Interview: Janey Lee Grace

Known for her regular appearances on Radio 2’s Steve Wright Show and Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, Janey Lee Grace has become renowned for her ‘green’ credentials. She reveals how it all started to Healthy Soul.
Janey Lee Grace appears regularly on TV on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff and also on the Steve Wright Show on BBC Radio 2. Her career has been illustrious and varied as a backing singer with such stars as George Michael, Boy George and Kim Wilde, but increasingly she is becoming known for championing a green lifestyle.

Her book Imperfectly Natural Woman is a great ‘bible’ for anyone interested in living a more natural lifestyle. Janey also keeps people informed about natural lifestyle tips through her website.

Has she always been like this?

‘I was prompted to become a vegetarian in the late 1980s after the Tory Health Minister at the time, Edwina Curry, claimed that most of the country’s eggs were infected by salmonella,’ she says.

‘Being in the pop business I didn’t eat well at all. But in the six months after giving up meat I noticed that I got rid of my irritable bowel syndrome and bloated stomach. I had loads of energy and my skin was clear so I thought if what I put into my body is having that much effect there must be much more I could be doing.

‘I became interested in a holistic approach to life, and started looking seriously into nutrition and had tests to see what mineral and vitamin deficiencies I was lacking and any allergies I might have.

‘For the first time in my life I started considering how the mind affects wellness and at this stage I had some counselling. I gradually took more interest in alternative health and read a book on naturopathy which made a lot of sense.’

Switching on to therapies

Janey didn’t try alternative therapies at the time and it wasn’t for another ten years until she had an aromatherapy massage. ‘That was a real eye opener – I thought that aromatherapy was just pampering more aimed at ladies who lunch! I hadn’t realised that it not so much pampering but more to do with health.

‘Now I just love it and during each of my four pregnancies I’ve had aromatherapy and cranial osteopathy. I had reflexology and cranio-sacral therapy during the two most recent births and they wouldn’t have been natural if it weren’t for reflexology. And when the children were born they each had cranio-sacral.’

Janey’s children are carnivores

Janey is fortunate that her husband is on the same holistic wavelength as she is, and her four children are all under seven and young enough to accept her way of life in most things, but they have their own tastes.

‘They’re all carnivores. My husband and I are both vegetarian and we just assumed that they’d be the same. The first time my son saw a ham sandwich he zoomed over and devoured it!

‘As you can tell from my book title I am imperfect but I am precious about meat. Not all organic food is pure but what is important is where food is sourced from and if meat isn’t organic at least I need to know where it comes from.

‘Every week I get an organic box (from Riverside Organic Farm for about £15 with organic eggs and yoghourt. I can then add rice or pasta and make loads of meals from it. Convenience and junk foods are more expensive and if you take into account the ‘expense’ of illness you cannot even equate the cost.’

As Janey’s kids haven’t reached the terrible teens stage where they suit themselves she has an element of control over what they eat. ‘They don’t have fizzy drinks at home but there are alternatives to Coke, such as the drinks made by Whole Earth. Instead of normal ice lollies they have corn syrup lollies. I just try to ensure that they have chemical free alternatives, but obviously if they go to a party they have what’s on offer.’

Favourite natural remedies

Does she have any particular must have remedies that she carries around with her? ‘I always take Arnica whenever I am travelling and Rescue Remedy. On a flight I like to have lavender or ginger or lemon oil to sniff in case I feel faint.

‘I swear by essential fatty acids (Omega 3s and 6s) and take hempseed oil and lots of nuts and seeds. I give the kids children’s fish oils (MORepa mini capsules) and Viridian Viridikid Omega 3 oil.’

Janey’s book Imperfectly Natural Woman is an excellent guide to going green around the house and garden and avoiding chemicals in cleansers, make up, cosmetics and toiletries. ‘I now have a completely chemical free make-up bag with natural nail polish, hair spray, and so on.’

Cutting out chemicals

‘I believe that if we reduce the levels of chemicals in our lives and we become seriously ill our immune system is more able to cope because it hasn’t been so depleted with chemicals. It’s important to think preventatively – if the medical profession spent more time on preventing serious illness there would be far less of it.

‘There’s definitely a case for allopathic (conventional) medicine – anyone might need surgery. And antibiotics are a wonderful invention but you don’t need them for an outbreak of acne which is what I was given as a teenager. It’s more likely to go away if you reduce the chemicals in your life and cut out the Coke!’

Janey still thinks she’s ‘imperfect’ because it’s hard to get it all right. ‘You can’t be an ecowarrior so the best thing for people to do is small bits at a time. Do one thing to start off and realise that it makes you feel better and move on to the next thing.

‘Sometimes I have to do a bit of scaremongering to make people aware of what they are doing. But my book is for people to dip into and read the bits that appeal, not to feel guilty because they haven’t done everything. We aren’t all ready for everything. Some people are into the environment but don’t yet look at what they are putting on to their skin.

And her friends?

‘Of course some of them think I’m barking mad and couldn’t be more opposite to me. But the nice thing is that even though they take the mickey they ask me when they have a problem. Particularly if it’s to do with their children because most people don’t want to give kids loads of antibiotics and chemicals.

A positive future

‘I think the outlook is incredibly positive. There is so much change and so many companies making fantastic natural products. More and more people are aware of the holistic picture and all of these ripples add up to a sea of health.’

See the Healthy Soul Bookstore to order Imperfectly Natural Woman, £12.99, or read more about it in Book Reviews. Janey’s website:

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