Meet Judy Davie the Food Coach

My name is Judy Davie and although I live in Avalon in Sydney’s Northern beaches, you’ll often find me touring country NSW with my friend and PA2health colleague Nel delivering workshops to Ginny’s Active Farmers community. I grew up in Scotland and my happiest times were spent at our cottage on the hills of Glen Esk where I’d spend the summer working with my friend on the family farm. It’s perhaps why I love touring the Australian country so much. The people remind me of my people back home: they call a spade a spade and I like that.

Judy in blue apron (800x585).jpg

What is your area of expertise ?

I’m the healthy eating expert of the team

How did you come to be working in this field?

It’s a long story and I’m pretty old so I’ll try and make it brief. I started The Food Coach 18 years ago which looking back was pretty nuts. People in Sydney were hiring coaches to sort out their lives and I thought they could do with help with what they ate. It came about after working on a TV show called Search for a Supermodel where I saw how badly the young girls ate. Over time I suspected many of them would end up gaining weight or developing eating disorders. Long story short, when the job ended I decided to become a food coach and help people understand how much better life is when they eat well. My mother didn’t know it at the time when I was growing up, but she was the inspiration behind it. She taught me what I teach people today and that is to make the effort to eat fresh natural food, make it taste nice and avoid - like the plague - fast food and processed junk food which may seem convenient but is making us sick.

What do you love about your work?

So much, I don’t know where to start. I’ve always liked eating food which helps and I hate following recipes so I develop my own and love it when people tell me how much they enjoy them. In the early days I worried about being a fraud. I’d entered a space which up until then was filled with dietitians and nutritionists who pretty much told people what to eat when they had a problem. I wanted to show people how to prevent ill health and give them the skills to make healthy eating sustainable. I still want to do that. Over the years I’ve written articles for major newspapers and magazines, written books, produced and appeared in so many cooking videos, put a city (Wagga)  on a diet, developed games for adults and children, all to help people eat healthily.  The message is always the same; how I deliver that message changes, and that’s what makes it fun.

Tell us about your interest in working with regional families and workplace.

After The Greengrocer’s Diet was published in 2015, I spent about 5 months in Wagga developing and running the campaign LightenUp Wagga. It was an incredible experience on so many levels including what I learnt about community and the spirit of Regional people. At the time Wagga had been named as the fattest and most unfit city in NSW which was ironic given the Riverina area grows so much fresh food. Regional and Rural Australia is where our food comes from and yet there’s such a reliance on fast and packaged food. I lived in a little place called Repton near Coffs Harbour for 4 years where it was the same. All the best produce goes to Sydney. It’s the same around the country and I understand it all comes down to where people get the best price but Regional Australians miss out, eat less fresh food and end up with more health related diseases than people in the city. I know its more complex than that, and with the numerous natural disasters and drought that affects so many people in the communities they have more than their fair share of stress but I’d love to see people in regional areas value themselves and their health more.  It’s become the norm for people to be overweight in regional areas but when it’s affecting their health, it needs to change.

What do you value about working as a Pa2health team member. How is this an advantage for rural clients?

Without hesitation it’s all about the sum of what we can do together. I love the saying, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I know people will lose weight and get healthy if they follow my diet, but I also know when life throws them some curveballs and emotions get in the way they often sabotage their best intentions. Alice’s psych training and Nel’s mindfulness techniques are key to help them ride the emotional waves. Ed’s chatbot is so clever but simple and personal compared to some of these apps which look impressive but can be unnecessarily complex and Ginny’s exercise classes are so inspirational. In such a short space of time we’ve become a tight little team with very commonly aligned values. We all genuinely care about what we do and we want to make a difference.   

And I love that we give back to the Active Farmers community. It’s quite cool. We eat the food our farmers grow and in turn give back to the farmers.

What do you love to do when you are not working?

I practise yoga, I love to kayak, walking my little dog, and I love reading more than I ever used to.  And I still like cooking even though that’s my work - I’m pretty lucky really.

How do you achieve optimum physical and mental health yourself? Is there anything you find challenging?

I guess what I find challenging, and it's something I am keen to share with other women my age, is how much the body changes after menopause. It’s important to strike a balance between exercise and healthy eating to maintains good health, but it’s also important to not fight the natural process of aging. Personal health is a strong value  for me (I hate waiting in doctor's surgeries and I’m scared of surgery) but I can’t do the same type of exercise I used to do, or eat as much as I used to get away with eating, and I have to learn to be OK with that.

What do you hope PA2health achieves for regional communities ?

More than anything else I hope PATH helps people recognise that they can control their own health and enjoy being well.

Ed Stevens