It feels fitting that we are publishing Kelly LeVeque‘s Mom Crush on the day of our health & wellness Open House panel in Houston. I’ve absolutely loved following Kelly and her delicious “Fab Four” recipes on Instagram, and recently devoured her book Body Love. Kelly is a holistic nutritionist and celebrity health coach based in L.A., and her client roster includes Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, and Emmy Rossum (to name a few!).

Before her current career as a nutrition consultant, Kelly worked in the medical field and in personalized medicine offering tumor gene mapping and molecular subtyping to oncologists — so clearly, she’s incredibly smart! Her nutrition guidance is all science-based and her anti-diet approach to eating is super refreshing.

On top of her amazing career, Kelly is also very kind and down-to-earth and she recently became a mother to her sweet baby son Sebastian. We were thrilled to chat with her about her background, nutrition advice, how to control hunger hormones, her favorite Fab Four smoothie recipe, and her new role as mom. Read on below!

We recently read your first book Body Love and are so excited to hear more about your career journey and recent new role as a mom! Before this chapter of your life you were working in the medical field in very impressive science-driven roles. How did you decide to leave your job to pursue building your own company and focusing on nutrition and wellness?

It all really started in high school, I fell in love with health (via my health class) and the science of food. Unfortunately, I never thought it could be a big career. I went to USC and was majoring in business finance when I called my dad crying saying, “I should have done pre-med, what am I doing?”. I ultimately ended up getting a concentration in the the nature of human health and disease. Then, I paired that business background with science and spent 8 years in cancer and genetics before going back to school for nutrition and taking my business Be Well by Kelly full-time.

I spent so much of my time in my 20s researching the science of nutrition, and I talked to all of my friends about it. I was always the go-to friend for advice on hormonal acne or how to lose a few pounds before a wedding. Finally one of my friends said to me, “What are you doing? You need to make this your full-time career.” It just came naturally to me. So I decided to go back to school and start my nutrition consulting as a side-hustle while I was still working at my cancer and genetics job full-time. I side-hustled my nutrition business from 2012 until 2015 when I finally decided to take it full-time.

You’ve grown Be Well By Kelly into an incredible brand focusing on holistic nutrition and wellness, and you have an incredible client roster of celebrities. What about you and your brand do you think resonates so well with people and sets you apart from other nutritionists and wellness experts out there?

I really think my brand has resonated with so many people because I have something different to say, and by that I mean a different message than all of the other diet books (I’ve read all of them!). I think what makes my approach to nutrition and health different is that I’m coming from a place of loving your body, versus fear, negativity, shame or a “punishment” mindset. We’ve all been told so many times from so many people what not to eat, and to restrict or shame ourselves into doing things–and that’s not what I’m about.

My approach is not a cleanse or a crash diet–it’s about learning light structure and how to create a realistic, sustainable yet scientifically-backed way of eating well. I think light structure is such a powerful tool because it gives you freedom to live your life. At the end of the day, you want to feel good in your body, not defeated or exhausted because you didn’t follow some restrictive plan to the T. I’m really passionate about empowering my clients to learn the science behind the nutrition decisions they make so they can be in control of how they feel throughout the day and ultimately pay off their goals, whether that’s to lose weight, manage PCOS holistically, etc.

Were you (or are you) ever intimidated by celebrity projects? Have you had any specific learnings / insights from working with famous clients?

I’ve learned that no matter who you are –a high-powered executive or an actress getting ready for a big movie role — food can make you feel insecure. We are all human with a plethora of emotions. I am human too. I am always intimidated the first time I sit down with clients like Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner and Emmy Rossum. But in my line of work you realize we all have our struggles, insecurities and strengths. We are all just trying our best.

You are known for your Fab Four “anti-diet” way of eating that incorporates fat, protein, fiber, and greens into each meal. Have you personally always eaten this way? Do you ever deviate from the Fab Four? Tell us a little about this formula and why it works.

I grew up on in pretty traditional American family – my parents shopped at Costco, and like we ate bagel bites, taquitos, ice cream – we did all of those normal things. So now when I do make a choice to eat something that is outside of the Fab 4, I understand the choice and its consequences, and at the same time how to keep myself in balance and reverse the effects of that by making sure I shut down hunger hormones. It’s not about a “cheat meal,” it’s about being conscious of the choices you make with food and feeling in control.

One of the great things about the Fab Four is that it creates flexibility, so if you do indulge in that glass of wine or dessert, you know how to get back on track and you don’t derail your entire lifestyle. The Fab Four works because when you eat this way most of the time, you will feel satisfied throughout the day, not hangry or crashing into your next meal. And when your hormones are balanced, and your hunger is in check, it’s much easier to pass on junk food that you don’t really want, or to have a reasonable portion of something and move on with your day. It won’t send you into a spiral like if you had been starving yourself all day, and then you lose it when someone offers you a piece of cake.

What is your favorite Fab Four smoothie recipe?

Spa Smoothie

1 Serving Vanilla Collagen Protein Powder

1/4 Avocado
1-2 tbsp Chia Seed
Squeeze juice of Lemon
Handful Spinach
1 small persian Cucumber
1/4 cup Mint Leaves
1.5 cups unsweetened nut milk

You’ve mentioned before that you work 80 (!) hours a week. So impressive. How do you maintain your personal health and energy levels with that work load?

I love what I do and most of the time it really doesn’t feel like work so that makes all the difference in the world. I love the conversations I get to have with my clients and I love inspiring others. However, writing up the plan after we meet isn’t my favorite part — I don’t think you can love 100 percent of the work you do. And if you do…I guess that means you “made it?”

When it comes to taking care of me, my husband Chris is a huge support. It’s easy to leave Bash with Dad and run to a yoga class, jump in my sauna or even take a shower. At night, we all hang in the kitchen and make dinner. We pop Bash in his bouncer and Chris and I tag-team prepping our meal, chatting with the little man and even blending smoothies up for the next morning if we know the next day will be busy. I realize I am so lucky to have a true partner who helps me prioritize myself because I can easily get sucked into working too much…like many entrepreneurs.

If you’re in a pinch and need a snack on the go, what do you recommend?

For my clients who work long hours and have a hard time making it from lunch to dinner, I always recommend a bridge snack — something with fat and protein, like a handful of nuts, or half of an avocado or hard-boiled egg. Another option is what I call a “roadie,” which is a half-serving of protein powder with some almond milk and a little bit of fat like MCT oil. This is super easy to make in a blender bottle when you’re chained to your desk or on-the-go.

Even though you don’t focus on what foods your clients can’t have, are there any foods or ingredients that you strongly advise against?

Sure, there a few foods that I would avoid as much as possible since they’re highly inflammatory or science has strongly linked them to chronic health issues.

Sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) in any form is inflammatory for the brain and body

Seed oils- like canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed, and grapeseed oils are mainly made up omega-6 fats which disrupts the balance of omegas (i.e. good fats) in your body, leading to inflammation

Flours. I encourage my clients to eat foods in their original form, not their refined floured form because research shows that can create an inflammatory microbiome which is linked to depression, skin and metabolic issues.

Soy + soy products which are filled with phytoestrogens that can cause breakouts and hormonal imbalances, phytic acid, and MSG.  

It feels like 2019 is the year for self-care. If someone were to modify their daily routine with a couple of small tweaks to take better care of themselves, what would you advise?

Making time for movement is so important, even if it’s just a 15 minute walk around the block, it counts. Other than that, taking time to quiet the mind, whether that’s through listening to some relaxing music or maybe a guided meditation which can be really helpful for reducing stress and helping you feel more centered.

It seems like people are finally starting to acknowledge the effects of food on our overall health as well as the healing properties whole foods have. Why do you think it’s taken this long to arrive at these conclusions, and why is it still challenging for some doctors to ignore research and evidence pointing to the

Doctors on average only complete 19 hrs of nutrition, but it’s not their fault. The system is broken, driven by pharmaceutical companies with bandaid mentality after a buck. Luckily with the internet, we are now able to learn so much via experts, research and others who aren’t willing to accept that taking a prescription for the rest of their lives is the best option. We are learning to heal with food and now Functional MDs are helping clients fix the root of the problem and acknowledging that food has a large part to do with it.

What is your favorite food and/or wellness trend right now? Is there a trend you’d like to see go away in 2019?

My favorite trend is Keto, it’s bringing an awareness to how detrimental sugar is to our body, especially our brain. I also love that this “diet” has inspired food companies to be aware of their carbohydrate content and get creative to come out with alternatives. Choczero is a great example — their dark chocolate Keto bark is a great option for my clients who live the Fab 4 Lifestyle and want to indulge without a large blood sugar spike or insulin dump.

A trend I would be happy to see go away is the Oat milk obsession. First of all, most oats are heavily sprayed with pesticides, and you don’t want to be drinking that in your latte. Also, oat milk nutrition is higher in carbs and sugar, and lacking in the protein and fat department (at least way less than nut milks like almond or coconut). My biggest issue with oat milk is that many of the popular brands these days contain rapeseed/canola oil, which is highly inflammatory.

What is next for you and Be Well By Kelly?

This year I’m really excited to launch my first e-course that will teach all of the fundamentals of the Fab 4 lifestyle and my approach to eating well. I’m also launching a podcast soon, which is really exciting.

Congratulations on your sweet new baby boy! Has having a baby caused a shift in your overall outlook on work and life?

Nothing teaches you boundaries like a child. I would attend every event, say yes to weekend clients and constantly do favors. Now I am strategic and protective of my family time, and you know what? My business is still ok!

Do you have any advice for new moms on how to find time for yourself and maintain a sense of self while also nurturing and raising a child?

Schedule it! I share my calendar with my husband virtually and we chat out our week to make sure we each get an hour of personal time daily. As parents, even just an hour can really keep you sane.

You mentioned on Instagram that your baby had eczema but that it cleared up was able with some dietary changes. Caroline’s son Andrew has eczema so she is very interested in this topic! Can you tell us a little about how you modified his and your diet to improve his condition?

Eczema is directly related to gut health. A baby’s gut is considered “leaky” until about a year of age because their microbiome is still developing via the probiotics they receive in the birth canal with vaginal births, colostrum with the first few days of feeding and then via breastmilk. Once they are eating fiber based foods like purées, their microbiome will feed off this soluble fiber and continue to thrive. This makes babies very sensitive to allergens, toxins and pharmaceuticals because their microbiome, or first line of defense from the outside world, isn’t fully protective yet. For Bash, he was given a dose of a antibiotics when he was admitted to the NICU that wiped out his initial microbiome so I pulled most of the top food allergens (gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, and treenuts) from my diet and supplemented both of us with probiotics,  omega 3 and vitamin D. I added omega 3 to decrease any inflammation and vitamin D because of its link to skin health and steroidal behavior in the body.

After doing a little research, we added probiotics that contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus because those hold the most promise for the prevention and treatment of eczema.  

What life lesson or value do you most hope to teach your son?

Passionate purpose and kindness. We all get a chance to change the world and help others in many different ways. Whatever his purpose may be I hope to help him cultivate it.

What is your favorite way to spend a day off with your family?

We love “coffee-o’clock” in bed all together followed by a trip to Malibu to watch surfing, walk the beach and soak up our vitamin D!

Do you have any book and/or podcast recommendations for people interested in nutrition and wellness?

There are so many fabulous health books out there I love, I am currently reading Sicker, Fatter, Poorer.

Three things you never leave home without:

Water, cell and honest magic balm.

Guilty Pleasures:

Pizzana Brentwood, where I get a gluten-free margarita pizza and I don’t share.

Do you have any follow up questions for Kelly? Drop her a line in our comments section below!