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Me and my health: Author Claire Allan on her lifestyle

The 40-year-old author lives in Londonderry with her husband Neil and their two children Joseph, (12) and Cara (7).

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

A: Having been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in April this year I am not able to go to yoga and Zumba the way I used to. While I'm not gym bunny now I do push myself to go for a walk and try to spend time in the swimming pool. I'm optimistic though that I will get back to exercise.

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

A: Long-term it has been the fibromyalgia but I had a hysterectomy last year and developed a post-operative infection which turned to sepsis which was life-threatening. Even after I got out of hospital my recovery was very slow, so for three months I was still suffering from tiredness and nausea. I believe the fibromyalgia is a reaction to the sepsis which, like meningitis, can hit very quickly.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I joined Slimming World a while ago and lost four stones in weight. I still go to the meeting every week and I think it is the best plan for long-term healthy eating and works really well for family meals. Everything is cooked from scratch and not only did I lose weight but my energy levels are so much better now, too.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: I am addicted to Diet Coke. It's got to the point where my friends and family make fun of me as I always have my bottle of Diet Coke with me. I know it's not good for me because of the caffeine and artificial sweeteners but it is my only vice.

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

A: I don't smoke and don't really drink anymore except for a glass or two or Pinot Grigio with a meal. To be honest I cannot suffer hangovers anymore and when I wake up the next day with a clear head I feel pretty smug about it.

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: Quite a few because of the all of the medication I am on, including magnesium, vitamins D and B as well as calcium. I used to be quite sceptical about the value of supplements but I find magnesium in particular is so powerful in terms of pain relief.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: We have a mobile home in Donegal which is in a bay so there are mountains on one side and the sea on another. Sometimes I write - which is time out for me - or read, or just sit and listen to the waves. It reminds me that we are all quite small in comparison to the rest of the world.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Most of the time okay, but I need at least eight hours sleep, if not 10 if I'm to be any use to anyone. I have always been like that so I go to bed around 10.30pm every night. Unfortunately my children need very little sleep - they are like their dad.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: As long as your health is good enough to enjoy life, that's all that matters. Although I did have a big freak out when I hit the big 4-0. I felt like a proper grown up. After a few months, though, I realised I am who I am - I've lost weight and started taking care of my appearance and eating well and I've never felt better.

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

A: Eating a meal that I have cooked from scratch with no oils, butter or unhealthy ingredients. I feel healthier when I am chopping the vegetables for the meal as I know there is nothing bad in it. I know I am eating the best food that I can put into my body.

  • Still You by Claire Allan is out now on Poolbeg Press, £12.99, Amazon Interview by Helen Carson

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