My Health Rules: Jessica Shand
My Health Rules: Jessica Shand

My Health Rules: Jessica Shand

After struggling with gut problems, an irregular cycle and problematic skin – and subsequently receiving a diagnosis of PCOS – naturopathic nutritionist Jessica Shand made it her mission to help others use food and lifestyle habits to support their overall wellbeing. From go-to breakfasts to sleep rituals and the supplements she swears by, here’s how she stays in peak health…
By Tor West

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Nutrient dense meals are what keep blood sugar levels in check. Starting the day with a good breakfast is so important to fuel you through the day. I switch between smoothies in the warmer months of the year – making sure they’re full of antioxidant-rich berries, nuts, chia, flaxseeds, kefir, Wild Nutrition Vegan Protein powder and supergreens powder – to almond butter porridge in the colder months. I also love Bio&Me Seed and Nut Granola with Coconut Collaborative coconut yoghurt, mixed berries, seeds and a swirl of almond butter. However busy my morning is, I always make time to sit down for breakfast. 

I’d describe my diet as predominantly plant based. Whether you eat meat or not, plants should be the foundation of your diet. Plants are an incredible source of fibre, which our gut microbes need to thrive. Remember, fibre is only found in plants, and the more varieties you can eat, the better. Sustainably caught, wild fish is also a staple. Salmon is delicious and rich in skin-nourishing and hormone-supportive omega-3 fatty acids.

I’m a real foodie. I love experimenting in the kitchen and discovering colourful new recipes. For me, cooking is therapy – I find it the perfect way to draw a line under the working day, de-stress and re-nourish. To keep things interesting, I switch up the vegetables and grains and use different herbs and spices. Current favourites include honey roasted harissa squash, creamy chickpea curries, salmon bowls with lentils and mango salsa, and tagines made with sweet potato, chickpeas and apricots. 

Using your phone before bed DISRUPTS your INTERNAL BODY CLOCK and feeds cortisol levels, both of which can AFFECT SLEEP.

Curries and pasta dishes are perfect for entertaining. They’re ideal for making in big quantities. Some of my favourite dishes to cook for friends include dairy-free mushroom, spinach and pea pasta; black coconut curry; and vegetable chilli. 

Food shouldn’t be labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Some days, balance is a warming bowl of butternut squash soup, and other times it’s a pizza or a bowl of pasta. I believe in sustainable and realistic balance and listening to what my body wants. I’ve been able to achieve sustainable balance by becoming intuitive with my nutrition, which helps me make food choices based on the foods that help me feel my best, most energised self, versus the foods that make me feel sluggish and that don’t make me thrive. To me, true balance means letting my hair down and enjoying the foods that spark joy, especially when I’m eating with friends and family. At the weekends, I love to make a vegetarian brunch with the family – pesto eggs on smashed avocado bagels is our go-to – and you can’t beat Sunday roast.

I’m a fan of fermented dairy. I love kefir yoghurt, which is full of probiotics for gut health benefits. It’s an easy way to boost your breakfast with billions of live cultures and is also rich in protein, which keeps blood sugar levels steady to help power you through the morning without feeling hungry. Biotiful Kefir Drink is a weekly staple.

If you are craving sweets, it could be a sign you’re not eating enough. I don’t have an overly sweet tooth, but when I do crave it, I know it’s because I haven’t eaten a balanced breakfast or lunch. When I fancy something sweet, I always go for chocolate and I love cookies, too. My cranberry and pecan cookies are the most saved recipe on my Instagram.

You can’t beat a good glass of red wine. I try not to drink too often as it doesn’t make me feel good the next morning, and I can see the impact it has on my skin. Since our wedding in Italy, I’ve had such an appreciation for good quality Italian wine. I love a glass of Primitivo with a bowl of pasta or a glass of bubbles if I’m celebrating with friends and family. 

It’s worth keeping an eye on the Dirty Dozen. Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of the 12 foods most commonly exposed to pesticides. This can be handy when doing your food shop to know when to buy organic and when it’s okay not to – strawberries, spinach, kale, apples and peppers are worth buying organic at the moment. There is also a ‘Clean 15’ list, which shares the 15 foods with the least pesticides. 

Think of a multivitamin as your insurance policy. I believe food should always come first and supplements should be secondary to a healthy diet, but the right supplement can help bridge any nutritional gaps. My daily go-to supplement is Manifesto – it’s made with an impressive list of antioxidants and essential vitamins to support hair, skin and nails and contains a dose of inulin, a prebiotic fibre which feeds gut microbes. 

Restorative movement is often overlooked. Yet, it’s essential when it comes to supporting hormonal health. I used to exercise to burn the calories I’d eaten and rarely enjoyed it – instead, it was more something I felt I had to do to be able to justify my food intake. My attitude couldn’t be more different now – today, working out is about supporting my mental wellbeing as much as about looking after my physical health. I love the combination of Pilates and cycling classes on the Peloton. Pilates is an incredible way to strengthen the body, and I use it as a form of meditation. I do Pilates with Bryony Deery and it’s one of the most transformational exercises (both physically and mentally) I’ve introduced to my life. If my two-year-old is asleep and I need to fit in a quick, energy-boosting workout, you can’t go wrong with a Leanne Hainsby or Ally Love class on the Peloton.

Keep an eye on the DIRTY DOZEN, a list of the 12 foods most commonly EXPOSED TO PESTICIDES.

My number one sleep rule is ‘no blue light before bed’. Sleep is integral to our health and when I don’t sleep well, it has a knock-on effect. I always turn my phone off at least an hour before bed and keep it on charge outside of the bedroom overnight. This removes the temptation to mindlessly scroll in bed, which is disruptive to our internal body clock and feeds cortisol levels – two highly unhelpful factors when setting yourself up for sleep.

Don’t underestimate a nightly bedtime routine. I make time in the evening for my skincare routine, which involves Luneia’s Drench Dew face mist, followed by JS Health’s Vitamin Facial Oil. Five minutes of journaling also helps me reflect on the positives and negatives of the day, and the white noise function on my Lumie Body Clock helps me drift off, too. If I am struggling with disruptive mind chatter, I’ll use the Calm app and listen to a sleep story. 

Health and beauty brands with eco credentials matter. I can’t get enough of Wild’s aluminium-free deodorant, which is refillable and the scent is incredible, while Dame’s non-toxic, reusable tampon applicator is game-changing. Manucurist’s Green Flash polish is also a current favourite – it’s the world’s first clean gel polish that’s made from bio-sourced ingredients such as potato, cotton and sugar cane. 


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