Fit2farm: Wellbeing guru shares top health tips for farmers

Liz Earle is probably best known for her work in natural health and wellbeing, in particular the beauty company she co-founded more than 20 years ago, which she finally left last year.

But, while the Liz Earle brand name lives on, (it is now owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance), Ms Earle has taken on a new challenge – renovating and running a once-derelict West Country farm and developing the Liz Earle Wellbeing publishing business.

See also: Hard work and long hours take toll on farmers

So who better to ask for some advice about combining the hard graft of practical farming with maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle?

Here she shares her top tips:

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is an easy way to help boost energy levels. Water helps flush accumulated waste through the body, as well as preventing dehydration headaches. Try keeping a portable filter water bottle with you in the tractor cab or workshop as a visual reminder to drink more water.
  • Eat more feel-good food: What we eat undoubtedly affects our mood, especially at lunchtime as it gives us a boost in the middle of the day. A thermos of wholesome soup with chunks of wholemeal bread is pretty unbeatable for nurturing the body.
  • Look after your gut: Good gut health has the power to totally transform the way we feel. A daily dose of probiotics can make a real difference to our overall health and wellbeing. Just adding in some plain live yoghurt, or cultured and fermented foods such as kefir, can make a big difference in terms of overall wellbeing and energy levels.
  • Stay fit through exercise: It’s hard for a farmer to find the time in a day that starts early and can end late, but your body will thank you for taking regular exercise and, ironically, you’ll find it gives you more energy overall. A quick 20-minute run, for example, will release endorphins and clear the head.
  • Breathe to reduce stress levels: Whenever you feel particularly stressed and tired, stop and take some long, deeper breaths – an easy, yet effective, way of reducing stress.
  • Make time to socialise: Working in a rural community can be isolating and meeting up with friends and colleagues is a reliable way to boost your mood. Don’t go it alone.
  • Do more of what you love after work: Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of the working day. Do more of what makes you happy and see more of the people you love. Focus on simple pleasures.
  • Enjoy brain-boosting snacks: Healthy snacks, such as nuts and granola bars, mean less refined sugars than commercial biscuits or chocolate, so keep some to hand to reduce sweet-snack temptation at a mid-afternoon energy slump.
  • Balanced wellbeing: Wellbeing is all about balance and maintaining a sense of perspective, which is why it’s good to embrace our guilty pleasures from time to time. 

Liz Earle – a leading role in food and farming

Having had a long-term interest in food and nutrition, Liz Earle decided to get her hands and feet dirty by taking on a derelict West Country farm more than a decade ago “to better understand the complexity and realities of British farming”.

Working with her husband Patrick Drummond, she has built up a fully commercial operation, including a closed herd of around 70 pedigree Hereford cattle, alongside 300 to 400 sheep and free-range laying hens. In total, the farm runs to 122ha – mostly heavy clay soil, including some woodland.

“We’re a founding Pasture for Life farm, simply run with a full-time stockman, part-time shepherdess and additional farm workers to help with lambing and hay making. We also have an invaluable part-time farm secretary to help with the inevitable admin and accounts too.”

The farm is run to organic standards, which Ms Earle says fits in with her wellbeing ethos.

“I’m passionate about finding practical and commercial alternatives to intensive farming, which can reduce overall soil fertility, pollute waterways and relies on expensive inputs such as hard feeds and concentrates.

“As a farmer, I’m able to put my beliefs in regenerative farming into practice and rear 100% grass-fed beef, which appears to be better for the cattle, the environment, soil fertility and, ultimately, for us as consumers, due to its healthier fat composition.”

As well as farming and publishing, Ms Earle is an ambassador for the Sustainable Food Trust, an advocate for the Soil Association, co-founder of the original food labelling pressure group FLAG and an ambassador for Love British Food.

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