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Food as a creative expression and pathway to health

Women sitting around the table and having dinner
Mayfly Retreat Marrakech 2023

Last month, Mayfly Maven decided to host a 28-day Group Reset.

The reset was created by Beets, Pulse, and Thyme founder Daniela Exley, a multi-talented Renaissance woman who used her craft as a nutritionist, creative cook and professional photographer to create a program that helped her support her own healing journey.

Daniela is a personal friend of mine, and we go back to our University days when we were studying fashion design. We also share an infectious love of the new and learning.

My introduction to the programme was 6 years ago when I assisted Daniela in cooking on her retreat in Romania. The main premise of the program was that we use whole natural seasonal ingredients to make wonderful delicious meals made from scratch, eliminating all the nasty preservatives, fillers and additives.

“You see exactly what is going into your food and you get a super tasty reward for all your hard work.” – Simone Smith

There’s something very satisfying about seeing and tasting the fruits of your labour.

All processed food is eliminated for 28 days, and to add a little challenge, we remove some of the big inflammation offenders, such as gluten, dairy products and all refined sugars.

When we start experimenting with the abundance of wonderful ingredients to create beautiful meals, we continue to make and enjoy meals with them because we want to, and they create habits that carry us well beyond the 28 days of the program.


The Group Reset Principles

Here are some principles that we cover in the programme.


Start where you are with what you have.

Right now, you are the most youthful you will ever be. It doesn’t matter where you start. We must accept that this is the body we have and this is the state of our health right in these very moments, but we do have many wonderful choices; this is the gift of our current society. No problem is too big, and we have the ability to live without fear and pain.

We are the captains of a most miraculous ship that requires love and attention. We are confronted with an abundance of choice when it comes to what we eat, and Dr. Stephan J. Guyenet of the Hungry Brain describes how we have been hardwired to binge on the most high-energy-producing foods which would have served us well when we need to walk 10 miles to look for a fruit-bearing tree or hunt the migrating buffalo but in a world of Prêt a Manges and convenience food we are saturated with quick fix unhealthy abundance that is taking its toll on modern society.

Yoga session in Marrakech
Yoga session - Mayfly Retreat Marrakech 2023

Food as fuel that tastes amazing

Uncover the plethora of information that exists.

There is so much information on eating the right foods. I must admit I have been part of the fad diet epidemic, and I’ve even had great results for about a week, then life happens, and the sustained effort to eat like this slowly wanes, and off I go again pursuing the next big diet trend.

Food scientist Dr. Mindy Pelz explains in her amazing test talk that the common denominator of many studies on the reason why certain countries do so much better in the health and longevity stats Is the fact they consume more whole real food despite the fact that the discrepancy of the diet is high in carbohydrates or fat. Eating real whole foods is the key to optimal health. She demonstrates the concept of consumerism and marketing, jumping on to misinformation in scientific studies and building whole health brands on the back of wrongly appropriated information.

Food workshop - Mayfly Retreat Marrakech 2023
Food workshop - Mayfly Retreat Marrakech 2023

Learning about what we eat

Understand what food is and what is a stimulant/addictive drug.

There are many laws and regulations that govern what is sold as food, but really, can this be trusted if our ultimate truth is living a healthy life? The discrepancies between countries regarding preservatives, colourings and additives are mind-boggling and frightening. Trust the food we nurture our loved ones with could be tainted with an ingredient banned for its toxicity in another country.

We’ve seen an initiative by the UK government to reduce the consumption of sugar by introducing a sugar tax. This seems like a step in the right direction as the ultimate offender, refined sugar, the cheap and highly addictive substance used to keep us coming back for more, is being recognised as a harmful substance with very little nutritional value. The counter of that is that it has increased the amount of artificial sweeteners that companies have added to their products, which have their own complexities regarding how we process these unnatural additives.

Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward centre, which leads to compulsive behaviour, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalances, and more.”

Researchers in France agree that there is a link between sugar and illegal drugs. Not only is there truth to sugar being a drug, but they also determined the rewards experienced by the brain after consuming sugar are even “more rewarding and attractive” than the effects of cocaine.

Make food a joy again

Feel inspired by your mealtime!

Just focusing on results is a futile journey. Most of us have lived on a painful diet of slimming shakes or been uninspired by eating a single food group for a period of time, too long for even an incarcerated convict. Humans need creativity, inspiration, and just the right amount of effort to make the destination even more joyous.

Create or join a community

Bring people together through food.

Ritual and community are key. Food is not just for survival we also see food used for celebration, reward, and demonstrate our love for one another. The creative process of cooking in the community has almost disappeared, but we miss out on this unique bonding ritual that we, as tribal mammals, have used to pass on wisdom and family tradition through the art of cooking.

Food workshop - Mayfly Retreat Marrakech 2023
Food workshop - Mayfly Retreat Marrakech 2023

Change your relationship with food

Reduce emotional eating and change your relationship with food.

Our relationship with food is akin to those we love and sometimes even stronger. I work as an addiction therapist, and I sometimes use the tool of humanising the offending substance to understand why addiction has formed and why this has become so ingrained in a person's life. With most addictions, it’s the guaranteed feeling we get to have when we need it, and food is no exception.

The nostalgia we feel as we bite into the biscuit given to us by our grandmother or the taste of our favourite dinner cooked at our local restaurant all have emotional connections.

Make it yours

Design the ultimate individual eating style.

Everyone is unique, and everyone has different needs. Other than the few foods we aim to avoid, we encourage our participants to make the program their own.

If you like spice, get spicy; if raw turns you on flow with that.

We do advise that a full diagnostic profile is completed to understand your individual needs and where you may need to focus to complete a healthier lifestyle path, but we say eat what you enjoy and eat what will nourish you both taste-wise and nutritionally.


Bringing back traditional ways of self-care

Attitudes and behaviours are changing, and this shifted for many lifestyle communities not previously interested in cooking.

Post-pandemic, 55% of consumers plan on cooking from scratch more often!

Channelling creativity into learning new culinary skills, exploring cuisines and becoming inspired by the copious amount of social media lifestyle influencers focusing on cooking as a connecting activity.

Even if you can’t travel, bring the cultures to your home. Experimenting with new cuisines and flavours at home provides a gateway to new experiences.

Marry that with optimal health and enjoyment, and you have a unique recipe for joy, connection, and a wonderful life.

Happy eating!


Sign up for our next community reset in November, or join us for a transformational experience at one of our retreats where you get to have amazing food cooked for you.

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