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Guide to



a Model’s Guide to HealtHy eating

A Model’s Guide to Healthy Eating


Whilst the authors make every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of contents of this leaflet, this information is intended to provide general guidance only should not be relied upon as a substitute for formal medical/professional advice. Please note that Equity, Dance UK and the British Fashion Council cannot be held responsible for the contents of any referenced sources. Acknowledgements:

Jasmine Challis is an Accredited Sports Dietician and Registered Nutritionist. Jane Griffin is Dietician and Nutritionist specialising in weight management and hydration strategies. Ava Barron is a Dance Scientist and former dancer and model. Bibliography:

1. Vickers-Jones, Louise Cole & Giles. Professional Modelling: every model’s must have guide to the industry. London : New Holland Publishers, 2009.

2. Griffin, J. Fluids for dancers: Dance Uk Information sheet 15. London : Dance UK, 2005.

3. Challis, J. Nutrition for dancers: Dance UK Information sheet 12. London: Dance UK, 2003

Modeling and Eating Disorders. Modeling 101. [Online] 2007. [Cited: 17 July 2009.] Bean, E & Bidner, J. Complete guide for models. New York : Lark Books, 2004. Equity, prepared in association with the British Fashion Council and the London Development Agency in partnership with Dance UK © Dance UK 2009 Copyright Notice The text and images contained belong to Dance UK or the appropriate author and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You cannot print or reproduce any part of these text and images other than for personal use and any copies must retain the copyright or other intellectual property notices contained in the original material. Any other use could lead to action or breach of copyright. No part of this sheet may be reproduced by any process without written permission from Dance UK.

A Model’s Guide to Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating for Models – Jasmine Challis. Edited by Ava Barron MSc Food is fuel for your body; you need a balanced mix of nutrients in order to function properly but also to provide you with a healthy body, great skin, hair and nails. Good nutrition will keep you full of vitality and ready to face your daily challenges. A lack of adequate nutrition over time will affect your appearance, emotional well-being and health. Although the signs may not be immediately apparent, you might develop weak nails; bad complexion, depression, dry, lanky hair, or your hair can fall out, all symptoms of malnutrition.

Components of nutrition Nutrition refers to much more than just how much you eat. Instead it refers to the balance of minerals,

vitamins and other important nutrients found in what you eat. Here’s a brief guide for a healthy balanced diet:

– 50% of your energy should come from carbohydrates such as; wholegrain bread, pastas, cereal or rice. Not only do these ‘fill you up’ for longer, releasing energy steadily throughout the day, but they also contain more vitamins & minerals and will provide you with fibre, essential for health.

– A balance of fresh fruit and vegetables to provide digestive fibre, vitamins and minerals. Have your five a day! It is a good idea to improve your food intake with an array of different produce rather than take supplements.

– An adequate supply of dietary protein is essential for the body to function. Aim to include a reasonable sized portion twice a day. Approximately 12-15% of your daily energy should come from protein. Good sources include lean meat and poultry, white and oily fish, pulses (beans and lentils) eggs or vegetarian protein found in Quorn, tofu and soya mince. Dairy products such as, cheese, milk and yogurt are an excellent source of protein, calcium and

vitamins. But eat full fat cheeses such as cheddar in moderation.

– If you are a vegetarian, make sure you get a real variety of different fruit and vegetables, pulses, grains and nuts. If you eat dairy products, choose low fat ones.

– You should not avoid fat entirely, but no more than 35% of your daily energy should be from fat. Our bodies contain a certain amount of essential fat and storage fat and we need a regular intake of essential fatty acids to stay healthy. Deficiency in these will lead to many health problems including dull flaky skin, poor circulation, poor blood clotting, hormone imbalances, and a deficiency in essential fat soluble vitamins. The best sources of the essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are oily fish, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, linseeds, rapeseed oil, soybean oil and other vegetable oils.

Fluids To avoid the symptoms of dehydration, which include headaches, loss of concentration and tiredness not to mention effects on your skin and weight, both men and women should consume 1.5 to 2 litres of water daily. Follow dietician and nutritionist, Jane Griffin’s practical points to help achieve this:

A Model’s Guide to Healthy Eating

– Keep up regular fluid intake throughout the day.

– Vary what you drink during the day.

– Calorie-free drinks include water (tap or bottled), no-added-sugar squashes, diet drinks, black coffee/ tea, herbal or fruit teas or infusions.

– Drinks that contribute energy include milk (alone or added to coffee, tea or chocolate), regular squashes, non-diet canned drinks, sports drinks and fruit and vegetable juices.

– Regular tea, coffee and cola drinks (and many other canned energy drinks) contain caffeine. In large amounts this can have a diuretic effect (makes you ‘pee’ more). Drinking up to 5 cups of tea or 3 cups of coffee a day is fine. Remember that white coffee is more ‘bone-friendly’ than black coffee due to the calcium in the milk or cream.

– Thirst is not necessarily a good indicator of how dehydrated you are. Know your own body; everybody has individual fluid requirements.

– Excessive quantities of 4 litres of fluid or more a day can be dangerous.

Weight(y) matters Models are required to look healthy and be in good shape. Failing to maintain a healthy diet may take its toll on your looks thus affecting your success in gaining work. For example, your face and hair will show fatigue if you are not eating and drinking adequately. Most people want an exact answer to the question ‘how much should I

eat’? Here are a few facts and figures:

– To maintain a healthy body weight, women should consume around

2,000 calories per day and men 2,500. On a low calorie diet quality becomes crucial. This doesn’t mean you can never eat chocolate, crisps or ice-cream but to ensure a balanced diet, these should be kept to a minimum.

– Being too thin has medical disadvantages for both men and women. Having too little body fat reduces hormone levels, which is bad news for bones. For women, the reduction in correct hormone levels can prevent menstruation.

– Remember that if your energy intake (food and drink) is matched by your energy output (e.g. daily routine or exercise) your weight will be steady.

– If you consistently eat too little your body will try and prevent weight loss by making you ‘slow down’ –your body will ‘tick over’ more slowly. It is vital to get sensible impartial advice from a qualified nutritionist or your doctor if you are planning any weight reduction. If you need to change your weight – whether to gain or lose – it will be a slow process To lose 0.5kg per week reduce intake (or increase expenditure) by around 500kcal per day. Conversely gaining this amount of weight requires you to take in at least 500kcal extra per day. Your weight can temporarily change throughout the day due to fluid fluctuations and glycogen stores. Weigh yourself no more than once or twice each week. If possible get guidance from friendly colleagues or family and friends you trust as to whether you have a true perception of your size.

Eating Plans It is important to try and find the

A Model’s Guide to Healthy Eating

Alcohol It is perhaps worth mentioning here that although alcohol does supply energy, it is not an ideal energy source. It lowers the blood sugar, stimulates appetite, acts as a diuretic and tends to impair judgement. It is extremely difficult to avoid the risk of gaining weight as fat, unless alcohol intake is well within health guidelines – currently a maximum of 14 units per week for women, 21 units per week for men. 1 unit contains 8g of alcohol; for example, a single pub measure of spirits, a standard glass of wine or a pint of beer each contain 1 unit. Check out Equity’s information booklet ‘Recreational Drugs, Alcohol, and Cigarette Smoking’ for further advice.

time to sit down, relax and chew your food thoroughly. There is a need for food at regular intervals through the day. This can be as three formal meals, breakfast, lunch and evening meal, or as regular meals and snacks. Instead of unplanned continuous ‘grazing’ aim for planned purposeful regular ‘pit stops’. Many snack foods like crisps, sweets, chocolates and fizzy drinks are high in fat and sugar but low in vitamins and minerals. They should be no more than a small part of your eating plan. – Breakfast:

Eating breakfast helps concentration during the morning, reduces depression and anxiety, and improves memory and verbal skills(3). As well as boosting your metabolism, breakfast will also provide essential fuel for a long day of castings. Any breakfast is better than no breakfast but some choices are better than others. Try to eat something from the following suggestions:

Cereal with low fat milk or yoghurt

– Weetabix, Shreddies, Raisin

Wheats, Bran Flakes, muesli or porridge are all great choices. Add fruit or have fruit juice too. Dried fruit and/or seeds such as pumpkin seeds also boost the nutrient content of a cereal breakfast. Or you could choose toast or a bagel with a small amount of butter/spread and some jam/ honey/marmalade or an egg, some ham or lower fat cheese for a protein boost. Depending on your appetite/ requirements fruit and yoghurt

are great for breakfast either alone or with toast or a bagel.

If you have an early casting or

shoot simply eat on the run and take a pocket breakfast with you:

for example, a bread roll, banana and carton of orange juice. Or how about, a cereal bar (look for those lower in fat), fruit (fresh or dried),

a honey sandwich or a teacake/

scone once you arrive. You don’t

A Model’s Guide to Healthy Eating


A Model’s Guide to Healthy Eating


have to eat breakfast as soon as you wake up but aim for within three hours of waking.

day is no more ‘fattening’ than food eaten at other times, despite the number of myths that exist on the subject (3). Plan to include carbohydrate: potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles or cous cous which each contain a range of nutrients in addition to just the carbohydrate. Brown rice and wholemeal pasta are sources of B vitamins for healthy nerves & energy release, while potatoes contain Vitamin C. Add in some protein and vegetables/ salad for a healthy meal. Avoid frying in large amounts of oil. Grilling, poaching, stir-frying and steaming are all good cooking methods for a speedy meal. Try and plan evening meals in advance; not only are you likely to save money and avoid picking convenience foods or ready meals but you can also start getting the meal ready when you get in rather than having to start thinking about it when you are already hungry and tired. A few standbys with reasonable shelf lives – frozen vegetables, frozen fish portions, eggs, ham/gammon, cheeses, potatoes, pasta, and jars of tomato sauces – mean you can always put a healthy meal together. Nutritious meals can be very simple


and there are a number of good standbys such as jacket potatoes that are quick to prepare. Remember, after dinner snacks are no substitute for your breakfast the following day.

Eating Out


and yoghurt are ideal. Baked apples/pears/bananas or stewed fruit (fresh or dried) are alternatives to fresh fruit.


Sandwiches are a great choice for an easy portable lunch: use wholemeal or rye bread to boost your vitamin and mineral intake. Include a source of protein (meat, fish, dairy) and some vegetables/salad or fruit. Salads are a good alternative. Make sure sandwiches and salads

Leftovers can be taken home and stored in the fridge to serve as a second meal the next day, providing you reheat it thoroughly. Use the same tips when ordering room service. Do remember however, it can be a pricey option. Be cautious of trying local delicacies, tempting as they may be, the last thing you need is an upset stomach. It is usually wise to avoid tap water and ice, order cold bottled water rather than sugary or alcoholic beverages. Food is an essential fuel and an important, social aspect of our lives. Take care of what you put into your body to stay feeling and looking your best.


your schedule is hectic and you have

to eat out, or you are on location, ask for restaurant recommendations. The concierge at any hotel is often


good person to ask for advice.

are kept cool either in a fridge or

Follow these top tips to help you make healthy meal choices:


cool bag.


you want something hot, jacket

potatoes with a filling are a good option. Soup can be a good choice, although vegetable soup and a bread roll will not provide much

protein, including lentils, beans or chicken will solve this problem. Or have a large portion of yoghurt as well.

Get menu items made to order at oriental restaurants and take-

aways. Choose boiled rice, chow mein is usually fine. Dishes in green pepper and black bean sauce or oyster sauces are good choices.

With French, Italian, Spanish and Indian cuisines lean meats such as chicken are better choices than high fat meats such as sausages. Vegetable pizzas will be a healthier alternative than the ‘meat feast’ and you can ask for half the cheese. Tikka or tandori chicken (without the creamy masala sauces) with boiled rice or chapati and


piece of fruit or portions of dried


fruit are great choices with lunch, and if you need more carbohydrate,


scone, teacake, some malt loaf or

fruit cake should help you meet the target.

Evening Meal:

This meal is essential to replenish energy levels after the day’s demands. Food eaten later in the

a vegetable side dish would be

a good selection.

Should you find your only option



fast food then opt for BBQ or

grilled chicken without the mayo or salads without the dressing.


Quick Tip:


You can tell if you are well hydrated by the ‘pee test’. If you urinate frequently and it’s pale in colour (especially by midday) you can be considered well-hydrated. Small volumes of dark urine, passed infrequently or failure to pass any for long periods are warning signs. You need to get drinking fast and continue taking frequent drinks until you are passing plenty of urine again.

Remember you can always ask for extra vegetables or to substitute items on a menu. For example, swap a portion of chips for a baked potato or side salad.

Vegetarians should take particular

care to make sure they meet their protein intake without just resorting to cheese.



you do decide on a dessert fruit