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Chef Dale Pinnock booked in to reveal his healthy eating secrets at Belfast Book Festival


First visit: Dale Pinnock

First visit: Dale Pinnock

First visit: Dale Pinnock

A celebrity chef will take on a new challenge this week - tackling the subject of healthy eating in the home of the Ulster fry.

Best known as the presenter of ITV's 'Eat Shop Save', Dale Pinnock is the author of 13 books on living a healthier lifestyle, and is looking forward to visiting Northern Ireland for the first time.

"I've been passionate about this for 25 years," he said. "I can't actually believe this will be my first time in Northern Ireland. I've a lot of catching up to do."

Dale will be making an appearance at Hillmount Garden Centre in Castlereagh on Thursday as part of the Belfast Book Festival programme.

Dale, whose show helps families to eat healthier, shop smarter and get their fitness in check, said it was his own health battle as a teenager that prompted him to seek a better lifestyle.

"This all started with my own health issues," he said.

"I suffered terribly from acne in my teens. I was plastering myself with lotions as a 15-year-old and not really getting anywhere.

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"I was desperately self conscious and it was only when I was handed a book called 'Fit For Life', which many now look back on as a bible for healthy eating in the 90s, that a light bulb was switched on.

"I read it out of desperation. It wasn't particularly cool or fashionable to be in to healthy eating back then, but I was willing to try anything."

Dale explained how it taught him to sort himself out on the inside and to engage in his own health care.

"It had such an effect on me and my life in general that I decided to study human nutrition and herbal medicine through university and, 25 years later, here I am, trying to light that spark in the rest of the country," he added.

"But I don't want to be seen as the 'food police'.

"I'm not the sort of person to ram healthy eating down other people's throats. I'm here to give information, to give people choices, to let them know there are a lot of very simple things they can do towards getting a healthier lifestyle and a healthier bank balance.

"Making simple lifestyle changes can benefit so many aspects of our lives. It can help cardio vascular conditions, diabetes, anxiety and depression.

"A healthier diet can be very much part of an overall treatment - but please don't think of me as a dietician."

Dale said diets are not always the answer, adding: "My advice is stay away from a diet. It's a temporary quick fix. It might feel good at the time, but it won't last.

"I'm all about encouraging people to think 'how can I make my life better one step at a time?'

"Fashionable diets come along all the time, but they never last. You'll find it's much more achievable to make one small change, then one more.

"Why put yourself through torment when you can do it the easy way?"

Dale will be explaining the secrets of eating your way to better health at Hillmount Garden Centre on Thursday from 7.30pm to 9pm. For ticket information visit www.belfastbookfestival.com.

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