Catherine Tyldesley, 38, best known for her role as Eva Price in Coronation Street for more than a decade, chats exclusively to Top Santé about gut health, weight loss, pregnancy and her Strictly Come Dancing journey…

Words: Katy Sunnassee | Images: Tom Pitfield

Catherine Tyldesley on weight loss:

‘Part of the reason I wanted to lose weight when I was younger was due to my work. I wanted to be in musical theatre and doing eight shows a week means you have to be fit. And I wasn’t. I couldn’t walk up the stairs without getting out of breath, yet I was only 17 years old. I’d been avoiding PE at school for years because I hated it. I felt uncomfortable in those little skirts we used to be forced to wear. I was very inactive.

‘Growing up, my parents always fed me wholesome, balanced meals, but it was the decisions I made later on that led to the weight gain. I was just really greedy! So yeah, wanting to lose weight started out as a work thing, but later it became about more than that; about wanting to stay alive, as obesity is connected to all-cause mortality.

‘I am an emotional eater though. Even now, if I feel stressed, I’ll want to eat. I’ve never been a big drinker an never experimented with drugs or anything like that, so for me, food was my go-to if stressed. I think emotional eating is a big thing for a lot of people. But the older I’ve got, the better I’ve become at knowing how to deal with it. So, if I do feel stressed, I’ll go for a walk or I’ll start reading a book or send some emails. I’ll take my mind away from food.’

catherine tyldesley

Catherine Tyldesley on gut health:

‘In the past, I was admitted to hospital a few times with the worst stomach pain, which I can now compare to labour pain. It was horrendous. The pain was so bad, I was put on morphine. It turned out to be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). My digestion was completely out of whack. I really struggled with certain foods. So, I realised I needed to do something about my diet. I needed to think about health.

‘One of my dear friends, the medicinal chef Dale Pinnock, said to me, “You know what? Your gut is out whack. You’ve just finished a course of antibiotics. You need to try [the probiotic] Symprove.” That was about eight years ago now. After being on it for around 3-4 weeks, I was able to come off all my medication – and I had been on a lot of them.

‘I was admitted to hospital a few times with the worst stomach pain, which turned out to be irritable bowel syndrome.’

‘I prefer to do things naturally when I can and I always look to the inside first to see if I’m doing anything wrong in terms of nutrition. And I was, but additionally, Symprove helped me so much; the bloating stopped, which was a real issue – I would look pregnant a lot of the time! If I’m honest, I’d avoid going to certain events. The number of times I said to Mum, “I can’t go to that, they’ll think I’m pregnant,” was ridiculous.

‘I had a lot more energy too and didn’t seem to get as much brain fog. I think when you’re bloated, you feel sluggish. It would get me down. Using Symprove has been a huge step in the right direction for me and my family – I’ve got them all on it. My mum knows what she’s getting every birthday! I’ll get her some girlie bits and pieces, too, but she’ll be getting another 12-week course! I adore my mum and dad; I want them to stay fit and healthy. So, when Symprove asked me to collaborate, it was a no-brainer.

Catherine Tyldesley on nutrition and processed food:

‘Eliminating processed foods has been huge for me. I know we’re caught up in this new trend of trying to be more plant-based, which is wonderful, but there are a lot of processed plant-based foods out there. For me, if there’s more than maybe six or seven ingredients on the back of something, I start to wonder how natural it is. Giving up processed food has helped so much. The trainers at Ultimate Performance also helped me do this. They have a crazy amount of knowledge, and I really started to look at food as fuel, and what my body needs at certain times of the month. This is important for women because hormones can have a big effect on us.

‘If it runs, swims or has grown from the earth, eat it – anything else has been tampered with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely devoid of joy and fun. I love cake and the occasional pizza as much as the next person, but I think it’s about balance. If you are on it 90 per cent of the time, then you have scope to treat yourself.

‘For me, if there’s more than maybe six or seven ingredients on the back of something, I start to wonder how natural it is. Giving up processed food has helped so much.’

‘I like to take traditional comfort foods and put a healthy spin on them. When cooking from scratch, I’ll perhaps do a spaghetti Bolognese with chickpea pasta and lean beef mince or turkey mince, which contains loads of tryptophan and can help you relax, so it’s great before bed. We also eat a lot of fish and I’m a fan of steak. I might have steak with sweet potato and some greens, or make a healthy spin on a cottage pie.

‘We started growing our own vegetables a couple of years ago. That’s been a game changer, because you can’t beat organic. I’m no Alan Titchmarsh mind you, and I’ve killed a few plants in the process, but I love going out as a family and grabbing a lettuce or a cabbage, and [my son] Alfie seeing what I can then cook with the produce. My dad has an allotment; he grows everything. My parents’ lives are like [70s TV sitcom] The Good Life.

‘I’m completely intolerant to dairy. It’s quite severe. I’ve known that for along time now. So it’s dairy alternatives all the way for me, which I don’t think is a bad thing. I’m not entirely convinced we’re supposed to be eating dairy anyway. I know it’s debatable and everybody’s really split on that, but we wouldn’t breastfeed a cow, would we? I’ll have gluten occasionally, but I do find that it bloats me. I’m not completely against it, but I do think there are better forms of fibre to be had. We all react completely differently to all kinds of things. You do you and see what works.

catherine tyldesley

Catherine Tyldesley on relaxation and fitness:

‘In terms of relaxing at home, the biggest thing for me is meditation. Even if it’s just five minutes on an app or YouTube. It’s something I got into when I was pregnant with Alfie, because I did hypnobirthing and I thought, why have I not done more of this? It’s amazing at reducing stress. So meditation is pretty huge for me now – when I can find time!

‘Another thing I enjoy when relaxing is to have a massage. It’s the one time I feel like I just completely switch off: I’m there, I’m dribbling, I’m gone! I love it. When not pregnant, I love a sports massage. I know a lot of people hate them because they can hurt, but I usually do a lot of weight training so having a sports massage finished with an Indian head massage chills me out.

‘I’ve got severe hypermobility so lifting weights is important to keep my muscles strong around the joints. It was an issue when I was doing Strictly[in 2019] as I’m like spaghetti basically, and the physios were putting ribs back in and things were popping out all over the place! It’s always been a bit of a problem, but weight training helps.

Catherine Tyldesley on her Strictly Come Dancing journey:

‘Doing Strictly was the hardest thing I’d ever done. When I started it, I knew I would struggle with the dancing, because I’d never danced before. But I said to my husband, “I weight train all the time, I’ll be fine with the stamina.” But he was like, “No, you won’t, as it’s a different ballgame, with 12 hours a day of practice.” A lot of the dances are high intensity. And food wise, I’m normally quite careful with carbs, but the joyful thing about Strictly was I could eat carbs left, right and centre because the weight was dropping off me. We were burning so many calories, it was insane. And by the time I’d finished the show and then the tour, I felt like I was eating all the time because dancing makes you so hungry. It’s a bit like swimming. You just want to eat.

‘My weight plummeted, but also my oestrogen levels dropped and my hormones were affected. Looking back, I probably wasn’t eating enough good fats and maybe not enough protein – it was all about the carbs. But dancing completely changes your body. I felt great, but by the end of it, I was a bit too thin and needed to review my nutrition and go back to strength training.

Catherine Tyldesley on pregnancy:

‘I found it difficult to exercise at all during the first three months of this pregnancy. Before that, I was weight training three times a week. I was so poorly that sometimes I wouldn’t even do one session a week, afraid I’d throw up on the gym floor. But I aim for 10,000 steps a day, as much as I can. This pregnancy has been totally different to my first. Everyday I’ve been listening to my body. Towards the end, I’ve tried to book in more weight training, but sometimes I’ve just not got it in me and so I go for a walk and chill out.

‘This pregnancy has been totally different to my first. Everyday I’ve been listening to my body.’

‘I’m not used to slowing down, though – I pretty much carried on as normal with Alfie. But this little lady’s my priority now, so the least I can do is listen to my body and see what it needs. Weight training is a real stress buster for me. I’m no kind of bodybuilder though. I do a bit of HIIT training if I’m travelling with work and I’ll do YouTube videos.

‘I genuinely love exercise, even when I don’t feel like it (prior to this pregnancy, of course). I’ll push myself to do something and I never regret it. I also found a salsa teacher and was having the odd class between the lockdowns. I’d love to carry on with that when things are more back to normal. I’m not great at it, but I love it and it brings me so much happiness.’

catherine tyldesley

Catherine Tyldesley on beauty and skincare:

‘Beauty wise, I’m a big fan of Murad. I also go for facials at The One Aesthetic Studio in Alderley Edge. It does Skin Ceuticals facials and I notice a huge difference. I’ve also been trialling a new company called Skin + Me. Everything is bespoke. Being pregnant, I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my skin and so I’ve been impressed with Skin + Me. What’s also nice for a pampering is Temple spa. It does fabulous masks.

‘In terms of make-up, I use Huda Beauty, Estée Lauder and Charlotte Tilbury. Before the days of Coronation Street, when I was a singer inworking men’s club, I did a make-up course. I thought, I’m singing most nights and I look like I’ve just been smacked in the face with a make-up brush! So, I did a three-day course and it really helped.

‘I was always using pencil eyeliner, whereas now I can’t imagine doing that. Instead I use powder and an angled brush, or gel, also with an angled brush. On every acting job I do, I’m always the first one on the truck for make-up and I’m like, “What’s this? What does this do?”. Then I end up spending a fortune, because I just keep buying everything I try!

Catherine is an advocate for the water-based food supplement Symprove, which is based on an extract of germinated barley together with four carefully selected strains of live and active bacteria. Find out more at

Related – Denise Van Outen: ‘I naturally have a positive outlook on life’