Celebrity Health - Tina Daheley

Image of Tina Daheley © Joseph Sinclair

Journalist and presenter Tina Daheley talks to Liz Parry about her views on health and nutrition

Journalist and presenter Tina Daheley is certainly no stranger to early mornings. As part of the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show team, she presents the news alongside Zoe Ball, and prior to this she presented the news and sport on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw. Tina also regularly appears as a presenter for BBC Breakfast, BBC News at Six and Ten and co-hosts The Today Podcast on BBC Sounds. Here she chats to YHL about her views on health living and nutrition.

Q: Earlier this year you presented the BBC Panorama show Takeaway Secrets Exposed, which lifted the lid on some worrying facts about the nation’s eating habits. For example, the amount of people placing takeaway orders through delivery apps has trebled in the last two years, while more and more people are cutting back on cooking at home. Did these findings worry you?

Tina: The statistics are quite shocking. The fact that over the past decade the UK takeaway delivery market has grown by over 70 per cent and is now worth over £4 billion a year tells you a lot about how our eating habits have changed. One of the most concerning things I discovered was that one particular food delivery app wants cooking at home to become a hobby. This is of course very worrying. Cooking at home tends to be healthier and you know exactly what’s going in your food and in what quantities. Also, I think it’s good for your mental health as there is a sense of satisfaction in being able to create something from nothing.

Q: Do you think more needs to be done to educate people in the UK about healthy eating and to encourage people to cook from scratch a bit more?

Tina: I didn’t really learn how to cook so, for me, cooking is an effort. But, when I do it and when I set my mind to it, I find that it helps to distract me from work/life stress. If cooking and nutrition were part of our education, and more value was placed on being able to cook, then I think that would lay the foundations for the rest of our lives.

Q: Various initiatives have been brought in to try to curb the growing problem of obesity in the UK, like the sugar tax for example and also the traffic light labelling system on foods. Do you think such measures are effective?

Tina: Single measures like the sugar tax are useful and helpful but I don’t think they are the solution to the problem. Prevention is always better than cure, so looking at preventative measures is much better. I think one of the issues is that eating healthily can be more expensive, especially if you are living in poorer parts of the country. So if it’s easier and cheaper to eat unhealthily, and that is the norm for you as you are growing up, then that is a dangerous thing in terms of health.

Q: Are you interested in nutrition and healthy eating?

Tina: I have become more interested in health and nutrition over the last decade. I was always quite slim growing up, which is a good thing, but it can also be a curse because you get used to eating anything you want and not putting on an ounce of weight. Then you hit your thirties and realise that you can’t keep eating like that. So I became a bit more health conscious when I was approaching my thirties. I try to avoid empty carbs and foods with added sugar. I’m more conscious now of eating more vegetables and I try to have more variety in my meals. I don’t believe in any form of diet or excluding entire food groups. I think so often we are looking for a secret or a shortcut to getting healthier or losing weight but such things don’t exist or aren’t sustainable in the long term. I’ve now reached a point of everything in moderation. I don’t deny myself things as I think if you do that then you are more likely to binge. I think portion sizes are really important, so I’m more conscious about that. In the past I might have overloaded my plate with rice whereas now I’ll have a smaller portion but increase the amount of vegetables and protein.

Q: What might you eat during a typical day?

Tina: A typical breakfast for me might be porridge with peanut butter, nuts and berries. Variety is the key, so I won’t have the same thing for breakfast every day. Another day I might have boiled eggs, as I think they really help to fill you up until lunch. I try to have a decent lunch with some protein and vegetables – something that is filling enough and nutritious enough to keep me going. The afternoon slump is always the danger zone for me as I can easily veer into snack territory and start craving sweet things. For dinner I might have a vegetable curry or a lentil dal.

Q: Do you take any vitamins or supplements?

Tina: I’m vitamin D-deficient. My heritage is Asian and apparently a lot of Asian people tend to be deficient in vitamin D, so I now take a supplement every day. I also take a multivitamin every day as part of my routine.

Q: Do you enjoy exercise?

Tina: I enjoy exercise but what I hate is the idea of running on a treadmill for ages – that has no appeal. I love yoga and pilates. I’ve also started doing weight training over the last five years which I really enjoy. I try to do a couple of classes each week. I think walking is a great form of exercise too. Just being outside and being in the natural world is really important to our physical and mental health. My biggest problem is sleep. Because of the hours I work, I’m trying to improve my sleep hygiene by doing things like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including at the weekend. I also try to read before bed rather than looking on my phone. I’m really trying to improve that routine because I’ve been doing breakfast shows for so many years now.

Q: Lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyles are another growing problem in the UK. What are your thoughts on this?

Tina: I think technology can be so empowering but it also encourages us to have sedentary lifestyles. How much time do we spend each day just scrolling through our phones? We used to have our content rationed but now you can sit for hours bingeing on a box set. That time could be spent moving or doing things. We think that technology has made our lives easier, but the combined effect of being inside, online, looking at screens for such a long time means that we are not heading in a good direction. Being outside in daylight, walking, being at one with nature – these are the things that we need to do more of. I think we have to make more of a conscious effort to keep fit and active for the sake of our health.

Tina hosts the news for Zoe Ball’s BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, BBC Breakfast, BBC News at Six and Ten and co-hosts The Today Podcast on BBC Sounds. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @tinadaheley

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