Once we heard Maria Marlowe talk on a podcast about her book, The Real Food Grocery Guide, on how to navigate the grocery store and learn what ingredients are safe, what to look for when you’re purchasing eggs, meat, and everything in-between, we were hooked.

With wellness and how we can eat healthy, there’s so much to know. Should I buy organic? What foods are good for my skin? What kind of eggs or chicken should I buy? What do these labels even mean? All these questions pop up while we’re wandering the aisles at the grocery store, and Maria Marlowe has amazed us with her knowledge on how to navigate the grocery store and develop a lifestyle that works for us.

We were so curious on how she got started and where she’s at now. And of course, we made sure to get all the juicy details on how we can eat for clear skin, keep our energy up at work, and combat hormonal imbalance with food. Let’s dive in!

Tell us about your journey to starting your health coaching practice. Have you always been into wellness? What led you to go from finance to nutrition? 

Growing up I never imagined I would be into nutrition or healthy eating. I grew up eating primarily processed junk food. The only vegetables I ate were french fries and tomato sauce on pizza. I was happy eating this way, until I realized it was causing my acne, chronic digestive issues, and low immunity (I was seemingly sick all of the time).
I initially studied finance in college, and about two years in, I was introduced to the food as medicine concept by a friend, and so I drastically changed my diet to whole, real foods. Because my health so drastically improved – my acne cleared up, my digestive issues decreased, I got sick less often, and I even dropped 20 pounds – I became obsessed with researching the connection between diet and health (beyond weight.)
But, I initially didn’t think of it as anything more than a side hobby or passion. I finished school and got a good job working in finance. While working, I just felt like I had so much more to contribute to this planet than just spreadsheets, so I ended up going back to study plant-based cooking and nutrition, and made it my mission to help people upgrade their diets, so they can upgrade their life.

What does a day in the life look like for you now?

I typically love to start my day with three cups of water, a 30-minute HIIT workout (3x/week), and a healthy breakfast. I used to spend majority of my time coaching one-on-one, but now I have specific coaching hours during the day on certain days when I work with clients.

I now spend a lot of time creating content. Whether that means creating, testing, and shooting recipes for my site, creating nutrition and wellness related blog posts on relevant topics, or working on my Happier & Healthier Podcast. I recently launched the podcast, and absolutely love interviewing doctors, psychologists, healers, and wellness entrepreneurs about creating your best life. I’ve gotten so much incredible feedback on it, and I love empowering people to take control of their health and body!

In the evenings, I’m either leading the participants in my group EatSLIM program on a call, hosting a nutrition or cooking class in NYC, or coaching clients as I have after-work hours 3-4 days a week.

At what point did you start to feel successful in health coaching? 

The first time someone told me I changed their life! It’s a really nice feeling to know I am creating a positive impact – and watching the ripple effect of that. When a client sees positive results, eventually her boyfriend / husband / partner typically gets on board. I stay in touch with so many clients through instagram, so they are always keeping me updated. And on more than one occasion, a few years later, I’ve had clients send me photos of their toddler drinking a green smoothie or eating kale and loving it!

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had in your career so far? And what’s been the most challenging?

The most rewarding is the above. The most proud was getting my book, The Real Food Grocery Guide published and into the world. I strongly believe we can upgrade our life by simply upgrading our diet. When we feel good everyday, when we have energy, when our skinny jeans fit, when our skin is glowing from within, when we feel confident and happy with our body – we show up in the world in a different way.  I want to give people the knowledge and resources so they can do that.

The most challenging is that I miss the community and collaboration of a big team. I have a great assistant and work with a number of outside contractors for any work I’m not an expert at – like developing a website or editing podcast audio – but I’m looking forward to the day when I have a larger on-staff team!

We saw that you did grocery tours in person before writing your book, The Real Food Grocery Guide. What was the most eye-opening/surprising for people to learn during those tours or in your book?

So much! The importance of choosing organic over conventional animal products (for example to avoid synthetic hormone and antibiotic exposure, more nutritious meat), the benefits of choosing wild seafood over factory farmed, which produce should ideally be purchased organic and which doesn’t have to be, how to save money on healthy and organic groceries (they often realized their food bill goes down–not up–when they start eating healthier.)

For the girls working 9-5 at an office, what foods would you suggest for keeping up energy levels and staying productive throughout the day? 

Whole, real foods are the only foods that will keep you truly satisfied, nourished, and energized. (So 3 p.m. cookie runs and vending machine fare are out.) The key to staying productive, focused, and feeling good is a low glycemic diet–one that doesn’t spike your blood sugar. If you eat a high glycemic diet – such as cereal or a croissant for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, a piece of candy as a snack, and pasta for dinner, you’re going to be on an endless quest for sugar and probably have a foggy brain and trouble concentrating. You want a healthy mix of vegetables, protein, and fat at every meal.

For an energy boost, I recommend Matcha tea, which will help you focus and feel more alert, yet in a calm way, not a jittery way that sometimes comes with coffee.

What are a few tips for healthy, glowing skin? Combatting hormonal imbalances?

Eat more dark leafy greens (like kale, chard and arugula) and naturally orange foods (like sweet potato, butternut squash and carrots – not Cheetos or Doritos). Color is an indicator of what nutrients a plant food contains, and foods with these two colors happen to be filled with nutrients needed for clear skin, for example, Vitamin A, which is crucial for clear skin. They also provide fiber, another crucial part of the diet for healthy skin (because unhealthy digestion = unhealthy skin!)

You also want to add in more omega-3 rich foods, like wild salmon, chia seeds, and flax seeds, as omega-3s provide anti-inflammatory benefits that help keep skin blemish free and wrinkle resistant.

Hormonal imbalances can occur from a wide variety of reasons – such as stress, environmental toxins, lack of sleep, smoking, our diet, lack of exercise, and more. So for hormonal imbalances, I work with clients to look holistically at their diet and life to figure out what steps they can take to bring them back into balance.

Congratulations on starting a new podcast! We would love to hear more from you on what we can expect from it and what made you start it. 

Thank you. Each Happier & Healthier episode is designed to be actionable. So you will hear expert interviews with some of the top minds and luminaries in health and wellness – including doctors, psychologists, nutritionists, and people working to make the world a healthier place, so that you can take your knowledge and put it into action. You’ll be able to implement at least one nugget of wisdom from each episode into your daily life. New episodes are released every Thursday a.m. with occasional bonus Tuesday episodes. I created the podcast so people can cut the excuses, and actively create their healthiest, happiest life through their daily thoughts and actions.