Do you have any rules about what you eat or don’t eat?
I don’t follow diets. I basically just eat real, fresh foods as much as I can and avoid the bad stuff. I think you can overcomplicate how to eat. I just see it really simply – if you put great stuff into your body, then you can achieve greatness with it.
I do, however, stick to a few rules that I’ve learnt from nutritionists and health experts that work for me. They are:
– To eat a low carbohydrate diet, unless I’m exercising (when I need carbs), which means hardly any bread, rice, cereals or pasta. This made a huge change to my body shape (plus my stomach and my muffin top!) and my energy levels.
– To eat as little sugar as possible (although I do have a weakness for dark chocolate, 85% cocoa).
– I make virtually all my own meals from scratch and eat a lot of colourful veggies, salad, fruit (especially berries) and good fats (avocado, nuts) as I can. I eat meat and fish, but mostly chicken.
– On a normal week, I limit alcohol to Fridays and Saturdays.
Please note, this is how I eat most of the time, but I am not ridiculous or obsessive about my food. If I go to a party, I will drink alcohol – especially if a Mojito is on offer – and if I go to someone’s house, I will eat their food without complaint.
I love nothing more than a glass of cold white wine, and if I want an ice cream on holiday, then I will have one – just not all the time (although it tastes so much better if I’ve been exercising that day!). I don’t ‘reward’ myself with food. I see food as a healthy constant, not something that I do a few days a week and then fall off the wagon the rest. I don’t believe in binging and purging.
What’s your “rule of thumb”?
A nutritionist once told me that if a food needs a label then it probably isn’t optimally good for you. This is something that has stuck in my head ever since.
What have been the most important changes you’ve made to your diet and fitness?
I have always eaten pretty well, but a year or so ago I was absolutely shattered after having two children and working on the start-up of Getthegloss.com. I needed to do something about it and so made the decision to get fit – I had joined many gyms and given them up over the years but never stuck with it – and so I started running.
This coincided with me meeting Steve Mellor from Freedom2train.com who, since, has basically become a health-and-fitness mentor to me. He not only showed me that fitness could be fun but taught me how to eat to get the most out of exercise. I also went to see Amelia Freer at Freernutrition.com. She fine-tuned my diet to help me get rid of the last bits of baby fat. I have followed their advice ever since and have seen vast changes in my body and how I feel.
“A nutritionist once told me that if a food needs a label then it probably isn’t optimally good for you.”
What foods, if any, do you avoid?
Sugar: to avoid energy dips and to limit the dreaded muffin top and jelly belly. I have been on a mission to get good abs – sugar won’t help anyone in this department, whether it’s in your drinks or in what you eat.
Processed carbohydrates: unless I am exercising or unless I feel that I mentally need them, which sometimes I do.
Ready-made meals and fast food: you just don’t know what’s in them. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a McDonald’s. I remember Jamie Oliver once saying that the sausages you get in burger vans are probably ‘donkey scrotum’. That was the nail in the fast-food coffin for me!
What do you think are the most nutritious foods?
The most nutritious foods for me are vegetables, fresh meat and colourful salads – thankfully my mum taught me to always love fresh food. When I was little I remember eating pitta bread with fresh salad in it and her making her own muesli.
She always made us eat fruit and we were never allowed more than 10p’s worth of sweets, when my best friend was allowed a pound’s worth! I eat berries every morning at breakfast (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries). I try to make extra food in the evenings that I can then eat the next day – for example, I’ll throw last night’s roasted veggies on a salad.
Do you cook the same types of foods for your children as you do for you?
I try to instil healthy eating habits into my children but as anyone with kids knows, it’s not always easy. Thankfully they like quite plain food so are happy with a bowl of pasta with fresh pesto on it (I believe kiddies need carbs since they burn off so much energy). With every bowl of pasta, though, I always chop up fresh vegetables or salad to have on the side (carrots, cucumber, peppers), which they love.
I try to limit sweet things and for snacks, I get them to eat crackers with butter on them, which I consider far healthier than chocolate. They also love most fresh fruit, which is great. I’m really happy that things they wouldn’t touch early in their lives – like broccoli – they both munch away on now.
“Amelia Freer once described nutrition to me as ‘information for your cells’.”
How much emphasis do you put on your children’s nutrition?
I am always very conscious of what they eat and that they get the right balance of fresh foods in their diet. Amelia Freer once described nutrition to me as ‘information for your cells’. If they don’t get the right nutrition, then their little bodies and brains won’t grow in the right direction. One thing I would like to get banned, however, are sweets on shop counters – anyone with children will know this is a complete nightmare for parents. I would like to start a campaign.
What is your optimal breakfast?
I love breakfast. My favourite is plain Greek yoghurt (full fat), with blueberries, raspberries and cashews on top. I will then sprinkle it with cinnamon instead of honey and sometimes crushed flax seeds (I try to eat protein at every meal).
I also love omelettes, although don’t have the time to make them in the week. However, at weekends I might have one filled with mushrooms, tomatoes, fried onion, peppers, fresh herbs and chillies. Yum!
What’s your exercise routine/schedule?
I now work out between three and five times a week. I don’t think I had ever really exercised properly before I met Steve from Freedom2train. He taught me that in order to get results, you have to push yourself way, WAY out of your comfort zone. I now do this as much as I can. I train with him twice a week outdoors doing resistance training (TRX, push-ups, squats, pull-ups, boxing, core training, you name it!). I then try to go swimming once a week myself and also to the gym, where I might do intervals on the bike plus lots of core exercises. I also love spinning.
I have learnt that the harder you push yourself, the greater the high and the sense of clarity you get afterwards. I couldn’t believe the endorphin rush when I first starting training like this – I couldn’t believe it was legal.