New Year Special With Karen Cummings-Palmer

Living and entertaining healthily in 2018

After the indulgences of Christmas TOAST chats to leading health, beauty and nutrition consultant Karen Cummings-Palmer about her healthy lifestyle, but fear not – Karen believes in balance! Here she shares her top tips for staying healthy this year without punishing yourself, whether you are the guest or the host

So December may have been filled with over indulgences, but that doesn’t mean you have lock up the fridge and throw away the key this month – in fact, it's a really wonderful time of year to get together with friends, catch up after Christmas and make exciting plans for the New Year that lies ahead.

Socialising when you’re trying to eat well can be a minefield – a glass of wine here, a few canapés there, and then comes dessert. It can be hard to say no, especially when you are a guest in someone else’s home, but the good news is that you don’t actually have to say ‘no’ to everything that is naughty. 

I think being puritanical is boring! My goal is ultimate health not perfection. It’s all about balance – wellness is a set of tools not a set of rules, it should help us lead the lives we want to live” explains health, beauty and nutrition expert Karen Cummings-Palmer.

If I feel like a glass of wine I’ll have one – preferably organic and red, and not followed by the rest of the bottle! But I think denying myself would be the unhealthy option”


Karen Cummings Palmer

Warm, dynamic and oh-so-glamorous, Karen is a leading Integrative health and nutrition coach and commentator; she divides her time between creating bespoke wellness programmes for private clients all over the world and working with hotels, private clubs and brands developing healthy menus, curating their health and beauty offering and supporting their media, but she in fact began life working in the entertainment industry before moving into luxury lifestyle marketing, whilst enjoying all the perks that came with it…

I spent a lot of time eating in fancy restaurants and developed a real appreciation for fine food and wine, but I also wanted to feel good the next day and be able to fit into my jeans!” she explains. “I also suffered from eczema, which gave me additional incentive to live a healthy balanced lifestyle”. 

Balance. That seems to be Karen’s buzzword and a refreshingly positive one at that. It’s not about starving yourself or giving up every guilty pleasure, it’s all about balance. ‘Clean eating’ can go stuff itself.

The problem with clean eating is that the alternative must be ‘dirty’, and whilst there are a few things that I think should be eaten rarely, like refined sugar and processed foods, there are many things on the collective ‘hit list’ like red meat, wheat and dairy that can be tolerated by many in moderation” she explains.

I eat red meat about once a month - I make sure that it’s the best quality available and it works for me, but I only eat dairy a couple of times year because I suffer with eczema and I’m susceptible to allergies, so everyone is different”.

Having grown up eating healthily and with some already established knowledge of what was good and what was not, it was in Los Angeles, a city renowned for it’s obsession with healthy living, that Karen decided to deepen her understanding by studying integrative nutrition. 

I was also in my late thirties by this point and most of my contemporaries in LA were having minimal or indeed major surgery, and I wanted to find a way of managing my own ageing process naturally” she explains frankly.

I now specialise in age-management because the truth is that youth is currency but so is age, and all the things that only come with age - like wisdom, grace and humility - must be celebrated! If you give people the right tools they can maintain the essence of youth as they grow, such as strength, vitality and luminosity”

Filled with knowledge, a refreshing realism and genuine encouragement, Karen’s bespoke wellness packages involve anything from two to twelve sessions which can help clients to resolve any chronic issue, such as skin problems or immunity weakness, premature ageing or weight management.

There is no greater pleasure than seeing transformations in clients – that moment when they crack the code. I’ve seen an obese client reclaim her size 12 jeans, a life-long smoker kick the habit and a talented designer at risk of loosing her job because of monthly sickness boost her immunity and run a marathon!” Karen explains excitedly.    

It has also been wonderful to create wellness menus for the Sanderson Hotel, to work with celebrities in Hollywood and models who need to boost their glow for a shoot and working with the Obesity Campaign - supporting charities with simple but potentially life enhancing advice on nutrition is such a privilege

Much like myself, Karen loves food and she doesn’t believe in diets or strict regimes, which is great news for most, and a truly inspirational approach; January can be bleak enough as it is without having to deny yourself a delicious glass of wine or the odd sweet treat here and there. Post Christmas, many brave souls embark on some kind of strict detox or juice cleansing diet, but to me this has always felt like swinging from one extreme to the other - going ‘cold turkey’ as they say - and I wonder if this dramatic change in diet is actually good for us.

I don’t think that deep mid-winter is a good time to start detoxing, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat consciously to get rid of a couple of excess pounds, alkalise your system and boost your body’s natural detoxification, and most importantly kick start healthier habits” Karen explains.  

I personally don’t go dry but that is partly because I try and limit my alcohol consumption to 1 or 2 glasses, with 2 or 3 days off per week – even in December. If I have been out for a few nights in a row, I’ll take the car – no one is offended if you abstain whilst driving!”

As you can tell, Karen’s own regime is reassuringly flexible, and realistic. Other habits include a quick 10-20 minutes of exercise every morning - a combination of Pilates, yoga and free weights - and this is what she describes as one of her ‘non-negotiables’ meaning that it happens every day without fail. She embarks on weekly long walks along the river – ‘as much for the soul as the body’ – she explains, and she packs in plenty of nutrients throughout the day, from green juices to bone broths and lots of matcha, turmeric and ginger teas as well as adaptogens (a family of herbs said to protect the body from the toxic effects of stress) – mixing it up depending on the season and her need. She also takes her skincare routine very seriously – and you can tell.

“I also always take a really good supplement that helps support everything, I’ve been taking Lumity for almost a year now - the formula is divided into energy-giving protective day capsules and restorative, regenerative night capsules which is a really intelligent approach”

As Karen says, healthy living is indeed a balance. A bit of this, a bit of that - ‘too much of anything is bad’, as they say. Fad diets and eating trends come and go, and if 2017 was all about clean eating, I wonder what will be in our health food shopping baskets this year.

I think people will really embrace the healing power of adaptogens, such as ashwagandha and holy basil, and the powerful anti-inflammatory turmeric will go mainstream so I expect to see it on the high street more” Karen explains.

“I think that people will also continue to be more interested in the body as a whole - with mental and emotional health taking centre stage

So 2018 is looking bright, but with most of us planning to eat less chocolate, do more yoga and drink less booze (for the first few days of the year at least…) – I wonder if Karen has any plans to abstain from anything as part of her list of New Years resolutions...

“I don’t really deny myself anything - my focus is on adding in enough of the good stuff” she enthuses. “I love to eat and cook, especially with and for family and friends. And dancing is my real super tonic!”

And what a wonderful tonic it is.

Whether you’re looking to be a ‘healthy host or a ‘guilt-free guest’ - hop over to TheEdit for Karen’s brilliant (and realistic!) tips for achieving balance this year. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018!

If you’d like to work with Karen Cummings-Palmer you can find more information on her page in TOAST’s Little Black Book.

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