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Me and my health: Chef John Whyte on his lifestyle


Living good: John Whyte
Living good: John Whyte
John running with his wife Colette

The 46-year-old is head chef at the Armagh City Hotel and lives in Lurgan, Co Armagh, with his wife Colette and their three sons, two dogs, one cat, a python, a tarantula, a gold fish and a budgie.

Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?

A: In the last five years I have completed three Belfast marathons and two half marathons with my wife Colette, raising funds for Cancer Research and Marie Curie. When I started out, I'd run for 30 seconds and walk for 30 seconds. It soon escalated and next thing I knew I was outside Belfast City Hall waiting for the marathon start gun! I have now started cycling which I find a little easier on my knee joints.

Q: What's the worst illness you have had?

A: I have been very lucky in that I have not had any major illness.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: A lot of people think a chef's diet would be great as we have access to all these healthy foods and ingredients. Unfortunately, chefs can fall into the trap of eating on the go or whatever is quickest at a given moment. Dehydration in a hot kitchen is common and has a detrimental effect on health and well-being. Choosing soft drinks or energy drinks over water is another common fail. I found that self-discipline and listening to your own body will help for the long run if you want to be a chef.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: I would graze on sweets made by the hotel pastry chefs and tell them I need to check their quality, which is kind of true! The perks of the job that will be my ending.

Q: Do you drink and/or smoke - if so, how much?

A: I have never smoked though I do like a glass of red wine. I travel to France every summer with my family and always visit the vineyards for tastings. I love Loire Valley wines. I also have a taste for excellent cider and enjoy the cider tours around Armagh. I have found that wine and cider producers have a lot in common with soil, weather, blending and ageing all being important factors for both. The orchards of Armagh are our best-kept secret so people should visit and experience them.


Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: I take glucosamine and cod liver oil capsules for my joints. I also take a shot of dried wheatgrass mixed with a little water daily to help with iron and vitamin levels. And I really like breakfast probiotic drinks as I think inner health is very important. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I can't leave the house without it. I am trying to promote this at my Retox-Detox event as part of the forthcoming Food and Cider Festival.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I love classical music and find that it relaxes and energises me. Finding time to be alone in a busy life can be hard but I try to do this at least once a day. Mind, body and soul.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: I go to bed at 12 at night and wake at 8am. I think this is enough for me. I do like a lie-in on a Saturday morning when there is no school run.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Growing old is part of life so I don't worry about it too much. I still feel that I am 18, but some mornings I do feel a few aches and pains. As I have grown older, I find that I can get more out of life by 'planning smarter'. A happy work and family life is very important to me.

Q: What is your go-to product/habit that keeps you feeling health?

A: I grow my own fruit and vegetables as a hobby at home. I would encourage everyone to try this. I love kale and it is one of the easiest and heartiest vegetables to grow in our climate. It is known as one of the superfoods and I try to use it as an ingredient as much as possible. It's great in smoothies, soups, stir-frys and stews. It is high in vitamin C and has all the trace elements needed for a healthy life.

John is hosting two events on Saturday, September 22 as part of the 2018 Armagh Food & Cider Festival: the Retox/Detox Open-Air Breakfast at the Palace Demesne and The Art of BBQ Masterclass at the Armagh City Hotel. For more information on the full line-up for the festival, go to

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