Mother of four Jennifer Irvine is ‘obsessed with longevity’. Given that she’s only 42 and a picture of blooming, bouncing health, that seems a tad premature. But Jennifer and her friends talk about it a lot, she tells me. ‘Life is a series of chapters. I came through purple hair, a nose ring and friends overdosing in my 20s to being a wife, mother and businesswoman. Now we all want to reach that certain âge – as the French say – still glowing, feeling great about ourselves and able to enjoy life.’
For Jennifer, ‘Being healthy long term is about keeping balance in my life in every way possible – from stable blood sugar to eight hours sleep with a nap if necessary.’ As the founder of a thriving wellness empire, Jennifer really has to walk her talk. Brought up on a sustainable farm in the west of Ireland where she sold eggs from her chickens from the age of eight, in 2003 she founded gourmet diet delivery business The Pure Package.
The idea hit Jennifer when she saw her husband, Stephen Irvine, and his city colleagues working 14-hour days fuelled by junk food. ‘I’ve always loved good food and I like taking care of people so it stemmed from that.’ From its beginnings in her own tiny kitchen, the business is now hugely successful with customers, who include celebrities and elite athletes, clamouring for the daily deliveries of three delicious balanced meals plus two snacks.
But The Pure Package price (currently from £39.95 per day) was out of many people’s reach, so in 2013 Jennifer launched Balance Box, available nationwide, which costs from £19.99 per day for one delivery, available nationwide, with all meals and snacks for three or four days. Our single-mother tester couldn’t believe ‘it’s such amazing value for money; there’s a huge range of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes in the Four Day Lighter Menu Plan with masses of different vegetables and everything I needed. I was never hungry but I lost 4lb in four days.’
As the brand’s name suggests, the menus, which are planned by nutritional therapists and prepared by chefs, reflect Jennifer’s belief that food should be ethically sourced, the finest quality possible with the perfect balance of nutrients. ‘It makes a massive difference nutritionally, plus you gain an extra hour a day as you don’t have to cook,’ she points out.
Being kind to herself is high on Jennifer’s list of longevity musts. Because the working day is ‘usually crazy’, her evening treat is immersing herself in a long shower or bath with Jo Malone London candles and ‘lovely bath oils and body creams’.
Regular exercise is crucial. ‘I try to hit 10,000 steps a day on my Fitbit. I keep a pair of flats in my bag and walk around the office when I’m on the phone, and we do a lot of walking meetings as a team; it gets the ideas flowing. Plus we have sitting balls and standing desks in the office.’ Twice a week Jennifer does a 30-minute full-body weight training session and is exultant that her biological age – 50 plus when she started this regime – is now a super-healthy 21.
Come the end of the day, Jennifer asks her children, ‘What’s the best thing that happened to you today?’ so they go to sleep happy. Afterwards she counts her blessings. ‘We don’t do that enough. Good things happen to me. When bad things happen, my attitude is they give me greater understanding. I’m a lucky person.’
Delicious, good-for-you and ready made…this salad is one of the options devised by Jennifer Irvine, left