Eat Well to Age Well – an interview with author Beverley Jarvis

We are delighted to publish another article in our online magazine for women by Annabel James, founder of AgeSpace – the online resource for carers of elderly relatives. In this one Annabel speaks with Beverley Jarvis about wellbeing for womenessential and helpful reading for carers and/or the ones they are caring for.

The last of the cheese and port has been consumed and for many diet & fitness are at the top of the January to-do list.  

Beverley Jarvis

To help us start the year as we mean to go on, we’ve been lucky enough to chat with experienced cookery teacher and writer Beverley Jarvis, about her new book ‘Eat Well to Age Well’.  

Who doesn’t love a cookbook? Especially if it’s full of quick nutritious meals (nothing takes more than 35 mins from start to finish) designed to help us feel fitter and healthier as we grow older. Included in this interview is even one of the recipes for delicious sweet jacket potatoes with smoked mackerel, horseradish and parsley. 

Plus, we’re very excited to be able to give away 5 copies of ‘Eat Well to Age Well’ to lucky readers. 

Click here to enter our simple competition.  

What motivated you to write ‘Eat Well to Age Well’?

“About 3 years ago, I noticed a gap in the market for an informative self-help come recipe book, designed for those of us who really would appreciate increasing their “healthy life span”, i.e. the years in which we are able to enjoy ageing without experiencing health problems. We really are what we eat and this is never more important than with older people.”

What are your 3 most important nutrition tips for ageing well?

  1. “Make a conscious effort to increase your intake of whole-grains in the form of wholemeal bread, pasta and brown rice. Eat more vegetables and fruit on a regular basis, so increasing your intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre.”
  2. “Replace hard fats like butter, margarine and lard with olive oil or rapeseed oil to help your heart.”
  3. “Cut down on salt: 75% of the salt we consume comes from processed foods so stop using salt at the table, and in cooking, replacing it with fresh herbs and/or a little lemon juice.”

What common diet ‘myths’ annoy you?

“Carbohydrates make you fat. Carbs come in two forms: fast releasing as in sugar, honey and most refined foods (pastries, white bread, sauces) and slow releasing as in whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Fast releasing carbs tend to give a sudden burst of energy, followed by a slump, whereas slow-releasing carbs provide more sustained energy and are therefore preferable.

Carbohydrate foods such as bread and potatoes, rice and pasta are excellent energy-providing foods. Just switch to wholegrain varieties for optimum health and keep carb intake fairly low and protein intake high, particularly if watching your weight.

Fasting for long periods can help you lose weight fast! Fasting for long periods is simply not healthy. Instead eat small healthy meals throughout the day, using the recipes from my book.

Also cut out empty calories from alcohol, cakes, biscuits and sugar as they are much harder to digest as they compact and become gluey in the digestive system. White flour was used in World War 11 as wallpaper paste – think of that in your stomach! They also cause rushes and slumps in energy, which can leave you craving for more.”

What nutrients do you suggest for people with:

Arthritis: “here is no miracle diet which will cure arthritis, however, following a healthy Mediterranean style diet with plenty of whole-grain foods, colourful fruit and vegetables alongside olive oil can help to reduce inflammation. I know as I suffer from osteoarthritis.”

High Blood Pressure: “1 in 2 people in the UK aged over 65 suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure. To help alleviate the problem cut down on salt and eat plenty of healthy fruit and vegetables. Also, reduce alcohol intake and try to lose a few pounds!”

Dementia: “A healthy diet can reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by 53%, according to the Mayo Clinic. Eat more vegetables, particularly leafy greens like spinach, kale, cabbage and broccoli. Limit intake of red meat, saturated fats and sugar.” (As part of a healthy balanced diet….)

What advice would you give to someone who is not at home in the kitchen, perhaps someone who has lost a partner who used to do most of the cooking?

“One of the most common symptoms of grief is forgetting or not wishing to prepare meals and eat. Encourage the recently bereaved to use easy nutritious recipes for the days they feel like cooking – or putting something in the microwave.  Batch cooking is also a great idea, perhaps a healthy casserole dish or the curried lamb soup with broccoli in my book. Portion and chill or freeze remaining portions, well labelled, for use at a later date.

Make good use of eggs. Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast make a nutritious lunch or supper, and is particularly quick and easy to prepare.”

How would you encourage an older person to experiment with new foods?

“Some older people can experience a decrease in sense of smell and taste so it is a good idea to enhance foods and try something different. Add chopped fresh herbs to vegetable dishes on serving to give a healthy boost, which also makes the dish more eye appealing. Flick through mine – or any cookbook of course – and select a recipe that appeals to you visually. This will encourage you to add new foods which you may not have tried before, to your shopping list.

Sliced fennel added to a salad and golden-skinned kiwi fruit are both full of good nutrients, and delicious, by the way. “


In addition to eating well, what other tips do you have for keeping fit and healthy in later life?

“At the age of 72 last June, this is what I try to do to remain fit and healthy: 

Above all, try to keep a positive outlook on life – invite friends round for a coffee and a  chat, join an organisation such as U3A (University of the Third Age), specifically aimed at seniors. U3A offers activities and outings for over 55’s, often taking place in members’ homes. Try to walk in the fresh air, every day. Fitness levels will increase quickly with regular exercise. Do crossword puzzles and Sudoku.“

Could you give us one easy recipe from your book as a sneak peak?

Sweet jacket potatoes with smoked mackerel, horseradish and parsley

Sweet potatoes can be cooked quickly in the microwave and can be counted as one of your seven-a-day.

This meal provides a good source of fibre and provides 6% of your daily carbohydrate requirements, 4% of your daily Vitamin C and 10% of your daily Vitamin B6.

The mackerel and Greek yogurt contribute significantly to your daily protein and the mackerel also provides more than the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D, significant B3 and B12 plus the minerals iron, magnesium and selenium. Greek yogurt contains 121mg calcium per 100g.


  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes (washed and dried) 
  • Spray oil 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 75g smoked mackerel fillet, skinned
  • 3 tbsp Greek-style natural yogurt 
  • 2 tsp lemon juice 
  • 2 tsp horseradish sauce 
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped parsley 


  • Vegetable knife
  • Microwavable dinner plate
  • 1 litre mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • Measuring spoons
  • Chopping board
  • Knife


  1. Score a cross in the top of each potato 
  2. Stand the potatoes, spaced apart, on the dinner plate and spray them all over with a little spray oil and season with salt and pepper.  
  3. Microwave them, uncovered, on high for 5-6 minutes for one potato or 8 minutes for two.  
  4. Set aside for 4 minutes  oo
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In the mixing bowl, mash together using a fork the mackerel fillet with the yogurt, lemon juice and horseradish sauce. Add the parsley and mix in.  
  6. Serve the opened jacket potato with the mackerel filling and accompanied with a mixed salad.  

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More articles by Annabel James can be read here