‘Cooking is a good way to decompress – you can’t check your phone chopping onions’

My Daily Diet: Caroline O’Donoghue (28), writer and journalist

7.30am My partner's job has regular hours so I'm up with him and have builders tea with milk and Marmite on sourdough toast.

10.30am I'll work for a few hours and then take my dog Sylvie for a walk. Since getting my Jack Russell two years ago I always clock up my 10,000 steps. It also means I meet up with another writer up for distraction, Ella Risbridger, a good friend who taught me how to cook. We have a decent march around Greenwich Park and then pop into my local gem of a cafe, the Bread & Butler, for an Americano and a cardamom bun.

2pm If I have a work related lunch I'll order easy to eat, first date food. I'll order a mushroom risotto with Parmesan and pancetta with peas. I love to make this at home. I avoid pasta as I feel I'm a little gluten intolerant. This sounds quite millennial but I don't dodge anything else – though if I see avo toast on a menu I'll order it.

4pm When writing at home I get snacky so will have a punnet of grapes and a pint of sugar-free orange squash beside me. If I didn't have lunch I might get sidetracked by Walkers Sensations Poppadom crisps.


8pm I do the cooking and find it's a good way to decompress - you can't check your phone chopping onions. There are excellent Chinese supermarkets nearby so I'll have the ingredients for a Thai noodle soup, which I make with chicken stock, brown miso, fish sauce, lime, chilli, coriander, and spring onions. I will add prawns or chicken and use rice noodles. If I have been working all day at home I eat earlier but if myself and Gavin are eating together we'll usually have a beer – Singha or Tiger is always on offer – or a glass of wine.

10.30pm Weekdays I'll get to bed early and read for a few hours in prep for my books podcast, Sentimental Garbage. It's work I'm always happy to do.

The Verdict

Dr Conor Kerley, dietetics consultant, researcher and lecturer at University College Dublin and Technological University Dublin

Breakfast Lots of Irish will relate to tea and toast for their first meal, and many find sourdough a more digestible bread. Feeling gluten intolerant seems to be more common nowadays and if this is the case trying a gluten free diet may be worthwhile. However, unprocessed gluten foods can be very healthy and avoiding them is no shortcut to good health. Marmite is a useful source of protein and B-vitamins but high in salt. Walking is an under-rated exercise but a very realistic goal for most.

Lunch Risotto can be a good option with mushrooms and peas. Pancetta, processed pork belly, is high in fat and salt. Processed meats have been linked with health issues and many authorities recommend limiting or even avoiding. The Parmesan provides calcium but, again, salt.

Dinner Great that Caroline cooks from scratch and Thai noodle soup with a mix of vegetables and a lean protein is balanced.

Tips Wholemeal bread is a healthier option than sourdough. Bread, Marmite, pancetta, Parmesan, miso, crisps, fish sauce and prawns all contribute salt to Caroline's diet, which may be excessive, so best to swap these foods for lower salt options some days. Caroline could opt for wholemeal noodles, as they contain more nutrients, and add, perhaps, walnuts to her snack for omega 3 and to make it more satisfying.

Caroline O’Donoghue’s debut novel, Promising Young Women, is out in paperback.

My Daily Diet series
- Bryan Dobson
- Helen Steele
- Jonathan Forbes
- Mike Ross
Sean Rainbird
Hanif Kureishi
Nuala McGovern

Ellen Cranitch
- Ian Marber
Caroline O'Donoghue