I first heard the name Kelly LeVeque in the midst of my personal journey from a sedentary, Sour Patch Kids-filled lifestyle into one resembling that of a healthy adult human.
In an effort to satisfy my sweet tooth, I got heavy into fruit and fancied myself the very picture of wellness every time I chugged a berry smoothie or whipped an apple out of my purse for a mid-morning work snack. My coworker Abby tried to break it to me gently: That much fruit, she said, wasn’t actually good for me. Her nutritionist, Kelly LeVeque of Be Well by Kelly, said so.
Pfff! What does this Kelly LeVeque know? I thought to myself as I peeled another banana. Well, a few months of crazy bloating and digestive issues later, I had to admit that Kelly LeVeque was right.
The next time I heard Kelly’s name, she was podcasting with the ladies of That’s So Retrograde and talking about her journey from cancer researcher to celebrity nutritionist, with a client roster including Jessica Alba and Chelsea Handler.
As a recent devotee of her Fab Four Smoothies (more protein, fiber, fat, and greens; less fruit) and the owner of a well-worn copy of her book, Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever, I jumped at the chance to pick the 34-year-old wellness expert’s brain.
Read on to find out which alcoholic beverage gets Kelly's stamp of approval and exactly what foods will clear up your acne.
Jessica: Can you talk us through your general wellness philosophy?
Kelly: It’s all about blood sugar balance. So, I like to teach people a light structure for each of their meals so they know what to put on their plate to help their body balance their blood sugar naturally and eat foods that don’t create inflammation in the body. It just so happens that those foods also turn off eight hunger hormones in the body, so I’m really all about eating to satiety, feeling full and calm, with foods that nourish your body so that you don’t have to snack on junk and end up eating processed foods.
Jessica: You wrote a book! Let’s talk Body Love, and in particular, the amazing concepts buried in the subtitle (“Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever”). First of all, we love the philosophy of “Weigh What You Want”–not putting a specific number to health, and framing it as a personal choice. As a nutritionist, how do you see the relationship between health and weight?
Kelly: I think it’s really important that people don’t strive for a number that’s unattainable, and I think that it’s really important for people to just strive to be healthy and feel well. The side effect and consequence of that is is fitting into what is naturally healthy for your body and your frame.
A lot of the clients that I work with are smaller than me; a lot of the clients I work with are a little bit bigger than me. I know what my range is and I know when I’m feeling inflamed, when I’m carrying a few extra pounds–I also know when I’m working out and eating clean and what that feels like on my frame. I think that’s the important message here: What’s your range? It’s all about teaching people to eat to satiety and fuel themselves to feel and fit into the size they want, not deprivation. That’s unattainable and leads to people swinging from binge to cleanse to binge to cleanse and not staying in the right, comfortable weight.
Jessica: Secondly, “Food Drama.” Have you dealt with your personal food drama, and how did you overcome it?
Kelly: Absolutely. I think the way that I overcame food drama was understanding that it doesn’t matter what [the food] is, I can tell you 20 reasons why you should eat it and 20 reasons why you shouldn’t. We look at health in a silo. We look at brown rice and someone might say it’s higher in arsenic than white rice, and someone might say not to eat white rice because it’s gonna spike your blood sugar faster. And at the end of the day, when I look at white rice or brown rice (and you’re buying a clean version), it doesn’t really matter. I ask my clients, What do you like better?
There’s so much information that it can make us feel overwhelmed and stressed out, and we start to build rules around food that cause food anxiety, that make us feel guilty if we do end up indulging in that. I think the more rules you have, the greater your opportunity to feel bad about yourself and out of control. I try to steer people away from that. I try to pull away the rules and do really general rules–like protein, fat, fiber and greens, which is my Fab Four. It doesn’t matter if you’re vegan, vegetarian, raw, Paleo, or Whole 30. I mean, you just find what’s right for you in terms of turning off your hunger hormones, feeling full and satisfied, feeding yourself what your body needs, and then naturally going four to six hours without thinking about food, stressing about food. The more you think about it, the more opportunities you have to go pick up something you don’t really want to eat. It’s about biologically turning off hunger from the inside out, so that you’re not fighting not to eat.
Jessica: Cleanses. Are they real or fake?
Kelly: Fasting is real, juicing is fake. Don’t waste your money.
Jessica: What’s a Kelly-approved alcoholic beverage (and serving size)?
Kelly: Vodka, tequila, soda, a lemon or lime squeeze. 1 or 2.
Jessica: Key foods/practices/supplements to...
Kelly: Pull the dairy, pull the gluten, add Omega-3s–so a fish oil or an algae-based Omega-3 only, not seed or nut based. Add leafy greens to feed the healthy gut bacteria in your gut–the reason you’re breaking out probably has to do with bad bacteria in the gut.
Pull back on fructose or sugar–anything that feeds bad bacteria like candida or yeast, that’s the bacteria that eats away at sugar, gives off gasses, and you bloat right away.
...support immune system/kill a cold?
Vitamin C all the way. I would take an Emergen-C type of a product, you put it in water and you drink it slowly all day. Your body does a better job of absorbing it over time than at one time. A lot of people will pound 100mg of Vitamin C–it would be better to continue to drink every 20 minutes for two hours. If you have too much Vitamin C, the side effect is diarrhea, and then you’ll know you had too much!
Definitely eating foods that are rich in magnesium, so more leafy greens. I would definitely also pull the caffeine if you can, or lower the amount of caffeine. Go from black coffee to a black tea to a green tea to an herbal tea. People think that caffeine doesn’t affect them until they pull it out and realize it does.
Balance your blood sugar–so that means you’re getting a good amount of protein and fat and fiber and greens–and not eating as often. People always say have five to six small meals a day, but over time, that will make you feel really tired.
...support healthy hair/skin/nails?
Make sure you have enough Vitamin D, have enough iron, and I would say Omega-3s are really good too. E vitamins. Biotin.
Jessica: Best business advice?
Kelly: Know what you’re worth.
Jessica: Best wellness advice?
Kelly: Get your Omega-3s.
Jessica: Personal favorite smoothie?
Kelly: My Spa Smoothie, every day of the week. Avocado, cucumber, lemon, spinach, mint.
To shop the supplements Kelly recommends, head on over to the ILLUUM SHOP.