Nutritional therapist Jane McClenaghan (48), who runs Vital Nutrition, is an ambassador for The Big Lunch, the UK’s biggest get together for neighbours and communities. She lives in South Belfast with her husband Nev and their rescue collie Cassie. Over the weekend of June 5 and 6 this year, communities all over the UK will be sharing a bite to eat as part of The Big Lunch, an annual event organised by the Eden Project and aimed at forging a sense of community spirit.
Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
A: Yes! Exercise is my therapy and being active has been so important for my mental and physical health over the last year. I exercise every day, whether that is a run, cycle, exercise class or walk. I am so happy to be back to seeing friends at our group exercise classes again after lockdown. Working from home means that my daily exercise is even more important than usual. I teach a lot of Zoom classes, some live from my kitchen, and some from my home office, but like most people, I am sitting a lot more than I was used to, so I try to get out for a walk first thing and at lunchtime to break up my day.
Q: What is the worst illness you’ve had?
A: I am very lucky to have had good health and have never had a serious illness.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: As a nutritional therapist, I eat well because it helps me feel well. I couldn’t do the job I do and eat a junk food diet, could I? I don't follow any particular diet, but I do tend to eat a low GI, wholefood diet with plenty of vegetables and some eggs, meat and fish. Some days I do intermittent fasting, so I will have a later breakfast and finish eating by 7pm. I do this because it makes me feel well, not because it is a fad or fashion. I like to be organised, so I like meals that I can cook once and eat twice. Open my fridge and you will usually find something left over from yesterday for today’s lunch - it is usually some sort of salad packed with seasonal veggies at this time of the year. I like to try new recipes and have lots of ideas for nourishing and handy lunches that I will be sharing on The Big Lunch weekend, June 5 to 6.
Q: Any bad habits?
Of course - doesn’t everyone?! I prefer not to think about them as bad habits though. As long as I eat well most of the time and exercise most days, I don't feel bad about the occasional indulgence. I think there is room in everyone’s diet for a treat every now and then. Chocolate, ice cream or my mum’s chocolate cake please! Those are tasty treats I will definitely share on The Big Lunch weekend, June 5-6.
Q: Do you drink and smoke/ if so, how much?
I definitely do not smoke, but I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine or a gin and tonic at the weekends.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: Yes, since the start of the pandemic I have been taking an immune support supplement with vitamin D, C, elderberry, and beta glucans. I also take a women’s multivitamin, probiotic, and fish oil most days.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: Sometimes I find it hard to switch off. I think it is a side effect of being self-employed. I like to get out for a walk at the end of my working day to draw a line between my work life and home life. I am not very good at sitting still, so for me, mindfulness means being outside in nature. We have a little veg patch in our garden that we have just planted some seeds in, and I find that gardening is good for the soul. I am loving seeing my friends and family more now that we are easing out of lockdown, so a lot of my downtime revolves around eating food with my nearest and dearest.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: I need my eight hours sleep and am diligent about switching off screens at least an hour before I go to bed and getting to bed early. I sleep really well and tend to wake up feeling refreshed. I waken without an alarm clock around 6am or 6.30am most mornings.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: No - life is for living and I think it is a privilege to get older. Why worry about something you have no control over?
Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: Fresh air, exercise, good friends, and family are a winning combination, I think. Over the last year I have benefited from a regular routine with my exercise and making sure that I get outside every day. Even just a walk around the block can change my mood.
I’ve been an ambassador for The Big Lunch Ireland for several years because I love how it brings people together over good food. It's a wonderful chance to celebrate community connections and get to know one another a little better, so join in at TheBigLunch.com where you can get your free pack online, on your doorstep, or over the fence. For an even bigger incentive, all those who sign up this year will be entered into a draw to win a session with me for a local group! Find out more at www.thebiglunch.com