‘I love messy meals to share’
My Daily Diet: Fiona Gratzer (51), Unislim MD
Unislim MD Fiona Gratzer. Photograph: Brian McEvoy
6.45am The first thing I do is drink the glass of water that I have placed beside my bed the night before. On a good day I make juice – apple, carrot, ginger and oranges – with my Champion juicer; an eyesore but it’s magic.
Four mornings a week I go for a jog, or to the gym, for 30 minutes – nothing too taxing. Exercise makes me feel good, and I make time for it, but am aware diet plays a bigger role. I always have porridge. I’ll change around the brands to avoid boredom as they all have a different taste. I sprinkle different berries as well as nut and seed combinations and also change the milk. My 19-year-old daughter, Mila, is vegan so I will use her oat, almond or soy or ordinary low-fat milk.
9am I love coffee but will wait until I’m on the way into work. My husband Uwe died in 2015 and it was something we loved to do – chat and relax over coffee. So I prefer to get out of the house. I go to this speciality place 3fe – they see me walk in and they know double shot, extra hot. I’ll sit down and have a read through the papers.
1pm I always eat out to take a breather away from the desk. Usually I have soup and a sandwich. Something like sweet potato soup and a tuna, or chicken salad, sandwich. Sometimes salad – quinoa, kale, pickled beetroot and falafel is a favourite. I’ll try and eat as widely as possible and always am thinking where is the protein and the veg? Although all my meals won’t look like this I aim for my plate to be 25 per cent protein, 25 per cent carbs and 50 per cent salads, fruit and veg.
3.30pm I have lots of herbal teas in the office and if I snack, it will be fruit. We keep 70 per cent chocolate in the fridge that always disappears quickly – it hits the spot. Though once we had a bar of 90 per cent cocoa that sat there for months.
7pm My son Luca, who is 21 and a footballer, has a hearty appetite so I need to keep everyone happy. I love messy meals to share. Last night we had fajitas with lots of coriander, chilli and homemade salsa. I marinated tofu for Mila while Luca and I had chicken. I have cut down on meat, but would still eat it a couple of times a week, and try to stick to grass-fed beef. There is a lot of guilt around food. Not only if it is good for you to eat but is it good for the environment? Mila has made me very aware of this. It can be confusing; there needs to be a conversation about how sustainably-reared meat and sustainable farming in Ireland could be more widely available.
9pm I aim for two snacks a day and save one for the evening – some natural yoghurt (sometimes flavoured) and berries while watching TV. I enjoy a glass of wine but am conscious of drinking alcohol on my own – when someone else is having a glass you are less aware of how much of a tension reliever it is. I’m wary to open a bottle; it is too easy to tip away. So if I indulge I’m more likely to sip a glass while I prepare dinner. Later, I’ll have sparkling water and lime. My treat of choice is Maltesers and if I ask the kids to pick me up a pack I’ll remind them please don’t get me the share bag as I’ll wolf the lot. My mother (Agnes McCourt who set up Unislim) always said it was simple – if it’s not in the house you can’t eat it.
10.30 I’m happy to get into bed early and read for a while. Often a cookbook. I know I am surrounded by recipes all day but I just love reading them. When Uwe was alive he used to ask when was I going to stop reading and actually cook these dishes? I’ll think about what I will cook tomorrow; I don’t shop hugely in advance. I like to get the ingredients that day. I’m conscious that I need to eat healthily and look after myself so I in turn can look after my family. Food is about nutrients but it also gives so much pleasure sharing it with those you love which helps just as much in keeping you strong.
Conor Kerly, dietitian.
Fiona has a balanced diet and is smart to mix it up. If you eat a wide variety of foods you will always get pleasure from eating something different. We can munch away on autopilot when we have the same thing day-in day-out. Nothing wrong with an occasional treat – aim to keep within boundaries. Fiona will always enjoy the small bag of Maltesers more than the share one.
Fiona likes to shop daily and this is the best way to avoid wasting food. According to foodwaste.ie a quarter of fruit and veg is thrown out and 10 per cent of all meat and fish.
Burn baby burn
Fiona is right to have a two-pronged approach. Exercise has many benefits, but unless you are a professional athlete, it does not have as big an impact on weight control that you may have believed. Most of the energy you burn is on normal daily activities and keeping your body functioning; powering the brain consumes about 20 per cent of a person’s metabolic energy.