Bronagh Gallagher: Mexican food lights my fire, yoga keeps me sane and supple

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps thems going. This week: Derry actor and singer, Bronagh Gallagher

Singer and actress Bronagh Gallagher

1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I love Barry’s tea first thing and I can’t really waken up until I have a cup. I try not to be on the phone right away, so I have tried to get up earlier as I get older, in order to have some quiet time before the day kicks off. I love yoga and I usually do that in morning, or PiYO – a mixture of yoga and Pilates. I can’t eat right away, but I enjoy making breakfast and I’ll feed everyone else.

2 What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? Breakfast will be Mexican-style eggs, avocados and a mix of different fruits.

Lunch? Lunch usually alternates between salads, sushi and soups.

Evening meal? I love to have Thai or Mexican food in the evening, but I will also have fish or chicken, maybe with salad.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

I try watch the carb intake, so I eat as much fish and salads as I like and I no longer eat wheat or sugar.

4 Best meal ever?

Oh, I love food and trying all sorts of new taste sensations... I had one-dollar tacos in Mexico in April in a place called El Pastorita in Todas Santos, a totally traditional cantina, and they completely blew my friend and I away. It was so fresh and just the real deal.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Crisps, nachos, Dorritos... You can't beat a movie and nachos – the proper Mexican ones.

6 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

I’m very disciplined with my diet as I’m wheat intolerant, so I cut out all food containing it. If I feel I need to tone up, I hit the yoga and eat very healthily. It's a case of watching the portion size.

7 Do you take health supplements?

Yes, vitamin B6.

8 How do you relax?

I love just to walk by the seafront where I live in Clontarf, north Dublin, and breathing in the fresh sea air. I am a real music fan and listen to all sorts especially soul music – but no, not The Commitments. I love Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight when I'm walking. A favourite way to relax is meditation and having a long soak in a bath. I just love baths; they are a special way to finish the day for me and also really help with my sciatica.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

I love a nice red.

10 Stairs or lift?


11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Yes, yoga and walking. I have been doing yoga solidly for about 15 years and I am really committed to it. I travel a lot in my work and that means I don't always have ready access to a class, but I'll bring my yoga mat and do some moves wherever I happen to be – in my hotel room or wherever. If I am staying any length of time somewhere, I'll definitely look up a yoga class and go to it.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Watch your diet and walk as much as you can. Even 20 minutes of exercise is good and will bring benefits in the long run.

13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I think I am fairly fit and I have been doing yoga for a long time now, so I'm strong and flexible. I will say I'm a seven or maybe an eight and I'm happy with that. I love it because it's good for your head as well as your body.

14 Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

Yes, I love acupuncture and the Bowen technique and I do homeopathy too. They all help with my sciatica which started after I slipped and fell while attending an awards ceremony at a school in Derry when I was in my early 20s.

15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I was a good long-distance runner, but not so great at netball or dodge ball, as far as I remember.

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

Yes, the bad fall on the stage steps at the awards ceremony in Derry when I damaged nerves in my pelvis and hip area. I became very immobile and suffered serious sciatica as a result. I used to love early Saturday morning runs but I don't run now, as it's too harsh on my body due to the injuries, so I just kept doing my yoga and I'm able to manage the effects.

17 Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Listen to your body and avoid stress.

18 Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

I admire many people, but especially my mother, who makes the most amazing quilts, the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who I think is an extraordinary painter, and also Bernadette McAliskey. My father has been a runner all his life and I admire his very healthy lifestyle and how he has looked after his health. I used to go out running with him and always felt great afterwards.

19 What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

I usually get to bed about 11.30pm but if I'm filming, I always aim get there before 10pm. I do try to get as much sleep as possible.

20 Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

Well, I believe we should just live in the present and get on with living. I try not to think about it too much; but yes, I think it is healthy to make the most of every minute and celebrate the life we have. It is precious.

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