barbara bassill

Healthy Eating

Fresh garden salad


There was a time in my life when I was overweight. Since I had been a model and actress for a very long time and having been very slim, seeing myself like “this” was very difficult for me. I knew that I had allowed my circumstances or difficulties to be the excuse for eating all kinds of things that I knew were not healthy nor good for my body. Every morning, I would step on the scale and the number I saw was frightening. How could I have let myself go like this?

Well, it was so easy to eat a second helping of pasta with that wonderful cream sauce, or sit on the couch at night and enjoy some ice-cream with all kinds of toppings. I enjoyed all of that and I told myself often that it didn’t matter. Yet it did. My doctor at one point told me that I really needed to slim down and lose weight, for the sake of my health. Wow, that was hard to hear.

So, I decided one day, I would finally “look into this” and make a change. Slowly but surely, I looked up recipes and learned about the health effects of eating processed foods. I came across a report about the glycemic index, how different foods affect the spikes in our blood sugar. I went to the grocery store with a list of healthy items, some that I knew I would like and brought home a shopping cart of leafy greens and other nutrient dense foods. The next step I took is that I decided to find something else to do in the evenings instead of sitting on the couch and having all kinds of goodies. I agreed with myself that out of 7 nights, 4 evenings would be going to bed early and reading a good book or even watching something positive on TV.


Organic pasta sauce with ground turkey


One of the most helpful changes I made was preparing meals, hot or cold, for several days at a time. I also made sure that the refrigerator was always stocked with healthy options. My choices were and still are:

  1. Lentils
  2. Blueberries and other berries
  3. Green leaf lettuce
  4. Carrots and celery sticks (tastes wonderful and is filling with a little nut butter)
  5. All kinds of beans, garbanzo, red kidney, black beans, etc
  6. Vegetable broth
  7. Lemons
  8. Really good dark green olive oil
  9. Apple cider vinegar (with the mother in it)
  10. Eggs
  11. Mushrooms
  12. A variety of peppers, green, yellow and red
  13. Either organic butter or ghee
  14. For the meat eaters: grass-fed beef, organic chicken or turkey
  15. Garlic
  16. Tasty condiments like mustard and low fat mayonnaise

Once these items are in your fridge, make the time to prepare some meals. Yes, it does take some time, I understand that all too well. I usually do this on the weekends. I make a big huge salad and keep it fresh by putting it in either a glass or stainless steel bowl. This way it lasts for at least 2-3 days. All I have to do then is put my own dressing on the salad. I never use bottled salad dressing. Too many calories and mostly sugar in them. Always be sure to check the ingredients! My salad dressing consists of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, some lemon juice from a real lemon, pepper, and a bit of salt and many times some fresh garlic and a spoonful of mustard.

When I cook, I usually cook a larger portion. This way I can divide it in different portions for the next few days, possibly even freeze some and have them ready to eat when I am hungry. One important factor I found out is, for me it is important to have a snack with me at all times. Some days I am either on the road or just out of the house for many hours. I need to have something handy that I can eat when I get hungry. An apple or two, some celery sticks with nut-butter or a healthy protein bar are really good options. 

The other point that I make is this: never full, never hungry. That means small meals several times a day. Many people believe that we need to eat “three squares” a day. I am not so sure that this is true for all people. It certainly isn’t for me. Many days I have four or five small meals. Or three meals and two snacks in between. This helps sustain my energy without making me feel like I’ve just had Thanksgiving dinner.

What it comes down to is the answer to these questions: Do I want to live healthy? Am I willing (and this is an important factor) to make an effort? How meaningful and important is it to me to live and be healthy? When we are young this might not be so very important to us. However, as we get older, we become aware of the fact that living a healthy life does indeed take some effort and is a choice. 

There are always days when we just want to have some ice-cream, or we go to the movies and want to have that chocolate bar or candy, of course. One truth I know from having been a model and actress and having had to watch my body carefully is that  “giving up” and “letting myself go” didn’t truly make me happy. I feel so much better inside of myself, when I honor my body temple, when I make healthy and wise choices. 

This way of living and eating healthy is a journey. It is one day at a time. Sometimes we go two steps forward and then, the next day, one step back. That is life and that is ok. As long as we pick ourselves up again and choose health, well-being and goodness in our lives. It has been quite a long journey for me, especially when the entire world was going through the Covid pandemic. 

One thing I told myself though is that it is so much more vital to me to be healthy than to gobble down another bowl of ice cream or another chocolate bar, or more cookies. I feel good about myself, and when I feel good about myself, at least for me, the whole world seems to be fine. My life is more joyful. My sleep is better, and my energy levels are more consistent. I feel happy inside of myself. And that feeling is worth it to me to make the effort and most of all to have the willingness to choose health over every impulse to indulge. Of course, special occasions warrant indulgence. I would never skip a slice of a family member’s birthday cake! But in moderation, as a treat. Some of us can fall into patterns fairly quickly. When I work to fuel my body and give it the best nutrients I can, that’s when I feel my best.

I have taken my life into my own hands. Following…