Helen Steele: ‘My naughty habit is Nutella – I could easily end up eating half a jar’

My Daily Diet: Helen Steele, artist and fashion designer

Helen Steele, artist and fashion designer, at home in  Co Monaghan. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Helen Steele, artist and fashion designer, at home in Co Monaghan. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

6.30am Brekkie is a Bodyism protein shake with spirulina and berries. I’ll have coffee and perhaps a couple of teaspoons of Nutella to give me a boost. A daily chocolate habit is my poison but it gets me through the day.

If I head to Dublin my first stop will be Butlers, for a latte with low-fat milk. I may have two chocolates (or three if it’s that kind of a day). When I’m working in the studio, near my home in Monaghan, I’ll have porridge with berries.

1pm I don’t eat normally eat lunch on a weekday, though I drink three or four litres of water. If I do eat it will be salad with sprouts and seeds. This sounds really healthy, but my naughty habit is the Nutella and if I’m in the studio all day I could easily end up eating half a jar!

I do eat meat but when it’s just me for dinner I cook a batch of vegan stew or soup

7pm On the weekends, when the kids are home from boarding school, we might have pizza and I’ll make pineapple and melon juice. We tend to eat a lot of duck and eggs at home. (My ex-husband is a duck farmer.)

When it’s just me for dinner I cook a batch of vegan stew or soup – my current fave is spicy root vegetable – and I’ll have that all week. I do eat meat but one of my kids went vegan last year and I loved the recipes. When I eat out I usually go for fish or meat with vegetables.

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I try to do a lot of walking as it clears my head. Normally, I’ll park my car a few kilometres from where I need to go and walk the rest. On a good week I’ll go to the gym twice, but I won’t make it if I’m really busy.

9.30pm I’m in bed early these days. Long gone are the nights partying until 4am! During the week I don’t drink alcohol, but at the weekend I’ll relax and have a few glasses of wine.

THE VERDICT

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

Helen gets four portions of fruit and vegetables (the recommendation is five to seven). Helen normally skips lunch, which contributes to excessive snacking. Despite a good dinner, Helen seems to have a low intake of calcium, iron and omega-3 fats and she has a high intake of sugar.

Nutella is more than 55 per cent sugar. Helen eating half a jar could equal 20 to 40 teaspoons of sugar

Breakfast A protein shake can be convenient but lacks other nutrients normally found in food. Most of us get enough protein in our diets so a shake is unnecessary. It’s great when Helen has time for porridge, as it is an excellent source of slow-release energy, fibre and vitamin C. But on the other days Helen has only coffee and chocolate, which is insufficient. Nutella is more than 55 per cent sugar and more than 10 per cent saturated fat with only a little hazelnut and cocoa. Helen eating half a jar some days could equal 20 to 40 teaspoons of sugar and all of her recommended saturated fat intake.

Lunch Not eating lunch contributes to low energy, hunger and cravings. Helen drinks three to four litres of water per day , which is a lot. We also get water from our tea, coffee, juice and fruit and vegetable intake. Too much is as damaging as too little.

Dinner Vegan stews and soups centered on vegetables with legumes (chickpeas, lentils etc) and/or whole grains (eg barley) are great options.

Tip for Helen Helen should bring a wholemeal sandwich or salad to work for lunch and keep mixed nuts and fruit (even dried) in the studio.

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

Ellen Cranitch
Ian Marber