Pixie is one of the judges of the 2016 That Protein & HBC Health Blog Awards.

About Pixie

23 year old Pixie Turner is a plant-based food blogger, scientist and nutritionist in training. Dedicated to promoting a balanced and healthy lifestyle supported by evidence-based research and science, she is a self-confessed wellness rebel, and the creator of #pixieplate. Currently studying for an Msc in Nutrition, she loves to organise events in London for young people who are passionate about healthy food, to come together and meet offline.

Becoming Plant-based Pixie

My journey with food started in my second year of my BSc when I began learning about food metabolism and looking into my own diet and how it was affecting me. I developed a bit of an obsession with sugar, cut out a lot of food groups (partly unnecessarily out of lack of understanding), and was essentially following a plant-based/vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free diet. It took almost a year of travelling around the world to get me out of this strict and extreme mindset, and I’m now much more relaxed with food and make sure to just eat healthy nutrient-dense dishes with a little indulgence!

The inspiration behind my Pixie Plates comes from my love for Emma Bridgewater crockery – I always use it in my Instagram photos! I’ve been told that this is part of my Instagram “look” now and a way that people recognise my photos. However the text on the plates isn’t always vegetarian-friendly, so I looked into creating my own plates. It’s actually not as easy as people might think to do fancy calligraphy in a circular pattern around the edge of a plate, but it is great fun! Once I started making them for myself and posting about them on Instagram I was flooded with emails about them, and still get asked every day where I get them from.

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My Philosophy

The most important thing about developing recipes is, of course, that the food tastes great! For me it’s incredibly important that my recipes are simple, easy to follow, and don’t require a lot of obscure or expensive ingredients. I know a lot of my readers are students who are on a relatively tight budget, and I don’t believe healthy eating should be exclusive or expensive.

I think people take labels far too seriously, there shouldn’t be a need to classify and categorise yourself a certain way. I find it can lead to unnecessary restriction in order to “comply” with the label or dietary choice. That’s partly why I don’t like using the word vegan to describe my food; I find plant-based to be more appropriate as it’s vague and open to interpretation. Dietary choices are fine as long as they’re nutritionally sound and a sensible decision that has been thought through carefully. Cutting out food groups is not a decision to take lightly.

Industry ‘Experts’

It always amazes me how many people with no nutritional qualifications whatsoever, who simply have a large online following, are happy to dish out advice and regurgitate information they’ve read online, without fact-checking or making sure the information has come from a reliable source.

I also disagree with a lot of the marketing techniques and “buzzwords” used in the wellness industry, and the strong reliance on anecdotal evidence. I hope in the future certain terms and health claims such as “natural” will be more tightly regulated to avoid misleading customers. I think there’s a definite under appreciation for science in the community, and I wish there was a stronger drive and thirst for evidence-based knowledge, rather than relying on Google and YouTube for information.pixie

Trust the Facts!

There definitely needs to be more scientific communicators in the industry, who are able to convey the complex science of food in a manageable way that both informs and interests people. Unfortunately there are a lot of online “nutrition” courses which are extremely biased, not based on current scientific consensus, and that don’t provide the accurate and correct information needed to allow people to make sensible decisions about their lifestyle choices. This often results in incorrect advice being given to others which is detrimental to people’s health. An online nutrition course that is scientifically sound and evidence-based is definitely something that is needed in the future if the public’s interest in food continues to increase.

I only work with brands I believe in

I’ve learnt a lot from working with brands, but the main thing I’ve learned is to always be assertive about any conditions I have and to say no if I’m unsure or if I disagree with their marketing strategies or products. I always ask lots of questions and request evidence backing any claims they make, if necessary. I would never work with a brand unless I’ve actually tried their products and like them. Luckily most brands really appreciate this and are happy to send samples before any deal is arranged, as then I can write about the products in an honest and conversational way that benefits both the brand and the readers.

It’s important for bloggers to not just accept health claims from press releases as fact, but to ask questions about the product and query anything they don’t understand. The amount of times I’ve seen bloggers cut and paste information from press releases for Instagram posts or blog reviews is shocking. Not only does this show a lack of understanding, it is also incredibly irresponsible and lazy. I also think it’s important to try and offer something special that makes you stand out, whether that’s your photography skills, a style of writing that really draws people in, or a fun and unusual recipe.

The future

2016 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year! Obviously I’m really excited for the Health Blog Awards and so thrilled to be a part of it. I’ll be finishing my MSc in August, after which I’ll be an accredited nutritionist, which I’m hoping will add extra credibility to my scientific blog posts. I’m also working with some great brands and juice bars at the moment, as well as working on some very top-secret longer-term projects that I can’t divulge just yet!