TenEighty caught up with Giovanna to talk about her healthy lifestyle priorities, as she launches a new product range with yogurt brand, Danone.
Giovanna Fletcher recently hosted a Danone cooking class at a family club in London with her husband, Tom Fletcher. During the class they helped to teach families to create simple recipes and they spoke to parents about what they feel is most important when it comes to the food that they feed their family.
When she first got involved working with Danone, Giovanna was impressed with how their priority had been speaking to families to find out what they want in the home, and she found that these priorities correlated with her own.
“You know how sometimes you go to the supermarket and turn around a pot, and you don’t even half the ingredients, and it’s super long? They’ve just made things super simple,” Giovanna tells TenEighty. “You know what things are [and] the list of ingredients is simple.
“I think when you’re a parent looking at what to give your kids, and also thinking about your own lifestyle, I think those things are really important.”
She goes on to add that fully recyclable packaging is very important to her: “They [Danone] found out that is something young families really want. We want to know that we can get rid of the packaging. That’s massive to me”.
As for what her ideal product labelling would be like, Giovanna says it’s “really difficult” to “actually say should be on there”, but believes “the ingredients should be really simple”.
“It surprises me sometimes how with many of the ingredients [in products], I’ve got no idea what they are,” she says.
Giovanna adds that she thinks it would be helpful if what the actual packaging is made out of was put on the packaging: “I had this whole thing with recycling last year where I was just chucking everything in because I just thought ‘that can be recycled’, and then I started realising that it actually says on the labels what can and what can’t”.
She also reveals that she has been concerned with healthy eating since before trying to get pregnant for the first time.
“I was really thinking about what I was putting into my body and the knock on effect to my health,” she explains, adding that her focus on healthy eating has become even bigger since having her children, as you have to take into account their likes and dislikes when cooking.
“It’s all about trying to make everything accessible, as I know that taste buds change as well,” she says.
As for her children’s eating habits, are they fussy eaters? “I would say they’re not fussy eaters, but they can be funny characters. We never quite know what we’re going to have to do”, Giovanna laughs. “I will have it where suddenly one of them will sit down and suddenly they don’t like a meal they’ve always liked, or you know, if we have something with sausages, and the sausages are in a sauce I’ve made, suddenly they don’t want the sauce there, so I’ll end up having to wash the sausages.”
She continues: “I think we’re really lucky. Breakfast time and dinner time we’re all together generally, and it’s just a nice time to be together, and the less stressful we can make that the better.
“I know that, for instance, with our middle child, he might not be hungry at dinner time, he might just pick at bits, and actually I think making him sit down until he’s eaten all his dinner would give him a negative relationship with food.
“Whereas Buzz, my eldest, he’ll eat and eat and eat. Even after he’s finished dinner, he’ll still be like ‘I’m still hungry’. I know when to worry and when not to worry, and I’m happy with how they’re all doing with their food.”
Despite her busy schedule, Giovanna finds it quite easy to make sure her family are eating healthily. As she does a lot of work from home, she makes sure to keep her fridge stocked with healthy foods.
She believes that as a nation we are all coming around to the idea of being concerned with what is good for you, and making sure we eat better, so the access to healthy foods in shops and restaurants is less difficult than it would have been just a few years ago.
“A couple of years ago, there definitely wouldn’t have been an avocado on the menu anywhere, and now all of a sudden, they’re everywhere!”, Giovanna exclaims.
Her involvement with Danone comes ahead of the release of her book Letters on Motherhood, which discusses topics such as mental health and the family dynamic that can surround food.
“I talk about the Oxo mum, and about how growing up I used to see those adverts,” Giovanna explains. “She used to kind of be like my idol in terms of motherhood, because you always used to have kids sat around the table, and everyone was eating.
“So there is a Letter on Motherhood about that family dynamic around the table and the togetherness that comes form eating together as a family”.
She continues by talking about taking part in the Vitality 10K in London last year, where she did a run with journalist Bryony Gordon in an experience which “completely flipped my idea on what exercise does for your brain”.
“We always link exercise so much to the physical, where actually I think we should really be celebrating what it does for the mental,” she says. “The boys see us exercising loads […] we always say about how good going outside is, and having a run round and things, so I think they are aware of how it has an impact on your brain, and how it is important to focus on your mental health”.
With Giovanna launching a new yogurt range with Danone, would she consider writing a cookbook in the future? “I don’t know,” she replies.
“I love cooking, I love food, I love family time with food – it’s a lovely time for everybody to come together.
She adds: “At the moment I’ve got three books published this year, and I know cooking books take a while, so at the moment, no, but who knows.”
Letters On Motherhood is released on Thursday 20 February and is available to pre-order now at Waterstones.
The new Danone yogurt range, for which Giovanna is an ambassador, is available in all major UK retailers.
Photos by Jeff Spicer/PA Wire.