Nutritionist, Naturopath, Medical Herbalist and mother of two, Buffy Ellen started her popular plant-based nutrition blog, Be Good Organics, while recovering from a life altering diagnosis of Graves Disease. Today, Be Good Organics is has grown to a community of over 180,000 visitors every week.
We had a chat with Buffy about plant-based nutrition, motherhood, being an entrepreneur and her favourite pieces from Foal's collection, Moteur! 22.
F: What is Graves' disease and what role did nutrition play in your journey to heal from it?
B: Graves is an autoimmune condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, due to the immune system effectively ‘attacking' itself. I was diagnosed 10 years ago, was told I needed to have my thyroid gland removed or radioactive therapy to kill part of it off. I went down the nutrition route instead, switched to a plant based whole foods organic diet as much as possible, and removed toxins from my skincare and home where I could. 18 months later I was able to come off all my medication, and while I still have thyroid antibodies in my blood, I’ve been in remission every since.
F: What inspired you to start Be Good Organics?
B: My Graves’ disease illness and journey to recovery. I was amazed at what I discovered around using food as medicine, and wanted to share those learnings with others so they could do the same. I’d always wanted to start my own business, but having worked in finance since I graduated from Uni, I didn’t know what area I wanted to start it in. The graves was a blessing in disguise and gave me my business idea for Be Good Organics!
F: What has been the biggest challenge running a business and being a mum?
B: Balancing my desire to do more, achieve more, reach more people with my business, while also making enough time for the kids. It’s a daily challenge but I think I’m navigating the tight rope ok.
F: Do you have any family rituals? Morning routine? Weekly rhythm
Every morning the kids come in and jump into bed with me (they like to wake early, I like to sleep in late). Every evening we have dinner together, we give them a bath, and we’ll read books before bed. We take the ferry to Waiheke every Friday afternoon at 5pm, and from there on in, it’s focussed family time. We go to the beach, playground, cafe for fluffies, have picnic lunches at the beach using the beach barbecues, dinner at home or out at a local Waiheke spot. I’ll try do some puzzles with Mila or drawing, take Torin on his bike. The small things that they love. Then we’re back on the 5pm ferry on Sunday back to the mainland and regular work week life. It works for us.
F: How do you nurture a work / life balance? What gets in the way
B: Me wanting to work too much! I spend the morning doing my exercise, I’ll go for a run after I drop off the kids, then shower and get ready. Do my gratitude journal and planning for the day. It means I start a bit later than most on my work, but it sets me up in the right mindset and I think I’m much more productive for it.
F: What are the 3 most important habits in your life?
B: Exercise every day. Walking, running, or jumping on the bike down to the store.
Getting out in Nature - every day on my run a micro spurt, but especially on the weekends.
Eating well - we aim to eat plant-based whole foods 80% of the time. 20% of the time is more relaxed, but we fill ourselves mostly with the good stuff and everything else is balanced out.
ONE MORE! Social media - I typically try to bracket my usage each day so only turning it on after 11am, and turning it off at 730/8pm. This doesn’t always happen, but I’m pretty good. Social media can be super positive - connection, friends, creativity, ideas, sharing - but too much can be overwhelming, comparison, and addictive. I think that balance is super important and I’m trying to get it right for myself, as I can already see my kids seeing what I’m doing on my phone and how much time I do or don’t spend on there - and as they say, they learn by what I DO not what I say.
F: How do you nurture the development of creativity and self-expression in your children's lives?
B: I allow Mila to do lots of activities if she wants to (swimming, dancing, music etc), but I really don’t push her. For this reason she’s probably been a “late” swimmer, writing, reader vs some people’s standards. But she’s smart and I believe I don’t need to push milestones - I can just offer those opportunities and she’ll take them up when she’s ready not before then. In the meantime she can focus on just being creative, having fun, exploring, being a child, being curious. It’s working so far (come back to me when she’s 14 and we’ll see how I’m going!).
F: If one was to make one lifestyle change, what would you say is the single most effective intervention on the journey towards better health?
B: Plant-based whole foods diet. 80% of the time. Hands down.
F: A recent tiny triumph in your household?
B: We got bikes! Adult bikes that is. So for the first time this past week we went on a ‘family' bike ride. It was epic and we can’t wait to incorporate this type of movement+family time+nature+fresh air+bonding+screen-free-time on a regular basis going forward.
F: How do you plan to celebrate Matariki with your whānau?
B: We’ll be heading over to Waiheke, our second home on Thursday evening, spending Friday Matariki there with our whānau of 4. We will make some delicious food, and have dinner together looking out onto the Matariki cluster. We’ve also booked to go see the local Matariki star show on Waiheke. I can’t wait to celebrate this important holiday for the first time as a country, especially as our two kids are both in bilingual Kohanga and Kura learning Te Reo Māori. It will be magical!