Model Iskra Lawrence Opens Up About Her Eating Disorder Recovery: "Food Should Bring You Joy"

The mom and model shares what she eats in a day to feel her best, stereotypes she wishes to combat in the modeling industry and more in an exclusive interview with EatingWell.

Iskra Lawrence on designed background
Photo: Lawrence: Robin L Marshall/Getty Images. Design: Cassie Basford.

Iskra Lawrence is changing the modeling industry's idea of body image and diet culture, one post at a time.

The 32-year-old model, mom and CEO of Self Funding Planner and skin and body care company Saltair is opening up about her mental health journey with each endeavor. With over 5 million Instagram followers and 1 million TikTok followers, Lawrence is using her platform to promote body positivity and to discuss her relationship with food and her eating disorder recovery, among other things.

For our Eating Well to Feel Well series, we sat down with Lawrence to learn more about what she eats in a day, her thoughts on diet culture, and how she combats the stereotypes in the modeling industry. Read on to find out what she wishes she could tell her younger self and her philosophy on eating well.

EatingWell: What do you normally eat in a day?

Lawrence: I normally wake up and try to prepare oatmeal. Once a week I make a big batch of oatmeal, and I feel like I started doing this during postpartum because oats may be linked to increasing breast milk production. When you're postpartum, you try anything and everything! I love waking up and having my oatmeal ready to go because my mornings are pretty hectic, so having a prepared breakfast is a really good way to start the day. With my oatmeal, I'll usually use oat milk and butter, cook it for a while and then add chia seeds, fresh fruit and honey, which is really tasty. I add Vital Proteins collagen powder into my oatmeal all the time. If I don't have oatmeal available, I've been really into cereal like Special K with strawberries. I'll even use my milk frother and add the collagen powder to the milk. I've lost a lot of hair during postpartum so I'm pretty obsessed with my collagen powder and hair and nail vitamins.

For lunchtime, right now it's soup and a sandwich: super easy and quick. I try to be really productive with work, so I tend to grab something that's easy. Otherwise, sometimes I'll make an omelet for lunch, and I love putting in spinach, cheese and maybe a deli meat in there. I'm English, so I love baked beans and will often have baked beans with my omelet.

For dinner, it's pretty different every day, but our weekly nonnegotiables are, one night a week, we'll have salmon with sweet potatoes and green beans, and we all love that. That's our favorite family meal, even my 2-year-old loves it. And then the Real Good Foods brand has some really good frozen meals, like their frozen stuffed chicken breasts wrapped with bacon. So we'll have something like that with a potato or sweet potato with a vegetable like broccoli. I also really like to make rice balls. We'll prepare steak, beef or chicken and teriyaki sauce with a rice ball and some veggies, so that's a nice and easy dinner we like, too.

Snack-wise, fruit and [the] crunchy dark chocolate snacks with coconuts and seeds that I get from Costco that are so, so good. I bake a lot as well, so we often either have a banana bread in the house or cookies.

EatingWell: If I say the word "diet," what usually comes to mind? And how does that make you feel?

Lawrence: The word "diet" was, to me, definitely a negative word. Growing up, I associated it with calorie restriction, and when I realized that it's actually more of a term to describe what you eat in a day, that helped me not be scared of the word. I think that diets were triggering for me, and I don't find them triggering now, but I avoid them at all costs. It was detrimental to my mental and physical health growing up with an eating disorder. I think you should be intentional and intuitive about what you eat, but I don't believe in restriction at all. I believe that food should bring you joy and that you should enjoy it, and I absolutely love cooking and embracing that by trying different foods. I think that intuition of just listening to when your body is full or listening to what it needs is important, and learning about nutrition has been helpful because I think it helps me figure out how I feel physically when I eat different types of food. It's no longer about being afraid of calories or trying to eat purely to control weight; food is really about nourishment and fulfillment and enjoying all of those different aspects.

EatingWell: What food could you not live without because it makes you feel so good?

Lawrence: Loads of foods. Burgers, cookies, ice cream … but also I love smoothies. I love avocados and guacamole, I love salmon, I love a good steak, fries, there's so much food and it's very freeing to enjoy all of those foods and not feel guilty or ashamed for eating them, or thinking that I have to "earn" those types of foods. Those are the foods I enjoy, and I will eat them whenever I want and however I want!

EatingWell: Asamodel, what are the stereotypes that you wish to combat in the industry, regarding food or body image?

Lawrence: Being open about having an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. I think that resonates with a lot of people that may have at first assumed that all models are confident or all models enjoyed being on diets and that they're necessary to succeed. I think that my career and being open about it shows that you don't need to be a certain size to be successful and to make a career out of modeling. It might not have been easy, but I think I've opened a lot of doors for other people of different sizes too, which is one of the best things I could've done with my platform. I want people to know that models are human too, and we all struggle with how we feel about ourselves.

EatingWell: What do you wish you could tell your younger self about body image?

Lawrence: I definitely wish that my happiness and success was not determined by my weight or size. That you will be loved, you will be worthy no matter what you look like. I think it's very hard to detach your sense of self from your appearance, and I think that it's really important that you don't value yourself or your worth based on your appearance. Even though it matters in the modeling industry because you're often judged on it, that is not how you should validate how you feel about yourself. It was very hard to separate the two for a very long time, and comparing myself was something I had to stop doing, especially with other people in the industry. If I went for a job and I didn't get it but another model did, I would look at her and think "Oh, it's because she's skinnier" or "Oh, it's because her skin is smoother." I think I would like my younger self to stop comparing and know that she is worthy of everything without being dependent on her size and her weight, and that she's doing great. She's going to make a difference and make an impact, and she's doing exactly what she should be doing.

EatingWell: What does "eating well" mean to you?

Lawrence: It definitely means being free from the fear of food. We talk about wellness, and wellness is holistic, so when I think about eating well, it's a holistic view of how you nourish yourself. I think it's having a positive relationship with food, you're not afraid of food, you can enjoy food and it provides so many beautiful benefits, memories and social assets in your life. You're able to wake up and be excited to nourish yourself everyday to try new things with food, experience and have moments with food and have it be a positive aspect of your life.

EatingWell: What's the one thing you hope your fans take away from this interview?

Lawrence: I want my fans or anyone [reading] this to just know that they are enough, that even though it can be hard to accept yourself or whatever you might look like, you're meant to be you and you're meant to be here. Your size does not determine your worth, and you are worthy to eat. You need to eat, you need to nourish your body. Don't be afraid of food, and even if you're at a really difficult place in your journey, whether you have an eating disorder or issues with your body image right now, it will get better. Continue to choose to treat yourself kindly and go seek help or ask for help. There's no wrong way to talk about how you're feeling, because everyone at some point has felt like they're not enough or has struggled with their body or [their relationship with] food. Asking for help is really important, because you don't need to go through this on your own.

We hope that Lawrence's message can help those with body image struggles or disordered eating habits to know they're not alone. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorders Association Hotline is available for call or text 24/7 at (800) 931-2237 to help connect you with resources meant to help.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles