Bethenny Frankel Says She Won't Eat This One Type of Food

Bethenny Frankel is no stranger to body shaming. The Real Housewives star is frequently criticized for being “too thin,” but it might surprise you that she used to hear the opposite.

“I was at an obesity clinic when I was 8,” Frankel says in a recent episode of the Fortune Unfiltered with Aaron Task podcast. “I knew what diets were before any kid ever should.”

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It turns out, Frankel grew up in a household that was obsessed with food—and not in a let’s-try-this-new-restaurant kind of way. “My grandfather would eat All Bran every morning and was obsessive, and there was no option for fat in that house,” she says. “Then my mother was 5’4″ and wanted to be a model so it was always—it was the Tab and the half a cantaloupe generation, and it was always a diet and there were laxatives around."

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Her family’s unhealthy outlook on food has forced the TV star to learn for herself the right way to take care of her body. “The word ‘diet’ has the word ‘die’ in it, and it’s a multibillion dollar business because diets do not work,” Frankel says. “I promote eating a smaller amount of quality food, of full-calorie foods. I eat pizza, I eat French Fries—I just don’t binge…I don’t self-loathe. But I love food, and I like good food. I don’t like fat-free crap.”

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Experts have long considered processed "fat-free" foods to be unhealthy. "I generally don't encourage fat-free versions of indulgent foods like ice cream, cookies, chips, or cheese because they're not very satisfying and often loaded with artificial ingredients or extra sugar," says nutritionist Jessica Cording. "I find that clients tend to overeat these foods and end up consuming more calories than they would have if they'd enjoyed a small portion of the real deal." 

For Frankel, the important message to get out is about health, not what your body looks like. “I heard another parent say, ‘Oh my God I’m so fat’ or ‘I was good today’ or ‘I was bad today’—that kind of talk doesn’t happen in front of my daughter,” she says. “There’s no word ‘diet’—nothing like that. Because even though she’s only 6, kids hear their moms. There’s trigger words that people should not be talking about. My philosophy, as far as kids go, as long as you know you’re getting some healthy food in as your base, there's balance in her diet.”

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