Anna Mapson is a nutritional therapist who lives in Bristol with her family. Her inspirational story puts into sharp focus what’s truly important in life. Anna had a very rare form of cancer whilst pregnant and suffered both the loss of her baby and intensive chemotherapy. But her positivity shines through, and with her old career and health problems behind her, she tell us her story and shares some of her nutritious recipes.
Tell us about yourself
I’m a nutritional therapist and I help people feel reconnected to the food they eat, supporting them to feel energetic and well nourished. I work with clients via Skype across the UK or face to face in Bristol.
My background is as a management consultant in financial services, so quite a different lifestyle to the one I have now, but I love working for myself, and seeing health improvements in my clients. I have a nutrition business, Goodness Me, and I also work with a partner at The Gentle Touch, a pregnancy and postnatal support service providing baby massage/yoga, baby weaning and nutrition advice in Bristol.
Before becoming a nutritional therapist I had always been into healthy eating and keeping fit. My turning point was having a molar pregnancy about five years ago (a very rare cancer in which a tumour grows in the placenta). I needed six months of very intensive chemotherapy, on top of losing a baby, and this turned my life upside down. Being forced to stop work and just ‘be ill’ was very hard for me as I’m a real do-er, but what felt traumatic at the time, especially being out of control of life events, has led to some very positive changes in all aspects of my life. I don’t know if I would have taken the big risk to leave a well-paid job and retrain without that crisis point.
I love working for myself and the freedom that gives me and the family. I’ve got two daughters, and as my children get older I’m starting to get more time for working on business plans. It’s very hard balancing family commitments and my work goals.
As well as the two businesses I’m also a school governor, so I’m always dashing from one thing to the next and just about scraping by! My daughters love getting involved in taking photos of food and ‘putting it on the blog’ as they say, as well as helping me cook. I get them involved in chopping veg, as well as other preparation, we love to make biscuits and flapjacks together – they are always asking if their creations can be shared online!
How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work?
I love Instagram, I use it all the time for posting recipes and connecting with other food bloggers. I love to show new recipes that I’ve created, or just what I’m feeding the kids that night to give people ideas. It can be very boring to cook for a family day in day out, so I also highlight the benefits of foods that nourish us, explaining how vitamins and minerals are important to our health.
Facebook has been useful too for building a brand, I find it’s chattier and you can put more personality into the conversation. I have just ventured into Facebook Live which is scary but a nice way for people to get to know you. Like most of us, I can all spend too long online, but I love my jobs so much – fiddling around with photos and nutrition blogs sometimes feels like a hobby!
For The Gentle Touch Emma and I don’t have much time face-to-face time together for business planning as we both have young families but we’re always in touch on text, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, so it helps keep us connected. Working with a good friend is brilliant, we support each other and keep each other going through tough times. It helps that we are both very ambitious for the business and have big plans together over the coming years!
Anna’s healthy lunches for working mums
Here are my tips for eating during the day, whether you’re working from home or at an office. Firstly – forget sandwiches! Focus on protein for lunch to avoid an afternoon energy slump and get your carbs from starchy veg instead. Add healthy fats to each meal to keep you fuller for longer, and don’t forget to drink water!
Healthy lunches can be prepared in advance
Make extra helpings of dinner each night, so that you can take some into work for lunch the following day. If you don’t have anywhere to reheat then use a flask which will keep things warm.
- Batch cook and freeze – creating 2-3 portions of a soup/stew containing pulses like beans or lentils will mean you have a few lunches ready to go as back up.
- Roast an extra tray of vegetables on a Sunday and keep them in the fridge and use them as a base for lunch. Add chickpeas, boiled eggs, tinned sardines or a piece of chicken.
- Take a packet of oatcakes, some cut up vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumber, celery) and some hummus or guacamole as a snack
Lunch recipe ideas
- Roasted sweet potato wedges and a salad, tomatoes, peppers, a tin of sardines. Add hummus, green beans, eggs, or some toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Cook brown rice, near the end of cooking throw in some kale. Drain. Grate some carrot and any other salad items, add chick peas. Create a quick dressing by mixing tamari (or soy sauce), lemon/ lime, and tahini as a dressing.
- Roasted butternut squash with quinoa, tomatoes and a green salad.
- Gluten free pasta with some sautéed vegetables and half a tin of anchovies.
Quick lunches to make at home
- Scrambled or poached egg with avocado on rye toast. Add spinach, fried tomatoes or a green salad.
- Omelette with spinach, pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes.
- Miso soup: you can get sachets of soup to which you just need to add in some noodles, tofu and broccoli to make a meal.
Healthy snack ideas
- Piece of fruit and handful of seeds
- Oat cake with nut butter
- Avocado and handful of nuts
- Smoothie with vegetables, fruit and seeds
Mint choc energy balls
These can be made and kept in an airtight container for 3-4 days. They are a sweet hit but containing protein and fats to help keep you going.
100g cashew nut
100g sunflower seeds
40g cacao powder
Mint essence drop
Blend nuts and seeds in powerful blender (e.g. Nutribullet) and then mix this powder with the dates, cacao and mint essence in a blender.
Lizzie Loves Healthy: she has some delicious recipes for the whole family and it’s refined sugar free, dairy free. I like her approach to family cooking because it’s honest and she sneaks in nutrients to kids’ diets.
Nicky for Life: a lovely approach to nutrition for little people with some tasty recipe ideas.
Bees Nutrition: energetic and interesting posts about supporting your body through diet and lifestyle.