Editor, dish magazine
dish: You are super busy – as many of us are. How do you keep your energy up and make sure you eat a balanced diet?
Ha – it’s a struggle I have to admit! I am lucky to naturally be a very high-energy person and that (in the main) I crave healthy food…
I can’t remember the last time I ate takeaways. I keep some basics on hand to help keep me in line. At work you’ll often find me chowing down on linseed and chia crackers smothered in Fix & Fogg’s Everything Butter (one of my all-time favourites). Also, and I guess this is critical, I love food and never eat just ‘for fuel’; I eat with texture and flavour in mind too.
dish: You used to be a personal trainer.
Did you come across a big obsession with dieting and losing weight? How did you help people who had poor body image to take away any food-associated guilt? Funnily enough I had more of a problem with people underestimating the food:exercise input/output ratio; for example thinking a walk would justify decadent eating for the rest of the day. It won’t. But yes, there were also a few who saw food as a naughty indulgence and exercise as punishment. The key is to recognise that good choices don’t need to be unappealing, just balanced.
dish: Do you think we can apply ‘bottom line’ rules for eating well?
For myself, I do, and it is pretty straightforward: fresh, seasonal produce focusing on veges, with a mix of good-quality fats and oils (salmon for example), some complex carbs (from brown rice to quinoa), with a wee bit of dairy and red meat thrown into the mix..
dish: What does your own daily eating look like? Do you have certain rules or rituals?
I do have a ritual, but I’m not disturbed if for some reason it can’t be maintained.
I start the day with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in warm water. Once I’ve exercised, I have a strong coffee then often take a celery juice to work. Generally I don’t get hungry for breakfast until mid-morning. Weeknights for dinner I have some combination of seasonal veges, grains and either hummus or pesto topped with nuts or seeds. Often I add a small serving of fish – I tend to eat red meat only when I am entertaining or out for dinner. I finish every day with a few squares of dark chocolate…non-negotiable! When I go out I eat whatever takes my fancy. dish: How can we let go of our angst around food but also eat healthily in a way that’s sustainable for life?
Just because something is ‘healthy’ that doesn’t mean it can’t be packed with fabulous flavours and textures. I think one of the keys to normalise eating well is to do it mindfully – to sit at the table, to connect with friends and loved ones, to taste and appreciate the food. I also think we need to turn the idea of reward and deprivation around food on its head. When we eat great, healthy food we are doing something wonderful for our bodies.
dish: For someone who says ‘I’d love to eat healthily but I have no time to cook’, what would you advise them?
I’d say the two are not mutually exclusive – eating healthily is almost always an option with the proliferation of fast food restaurants and cafés jumping on the band wagon. When I was a trainer, one of my clients would buy lunch every day –pies, pizza or burgers – but by swapping those selections to sushi and healthy options at Subway we made an immediate impact. Also, I am a huge advocate for doing prep or pre-cooking at the weekend then freezing or chilling food for later in the week.
dish: Do you agree we’ve lost some of our enjoyment of food? It seems everyone has opinions about the 'right' way to eat now… There is some truth in that. It used to be that you couldn’t discuss money, sex or politics at the dinner table… now it appears those are all fine, but food is off the menu. I think if we can accept some basic truths about healthy eating and then establish how that works for us, then we have a start. And it may be different for everybody. But the fundamental thing for me is this – eating a meal together gives us the opportunity to connect and communicate with friends and family, to check in on each other, banter and share a joke, to share love around the table – seriously, our lives are stressful enough these days without bringing angst to the table. Let's bring the joy back.