Health Speak: We chat to Nutrition and Health Consultant, Liz Tucker, about foods that lift her mood and calorie counting

interview conducted by Kate Prince

liz tucker

Liz Tucker is a Nutrition and Health Consultant and author, who has appeared on television and written for well known magazines. She promotes better health by encouraging healthier lifestyle and diet options; working closely with the food industry on specific markets such as Sports Nutrition.

What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

I am definitely a morning person so I am usually up by about six. I always exercise early as once the day starts it’s easy to let other things get in the way so once I am out of bed and have fed the cats I go for a run.

What do eat for breakfast? 

Once I am back from my run, I usually have a rice cake with organic peanut butter. It is nutritious… but really it’s just because I love it!

What is your work place like?  

I work all over the country in some great places; in fact I recently got back from the Lake District and next week I have a meeting on the set of TV drama Hollyoaks. I live on a farm so I have to go across fields to get to my office, which is very inspiring and a very short commute!

What do you eat for lunch?

At the farm, we grow all of our own fruit and vegetables and have been totally self-sufficient in these for some years now. I love vegetable gardening and have four massive freezers to keep it all in. I also make masses of soup which I have for lunch; I am not a great cook but it’s so easy and is the ultimate convenience food. Pea and courgette is the soup I have gallons of and love it but my roasted tomato is the definite favourite.

Are there any foods that lift your mood?  

I love home grown-foods. It tastes so much better than shop bought and it’s such a thrill to pull up your first crop of potatoes or eat a raspberry off of the bush. On a warm summer day I love to graze round the veg plot!

Is there any food you eat every day and why?  

I try and vary my diet and eat seasonally but I do generally eat a banana most days as it just suits my early morning get started routine. I have been lactose intolerant since a teenager so I do try and eat almonds daily as they have a good level of calcium

What do you think about calorie counting?  

It is funny how obesity problems started about the same time we got obsessive about calorie counting. The science shows it’s about what you eat and eating natural foods are much more likely to be nutritionally rich and calorie balanced. We have so much processed food that contain “empty” calories – lots of fat or sugar but little nutritional content and I think that is the key issue.

Do you avoid any food allergies?

I have a chronic auto-immune condition called Sjogrens Disease. Because of that I am also Celiac, lactose intolerant and spicy foods, caffeine and sugar including natural fruit sugars can make my symptoms worse. My health was why I got into science, especially nutrition as for many years they didn’t know what was wrong with me. If I look after my health it keeps me well.

Do you snack? 

I am a nibbler (nuts and seeds mainly) but do try to stick to three good meals a day.

What are the healthiest snacks in your opinion?  

Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrition but high in calories, but no more so than chocolate, cake, biscuits. I don’t tend to eat those things as it makes me feels so rubbish and actually I wouldn’t chose to eat them if I could as I don’t really find them that tasty and I am probably not the only one to say that!

What do you have for supper?  

I do eat meat but I buy local so I know the animals have been looked after. We always have lots of veg; my hubby does the most amazing roast potatoes, parsnips and squash mix. Roast veg freezes really well so I par cook it, freeze and it only takes a few minutes to heat up … instant food. I even make my own oven chips. It’s so easy to do and delicious.

Do you sit and eat at a proper table to eat your main meal? Do you feel that is important?  

I work away lots and I hate that stuffy restaurant thing so sometimes I have a picnic in the room. At home we have a big dining table and love having friends and family around it but when it’s the two of us we love the cosiness of TV dinners.

What is the healthiest thing you do every day?  

Make the most out of life and appreciate it!

Is there anything you do every day without fail?  

Generally I don’t like routine and my work and life doesn’t fit it anyway but I do like to be prepared, so I make a realistic schedule for the next day so that everything gets its own priority time. I make sure I have everything I need ready to go … I find it reduces the chances of things going wrong.

What do you do for exercise?  

I run most days. I have a four mile circuit across the fields and tracks. I find it a great way to get ideas together and resolve problems. We have a small farm so our spare time is full of fresh air and hard labour and I love it! If I get the chance I surf or water ski.

Which three celebrities (dead or alive) would you invite to have dinner with you?

I am a huge fan of Chris Packham and we would bore anyone else at the table to death talking about birds; so I think I would have Rachmaninov playing the piano in the back ground. Perhaps Mary Berry could cook?!

What is your biggest luxury in life?  

The older you get the less materialistic you feel. I have never been into designer labels, make up and that sort of stuff and now I have hit 50 it doesn’t like me much anyway. Most things are really a luxury so I don’t like this indulgent labelling thing. Most of life is difficult or mundane so enjoyment, I see as a necessity as its gets you through the tough times.

What are the three things can’t you live without?  

My husband, my car and an en-suite bathroom.

What do you go to bed thinking about?  

I hate taking troubles to bed, which is why I like to have the next day prepared. Its the only chance I really get to read so an early night with the electric blanket is a joy.

What is your motto in life? 

Because of my condition I have had bouts of debilitating illness and the positive thing that comes out of that is you learn to appreciate everything that’s ordinary. But my own personal motto is “if at first you don’t succeed, try it another way.”

Liz is the author of the Good Health GuideUnderstanding Food IntolerancesWhy No Weight Loss and When You Want to Say Yes but Your Body Says No. Her latest book, Calorie Counter came out in February.