Sarah Wight: "It’s Not a Diet, It is a Way of Identifying Where Different Women May Seek Self-Worth.”
Photo © Connor Outerbridge
We're not the ones to shy away from sharing the effects of bad eating habits and understanding the facts of nutrition, and how it can affect our health and wellbeing. It's refreshing to meet qualifying nutritional therapist, Sarah Wight, to chat further about a positive approach woman can take with food and why it is best to seek out personalised nutrition help from a qualified professional.
Tell us a little more about yourself and what you do?
I study and work – full time. I have been studying nutrition for 2.5 years and have one year left of a postgraduate diploma in Nutritional Therapy. I study through a school in the UK, and while I am based in Bermuda, I travel twice per year for clinical practice. It is a science-based and demanding curriculum! I also work as a Patient Coordinator for a functional medicine practice, Ocean Rock Wellness. The experience is amazing, and I truly love my team and the job. They have so much compassion and time for each of their patients; I am inspired by their work.
See our interview with Ocean Rock Wellness to learn more about their services.
I also teach seasonal cooking classes at the Chef Shop and develop health-focused recipes for The Bermudian Magazine. Both the classes and magazine recipes are fully inspired by the seasons and sourcing locally (I have a degree in Environmental Sustainability – it's in my blood!). I am grateful for Tina Stevenson (Bermudian Magazine) and Sheena Trott (Chef Shop) who have always been very supportive. I think the reason people come back time after time is that the classes are easy, my kitchen skills are relatable (ha-ha!), and the recipes are approachable….and delicious!
Have you always been interested in food, health and wellbeing?
The short answer is yes - although it's been a long road to be where I am now. I have cooked alongside my Mum since I can remember and really felt connected to food from an early age. My grandmother is an artist, and my mom has always been into photography and adventure, so expressing myself creatively was always supported and felt right, whether that meant cooking classes as a summer job, volunteering on an organic farm, or pursuing a career in nutrition and the ups and downs there.
Having said that, like many women, I spent a lot of my teens and early twenties feeling like I wasn't quite getting it right health-wise, that there was something "wrong" with me. That fuels my passion, knowing there is a way to support hormone balance, energy levels, mood, academic/work performance etc. with nutrition with lifestyle. Eventually, once I am fully qualified and practising clinically, I would like to work with groups of school-aged girls and provide personalised nutrition to help them through those rocky years. So much of the foundation of self-worth is developed during that time period.
What is your personal nutritional or health philosophy?
Nutritionally I would say, positive and personalised nutrition. Stress less and eat more vegetables! Seriously! Of course, that is a very light-hearted philosophy.
My overall health philosophy is much more holistic and encompassing. I have recently been drawn to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I had a horrible car accident when I was 20, and I had a lot of physical and emotional pain that presented. Kale and cauliflower wasn't going to help my emotional pain, and I knew I wasn’t going to be my best self without addressing what I was holding onto. I was young, but I started to see pain, anxiety and stress as an opportunity /catalyst for change and I sought professional advice. That changed my philosophy on health. It isn't just nutrition and exercise. What is the voice we talk to ourselves saying? How has life been recently for us? Do we feel love and support, connection and productivity? It is not all roses and sunsets either, there can be anger and jealousy, but what are we going to do about it to give those areas some attention and care?
Ultimately, all types of stress (nutritional, physical, emotional, environmental) affect the way we eat and how our body is going to react to that food. It comes full circle and tending to our emotional health is just as important, in my opinion, as nutrition and diet. Stress is known to affect adrenal function, digestion and can quickly rob the body of nutrients (the list goes on and on!). Proper nutrition can improve imbalances, but it’s about addressing the root cause if we are truly looking for long-term results. Regarding women’s health, I see a big future for psychologist and cognitive behavioural therapists working alongside nutrition professionals and functional medicine doctors to achieve optimum health.
Our Island Table is building quite the reputation and awareness to nutritional health. What aspects of your profession/platform do you enjoy the most?
I am an introverted and a private person, but I love Instagram as a creative outlet of expression, connection and to find inspiration. Although I have recently been putting up some personal boundaries – it's easy to spend too much time on it, so I delete it after 9 pm. Weird, yes I know!
Our Island Table is pretty casual and diversified – it is real life interspersed with my side projects (cooking classes, recipe development) and it is also a creative outlet for my love of making plant-based food beautiful, delicious and accessible. I hope, too, in a small way it's a resource for Bermuda based followers for buying and cooking and sharing vegetables.
Our Island Table reflects my love of Bermuda, community and shared meals.
What do you make of the current trends in diets and detoxes and its effect on women?
Tricky topic! I think they have the potential to create fear around food. Most (not all) are restrictive, and it is possible for restriction and fear to go hand in hand. Fear doesn't belong there. Then you have to ask, how sustainable are they and are there studies on long-term effects? Individualised nutrition is the way to go – consulting with a fully-qualified Nutritional Therapist or Dietician is the best thing you can do for yourself to optimise your diet and find what works for you. There are many options in Bermuda for women looking for that type of professional support and expertise.
As a little resource (I just finished reading!), there is a Nutritional Therapist and Functional Medicine Practitioner, Dana James, who recently wrote a book called the Archetype Diet. It is not what you think, it is not a diet, it is a way of identifying where different women may seek self-worth and the way that influences their hormones, and ultimately their food choices etc. and then it builds you up and offers advice, recommendations and recipes.
And we have to ask, where are your favourite spots to eat in Bermuda?
For a weekday lunch or dinner with friends after work, Devils Isle or Village Pantry! I love a Sunday morning oat milk flat white at the newly opened Victoire Café in St. Georges. I dream of the Asian cabbage salad at Huckleberry. Weekend dinner – Bolero or Marcus' – really good fresh fish and creative veg dishes. Officially, my favourite spot to eat would be a picnic at the beach during sunset with good company and a glass of rose.
Get inspired by Our Island Table and find amazing recipes for a healthier way of living.