*Photo credit (above): Miz Monday (below): Shane H O'Neill
I am always inspired by women who just seem to do it all and Shauna Ireland is no exception. While this, "it" girl rocks the PR world, she's also a major whole food junkie as well (one of the many reasons I love her!). In this candid interview, I dig deep into this bombshell's world and she comes back with full heart and authenticity. You'll soon see how Shauna lives by her mantra, "align and shine" and how she truly is an inspiration.
I’m truly amazed at all that your roster of credentials: fashion maven, BA in communications, past copywriter, choreographer and now one of the hottest PR women in the city. I also understand that you are a huge advocate of health and wellness and I’m sure you’ve heard people saying they’re just too busy to eat healthy. What advice could you give a busy body on how to eat healthy?
That’s just the point! You’re too busy to NOT eat healthily! Days on the run require fuel to function. We try to fill ourselves up with coffee, and coast off the BUZZ we get from the caffeine, but that’s not get you to the end of the day. Going back to that idea of fuel, think of your body as car; it’s necessary to stop for gas occasionally, or you’ll stop moving all together. How will you arrive where you need to be if your tank is empty?
Always keep your tank on full, and go premium. None of that “regular-unleaded” business. By this, I mean make healthy choices always. And healthy doesn’t just mean carrot sticks. Try Greek food, Mediterranean, Lebanese… These are just a few of my favorites. Juicing is also a great way to get a boost of vital energy, and take it on the go! For me, I need to keep a snack around at all times. If I’m hungry, I get impatient, and it’s tough to focus on the task at hand. Check my purse! You’ll always find either a hard-boiled egg, a bag of almonds, or kale chips. Another secret tip… replace coffee with Yerba Mate! This south American tea is my secret weapon, antioxitant and energizer! My favorite blend is by teALCHEMY.ca I have renamed it “Shaunita”
Routine is also essential. I wake up and have a glass of warm lemon water to get things going, then I always have a glass of juice or a smoothie. I’m a big fan of Vega French Vanilla at the moment! Small snacks during the day are key to sustaining a steady stream of energy, avoiding that dreaded 3 o’clock crash. I have never counted calories or fat content, though. I usually eat what makes me “feel” good. There are so many healthy options out there, so it’s all about making good choices FOR YOU.
Working in the health and wellness industry has taught me SO much about how food affects your overall wellbeing. One of my first clients was Baby Gourmet, and how appropriate, because healthy eating habits begin when you start to eat, right? Most of our campaigns were educational, and I learned so much working with dietitians, nutritionists, and naturopathic doctors. I later worked with Bruce Duncan Waithe, the founder of Fuel Nutrition, which are healthy organic meals on the go. Bruce shared some of his tips and tricks with me, and I still use them today.
Once you make the conscious decision to start eating better, and get into a routine of doing so, the act of making better choices starts to be less cognitive, and more instinctive and natural. Now, even faced with the option, I will always choose quinoa over French fries! And have my cupboards filled with Baby Gourmet, not even a joke.
I’m really curious about your connection with food – what was the catalyst that propelled you into eating well?
Growing up, I was never allowed to drink soft drinks, have sugared cereal, and desert was a once a week treat! I was really restricted, but of course these restrictions were nothing but well intentioned. Later, when I moved out on my own, I was like a kid in a candy store, literally! I “rebelled” and treated my sweet tooth more than I should have. Then, my friend, Carmelina Baccari, put her foot down and decided to re-teach me how to eat. She would even prepare my lunches before I went to class in university! Carmelina is simply stunning, and her language about food started the shift. “Shauna, this will hydrate your skin and keep you focused,” she’d say, as she put things into a bag to take with me to school. Sure enough, I began to notice that I looked and felt my best! Carmelina demonstrated her Italian flare in the kitchen, and I tried to emulate them. For example, she taught me to warm my food on hot plates, rather than in the microwave.
Can you name a difficult time that you had gone through and how food helped you get through it?
Ten years ago I was going to school in Mexico and became very sick. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me, and I ended up in the hospital for over a week. I was released after the symptoms subsided, however I never really came to know what was wrong. For the next seven years, I just didn't feel quite right… I was always very sick, bloated, and tired. Eventually, every time I ate I would get sick. I was advised to cut out gluten and noticed an improvement. Then, under the council of a nutritionist, naturalpathic doctor, and acupuncturist , I did my first detox, which included cutting out certain foods, sugar, wheat, caffeine, then coming off of the cleanse I was able to gauge how certain foods made me feel. It is incredible. I guess that was my AH-HA moment realizing how everything is so connected. Aside from that, another “difficult time” I have had is one I’m sure many people can relate to, and that’s a hangover. When you’re hungover. choose to eat healthy! It’s a myth that grease soaks up alcohol. A salad works just as well as a cure for the boozy-blues.
What is your non-negotiable food that you simply can’t do without and can you share a recipe with our readers?
Kale! I love Kale. Kale chips, kale smoothies, kale salads, grilled Kale. You name it. I love it. It's a super food, and it’s so simple, and so delicious! I love massaging kale, really getting my hands in it! My favorite kale recipe is simple, too. Massage avocados into kale, add lemon, a dash of salt, et voila! I can’t take full credit from this one.. it was passed on by my friend Justine Bennett! The kale is an accessory for any main, be it a lamb chop or grilled pepper! Oh, and sweet potato, that’s another one. If I am craving something sweet and fulfilling, I toss one in the oven brushed with olive oil and, presto! It’s perfect!
I know you love all things healthy and organic but I have to ask, is there a little piece of indulgent goodness that you just can’t say no to every now and then?
Well, my roots are Czech. I can’t do without salami, sausage and cabbage rolls! Even during my yoga certification when we were encouraged to eat light and vegan, I must admit I was hiding behind Buddha, snacking on a honey garlic peperoni stick! Oh, and a new love of mine is Spanakopita, just delicious! It’s all about balance! And I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If it pleases you, don’t fee bad about it! My attitude about food has shifted as I “mature” If you eat to fill a void then that will manifest, love your food and love your body!
Let’s get to the juicy stuff! I have to know, when it comes to love, what is your biggest turn ons and turn offs? Has a man ever gotten to your heart through your stomach?
When it comes to love, my heart is in my stomach! I love a man who can take control in the kitchen. Here’s a secret, ladies: It is a good way to good gauge what a man may be able to offer in the relationship by observing what he can offer in the kitchen. Does he cook with variety? Flavor? Can he surprise me? And what’s for dessert?? (haha) Turn on’s are confidence, a sense of humor, when I am smiling and laughing I am at my best. Playfulness, too. I look for a partner in every sense of the word; someone who complements me, and challenges me to be my best. That man has eyes for only one woman, and respect for women in general is the biggest turn on! I am a busy person who is always on the go, and a it’s a big thumbs if a man can take control and surprise me, catch me off guard, pull me from my routine, and essentially force me to take some time for myself. It's the little things that add up and keep it steamy!
Turn off’s? Well, that’s easy. I hate a guys that’s always on his phone, looking through Instagram, texting, that kind of stuff. I know, I know… I’m a PR person, and I’m guilty of this at times, but I feel like time is the most precious thing you can share with someone, so when you make time to be with someone, BE WITH SOMEONE! Another turn off is a commitment-a-phobe. A confident man knows what he wants, and doesn’t waver based on some insecure and unfounded fear of something better coming along. If you like it, lock it down.
Given that you have so much on the go, I’m curious, what’s next for the beautiful Shauna Ireland?
I have just moved into a new office in the heart of the Entertainment District in Toronto. It’s so exciting! Such an incredible space. It is exciting to essentially be creating a tribe, and having a clam, creative home base. I am truly grateful to come to work everyday. Our agency and culture continues to grow, we are pioneering something unique and different! My idea, or my daily affirmation, if you will, align and shine… and it’s working! My new site is launching at the beginning of May. We are excited to announce some international projects in the pipelines. We share our clients’ successes, and I am happy to say that all of our clients doing incredible things! Jana Webb has internationally launched her program JOGA in LA in NYC. Lynda Budd is publishing her teALCHEMY book Tea-Tails, Dr. Chris is the new ambassador of office wellness for Office Max, Mary Tripi just opened a new salon. Parlour’s Patio season is about to begin, Oh my gosh! And the list just goes on!! I am excited to help launch a new restaurant in Toronto in May, as well. I have always been a HUGE fan of Greek food, and after many trips to Greece, I miss this authentic cuisine! Keep your eyes open for Mamakas on Ossington. Like the name suggests, its like what your mama makes!
Lastly, what are three words that you would use to describe your relationship to food in the past, present and what you hope it could be in the future?