Sloane Stephens on dieting: ‘If I can’t have something, I want it more’

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People has a series called “What I Eat in a Day” in which celebrities share what they like to eat, their thoughts about what “living healthily” means for them, and, as the series’ title suggests, what they eat in a day. Recently, People has spoken to Amy Robach, Hannah Brown, and Teddi Mellencamp. Last week they talked to Sloane Stephens, who was upfront about the fact that she’s not a fan of diets:

As a champion tennis player, Sloane Stephens needs her food to work just as hard as she does — to keep her energized through grueling workouts and matches.

The WTA player and 2017 U.S. Open champ, 26, has learned to seek out foods that give her a boost on the court.

“I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more aware of how specific foods make me feel, so I try to listen to my body,” she tells PEOPLE. “I eat more of what makes me energized and less of what makes me lethargic.”

By listening to her body, Stephens also doesn’t restrict herself from foods, and says she isn’t a fan of dieting.

“If I tell myself I can’t have something, I want it more,” she says. “So I’m more about being very aware of what I’m eating and just nothing in excess.”

1 cup of Greek yogurt with ¼ cup of granola

Bowl of fresh fruit

Quantum Energy Square in coconut almond chip (Stephens is a spokesperson)

Mixed-green salad with grilled chicken and 1 avocado

Post-Workout Snack
12 oz. of chocolate milk

6 oz. teriyaki salmon

¾ cup of white rice

1½ cups of broccoli

50 to 60 oz. of water

[From People]

Everyone I know loves Greek yogurt; I wish I liked it, but it’s just too tart or sour for my taste. I am a late guest to the “I love avocado!” party, and really enjoy it on grilled chicken sandwiches, so Sloane’s lunch sounds perfect. My problem is that I am incredibly busy, so I’d go and buy 5 avocados at the store and then not actually eat them right away because I’d be too tired to make a bunch of sandwiches. I think Sloane’s approach to food sounds sensible: She eats what she wants and tries not to eat to the point where she’s no longer enjoying what she’s eating. She also reminds me that I need to drink more water. I drink way too much tea. I know people who claim to drink a gallon of water every day, which seems like a lot to me, but I definitely need to increase my water intake. At the moment, though, I’m so busy that I forget to eat or drink. I need to fix that!

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18 Responses to “Sloane Stephens on dieting: ‘If I can’t have something, I want it more’”

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  1. Lex says:

    I am not someone who could ever forget to eat or drink…

    • Joanna says:

      Me neither! My husband will say I was so busy, I forgot to eat! HOW??! no matter how busy I am, I always eat! I get hangry if I don’t.

  2. Some chick says:

    My therapist refers to these concepts as “intuitive eating.”

    Eat when you are hungry. Eat (pretty much) what you want to. I mean, you can’t have fried chicken EVERY DAY, but you can have fried chicken. Stop eating when you are full. (Leftover fried chicken is still pretty damn good!)

    And… maybe just let your body be the weight it wants to be. Expecting people to be super skinny isn’t reasonable. Yes, I know, some people are naturally super skinny. Many are not, tho! And we should not be starving ourselves in service of an unreasonable “standard.”

    I’m pretty cool with all of that. Now I just want the internet to stop “serving” me diet ads! LOL!

  3. manda says:

    I have found that as soon as I am dieting, I want to binge on bread and butter, or things that I don’t ordinarily really eat. I hate thinking about food all the time. I feel like if I’m not worrying about something stupid, I’m thinking about food

    Avocados are really good, I just got into those a few years ago and was shocked that I had been so picky to not even try them. Super good!

    • Noodle says:

      @Manda, I do this too. For me, it’s a response to the perception of scarcity. Like, my body and brain are so freaked out that I may not have something, I go into overdrive to ensure I get it. For instance, my MiL is famous for inviting us over one year for Christmas, then having only cheese and crackers for us to eat for the entire 6 hour visit. The next time we visited, I HAD (not really, but my brain told me) to binge on food before we went so I wouldn’t be hungry when I was there. Even though I probably could have done fine with a small meal beforehand, I ate SO much food because I was scared of being without. I think some of it goes back to survival instincts (I better eat this whole moose while I can, because there might not be any food sources next week when it gets colder), but a lot of it is just our brain’s reaction to a perception of scarcity.

  4. helonearth says:

    As soon as I decide about not eating something, it is constantly on my mind!

    Don’t attempt to drink a gallon of water a day. It does not improve your health and can be dangerous.

  5. MMC says:

    That works great for some people, but it does not work for me. I find complete restriction a lot easier than moderation. I’d rather have no pizza than just one slice, it just makes the cravings worse. I was finally able to lose weight and get healthy when I stopped listening to everyone telling me moderation was the way to go.

    I drink about a litre and a half of water a day, which is ideal for me.

  6. runcmc says:

    I’m actually kind of surprised at her diet considering she’s a professional athlete. I eat pretty similarly and it sustains my current weight, and my body is not my job! I wonder if they have professional athletes do “off day” and “in season” diets, I’d be curious to see how it varies.

    • Noodle says:

      I had the same thought – This isn’t much food for a professional athlete. I’m sure she has trainers and nutritionists working with her to optimize food intake and the mix of protein/cards/etc, but this seems like a diet for a normal person, not a professional athlete.

    • Cate says:

      I had this thought also–I did a quick estimate and even assuming full-fat yogurt, a LARGE bowl of fruit, and some dressing, it’s only about 2,500 calories. She’s fairly young, fairly tall, presumably spending several hours on athletics most days…it doesn’t seem like quite enough. I hope there’s some unreported snacking going on!

  7. Slowsnow says:

    What a boring diet! I’m a vegan and some people still joke “what do you eat?” As if there weren’t a ton of veggies and pulses for just a handful of kinds of fish and meat. There’s chickpea or sweet pea curry, whole-wheat pasta with all kinds of pesto, stuffed aubergine… so many options. I hope this chicken/avocado trend for athletes dies down. It must be awful to have that every day and super unsustainable.

  8. Kristina says:

    Related to this idea- Shout out to @Celebitchy for recommending MyFitnessPal in a post a few months ago. I was so sick of being unhappy over a relatively small weight gain that I just couldn’t shake. Turns out I was eating just a teeny bit too much each day that was adding up. I’ve lost 9lb and I am 2lb away from my goal weight!!!

    Oh and I still eat donuts and chocolate and stuff- I just make sure to balance it and not eat 10 donuts or 5 chocolate bars, like I totally want to sometimes 😉

  9. Kathryn says:

    Tennis fan here – I watch it and play it. Sloane is awesome – seems very grounded and a lot of fun. I follow her and a zillion other tennis players on Instagram

  10. CatWomen says:

    Greek yogurt is great if you like, buy vanilla, then add a flavor of creamer (I add 2 tablespoons Starbucks white chocolate mocha) it’s a great ice cream substitute. Also for snacks, Quest Birthday bars are the perfect blend of sugar and salt. These are my go to snacks, more protein too.

  11. Dee says:

    Her body is insane!