Zoe Saldana: ‘I don’t believe in diets. I try not to deprive my body of anything’


Zoe Saldana covers the June issue of Shape magazine. I don’t know where this was shot but the photos are beautiful. The interview is decent, although mostly stuff we’ve heard from her before. One thing I did learn is that Zoe and her two sister, Mariel and Cisely, formed the production company Cinestar – what? I had no idea. They don’t discuss it in the interview but bring it up in the introduction. She also elaborated on her food philosophy. Zoe was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in 2012, so Shape provided a good platform for her to discuss her advocacy of clean eating for its health benefits.

With exercise, you do you: “Between travel, meetings, and shoots, schedules are rough for me. I try to work out three times a week, but I don’t believe in getting on one machine for 30 minutes. If I do a lot of cardio, it usually just means I’ll be dragging my feet for the rest of the day. And when I’m shooting, I really don’t like to be strict with my workout, since I’m already putting in 16-hour days. So I do 20-minute intervals either at the gym or at home, where I run in place for 30 seconds, then do squats, then carry a heavy medicine ball a few times in a row until I get my heart rate up.”

Control what you can, then let the rest unfold: “I can’t work out regularly, so I compensate by eating a lot healthier than I might otherwise. Once you have relatively healthy eating habits, your workout can become playing with your kids, strolling around the neighborhood, playing airplane, or just changing diapers.”

Diets don’t do squat: “I don’t believe in cheat days because I don’t believe in diets. I try not to deprive my body of anything, because the moment I have just salads and protein for a few days, I crave carbs. But when I eat everything in balance, I think less about food and more about everything else. It’s about eating to live, not living to eat.”

My food philosophy: “If my husband and I had different professions, where we didn’t need to shop in supermarkets and could live more naturally, we could eat more sustainably. I grew up partially in the Dominican Republic, and I remember what eating was like when my grandma would pick herbs from her garden and we’d get seafood that had been caught that morning. Life was very simple and much healthier. It’s not that I like to eat superlight, just superclean. I like food that is fresh. I don’t go for things that come in can—and I’m losing trust in things that come in plastic. And we’re starting to move in the direction of becoming a vegetarian family; society has a very violent, dysfunctional, and wrong relationship with how we cultivate and produce meat. So if I have to pay more to eat better, then I’ll just balance my checkbook better. For example, I’d rather get the dark chocolate with goji berries than the milk chocolate packed with saturated fat.

“Perfection” is a dinosaur: “If we could design ourselves, we’d all be perfect. But we can’t, so why be unhappy about it? I’ve never wanted different hair or my body any other shape. And I’ve never thought of a person as ugly unless they opened their mouth and their heart was full of venom.”

[From Shape]

Man, I love those dark chocolate covered goji berries. And dark chocolate covered cherries… and blueberries – it’s probably safe to say any dark chocolate covered berry suits my fancy. I also went to a happy place in my mind picturing Zoe’s grandmother picking fresh herbs and selecting her catch for the day. I swear that’s the life I should be living. I wanted to get on Zoe for her dismissing diets outright but in reading her whole interview, I think she distinguished a ‘diet’ and a temporary, lose weight quick thing. So to her, adopting an 80/20 style of eating and clean eating, etc. are rules, not diets, which she is probably right about, I just call anything I follow a diet. Most of what she says is practical, if not a little idealistic. She doesn’t deny herself anything? I’d challenge that. I do agree on her thoughts on exercise. I was told years ago if you can’t exercise regularly, try to find ways to work it into to what you are doing like park in the farthest parking spot from the door, take the stairs instead of the elevator. One person even suggested taking the groceries into the house one bag at a time.

Her last quote that we would all design ourselves to be perfect doesn’t sit right with me. Isn’t that saying there is a perfect body? If we are going to truly embrace the “love the shape you are in” philosophy, shouldn’t we stop implying that we are settling if we don’t meet what someone else deems “perfect”?



Photo credit: Nino Munoz/Shape Magazine and WENN Photos

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14 Responses to “Zoe Saldana: ‘I don’t believe in diets. I try not to deprive my body of anything’”

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  1. Ghost says:

    Different things work for different people. The thing that finally helped me get healthier and in shape was realising I find restriction easier than moderation. I’d rather not have chocolate than just have one piece of it. Balance I find harder, so I do have cheat days every once in a while. It’s working for me.
    I’m at a point where I tolerate my body, which is much better than loathing it, which I have done for most of my life. But loving it? I don’t see myself every coming to that point.

    And I call bullshit on never finding anyone ugly. We all have different tastes, and different people find different things pretty and ugly, but everyone has seen a person and thought they’re ugly. At least once in their life.

    • Alleycat says:

      I’m trying to get in better shape, and I agree with you about restriction. I have the worst sweet tooth, so if I told myself just eat one Hershey kiss, you bet your butt half the bag would be gone because I took my next breath. I’m currently trying to avoid junk food during the week days, and that’s a struggle.

    • kay says:

      Ghost, I don’t think her ugly statement is bullshit because I am the same. People only are ugly, to me, when their inside is ugly. I have never ever seen someone I would call ugly based solely on physical appearance because everyone has at least one feature, physically, that is beautiful.
      Not trying to argue but offer my perspective as it similar to hers.

  2. I love this interview. And no, I don’t love the body I’m in but I really, really like it ha ha. If I weren’t as lazy it would look better but we have a happy relationship :)

    • DystopianDance says:

      I don’t eat in between meals, I don’t NEED that much energy, just three square meals/day, thank you. However, I exercise every day and avoid processed food as much as possible. That said, I don’t restrict, per se, because chemicals aren’t food and i”m not going to consume frankenFood; I eat whole foods fresh foods with whole nutrients. The only time I “cleanse” is when I ‘m under duress or have the flu; it’s not natural to starve on purpose! BTW I have been the same exact size since puberty, maybe now I have more muscle.

  3. Nimbolicious says:

    I dunno….so many of these skinny actresses claim to not believe in diets and preach clean/organic eating and self-acceptance yet they’re secretly double-fisting coke and Adderall in order to meet industry “standards.” I’m not saying Zoe is lying but I always tend to side-eye these kinds of pronouncements.

    • Marianne says:

      It also is a lot easier for her to just spend more in order to eat more fresh food. However, thats not a realistic standard for everyone else.

  4. Sequinedheart says:

    I saw her at my Doctors office after she’d had her twins (same obgyn) and my goodness, that woman is incredibly beautiful and natural in person. She is petite, so it looks like she is genetically blessed whatever she does with her diet and exercise (outside of her hashi eating plan, obvi).

    • Pam_L says:

      Zoe also started out in life as a dancer. I think I read somewhere that she switched to acting in her mid to late teens. To me, she has a ballet dancer’s long limbs.

  5. Shannon says:

    Everyone has a different relationship with food, different body types, different metabolism. I’m naturally small-boned and short, and I gain and lose easily. But I just try to listen to my body and realize that it will tell you what it needs. I try not to get too caught up in the aesthetic of it.

  6. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    Diet means eating rules, not merely denial of certain food. The phrase “healthy diet” wouldn’t mean the same thing otherwise. What she ascribes to is a diet.

  7. Egla says:

    Well she has the means to eat fresh etc but let’s not kid ourselves that she has that kind of body by not dieting and exercising very little. Yes one can be skinny naturally but this girl is toned as hell and no you can’t achieve that with three times a week gym and by “changing diapers” as exercise.
    Also we eat fresh at home. My mom cooks from scratch every day. We have a farmers market close to home and we buy fresh vegetables and fruits everyday. Still most members of my family are heavy BECAUSE they don’t diet at all. I don’t blame her for keeping her figure. It is her job after all but why not coming straight and say:
    1. Yes I am genetically blessed
    2. Yes, I take care of what I eat a LOT (aka diet – whatever you name it, if you look into what you eat meticulously it’s called a diet)
    3. Yes, I go to the gym and I hit it hard with a trainer (she has admitted that much after giving birth when she gained some weight and complained how hard it was to go back in shape and told about her sacrifices of dieting and exercising)

    I am naturally slender. I gained some weight after 30 though and no matter what I do It seems I can’t shake it of from my hips. I talked to a fitness teacher once and he told me that first I must control what I eat a lot and for a long period of time until it becomes second nature to me (basically dieting), avoid all sugary things which I can’t seem to give up and step up my gym game. No more light thing but really sweating it as you have to burn the bad fat in your critical areas he told me. Also I must be vigilant of not letting go because I might regain all the bad fat again pretty quickly. Needles to say I have lost only 2 kg in a year. I am more toned yes but my hips are still kind of there….and I like my body anyway sooo

  8. What's Inside says:

    Her fashion choices leave a lot to be desired in the past, but otherwise I think this gal has it going on…..

  9. tcbc says:

    It’s easy not to believe in diets when you’re naturally thin.