Gwyneth Paltrow often doles out diet advice -- and she takes it, too. Speaking to British newspaper The Observer, the 40-year-old It's All Good cookbook author reveals that fellow A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio changed her opinions about healthy eating when they were both living in New York City in the early '90s.
"He was vegetarian and he'd talk about how dirty meat is and how bad factory farming is. I haven't eaten red meat in 20 years, and although Leo's not totally responsible, he definitely planted a seed," Paltrow says of DiCaprio, 38. "When I turned seriously macrobiotic, it coincided with my father having been diagnosed with cancer [in 1999]. I felt I could heal him by proxy." (Director Bruce Paltrow passed away in 2002).
Paltrow -- who says she "subsisted on" coffee, cigarettes and french fries while attending Manhattan's famed Spence school -- says she's long been a health nut. "All I do is try to eat and cook real food, the way our ancestors would. It's funny how people react, as if it's revolutionary that I don't want my children to eat Oreos, or the English equivalent, every day. I believe in real food, things being delicious, and butter, in minimally processed delicious foods and raw milk cheese and properly raised chicken and line-caught fish," the Oscar winner says. "But I'm a realist and I have kids and I love Oreos too, so honestly I'm not rigid at all."
The actress' love of food comes from her "working class" father. "Going out to eat was a big deal to him, always. He relished every bite and wanted me to weigh in with opinions. I remember his delight when, aged 6, I ate my first oysters," she recalls. "I wish he was alive to feed my kids their first oysters."
Paltrow adds, "Because food is so associated with him, since he died I've had melancholic associations. It's very hard for me to make buttermilk pancakes -- they're so specific to him and I get choked up every time. I get really sad he's not with me when I discover a new restaurant or return somewhere he loved, like Chez L'Ami Louis in Paris."
The Iron Man 3 actress, who lives in London with husband Chris Martin and their two children Apple and Moses, says she didn't start cooking meals of her own until she quit college to become an actress. "My husband prefers my food to any other," Paltrow brags. "It's very sweet."
The two-time cookbook author loves that her family gets to try cuisines from another culture, although Paltrow admits she doesn't love every aspect of raising her kids abroad. "I've lived in England for 10 years and the accent is the most beautiful in the world, except for how you pronounce 'pasta' as 'pasta' instead of 'pah-sta,'" she tells The Observer. "I'm sort of joking when I say this but I really don't want my children speaking that way."
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Gwyneth Paltrow: Leonardo DiCaprio Encouraged Me to Stop Eating Red Meat