Where do you shop? Usually in Lidl or Aldi – I’m lucky that in Terenure I have one of each beside me. They’re both great value and I think the quality is excellent. Otherwise, I’m a fan of Dunnes.
Can you list the contents of your weekly shop? Loads of veggies! I don’t eat meat so the likes of curries, stir-fries, and casseroles are go-to staple meals for me. I’m always buying brown sliced-pans, rice cakes, and bread-sticks too as snacks for my two small kids at home. Admittedly, a bottle of white wine or prosecco often makes it into the trolley for a Friday-night tipple.
Describe your typical breakfast: Espresso! I’m truly terrible at eating breakfast. I leave my house most mornings at 7.30am with two children in tow so there never seems to be time.
Describe your typical lunch: Soups, grilled veg and quinoa, falafel with salads, wraps – or every so often maybe a veggie burger and fries or pizza if I fancy a treat and I’m out in a restaurant. I do try and bring my lunch into the office most of the time as I reckon that’s the best way to stay healthy and not tuck into too many heavy sambos.
Typical dinner: Quick ‘n’ easy stuff. By the time I’m home and the kids are in bed it might be as late as 8pm or 8.30pm so something fairly light too.
Snacks: Fruit – or if the office gets sent pastries and doughnuts I might tuck in to one of those too!
Is there anything you won’t eat? Meat! I haven’t had meat since I was about 13 or 14. So close to two decades on I don’t even think about it at this stage. My mother says I stopped drinking milk when I was a toddler – I just hate it! I don’t eat too much dairy in general as I think it upsets my tummy.
What would you cook to impress someone? A really great veggie lasagna. I make a mean one and even hard-core carnivores afterwards say it’s better than the original Bolognese version.
What is your guilty food pleasure? Pizza! I lived in Italy for a year and a thin-based margarita is as good as it gets.
What is your ultimate comfort food? Chipper chips. If I’m ever hungover (which is rarely, of course!) a bag of chipper chips with loads of salt and vinegar hits the spot nicely.
What is your favourite takeaway? Probably Thai – although a great Indian is tough to beat too.
Have you tried any diet fads in the past six months? If I want to lose weight, I tend to just try and eat a bit less and exercise more rather than anything too extreme. Cutting the likes of potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread makes a big difference quickly. I’ve given up gluten in the past and felt great but I do find it difficult.
What would be your Death Row dinner or Last Supper? A really authentic pizza from Rome or Naples – a handful of simple ingredients but entirely delicious.
It’s super to know that Gillian buys plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables for her family during her weekly shop, and I believe that supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl are helping to change the misconception that healthy eating is expensive. They make it much easier to stock up on fresh produce, as well as nuts and seeds, dried grains, beans and pulses. While being well-prepared is a big part of following a healthier lifestyle, having plenty of foods ready to cook up for a simple meal can really help people to stay on track. Homemade curries, casseroles, soups and stews can be made quite easily from a stock of pantry ingredients, plus seasoning and spices.
Gill’s life is busy with two young children and a full-time job, so she understandably struggles to find the time to fit in breakfast. However, it’s been well-established that eating first thing in the morning can help to support energy levels throughout the day, boost your metabolism and help to prevent cravings for sugary or fatty foods. Eating a source of protein in the morning can help to maintain stable blood sugar levels and feeds your body cells the essential amino acids needed for everyday functions. Though Gill is short on time, she may want to have a quick couple of teaspoons of good-quality nut butter alongside her coffee as it’s rich in amino acids, healthy fat and fibre.
Gill’s lunch tends to be based on fresh whole foods and plenty of vegetables. As a long-term vegetarian, she clearly understands the importance of a balanced diet and filling up on lots of nourishing vegetables and whole grains, but it’s super to see that she enjoys treating herself with pizza, chips and veggie burgers from time to time too. Treat foods can be an important part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle for a lot of people, and gives you something to look forward to.
For her evening meal, Gill usually goes for a quick, simple vegetarian meal. As she usually eats quite late at night, it’s a better idea to choose something higher in fibre and water and lower in high-protein or high-fat foods, so that your digestive system is under less pressure late at night.
Gill snacks on fruit during the day, with the odd treat thrown in, but adding a handful of raw almonds or carrot sticks with hummus would be a great way to keep her protein intake sustained throughout the day. This will lessen the likelihood of suffering an energy crash during the afternoon, when many people tend to feel it most.
Overall, Gill’s diet is packed with whole foods, lots of colour and a variety of vegetables, and is relatively low in refined sugar and trans-fats. She doesn’t deprive herself when she fancies a treat meal, and I love to hear that she doesn’t believe in fad diets. Eating less and exercising more is the most balanced approach. Well done Gill.