Anyone capable of double-tapping probably knows what Hazel Wallace throws together for midweek dinners and how much she loves a quick at-home HIIT session. But it turns out there are many things The Food Medic was keeping close to her chest – until now
Five medic-approved recipes from Dr Hazel Wallace
Hazel Wallace celebrated her 27th birthday with 27 burpees – although we assume cake made an appearance at some point, too. This practice has become something of a tradition for the junior-doctor-turned-wellness-influencer – just one of those she cheerily shares with 211k Instagram followers as part of her almost-constant showreel of daily life.
It’s this kind of transparency that’s earned @thefoodmedic such an invested following, and why Hazel is about to publish her second book in as many years,
The Food Medic For Life, which is not only brimming with simple (no, really) recipes that feel as indulgent as they are wholesome, but also includes details of Hazel’s personal life that she’s previously chosen to keep private. ‘It’s all well and good telling people what to do, but if you’re not living and breathing that advice yourself then no one will be able to relate to you,’ she says, offering those in the room homemade oat and banana cookies that she prepped that morning ahead of a day of meetings and interviews. ‘And I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for my personal experience, so it felt like the right time to share my story – curated properly and published in a book rather than uploaded in an online post.’
The 27-year-old’s story refers to her teen years, when a normal family meal took a tragic turn. ‘My dad had a mini stroke there at the dinner table, which led to a larger stroke a week later that killed him,’ she explains. ‘He’d been diagnosed with high blood pressure and borderline diabetes – so had multiple risk factors – but he’d started eating more healthily and going to the gym, so it came as a complete shock.’
Hazel recounts this time as sowing the first seed in her mind to become a doctor, but in reality, she had to navigate the grief that tore her family apart. ‘I was 14 and I didn’t grieve his loss for many years because I could see my mum grieving and she needed me to look after her and help around the house as my dad would have done. A year or so later, when I think I subconsciously felt she was getting better, it was my turn to grieve. But I internalised everything: I threw myself into school, withdrew from my friends for two years, stopped eating and even washing myself.’ It was only when the teenager’s mum came to her, crying with worry, that Hazel visited her GP. Her health wasn’t in danger, but she needed to gain weight. ‘It was a slow process, and the focus was on eating
any food rather than the healthiest foods, but I experienced first-hand how food could act as medicine,’ she says. ‘It was definitely a wake-up call and made me think, “What the hell am I doing? I’m young, I can go to university, I have so much to live for,” rather than being a 17-year-old girl who hoped her life would end.’
That turning point delivered more than one hell of a mental pep talk: Hazel packed her bags, moved out of the family home and earned a degree in medical science from the University of South Wales, before going on to study medicine at the University of Cardiff.
Derailed as most students are – ‘noodles, pizza, a lot of cider’ – Hazel felt like she wasn’t quite living the life she’d soon be prescribing to her patients. So she launched her digital persona, and in the five years since has built up a loyal community who love her no-nonsense approach to nutrition and do-them-inyour-pjs workouts. ‘I’m a big believer in everything in moderation,’ Hazel explains. ‘I’ll have two squares of chocolate but I don’t need to demolish the bar; I enjoy a glass of wine but I’m not out at the weekend boozing all the time. It’s about having a little bit of everything.’
Amen to that. Turn the page to get an exclusive look at some of Hazel’s favourite healthy recipes from her new book.