Healing - the Authentic Tea podcast with Sally

Sally supports others to transform their wellbeing and meet their health goals with private consultations, overnight health retreats and courses.


Sally also shares her time and energy with her family business Hampton Manor integrating soil health and sustainable farming to bring healthy food to the dining table.


Join us to hear more about the value of nutrition, healthy food, the connection to self, others and nature and how Sally is working to incorporate these and so much more in to her holistic approach to healing.


Episode 31 features a chat with Sally. Sally is guiding people back to health using an integrated medical approach and her passion for functional and lifestyle medicine.


Rachel (00:01):

I am delighted to be chatting with Sally. Sally is guiding people back to health, using an integrated medical approach. Combining her passion for functional and lifestyle medicine, Sally supports others to transform their wellbeing and meet their health goals through private consultations, overnight health retreats, and courses. Sally also shares her time and energy with her family business at Hampton Manor, integrating soya health and sustainable farming to bring healthy food to the dining table. Welcome, Sally.


Sally (00:29):

Thank you, Rachel, for having me. I'm really excited to be talking to you.


Rachel (00:36):

Well, thank you for joining us. So I've got so many questions I'd love to ask you, but maybe we could start off with the change of treating the individual and delivering a more personalized approach to medicine. When did you start to see that for yourself that you wanted to follow that route? Yeah.


Sally (00:56):

I've been a medical doctor for 22 years, and I don't know about you, but I found even during my training, back in those early 90s, I remember being at medical school, learning all the amazing science in the first couple of years, and then getting to clinical work and thinking, "Well, I don't need any of that. I just need to know how to classify disease and follow a guideline."


Sally (01:19):

And it really jarred with me that it seemed so disconnected from how our bodies were made. So that was always in me and I was always wrestling. We go into medicine because we want to help people. But the more I went into medicine, the more I felt I wasn't really. And what we were doing was so disconnected with the individual. It was all about disease management.


Sally (01:41):

And then I had a few years overseas in Africa doing different things, and I came back to the inner city to do general practice. I totally loved it. Just the first day when I was doing my job there, I couldn't say a single name. And I was so happy. I loved that.


Sally (01:57):

But again, just had this growing thing with pressures for appointments, where by the time I left, it was like 40 patients a day, 10 minutes at a time. Patient didn't know me, I didn't know them—this massive pressure to get people into a disease category, to use medication. And then often, we were medicating because I was medicating and it just was breaking me. I felt like it was so disconnected. I wasn't really helping the individual. I couldn't be a home doctor.


Sally (02:24):

And then I lost my own health and thank God for the NHS, I had all my scans, what have you. They came out with a diagnosis, got given medication for life. And that was the tipping point for me, where I had this moment with my neurologist where I said, "Look, you're not really telling me why I'm unwell. Is there anything I can do to help myself get better?" And he didn't even look up. He put another prescription across at me and said, "Here, Sally. Try this one and I'll see you in three months."


Sally (02:53):

I walked out and it was like, no. Our body is created to heal. It's genetically wired to repair and I want to understand what's going on in my body. That was the tipping pointwhere I decided to go back to the roots and work out what my body needed


Rachel (03:14):

And that moment for you, that own self-reflection, that experiences then obviously led you to now share both your experience and your expertise. What steps did you then take to develop your learning in that area?


Sally (03:28):

I stumbled across the world of functional medicine in America, which has been around 30 years. It's a different approach and a different roadmap to the problem of health. So where we would look at disease management, we would look at symptom suppression, functional medicine has an approach where it looks upstream. It looks at what's going on at a cellular level, what's going on hormonally, what's going on nutritionally, and it tries to correct things there through using lifestyle, nutrition, and some supplementation to help correct things there because as you do that, all the downstream stuff improves.


Sally (04:14):

So I fell into that. And at that time, that really was the only route to start doing any training. Things have moved on a lot now. Here in the UK, you have lifestyle medicine diplomas, and a lot has happened since then. I did the functional medicine training. It was based in America with the Institute of Functional Medicine. At the time, I also came across a great nutritionist called Chris Kresser, who also has n institute for training. Also, I did some training with him too, but a lot of it was just reading.


Sally (04:50):

Again, you'll understand this, but in the 90s, we had no idea why we slept, we had no nutritional training, we knew nothing about the gut microbiome. We knew nothing about Nutrogenomix, sociogenomics, all of that. And actually when you start reading and learning, so much has exploded on the scene in terms of the impact of these different foundations that help us remain healthy. Literally, it was all consuming. I had two or three years where I literally would just input, input, input, reading everything. And of that, developed my own convictions and my own style of practice that suits how I'm made and and how I can help certain people.


Rachel (05:36):

Were you then combining both your functional medicine approach and your traditional clinical approach? Or was it that you did one and then the other? How did that evolve?


Sally (05:46):

I think it's all integrated. I think, ultimately, health is the integration of everything—integration of body, mind, spirit. It isn't just about the absence of disease. I think in my training it's very difficult to separate it out. I've worked in Africa for years and I know medication helped. I'm not anti-medication at all. So I think it was the integration of that, and I think medication totally has a place, but it probably isn't the first place that I would start with people. And often, I don't need to use medication if people are willing to go with me on some of these lifestyle programs that I create.


Sally (06:28):

So I think it was the integration of that. And then other things have come into place, like probably more bold about the impact of spirituality and the impact of our social connection on health. I'm not afraid to help people explore those and how theyhelp develop health. So it's also integrated into a style of practice that I use now.


Rachel (06:52):

I find it really interesting that you mentioned a couple of times about your time in Africa and working overseas in more low-resource settings. For me, that's something because at the times where I've done that, it has been quite pivotal in the way I looked at that balance between the individual health and population health, and like you say, that balance between prevention and treatment. Working in a different environment and taking yourself outside of the UK environment, how did that change your approach to clinical practice?


Sally (07:24):

Brilliant question. I think I received far more than I ever gave in terms of how it's changed me. My very first official medical job—over the years, when I was training, I'd go out to Africa and do all sorts of short term stuff—but my first experience was working in Darfur. It was amongst the genocideand there was a systematic use of rape, and I was doing female health. I think how it changed me was an appreciation of the capacity of the human spirit and the power of community when it comes to healin. It was just incredible, like a total credit working with those women, and the importance of community around that and around that healingjourney.


Sally (08:21):

You just realize when you're in a situation where there's no running water, there's no roads, there's no infrastructure, there's no hospitals, you have to think laterally andlooking at what you can use and even be more natural pathic. I remember using papaya skins for burns and all sorts of stuff where it does change, where you think, "Oh my goodness, we're so locked into a certain way in our Western way of thinking." And there is so much more going on out there and different ways that we canapproach health.


Sally (08:58):

And then also, it's an immersion into realizing how different cultures bring different beliefs. And if we don't appreciate that, and we don't find a language that taps into that belief system, we're very poor guides as doctors. And so I think it was a real understanding of that. So often now when I'm talking to somebody, I have an hour with them, 'm listening to their childhood, I'm listening to the language, and I'm trying to work out how they're wired, what their belief systems are in order to find an effective way to guide them.


Rachel (09:36):

We were talking a little bit about this before we started the podcast, but so much of what the functional approach feeds into is that broader socioeconomics of health, and that health is so much more than the absence of disease.That's such a traditional definition, but it's something that I think a lot of us have forgotten. But really, that's the core of living a healthy life. What does that look like for you now? What does it look like if you are striving for a healthy life for yourself?


Sally (10:10):

For myself? I really agree that we all meet really healthy people who are totally miserable, and we also meet very sick people who have such dynamism and are such a blessing to be around. And you realize how short that definition leaves us if we just focus on physical and emotional perfection, if you like. And for me, in my own health journey, one, I realize health isn't a destination and health is a whole lifetime of becoming a truer version of ourselves,of living an inside-out life.


Sally (10:54):

And I think I really believe that we need to befriend suffering and pain as part of that process and see them as our teacher and our guide. I think we can't actually have true joy without that. And that's where, again, the wellbeing movement can really leave you short because it sells this idea that wellbeing is about floating on your cloud and feeling great. But actually, we know wellbeing is about dealing with our own traumas and making good choices and growing through the difficult times. And as we befriend that and find that balance between ur suffering and our joy, we get to really enjoy a better version of ourselves.


Sally (11:44):

So I think that's what it's about. It's not just about what we eat. It's not just about exercising. Those are part of my self-care and looking after my body and valuing who I am. But it sits within that wider context of I think our life is one long, wonderful health journey where we get to keep recreating ourselves, keep growing, and keep enjoying the fullness of life with all of our brain, body, emotion, spirit, and integrating that.


Rachel (12:16):

Thank you for sharing that. That's a really lovely way to hear how you have identified what really works for you and your vision for being healthy. It's really nice to hear. I know that your approach with your clients is around what you call your Five Foundations approach. Maybe you could just dip into a little bit about that approach, what those five foundations are, and what that looks like for a client.


Sally (12:46):

Again, when I started with functional medicine, you can get caught up in all sorts of fancy tests and what have you, and the world of supplements. And I think the more I've practiced, the more confident I have become in the capacity for the body to heal itself and the simplicity of what's required. It's not always easy, but I think it's fairly simple in terms of the approach. And as we know, the majority of chronic disease is due to our lifestyle decisions. It's not just a genetic problem.


Sally (13:24):

So I talk about sleep, movement, rest,connection, and nutrition—getting adequate sleep, being active, and embedding exercise withinbeing active and moving. I would just talk about eating a real food diet regardless of ideology and where people want to sit on that. For me, just getting processed and highly processed food out of our diet is the thing, and it's what we can gather around,and also gathering around how to do that sustainably. And then the rest piece isn't sleep. It's about our stress management and it's about connecting and resetting. Then connection; I talk about connection with self, connection with others, and connection with that sense of purpose. And probably now I would add about connection to nature.


Sally (14:15):

When I'm talking to a patient, I'm listening where they are with those foundations and working out where they're willing to start making changes. With a lot of people, my first thing is getting them sleeping because it's so hard to make other behavioral changes if you're so sleep deprived, as well as trying to aggressively manage that stress in life, way before I start thinking about nutritional changes. But it all depends on the individual, what they come with.


Sally (14:44):

And then I work with health coaches. So it's all about small changes and ,we talk about direction, not perfection and just making these small changes so things become sustainable and then normal, and we keep building and growing. I've designed a program around that and work with my health coaches. They do the real good work. I like looking under the hood and working it all out. Yeah, helping people make those changes.


Rachel (15:12):

I love that you've just mentioned about connection. I think for me, with my evolving journey with yoga, the connection is based to myself, to people around me, and also that bigger picture, to the world around us—those three elements of connection. And I think if one of those is out of kilter, it's very difficult to feel like you have a balanced, energetic life. That's what I certainly believe in.


Rachel (15:42):

It's interesting. I saw something which I really loved on one of your feeds about retreating. And I know that's something you also offer for some of your clients is to step outside of their day-to-day life. Is that something that you've identified over time as an approach to being able to reconnect and refocus?


Sally (16:02):

I think in the perfect life where we've got it all balanced, that we wouldn't need to retreat. We would be living sustainable rhythms around rest and work. But I think in modern life, we do need to step out of our normal situations, step away from the normal demands to be able to just hear. And it's interesting that thing about connection. I think I'm getting to the point where, I couldn't say this scientifically, but just my intuit is that actually our bodies know what they need, but we're so disconnected from being able to hear what our bodies need and then often not having the courage to respect that because it often says a lot of nos.


Sally (16:50):

But I think if we really get connected, then we can get to the point where we know what we need to eat, we know we need to sleep, we know what rest we need. And so when I think retreat is a part of that, certainly in my own life right from when my kids were little—I've got three girls, the oldest is 15 now—I've done silent retreats ith an Ignation community in North Wales nd learnt so much from their spirituality, about creativity and nature, hugely helpful. So it has been really important to me personally, in my own growth.


Sally (17:29):

And I see itin a lot of my clients where we need to connect with ourselves, we need the space, we need to hear what we're saying, and we need a tribe around us to ,help us remind what that is. But then we need to come back to it and keep coming back to it. So I think havinga life where you have rhythms of retreat, which could be daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. You don't have to go away. One of my retreats is my morning coffee in the garden, where it's a time to reflect on yesterday, catch up on myself, look forward to the next day, and just listen to where I'm at. And that's a practice that I developed, but I think sometimes if you've not done any of that, to start a way and to feel what it is to feel quiet and alive, and to be able to feel that feeling is a really great place to start.


Rachel (18:25):

And that feeling of space and silence is something that I think a lot of us don't give ourselves. We're always doing, doing, doing, and we don't move into that sense of being. And it can be quite daunting. For me, some of the first times where I've also done some silent retreats and some of the first time that I did that, it was very daunting to think, "I'm going to be silent. What's going to come up here?" But it made me realize that we don't give ourselves that moment to just sit and be. And by doing that, you do learn so much more about your own responses to things around you.


Sally (19:02):

And it's interesting about retreats. I think some people think it is just about sitting and being, which it totally is, but actually, the art of getting quiet could be digging in the garden, could be chopping wood, could be picking blackberries. I remember picking blackberrys one autumn going on [inaudible]. And those first few days were awful. Your internal chatter goes round and round and round and round. God, shut up. I remember having this moment of blackberry picking and thinking, "I've gone quiet. I can't hear myself talk anymore. It's all quiet."


Sally (19:36):

And there is a painful part in retreat to getting quiet. What I loved about being part of this residential ignation community was the use of nature, was the use of art, was the use of sculptor and being in the garden as a process to help ourselves get quiet because I think, to suddenly stop, is just painful. We are so on the go.


Sally (20:04):

Then we think it's so painful, we put off and we think, "Well, it's not for me. I'm just the busy type." And it's like, no, no, no, no, you just went into the deep end and it's way too painful. Trust us. Come back. Let's just try this a bit slower. Let's do some gardening together. Let's go for a walk. Let's notice nature. I thinkthere is a art to getting quiet internally.


Rachel (20:28):

Definitely. And that's a really interesting story there about the blackberry picking. I think it feeds into, we were talking before the podcast started about the connection to food and connection to the nature around us. I like to think it's always moving. It's always showing us that we are continually moving forward and we see things grow and we see things return to the earth in a cycle. That, for me, has made a big shift in how I view myself in the world. So where did that start to develop for you? This appreciation of both food, the nature, and the growth of food and then also your sustainable farming. How has that all developed over time?


Sally (21:12):

As a little girl, we grew up in the country side and I'm very introverted. I love nature. I love being on my own. I have this rich internal world where I just occupy myself for hours. So I've always had a deep connection to nature and animals and farms around us. And actually, that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a farmer. And then life gets busy and then you have kids and, oh my goodness. I think it was havingo children; I really struggled with postnatal depression with my first two. I was really quite poorly.


Sally (21:53):

I think I found nature just a gracious teacher and this got to a point where my husband had to take a day off work each week and have the kids so that I could just go and walk by the river. And it was hugely restorative to me that reconnection and realizing how powerful it was and how nature carries us. More than that, somebody asked me the other day, like how does nature affect our health? And I said, "Wow, the question itself is the wrong question because we are nature." The reason that we exploit the earth is we don't think we're part of it.


Sally (22:33):

And actually the mindset that we are one ecological system, nd when we poison the soil, we poison ourselves, you start to treat things completely differently. I think over these years, there's been this growing awareness of that. And then a few years ago... I come from a foodie family. I grew up in a pub and a restaurant and we have this Michelin star restaurant now. And our family and children, we talk about food all the time.


Sally (23:06):

Then three or four years ago, I was on this thing with my lifestyle medicine and really passionate about people eating real food. And I hadn't any idea how broken the food system was. I started to look further upstream and just had no concept of how much we're importing, what we're doing to our soil, what we're putting in our natural foods, in our animals. I had no idea about the story of intensive farming.


Sally (23:39):

I counted myself educated. I was, by then, early 40s. I feel quite ashamed actually that I could have come so far and yet have no awareness of farming and food and soil. Then in that, again, started to self-educate. I read Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massy, which had a massive impact on me about regenerative farming. But everything I was reading was America and Zimbabwe way with Allan Savory stuff and Australia. And I was like, "What's going on in our country?"


Sally (24:14):

So I just started writing to farmers, anybody that would have me come and visit the farm and try and learn and understand the real story. And both intensive farming and re-gen and permaculture and biodynamic farming, and just went and learned and realized the amazing stuff that is going on in the UK. Then you start to learn all about the environmental stuff and that agro ecology side of things. And it all becomes this beautiful story where all the dots connect, like how we treat our soil. Health starts in the soil with those little microbes. And actually, they're the thing that's actually training our own gut microbiome, probably. We're not there with the science yet, but certainly I don't think we're far off. And then that, in turn, is training our own immunity and affecting our health.


Sally (25:04):

So I think it the farmer story is the same with the medic story. We're trained to manage disease and we're trained in a chemical way of health and a chemical way of farming. But actually there is a better way for the environment, for our health, for husbandry with animalsin that more regenerative way or agroecology approach to farming. To me, it's just all stunning. It's so beautiful. It's such an exciting time to be alive and fight a war for our health and our planet by wrestling with these sustainable ways.


Sally (25:50):

Andfood is so beautiful, isn't it? I mean, it just gathers Everybody. It's a common language, a sacred ritual, an ethical act where we demonstrate our value to self, others, and the planet by what we do three times a day. It's so powerful. When you get to do [inaudible] in the Pyrenees, I'm so excited. I'm coming over as soon as I can.


Rachel (26:12):

You're very welcome. You're very welcome. That would be wonderful. That would be say wonderful. I just love listening to you talk about it because it's been so similar for us. The more we've uncovered, the more excited we've become by what you can learn and what you can try and seeing that people are doing these things and making changes in a positive way. I think often, it is quite difficult to separate ourselves sometimes from some of that negativity. And it is important to understand that about the environmental damage that we are doing as humans, but to be able to feel the positivity of a movement is what helps you, that momentum. And it's certainly something we're trying to be positive about. What we can do as individuals is often more, but the more of us that do it can be a much bigger change.


Sally (27:11):

I think also, Rachel, it's on the consumer side of it. I think it's amazing growers like you guys are doing. And I'm good at growing people, not veg. I've tried. I think realizing, as a consumer, the power we have in what we put on our plate and in how we purchase. So I just never shop in a supermarket anymore. And it took some a while. It was a bit inconvenient getting used to sourcing from other places, but then you get into the habit of, actually, it's not inconvenient. And a big supermarket so convenient, but actually once you've changed your shopping practices, it isn't hugely inconvenient.


Sally (27:57):

And you get to meet farmers, you get to buy direct from growers. You get to understand what is seasonal, explore how to do it economically and using cheaper cuts of meat and all of that. I think it's so powerful. We have an opportunity, I think, as nations, to change the destiny of our health and that of our planet, simply by choosing what we put on our plate. It's not much more complicated than that. If we did that, we would change our health crisis and we would change our environmental crisis just by supporting local produce and local farmers that farm in some harmony with nature, whatever label you want to use for that.


Rachel (28:44):

Majority of the time, that's how farmers want to farm. That's what their joy comes from, isn't it? So if we can provide the demand for that, then they will supply it.


Sally (28:56):

And farmers are just businessmen; if there is the demand they will adapt. I think farmers have just had such a raw deal over the last few decades. We can't point our finger at them. The reason they're farming the way they're farming is that we demanded cheap food and yield over quality. That's why we are where we are, not because of them, but because of what we've demanded. But equally, both of us in unison, are the solution, farming differently and buying differently.


Rachel (29:26):

Yeah. It has to be both. I'm really intrigued as to how you're sharing that with your girls. Like you say, you're obviously a foodie family, love eating and love thinking about food, but how have you been able to share some of those ideas and lessons with them? And how do you find their intrigue into it as they get older?


Sally (29:46):

I think my first thing wasI tried to do everything too soon, too quick and did damage, to be really honest. I'll tell you why. I remember having this moment; my middle daughter must've been about seven or eight at the time. AndI came in one day and found her hidden in the corner of the pantry eating marshmallows. And when I came in, she was totally horrified and ashamed. And she'd had a really hard day at school. She'd been bullied and it was her comfort. I realized I had made food good and bad.


Sally (30:24):

So we sat down and I cried. I said I was sorry that she felt she had to hide that, and we ate the whole thing of marshmallows together. We made a code that if she was having a marshmallow moment, we would go and we would get sugar and we'd use it to comfort ourselves. But actually, she learned over that time that in coming to tell me she was having a marshmallow moment, she didn't need marshmallows, she just needed a cuddle and needed to talk.


Sally (30:49):

I think my lesson was there. I just was so enthusiastic and evangelical about it and I enforced it on my family. It did some damage at the beginning. I stepped back and thought, my kids will end up doing what I do. Let me model something and let me invite them into the process of it. Let me invite them in the kitchen to see how we cook and let us see how the conversation goes. So it's been a long process. We talk a lot about food.


Sally (31:23):

Historically, I had a bit of an eating disorder as a teenager. So I was also very aware around body shape and girls. So we just had open discussions and I just invited them into cooking with me and if they eat it, they eat it. If they don't, they don't. So there's a lot of discussion around that. My oldest daughter's a vegetarianand I have two celiac in the family. So actually health and food has also been a bigpart of that story too. My husband got very unwellwith celiac and went undiagnosed for a long time.


Sally (32:06):

So I think it's just been about that and making it fun. My two big ones now will cook a meal from scratch andoften do it for the family. The other thing that we've done is we've done this 80-20 thing, where 80% of the time, we make great decisions around sugar. So Monday to Friday, we probably wouldn't have sugary things or sweets. And on Friday, we bake together, we have brownies, pour on the double cream. Well, they used to like pizza. They don't anymore. It's really interesting how their tastes have changed. They wouldn't choose that anymore.


Sally (32:42):

So just try to create those rhythms where you don't mind denying yourself if you know actually you're going to enjoy it with people. And I like them to see the sugar go in, "Oh, 200 grams of sugar in this little bit of brownie!" But then they know and they understand what's in their food. It's not all a lovely thing. Honestly, I'm a mom, a real mom. There are days when you pore over making a new recipe and then they kick off and refuse to eat it. And then I'm stressed and then it doesn't really matter what I'm eating because I'm so stressed. It won't make any difference to my digestion.


Sally (33:20):

I think the other thing is we've always eaten together and just made it a real sacred touchpoint of our day just in the evening, not every meal. Again, it's not just about focusing on what you eat, it's about being together. We do this thing, highs and lows, and talk about our days. It gives the girls an opportunity to own their pain, share their joys,qq and for us to be part of that as a family.


Rachel (33:47):

Thank you. It sounds very real and I'm sure there are lots of people who can understand some of these challenges. Thank you for sharing it. I think if we try to adopt a strict approach with anything, it's like anything in life, isn't it? Meditation, practice, whatever, yoga, food, sleep—if we're too strict with ourselves, then we just let those negative voices come back. And actually that's not helpful. It doesn't push us on it. It doesn't show us any self-love or self-compassion.


Rachel (34:18):

One of the things, talking about how we talk to ourselves, I know that one of your recent webinars was called Stand in Your Power, Own Your Own Story. I'm very intrigued about this mantra andwhere that idea comes from and what you're able to share.


Sally (34:35):

From a health point of view, one of the things I'm grappling with at the moment isI think I have two groups of patients, maybe three. I have ones who have grown up in a loving environmentand they know they're loved and they value themselves. And really, I can throw anything at them in terms of challenge around lifestyle changes, and with a bit of support, they're fine. And then I have another group whoeitherhave got trauma in their childhood or trauma when they were carried as a baby, and they doubt their value in the world andstruggle with self-kindness and self-love. In that group, there's probably two groups. There's ones that are willing to do that internal journey, owning their own story, owning their own pain, and processing thatbecause I think all trauma, we hold in body. And then there's another group that don't want to do that.