Food & Fitness

Interview with Tosca Reno

You’ve read the review for her book, now its time to ask the author herself some questions! Tosca Reno was kind enough to agree to an interview with me, so here it is. Enjoy!

1. Your whole philosophy is eating clean, but sometimes its difficult to judge exactly what clean eating is. Can you tell us a little bit about your definition of clean eating?

Clean Eating is a way of nourishing oneself that encourages consuming more food and eating more frequently. Whether you wish to lose or gain weight the answer is the same. Eat more, eat better food and eat more frequently. Second to these principles is the need to partner lean protein with slow burning complex carbohydrates at each meal. Portions are somewhat smaller but you don’t go hungry.

2. How did you first get involved with eating clean?

I met my now husband ten years ago and he felt I had “something” that might work for Oxygen magazine. He suggested I compete in a bodybuilding show and that I had to do as he said to prepare – that meant Eat Clean until I got in contest shape. I did it and was amazed at how effective it was.

3. You’ve mentioned on your blog that you’re entering a fitness model competition- you must really enjoy it! What made you originally want to get into modeling? And what was it that inspired you to give it a shot again after you’ve already “retired” from it?

I did not so much retire from modeling as from competing. The reason this happened is because I wrote a book that became a best-seller in its category (The Eat-Clean Diet). Then I wrote another one – The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook – which also became a best-seller. I have been almost too busy to compete since I have now written another 4 books. You can’t compete a little bit. You have to commit 100%. I have still been modeling for Oxygen magazine, Woman’s World and other mags. It has been very rewarding for me especially at my age. The reason I am competing now is to inspire other women to get up off the couch and have a go at life no matter what the age. The W Network is following my journey and the series will air in January 2009. I will be competing on September 20th and again in November.

4. It can be hard to find a way to keep in shape, especially when you’ve got small kids to look after! What’s your secret?

My secret is my drive to be my best. The motivation is my desire to live a long healthy life with my daughters. My inspiration is my daughters. That inspiration drives me to be my best always. Now that I see other women responding to the message to Eat Clean and take care of themselves, they are also part of my inspiration to stick with it!

5. I loved reading your book, The Eat-Clean Diet for Family and Kids, even though I don’t have any kids myself. However, I do try to encourage my family and friends to eat healthy. It can be tough sometimes! Do you have any tips for persuading adults to eat clean?

The simplest thing in the world is to rethink what goes in your mouth. It is changing your mindset about food that is difficult. Ask yourself if the food you eat makes a difference to you? If the answer is no, you probably are not ready to change anything about your nutrition. However if the answer is yes, then the magic can begin right away. Start by opening your cupboard doors and your fridge. Clean out anything that is processed. Anything! Then go to the grocery store and really look at foods before you buy them. Most foods without a UPC code on them are Clean Foods. Make small changes first. Pitch white rice, eat brown. Eat only lean, range fed meats. Mix protein sources up with vegetarian or plant sources – nuts, beans, quinoa and so on. Eat more produce. Just ask yourself if the gas you are putting in your machine is high octane or garbage? Then go for it.

6. Many of my readers have small children of their own, so they can sympathize with the problems related to getting kids to eat clean. If there’s one piece of advice that you can give them regarding this issue, what would it be?

Be patient but keep trying. Parents play the role of a teacher for children. Put broccoli and spinach in front of your kids. Do it with patience and love. Do it ten times and pretty soon your child will learn to love something he or she did not like before. Parents need to lead by example. Don’t expect your child to pick up healthy eating habits if you don’t have them yourself.

7. What’s your opinion on philosophies that use the idea of trying to “trick” kids into eating healthy, such as books like “Deceptively Delicious”? From your experience do kids react better to knowing exactly what it is that they’re eating or does sneaking healthy food into their diet have a positive effect?

There is a place for “hiding” nutritious ingredients in foods if it is done with a goal of improving your child’s health. Sometimes a child’s unwillingness to eat a certain food is purely out of stubbornness without even having tried it. This may be the time to hide sweet potatoes in the spaghetti sauce. Kids don’t want to be bored with the details of why a food is good for them. They just want it to taste good. I will put foods in a dish that are a bit of a surprise to my family but they often like it in the end. Sooner or later they catch on and realize what they are eating actually tastes good and is good for them too.

Thanks so much for your time, Tosca!

If you want to learn more about Tosca and her books, check out her websites: and

By the way, I received the completed copy of Tosca’s book and it is really great. It’s a very beautiful, polished book (and the binding is much better than the half-finished version:)). The other night I tried her Crispy Chicken Bites as well as some oven roasted potato wedges and they were both delicious. I can definitely see how kids would like these meals!


  1. JavaChick

    Great interview Sagan!

    Gotta say though, sometimes when you don’t like something, you just don’t like it and it’s not going to change. My parents tried for years to get me to eat carrots (cooked) and I still don’t like them. To this day, the only way I will eat them is raw or chopped up very small in a soup or something.

  2. Sagan Morrow

    Javachick- really good point! But I think that even though what you say is true, there are other times when we adapt and start to like something. Or we make a sort of compromise- for example, I used to refuse to eat spinach at all. Now I really enjoy it raw in salads, but I'm still iffy on cooked spinach. We'll see if that changes over time!

    Ashley & Mark- so glad you enjoyed it!

    Charlotte- This cookbook is the only one I've read of hers so far but I'm going to see if I can't track down her other books within the next little while and read them too (which will then most likely transfer into another review around here:)).

    Dr. J- It really is a great book, isn't it? And like Charlotte says, a very common sense approach.

    Missicat- I haven't read her work in Oxygen magazine but I've heard some really good things about it!

    MizFit- please do:)

  3. whatloknows

    okay, my desire is to eat clean (for life). I tend to do really really well for 3-4 months and then, crash! junk food and crap for lets say 1-2 months. Then I get back into eating clean. Any suggestions for fighting those damn cravings, for staying on a healthy dieat and sticking to it.

    my first visit here by the way.

  4. Sagan Morrow

    Dee- Thank you! Glad you liked it.

    Whatloknows- thanks for reading and commenting! Tosca’s book offers some interesting ways to transform junkier food into healthier versions (by the way, just made her cleaned up mashed potatoes the other night and they were honestly out of this world). That’s what I try to do if cravings really start to hit. Also, I find that the more I eat clean the less I want junk because I can really taste the artificial flavourings etc. So you might just need some time. If you would like to talk more about this feel free to email me! And as someone who really tries to eat natural, whole foods, I tend to write a fair amount about my experiences with it- so you might wind up with some useful information just by sticking around and reading:)

  5. David at

    One of my goals this year is to eat healthier by cooking more meals at home. The eat clean philosophy is interesting. It definitely seems to work for her.

    – Dave

  6. Pingback: Living Healthy in the Real World » Blog Archive » Book Review: Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook

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