It's a little surprising that she feels indecisive, considering the great calls she has made in life so far. After co-starring for five years on the hit show The O.C., Rachel, 32, picked another winner, the CW's Hart of Dixie, now in its third season. She's also a whiz at choosing side projects. First she collaborated with her stylist on the site ShoeMint.com, and then she launched a "Southern-style" dishware line called Edie Rose for Macy's.
When we meet up, Rachel orders granola and yogurt so her boyfriend of seven years, actor Hayden Christensen, won't have to dine alone later. "It's so close to dinnertime, and I know he'll want to eat," she says, apologizing. Otherwise, she goes on, "he'll be like, 'What? You ate?!'" Over snacks and appetizers, I steal a few of her style secrets, find out the weird thing that happens when she binges on her guilty pleasure and hear how she quiets her chatty brain so she can soak up the present.
WATCH: Behind the scenes at the Rachel Bilson cover shoot
You became famous fast at 21. How did you avoid ending up a party kid?
I grew up in L.A. and did all that when I was younger. I went to the clubs and did all the drugs and alcohol. I got it out of my system, so by the time I was on The O.C., I was like, "Wow, I can just enjoy this." Then I started dating a co-star [Adam Brody], so it was more of a domesticated thing; you're just home or with friendsand not out to party.
What's a perfect healthy day to you?
I think it's really nice to wake up in the morning and walk outside. And I like to relax. I really think your state of mind is so important. It's all about being happy. That's the biggest thing to having a healthy life. There's too much focus on weight and how you look, and a healthy lifestyle to me is a healthy state of mind.
When do you feel your all-time unhealthiest?
My unhealthiest is when I binge on Flamin' Hot Cheetos, because it happens. I binge. I can admit it. I've actually gotten better this year. It got to the point where I was eating them so much that, like, you poop red every day! You're like, "OK, I don't know what's going through my body, but I probably should stop. There are problems."
It's really awesome. You're so much more comfortable and don't give a crap about the stupid things that you cared about when you were in your 20s. I would never want to do my 20s again. I hate that our society is so focused on that body-image stuff. Girls growing up now are aware of their bodies instead of what's important. Live your life and be a kid and don't think, I wish I was skinnier. I wish my butt wasn't so fat.
With your style, you've never been someone who's showing off a low-cut this or high-cut that.
Yeah, I'm pretty modest. It's just what I'm drawn to. It's OK to be sexy every once in a while, but you don't have to show everything to be sexy.
What's your idea of a hot style?
Sexy cuts of dresses, like a halter style. You're not showing cleavage, but it's still a really sexy dress. I bought this pantsuit, like a onesie, that's black, and the back is open. It's all about subtleties. Keep 'em guessing!
If you ever have days when you look in the mirror and think, Eh, how do you snap out of it?
If I'm feeling bad, I'll eat better. When you're having a lot of greens, you're going to feel better than if you're eating a bunch of crap. So that's when I would have my kale shake. I'm not Miss Juicer, but like I said with the sexiness, it's all subtlety.