We’re recently joined forces with Sharon Looijen also known as the Dragon lady. She's an HBO trained nutritionist who specialises in natural nutrition, gut health, children and pregnancy. From the 13th of July you can book your very own one on one session with her for only €35. But first, let's get to know the lady with that beaming smile a bit better.
Why do you think nutrition is so important with today’s modern lifestyle?
I believe nutrition is one of the most important things we still can control in our current lives. So many things just happen, but the way you eat is up to you. You can think about the benefits of different minerals and vitamins, the way your food is processed and what kind of additives that have been used. Pure food is rare these days and all the additives have consequences for our health we are not even aware of.
I believe if we become more aware of what we eat we can change a lot. Become the leader of your own live instead of following what the commercial world is telling you, this is not going to make you healthier. I believe it’s important to be conscious and always ask yourself the question: how healthy can this really be if it’s processed, refined and not even close to the way nature made these ingredients initially?
What made you want to be a nutritionist and help others?
I've always loved helping others become healthier. This stemmed from my own health issues growing up. Food is the base of our health, if you don’t treat yourself well, how can you expect your organs to function optimally? I believe that most people don’t even know what it's like to feel healthy - to experience a healthy body and mind at the same time.
You probably know the saying: you are what you eat, I truly believe in this… I think 80% of the people may think they follow a healthy lifestyle, but their bodies show the opposite. What’s healthy for me might not be healthy for you. We are all different human beings with different bodies and needs.
What does an optimal functioning body look like?
I believe there are a few measurements for a healthy body:
1. Healthy skin (this is related to a healthy gut). Your skin is the mirror of your inner health.
2. Your energy level - if you lack of energy this can because of a body that’s out of balance.
3. The condition of your hair and nails. If your nails are not so strong this can be a signal of not functioning optimal.
4. Not the most sexy topic, but the shape and consistence of your poo says everything about your health.
How do you feel after your meal is a good question to ask yourself to begin with.. Your stomach and intestines do communicate with you, the challenge is to listen to them…
Are their major differences in how men and women should eat?
Maybe not major differences, I will call them minor, but there are differences. For example women have to deal with a lot more hormones than men. Women can balance their hormones with nutrition and can get out of balance with bad nutrition, while men don’t have this challenge at first.
What do you believe is the easiest change people can make to be healthier?
As I believe in a personal approach this is difficult to say, but I would say to use probiotics if you need to use antibiotics. Not only during the antibiotics but also afterwards to balance your gut flora again. This will help you recover much faster and make the damage of the antibiotics to your intestines less aggressive. Adding probiotics doesn’t necessarily mean only with a supplement, this can also be done with fermented food. And this is something that I would like to advise to everybody, eat a least one portion of fermented food per day. This is so healthy for your intestines, as you intestines are responsible for 80% of your immune system, your skin condition and much more health issues. It is worth it to try.
Describe your food philosophy.
My personal food philosophy.. good question. I believe I live a very healthy lifestyle, but not 100% of the time. I aim for the 80% / 20% rule. 80% of the time I do eat very healthy: all organic, no refined sugar, 350 grams of veggies a day. But the other 20% of the time I am able to play with my philosophy. This means I can have a glass of wine, eat that dessert I know is not that good for me or having dinner somewhere I don’t know how the food is prepared. I need this balance. I am not vegan nor 100% vegetarian, but I do believe we need to eat less animal processed food and more plant based food as this benefits our health and the environment.
What about plant protein? We get asked about this ALL the time!
We are so used to eating meat for the protein, but in fact we don’t need to. If you eat plant proteins in the right combination you are able to get enough protein for your bodies needs. The combination of grains and legumes is very important, they contain certain amino acids that combine to make protein. So when you eat legumes and grains together in one meal you are doing a good job. Think of a wholewheat sandwich with humus and veggies. That’s a great combination giving you a lot of plant protein in one meal.
Do you think Doctor’s could be educating their patients more on a healthy lifestyle?
YES! That’s a very loud yes! Doctors don’t know anything about food, sadly it’s not even a part of their education. It will change everything if everybody whom is visiting their doctor receives knowledge about living healthy and gets tips for their daily lives. I strongly believe that we will have less patients in hospitals if we eat and live healthier.
How did your own health troubles inspire you to eat healthier?
I strongly believe that my own health troubles changed my lifestyle completely. When I was eighteen the doctors removed one kidney after having continual bladder inflammation and Renal disease. Now I know what kind of damage antibiotics can do to your gut flora, but the doctors never even made me aware of the fact that I could experience trouble with my intestines and energy levels long term. After my kidney was removed I no longer experienced pain, but I had a new challenge: to heal my gut flora and energy level. So at that age my lifestyle research began, and it still continues.
Would you consider yourself more of a life coach?
Yes I do, as the advise I give effects my clients overall lives. Your food intake tells me so much about how you treat yourself and how you take care of yourself. Stress is one of the main reasons people don’t make time to eat properly. So sometimes you need to handle the stress first in order to change your lifestyle. This is what I do as well, I make people aware and conscious.
How do you inspire your clients?
I listen to them very carefully and give them my honest thoughts and tools about how to change their lifestyles. I believe we live in such a fast world and sometimes we need to listen to our bodies and feel what we really need instead of moving on to the next business meeting. Your body knows what is the best for you and sometimes you need to find somebody who can give you a translation of what your body is telling you.
Why would you recommend booking a nutrition session with you?
I never give general nutrition advice. I will ask you about their current health, physical goals and current lifestyle in order to share how they can implement changes to experience better health and more energy. Like I said before, everybody is different, what is healthy for me might not be healthy for you. So a personal approach is key.
What are the most common complaints people come to you with?
Headaches, skin problems, lack of energy, intestine problems, weight gain.. So very diverse..
How many sessions do people need you?
This depends on the goal. Difficult to say, but I would say between 1 and 3 sessions.
What are the most common goals people make?
There is no such thing as a common goal, but I do believe we all want to live in a way we can achieve optimum health and energy, living without physical problems and make the best out of our lives on all different levels.
What can you achieve in one session?
Awareness… one of the most important goals to achieve. If you are aware of what you eat and how you should eat, than 50% of the goal is already achieved. Your personality decides what to do with this awareness.
You specialise in pregnant women. How do you tailor your advice particularly for them?
During pregnancy you are very vulnerable and insecure about doing the right thing for your baby. The doctor and midwives often only explain what not to eat but they don’t advise what you should eat to have a healthy pregnancy. A lot of topics are taboo, we don’t like to talk about them as they are not sexy or nice to talk about. But they do exist. I guide pregnant women so they will experience as few problems as possible, eat enough essential fats, carbs, proteins, vitamins and minerals for themselves and the baby, to maintain a healthy gut flora to give to their babies during the delivery (this will stimulate the immune system of the baby) and to recover as fast as possible after the delivery. I am writing a book about healthy nutrition during pregnancy and aiming to publish the book by the end of the year or early next year.
So why are you called the Dragon Lady?
Hahah funny question. I am a natural nutritionist but I am also a huge fan of organic food, so I combined these two worlds by selling my favourite products frozen Pink Pitaya from Vietnam & Acai from Brasil. Very healthy and sooo great. You should try the Dragon bowl!
What’s your favourite juicery product?
I love the Greens.. So the mother of all juices is my favourite. This is the most green juice I know and I love it. It gives me such a healthy feeling, like I am doing something well for myself. I think we all need that now and then.
Interested in getting personalised nutrition advice? In need of a little more energy or got health woes? Book in a session with Sharon, we're sure you'll love her just as much as we do.
€35 for an half an hour session, she'll be with us every Thursday from 3-6pm. Book with her directly firstname.lastname@example.org you can pay in store afterwards.