Living healthily can sometimes seem unattainable, overwhelming, something there is no time for. Depending on your job, your family commitments, it really can be, and it takes dedication, planning and a good support network.
Holly Smith is one person who battled the adversity of a topsy turvy schedule during 13 years working as cabin crew in Dubai and it was during this time she turned her life from trolley dolly into kitchen goddess. The founder of Smith St Paleo, she started cooking at home and creating her own recipes, trying to make healthier versions of the food she already enjoyed. This then grew into spreading these recipes into the CrossFit community of her husband Marcus, founder of InnerFight, and that was the seed of what is now an upcoming healthy meal provider for Dubai’s health conscious but time poor community.
When Holly quit her job with Emirates last year, she was working 128 air hours a month, in addition to the many hours of land time pre and post flight she would have on top of that. There are days when her husband Marcus admits he has had to kick Holly out of the gym, so committed is she to her fitness regime and making time to spend with her hubby, jet lagged or otherwise. Her recipes allow you to make that delicious treat feeling meal, but without any of the junk; her philosophy simply to eat whole, nutrient dense food, rather than looking at the calories. She took her healthy lifestyle all over the world with her, on layovers across the world and when back home in Dubai. So how did she do it?
ORDER SMART WHEN EATING OUT
“It’s still easy to eat out and have that great steak, I’ll just order it without the glaze and sauces, and have it with some mustard instead. Instead of the creamed spinach, I’ll just ask for it to be steamed. Grilled fish and salad is also easy to order. Luckily I’m not super rigid and I won’t freak out if there’s a bit of feta in there or something. There are a few places that are tough to find healthier options but you can usually ask for other options.”
I ALWAYS PACK FOOD WHEN I FLY
Even now she’s not crew, Holly always packs her food on flights, not least those long trips back home to Australia. “I always take food with me on the plane when I travel. I’ll take things like nuts, my paleo balls (obvs!) or something I have prepared like my Paleo bread or my Paleo fruit and nut loaf. For a meal I try to be organised and cook something for dinner the night before that the leftovers will travel well and I don’t mind eating cold like meatloaf or roast chicken. A big favourite is to shred up the chicken and mix it with hardy salad stuff like kale, grated carrot and beetroot, things that don’t wilt or go mushy, you can even dress it a little with a vinegarette and it will be fine. I pack everything in a small cooler bag which is just fine for a shorter trip, but for long haul, the crew have never had an issue with finding a little space in the chiller for me. Organisation is key! I also drink lots of water. Once I’m through and in the airport, I buy all my own water for the flight. I can keep track I’m drinking enough and not reliant on the crew. Sometimes you may think you’re hungry, but its actually thirst.”
WHEN I’M OUT OF THE HOUSE FOR SEVERAL HOURS, I WILL PACK SNACKS
Holly’s bliss balls have become the talk of the town. Usually with only four or five natural ingredients in, they are her go to snack when out on the go. “I’ll usually have the balls with me when I’ve got a long day or some almonds. Usually though I try to plan my days so that I’m home for meal times so I can eat properly at home. When you get hungry, you just end up shoveling something down you to fill a hole.”
DON’T GO FOOD SHOPPING WHEN HUNGRY
“It’s a disaster to go food shopping or to a restaurant when you’re already hungry because you’ll just make bad choices. If you’re eating out, that’s the time when you’ll dip into that bread basket and fill up on the wrong things.”
Holly has spent many hours reading and researching (documentaries, podcasts, articles etc) on the areas of health and nutrition. “There’s so much information out there for us now. I had a period of around a month when I just wanted to eat super clean, cutting out the grains, bread and stuff, and I felt really good for it so from there, I just wanted to carry on. I started tweaking what I cooked and how we ate. I found people were falling off the wagon because the dietary changes they were making just weren’t sustainable and let’s be honest, nobody can sustain a diet of steamed broccoli. I wanted to make meals I already made so started to do things like my Pad Thai with spaghetti squash.”
Check out all of Holly’s recipes at: www.smithstpaleo.com
If you’re in Dubai, you can buy her delicious food from www.innerfight.com or if you’re within reach, order it through Deliveroo.