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Celebrity Health - Tom Daley

Olympic diver Tom Daley talks to Liz Parry about mindfulness, healthy cooking and his mum’s famous sausage casserole

Olympian Tom Daley is one of the biggest names in British diving. The 22-year-old first made a name for himself when he won gold at the European Championship in 2008, aged just 13, becoming Britain’s second youngest male Olympian of all time. Plymouth-born Tom now holds two Olympic medals, having won bronze in the 10m platform at London 2012 before going on to scoop another bronze medal in the 10m synchro alongside Dan Goodfellow at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Tom has recently published a healthy eating cookbook and fitness guide, called Tom’s Daily Plan, in which he shares his secrets for healthy living.

©Photography courtesy of Tom's Daily Plan

Q: Your new book takes a holistic approach to health, covering not just nutrition and exercise but also mindfulness and gratitude. Is this the kind of philosophy you follow yourself when it comes to living a healthy life?

Tom: Yes, definitely. When I was younger I had no idea about nutrition and how it affected my mental wellbeing as well as my physical wellbeing. It’s something you don’t really think about when you’re young. Then, as an athlete, and as I got older, I started to realise that you can’t just eat whatever you want because you put on weight or it doesn’t fuel your body in the right way. So, over the years, I began to learn a lot about nutrition and what works for me and my body. I also learnt that mindfulness can really make a massive difference to your everyday life. It’s not just about what to eat but also when to eat it and being mindful of what you’re putting into your body.

Q: You have included some recipes in the book by your mum and your nan. Did they teach you about cooking and healthy eating when you were growing up?

Tom: Yes. When I was younger I was always fascinated by food, probably because I was always hungry after training, and I always wanted to get involved in the cooking. Whenever we went to my nan’s house we’d always make a cake or I would help around the kitchen in some way. This sparked off my interest in learning how to make food and it’s now something that I really enjoy.

Q: What are your favourite recipes?

Tom: One of my favourite things to eat is my mum’s sausage casserole. Every time I go down to Plymouth to see my mum, it’s something that I have to have. No matter how hard I try I can never make it as well as my mum can!

Q: Do you find the time to cook when you are busy training for an event?

Tom: Yes. I cook every night. It’s something that I find really therapeutic. I love following recipes and trying new things. Experimenting in the kitchen is something that I always make time for and I always make time to cook breakfast every morning.

Q: What are your favourite healthy foods?

Tom: I love green tea, goji berries and avocado. I’ve also recently discovered the importance of drinking hot water and lemon in the morning to help cleanse the body. It’s all about being mindful about what you’re eating and knowing exactly what nutrients your body is getting.

Q: What do you eat on a typical day?

Tom: In the morning I always have some kind of protein and carbohydrate combo, so something like scrambled eggs or porridge. At lunchtime I might get a chicken salad. For dinner it depends on my training schedule so it could be anything from a stir fry to a salad or a pasta bake. My fiancé Lance loves to cook as much as I do and we often barbecue our food. We might marinate some fish or chicken throughout the day and then cook it on the barbecue in the evening. I love to make a big brunch at the weekends so I might make something a bit more extravagant like huevos rancheros or baked eggs.

Q: Would you say that you are a healthy person?

Tom: Yes, I rarely get ill. I can’t remember the last time I got so ill that it stopped me from doing anything. I eat a very balanced diet so I ensure that I get all the nutrients my body needs. I feel good when I eat healthily. I do have the odd dessert as I have a sweet tooth but it’s something I only ever do in moderation and you make sure that you do the right amount of exercise to deal with it.

Q: How many hours a day do you spend in training when you are preparing for a particular event, like the Olympics?

Tom: I spend between five and six hours a day in training. About 65 per cent of that is done on dry land so it might be weights, strength and conditioning, gymnastics, ballet, yoga, cardio – you name it we do it. When you’re diving you are hitting the water at 35mph so you have to have a really strong core. I do some form of exercise every day, but Sunday is my rest day. I’ll always do some form of stretching on those days. I’m not someone who will just sit still and do nothing.

Q: What do you do to relax and switch off?

Tom: I like being able to get up at my leisure on Sundays, make breakfast and just stroll around. I love going to food markets. We live quite near to Borough market so we often go there at the weekend. A mixture of shops and food is my ideal Sunday. I do have lots of other things in my life besides diving. I’m taking Spanish lessons as I’m carrying it on for my A-levels, and I have a YouTube channel so I often film videos about food, health and fitness. I find it quite therapeutic to edit videos.

Q: Do you meditate?

Tom: Yes, I do 10 minutes of meditation every single morning to make sure that I’m in the best mental space I can be for the day ahead. Just before I do a dive and throughout competitions I focus on my breathing and I always tell myself to be in the moment. Mindfulness helps me to be the best I can. Both meditation and mindfulness can really help to calm the mind.

Q: What are your best tips for living healthily?

Tom: With food, eat what you enjoy as long as it’s in moderation and make sure you are hitting all the main food groups in order to get all the nutrients you need. Eat some fish, chicken and red meat a couple of times a week to get enough healthy protein. Also make sure you have as much colour on your plate as possible. A colourful dish often means a healthy plate of food. When it comes to exercise, if you can manage to do 30 minutes of exercise every day or an hour of exercise every other day then you are going to be on your way to living a healthy lifestyle. Lastly, remember to live in the moment and be mindful. Don’t waste your energy on things that you’ve already done or can’t change.

Tom’s Daily Plan is published by HQ and priced at £16.99.

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