The model turned nutritionist, who reportedly shaped the pre-wedding diets of Prince Harry and Princess Eugenie, shares her refreshingly realistic approach to healthy eating.

As a glamorous former fashion model, close friend of the Royal Family, and nutritionist to a host of A-list celebrities, it would be easy to assume that Gabriela Peacock extols the kind of quirky dietary practices so beloved of the rich and famous – seven-day juice cleanses, bland broccoli breakfasts, soul-sapping zero-carb regimes. So it's heartening that the 40-year-old mother of three is a fan of big lunches, mid-afternoon snacks, hearty shepherd’s pies, dark chocolate and the occasional Friday night curry.

“In an ideal world everyone would be gluten-free, dairy-free, take so many supplements and eat everything organic – but I don’t do that and nobody else would do it either,” she declares, with disarming honesty, when we meet at her office in Holland Park. “People are so confused about what is good for you or not. 15 years ago there was a lack of information. Today there is too much. We are all trying our best. We all have busy lives. It can be incredibly stressful thinking you are failing yourself, or failing your family, by not preparing fresh meals every evening, or knowing what new superfoods you should eat. Sometimes it is helpful for people to get a more realistic point of view.”

Peacock grew up in the Czech Republic but now lives in Notting Hill with her husband, a hedge-fund manager, and their three children, Maia, eight, and twins Iris and Caspar, aged two. Although she promotes her own brand of supplements “to build people up to optimum levels” and offers weight-loss programmes for those in need of quick results, her core approach to everyday nutrition is defiantly simple. And it has earned some recognisable advocates: Peacock is believed to have helped her friends Princess Eugenie and Prince Harry get in shape for their weddings, and her clients include Jodie Kidd, Katherine Jenkins, James Blunt and Anna Friel.



What differentiates Peacock from many nutritionists in the celebrity sphere is her quest for balance, rather than extreme dieting. “The biggest thing with regards to wellbeing and weight loss is the balance of blood sugar,” she explains. “That means protein with every meal, regular snacks, and good meal composition." In general, she suggests five meals a day as a good approach, featuring three mains and two snacks that combine protein and high-fibre carbs with fruit and vegetables.

"The changes you make just by balancing blood sugar levels are amazing in terms of energy, sleep, the way you feel during the day – and weight balance. To lose weight you need to prevent insulin and blood sugar spikes as much as possible.”

“I really don’t believe in large restrictions,” she insists. “I think it just stresses people out. I would not lie and tell you that you can drink as much as you want, but you can choose certain days when you have a glass of wine. You can have a couple of squares of dark chocolate every day. Choose the days when you have pasta for lunch until you are on your ideal weight goal and then go back to a normal routine. Sustainability is important and it links into your mental wellbeing.”

Peacock is still haunted by the appalling advice she was given as a fashion model. “I started when I was about 16 and there were lots of irresponsible people telling very young girls: ‘You need to lose three kilos because you have this fashion show’. And you think: 'I am 16, I have no idea how to lose three kilos'. I was told by my booker in Paris to eat basically green beans. It was miserable and very unhealthy."

Deciding she wanted to learn how nutrition works biochemically, she gained a diploma in nutritional therapy and a degree in health science from the University of Westminster, and after graduating was headhunted by the Queen’s GP Dr Tim Evans to work at his Grace Belgravia clinic – a facility beloved of models, singers and young royalty, which has since closed. Peacock won't discuss her clients publicly, but she is proud that her no-nonsense approach appeals to such high-flying clientele. “It is very much word of mouth,” she explains. “Nutrition is really personal. You talk about quite personal things and you get to know the patient so people need to trust you. The celebrities have usually heard of me from someone else who recommends me.”

So, what is her own diet like? Peacock says with a giggle that she is a “terrible cook” and the food she eats is “not crazy healthy but very well-balanced.” On a typical day, she has a protein smoothie with nut milk for breakfast. “I put in maybe half an avocado and some fruits to feel good about myself and maybe any greens which I find in my fridge.” For lunch she has sushi or a salad with tuna, salmon or grilled fish – “large salads, not teeny little fiddly ones, so often it is grains, beans, pulses, lentils and hummus. I like to eat a lot of food, but healthy food, and I think that is quite nice.”

In between her main meals she enjoys snacks such as hummus on crackers, chopped carrots and cold meats, dark chocolate or nuts and seeds. “I eat all the time with three to four hour gaps in between meals,” she says. Around 5pm she enjoys a “mini dinner” by picking at her children’s leftover food – often a cottage pie or chicken and vegetables – and then she eats a second light dinner, such as a salad, Thai curry or soup, around 8pm.

“I don’t have a problem with big lunches like pasta but I have a problem with big dinners because you have less time to expend the energy so you store your calories,” she says. “My patients are surprised that I sometimes get an Indian takeaway but I never order the bread or rice; I keep pre-cooked quinoa in my cupboard which I warm up instead. Curry can be fattening but it is more the carbohydrates that are bad for you.”



Many of Peacock’s clients also have small children and she believes in a sensible approach to family cooking, such as keeping pre-chopped vegetables in the fridge or batch-cooking stir-fries. “For my children I might make a shepherd’s pie and freeze it,” she adds. “Patients think if you freeze food it is not fresh but it is untrue. It takes the stress away if you know you have foods in the freezer. Frozen fruit also has lots of nutrients and is much cheaper.”

Despite keeping her core advice uncomplicated, Peacock believes there is a place for targeted strategies such as intermittent fasting – provided they have a clear focus and a fixed duration. She says her clients have experienced weight loss of between 1.8-3.7kg from two weeks of intermittent fasting. “I do alternate day fasting when they really want to achieve results in a short period of time – my clients don’t always have three months. It teaches you to understand the calorific content of foods. People are shocked when they see the calorie content of a latte. And two glasses of Baileys in the evening is like a meal.

"It is unpleasant to be constantly restricted but with intermittent fasting there is always light at the end of the tunnel and then you go back to your normal routine.”

Long term, says Peacock, the key to making healthy choices is basic self-education. It's a strategy that starts at home. “My eight-your-old daughter now constantly negotiates with me,” she laughs. “At home the children have healthy food but in restaurants they regularly have pizzas or some pastry and Nutella for breakfast at a hotel. It is all fine in moderation, so long as I am embedding the difference between a treat and a meal. My daughter now says: ‘If I have a portion of protein like a yoghurt or an egg, could I then have Nutella on pancakes? Or two?’ It shows that she is starting to understand what is good, I guess.”