I first contacted Michelle a couple of years ago, whilst I was a student at university. A few google searches had led me to her site and I wanted to ask so many questions about the business she founded @thefoodeffectdr. She had no obligation to reply to me – this random student waving at her through cyberspace, but she did. She sent me pages worth of emails full of useful information that I have been forever grateful for!
I have loved her recent book release because in the sea of faddy, detox, quick fixes being sold throughout the year – this stands out as the rational, effective and science-based approach to losing weight the healthy way. It even allows you to carry on drinking wine and has the best recommendations for eating out. Essentially it’s sustainable in that it lets you carry on living a completely normal life (if that’s what you want 😉).
What is The Food Effect about and where did the idea come from?
The Food Effect is the name of my nutrition consultancy practice, which is what my business originally began as. It’s now thankfully expanded into a brand, lifestyle and philosophy in and of itself, thanks to my work, success of my clients, my website and blog, and most recently my book called The Food Effect Diet, which came out in January (2018).
I started The Food Effect, after graduating from medicine in 2012. At the time, it was merely a deviation in my career path, whilst I took a year out from hospital medicine, to see people for nutrition “just for the year”. Back then, my only plan was utilising the knowledge I had from studying medicine to be a good nutritionist for a finite time. I never dreamt that I would start a blog and revolutionary approach to food and eating, that would help so many people and also become my full-time career.
My book, The Food Effect Diet is all based around my approach to nutrition and healthy eating, and my work with clients. It’s provides a simple, delicious and satisfying way of eating that sheds weight, boosts energy, and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It also gives glowing skin, increased brain power and optimal health and vitality.
Had you had any other businesses / experience before this?
Apart from a brief stint selling home-made cakes and baked goods during one uni holiday (which I called “Treat Yourself” and surprisingly became extremely popular locally!), I had absolutely no business experience before starting The Food Effect. I’d spent all my years since school either as a medical student, or in an NHS hospital – I had absolutely NO idea about anything commercial or business related. I just gave it a go and learnt along the way (in hindsight I laugh thinking back at how little I knew)! Whilst I have come a long way in this respect, and thankfully am quite entrepreneurial by nature, there is still a great deal I don’t know enough about and am learning more and more each day.
How did you go about funding your business?
Thankfully there were no major costs involved to start up my business initially (apart from building a website), so I didn’t require any funding. I budgeted a bit more than usual in the beginning (such as forgoing luxuries, etc.) and thankfully I had enough savings to cover the few expenses needed to get the business up and running.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
There are no “typical” days for me! There are so many aspects to my work, my days vary so much. Often I’ll have days seeing clients back-to-back in my office in central London, which I absolutely love and get so much fulfilment from. Then I’ll spend the evening catching up on all my e-mails and everything that’s come in from social media that day, and typing up my notes from the days’ clients.
For new clients, I generally block off a separate day towards the end of the week to work on and type up their reports and nutrition plans, as this takes up a lot of time and I pride my service as a nutritionist to how much time I dedicate to doing this and the bespoke service I provide. It’s why I believe all my clients are successful in reaching their goals. On those days, I’ll also try work on a blog post and newsletter for The Food Effect website subscribers. Other days I might have a photo-shoot for work, or a media interview about the book; and I usually have several “out and about” days in the week, with work meetings around London (with brands, media, work colleagues, etc.) No two days are ever the same, which I LOVE but it’s crazy BUSY!!
Did you have a mentor or people you asked for advice?
Before taking the leap of leaving hospital medicine to start my own nutrition practice, I discussed my decision with many people and tried to get advice from everyone (in hindsight, I’ve learnt this is a bad idea!). These included local nutritionists, and many family friends, relatives or contacts who are prominent medical consultants, doctors and professors in the medical field. They ALL thought that I was absolutely crazy, and were not afraid to tell me just that! Thankfully, I stuck to my gut instinct as I had a very strong passion for nutrition, wellness and healthy living (and starting my own business), and did not allow them to dissuade me.
In terms of starting out seeing clients for nutrition (what my business is based on), I didn’t get advice in the beginning as it’s all been very much my own ideas, and I already had qualifications in medicine (as a doctor) and nutrition (a BSc degree). However business wise, I was fortunate to have had some amazing mentors – one in particular, an expert in branding and marketing kindly gave of his time and advice, and opened up my mind to a whole new world and way of thinking. I am eternally grateful to him.
Who are your role models?
My parents! They are both truly the kindest, most amazing people I know (and I’m not saying that because I’m biased). My Mom is also my number one cooking inspiration and has shown me from such a very young age what real, wholesome food is and how good it can taste. My Dad is my number one work motivator and inspiration, whose constant support and business advice are invaluable to me.
How has what you do changed you as a person?
In countless ways! My confidence has increased, I’m far less afraid to take risks, I love what I do and I feel happier and more fulfilled every single day.
I think doctors tend to be very risk averse and perfectionistic in nature. Since leaving medicine to start my own business, I have gradually learned to become less risk averse – which is important in business and life in general. I’ve also learned not to “sweat the small stuff”. You don’t need to be perfect or have life planned out at 18 (or even at 30)! Trust me, I certainly didn’t!
What’s been your biggest achievement in life thus far?
In life – finding and marrying my amazing husband Jeff. In work, writing my book The Food Effect Diet which has been published worldwide, and was serialised by The Times UK in January (2018).
And biggest failure?
Trust me, I’ve had many! But what I’ve learnt through the hardship and tough times, is that failure IS definitely a pre-requisite to success. “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” is not just a cliché!
What are the top 5 books and blogs on your reading list?
- You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (my favourite book of all time!)
- FIGHT by Hazel Gale (amazing!)
- The Skinny Confidential Blog
- niafaraway.com (not just saying it! I LOVE it!! Nia you are so talented and inspiring.)
- The Food Effect Diet book (a must read for everyone!) 😉 – find it here
If you could do any other job, aside from what you do now, what would it be?
Life coach. (Thankfully a major part of my work I do as a nutritionist involves coaching people to overcome their difficulties).
Do you have any unconventional words of advice?
“The harder you work, the luckier you get.” I think nowadays it’s easy to get clouded by everyone portraying their “success” across social media and to think it all comes so easily, but no one sees the hard work and slog behind it all. I don’t believe in “luck”!
What is your motto?
Work hard and be nice to people.
If money and time were no object, what would be on your to-do and to-see list?
Get a personal assistant! Launch “The Food Effect” range of food products (I have all the ideas!). I’d also love to go to Dubai.