“My other half is vegan, and I would say he’s a terrible vegan. He literally eats toast and spaghetti hoops. He’s a terrible example of a plant-based eater.” Adding more generally: “There are lots of people who don’t do it quite right.”
Still, there’s no doubt for Ferguson and Kalinik that people are more well informed than they were 20 years ago.
Ferguson recalls crisps and Coca-Cola as staples of the food offerings at photoshoots and shows. “When I was young and modelling, it was a proper English diet. Now they get really amazing catering. They get wonderful juices and fresh salads.”
While she acknowledges that this is in part due to the increased pressure on the fashion industry to look after their young charges (Ferguson encourages the young models at her agency to educate themselves about nutrition), she also feels that the change reflects how as a nation we’ve become more sophisticated in our understanding of health and what it looks like.
She and Kalinik are both buoyed by the body positivity movement. Particularly Ferguson, who came of age in the grunge era when models were slammed for being too skinny.
“As a model, everyone used to always say I was a waif, but if you’d seen me you wouldn’t have thought that. I’m 5ft 10in and broad. I was never waif-like. OK, I was a scrawny 17-year-old, but the image of me that people have makes me giggle because I’m quite muscly. I always knew as a model I had a stronger body type. I’ve always felt like that. I like feeling strong.”
Still, as a model, nutritionist and mum to three girls, aged 21, 15 and 14, she says it’s something of a perfect storm. “What could possibly go wrong,” she laughs, adding: “I’m very cautious about their relationship with food.”
Interestingly, she has found them to be pretty switched-on when it comes to healthy living. “I don’t think it’s just the house they’ve grown up in eating lentils, it’s that age group as a whole; their attitude to life is much more inclusive.”
From her observations, though, exercise rather than food appears to be the focus for a younger generation, whose cooking experiments tend to extend only as far as “those disgusting multicoloured food dye things on TikTok”.
Her daughters practise yoga and take care of their bodies. However, she says she worries it’s more about aesthetics than wellbeing. “On Instagram everyone looks amazing, and I suppose I worry that that’s the driver towards health consciousness, but nonetheless they are taking a bit more care of themselves than we did. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not!”
That Ferguson’s own notorious peer group has “evolved” she puts down to age. “I’m watching my kids start to go out and have a good time and it just doesn’t appeal. I think that’s just getting a bit older,” she whispers. “I hate to say that. Although at Glastonbury I can still have a great time and show the young how it’s done.”
Acknowledging that who we are and what we need changes on a yearly and even daily basis is part of having a good relationship with our body’s needs.
Kalinik had previously been quite sceptical about intermittent fasting until trying it for the podcast. She also points to the greater amount of scientific research now in the area supporting it. However she says she wouldn’t do it if she was feeling stressed. “Your adrenal glands don’t like to be starved when you’re stressed,” she says.
Likewise, Ferguson, who has run marathons and triathlons in her 40s, appreciates the need to adapt her diet in times of training accordingly.
“I think people are too rigid in saying, this is what I’m going to eat forever more. You need to listen to your body and how it works,” she says.
While a lot of fads like fat-free yogurts, mayonnaise and the rest, have been debunked, there’s still a lot of misinformation out there, and I admit that I’m confused about what a healthy diet and body looks like. What fads do they think are out there right now that we will come to see differently with time?
“Any diet products are not great,” says Ferguson. “Diet Coke is full of utter rubbish. Equally, don’t beat yourself up if you have one now and then. It’s not the end of the world.”
Kalinik agrees that trying to be sugar-free is an easy pitfall. “People say they’re giving up sugar and then eat loads of those date bars. They’ve got as much sugar in them!” she explains.
The same goes for other “free from” products, such as gluten-free. “People think that’s healthier but if they just went and bought a decent loaf of bread that’s been made properly, that would be a lot better for them than a gluten-free product that has an inordinate amount of ingredients and costs a lot of money,” says Kalinik.
They would like people to focus on managing the basics of nutrition, such as eating food without additives, drinking enough water, eating foods with as few ingredients in them as possible before worrying about the nitty-gritty of whether to add spirulina to your smoothie.
But if you’re struggling to wade through it all, Ferguson says bring it back to the 80/20 principle.
“It’s not rocket science. The best way to think about it is eat fresh, and don’t eat processed food.
“If you’re using fresh produce at home, whether it’s pasta or chicken or fish or plant-based, with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and keeping your fibre up, then you’ll be fine. And then you can have ice cream or a beer or whatever it is you want.”
Kalinik adds: “We all have our Achilles’ heel. Rose’s is petrol station chocolate bars. And I’m a sucker for a bit of soft serve.”