03/19/2013 12:22 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Gwyneth Paltrow Changed The Way She Ate

Interview by Erin Bried, SELF magazine

gwyneth paltrowWe all have this idea that Gwyneth Paltrow lives the perfect life. But the truth is, not too long ago she was so overstressed, unhealthy and exhausted that she needed to make some serious changes. SELF sat down with the Iron Man 3 star to talk about becoming stronger, calmer and happier.

What was going on to make you change the way you ate?

A couple of years ago, I got really run down. I had to sing at awards shows, which was fun but stressful. I'd have a Guinness and a beta-blocker every time. I also was constantly getting on airplanes, trying to knock myself out with sleeping pills and wine, waking up, trying to sweat it out with exercise and a steam, and then working really hard all day. Eventually, I had a panic attack. My body was like, "What is happening?"

My doctor, Alejandro Junger, recommended that I cut out basically everything: dairy, sugar, gluten, anything processed. I was like, "What the f--- am I going to eat now?" That's why I made the book: to stop eating brown rice out of the fridge because I didn't know what else to eat--it was demoralizing.

Are you strict about the diet?

I probably eat this way two or three times a year for three weeks at a time. Past that, I'm not willing to make the sacrifice. Life is about balance. It's good to work in healthy food, whether it's five days a week or five meals a week. And if you're going to do it, it should be awesome food you're psyched to make. But never cut out the brownies or the wine.

Does eating clean affect how you feel?

You feel lighter and your emotions get smoother. I also was run-down because I had a lot of unexpressed anger. I made everyone else's feelings more important than my own. I'd suck it up and then be alone in my car yelling at traffic or fighting with hangers in my closet when they got stuck together.

You're not learning anything unless you're having the difficult conversations. Dealing with things directly changed my relationships. Sometimes when you get clear about who you are, others get less comfortable because they liked who you were. It's changed my marriage [to Chris Martin, 36], too, but he's up for the challenge.

What stresses you out the most now?

When I'm supposed to be in two places at once. I try to avoid finding myself in that scenario.

Read the rest of Gwyneth's interview here!

More from SELF:
Top Secrets of Beauty Pros
The Flat-Abs-Fast Secret
6 Moves for a Great Butt
How to Get Bombshell Hair