Gisele Bünd­chen opens up about her life-chang­ing diet

IN HER NEW BOOK, THE MODEL TALKS ABOUT HER LIFE-CHANG­ING DIET

OK! (Australia) - - Contents -

Ifeel I have to ad­dress some­thing, but I’ll do it fast, be­cause it makes me un­com­fort­able. I’ve been told that many women wish they had a body like mine. I also know that many peo­ple are cu­ri­ous about my diet. I must ad­mit that I find all of this a bit strange. There are many things I really like about my body – I’m nat­u­rally ath­letic and proud of it – and many things I dis­like, in­clud­ing my shoul­ders, which to date I’ve dis­lo­cated about nine times each.

Many women have said to me that they wish they were as tall as I am. My height in the end turned out to be a big ad­van­tage (mod­el­ling! vol­ley­ball!), but it wasn’t my choice to top out at five foot 11[180cm]. Es­pe­cially when just try­ing to fit in as a teenager, it’s hard to be un­no­ticed when you’re a foot taller than most of your friends. The body I have is the one I was given – re­mem­ber four of my sis­ters are about a head shorter than I am – and all the kale and co­conut milk in the world won’t make them taller. A lot of peo­ple seem to be un­der the im­pres­sion that I fol­low a spe­cial diet or a spe­cial ex­er­cise plan in or­der to look a cer­tain way.

The truth is when I was younger I didn’t have to do very much to keep my body fit. I’m a model after all, and my nat­u­ral body type is leaner, with smaller bones. But at 38 years old, my me­tab­o­lism has slowed, and to­day, I’m very thought­ful about what I eat. I have a healthy diet and I ex­er­cise daily for a sim­ple rea­son – so I can feel good.

Re­mem­ber the anx­i­ety at­tacks I wrote about ear­lier? They were an in­cred­i­bly mo­ti­vat­ing force in my life. If you’ve ever had one, you’ll un­der­stand that you never want to ex­pe­ri­ence an­other. My panic at­tacks were much more mo­ti­vat­ing than any plea­sure I might have from stand­ing in front of the mir­ror.

I know that there is a lot of con­fu­sion about what peo­ple should and shouldn’t eat. The in­ter­net, in par­tic­u­lar, is a mish­mash of in­for­ma­tion, a lot of it con­tra­dic­tory and con­fus­ing. Re­mem­ber when eggs were great for you, but then they were ter­ri­ble, and now they’re great again? Who knows what to be­lieve? In the face of, ‘Eat this, drink that – no, wait. Don’t! Wait! Do!,’ it’s lit­tle won­der a lot of peo­ple throw up their hands.

If all the ex­perts seem to dis­agree about what’s healthy and what isn’t, we all just might as well eat pizza, ham­burg­ers, ribs, ba­con, chicken nuggets, ice-cream, car­bon­ated so­das, cho­co­late bars and mac­a­roni and cheese. Life is short, why not spend it eat­ing what­ever we want? The thing is, we don’t sim­ply risk hav­ing a short life if we don’t pay at­ten­tion to what we put in our bod­ies, we be­come vul­ner­a­ble to ill­ness and un­hap­pi­ness.

My panic at­tacks com­pletely trans­formed the way I ate. The first change I made was to cut su­gar out of my diet for three months. That wasn’t easy. My 90-day no-su­gar fast ended in July, right around my birth­day. (I was born un­der the sign of Can­cer, and we crabs like our food.) I re­mem­ber show­ing up at a stu­dio to dis­cover that some nice per­son had brought me a small cho­co­late birth­day cake (my favourite). I wasn’t plan­ning to rein­tro­duce su­gar into my life, but the ges­ture was so thought­ful that I didn’t want to be rude.

When I ate a small slice – the first su­gar of any kind I’d eaten in three months – I felt sick and dis­ori­ented. I could hardly fo­cus for the rest of the day. My doc­tor had re­minded me that su­gar was in bread, pasta, juice, crack­ers, ce­real, gra­nola bars, so­das and en­ergy drinks – most pro­cessed foods con­tain a lot of added su­gar. No won­der kids bounce off the walls when they eat a high-su­gar diet. After my su­gar cleanse one lit­tle slice of cake made me so hyper! The episode really showed me how bad this kind of su­gar is for me.

Even after cut­ting out all types of su­gar, caf­feine and al­co­hol from my diet, it wasn’t un­til Benny [my son] was born that I be­gan eat­ing the way I do to­day. The knowl­edge that ev­ery­thing I ate or drank was passed to my baby through my breast milk, af­fect­ing his health, im­mune sys­tem and en­ergy, pushed me to re­fine my habits even more. I was no longer eat­ing for just my­self.

For a while I got a lit­tle ob­sessed with the nutri­tional con­tent of my food, though I have re­laxed about it over time. (I will be the first per­son to ad­mit that over-think­ing what you eat is al­most as bad as not think­ing about it at all.) Once I be­gan mak­ing healthy changes to my diet, the rest of my fam­ily came along.

Mak­ing nutri­tional changes hap­pens at a dif­fer­ent pace for ev­ery­one. I’ve no­ticed this with my fam­ily in Brazil – my mum, dad, sis­ters and their fam­i­lies. Once a year we all come to­gether for a fam­ily re­union, where the cousins can play and keep nour­ish­ing their re­la­tion­ships. We usu­ally meet in Costa Rica.

For years I pro­vided healthy food op­tions. At first there were just a few com­plaints. Some fam­ily mem­bers used to go to the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket to buy ‘ex­tras’, so they wouldn’t be de­prived of their favourite snacks and soft drinks. This used to upset me. For only 10 days, couldn’t we all just eat healthy food? Please? But slowly, as the years passed, and the fam­ily re­unions con­tin­ued, first some, then oth­ers, be­gan chang­ing their di­etary habits, and to­day most of my fam­ily mem­bers are aware of what they eat, and how much bet­ter they feel when they eat healthy foods.

To­day I’m so happy to see my sis­ters and their chil­dren eat­ing good-qual­ity foods. At this point, we are con­stantly ex­chang­ing healthy recipes on our What­sapp group. We also share nat­u­ral remedies and health tips. Th­ese days when we all meet up, there are no more com­plaints about the food and every­body is ac­tu­ally ex­cited about the menu!

When choos­ing what to eat, I think about en­ergy and bal­ance. By en­ergy I mean main­tain­ing my vi­tal­ity, so that I can be my best, both for the peo­ple around me, and for the work I want or need to do. This doesn’t just mean per­form­ing well – but also feel­ing healthy and think­ing clearly. This process re­quires self-aware­ness. Will a par­tic­u­lar veg­etable, piece of fruit, cut of meat or dessert give me the en­ergy I need and want, or will it make me feel tired and de­pleted?

In my early 20s, when I barely ever thought about what I ate, I would usu­ally eat a cheese­burger and French fries for lunch and a big bowl of pasta with cheese for din­ner. After­ward, the only thing I felt like do­ing was curl­ing up in a ball and fall­ing asleep. To bring my vi­tal­ity up after a meal, I’d drink a cup of cof­fee with lots of su­gar, and when the caf­feine wore off, I’d have a se­cond one or maybe a third. After so much caf­feine, I would start to fall apart both phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally. Now I’m aware that I sim­ply can’t af­ford to feel tired or dopey, much less anx­ious or crazed. Time is in short sup­ply, and I hate wast­ing any of it. If I eat poorly then I ex­pend a lot of en­ergy just try­ing to feel nor­mal again. Why go there if I don’t have to?

As far as bal­ance is con­cerned, Tom and I both live by the old say­ing, ‘Mod­er­a­tion in all things.’ My hus­band likes to say, ‘Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing – and too much of a bad thing is just plain bad.’ When you think about it, too much of any­thing,

ON SPE­CIAL OC­CA­SIONS, I MIGHT HAVE A SMALL PIECE OF CAKE

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