How to Make Healthy Eating a Habit, by Model and Nutritionist Alicia Rountree
We pick the brains of models day in and day out. We’re constantly prying into their medicine cabinets and kitchen cupboards, trying to uncover their elusive model secrets. We hear a lot about eating clean and avoiding sugar, but rarely do we hear diet tips from a model who also happens to have her degree in nutritional science. That’s exactly what we found in Alicia Rountree. The Mauritian model (she’s got the island hair and bronzed glow to prove it) is also a certified nutritionist and a restaurateur (she has to be able to put her knowledge into practice, right?), and today she’s sharing her secrets with us.
Each and every one of us is different. Our bodies crave different things and have different stress levels—what works great for me might be totally wrong for you. That’s why most “diets” don’t work. It’s not one size fits all. It might work in the short run, but it’s rarely effective in the long-term, which is what we all want—long-term happiness in our bodies.
Scroll through for four healthy eating practices that have worked for me!
What I have learned over the years is to really listen to my body. It sounds strange, but I’m telling you, your body never lies! It’s constantly working all by itself without you even noticing it. It will nudge you and let you know when something is wrong. But you need to learn to listen. You will learn a lot through trial and error. I recommend keeping a food journal for a week or so. Write down what you are eating and how you feel afterward. Are you too full? Do you feel bloated? A food journal really helps to keep track of which foods make you feel great and which foods make you feel rotten.
What you want to look out for is where your cravings come from. The body is amazing. It knows when to sleep, when to wake up, and how to heal itself when wounded. If the body is missing nutrients, it can cause odd cravings. For example, insufficient mineral levels produce salt cravings.
I like to add liquid minerals to my smoothies in the morning. I like a product called IntraMax (£80) that not only contains minerals that are crucial for well-being, but all sorts of essential vitamins and ingredients derived from whole-food sources, such as fruits, veggies, and herbs. Liquid form is the best option, as your body will take in 90%, as opposed to only 20% with capsules.
Cravings can come from dehydration, too. People forget to drink water. It can manifest as a form of hunger, so the best thing to do is reach for a full glass of water and hydrate throughout the day. Too much water can also cause cravings, so watch out and try to keep it balanced.
Do you crave alcohol or sweets after a long day at your stressful job? Do you feel tired and think that something sweet might make you feel better? Now, instead of reaching for the cookie jar or chocolate box when these cravings arise, why not try reaching for something sweet but healthy? One of my favorite pick-me-up snacks is dates with almond butter. The caramel taste totally satisfies my sweet tooth, and I don't feel bad about it.
Medjool dates are my favorite because they softer and sweeter than most dates. Dates are easily digested and full of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and copper. Let’s not forget vitamins A and K, among others (vitamin A protects your eyes and helps maintain great skin, and vitamin K is a blood coagulant that also helps metabolize your bones).
Another tip, if you are going to indulge, is to eat the best quality of whatever you are craving. Instead of grabbing a candy bar, reach for a piece of 80% dark chocolate or a homemade dessert. Stay away from anything processed.
I like to use food to help with my mood. If I am feeling stressed and am running all over the place, I eat root vegetables. They ground you and keep you satisfied. Sweet root vegetables (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, onions, beets, turnips) are energetically grounding, which helps to balance out the “spaciness” and fogginess people often feel when eating other kinds of sweet foods. They help by soothing the internal organs of the body and energizing the mind.
I really love sweet potatoes, as they are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and they help regulate blood sugar levels. Less-sweet root vegetables include radishes, daikon, green cabbage, and burdock. They have a similar affect on the body because they maintain blood sugar levels, reduce cravings for sweets, and help break down animal foods in the body.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling a little low and unmotivated, try a fresh juice. All the fiber has been removed from the produce, so the vitamins enter your blood stream straight away, giving you that instant boost! I like mixing veggies into my juices to ensure the sugar content isn’t too high. I would advise investing in a juicer. There are so many lovely combinations you can try!
A favorite of mine is a juice of made of carrot, apple, beet, lemon, ginger, and turmeric. Carrots are mostly known for their high supply of the antioxidant beta-carotene, but they also provide huge cardiovascular benefits. Apples are full of dietary fiber and bring sweetness. Beets are high in vitamin C and potassium, and they give a lovely dark pink color to the juice. Lemon is a great detox for your skin, ginger helps with gastrointestinal distress, and turmeric is super anti-inflammatory. It’s the perfect combo, and it’s delicious.
Creating good eating habits takes time. It’s important to leave room for error and not feel guilty if you overindulge from time to time. The worst thing is to splurge on something and then stress about it. Why not enjoy it? Know that tomorrow you can add some delicious fresh veggies and whole foods to your meals to balance it out.
I am no saint, and I believe that if you try to only eat kale and quinoa every day and cut out all “naughty” foods, you will relapse. I suggest slowly introducing healthier options into your diet so that all the unhealthy options will slowly fade away and you won’t even crave them anymore.
Have you been listening to your body and eating intuitively?