Life StoryFeb/Mar 2015 Issue

Q&A: Susan Lucci on Her Gluten-Free Food Kick

The queen of daytime soaps talks about her new role and her special diet

GETTY IMAGES/BOBBY BANK

After an incredible 40-year run playing iconic Erica Kane on the daytime soap All My Children, legendary Susan Lucci is relishing a juicy new role. The busy 67-year-old actress jumped from daytime television to Lifetime’s nighttime soap drama, Devious Maids, where she plays the role of Genevieve Delatour.

“Both Erica Kane and Genevieve have diva-esque qualities in common,” Lucci says. “They have beautiful wardrobes, great homes—and a lot of men!”

Although characters she plays have a parade of men in their lives, the petite 5-foot, 2-inch, 100-pound Lucci has been married to the same man, Helmut Huber, for over 30 years. He travels with her to the Atlanta set where Devious Maids is filmed.

“I wake up and I’m not sure where I am,” Lucci laughs about jetting back and forth between Atlanta and her home in New York.

Here Lucci talks with Gluten Free & More about her health, her dietary needs and her new role.

Q: Your schedule is hectic and yet you remain energized. Everyone must ask you how you stay so fit. What’s your secret?

A: After my two cups of coffee in the morning, I drink hot water and lemon the rest of the day. I feel it boosts my metabolism, balances out my system, which leads to a stronger immune system, and hydrates, which is great for my skin. Drinking hot water and lemon is also a great alternative to taking in too much caffeine. It’s really central to my healthy eating regimen. If I have a secret weapon, that would be it.

Q: Do you take cream with your two cups of coffee?

A: I really try to stay away from a lot of dairy. I certainly don’t have cream or whole milk too often. I may have a bit of skim milk with my cereal in the morning. Frankly, I find I feel more sluggish throughout the day when I do have dairy.

Q: Any particular cereals that you prefer?

A: Nature’s Path has Whole O’s that look like Cheerios and they’re really good. I also like Barbara’s Multigrain Puffins.

Q: Those are gluten-free cereals. Are you eating gluten-free across the board?

A:  Wheat is not my friend. I see a correlation between my bloating and eating gluten-containing foods. Gluten can also glom up the brain and I need to be sharp. That’s why I eat gluten-free cereals to start my mornings off on the right foot.

Q: Have you been tested for celiac disease or dairy sensitivity?

A No. At my age, I can tell when some food is not interacting with my body properly. That’s why I’ve completely omitted fried foods. They just make me feel bad in my stomach—queasy, bloated, uneasy. I was a big fan of French fries—I loved them! But I don’t crave them anymore because eating them makes me feel really bad.

Q: What’s your favorite snack on the set?

A: One of my favorites is hummus with avocado and tomato. I eat it on rice cakes or gluten-free crackers.

Q: The South is famous for its southern-fried foods. Do you find it’s more of a challenge to be gluten-free in Atlanta?

A: I tend to eat real food and don’t generally gravitate to fried foods. There are a few people on the film crew who are gluten-sensitive so the food service on the set has added many gluten-free choices for us.

Q: Do you take vitamin and mineral supplements?

A: I do. I’ve taken a multi and vitamin E for a long time. I take a vitamin B supplement for stress and also probiotics to help with any digestive issues that might come up. I also take biotin in a small dose and I think it’s helped my skin and hair. When I get back to New York, I plan to see my physician and make an updated judgment call on vitamins. When it comes to supplements, I feel everyone should seek the advice of their own doctor, a specialist who knows their medical history.

Q: Your schedule doesn’t leave you much time to relax. At an age when many people choose to slow down, you’ve taken on a new project and are commuting from Westchester County, New York, to Atlanta. How do you find balance?

A: My children are in New York and my husband and I are in Atlanta but this is the nature of the work I do. I was lucky all those years to raise my children and work in our hometown. Now things are a little different. I’m trying to find balance so that when I’m home I get to see my family and friends enough. I’m so grateful that everybody hangs in there with us as we travel around. Yes, I’m highly scheduled but I’m happy. And it’s a jump-up-and-down happy. I feel very lucky to have opportunities to leave my comfort zone and be challenged.

Celebrity correspondent Bonnie Siegler lives in Los Angeles and Kentucky.

Editor’s note: Celiac experts strongly recommend that people be screened for celiac disease before embarking on a gluten-free diet.

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