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After a weekend full of royal wedding madness, Meghan Markle is now the Duchess of Sussex after she married Prince Harry at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The entire world watched as she made her way down the aisle (letting her natural freckles steal the show!). And naturally, she looked absolutely stunning in her Givenchy dress, which no doubt left most of us wondering: How does she look so dang good?
Well, the way she eats likely plays a part: In a May 2016 interview with Reader’s Digest Best Health, Markle revealed she sticks to a vegan diet during the week and gives herself a little more wiggle room to indulge on the weekends. “I don’t just take care of myself for aesthetic reasons but because how I feel is dictated by what I’m eating, how much rest I’m getting, and how much water I’m drinking,” Markle said.
What are the benefits of eating a plant-based diet?
Plant-based foods can completely change the way you feel: Research shows that eating a vegan diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of several chronic health problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even certain cancers. On top of that, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is great for your skin, according to a 2014 review.
And you don’t have to go completely vegetarian or vegan to reap the rewards of eating more plants, says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Loading up on vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds means you’re packing in more fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, she explains. At the same time, you’re taking in less saturated fat-all factors that contribute to a reduced risk of disease.
“This doesn’t mean you need to adopt a strictly vegan diet and omit all animal foods. In fact, some non-vegan foods can also be beneficial and essential such as fish, eggs, and dairy,” adds Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, founder of The NY Nutrition Group. (The food served at the royal wedding actually had a great mix of healthy eats, which included lean proteins like salmon and chicken alongside seasonal vegetables.
“Overall, just aiming for at least 2 to 3 cups of vegetables, 1 to 2 servings of fruits, and 1 to 2 ounces of nuts and seeds per day can make all the difference. You may even feel an immediate change in energy levels, digestion, sleep, and mood,” says Moskovitz.
Just note that going full-on vegan does mean you could fall short on certain nutrients, like protein, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, according to a review published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. However, Hultin stresses that if you eat a balanced plant-based diet (meaning you put a little more effort into planning out your meals), you shouldn’t have this issue. “People who do include meat also need to ensure they’re meeting all of these nutrients as well,” Hultin says.
Even though she’s conscious of what she eats, Markle still isn’t one to totally restrict herself. “It’s all about balance. Because I work out the way I do, I don’t ever want to feel deprived,” Markle stated in the 2016 interview. “I feel that the second you do that is when you start to binge on things.”
Some of her favorite foods to indulge in? Red wine, pasta, and French fries.
“Allowing yourself permission to eat foods you enjoy once in a while is so important to prevent feelings of deprivation and undo stress,” says Moskovitz. “Restricting too much or not allowing yourself any foods, especially ones you used to love, can lead to over-eating and possibly even binge eating. This can affect your overall relationship with food and make eating way more stressful than it should ever be.”
Markle echoed that very sentiment in her interview: “Do the things you enjoy within reason,” she stated. “Know your body and what works for you and you’ll be fine.”
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