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Celebrity Health - Saira Khan

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TV presenter Saira Khan talks to Liz Parry about how she is reaping the benefits of Dr Michael Mosley’s diet and fitness programme

TV presenter Saira Khan is perhaps most well known for her regular appearances on the panel of the ITV talk show Loose Women. She first appeared on our screens back in 2005 when she finished as a runner-up on The Apprentice, and she went on to co-present The Martin Lewis Money Show. She has also fronted several documentaries for the BBC including Saira Khan’s Pakistan Adventure in 2007 and Adopting Abroad, Saira’s Story in 2011. Here she talks to YHL about how she has overhauled her diet and feels in the best shape of her life at the age of 51.

Q What prompted you to improve your diet?

Saira: Before I gave birth to my children I’d never really thought about my figure because I didn’t have much to worry about. I’d always been very fit but when I started to have children, my body completely changed. At first I was a little bit in denial, thinking that I would snap back into shape, but it didn’t happen. I think when you’ve never really had to think about your figure before and then all of a sudden your clothes start to feel tight, you’re bloated and you realise that you can’t eat the kind of foods you used to, then it can get quite emotional.

I started going through the perimenopause at the age of 47 and I think that was when I started to take my health seriously. I just thought if my body’s changing, then I’ve got to change too.

Q What changes did you make?

Saira: I was listening to Dr Michael Mosley on TV one day and he was talking about the fact that many people are addicted to certain food types that aren’t good for them. That really struck a chord with me because I come from a family where we all have a very sweet tooth and sugar is a big thing. That’s when I realised that I have to put my hands up and recognise that I have a really big sugar addiction. And no matter how much exercise I do, I have to change my eating habits. That’s when I decided to follow Dr Michael Mosley’s 12-week Fast 800 programme.

The great thing is that I’ve started cooking with fresh ingredients again, making everything from scratch, and my kids are loving it. I made a really lovely chilli and tomato soup the other day which the kids loved, so it’s kind of an education for all of us. My tastebuds have now got used to vegetables, which are the kind of foods that help to counteract a sugar addiction. I used to be a really big snacker, and when you snack in between meals that’s extra calories that you don’t really need. So I’ve learned to eat three good meals a day and to drink plenty of water as it helps to fill me up, flushes away any toxins and keeps my digestive system working well. It’s also very important to keep active, which doesn’t necessarily mean thrashing around in the gym – it means getting up and doing a walk, doing a stretch, doing some breathing exercises and being mindful.

Q What have been the positive health benefits that you’ve noticed?

Saira: I’ve dropped a dress size. I had a jumpsuit that I couldn’t even get above my waist and recently I’ve been able to zip it all the way up, which is a great feeling. I can honestly say that I feel more confident, I feel better within myself, I’ve got my self esteem back and I feel great in my clothes. People are saying “Oh my goodness, you’ve got your glow back! You look fantastic!” I love feeling strong and healthy – that’s the most important thing. It’s the feeling that you get rather than what you look like. I love knowing that I’m feeding myself great nutrients and that the rest of it is just the by-product: things like stronger nails, healthier hair, brighter skin, sparkling eyes. It’s all part of it.

Q Do you have any tips for keeping motivated?

Saira: I would say involve your family, because my kids helped me to stick to the plan. Whenever I’d reach for a biscuit or some chocolate my children would say to me, “Mummy, you did tell us to remind you not to snack,” and that really helped. On my fridge door I have my goals written down, like “Don’t snack”, “Drink lots of water” and so on. I also have an image of the model Elsa Pataky on my fridge. She’s my height and has three children so I thought that’s a good figure for me to try to emulate. Having all these reminders of my goals definitely helped.

Q What is your typical daily routine like?

Saira: I start my day with 45 minutes of yoga, which is a lovely way to wake up, get in touch with your feelings and to be grateful and positive. I’m going through the menopause at the moment and I find that the breathing exercises really help with things like hot flushes and stress. Then I’ll have a big glass of water and I’ll walk my dog for about 5 to 6km. Breakfast tends to be around 10.30am and today I’m having almond pancakes. Then for lunch I’ll be having cottage pie with asparagus. If I don’t feel like cooking then I’ll have a salad with some kind of fish. For my evening meal I’ll have something like an aubergine and courgette bake. If I’m feeling a bit hungry between meals or if I’ve done quite a lot of strength work in the gym, I’ll have some carrots with houmous. At the moment I’m training for a strength training competition, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. So I have some liquid carb supplements that I take when I’ve been training hard to make sure that my body’s performing and functioning well.

Q Do you have any other tips for women who are going through the menopause?

Saira: The number one thing I would recommend is doing some stretching and breathing exercises. Menopausal hot flushes are triggered by anxiety and stress, so by connecting with your breath this instantly calms the heart down and it calms your breathing down. It puts you into a state of relaxation, which soothes the symptoms. There are lots of exercises on YouTube and there are loads of meditation apps that you can try.

Another important thing is to do some form of weight-bearing exercise as when you approach the menopause you become more at risk of osteoporosis and your muscles weaken too. Since I began lifting weights I’ve felt so much stronger. I want to be strong – I don’t want to be skinny. For a long time I thought I wouldn’t be able to build muscle at my age but that’s a load of rubbish. What I’ve learnt is that it is possible to make lasting changes to your health and wellbeing but you have to really want it. If you set your mind to it then you can achieve your goals.

For more information on the Fast 800 programme, visit

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