What is Food Drama and how to avoid it?

Celebrity nutritionist Kelly Leveque joins us for our fifth installment of Sonya Summer Wellness. In her new book Body Love, she shares with us amazing recipes and tackles issues such as food drama, and how to avoid it.

Celebrity nutrionist Kelly Leveque Be Well by Kelly discusses food drama and how to avoid it.

Posted by SONYA DAKAR on Wednesday, July 5, 2017



1. You recently wrote a new book, Body Love – congrats! You speak a lot about freeing yourself from food drama. What is Food Drama?

Food drama is the fear, anxiety or guilt you feel when eating or thinking about food that is normally induced by labels, beliefs or rules. You might feel as though you are obsessing, and the reality is the more you think about staying on track the harder it’s going to be. Eating clean is easiest when you aren’t trying to use self-control to manage it. The more rules you take home with you the higher your chance of breaking them, beating yourself up and creating food guilt. Instead, plan and execute eating clean with actionable steps. It’s the “doing” that decreases anxiety. With Body Love, I am giving the reader light structure instead of a the “do not eat list” and empowering them with a “do”! Do; eat protein, fat, fiber and greens at every meal!

Accept who you are, love who you are and build a lifestyle focused on health, not some abstract idea of diet “perfection.” Kelly Leveque

Drama free happiness and health are attained when you find balance. Opposed to popular belief, balance isn’t when you stop moving and live a rigid, on plan, perfect life of elimination. None of us is perfect and not everything you read is for you or right. Balance is found with intentional movement to eat clean, sweat and even enjoy a glass of wine with friends. Accept who you are, love who you are and build a lifestyle focused on health, not some abstract idea of diet “perfection.” Especially because we all eventually break and the subsequent punishment for “failing” is unhealthy, unproductive and breeds disappointment and more anxiety.

2. What advice do you have some someone that wants to achieve a healthier lifestyle, but just does not know where to start?

Start with one Fab Four meal a day, preferably your morning smoothie!!

The Fab Four is Protein, Fat, Fiber & Greens! Fab Four meals turn off hunger hormones, squelch inflammation, and provide the body with the perfect complete meal of essential nutrients. The Fab Four is the light structure for eating healthy without “eat” or “do not eat” lists. Simply look at your plate and ask yourself do I have all four components? Protein ups collagen, muscle tone, and metabolism; fat benefits hormones, skin, and cellular health, fiber promotes gut microbiome proliferation and detoxification; and greens (or veggies deep in color) provide cancer and inflammation fighting phytonutrients.

I created the Fab Four Smoothie formula to help my clients learn how to build a low sugar meal replacement smoothie. This is very different from the many juice shops, grocery smoothie bars and smoothie recipes online, which can be, loaded with sugar, specifically fructose sugar from excess fruit, agave, dates and juice. When it comes to weight loss and energy, the #fab4smoothie is the key!

Kelly Leveque and Yigal Dakar at Sonya Dakar ClinicFor some new clients, I spare them the science and simply ask them to start everyday with a Fab Four Smoothie and within the first week I am getting exciting texts about how their skin is glowing, energy is high and the scale is down. The Fab Four smoothie limits fruit and instead helps you fill up on protein, fat and fiber which naturally helps to elongate and balance your blood sugar curve. This combination keeps you from crashing before lunch and sabotaging your healthy eating efforts. When you arrive at your next meal alive you can easily make conscious decisions to put the Fab Four on your next plate.

Looking to kick chocolate cravings or improve skin health? Start with a Chocolate Collagen protein, almond butter and flax seed smoothie, sneak in a handful of spinach you won’t event taste it! Looking to increase nutrition? Make my spa smoothie; the recipe includes vanilla pea protein protein, avocado, chia cucumber, spinach and a squeeze of lemon. Not a fan of super green smoothies? Opt for a small handful of microgreens they contain up to 14x the nutrition of the full grown plant.

3. What are some of your favorite foods you recommend for glowing skin?

Healthy skin requires hydrating omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins for collagen, and elastin production and trace minerals for repair, protection and cell regeneration. Helping my clients maintain red carpet ready skin is a science that requires them to incorporate wild seafood, leafy greens and lots of healthy fats into their diets. My favorites include; sardines, oysters and wild salmon.

Salmon is one of the best food sources for omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamin D and selenium, a mineral that protects the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Sardines are a great source of B12 for cell regeneration along with calcium, niacin, copper, vitamin B2, and choline, which is also a member of the B vitamin family useful in the fatty portions of cell membranes production and essential for healthy skin. When it comes to oysters, recent studies suggest omega-3 deficiency contributes to chronic acne and one serving (8 oysters) will deliver your daily need of 1000mg. The beauty bonus, zinc also keeps your nails, hair, and eyes healthy. Spinach is also a good source of omega-3s, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins B, C, and E. Kale is an anti-inflammatory veggie and is chock full of antioxidants, along with vitamins A and C, fiber and calcium. Not to mention, the sulfur based sugar in these leafy greens feeds your healthy gut bacteria and a flourishing microbiome equals healthy skin.

4. We are huge believers in probiotics. How have you seen it change and improve your client’s health and skin?

Absolutely! Outer beauty isn’t just about your genes or your workout regimen. In large part, it’s determined by your inner health and, specifically, your gut health. Your gut contains “good” bacteria that is essential for your digestion, health and overall wellness. A healthy gut promotes outer beauty as well, from glowing skin to a smaller jean size. One way to help nourish your healthy gut bacteria is by incorporating probiotics or eating leafy greens and resistant starch.

5. What app can you personally not live without?

That’s a toss up between Audible and MindBody! I love that I can listen to books on my cross-country flights to NYC but, getting in a good sweaty workout might take the cake. I can easily search around my location for a class that works in my schedule and that workout consistency always allows me to handle whatever food, time-change or work related curveballs the trip might throw at me.

6. We know you love smoothies for breakfast, can you share your favorite recipe?

If you don’t have the time to go to the spa, this spa smoothie is a perfect way to start your day in a relaxing way.

1 Serving Vanilla Protein Powder
1/4 Avocado
1-2 tbsp Chia Seed
Squeeze juice of Lemon
Handful Spinach
1 small Persian Cucumber
1/4 cup Mint Leaves
2 cups Unsweetened Nutmilk

Blend and enjoy!

7. Do you ever indulge or cheat? If so, what do you reach for? If not, how do you harness such amazing self-control?

Absolutely, its not a cheat it’s a choice! When I make the choice to have dessert, pizza or an extra glass of wine I also make the choice to sign up for a workout the next day, commit to a fruit free smoothie breakfast and track my blood sugar to make sure it is not elevated. If my fasting blood sugar is running high, I will eat low carb until its back at an optimal level which could take a few hours or a few days. I also choose to indulge with healthier options opting for organic wines, gluten free pizza or dark chocolate. For me, it has to be worth it. I will absolutely have gluten free pizza at Pizzana on date night with my husband but I am not going to have a slice of pizza at a kids birthday just because its “gluten free”.

Body love is making the choice to celebrate YOU.

8. Are there any Nutrition myths out there that you want to debunk?

Media proclaimed “health foods” are not always good for you. It’s important to understand the nutritional benefit of these health foods to ensure that you know exactly what you are putting into your body. Always check the ingredients label for sugar and carbohydrate content. A peek at the sugar quantity is a dead giveaway; always aim for 5 grams or less. Sugar isn’t the whole story; subtract fiber from total carbohydrates (aka:net carb) to understand the effect this snack will have on your blood sugar, hormones, energy and cravings.

If you are looking to grab a juice or smoothie out at local juice shop (think twice or better yet, build your own) chances are your store bough favorite is loaded with excessive sugars, both fructose and glucose. Fructose turns to fat faster than other forms of carbohydrates. When it’s metabolized in the liver, fructose converts to glycerol (a sugar alcohol) that’s directly used to turn free fatty acids into fat. Just like over the counter smoothies, most acai bowls contain over 2 cups of fruit and sugar-laden granola. This breakfast makes you vulnerable to a steep glucose spike that can induce a blood sugar roller-coaster throughout the day, leaving you hormonally hungry with increased cravings later. Wonder why some people think eating breakfast makes them hungrier and fatter than skipping it entirely? Sometimes it can! It’s all about what macronutrients you eat.

Kombucha, a fermented tea full of probiotic bacteria, has also recently become very popular. However, many of my clients do not realize that on its own, kombucha is not a proper meal replacement or snack. Kombucha Tea is fermented by feeding the Scoby (or Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) granulated sugar and then fermented a second time with fruit juice; the end product contains trace amount of alcohol, yeast and acetlyhyde. Do I drink Kombucha? Yes, but I think of it as a treat or cocktail replacement and in my opinion a better probiotic food would be wild fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut.

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