The Business of Detox with Lily Simpson

The Detox Kitchen founder Lily Simpson gives us her take on what detox really means

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Making healthy change is more about adding to your lifestyle, not restricting it.

What drove you to start your business?When I started The Detox Kitchen, it wasn’t because I wanted to share my thoughts and ideas on nutrition, it was because I simply wanted to show people how to create delicious food that just so happened to be healthy. While working in catering I began researching and discovered there was a gap in the market for homemade, delicious, healthy products. I set up a website for daily home delivery packages and launched the company within two months of coming up with the initial idea.

Has the wellness industry changed since you opened The Detox Kitchen?Absolutely. While there has always been a dizzying amount of information available to us about what’s deemed healthy and good for us, people are starting to realise that rather than following faddy diets or consuming low-calorie products (which are instead packed full of artificial sweeteners), what really counts is eating a balanced diet and returning to good quality produce cooked from scratch.

How would you describe The Detox Kitchen’s ethos?We believe in eating a varied diet, full of whole, natural foods - fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and pulses, nuts, seeds and lean protein, with fresh herbs and spices to pack our food with flavour. Above all, food should be as pleasurable as possible. In order to have good wholesome food in your life for good, you have to enjoy eating it. At The Detox Kitchen we aim to show you how delicious healthy food can be; it doesn’t have to be restrictive, it can be abundant and filling and gloriously enjoyable.

What’s been the biggest surprise you’ve encountered since starting your business?Probably how receptive people were to the idea of the business and of healthy eating. When we opened the deli on Kingly Street I in no way expected we would receive the amazing response that we did.

What are you most proud of?First and foremost my greatest achievement is my beautiful son. Business-wise, I would say I am most proud of the opening of our new flagship deli and fitness studio in Fitzrovia. It has brought to life my vision of a concept whereby people can eat healthily, exercise and socialise all in the same space.

The word detox has all sorts of juice-diet connotations, how do you balance that with the The Detox Kitchen philosophy?We don’t like to think of ourselves as what would be traditionally defined as a detox. We celebrate what you can have not what you can’t. In a country where there is so much choice, sometimes we forget to just enjoy simple produce, cooked from our homes. This is what our detox is about - creating delicious, healthy home-cooked food, made from scratch, and teaching you how you can do it too.

Why do you think there’s been a collective shift towards health and wellbeing in recent years?I think as more information has come to light on the harmful effects processed foods and refined sugars have on our bodies, people are starting to pay more attention to what they consume. Eating healthily and exercising isn’t just about looking good from the outside any more, it’s about taking care of our bodies from the inside out and reaping the health benefits.

Where did your passion for wellbeing come from?My passion is more for delicious food that works with your body, not against it, and it all began in the kitchen. From my childhood home where I cooked for my family growing up to my little London flat where I cook for my husband, son and friends.

It is also well documented that certain foods can help, as well as ease and prevent the onset of many common health problems. During my education I struggled with my stress levels when revising for exams, and I have also suffered from the dreaded IBS. I always turn to food to help with these issues and by starting the business I wanted to show other people how they can help themselves too.

What’s the most common mistake people make when they’re trying to make healthy changes?Definitely trying to cut out the things that they love. Making healthy change is more about adding to your lifestyle, not restricting it. I try to abide by the 80/20 rule as it’s far more realistic than an all or nothing approach.

What are the most common misconceptions about the wellbeing industry?That eating healthily is boring and restrictive. As soon as you master the art of using fresh herbs and spices in your cooking, you’ll be amazed at how healthy food becomes so flavourful, easy and quick to cook. There are also so many possibilities with every vegetable. Once you start experimenting with different cooking methods and techniques, you will be able to throw together healthy meals without even thinking about it. That’s what I aim to show people in my cookbook, The Detox Kitchen Bible.

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