Lifestyle Health

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Emma Hannigan: "I’ve never had tea. I can’t bear the smell of it."

Emma Hannigan
Emma Hannigan "I would become a gym bunny and have toned thighs."
Fresh juice

Emma Hannigan

Author, chef and cancer survivor, Emma Hannigan, talks about her health, lifestyle, diet and fitness

Do you consider yourself to have a healthy lifestyle?

I try to live as healthily as possible. I trained as a chef and I understand the importance of fresh home cooked food. I make fresh juice every morning and that makes me feel quite virtuous, even if it’s not! I try to take at least half an hour of exercise every day too.

Do you exercise regularly? If so, what do you do?

I detest exercise! But I know it’s good for me. I try to walk and once I’m finished my latest radiation treatment, I hope to go back to swimming. I’m what could be classed as a reluctant exerciser but I also love eating so I’ll walk if it means fitting into my clothes!

Do you do it willingly or begrudgingly?

Absolutely begrudgingly! My hubby is a triathlete and owns Base2Race sports emporium. He eats, sleeps and breathes exercise… Opposites attract, I guess. He gets such a buzz out of exercise and it helps that he’s really good at all three sports. My favourite type of exercise is probably dancing, which I should do a lot more of.

What time do you go to bed?

During the week I’m always in bed by 10 at the latest. That sounds so rock ‘n’ roll, doesn’t it?! I usually read until at least 11pm. It’s my way of unwinding while keeping up with the latest novels.

What time do you get up in the morning?

During the week, 7am, which is always a struggle — I’m not a person who jumps out of bed. I always want to stay there for another few minutes. At the weekends, if I don’t have to bring one of my children to an activity, I’d get up at around 10am.

What do you have for breakfast?

Fresh juice (cucumber, beetroot, carrot and orange is a current fave) with porridge trickled with honey and toasted almonds. I love my coffee but can’t drink it until I’ve eaten first.


Usually soup or a sandwich made with gluten and dairy free bread. I’m not coelic but I try to avoid wheat as it really doesn’t agree with me. I’ve stuck to a predominately dairy free diet for over two years now.


It varies, but it’s always a family friendly meal such as roast chicken, potatoes and veg. My favourite meals are simple ones such as fish, boiled spuds and a home grown green salad.

Any snacks?

I’m not a massive snacker actually. I try to avoid dairy, and chocolate was my biggest weakness. Every now and again I break out and have some. I could happily live on chocolate, eating it for every meal. No matter how much I eat, it never makes me feel sick. I’m not a crisp fiend so I’d usually have dried fruit or a rice cake. I’ve never eaten biscuits or cakes that much either.

Do you take any supplements?

None at all. Due to the amount of times I’ve had cancer (9) it’s safer if I don’t ingest anything my oncologist doesn’t know about. So I don’t take anything. I hope I’m getting the nutrients I need in my diet.

How much water do you drink?

I love sparkling water and I drink it all day. But I probably don’t drink enough. I have two cups of strong black coffee a day and I’ve never had tea. I can’t bear the smell of it!

Do you have a skincare routine?

Absolutely! I’m a trained beauty therapist so I try to take good care of my skin. I cleanse, tone and moisturize in the morning and evening. I wear factor 50 on my face every day and I adore make up. Since turning 40 I’ve noticed the skin around my eyes needing more attention so I use eye cream now too. I’ve always looked after my skin since I was a teenager. I hope it’ll stand to me.

Any allergies?

Shellfish since last year and morphine. I don’t miss the morphine but I do miss scallops. I sometimes dream about prawns pil pil too… I know it’ll be difficult not having shellfish when I go away this summer.

Any vices?

Chocolate used to be my weakness but now that’s mostly ruled out. I’d have to say I love the odd Chinese takeaway, although my husband will confirm that I always moan and groan afterwards, saying I |feel sick!

If I could change one thing about my lifestyle it would be…

I would become a gym bunny and have toned thighs. Sadly, I’ve no inclination to do that and I’m as lazy as a drunk slug.

I envy people who get a buzz out of exercise. To me it’s a chore that I only do so I can fit into my jeans. Maybe I should have weights fitted to my arms and legs and I could wear them while I’m shopping. If shopping were a sport, I’d have an Olympic gold medal!

Emma Hannigan’s new novel ‘The Summer Guest’ published by Hachette Books is out now.


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