Madeleine Shaw talks to Jan Clarke about the release of her third book, impending motherhood and the real secret to feeling fabulous
Madeleine Shaw is a trained nutritional coach, author and absolute internet sensation. The self-made guru has a very impressive social media following, a YouTube channel, an inspirational blog, her own app and three books to her name. With a 270k following on Instagram alone, she’s one of the top names creating a healthy lifestyle revolution – even though she’s not always had a healthy approach to food.
I rushed into Manchester on an exceptionally warm day to meet Madeleine, arriving with a rather sad, pre-packed sandwich and more of a ‘flush’ than a ‘glow’. As I waited for her to join me, I checked her Instagram feed. The latest posting declared she too had, “just prepared something quick before heading out to the book launch event”, but hers was a visually appealing and nutritionally magnificent selection of rye crisp breads with guacamole, salmon, tomato and pumpkin seeds. I definitely needed to learn a few things. In the flesh, Madeleine is exactly as her photographs and book covers appear. She has perfect skin, glossy hair and an infectious smile. She arrives flawless, in an elegant sundress and a complete picture of health, complete with a 29-week baby bump.
Her story began when, aged eighteen, she moved to Australia as part of a gap year and fell in love with the Australian lifestyle and approach to healthy eating.
“The Australians have an amazing attitude to health and food,” she tells me. “I learnt so much during my time there, including how to cook the right foods.”
Back then, Madeleine had the usual eating habits of a an eighteen-year-old girl: snacking on-the-go to fit around a hectic social life and being a slave to all things low fat.
“Like most people, I thought that the way to stay healthy and slim was to eat low-fat products. I spent my life eating low-fat yoghurts and drinking diet cola, thinking I was making a good choice.” Today, she will tell you, the notion that low-fat products are the answer to staying slim is very outdated. They’re full of sugar and left her suffering from energy dips throughout the day. She gradually learnt to adopt a way of eating that nourished her from the inside out: a diet full of wholefoods, fresh ingredients and healthy fats. These foods provided her with more energy, stopped the daily dips and resulted in clearer skin and an overall vitality. Madeleine now combines healthy eating with regular yoga and meditation, living proof that this way of life is the secret to feeling fabulous.
She has now written three books; Get the Glow, Ready Steady Glow and her latest, A Year of Beautiful Eating, a call to arms to eat fresh, seasonal produce.
“Understanding the nutrients foods contain goes hand in hand with seasonality,” Madeleine explains. “You need to boost your vitamin D level in winter, protect your skin with SPF-rich smoothies in summer and eat healthy fats to combat dry skin, whatever the season.”
Thoughts of my soggy sandwich are long forgotten. I can’t wait to sit down with her and enjoy the three-course meal which has been prepared by the chef at the Harvey Nichols Brasserie as part of her book tour event. The menu comprises some of her favourite dishes from the book, starting with a summer lovin’ salad bowl with humus, buckwheat, beetroot, cucumber and mango, a main course of tray-roasted cod then a delightful rhubarb and coconut rice pudding. Finally, we round off the meal, appropriately, with freshly baked madeleines, served with strawberry chia jam. Everything is fresh, full of flavour and packed with nutrients. It’s a revelation to me that tucking into rice pudding and madeleines can be deemed to be healthy eating. Madeleine smiles, saying “This is not a restrictive diet. It’s a long-term lifestyle choice.”
Excited about the prospect of becoming a mum, she’s planning a short maternity leave followed by an expansion of her blog, further nutritional exams to progress her coaching work and then possibly writing another book. Her fan base already includes mothers keen to instil healthy eating practices in their children.
“My recipes are quick and easy and use foods which are readily available,” she tells me. “And this makes them perfect for busy mums, too.”
As for me? I leave with her book in hand, excited to try her recipes and, hopefully, find my own long-lost glow.