Ashley Graham Reveals Why She Never Uses the Word “Indulge”

Updated: May 23, 2024

If the supermodel's confidence speaks to you, her inspiration on eating and self-care will be contagious.

Summer’s coming—and with it, an on-the-go pace to soak up all the sun and social time while we can. Like a slew of celebs, this week Ashley Graham kicked off the season at Cannes after having recently posted on Mother’s Day: Grateful to my three incredible boys for making me a mom and guiding me through this beautiful journey of motherhood.

That came on the heels of her appearance at the Met Gala, making it clear this 36-year-old supermodel, entrepreneur, wife and mom of toddlers knows what it’s like to be booked, busy, and in need of a healthy way to unwind. She’s also known for her empowering message (and aura) of body positivity and self-confidence.

This week Graham partnered with Danone yogurt brands OIKOS, Too Good & Co., and Light + Fit to stream live to fans on TikTok and discuss healthier snack options, such as REMIX, Danone’s new line of nutritious yogurt mix-ins.

Graham sat down with The Healthy by Reader’s Digest to discuss what healthy eating means to her, how she models self-love to her children, and the self-care secret she calls “number one.”

Ashley Graham is seen at the Michael Kors Collection 2024 Runway Show at Domino Park in Brooklyn on September 11, 2023Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/getty images

The Healthy: We love this partnership! Eating healthy for yourself and prepping meals for a family can call for some acrobatics in the kitchen. As a mom with a career, how do you manage this?

Ashley Graham: My body has always been a topic of conversation—the heavier I’ve been, the lighter I’ve been, the pregnant, the not-pregnant, breastfeeding, the changes of my hormones, everything. So I’ve always been really conscious with myself of, What does it mean to eat right for myself?

I’ve learned that it means having food when I want it, not overeating to a place where I’m getting into a territory where I’m in distress. Also not putting parameters like the word “indulge” or “diet” around it. I never say to myself, “Oh, I’m indulging,” because if I do, then it’s like a trigger that I’m doing something bad.

So I always have snacks available. The REMIX snacks are a top favorite right now. We do a lot of apples with peanut butter and granola on top, we’re a chip-and-salsa kind of family—those are our favorite snacks right now. And we do a lot of meal prep because I have three hungry little boys. So two days out of the week everybody pitches in and we get it going and we just have cook days.

The Healthy: That’s awesome, what fun bonding. You’ve been such an advocate for the importance of loving ourselves, which has been part of an important movement that’s touched so many of us in recent years. How do you model that confidence for your family?

Ashley Graham: They’re so little right now that it’s really just about your actions and your words. They’re sponges. Everything you say, they say; everything you do, they do. So I model what my mom did for me and my sisters, and I will never talk bad about myself. If I do, it’s in the privacy of my own bedroom or room or office or whatever. I will never treat myself badly, either. I think that that’s just one simple way to build confidence in my kids because the moment you say something bad about yourself as the parent, the kid says, “Well, I’m a product of you. So then that means I have that as well, and that means that’s bad about me.” And they’re smart. These kids are smart. They put two and two together. So you just have to be careful.

Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie and Ashley Graham at the premiere of "Barbie" held at Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on July 9, 2023Michael Buckner/getty images

The Healthy: Absolutely, they’re your most important audience. Thinking about work, how do you prepare for red-carpets and events, when there’s so much focus on what you look like?

Ashley Graham: I used to go into workout mode, eat-right mode, do-all-the-things-for-my-body mode before a big event like that. But now I’m always kind of in that world. I’m hosting, I’m on TV, I’m on a photo shoot, and it doesn’t ever feel like downtime. So I just try to stay consistent, and consistency for me means I’m winning. Winning for myself, winning for my self-confidence. And then the days that I’m not consistent, where I have had a Coke, where I have had the fries and the burgers and cleaned the plate and had the whole pizza pie or had two desserts, I’m also not kicking myself when I’m down, and I’m not looking at it like that. I’m like, OK, let’s keep it moving. It’s not something that’s going to take me, and it’s not going to be a spiral. 

So, getting ready for those big red carpets now is just staying ready. But … I go back and watch old interviews. I see what to do, what not to do, and I even go back and see my own work, which sometimes is so hard to watch and cringe, but it’s fun. 

The Healthy: Is there a self-care routine that you refuse to skip?

Ashley Graham: Well, besides the obvious—wash your face, brush your teeth stuff—I do acupuncture once every two weeks. For me, that’s kind of my maintenance, keeping my face feeling snatched and my body feeling limber and strong. That’s my number one.