Ashley Graham has appeared in an ad in the iconic Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and graced the runway in Modern Boudoir lingerie, but the model/body activist says it took her a long time to figure out her own body and what works best to fuel it.
The size 14 model, who calls herself a “disrupter” in the fashion industry for breaking the stereotype of stick-thin models, told ABC News it took the help of a nutritionist to solve many years of stomach issues, which confirmed her belief that “food can cure your body.”
“I felt like I was putting poison in my body,” Graham, 28, said of the time before she found the food combinations that work best for her, like not eating carbohydrates with meat.
Graham appeared on "Good Morning America" today to see the results of an experiment examining the extent to which your health depends on your weight. The 5'9" Graham underwent a series of medical and fitness tests alongside a fellow model, Abeba Davis, who at 5'10", is a size 2.
Tune into ABC News' "Good Morning America" all week for Graham's special “‘GMA’ Body Proud” series featuring real conversations about body image with women of all ages.
Both models were found to have blood pressure, HBA1C and LDL levels within the normal range for their respective age and height. Graham and Davis also both passed the fitness test.
ABC News' Senior Medical Contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton says the bottom line is that weight does matter when it comes to one's health, but it is, "far from the only factor that determines health." Read to the end of the story for the full statement from Dr. Ashton.
Today, Graham relies on vitamin-laden menu items like green juices and grab-and-go snacks like apples and bananas to fuel her long days of photo shoots, runway shows and interviews.
Here is a sample day of Graham’s food diary, in her own words.
First thing in the morning, I have hot water and lemon because it alkalizes my body and gets things moving.
Once a day, I have a green juice with kale, lemon, apple, ginger, spinach and beets.
A little bit later in the morning, I’ll have fruit that I can grab and eat on the train with me, a banana or an apple. I like to eat lightest to heaviest throughout the day. Fruit digests faster than anything so I want that in my body first. I try not eat meat until night.
For lunch, I’ll have a huge green salad with quinoa, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, any green leafy vegetable and pesto sauce as the dressing.
Around 3 p.m., I like to have an 80 percent dark chocolate bar -- about 4 squares -- that gives me the boost I need when I’m having an energy crash.
For dinner, I will have a sweet potato and vegetables lightly sautéed with olive oil or chicken with Brussel sprouts, that’s my favorite, and often a glass of red wine.
I’ll also have splurges every once in a while, like mashed potatoes and mac-and-cheese. Nothing about me is perfect in the way that I eat, but I always try to manage it. I always try to say, ‘Tomorrow is a new day. If you mess up today, don’t feel guilty about it.’ I’ve done every yo-yo diet you can imagine and none work for me. I’m at a comfortable weight and I know that I look good and, more importantly, I feel good so why am I dieting? I now know what works for me.
Full statement on weight and health from Dr. Jennifer Ashton:
When we, as physicians, assess someone's risk for heart disease and other consequences of overweight or obesity, we should be looking at numerous medical factors. Some of these elements are under a person's control, and some are not. These include whether or not a person smokes, their family history, their lifestyle, their weight, BMI, waist circumference, waist to hip ratio, blood pressure, cholesterol numbers, and whether or not they have insulin resistance, pre diabetes or diabetes. It is critical to remember that external appearances are but one way in which we assess someone's heath status; a thin person can have high blood pressure and cholesterol and be at risk for heart disease just as a person with a BMI in the overweight range can have ideal 'numbers.' and be at average risk for heart disease. Bottom line: weight does matter, but it is far from the only factor that determines health. It is always medically recommended to live a healthy lifestyle which includes not smoking, clean eating, and daily exercise- regardless of your weight or BMI.