Camila Mendes: ‘your body tells you what it needs, you just have to listen to it’


Camila Mendes covers the April issue of Health magazine. I love the simplicity of the cover. She looks amazing, that purple is stunning on her. Camila, who plays Veronica on Riverdale, is in Canada filming the fifth season of the popular show. Obviously, things are very different with COVID-19 restrictions in place, which are for the cast and crew’s safety, but has also led to anxiety and stressful conditions for the actors. Camila talked to Health about how she’s looking after her mental health and diet by listening to her body and giving it what it needs to stay well.

Camila Mendes faced new difficulties while going back to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Health April issue, the Riverdale star said that she began “having panic attacks” after returning to work in Canada last fall.

As for how she takes care of her mental health, Mendes said that she’s learned to embrace self-care.

“Taking baths helped with the panic attacks,” she said. “I also learned in those moments to put down my phone and take a break from technology and get in the tub with some music on and a book. I never did that before the pandemic, and now I love that I’ve learned to do that for myself.”

Mendes, who has previously spoken about having struggled with bulimia, also opened up about her intuitive approach to nutrition — which hasn’t always been easy for her.

“As soon as I started listening to my body and eating what my body needed — which sometimes is eating the things I used to think were bad, like sugar and bread — I noticed a big change,” she explained.

“The crazy lesson was that your body tells you what it wants and needs; you just have to learn how to listen to it. It takes a while to learn that — it’s hard. And what one woman needs isn’t going to be the same as what another woman needs,” she added. “We’re all different.”

[From People]

I used the People excerpt because they had the quotes I wanted to talk about. I was very interested in Camila’s discussion on listening to her body. I’ve heard that before about giving into cravings because it’s actually what the body needs. I’ve taken advantage of that, especially when it comes to carbs, so I have to monitor myself. However, I have started listening very closely to my body since I was hospitalized with migraines last fall. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t ask for carbs too much anymore, but it does ask for water and protein. It also tells me immediately when to put down a glass of alcohol (or not pick one up) and if I listen, I can avoid a major migraine. I’ve been in Camila’s shoes when it comes to “forbidden foods” too. It feels like giving in, but she’s smart to pay attention to what her body is asking for because it is letting her know what it needs.

I am worried about the cast of Riverdale, though. Both KJ Apa and Lili Reinhart have admitted to feeling overly confined since they returned to set. I think it’s probably anxiety about working while the pandemic is still rampant as well as the strict precautions, but the whole cast sounds stretched thin. Camila seems to have found a way to cope by using bath breaks and stepping away from her phone and electronics. CB talked about the physical exhaustion lockdown has caused most of us. That’s a big change for a lot of people. Camila said that when she started her role on Riverdale, she was, “in a place in my life that was go, go, go.” I think many of us started that way, but now we need to rest when our bodies tell us to rest. The important message is that we have to stop thinking of taking a moment to recuperate as self-indulgent. It really is self-care and we need it to go on.

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Photo credit: Nino Muñoz/Health, Getty Images and Instagram

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21 Responses to “Camila Mendes: ‘your body tells you what it needs, you just have to listen to it’”

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  1. Emily says:

    I remember hearing that KJ worked so late that he got in a car accident from sleep deprivation. The show seems intense.

    You were hospitalized from migraines? How did you get them under control? I’ve been having them monthly, lasting two days every time, since going back to work after having a baby. I’m chalking it up for hormones but she’s almost two now.

    • Elizabeth says:

      The actors’ union should protect them from that. I was really shocked to hear how sleep deprived he was. He could have easily been killed.

    • lucy2 says:

      A friend of mine has been struggling with that, and began getting one of the injections, and it’s helped. Sorry I don’t know which one.

  2. Miss Jupitero says:

    Yikes! Hecate I hope you are feeling better! *Hug*

    Lovely article and love that show. I can only imagine what it is like filming under covid now.

  3. Tom says:

    Yes but only up to a point. We can manage some conditions with dietary and lifestyle change.

    Sadly, it’s not a big jump from “ Listen to the body’s wisdom” to sick person blaming.

    If only you’d listened to your body, you wouldn’t have (fill in the illness), all the way up to and including cancer. You didn’t and now you’re sick. You therefore sorta deserve your fate. Too bad so sad. And I deserve my good health because I blah blah blah.

    • Nina says:

      I had the same thought, before I scrolled down to the comments and found yours. I have RA and the amount of time a certain relative tried to convice to me go vegan as a presenter got hers under control by “eating right”. I was constantly told to lose weight, work out when I already did. That I don’t look good with the extra weight. This talk is putting the pressure on people with chronic illnesses that they are responsible for the way they are.

      It’s a bit triggering for me. Sorry for the rant. It’s a bad day for me.

      • TD says:

        Newbie here…as someone with a serious chronic illness, I too am triggered by this kind of philosophy. I have to take multiple meds every day to function, and if I listened to my body, I wouldn’t take them, because the side effects suck. And they’ve made me gain a huge amount of weight, so I get the negative feedback about being overweight, too. People make a lot of assumptions based on appearances. Sorry to get ranty, too. I feel you.

    • MarcelMarcel says:

      I think it’s important to acknowledge economic and white privilege as well. Like so many conditions worsen because doctors continue to invalidate & minimise the suffering of black womxn. Like stop womxn to lose weight and start examining underlying causes.
      I’m white and I have a bad back. Strengthening my core will help. However I can’t afford gym membership, trips to the pool/ocean, personal trainers, new workout equipment or even decent workout accessories like comfortable & durable clothing. I get by cuz I get a few subsided sessions with a physio. And I do body weight exercises. But I know it’d be easier to strengthen my core with more support.
      Plus I have to push past my pain threshold to finish shifts. (Medication that actually lessens my pain leaves me loopy. So I don’t feel comfortable taking it at work). I kinda wonder if Camila is in a similar boat? Riverdale was one of the first shows to go back to filming post covid. She’s a young actress and this might be her breakout role. So she might feel like completing the season is her best or only option. It sounds like such a high pressure environment. Definitely not one that seems to be prioritising the health of it’s actors.
      I guess I’ve had a day too.

      • Watson says:

        Marcelmarcel: I’ve been doing Pilates core strengthening by following YouTube (i like move with Nicole). It’s low impact, there are different levels of difficulty, you can do them whenever it’s convenient for you and it’s free. Some exercises are only 10 mins long so its not a massive commitment of you are tired or not feeling compelled to work out. As long as you have enough space to lay down on the floor of your living room to do the exercises this might be a good option for you. I don’t have a matt and just use my carpeted flooring or a blanket on top. No need for specific clothing or equipment. As long as your clothes allow for movement (leggings, old tshirts, or shorts) you’re good. Good luck!

    • Kate says:

      Sick person blaming? I don’t follow how you got here. Intuitive eating and managing one’s stress levels are wholly positive changes anyone can implement. It’s literally just quieting down the noise in your head, all the “you should’s” and the “what if’s” and tuning into how your body feels. Is it hungry? Is it tired? Is it overloaded with adrenaline b/c you are worked up about something? What would feel good? If you’re hungry for a giant chocolate chip muffin, then eat it, slowly, and pay attention to how it feels. That’s how you learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

      Neither Camila nor Hecate is saying mindfulness is going to solve all your body’s problems and that you are at fault if you are sick!! They are talking about strategies they used for themselves to tune into their bodies better to give themselves what they need (whether that be medicine or food or avoiding certain foods, that’s all unique to each person). It’s really not that deep. No one is talking about healing cancer with a caveman diet – it’s literally the opposite of a diet, it’s just paying attention to yourself instead of following all the rules.

      • Tom says:

        Yes, for an able-bodied person with baseline good health. For that person, this isn’t bad advice.

        A person with disease and/or intestinal obstruction often cannot eat intuitively. Often, that person has chronic fatigue but still needs to maintain muscle tone so has to force themselves to ignore what the body is saying.

        There’s so much more to this but I’ll just leave it here.

      • Kate says:

        Of course not everyone can eat whatever they want all the time. There are sometimes parameters to what you have to eat and unfortunately, when you are living through an illness or condition you’re not going to feel great no matter how intuitively you are eating. I’m sorry for what you and any other commenter here may be experiencing. I’ve dealt with conditions/periods where my body was not at its baseline normal (to put it mildly) and know how tough it can be on your mental state.

        I just want to emphasize that being mindful about your body extends beyond eating – it is being aware of how you experience stress or feel emotions. When you are paying attention to how your body is feeling (whether it be hunger or stress or nausea or headaches or anger) then you have information. You can see how x leads to y. How this makes me feel that. It doesn’t mean you can solve every malady with your mind or your diet, it’s just simply giving yourself information. Maybe I have to ingest or do x every day and I know it will lead to y, so how can I support myself while feeling y?

  4. Marigold says:

    My body tells me that I want Diet Coke, pizza and chocolate. Do you think it is telling me the truth?

    • lucy2 says:

      Mine wants pizza and donuts. Every day.

      • Yawnho says:

        Maybe pick one and have some small pieces of dark chocolate. Its healthy and at different times of the month it’s ok to give into cravings! For pop I like to substitute sparking water. It’s not the same, but it helps break the sugar cravings.

    • Kate says:

      I know this is tongue in cheek, but seriously, if that’s what you want then yes – have it! Let yourself have it and see how you feel after. Our bodies crave comfort foods when we are stressed out – they create all those feel good chemicals in the body that counteract the cortisol and adrenaline. So maybe your body is saying “hey I’m stressed” and maybe comfort foods are what would help it. Maybe de-stressing another way also would help. The sooner you throw out the rules of eating, the sooner you stop feeling the pull of “forbidden foods” and the guilt after you eat something “bad.” Getting rid of guilt and food rules is really freeing, I highly recommend it to all.

      • Anners says:

        I have to second what Kate is saying here. Intuitive eating isn’t a magic bullet to cure all ills, but as someone who has struggled with her weight over a life time (since the age of 11) and has been trying for decades to filter all of the horrifically negative messages that have come at me from “helpful” and not-so-helpful people, intuitive eating has helped me forge a kind of peace with food. I exercise my body because it feels good to move (not as punishment for not being thin enough) and I eat the foods I want to eat. As I get better at listening to my body, I eat a variety of foods and only to the point of satiety. Yesterday I really wanted a donut, so I bought one. It wasn’t very fresh, so I didn’t finish it. Old me would have ignored that craving or have eaten an entire box of cookies and *still* craved that donut. I haven’t lost any weight (and I still struggle to quiet the panicked side of my brain), but I haven’t gained any, either. And as I get better to listening to my body and being at peace with food, I overall have more energy and resilience to deal with the rest of life’s struggles.

  5. MarcelMarcel says:

    Abbey Sharpe has a YouTube series on Intuitive Eating. I haven’t read Elyse and Evelyn’s book yet.
    It’s important to note that intuitive eating is an invitation to reject diet culture and stop projecting our morals onto food. A pear is just delicious fruit. A potato chip is also delicious. Neither is inherently good or bad.
    It is definitely one of the best approaches to food I’ve encountered. I’ve started listening to my hunger cues better. I’ve gone vegetarian partially because I’ve noticed my body feels better after plant protein. (I’m not saying anyone needs to go plant based! It’s just working for me).
    I think it’s so nourishing to find ways to enjoy food and appreciate the positive impact food has on us.

  6. chimes@midnight says:

    My body is telling me I need sleep, I need a break from constant stress and I need two extra hours in my day. I need a hug from an adult and to be told that I am dong a great job. Anyone else?

  7. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I love carbs. My grandmother used to say I was so easy to babysit because some buttered bread would lull me out of any issue lol. But this past year I can’t really eat a meal with many carbs and it’s been quite sad. I crave protein. Serious protein. I made surf and turf two nights ago with baked potatoes, a salad and garlic bread. The boys were in heaven. And so was I only I didn’t anything other than filet mignon, shrimp and salmon. Since menopause began years ago, I also can’t go without eating for long stretches of time like I used to. My stomach doesn’t just start to pang with hunger, it feels like it’s literally consuming my organs lol. So yes, my body isn’t telling me what it needs, it’s screaming, judgemental and impatient.

  8. Case says:

    Migraines are so hard, and so scary. After having a string of bad ones (like lasting several days and happening several times in one month — worse than I ever had before, even though I’ve been getting them for 14+ years), I realized they were brought on by anxiety. I’m not even particularly anxious right now — I’m actually calmer and more hopeful than I have been in a year! But I think all the buildup finally found an outlet. It scared me to death before I figured it out though, went to the eye doctor and for a CT scan and everything. I too have been trying to listen more to what my body needs, whether its a nap or or water an earlier bedtime or less screen time. It seems to be helping.