We steal five minutes with the Elizabeth Peyton-Jones, the star of Channel 4s How To Get Old and author of Eat Yourself Young. Elizabeth talks fitness, food fads and shares her nutritional tips.
We have had a little pre-sneak at your book Cook Yourself Young – yummy! We can’t wait to get our chefs hats on. Tell us a little bit about the idea of the book.
I wrote Eat Yourself Young about 3 years ago, it explains the 5 ageing processes the 5 most ageing foods and the 5 most rejuvenating foods. It is a bright colourful book with illustrations but no photos. There were some recipes but people wanted more, so I was asked to write more of a cook book, which I did, but because I am passionate about self-health awareness, the first part of the book is about how the body works and why we get aches and pains and then what to do about it. It has case histories in it too so you can really identify yourself and come up with a plan which is more specific for you.
There are some amazing recipes in there, including Raw Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake and Cauliflower Vegetable Paella. What would you say inspires your recipes?
I like to make dishes which feel ‘familiar’ to people and give people ‘alternatives’ to the usual ingredients, so a familiar dish has a twist.
We love the fact that you include fish dishes in your book, as many cookbooks are straying towards the raw/vegan diet concepts. Have you ever played around with any of the vegan/raw/paleo diets and what are your thoughts on them?
My philosophy is about ‘optimum’ health. It is about removing foods from the diet which cause disease and premature ageing. The inflammatory response (which is ageing on the skin body and brain) and acidic response (which feeds bad bacteria and exacerbates illness and ageing) are removed from the diet and foods that keep the body ‘fresh’ and able to renew daily become stable. Sometimes therefore the recipes appear vegan or raw, but the premise is not to be caught in a trap of ‘names’ – it is the foods that will keep your body youthful and healthy.
Why is it that you don’t eat meat and has this always been the case?
I grew up in a traditional family with traditional cooking methods. I used to eat meat, but I am an animal lover, so I found it very distressing. I gave up meat because I can’t bear the injustice in the meat industry but also because you eat all the animals’ distress and all the hormones etc. that have been pumped into them. A piece of meat which may have been good for you 100 years ago has been turned into a toxic load because of the modern production methods and over-consumption.
The press is full of stories about our sugar consumption in the UK, but it can be quite tricky to kick the habit! What would be your advice for someone trying to wean themselves of eating refined sugar?
Sugar is a drug like cocaine so, to be honest, if you are addicted there is no easy way to give it up. It is horrid, tough and very, very difficult. I came off it in one go. I was a total sugar junkie and I had night sweats, nightmares, tremors etc. for a few days. It was scary. If you don’t want to go cold turkey, start by taking out preservatives in your diet, then cut the cake (if you eat a lot of it), or afternoon snack and then go from there. Substitute honey for sugar in your coffee or tea and eat fruit instead of a chocolate bar.
We see that you have studied at numerous colleges and institutes, which one was most influential or important to you?
The CNM gave me the grounding that I now have and was pivotal in me wanting to learn more.
What inspired you to get into the field of nutrition?
I am a Master Herbalist and naturopath but, whilst I was treating people, I realised that no matter how I medicated them with herbs, if I did not change their diet nothing changed dramatically or quickly. I realised food was making us sick and in order to make people better I needed to know about food. I would not describe myself as a nutritionist.
Tell us a little bit about your other books Eat Yourself Young and First Aid Kitchen Remedies?
Eat Yourself Young, I sort of mentioned it in the first question, First Aid Kitchen Remedy I am passionate about as it gives the reader an insight into everyday things in your kitchen which will help you get better. So for example, if you have a bad cut and it’s bleeding and won’t stop, go and get a tea bag (black tea) and put it in some hot water then when it has cooled a bit, put it on your wound. The tannins in the tea coagulate the blood. Everyone has teabags and it’s such a great tip for mothers with accident-prone children.
We are dying to try your Go Nuts snack bars and balls – healthy chocolate truffles, we are sold! Can you give us an insight into why they are better than reaching for a bar of milk chocolate?
GO NUTS! are not heated, treated or mass produced. They are rolled individually and because they are mixed at low temperature the omega oils remain intact. So not only are they a great taste, you won’t put on weight with them. They are also satisfying because they are a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat so you feel satisfied.
In Cook Yourself Young you have a list of Stellar Youthing foods. Which is your favourite and which do you think is the most important to incorporate?
They are all important. Variety is the key to a successful diet. Don’t get caught up in one or two things, your body craves variety so give it to it. Each body type will have something which is better for them, which is why I have put a case history in there so you can identify yourself. This is not about ME, this is about the person reading the book. Find yourself within the book and you have the key to good health.
What would you say are your guilty pleasures, do you ever let yourself go all out?
I have no emotional attachment to food. So I don’t see myself ‘going all out’ and eating a tub of ice cream as something exciting to do. If I was super happy, I would want to put loud music on and dance with my husband, or be mischievous in some way or play with my dogs or have a luxurious bubble bath.
With all these new boutique studios and new forms of exercise popping up, London is a fitness addict’s haven! How do you like to stay active in London and do you have any favourite classes/studios?
I have a rebound machine at home and I do exercises with a few weights. I also jog in the park. I am not a member of anything, although I would like to try a Pilates class.
In a few sentences, can you tell our readers what an average day is like in a pair of your shoes?
It is great fun, very diverse and full of energy. The only regular thing I do is get up, walk the dogs, exercise and have breakfast at 9am. My PA and anyone else rule my day until about 10pm when I will crawl into bed and read a book before I sleep.
Every day we hear about new healthy eateries and juice bars popping up around us. What are some of your favourite healthy spots to grab a bite to eat in London?
Riccardo’s in the Fulham Road is great, they have a healthy vegan/veg menu. Otherwise anywhere that will let me ‘change’ their menu to suit me!!
Do you have any other exciting ventures coming up?
I am giving a talk at the CNM on the 9th September, I am also working with models for London Fashion week. I am working with the Coniston Hall Hotel, Yorkshire as they are creating a spa and I am training the chefs and creating menus. I am also Trustee of the Jamie Oliver Foundation and am talking to the Hollywood Health & Society which helps script writers with health ideas in film.
What advice would you give our readers who want to start their own healthy business?
Know in your heart what message you are trying to give and be consistent.
What’s Your motto?
For those who say it cannot be done should not stop the person doing it.