing. Preparing real food may take more time, but it is time we have to allow for in our day. When we say, “I don’t have time” for something, what we are essentially saying is “that is not a priority for me”. Sometimes changing what we do requires us to firstly explore our values and priorities. The reality is we cannot compromise our nutrition and expect to still have fantastic health.
Your favorite piece of life advice?
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
You’re not a Gold Coast local if you haven’t…
Sat on Burleigh Hill on a Sunday afternoon and soaked up the glorious vista and vibes.
Being a Gold Coaster we have to ask for your favourites…
Restaurant: I travel so much for work that when I am home I love to cook my own meals
Café: Wray’s Organics at Palm Beach
Weekend hangout: At home in my vegie garden
Dr Libby’s signature event, Beautiful You Weekend, is coming to the Gold Coast for the very first time this July. For more information click here.
Takeaway could well be the greatest thing ever invented and if wasn’t so bad for you, you’d probably get it every day right? WELL GUESS WHAT! According to this very article, takeaway food doesn’t have to be bad for you and that could be the greatest news ever not invented.
Here’s a list of the top 9 restaurants offering healthy takeaway options. Happy days.
Raw Energy, Coolangatta and Burleigh Heads
Located on the corner of Marine Parade in Coolangatta is Raw Energy, a healthy food and lifestyle café that started on the Sunshine Coast. Their focus is on fresh food, served fast in a funky environment. Raw Energy’s got you covered, offering anything from healthy smoothies or juices to macadamia and lentil burgers, YUMM!
Where: 110 Marine Pde, Coolangatta
If you haven’t been there yet, put this one on your ‘to do’ list! The Pocket in Burleigh’s Connor Street is an absolute favourite amongst locals and offers a great range of healthy take away options (with an extensive vegetarian/gluten free menu). The Pocket aims to be a conscientious restaurant serving locally sourced, wholesome food, often using produce grown by owners David and Michelle.
Where: 13 Connor St, Burleigh Heads
Marie Anita’s Gluten Free Health Cafe
Marie Anita’s offers a solely gluten free and sugar free menu designed to provide dairy free, vegetarian, vegan, and raw alternatives. With the aim to source from local suppliers and to use as much organic produce as possible, Marie Anita’s challenges the image of healthy eating.
Where: 2364 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
Greenhouse Canteen & Bar
A personal favorite is Greenhouse Canteen & Bar, the holy grail of all healthy food. With the motto ‘anything you can do, we can do vegan’ they’re onto something, because they are busy every day of the week. But not to worry, they do take away, too! All produce are sourced from trusted suppliers and farmer’s markets – food is medicine and it should nourish the mind, body and soul. Amen!
Where: 1916 Gold Coast Hwy, Miami and 1/140 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
BSKT Cafe (Biscuit) was founded with the belief that people care about their health. They just needed the right place to deliver these health options in an indulgent and accessible manner.
All products are designed to inspire through nutritional quality, taste and a global conscious. Made from high quality plants and free from refined sugar and anything artificial. All products are hand crafted with love using traditional methods busting the myth Vegan and Paleo products can’t be delicious as well as nutritious.
Where: 4 Lavarack Rd, Mermaid Beach
The Shack Superfood Cafe
The name says it all, the Shack Superfood Café in Nobby’s is a health freaks paradise with real and fresh food that tastes great and is nutritious! On offer is quinoa, acai, smoothies and juices, breakfast, takeaway lunch and dinner boxes, plus tea and coffee. If you are looking for a hassle free, convenient and easy takeaway option look no further and go give the team at the Shack a visit.
Where: 2221 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach
Cardamom Pod in Broadbeach is a vegetarian and plant-based restaurant inspired by the art of creative and tasty cuisine. With an extensive salad bar and delicious hot meal options such as curries or lasagne, Cardamom Pod is the perfect place to get some tasty and healthy takeaway, and word on the street is there are opening one in Brickworks! But be warned, their desserts are out of this world, especially the raw peanut butter cups.
Where: 2685 Gold Coast Hwy, Broadbeach
Govindas is without a doubt one of the most popular vegetarian, eco-friendly take-away restaurants on the Gold Coast. They offer a variety of pure vegetarian foods (vegan and gluten free options available) including vegetable dishes, basmati rice, dhal, potato bake, samosas and a variety of salads, desserts and drinks. Veggies are sourced locally and all dishes are prepared daily using the freshest produce. The buffet style approach lets customer create their own meal at reasonable prices. YUM.
Where: James St, Burleigh Heads
Giri Kana Cafe
The Giri Kana Cafe is a fresh take on vegan and vegetarian food, with a wide selection of freshly made vegan / vegetarian items (many organic and gluten free options also), including an extensive dessert menu. Their emphasis is on fresh and wholesome foods, which are good for the body, as well as the mind and spirit – and to this end, food is cooked with love and devotion. Try one of their signature tofu or vegie burgers served on turkish bread or as a gluten free option the Open Burger on rice. All so good!
Where: Cnr of Nind St and Gold Coast Highway, Southport
Words by Kirra Smith
No matter how you’re feeling right now or what you’re current situation is, there’s no doubt we can all use a little bit more health and happiness in our lives. So we’ve collected the five top tips to ensure your week is that little bit healthier from now on in. Take care of yourselves Gold Coasters.
Get up an hour earlier
It doesn’t seem like much but you’d be surprised how much you can fit into an hour. There’s nothing worse for your brain than waking up, going to work, going home, watching TV and going back to bed – where’s the relaxation? Instead of reaching straight for your phone the minute you wake up, roll straight out of bed and into some sort of exercise or stretching routine, play with the dog, cook yourself a healthy breakfast and ease into your day. You’ll soon see that starting your morning in a slower, more relaxed way sets the tone for the rest of your day.
Plan your meals
It sounds a little bit like something your Nanna would do but trust us, planning your meals will make life a million times simpler and healthier. Everyone knows what happens when you go to the supermarket after work, usually on an empty stomach and with very little willpower – you end up with an entrée of cheese and biccies followed by garlic bread and a big old bowl of spaghetti bolognaise. Delicious sure, but not so much on the healthy side. Planning allows you to choose healthy options, buy everything you need at once and not be tempted by the lure of excessive carbs.
Ahh the ever elusive shut eye. It’s highly likely you aren’t getting enough of it what with work, exercising, eating and those all-important Netflix binges taking up so much of your time. Something’s gotta give though and usually that thing is your health, or your sanity. They say you need at least eight hours but in truth, you need as much as you need. If you’re tired, sleep more, it’s imperative to both your mental and physical health (and the people who have to put up with you). If you need a nap through the day, go for it, this is your permission slip.
Take time out
You’ve been hearing people bang on about the miraculous benefits of meditation for awhile now and those people aren’t lying. It is one of the best ways to calm your mind, find out the answers to life’s big questions and generally just take time out from the chaos of day to day life. Seems overwhelming though right? Sitting down in silence and trying not to think. It can be simple though, start with five minutes of deep breathing and don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders, just stay there and enjoy the serenity, before you know it you’ll crave that time out.
Move your body
Although it’s easier said than done to get up off the couch when it’s cold out, the benefits are about three million fold. Even if you just go for a short walk around the block or do some easy stretching, your body will absolutely thank you. There are plenty of online workouts and yoga classes to choose from too so you don’t need to spend money on exercising to see the benefits. Morning is probably the best time of day to move, it’ll make you feel good all day but anytime will do. You’ll be happy you did.
Words by Kirra Smith
Perfect for those chilly winter mornings this is a beautiful balanced breakfast full of delicious flavours and super food goodness.
1 cup of water
1 cup of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 cup of quinoa
2 tablespoons of honey
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
1 handful of blueberries
1 banana, sliced
Place water, coconut milk, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the quinoa and simmer for approximately 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Stir often to ensure the quinoa doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Add the honey and walnuts and stir through.
Pour into four bowls and top with the blueberries and sliced banana.
Preparation 5 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes
For more great recipes by Gold Coast local Caralee Caldwell, check out her page here.