We spoke to Naturopath and Nutritional therapist Sara Jackson about her previous career as a top model booker, five top tips for introducing a healthier diet into your lifestyle, SJ Health’s wellness and juicing workshops and how she combines motherhood and running her successful business.
Tell me about your background as a top model booker at Next?
I was very lucky to literally fall into the London fashion world by accident. I started my career in the model agency business at the bottom and worked my way up. I had so much fun working with some of the world’s top models like Anja Rubik, Petra Nemcova and Abbey Lee for international model agency, Next for over 12 years. It wasn’t always as glamorous as it sounds, but I certainly did make the most of being able to travel to interesting shoots and the various fashion shows each season (even if they did involve chaperoning models to 3am wake up calls – the models do earn their money I promise!). I have been to some of the most amazing parties you can imagine.
How has this influenced your career as Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, food consultant and health writer?
It was my own personal health that really motivated me to change my career. However years of working with young models who often didn’t know how to look after themselves or what to eat was a huge factor for me when I decided I wanted to become a Nutritional Therapist and Naturopath as I knew I could really help them. I now work with some of London’s top model agencies such as Next, IMG, The Squad and The Hive on the other side, helping educate their models on how to eat healthily and glow from the inside out. This is very rewarding and I’ve helped many clients get in perfect shape for modelling whilst eating well and not feeling deprived, particularly for Paris couture shows, which isn’t something people always believe can happen. It benefits them as models now but helps cultivate good eating habits that will help them to have better health long after they stop modelling.
Of course I work with clients from all walks of life with often very serious health concerns, but I am very grateful to the modelling industry because it helped me start my business with a great foundation. When you get good results with one model the word quickly spreads and it really helped SJ Heath get off the ground.
What are your five top tips for introducing a healthier diet into your lifestyle? Most people know these already, but we all need a constant reminder from time to time….
1. Eat your greens. They pack in more nutrition than any other food and most people don’t eat enough. We should aim for 2 or 3 portions of leafy greens every day.
2. Eat protein with every meal and snack. This helps to balance hormones, keep your blood sugar levels even and keep you feeling full.
3. Healthy fats are key. We all need healthy fats such as avocados, oily wild fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds for our bodies to be working at their best.
4. Drink your water. We really all do need to be drinking at least 2 litres of water to think clearly, have glowing skin, and have a healthy digestive system.
5. Get prepared. Things like batch cooking, freezing veggies and fruit for smoothies, and getting your weekly shop in can really help you stay on track with your healthy eating goals.
What can people expect to learn from your wellness events?
I absolutely LOVE giving nutrition talks and healthy eating workshops as they’re a great way to reach lots of people. I have been fortunate enough to organise and present wellness events for amazing companies that really value the health of their staff and clients like Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, Ellevate, the charity Women for Women and many model agencies. Our events are bespoke so it depends on the needs of the particular client, but most people really learn a lot from wellness talks aimed at the workplace that focus on how to handle stress and anxiety through nutrition and lifestyle medicine, which unfortunately affects lots of us.
My cooking and healthy eating workshops teach real skills and give people the confidence to try some super healthy food at home armed with easy recipes, tips and tricks. Giving smoothie and juicing workshops is always lots of fun. I usually recommend smoothies and juices to my clients in clinic as they’re such an easy way to up your veggie game in a really delicious way, as long as you know how to put them together properly.
How do you find combining motherhood and running your own business?
I’m still trying to figure this one out! It is certainly demanding to look after my two little ones and run a busy clinic – it’s a fine balance to be there enough for my children who obviously take priority over all else, and be available for all of my clients who I work very closely with. I try to involve my kids in my work – you will always see cute pics of them helping me cook or eating mostly healthy food on my instagram feed and they are my little guinea pigs taste testing some of my new recipes. Sadly they are both quite picky eaters but that means that if it gets their seal of approval it’s definitely a winning recipe.
Getting up early – usually an hour before the rest of my family really helps me, so I can catch up on work, emails and get ahead for the day before Mum duties start. I also know I couldn’t function well without my (mostly) 10 veg a day and certain supplements to give me a boost – magnesium is one and I’d be a grouch without it!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
It’s uber cheesy, but here goes: Don’t rush to grow up and enjoy having the freedom to really live life, travel the world and take it all in. Wear as many midriff tops and short skirts as you can get away with, before you have kids because you will never do it again! Do it don’t just say it. Finally and most importantly that your gut instinct is usually right – I have definitely learnt that one the hard way.
Lastly, What are your favourite flowers?
This is a hard one as I have hundreds of favourites. Frangipanis are special because they remind me my husband and our wedding in Zanzibar. I love gardenias and camellias which remind me of my Mum and my little girl Milla. Jasmine and roses are up there too because you just can’t beat their incredible fragrances. When I go into my garden on Summer evenings, the smell of jasmine takes me back to Morocco which is one of my favourite places on earth.