For 30-year-old fitness model, Emily Skye, it used to be about getting skinny and slaving away on the cardio machines. It then became all about nourishing her body to becoming strong, working out and becoming healthy.

Fitness model Emily Skye - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness

Her food philosophy

Don’t diet – instead just make clean eating part of your lifestyle. Learn as much as you can about healthy food and find foods that you really enjoy eating so that your diet changes are easier to stick to. Keep it interesting by experimenting.

The ‘before’ diet

I didn’t eat anywhere near as much food as I should have and my choices were either super rigid – with lots of bland, steamed food or I made unhealthy choices such as junk food, takeaway and deep-fried food.

The turning point

For years I struggled with depression and insecurities that stemmed in part from my school years where I was teased and criticised for having “big eyes”, being skinny, quiet, athletic or different. Six years ago I decided I was tired of never feeling good about myself. So I set out to become more happy, healthy and fit through lifestyle changes. Within about 12 weeks of lifting weights and eating super clean (lots of vegetables and more protein), I had lost body fat and built more muscle. Over the next year, I continued to fine-tune my diet and started doing less cardio and more working out with weights. I soon felt amazing and far happier with how I looked.

The health benefits of eating cleaner

Once my diet became cleaner, I not only lost body fat and built more muscle but within days of starting to eat healthier, I had less fluid retention and less general body inflammation. I felt more positive about myself and started to appreciate everything I am rather than focussing on what I am not. My new lifestyle helped me overcome depression and insecurities, my mind became clearer, I became strong and fit and I had more energy.

The diet now

I don’t eat sugar (except for a little natural sugar in fruits and vegetables). I barely eat any starchy carbs but I have more meat and a wider range of fresh vegetables and salads. I avoid gluten and wheat and I’ve cut right down on dairy products (except for natural yogurt and cottage cheese as they’re lower in lactose, which I’m sensitive to). I avoid processed foods, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. I drink a lot of pure water and I don’t drink alcohol (except for special occasions – I only drink a few times a year).

It’s okay to have what you love

I love the taste of coffee – one of my favourite activities is to enjoy a coffee at a café. I drink one to two cups a day. If you’re constantly depriving yourself of foods you love, you’re more likely to give up a healthy eating plan. Instead I’m all for moderation. That means I have treats when I feel like it and I never make a food ‘off limits’ as doing this can lead to cravings. If I really want something, I enjoy it without regrets. I love healthier treats, though, as they don’t upset my tummy. I often make a chia seed pudding with berries and coconut cream or coconut yoghurt… something to look forward to is fun and helps you stay motivated to eat well.

The mind-food connection

Once you eat more clean, your cravings for unhealthy foods tend to subside. Now that I’ve experienced how good it feels on a healthy diet, I’ve noticed how unwell I feel after eating foods like milk chocolate, ice cream, pizza, burgers and fries. I get extremely bloated, my tummy gets upset and I feel lethargic. Understanding this connection makes it so much easier to realise it’s not worth eating those unhealthy foods.

Find out which diet plan works for you and read more about changing up your eating habits for a better, healthier you.