What does healthy mean to you?
Healthy = energy, optimism, radiance, positivity.
Do you follow any specific eating philosophy?
I have been a vegetarian since I was about 12 years old. I made my mind up young, and can’t imagine any other way. I don’t eat meat or fish but my diet is varied and joyful. I eat dairy – cheese is my snack of choice – and pride myself on being an unfussy vegetarian. These days I rarely need to announce my choice as I can simply find my favourite pasta or vegetarian sushi dish at my favourite restaurants – and am always happy with everything (except the meat or fish) at a supper at home with friends.
I love food, eat well and never say no to birthday cake, wine or a double espresso when desired. I was a little anaemic through my pregnancies and, more recently, took advice about supplements (and extra protein) from Dr. Nigma at Bodyworks West on the recommendation of friends, who also gives the most incredible facials.
Why is it important for you to feel (and look) healthy?
My life is pretty hyperactive at work and at home. Whether in front of or behind the camera, I want to feel and look my best. More importantly, I want optimum energy to navigate the sometimes unpredictable path between my kids (first always), and my work and travels. I snack on nuts or fruit or oatcakes and never miss a meal.
“I often eat early with my kids even if I’m going out for supper as I love that early-evening moment of sitting around and story-sharing over food and laughter.”
I’ve been a vegetarian for so long it’s simply a way of life, although I cook meat and fish for my kids as I believe they should try everything and make up their own minds one day. (My daughter worries about killing pomegranates!). I often eat early with my kids even if I’m going out for supper as I love that early-evening moment of sitting around and story-sharing over food and laughter.
What foods or groups of foods (if any) do you avoid?
Just meat and fish. And, given a choice, I prefer spelt bread to regular, and soya milk to dairy, but I don’t rule anything out. During a busy day, I know a high-carb lunch may make me a little lethargic, but I don’t over-analyse it.
Do you cook every day?
I fail. I make porridge or pancakes for me and my kids most mornings (though they prefer a pain au chocolat from our local bakery on our way to school). I am not completely hopeless as a cook, and I wish I had more time, but the truth is I could try harder. (My boyfriend would agree.)
“I am not completely hopeless as a cook, and I wish I had more time, but the truth is I could try harder.”
What do you think are the most nutritious foods?
For me, super-nutrients come from avocados (on the side or in a salad… most days), tofu, nuts (especially almonds), berries (in my porridge or with yoghurt and granola), and greens such as broccoli and kale.
As a vegetarian, I also make sure I eat plenty of eggs and lentils and cheese for protein, and wild rice or quinoa too. I love my porridge from Rude Health with berries and honey stirred in – and I force myself to juice, although I prefer an old-fashioned mug of builder’s tea.
Do you cook the same types of foods for your children as you do for you?
My kids are pretty adventurous eaters, and we eat as a family as much as possible. I especially love taking them out to restaurants when we travel, and have a kind of dare/rule whereby the more new things they try, the more places we get to go. I’ll make big dishes to share – but also indulge their desire for fish and chips or hot dogs with pals.
“I don’t ban anything but notice that my children don’t crave or beg for anything in consequence.”
Every day is different, but I encourage them to be healthy and relaxed about food and mealtimes. We share a love of sushi (salmon for them, veggie for me), boiled eggs and soldiers, and lemon drizzle cake. I don’t ban anything but notice that they don’t crave or beg for anything in consequence. Treats are important and deserved.
How much emphasis do you put on your children’s nutrition?
I really care but I don’t obsess – by being relaxed about food and mealtimes, I notice that they have become naturally curious, open and health-driven, accidentally on purpose. First and foremost I want meals at home and out and about to be a celebration and a conversation rather than a battleground. I love that both my kids love to cook, and are adventurous eaters.
“By being relaxed about food and mealtimes, I notice that they have become naturally curious, open and health-driven, accidentally on purpose.”
What is your optimal breakfast?
On schooldays, porridge with berries and honey at home. Perhaps avocado or scrambled eggs on toast if I have a breakfast meeting. Always a strong black coffee and maybe a juice.
How do you stay on track when you travel?
I love a room-service or café breakfast abroad – croissants in Paris, granola and muffins in New York City… I don’t worry about staying ‘on track’ as I don’t really have a track. I eat healthily by desire, not by any self-imposed or external dictates. (In the same way that I choose to exercise – because I want to, not because I must.)
Have you ever tried a diet or detox that worked for you?
I’ve never done a hardcore detox, but I once did an In-Spa yoga retreat in Morocco – hiking, swimming, running, yoga… (I felt amazing afterwards, but did miss my morning coffee.) Another writing trip was to Wild Fitness in Watamu Bay, Kenya, which I tagged on to the end of a safari. It was an incredible experience. I loved the exercise-as-adventure ethos… boxing at dawn on the beach, swimming miles downriver. I felt invincible, and alive to my core.
“I travel for work but find it hard to justify solo soul-searching, body-blitzing trips for now.”
Both trips were before babies. It would feel incredibly luxurious to undertake something similar now, which probably means I should book in immediately. I travel for work but find it hard to justify solo soul-searching, body-blitzing trips for now. (I find it hard enough to book the occasional massage.)
What’s your exercise routine/schedule?
I’m a runner. I like the freedom, the independence, the solitude, park life… and a few good tunes. I always pack my trainers and running kit – even on a short work trip – even if I don’t necessarily get, or take, the time. In London, I cycle everywhere, as I did when I lived in New York. I like the idea of exercising accidentally on purpose, and for it to make sense in my day, i.e. racing me from A to B, especially as the unpredictable nature of my work life means I can’t always schedule. Before babies, I boxed and was probably the fittest I’ve ever been. (I don’t sweat so much these days…)
Since I had my daughter six years ago, I’ve also taken Pilates classes at Ten Pilates, which, though intense, I strangely find deeply relaxing, almost meditative. They’ve also stretched me out, eased my lower back pain from an old biking accident, and seem to somehow balance out my adrenaline-charged stop-start life.
“I’ve dabbled in yoga and am jealous of its life-changing effects on my friends, but Pilates suits me better and feels like a treat, not a chore.”
I’ve dabbled in yoga and am jealous of its life-changing effects on my friends, but Pilates suits me better and feels like a treat, not a chore. On holiday, I’m a water-baby and love to swim and paddleboard with my kids all day long in an ideal world. Sometimes when in London, and especially if I’m stressed, simply walking my dog in the park is the best exercise – and relaxation – of all.
I’ve always preferred real sport to gym exercise. And tennis is my new obsession. The combination of fresh air, concentration and competition, (plus quick chats with a girlfriend between sets), has proven to be the ideal counterpoint to my hectic work and family life. I also love the kit. Variations on perfect whites – Adidas by Stella McCartney dresses and shorts, layered over skinny Lycra layers by Lucas Hugh, and Nike in winter.