Julia Rucklidge is a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Canterbury. She has published many peer reviewed scholarly articles on nutrition as it relates to psychiatric symptom reduction. For more than a decade, Dr. Rucklidge has played a key role in forefront nutrition-mental health research, including extensive research using micronutrients.
We interviewed her so you could get a bit of insight into why Julia does what she does.
What is your professional background?
PhD in clinical psychology. Registered clinical psychologist.
What do you hope to achieve most from the work that you do?
We want to put nutrition on the map as part of the acceptable and natural components of a valid treatment plan for people suffering from mental illness.
How would you describe your philosophy about ‘healthy’?
Good nutrition (that is eating nutrient dense food), weekly time for relaxation/meditation, time with family and friends, exercise, walking barefoot on the beach, lots of sunshine and prioritize holidays. Find something you are passionate about and put your heart and soul into it.
Picture this, you’re living your most perfect day- what does this look like?
I have a good night sleep (minimum 8 hours), do a 20 minute yoga session before breakfast, have some granola with blueberries, yogurt and smoothie for breakfast and ebike to work. My work day would be fairly clear so I can get some writing completed, perhaps receive a few positive emails about how our research has benefitted someone somewhere in the world, and receive a call from the PM asking us how she could use our research to address the mental health crisis! Go home at a reasonable hour and have a lovely dinner with my family.
Now, what’s your actual typical day look like?
Just as above. Haha. More like… I probably do well on sleep and eat and then my day is never quite as ambitiously accomplished as I had hoped. Usually phoned half a dozen times about mental health crises and how can our research be of help because the current system has failed, emailed far too many administration tasks and then write yet another letter to the Minister of Health about how they really should start reading about the interface between good nutrition and healthy minds to address the mental health crisis.
What worries you most about today’s society in NZ?
We are too addicted to technology. We are losing our social connectedness as a result. I am most concerned about the children of the future and what impact technology will have on brain development.
What’s one of the biggest health misconceptions in your opinion?
That a calorie is calorie regardless of the food.
Using your background in mental health and nutrition, what would be your biggest piece of health advice?
Eat food, mostly plants, not too much (Michael Pollan). Eat food your grandmother would recognize. Exercise, be true to life-work balance.
Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?
Follow my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mentalhealthandnutrition/or follow me on twitter: @JuliaRucklidge