Celebrity Health - Sunetra Sarker

A photo of Sunetra Sarker

"Strictly healthy!"

Casualty star Sunetra Sarker talks to Liz Parry about her love of organic food and juicing and reveals what it was like to appear on Strictly Come Dancing

Q: Is a healthy lifestyle important to you?

Sunetra: "It wasn't always important to me but I'd say over the last three or four years I've become a lot more health conscious. As a mum and a working actress I've found it increasingly important to find quick fixes to keep me healthy. As a result I've discovered that juicing really works for me. I came across a juicing website by a guy called Drew Canole and I found it really interesting, so I started trying his recipes. The first one I tried was carrot, apple, celery and ginger and I loved it. I started trying loads more of his recipes and then I eventually started making my own. At the time I was directing Casualty and I really needed some extra energy. I found that green juices really helped. My favourite one is a combination of spinach, grapes, apple and coconut water."

Q: What is the rest of your diet like?

Sunetra: "I'm very much into my fish. I'm more of a seafood girl than a meat-eater. I love experimenting with salads and adding things like pomegranate or walnuts to them to make them a bit more interesting. I also love cooking with garlic and spices. As an Indian girl I was brought up on Indian food but I never really liked it much until I was about 21. Because it was served every day at home I got really bored of it. I couldn't wait till I could move out of home and cook things like roast dinners and Italian food! I do enjoy cooking my own Indian food now though and I make a good dal with parathas – that's my comfort food. I use my slow cooker a lot because of my work. When I leave the house in the morning I put a load of ingredients in it, then when I come home at night the house smells gorgeous and you've got a ready-made meal. My nine-year-old son Noah and my partner Scott love it."

Q: Do you like to use organic produce?

Sunetra: "Yes. I always used to buy lots of organic food but I'd often find that by the end of the week a lot of it had gone off and I felt terrible about throwing it away. I've started using a gadget called a BerryBreeze which oxygenates and cleans all the food in my fridge and keeps everything nice and fresh for much longer. It preserves all the nutritional value of the fruit and veg which encourages me to cook healthy meals. I think it's great!"

Q: Is food wastage an important concern to you?

Sunetra: "Yes very much so. I think it's something we all need to be more mindful of. I really think that people need to become aware of how big a problem it is. I'm a big supporter of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign and I love the tips you can find on their website. It's full of good ideas for how you can make your food last longer by freezing it or blending it. For example you can chop up bananas and put them in the freezer to use as ice cubes in a milkshake."

Q: Do you take any supplements?

Sunetra: "I take Power Greens, which I put in my juices, and I also have green tea extract capsules. I use a vitamin D spray which I think is really good. I know they're not supplements, but I also take manuka honey and I love adding chia seeds and linseeds to my food."

Q: You recently appeared as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. How much training did you have to do?

Sunetra: "The training was really vigorous; really hard work. I couldn't believe it but I lost a whole stone by the end of it! I was training for three hours on Wednesday nights and about six or seven hours on Thursdays as those were the only times I could do, so it was quite intense. It felt a bit like the 5:2 diet in a way. It was hard work but I really enjoyed it."

Q: Did you feel your fitness improve?

Sunetra: "I think it's inevitable that your fitness will improve when you're doing such intensive training, but it's all been such a whirlwind that I haven't had time to stop and really think about it. I got a few injuries and I had a bout of the flu but I was really surprised by the stamina I had."

Q: What prompted you to take part?

Sunetra: "I'd been asked to do it a few times but I always said no. My boss at Casualty loves the show and kept persuading me to reconsider. Then I had a chat with Noah and told him that I'd been offered a place on the show but turned it down. I was surprised because he was quite upset and persuaded me that it would be fun to try something new. He said I shouldn't worry what other people think and to just do my best. He's a wise little boy! So I went very quickly from a no to a yes and now I have no regrets that I did it."

Q: Do you think you'll carry on with the dancing?

Sunetra: "I just don't know. I'd like to carry on as I'm not into the gym or aerobics – it's not as fulfilling as learning a dance routine. I was so lucky to be taught by a professional. I love the ballroom dancing and would love to do it again."

Q: Do you enjoy other types of exercise?

Sunetra: "No, not really. I haven't done much exercise since I was pregnant. I do enjoy yoga and meditation though. I like to do a few yoga stretches on my mat at home and I meditate with the Headspace app, which I think is brilliant. I'd love to get into tennis too. Now I'm friends with Judy Murray I will have to get her to teach me!"

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