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S03 E04 | 47m | Healthy habits for life


Written byGemma Newman

the welllness edit podcast with holland and barrett

What we're talking about in this episode

In this friendly and open chat, the Happy Pear Twins, Stephen and David Flynn, talk to Gemma about their journey running a plant-based business and what they’ve learnt along the way. Plus they share:

  • Achievable healthy habits 
  • How to choose healthy ingredients
  • The lowdown on 'swimrise'- sunrise swims

With guests:

  • The Happy Pear Twins - plant based brothers David and Stephen Flynn, a wholesome due on a mission to help everyone to get healthier and be happier!

Listen to Episode 4

Search 'The Wellness Edit' on your favourite podcast streaming service

The expert guide to understanding immunity

The Happy Pear twins share their easy healthy habits for life 

Irish Instagram stars and plant-based entrepreneurs, the Happy Pear Twins – Stephen and David Flynn – began with a tiny vegetable shop in 2004, and now have an online community of 1 million people. Here they share the habits that make for a happier life, from swimming at sunrise to staying connected

'Travelling gave us the chance to re-evaluate’

‘We grew up in the same little town we live in now, Greystones [County Wicklow, south of Dublin]. We’re two of four boys and we went to all-boys’ schools, so we grew up in a real pack, and it was hyper-competitive.

‘We ended up studying business, but didn’t buy into the mantra that money makes you happy. By the time we finished college, we both felt there must be more to life. We ended up, separately, wandering round the world [David to South Africa, Stephen to Canada].

‘We left as two quintessential jocks – meat-and-two-veg, loads of pints of beer – products of that real macho culture. And we came back two years later as these plant-based, yoga-doing, no-alcohol-drinking, meditating men who wanted to start a vegetable shop and a health-food revolution.’

‘Politics begins on your plate’

‘We started on this journey from a selfish point of view, thinking, if I eat more broccoli and kale, will I be able to run faster, will I have more energy or feel better? Then we started realising that what we eat on a daily basis dictates the world we live in. The foods that make you healthy are, typically, the same ones that are healthy for the planet.

‘We wanted to use our shop [which opened in 2004 in Greystones] as a vehicle for social change. We’d talk to people coming in: ‘Did you know that if you cook squash this way, it’s really nice,” or: ”Have you tried roasted peppers?” Back then, in Ireland, most places were selling cabbages and turnips. People didn’t know what an aubergine was, and lemongrass was weird. Over time, social media gave us that opportunity to amplify our message, inspire people to eat more vegetables, and build that sense of community around health and happiness.’

‘There’s no perfect healthy ingredient’

‘If you don’t like vegetables, begin with fruit – eat it in season, when it’s cheaper, more readily available, more juicy and delicious. Start with something that resonates with you. To you, bananas might be lovely, but another person might hate them.

‘Try to eat unprocessed, whole plant foods, as much as you can. Statistically, nowadays 50% of the calories people eat in the UK and Ireland are processed foods. The name of the game is about eating more whole foods. That doesn’t mean if you eat a piece of chicken, you’re off the team – it’s about moving the dial, because our bodies function better when you eat more wholegrains, beans, fruit and veg.’

‘To make change, you have to be intentional’

‘It needs that intentionality because there’s so much processed junk in our food environment, and our hardwiring has us addicted to fats, salts and sugars. We lead such busy lives, food can become a habit where we rinse and repeat – Monday night is always Shepherd’s pie, Saturday is pizza.

‘Start by making one new dinner, like our five-minute chickpea curry, which has had two million views on YouTube. If it’s nice, maybe integrate it on a regular basis. Most people are looking for quick, simple and easy, so we have 50-plus dinners on our channel that take five minutes to make, typically cost £2-3 and feed two to four people.’

‘Everyone is equal in the sea’

‘Our “swim-rises” started by chance. Seven or eight years ago, when our kids were young, we’d be walking them to sleep at 4am by the sea. One morning, this guy came out of the water, put his foot up on a rock and said, “You getting in lads?” It was September and cold, but we ended up going for a swim. Next day, we came again, and the next, and other people joined us. Now it’s anything from 20 to 1000 people on the beach, swimming at sunrise.

‘Everyone is equal when you’re in a pair of swimming togs and you’ve got this common enemy, the sea. It connects you to nature, to people, and the cold water does wonders for your mental health. By 9am, you’ve had a couple of hours of chatting and drinking tea, and it’s almost like a party, we’re skipping around like five-year-olds. It’s a very nice way to start the day.’

‘Two of the greatest superfoods are joy and laughter’

‘You could meet someone who just eats a raw food diet of green juice, kale and sprouts, but is miserable. And we all know of someone who never ate a vegetable in their life, drank whisky and smoked cigarettes, but they laughed a lot and lived to 90. Food is the gateway to being a healthy, happy human, and super-important – but it’s only one core component.’

‘The magic of life is in the moment’

‘One of our friends has this lovely concept of the one-hour holiday, where you put on your rose-tinted glasses, and appreciate the magic of life all around, that you tend to take for granted. Life only happens in the here and now, it doesn’t happen in the future or in the past. When we take a moment to recognise that, we feel more whole and complete.’

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