After losing her mother to cancer when she was 17, Holly Zoccolan made a commitment to learn how nutrition and mindset could improve health and wellbeing. In 2013, Holly trained as a nutritional health coach and was later diagnosed with stress-related eczema and dermatitis, which further propelled her to delve deeper into mindfulness and a holistic approach to wellness. Fast-forward several years, and Holly is now one of the UK’s leading nutritional coaches, on a mission to help women achieve peak health through food and the mind-body connection. Here, she tells us what an average day-in-the-life looks like, and how she keeps her mental health in check.
Every day starts with a green smoothie. This usually contains a mix of blueberries, mango, Pukka Herbs’ Clean Greens Powder, matcha powder and coconut water. I find this really sets me up for the day. Since working from home, making a big smoothie batch to last a few days has been helpful in making my mornings more efficient, allowing me to squeeze in a pre-breakfast workout. If I’m going to be out all day, I’ll make the smoothie to go and prepare a salad for lunch – this usually consists of fresh rocket, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, an avocado and extra virgin olive oil.
Morning rituals are so important. As well as my trusty smoothie, every morning without fail, I body brush, take a cold shower and meditate for ten minutes. This is a non-negotiable and has been my routine for years.
On the whole, I avoid gluten and dairy. I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance around seven years ago and ditching gluten has changed my mood, sleep, digestion, and I no longer suffer from bloating. Since cutting out dairy, I’ve seen improvements in my energy levels, skin, digestion and immunity – the difference was too noticeable to ignore. Having said that, a fresh sourdough pizza is my guilty pleasure.
Buying organic is something I do as often as I can. Every week in my shopping trolley, you’ll find frozen blueberries, avocados, rocket, nori seaweed sheets and green apples.
I don’t deprive myself of snacks. I love FattBar’s Caramel & Sea Salt bars – they are high in good fats, low in carbs and packed with prebiotic inulin to promote a happy, healthy gut. I also love frozen grapes and carrot sticks and hummus.
Dinner is often Asian-inspired. I love to make a miso soup with rice noodles – I use pure brown rice noodles, a tablespoon of miso paste, five sheets of nori seaweed broken up, and some organic, gluten-free Kallo vegetable stock. I usually top this with some spring onions – it’s a delicious combination.
Cooking for friends needn’t be complicated or unhealthy. When I’m entertaining, I like to stick to plant-based recipes – if you add things like lentils and pulses, it can create a chunky consistency which is more pleasing to meat-eating guests as opposed to a plain vegetable bolognaise or vegetable curry. Some of my favourite recipes include Deliciously Ella’s lentil dhal and lentil bolognaise.
The weekends aren’t ‘cheat’ days. My diet doesn’t differ too much at the weekend, as I naturally prefer healthier options – they make me feel my best and I don’t crave unhealthy foods. I eat very intuitively and don’t restrict myself; I simply eat what I fancy and that is more often than not the healthy option. If I’m going out for brunch at the weekend, I tend to order poached eggs and avocado on sourdough with extra olive oil; for lunch it’s usually a mixed vegetable salad, and for dinner, depending where I am, I usually order sea bass or salmon with steamed vegetables.
Fruit gives me my sweet fix. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth and never crave sweets or chocolate. I eat an array of fruits throughout the day and believe that if you are filling your body with the right foods, you won’t have such intense sweet cravings as your body has all it needs.
Alcohol is for special occasions only. I drink very rarely, usually once every couple of months. My drink of choice is a vodka soda with fresh lime juice.
Cooking from scratch is the best. While I do love eating out, I prefer eating at home with my partner where we can cook together. If we do go out, we tend to order a mixture of fresh salads and roasted vegetable dishes, cauliflower steaks, and fresh fish. If my other half orders some fries, I’ll definitely have a few, too. Very occasionally, we’ll order a takeaway. If we do, it tends to be an Indian – I’ll order a variety of vegetable-based dishes and curries with rice.
I’ve never been on a diet. If I were to eat a little more unhealthy than normal, I just get back on it the following day with zero guilt. Food guilt is a huge issue for so many of my clients, but life is too short. Just move on, and get your nutrition back on track the following day without feeling upset or restricting your eating. It’s more apparent than ever that we need to be eating a balanced diet which incorporates all food groups and doesn’t take over your life.
Supplements can give you an immunity boost. My greens powder is packed with antioxidants, but recently I’ve also been taking Good State’s Ionic Zinc, which is great for the immune system. Supplementing with vitamin D also supports optimal immunity and overall health as well as improving your mood – this is particularly important in the winter months when sunlight hours in the UK are limited. As I eat predominantly plant-based, I also take a vitamin B12 supplement, as B12 is tricky to find in food.
Feeling strong is so important to me. Pre-Covid, I practiced yoga almost daily and went to reformer Pilates a few times a week. I prefer yoga and Pilates to any type of HIIT or intense cardio, as that’s what feels best for my body. During lockdown, I enjoyed Melissa Wood Health’s at-home workouts – they kept me feeling grounded, strong and mentally sane.
A good evening routine is essential. I try to be in bed by 10pm and tend to wake around 5:30am – this gives me enough good-quality sleep and gives me time in the morning to meditate and sort myself out. In the evenings, I have a hot shower or Epsom salt bath and put my phone away at least 30 minutes before I hit the pillow. Once I get into bed, I find deep breathing techniques help me fall asleep.
I take time to indulge in self-care. Working for myself means I rarely switch off, but sometimes your body tells you that you need to slow down. If I’ve had a busy week, I sometimes take myself for a massage or facial, which helps release any tension I’m holding, and if the week has been particularly stressful, I ensure I have at least half a day to myself on the weekend. I love lymphatic drainage massages, facials and acupuncture. I try to get out of the city as often as possible and if I can’t, I find spending time in nature hugely restorative.
Mindfulness is something worth valuing. I have made sure to incorporate breathwork into my routine to keep me grounded as of late, as well as a daily five- or ten-minute meditation, which calms my mind, releases anxiety and helps me focus on gratitude.
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