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Balancing Act

Celebrity nutritionist Kelly LeVeque on her holistic approach to wellness.

As the best-selling author of Body Love and the go-to nutritionist for stars such as Jennifer Garner and Chelsea Handler, Kelly LeVeque is an expert at balance. Her approach to nutrition is simple, yet somehow revolutionary: eat cleanly and adopt balanced, everyday eating habits. And in the wake of the anti-diet movement, this method has proven wildly popular. When Jessica Alba credits your smoothie recipe with curing acne, you know you’re onto something good. Here, LeVeque shares her tips on living well while traveling and maintaining a busy schedule.

When did you first become interested in nutrition?
I fell in love with health and nutrition in high school but thought it would just be a hobby. During my undergraduate degree, I studied genetics and after graduating began educating oncologists about new medical technologies [like tumor gene mapping]. I assumed being a nutritionist and dietician meant working in a hospital and that it wouldn’t really be optimizing wellness. I assumed there wouldn’t even be a market for it. Then it became so popular.

How did you transition this passion into a full-time career?
I started helping friends first. I knew about trends before they took off and I became a health sounding board for them. In 2011, a friend said, “You could see clients one-on-one.” I decided to go back to school in 2012 [to study clinical nutrition], and by September 2015 I was getting so many referrals, I knew this was something I could take on full-time.

Now you’re the nutritionist for many celebrities. How did that come to be?
It was a very natural path for me. The referrals were friend-based and nothing I was expecting. I met Jessica Alba through her makeup artist, who had become a client of mine. I’m a realist and understand the hectic lifestyles people lead—simple things like how to eat clean while being on the go or having food restrictions, especially if you’re filming a movie late at night. My specialty is elevating food choices instead of having people subscribe to a specific type of diet.

What are the most common food traps we should all steer clear of?
It is important to avoid processed foods. The more you eat whole foods, the higher fiber content you’ll get. With all my clients, I use something called the Fab Four. I ask them to look at their plate and find four things: protein, fat, fiber and greens.

Your approach focuses on holistic wellness, not just on what people eat. Are there some holistic activities you’d recommend for travelers visiting Santa Monica?
I’m a big fan of exercises like yoga, and YogaWorks on Main Street is a great studio in the area that visitors should definitely check out.

You’re an expert when it comes to California’s wellness scene. What are your top choices for a healthy meal in SoCal?
Venice has a [plant-based] restaurant called The Butcher’s Daughter. They have detox and cleansing smoothies. My favorite nearby grocery store is Erewhon. They have a deli where all the proteins are wild, pasture-raised and grass-fed. They do something called a protein meal—which is a serving of protein and two vegetable sides. If someone is traveling or wants to take lunch to the beach, it’s a great option.

Do you have a dinner spot to recommend?
I’ve had a few meals at Fig Restaurant in Santa Monica, which is in Fairmont Miramar. It’s farm-to-table and they do a good job with veggie sides. The last time I went, I got broccoli, carrots and wood-grilled salmon with artichoke panzanella and horseradish yogurt. It was really awesome.

When traveling and staying at hotels, what amenities do you favor the most?
I actually like to get outside to run or walk, and to do lunges and squats. When traveling, if you can sign up for a class in or near your hotel, I recommend that above anything else. It keeps you in the gym for an extended period of time. It gets you working out with other people. It helps you get those endorphins. I live in LA but if I were staying at Fairmont Miramar, for example, I’d do a vinyasa yoga class at the hotel’s Exhale spa and gym. I’d also take advantage of the nearby boardwalk and the fact that the hotel is steps away from the beach.

For people who have a hard time balancing meals while traveling, how can they eat better on the road?
One of the things I do when I’m traveling is pack protein-, fat- and fiber-based snacks in my bag. I make sure I have a reusable water bottle so I can fill it up frequently. I make sure I’m hydrated when I’m traveling. It can be something you miss.

Do you have any new projects that you’re working on?
I have an app with the popular fitness club Body By Simone that’s called the BBS app. It allows guests to work out at a hotel gym or in their room without any equipment.

What are your top three secrets for a healthy life?
One is my Fab Four smoothie. It’s such an easy tool to make sure I’m full, elongating my blood-sugar curve and turning off my hunger hormones. The second would be daily movement, whether that’s yoga or walking or just moving my body and being in my body. The third thing would be finding something to be grateful for every day. Not every day is peaches and cream, but if you focus on the positive, that momentum takes you forward. 

Wellness 101
LeVeque’s best-selling first book, Body Love, is about balancing blood sugar and eating an anti-inflammatory diet for hormone health. Her follow-up, Body Love: Every Day, to be released in 2019, breaks her philosophy into 30-day plans suited to different lifestyles.  There’s a plant-based chapter for vegans and vegetarians, a section dedicated to those who travel a lot, and another for those getting red-carpet ready.

 

By Kelly Stock

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