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Q & A: Calgary Avansino

Posted on 18th February 2016 by Calgary Avansino
As well as being a contributing editor to British Vogue and a columnist for The Sunday Times’ Style magazine, Calgary Avansino is a wellbeing expert. Her ethos is not to diet but to recognise that the quality of what we eat matters. By eating the right foods and by making key lifestyle changes, she assures, we can all lead healthier, happier lives. Her book, Keep It Real, explains this ethos in detail, while providing page after page of sumptuous recipes that will prove eating a good diet need not be dull. Avansino takes us through her fresh approach to healthy eating.

What does it mean to be healthy?

For me, healthy starts in the mind and then in the body. As women, we are often taught that food is the enemy – something that produces guilt and causes self-loathing. This is exacerbated by the diet industry, which puts us on a rollercoaster of deprivation and failure. My hope for all women is to realise that their worth is not determined by their weight and that they prioritise health and nutrition so they can be strong, energised and powerful, not just skinny in a bikini. Once you make the decision mentally that you are worth trying for, the acts of stocking your kitchen in new ways, buying healthier ingredients and cooking more nutritious food will make more sense and feel easier.
 
What is the hardest part of the day for you to avoid temptation?

The hardest part of anyone’s day to avoid temptation is when they are tired, both physically and mentally. And the best way to avoid getting tired, both physically and mentally, is to eat nourishing, real foods. So I try to avoid that terrible moment when hunger strikes by eating filling and fulfilling foods regularly throughout the day (never skip meals!) and I also always try to keep healthy snacks readily available so if fatigue and hunger do surface, I am ready!

How do you treat yourself in terms of food?

Fresh, seasonal, vibrant foods are really the most delicious treat but if you mean sweet treats or indulgent treats then I would have to say cheese (of any variety, really), baklava (I know, random) and peanut brittle.

What small change in people's diet would have the most impact for those seeking out a healthy lifestyle?

I think the key part of that question is ‘small change’ – we really shouldn’t look at a healthy lifestyle as one huge overhaul that needs doing all at once. The best approach is to make lots of little changes, maybe one a week or one a month, that gradually add up to big differences without feeling unmanageable. Perhaps this means swapping from dairy milk on your cereal to almond milk, or changing from high-sugar granola to porridge with cinnamon and nutmeg. Maybe it means having Meatless Monday once a week (plant-based living doesn’t mean necessarily going vegetarian or vegan, although cutting back is important!), or it could mean starting one new exercise class. Perhaps it is making the commitment to get off the bus one stop earlier and walk further to work or cutting out your unhealthy afternoon snack in replacement of some chopped veggies and hummus. The key is to just ‘start’ trying to make changes.

What is your literary diet?

It’s as extensive, gourmet and delicious as possible. My time for reading seems to be less now with three kids but I still make it a priority because it’s “my” time. I read everything from classic fiction to self-help and biographies. I’m very open and usually buy something off the recommendation of a friend. In terms of cookery books, these are a few of my favourites:

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones

Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine by Gabriel Cousens

The Art of Eating Well by Hemsley + Hemsley

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

The Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl

 

 Calgary Avansino, Contributing Editor – British Vogue and author of Keep It Real.

@calgaryavansino

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