A former butler to the queen shares his tips on eating like a king

Chef and personal trainer Richard Kerrigan has lived a life on both sides of the food pyramid.

As a butler to Buckingham Palace, he'd serve up the richest and most calorific of foods to the British Royal Family and their guests at state banquets. Whilst working for a billionaire family in St Tropez, he had to regularly fetch lobster and oysters from the market.

As a chef at top restaurants such as the Dower House at the Royal Crescent in Bath, he tasted rich sauces and fatty meats before deciding which meals they'd go into.

The good life?

It all sounds very glam.

Except, he realised, he was heading into nutritional oblivion.

"The focus was on the best dish, never the healthiest dish" Kerrigan says.

"I always loved food, but this lifestyle was brutal. I'd work long hours, get in late at night and the last thing I wanted to do was cook for myself."

Scared healthy

When he noticed strange bumps on his fingers, he went to the doctor and discovered they were stress-related.

"To be told that, when I was 22, supposedly in my prime, made me stop in my tracks. I realised I was reminding myself of someone and it scared me."

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It was his late dad, whose unhealthy habits and lack of work/life balance led him to an early grave.

"Dad was a BBC Director for 30 years – he directed shows like EastEnders and Coronation Street – but it was so full on. He never stopped to look after himself or develop a hobby to distract him from work" Kerrigan says.

The better life

Now happily living in Manly, Kerrigan has launched his 'Beach Life 12-Week Fuel and Seaworthiness Plan.'

"Moving to Australia over six years ago made me realise how his death could've been prevented. He lived off black coffee, toast and picking at unhealthy foods like cheese on toast late at night. We need that release so work doesn't consume us - that means healthy habits, hobbies and balance. And proper diet. Many clients I see don't realise just how much alcohol they're consuming till I ask them to report it back to me. That was dad's worst habit – and eventually, it killed him."

Heading into a new season of fresh food, here are Kerrigan's top tips for better eating habits in spring.

Breakfast

"I'm a big fan of the Nutribullet to make breakfast smoothies because you can get those great spring superfoods all into one meal" Kerrigan says.

"My top tip is to peel and freeze bananas to keep them fresher for longer and to stop wasting them when they go brown. When you blitz them, it gives a nice frothy texture to your smoothie."

Freezing nutritious foods is a good habit to get into, Kerrigan says, because it locks in their nutritional content, which can otherwise deplete daily: "Blueberries are still an excellent superfood to include and I prefer mine snap frozen to fresh - they're more nutritious."

His ideal smoothie combines the frozen blueberries and banana with spinach, oats and some almond milk. He adds in pasteurised egg white to get 20g of protein in too.

Spring clean

Kerrigan recommends doing a kitchen clear out as we come into spring.

"All those winter comfort foods will be in your pantry or fridge" he warns.

"Clean the cupboards out of all that comfort food and start afresh. Fill your fridge with green leafy vegetables and colourful fruits."

"I hate the word diet. If there's a food coming into season - say a peach - then find ways to roast that and have it in salads, to inject more fun and life into your food rather than just dieting. It's more sustainable."

Dinner

One of the common pitfalls Kerrigan observes is that people see pictures of someone having done 15 meal preps on Instagram.

"It can feel overwhelming to prepare that many meals - plus they start to deteriorate over time" he says.

"It shouldn't rule your life or take too much time, so I recommend meal prepping Sunday to Wednesday."

Some spring dinners he suggests in his plan include oven-baked eggplant stuffed with extra lean beef mince and halloumi (includes parsley, lemon, tomato puree) and vegetable curry (green beans, ginger, pumpkin, bok choy, spinach, coriander, curry paste, sesame oil, coconut milk).

Spring food and superfoods

In addition to blueberries, spinach ("perfect in omelettes") and kale ("put it in boiling water for 30 seconds so it's less tough to eat in a salad"), Kerrigan says pomegranates are coming into season in early November.

"This is a great late Spring snack in a tub with nuts or in salads with chicken and halloumi."

Before he goes, I can't resist it - who in the royal household were the most into healthy eating?

"I mainly did the state banquets, but when I was there, it was William and Kate who were the most health conscious and active" he laughs.