Regina is a non-fiction writer currently based in South Wales. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she lived in the Midwest for 30 years including 8 years eating and drinking her way through the food mecca that is Chicago.
Regina holds journalism and publication design degrees from Ohio University and a Masters in Teaching from Dominican University. Formerly a public school teacher, she rekindled her love of words while serving as a Fulbright fellow to Laos in 2017 where she met her husband when he rolled into her small town on a motorcycle.
After dating long-distance for two years, with adventures on three continents, in 10 countries, they married in late 2019 and Regina moved to the United Kingdom mere days before the country was shut down due to coronavirus. After ignoring her symptoms for a year, she was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in April 2021 during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on top of an international move.
Regina dove into the research on lifestyle intervention for autoimmune diseases and found evidence through Dr. Roy Swank, Dr. John McDougal, and Dr. Michael Greger among others about the healing properties of a plant-forward diet.
Regina is the producer of the Living Well with MS podcast—an offering of the Overcoming MS charity—which is dedicated to helping people with MS live healthy, productive lives through diet and lifestyle interventions. Regina’s writing on living well with a chronic illness has been featured in New Pathways Magazine, The Unwritten, and on the MS-UK, Overcoming MS, and MS Society websites, among others.
What inspired you to start writing this book?
Like many people, my partner and I weathered the COVID-19 pandemic with too much food and booze while I developed mysterious symptoms including balance issues, numbness, and weakness. I Ignored them for a year until they became unbearable. I could hardly walk, I couldn’t balance on my bike, and my need to rush to the toilet was becoming embarrassingly urgent. In April 2021 my symptoms escalated so much that I ended up in the hospital for a week. My partner brought me a goodie bag filled with my favorites: Snickers, Haribo, cheesy crackers, and Oreos. I distinctly remember waiting for my diagnosis eating a Snickers and thinking, “this will probably be my last Snickers ever, I should really enjoy it.” Deep down I knew whatever I had would require a lifestyle overhaul and since the atoms we consume literally become the atoms our cells are composed of, I knew I’d need to change my diet as a step on my path to becoming well.
Through reading the research of Dr. Roy Swank, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Michael Greger, and Professor George Jelinek, it became clear to me that a primarily whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet was far superior to the standard Western diet when it came to stabilizing and oftentimes reversing the effects of western lifestyle diseases. Many of these are autoimmune conditions that include inflammation in the body as a hallmark—like multiple sclerosis.
Nourish: Oil Free, Plant-based recipes from around the world documents many months of adapting our favorite recipes to my new diet, substituting our dairy, meat and oil for delicious anti-inflammatory plant-based ingredients.
Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
I went through many iterations of clunky titles before settling on “Nourish: Oil Free, Plant-based recipes from around the world.” I tried variations of “Oil-free vegan” and “Oil-free whole foods” but they didn’t feel catchy enough. One day I was working on my newsletter which is called “Nourish: Feed your mind, body and soul.” It features mindful movement, a creative endeavor, and a whole-food plant-based recipe each week that can be found at reginagbeach.substack.com. I realized I already had the perfect title and I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Once I’d settled on a title, the subtitle came easily as each chapter features recipes to make a whole-food plant-based family dinner or host a dinner party inspired by global cuisines.
Describe your dream book cover.
I studied journalism and publication design at Ohio University and have been enjoying taking elevated photos of the ingredients for each recipe. Food styling is a bit intimidating but I’d like to have a full spread of beautifully cooked and plated dishes on the cover featuring recipes from one of the chapters with elegant typography in muted blues and greens. The vibe I’m imagining is subtle, graceful and approachable.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
What a fun question! I made a playlist called Nourish: Whole Food Plant-Based Songs, which you can listen to here.
“Grains” by Bonobo
“Fruit” by ABRA
“Lentil” by Sia
“Vegetable” by Radiohead
“Beans” by Mint Royale
“Nuts” by David Bowie
“Sliced Tomatoes” by Just Brothers
“Carrots and Peas” by Alexandre Desplat
“Wheat like Waves” by Death Cab for Cutie
“Seaweed” by Fruit Bats
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
I was a teacher for a decade. I taught on the south and west sides of Chicago before moving to Laos in Southeast Asia to teach English to teacher candidates on a Fulbright award. I also taught English as a foreign language online during Covid before pivoting back to writing. I now produce the Living Well with MS podcast, teach accessible yoga, and host Writers’ Hour for the London Writers’ Salon (join us for free, daily writing sprints and accountability!).
Because much of what I do is online, it’s easy to hide my disability if I don’t talk about it. I use a mobility aid when I leave the house (usually trekking poles but I also have a wheelchair for longer excursions.) I have both invisible MS symptoms and physical disability but my lifestyle changes including daily meditation, exercise, and a whole food plant-based diet which keep me feeling as well as possible.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I most often write in my office. I live in a hundred-year-old miner’s house in the Welsh Valleys which I’ve turned into my sanctuary. It has three powder pink walls and an accent wall with jungle animals in period dress—a toucan with a bowtie, a sugar glider with a monocle, a parrot with a ruffle, and a lizard with a top hat. I have my computer, books, candles and plants and often my long-haired tortoiseshell kitty, Rhea, keeps me company.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages—stream-of-consciousness journaling—but the best ritual I’ve found for combining community and productivity is the London Writers’ Salon and Writers’ Hour. We chase 8 am around the world and have four virtual 50-minute writing sprints per day bookended by intention setting, an inspirational quote, a cheers and a check-out to see what we accomplished. It’s free and it’s magical what happens when hundreds of writers write alone (but together) in Zoom boxes around the world. Join us at www.writershour.com.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
The perfect reader for Nourish is a home cook with an interest in health but who is unwilling to compromise on taste or giving up favorite cuisines despite dietary requirements. Perhaps a family member or friend is vegan or dairy-free or doesn’t eat oil or added sugar. This book is a roadmap to a successful dinner party focused on inclusive eating, where everyone can enjoy everything that’s been prepared, whether you’re curious and dipping a toe into eating more plants or have been staunchly plant based for years.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.