Five minutes with nutritionist Sami Bloom
Meet Sami Bloom, a Sydneysider with a whole lot going on!
We first discovered Sami through her beautiful Instagram profile. Along with being a nutritionist, Yoga teacher and holistic coach and lover of all things Megaformer, Sami has more than enough to talk about! We sat down with Sami to gain some insight into her thoughts on health and nutrition, on and off the Megaformer.
Firstly Sami, a little bit about you. What inspired you to create Health & Bloom and to become a yoga instructor and holistic coach?
Hi! I’m Sami, a lawyer turned copywriter, turned yoga teacher, health coach and nutritionist. I’ve certainly tried on many hats! I worked in both Sydney and New York before my own health complications prompted me to make positive life changes, revitalising my health and leading to a drastic career change. Like so many in this industry, my business was born out of my own personal health struggles and experiences – making a subconscious decision at four years of age to go vegetarian, developing disordered eating in my teens, suffering from hormonal imbalances, and finally, finding balance in my approach to health and nutrition. I wanted to share my past and what I was learning that helped inform my health decisions. Yoga was instrumental in my journey, and it was actually during my teacher training that I decided to take the plunge and dive head first into a Bachelor of Health Science specialising in nutritional medicine.
As a practicing nutritionist, I draw upon my own experiences from my dysfunctional relationship with food and body image as well as hormonal chaos, to my passion for plant-based nutrition. My studies taught me to utilise scientific evidence and holistic principles to treat each individual case in a way that is effective, sustainable and enjoyable for my clients. My philosophy is deeply rooted in whole food, plant-based nutrition and using food as the wonderful medicine that it is! I absolutely love the career I have tirelessly worked toward and am truly grateful for every mistake I have made. When I am not seeing patients or teaching yoga, I am working on my blog.
We love following you on social media, especially Instagram! Your food creations are mouth-watering to say the least, could you share your favourites with us?
Thank you! I spend lots of time in the kitchen experimenting, but my recipes are by no means fancy or complicated. I try to keep things achievable and appealing to everyone! Some staples in my kitchen are: green smoothies and steel-cut oats cooked with tahini and raspberries for breakfast; large green salads with beans or bean burgers for lunch; for dinner I love Eastern-style cooking: Ayurvedic kitchari, tempeh stir-fries or curries, stuffed veggies like capsicums or mushrooms, and fried cauliflower rice with toasted cashew nuts. The desserts I like to make range from simple bliss balls to raw tahini chocolate or a good banana loaf. Yum!
In your bio it mentions that you are vegan, it seems lately more and more people are trying this way of life. What were your reasons for going vegan, and how do you incorporate sufficient protein into your diet?
Whilst the moral and environmental reasons played a huge part in my decision to go vegan, I wouldn’t be advocating it to my community as a nutritionist if I didn’t also believe (through thorough research) that being vegan is the healthiest lifestyle too. You can read more about my journey here.
When it comes to protein, the idea that vegans need to consume complementary sources of plant protein e.g. grains + beans, to obtain all essential amino acids i.e “complete protein” is completely false and outdated. Whilst yes, some plant foods are relatively low in certain essential amino acids, the body has the incredible ability of doing all the “complementing” for us. We have an efficient protein recycling program, whereby around 90g of protein is dumped into the digestive tract daily from our own body, broken down, reassembled and added to, effectively mixing and matching amino acids to the proportions we require. Amazing! In fact, the very concept that protein combining is required was based on rat studies, not human requirements, and was adamantly retracted soon after. So! The short answer is, I don’t worry myself with complementing foods for protein completeness. Instead, I focus on eating enough food and whole-foods: legumes, gluten-free grains, tempeh, tofu, loads of vegetables and nuts and seeds form the majority of my diet.
You’re experienced in our Megaformer classes, so you know it’s a tough challenging class. Fuelling your body correctly is essential for getting the best results. In your opinion what are the best foods/meals/snacks to eat before and after a Physicore session?
Yes! What a workout! If you are awake for over an hour before a morning class a simple banana or apple can do the trick and give you the energy you need to make the most of your workout, but I do think it is important to tune into your own body when it comes to pre-workout, some people just don’t need a snack. If you do feel you get light-headed or fatigue easily during a workout, try adding this piece of fruit in. Keep the snack light. A large glass of water at least 30 mins before (with lemon!) may also help.
Post-workout, it depends what your goals are. To stay lean and healthy, consuming your next meal within 60 mins post class is a good way to properly nourish your muscles and cells. When it comes to post-workout nutrition, there is something called the “window of opportunity”. In a nutshell, this is the time directly after you exercise up until 2 hours, where your body is primed to receive nutrients that can assist with its repairing and rebuilding processes. I take the 3:1 approach, that is 3g of carbs for every 1g of protein (I’m only talking about medium-high intensity workouts for around 40 minutes, shorter/less vigorous workouts don’t require such emphasis). This is because you need to replenish the glycogen stores (energy) you have burnt through, so that you don’t break down muscle instead. You only need 15-20g protein post workout to help repair and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
If you workout in the morning, a 2 piece of fruit smoothie with 1 tbsp pea or rice protein, 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds blended with coconut water and a handful of greens would be appropriate. If you train around lunchtime or dinner, something like a salad with 3+ cups of veggies, 1/2 cup legumes, a handful of sweet potato and 1/4 avocado is perfect. Tip: I also like to add nutritional yeast for extra protein and B vitamins to my salads. Realistically, if the goal is not to gain weight, making your post-workout a main meal, rather than an extra snack or shake is truly the best option. As you can see from my suggestions, it would be remiss if I didn’t also mention simply opting for nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory foods as a mainstay in your diet (i.e. fruit and veg!), to best support your body in every way, particularly in helping combat exercise-induced oxidative stress.
Now for the fitness side of things. Everyday living can be hectic enough for most of us, do you find it easy to fit workouts into your schedule and what does your weekly fitness timetable look like?
I don’t feel good unless I have done some sort of movement each day. For a long time, during my healing process, that was simply walking and/or yoga. I gradually moved toward Pilates, and now I enjoy Megaformer as well as outdoor HIIT classes. Working toward my wedding day, I am aiming for two to three outdoor/Megaformer classes and one soft sand running session per week. I also practice gentle yoga a few times a week and try to get to 10k steps daily.
Finally Sami, do you have any other advice for people trying to eat healthy and to make the right choices for them? Especially for anyone who is not a culinary expert or enthusiast.
I think it is important to assess the motivation behind your health efforts. Coming from a place of fear or self-loathing can be really destructive and doesn’t lead to positive, long-lasting habits. Try to come from a place of wanting to nourish your cells, fuel and move your body – not because you want to look a certain way but because you want to feel good and live long! Begin a stress-monitoring protocol: earthing, meditation, deep belly breathing, yoga, getting outdoors, journalling, whatever works for you (don’t try to do it all, as this can also be stressful!). Focus on getting to know yourself. Self-awareness and self-reflection are key to achieving a positive mindset, which will ultimately lead to more loving and healthy choices. When we are in tune with ourselves, we can help ourselves, and I think that is the foundation to self-love and living your truth. Diet-wise, simple steps include beginning your day with warm water and lemon and a green smoothie, limit caffeine to once daily, cut down on drinking if you know you drink too often, and load every plate you can with both raw and lightly cooked veggies (no matter what else is on there, just add the veg!).