Sara Cox claimed her party days are over and she now enjoys a healthy lifestyle
Indeed, as she chats avidly about her love of healthy eating, the BBC Radio 2 DJ and presenter is worlds away from her former party girl image.
“I enjoy different things now, as you do when you’re 42, but I still have my moments. I still love to have fun and go out, it’s just not as often. I hate feeling ill and I hate feeling hungover,” she says.
After starting out as a model and getting her big break on Channel 4’s The Girlie Show in the 1990s, Bolton-born Sara rose to fame on The Big Breakfast, interviewing stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio.
Yet it was her off-screen escapades that made the headlines.
Pictured boozing with fellow presenters Zoe Ball, Denise van Outen and Gail Porter, Sara and co were nicknamed “ladettes” in the press.
It is a term Sara dislikes. Now more homebird than hellraiser, she says she is more likely to be found in the vegetable aisle of her local supermarket than down the pub.
“As you get older you just want to look after yourself more,” says Sara, who lives in leafy north London with husband, advertising executive Ben Cyzer.
“I love going to the gym and going for a run. I love having nice food. I grew up without much money so one of my biggest comforts is having a big fridge full of nice fresh food.”
The couple have two children Isaac, nine and Renee, seven, and Sara is also mum to Lola, 13, from her first marriage to DJ Jon Carter.
Now I’m older I want to look after myself more
“Once you have kids you become very aware of your own mortality and you just want to stay alive as long as possible to annoy them, nag at them and interfere,” she laughs.
“But mainly you just want to look after them.”
Sara is the face of new campaign Organic Feed Your Happy which celebrates all things organic.
“I feel better mentally knowing that there are no chemicals in our food. My kids won’t stand at the sink and wash a strawberry, they’re going to go in the fridge with their mucky hands and grab a handful of strawberries and if they are organic I feel better.”
Sara has three children Isaac, nine, Renee, seven, and Lola, 13
Forget interviewing A-listers, Sara says some of her proudest moments now come from cooking something the whole family will eat.
“The kids all have different tastes and so I have varying degrees of success. Two out of three love caulifl ower cheese, two out of three love roast potatoes.
“The only thing my kids will fight over is my meat pie. My grandad was a baker and he used to make it.”
Sara, who grew up on her dad’s beef farm, understands eating organic food can be expensive.
“I’m not from a wealthy background at all. I know that people need to be able to budget but you can make the food go further,” she says.
“If you buy an organic chicken you can strip it once you’ve roasted it to make a curry, then boil up the bones to make a lovely stock.”
Sara in her party days with fellow DJ Zoe Ball
She laughs: “But I’m not militant. If there’s nothing organic in they will eat fi shfi ngers and beans. I’m not like: ‘You won’t eat until we’ve got organic’.
“They still have the odd rubbish too.”
Sara says parenthood comes with challenges, especially when it comes to monitoring the use of electronic devices.
“I tell my son to come off the computer because he’s had enough and he’ll say ‘Please just let me finish this’.
When I ask what, he says ‘It’s the 10 best waterslides in the world’. Crucial viewing,” she says wryly.
And social media is another worry.
“When I was younger I got in enough trouble as it was without social media,” says Sara.
“Yet I’m quite savvy with all the social media platforms. I think it helps with the work that I do, I’m on them all.
“The little ones don’t know anything about social media yet. My oldest is on Instagram privately but she’s a feminist and into women’s rights so she’s not going to be pouting on Instagram any time soon. I’ve been truly blessed with a really cool daughter.”
Sara is the face of new campaign Organic Feed Your Happy which celebrates all things organic
Sara, who says she wanted to be either a vet or a police woman when she was young, says the showbiz industry has changed since she began her career in the 1990s.
“I don’t think wanting to be famous was much of a thing when I was growing up,” she says.
“Now people seem to plump for ‘fame’ as a career choice, rather than be a DJ, presenter or broadcaster.”
Recently Sara experienced the darker side of fame first hand when a stalker, who was jailed in July, sent threatening letters to her home.
She won’t be drawn on the subject, wanting to put the ordeal behind her.
“I just don’t want to give it any airtime,” she says.
Instead she is determined to move on, focusing her attention on her busy schedule, which includes new BBC Two show Love In The Countryside.
The programme will see Sara going back to her farming roots to help single people from the countryside find love with city dwellers.
“I’m also doing more Radio 2 and 4 as well as writing… oh and trying to do some parenting as well,” she says.
As our conversation close, Sara tells me she is excited to have the opportunity to let her hair down that evening.
“Lola has got to the age that she can babysit, which is amazing. So tonight I’m going half a mile away down the road for an Italian with (fellow BBC radio DJ) Annie Mac and I cant wait. It’s good to get out and socialise.”
Sara says that looking back, she wouldn’t change a thing.
“There’s nothing I would tell my younger self because she wouldn’t have listened anyway.
She’d have lit a Marlboro Light and said ‘whatever loser’,” she laughs.
“Yet it all went fine anyway. I’m sitting here now looking at my lovely garden and my dogs and my son playing football and I’ve got a very lovely husband so I’m very blessed.”
Sara Cox launches Organic Feed Your Happy, a campaign to share and celebrate the joy of organic food – fewer pesticides, free range and no artificial colours and preservatives.
Sara is encouraging the nation to join in and share their favourite organic foods and meals at #FeedYourHappy