Carol Alt is a supermodel, and, frankly, you and I aren’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look our best and live our healthiest, too, which is the message Alt brings to Orange County this weekend.
Alt is a passionate advocate of the benefits of eating raw foods. Her new book, “Easy Sexy Raw,” is part how-to and part cookbook. Before appearances at the Longevity Now Conference in Costa Mesa on Friday and Saturday she stopped by the Orange County Register on Thursday to chat about raw foods and healthful living and a few other projects she’s got on her very full plate.
“It’s so embarrassing because I got kicked off the set, because they said I wasn’t in swimsuit shape for a project that my name was on.” she says of the series of events that led her to raw foods 17 years ago.
She was in her early 30s at the time, but the ease with which she’d kept her body in shape for modeling and acting jobs a decade earlier was no more. Add to that a string of maladies that included problems with headaches, insomnia and fatigue, and Alt, who virtually created the job description of supermodel in the ‘80s, says she started to worry about her future.
“What am I going to be like when I’m 50?” Alt says she remembers thinking.
A very ill friend of a friend had great results after changing her diet to mostly raw foods. Alt went to the doctor who had treated that woman, learned the first steps toward changing her own diet to raw vegetables, meat and dairy, and says she noticed results almost immediately.
“The first day I did that I started to feel amazing,” she says. “Don’t forget, I was starving (to lose weight). But I wasn’t eating the proper foods.”
Over time, she learned more and more about raw cuisine. She’s written two earlier books, “Eating In The Raw,” and “The Raw 50,” and is back now with a third that tries to address questions she’s heard from people about raw foods as well as provide more recipes for dishes such as Swiss chard burritos with cilantro-chipotle sauce, kelp noodles with tahini sauce and perfectly seared steak with potatoes.
That last one – the beef dish – might surprise people, but raw food isn’t vegan and it’s not all raw fruits and veggies, either. It can include meat – a key is that it not be heated past 115 degrees, beyond which it starts to lose its raw benefits, Alt says.
“There’s a raw cousin for everything,” she says of another of the book’s features, listing raw substitutes for cooked ingredients.
And no worries if you don’t convert your diet to entirely raw foods, either, Alt says. Somewhere between 75 percent to 95 percent raw is ideal, but any increase is better than none, she says.
“Raw food is similar to cooked food,” she says. “You’re not going to like everything.”
At 51, Alt looks years younger, her skin smooth and supple, her physique fit and healthy. She is perhaps her own best advertisement for the lifestyle she advocates, and makes sure you know that she eats what she preaches and isn’t in it to sell you anything more than a book and the information it contains.
“I use my own body as a template,” she says. “I don’t tell anyone to eat anything I haven’t tried myself. I sell no food – that’s what gives me my street cred. I’m not here saying, ‘Oh, buy my food,’ I’m saying, ‘The process allowed me to make decisions that saved my life.”
In addition to “Easy Sexy Raw,” Alt, who divides her time between her home in Ontario, New York City and the road, has two other projects set to debut soon. She has a small part playing Alec Baldwin’s wife in Woody Allen’s upcoming film, “To Rome With Love,” which opens next month. And she’s featured in the forthcoming HBO documentary, “About Face: The Supermodels, Then and Now,” which played the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and debuts on cable July 30.
She got the Woody Allen role partly because she’s “probably the most famous American Italian actress there is,” she says, alluding to the fact that for years she’s made movies and done TV – including the Italian version of “Dancing With The Stars” – in that country.
“Woody was looking for people who were living in Italy,” she says, and when her agent told her that she asked to be submitted for the film. “When Woody was in New York I actually went up to his theater and read for him. He’s another Dec. 1 baby, another Sagittarius.
“I walked out, and before I even got home my manager said, ‘Well, I hope you want to go to Italy,’” Alt says of the quickness with which she got the part.
The HBO documentary by photographer and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders started out as a photo shoot of supermodels from the ‘70s and ‘80s — women such as Alt, Patti Hansen, Kim Alexis and Dayle Haddon — for a Vanity Fair gatefold cover, Alt says.
The Tiger Woods sex scandal bumped that off the cover, and Greenfield-Sanders decided to expand the project into a documentary.
“It became the history of modeling as seen through the eyes of models,” Alt says. “It was really interesting to hear all these women talking about modeling.”
Carol Alt will appear at the Longevity Now Conference on Friday and Saturday to talk about and sign her new book, “Easy Sexy Raw.” Her book talk runs from 8:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday, with a signing to follow. She’ll also sign books at 11 a.m. Saturday. The conference is located at the Orange County Hilton, Costa Mesa. Registration for the weekend conference is $347. The book, “Easy Sexy Raw,” is more affordable at $18.99.
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