How dieting has changed: An interview with our founder, Jennifer Irvine

Photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness
Ask 10 different people what the word “dieting” means, and you’re bound to get 10 different answers.

The concept of dieting has changed over the years, but everyone wants the same thing in the end: to be happy in their own skin. We wanted to look beyond counting calories or popping diet pills and get to the root of living a healthy, balanced life.

And who better to start with than Jennifer Irvine, the founder of Balance Box?

Hi Jenny! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Could you start by telling us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today?

“Well, I’m from the southwest of Ireland. I grew up on a self-sufficient farm, where we took care of animals, grew our own produce and foraged for food.

“I’ve always had a passion for food, especially about tackling the ‘guilt thing.’ There’s lots of feeling guilty going on out there with people and their food. I wanted to help people bring the enjoyment back to food in a way that is also good for them.”


How do you think the concept of dieting has changed over the course of your career?

“The word diet literally just means ‘what you eat,’ but a few decades ago, we all seemed to change it to mean ‘weight management.’

“But people have moved on from this. It’s now also about so many things: your energy levels, how you’re feeling psychologically, your feel for your body and how it replenishes itself. People want nice hair, nice skin – they want to feel good about themselves.”


The vast majority of us don’t have time to grow our own produce or spend hours a day in the gym, but that’s exactly what many people are told to do if they want to eat fresh, ethically-sourced food and stay healthy. What advice do you have for people who are worried they simply don’t have enough time to make wellness a reality?

“You have to find things you enjoy. Wellness is about fulfilment, not deprivation. Build it into your life.

“For example, social people can work out together. I go walking with my friends. That’s two birds with one stone: I get to see my friends and exercise. You just have to look for these opportunities.

“I find it often helps to look back to your childhood. What did you enjoy doing then? Chances are, it was something fun and active. Why not adapt it for your adult life?

“Bring wellness into the workplace, as well. I love having walking meetings because, again, two birds with one stone!

“Food-wise, go after seasonal food to embrace the time of year. Ordering online saves time and is a great way to get exactly what you want without having to check all the shops.”


It’s easy to get bogged down in a daily routine that isn’t always good for us. Do you have any other tips or tricks for balancing happy and healthy in daily life?

“Be mindful of what you enjoy, and build that in. Schedule time for doing things you actually enjoy. Whether that’s leaving yourself a note or putting it in your diary, schedule happy, healthy things to do with friends and family or on your own.

“Walking, dancing – there are even computer games now that require you to get up and be active.”


What do you do, besides eating healthy, balanced meals, to contribute to your wellness?

“Wellness and happiness go hand in hand. I’m always trying new things and going to new places.

“For example, I have my regular exercise classes I go to, but a couple times a month I’ll go to a drop-in class, just to experience something new. Take advantage of the resources in your area so that you get the most out of your evenings.”


For you, what have been the most challenging and most rewarding parts of maintaining a balanced, healthy life?

“I have four daughters, so making the most of my time with my family is always a priority – no two days are the same! My kids bring spontaneity to my life, and we’re always on the go. It’s easy to overschedule and over plan, but we always make it work and have fun along the way.”


Thanks so much Jenny for giving us some insight into how dieting and wellness have evolved! Is there anything else you’d like to say to people who are dipping their toes into the world of wellness?

“Health – and life – is a journey, not a destination. You have to find things you enjoy, and embrace them. You don’t go to 10 classes and then, suddenly, you’re healthy. Find what you love, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it starts bringing some balance into your life.”


Balance Box

Dieting Made Easy

For more goodies like this, sign up to our monthly newsletter. You’ll receive a roundup of our favourite blogs, recipes and special promotions straight to your inbox, once a month.

Mailing list sign-up

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.