A top nutritionist on eating for glowing skin


Beauty doesn’t come from eating ugly food. So says Dana James, an American nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner and cognitive behavioural therapist. In 2007, James founded Food Coach NYC, a bicoastal practice devoted to helping women decode their body issues. If those credentials aren’t impressive enough, she’s also the author of a bestselling book, The Archetype Diet, which sheds light on eating patterns. James is a nutritional guru among Hollywood luminaries (like Margot Robbie) and Victoria’s Secret models. So, who better to ask for advice on eating for stellar skin?

TM: In The Archetype Diet you propose four personality types that explain our relationship to food. Can you briefly explain how they impact eating patterns?
DJ: “Far too many of us use food as an emotional suppressing tool even when we don’t know it. Think about how many times you’ve gone into the kitchen looking for something. The something was not food, it’s more subconscious. That’s where my female archetypes come into play. You’ll understand what that ‘something’ is about and how to change it. For instance, the Wonder Woman is a reward eater (or drinker). She needs her treats, like wine or dark chocolate, to feel good about herself. She’s so busy that sometimes food is the only pleasure she receives. The Nurturer is too busy looking after everyone else, so she puts herself last. Who then is nurturing her? Where does this disappointment go? Into food. She tends to be a comfort eater and is often a secret eater. Ethereals tend to forget to eat as they are caught in their creative pursuits. They are also very sensitive to foods and tend to get bloated easily. They are often eating the wrong diet for themselves. The Femme Fatales have the most distorted relationship with food. As they believe that their value is based on how pretty and thin they are, they tend to be overly restrictive with food, skip dinners with friends and then they can binge later on.”

TM: Do the archetypes also inform the state of our skin?
DJ: “Ethereals are more likely to have dry skin due to low oestrogen, but they could also have acne-prone skin from a sensitive gut microbiome. The Wonder Woman has to watch out for wrinkles from chronic stress, while the Nurturer tends to have more radiant skin from excess oestrogen (their biggest struggle is weight not skin). The Femme Fatale could have any type of skin depending on how they eat. If they are not eating enough fats for fear of calories, their skin will appear aged and lacking in elasticity. If they are over-eating carbs because they are upset with their weight, they might have more breakouts.”

TM: Which supplements do you recommend for a glowing complexion?
DJ:“Honestly, you can get it all from food and the right topicals. But some basics would be a good probiotic, B Complex (not just B12), Omega 3 with curcumin, Vitex for hormone balance and chromium if you have sugar cravings.”

TM:Is it harder to get the protein you need if you’re vegan or vegetarian?
DJ: “Only because you have to think about it more. You can be vegan and get enough amino acids but you’ll need to choose wisely, like adding hemp seeds to salads (three tablespoons will give you the same amount of protein as a piece of salmon), using plant protein powders in smoothies and not skipping legumes or grains, which are rich plant sources of amino acids. Everyone has a different protein requirement. The healthier you are, the less protein you need. The sicker you are, the more amino acids you need for detoxification, digestive enzymes, immune system upregulation and neurotransmitters.”

TM: How important is water? And does red wine count?
DJ: “Extremely important. If you want peachy radiant skin, you must drink at least two litres of water. Plus, hydrogen is an antioxidant and it’s the cheapest antioxidant you will put in your body. All alcohol produces toxins that need to be cleared by the liver. That doesn’t mean you can’t drink it, but no more than four glasses per week.”

TM: Is there a connection between diet and acne?
DJ:“100 percent. Consistently eating foods that stimulate sebum (think fried food, excess protein and refined carbs) triggers clogged pores and breakouts. The food you eat also changes the gut microbiome and sex hormones, which can also cause breakouts. The occasional treat is fine but if you’re eating these foods daily, be warned, your skin will not be happy. Nor your brain for that matter!”

TM: What are your general guidelines for eating healthily? You once said it was 75 percent plant-based, 25 percent clean animal protein.
DJ:“It’s difficult to give an overall food prescription as there are subtle alterations for each person but that is a good start. I customise meal plans in my book, The Archetype Diet, where the meal structure is based on your dominant hormones. But one thing I want to point out is that not everyone needs to be on a low-carb diet to see success. In some cases, it takes the person more out of balance, like the Ethereals. In essence, my overall philosophy is to eat the most variety of food while still seeing success.”

TM: What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
DJ:Steak frites and red wine! And I eat all of the fries!”

TM: Daily sunscreen is a non-negotiable for us. Do you agree?
DJ:“Yes! Absolutely, in Australia and LA it’s a must. I use a zinc oxide-based sunscreen or moisturiser with with an SPF 30. If I don’t use it, I get hyperpigmentation and then need more products to decrease it.”

TM: What are you some of your favourite skin care products?
DJ:“I love Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream as my night cream. I have extremely dehydrated skin as I fly between LA and NY twice per month and it’s one of the few moisturises that I don’t need a serum beforehand to feel hydrated.”

April 2019


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