She’s obsessed with Cadbury Eggs, her mother’s black beans, and the occasional muffin, but for the most part, pescetarian actress Eva Mendes eats the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner practically every day—and you’ll be shocked by how simple it is.
Also known as the object of Ryan Gosling’s affection, Mendes told Shape magazine: “I usually start my day with eggs. I think they’re like magic—you can do so much with them.” She says she keeps it simple with scrambled eggs and Ezekiel toast for breakfast. “For lunch, I usually have salmon and rice or quinoa, and I try to include a salad. I’ll eat the same thing for dinner,” adding she’s always busy running around with her two children so simplifying the meals is essential.
The self-proclaimed homebody’s food regimen surprised the Internet, presumably because she isn’t eating caviar imported from France as one would expect a successful actress to do. But is her day-to-day diet actually healthy? We talked to seven health experts—from clinical nutritionists and dietitians to a naturopath, medical doctor and one New York Times best-selling author—to determine the upsides and downsides of her diet.
PRO: Guaranteed portion control
Mendes says she never keeps junk food in her house, but knowing exactly which healthy foods she’ll be eating as part of her pre-determined meals ensures she won’t stray or overdo it. “A diet like this would definitely help you control her portions because eating just quinoa, salmon, and veggies all the time would definitely limit how much you wanted to eat,” explains Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD.
PRO: Healthy options are chockfull of nutrients
Tosca Reno, nutritional therapy practitioner and New York Times best-selling author of “The Eat Clean Diet,” is a big fan of Mendes’s food choices. Reno believes starting the day with eggs is brilliant. “They’re considered the gold standard for protein, against which all other proteins are measured. And when eaten with the yolk, are the perfect pairing of protein and healthy fat.” Quinoa, also known as the “mother grain,” is also amazing for its exceptional calcium content. “Mineral deficiency is a growing problem, but if we eat quinoa, as Ms. Mendes does, then we’re getting a motherlode of minerals.” Finally, salmon is another ideal choice for daily nourishment. “It’s a beautiful protein, laced with fish oils like DHA and EPHA, both ideal for ensuring a happy, healthy brain,” Reno says.
PRO: Balance of carbs, fat, and protein
Unlike extreme plans like the Banana Diet or even a green-juice cleanse that require you to eat the same category of food, Mendes’s regimen involves a mix of macronutrients. “Her meals are pretty balanced with carbs, fat and protein,” says Tara Coleman, a clinical nutritionist based in San Diego.
CON: Not enough fruits and fats
On the other hand, some experts point out Mendes’s meals don’t provide sufficient nutrients due to the overall lack of variety. “I don’t see any fruit included, which can provide important nutrients such as vitamin C. Also, although salmon does have healthy omega-3 fats, she may be missing other types of fats in her diet. Some fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin K and beta-carotene need a bit of fat to be properly absorbed, so she may be missing out,” explains Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD, who believes the actress may benefit from taking a daily multivitamin to compensate for any nutritional gaps. (And if she could eat seasonal fruits and vegetables, too, even better.)
CON: Excessive salmon means more mercury
Nearly all literature touting the best foods for heart health and glowing skin urge you to eat salmon, but as the saying goes, there can be too much of a good thing. “Salmon is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids and healthy protein. However, seven days per week and twice a day is just overkill. There is just too much mercury, even if salmon is wild. A healthy alternative would be to eat salmon once a day, four to five times a week,” says Sveltana Kogan, MD.
CON: High risk for food sensitivities
Consuming identical meals may increase your risk for food sensitivities, according to Ryan Whitcomb, RD, CLT, integrative and functional dietitian and nutritionist. “When we eat the same foods over and over again, our immune system becomes sensitized to them, meaning they’re getting ready to mount an attack. It’s one way to tag a food as foreign.” Whitcomb likens this process to tolerating your annoying in-laws—at first it’s bearable, but after multiple grating encounters you’re more likely to explode with rage. Point taken.
Although the individual foods Mendes eats are indeed healthy, the overall consensus is that she would benefit from incorporating a wider diversity of foods, as the human body thrives on nutrition from different sources. “This diet is too strict to give enough variety for sustainable long-term health and wellness,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, medical advisory board member of the Nutritional Magnesium Association.
With that said, when it comes to food, nobody is perfect (although Gisele and Tom come close). Mendes simply seems to be aiming for health while juggling her motherly duties like a boss. As Coleman says, “Yes, variety can be the spice of life, but with two small kids her life is probably spicy enough!”
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