Over Breakfast is our ongoing series where Clinique Global Brand President Jane Lauder sits down with influencers around the world to talk trends, passions, and secrets to success. To help us kick-start 2016 on a high-energy note, Jane sought out nutritionist and cognitive behavioral therapist Dana James.
It takes a certain amount of courage to have breakfast with a nutritionist. But Jane Lauder went there, with full disclosure about her eating habits (very healthy, but also human) and questions that ring true for us all (think sugar, coffee, alcohol, carbs). The nutritionist, Dana James, is bi-coastal New York City-Los Angeles—and she is also a cognitive behavioral therapist. (Yes, a triple certified overachiever). She goes by the code name Food Coach and is revered around the world for her insightful yet scientific approach to nutrition, which is far from a one-diet-fits-all mentality. She told Jane the naked truth about how we, as women, tend to eat—yes, emotional eating is a real thing—along with the requisite fixes, which could shift your whole life. This time of year in particular, all roads can lead to overindulgence. These simple tips will help you pave your own path to a more vibrant 2016.
Jane Lauder: So, the obvious first question…Am I eating a healthy breakfast? I usually have yogurt with fruit.
Dana James, MS, CNS, CDN: It's 'healthy,' but is it the most effective choice for vitality, mental acuity, and creative thought? Probably not, since it’s carbohydrate-based. The yogurt and fruit quickly convert to glucose, which can destabilize blood sugar levels and lead to poor concentration and energy dips, particularly in the afternoon. What you eat for breakfast directly affects how you feel at 3 PM. I want your brain to be firing and super-fast. A better choice would be eggs with avocado, a vegetable frittata, or smoked salmon. The eggs are rich in choline, which supports brain function. And a protein-based breakfast doesn't leave you with afternoon cravings or fatigue.
JL: Second must-ask question...What should you eat for healthy skin—and what should you avoid eating?
DJ: My number one food for healthy skin is papaya. It contains phytonutrients, vitamin C, and carotenoids, which all help bring radiance to the skin. Avoid foods that are found in packages—even pretty packages, so don’t be fooled! I love making a papaya smoothie for breakfast or as a snack. I add bee pollen, which is a great energy-booster, and my Beauti-Fuel, a 100% raw, organic plant-based protein powder enhanced with superfoods like camu camu and acai berry. It’s amazing for your skin and your vitality. And take note: the color of this smoothie is gorgeous. I always say, beauty doesn't come from eating ugly food.
JL: Speaking of vitality, if you’re going to have the occasional cocktail or two, is there an alcohol that’s considered the healthiest? I usually have plain vodka or tequila because I’ve been told they have less sugar.
DJ: Great choice! But don't feel that's all you can drink. A big fallacy is that wine contains too much sugar; but when winemakers ferment the grape juice, the sugar converts to alcohol. Wine only has roughly about 4g of sugar per serving, which is 1 teaspoon. Pretty much all wine is the same in this regard, so enjoy your favorite—red, white, rosé, or champagne. I think French wines are the best because they usually have the least amount of pesticides and sulfites.
JL: Doesn’t wine disrupt your sleep, especially as you get older? That’s what a lot of my friends complain about.
DJ: Yes, it can. Alcohol (not just wine) stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter, GABA, which is calming and relaxing. But once you've metabolized the alcohol, the GABA wears off, and you can find yourself awake at 4 AM wondering why. You can take 400mg of magnesium before bed to help negate this effect.
JL: I know you work a lot with women and address all aspects of what drives one’s diet—stress, food addictions, allergies, and especially emotional eating. How do you really define that?
DJ: I’m actually writing a book now, The Archetype Solution For Beauty, Brains and Brilliance, which really lays out the intricacies of women and how they eat. Throughout my career of counseling, I’ve noticed four main female archetypes—The Wonder Woman, The Femme Fatale, The Nurturer, and The Ethereal. Most women identify strongly with one. Identify yours, and then you can crack your self-sabotaging patterns, whether they’re comfort or binge eating or always attracting the wrong men! There's also a specific way of eating to support each archetype. I think you, Jane, are a Wonder Women—always on the go with a very demanding job and busy life. Lucky for you, the Wonder Woman has the most fluidity with her food choices. It's another reason why eggs and smoked salmon are better than yogurt and fruit for your breakfast.
JL: It’s really hard to eat healthy when you travel. What are your tips?
DJ: Avoid the bread, cheap coffee, and dessert. These three items in particular make you feel like you need to detox after a trip. Skip them, and you'll feel significantly more vitalized while you’re on the road.
JL: Is it more important to eat right or find the “right” type of exercise?
DJ: It's 80% what you eat and 20% how you exercise. Food impacts your genes, hormones, and all cellular processes. It's much more than fuel. It's a communication messenger. Exercise helps to sculpt the muscles and keeps your cardiovascular function at its peak. You want both as they have different functions.
JL: What about caffeine—is it really bad for you?
DJ: Only if your adrenal glands are tapped out or you get jittery every time you drink coffee. If not, then enjoy that cup of coffee—just make sure it’s made from high quality, organic coffee beans!
JL: What is your guilty pleasure?
DJ: Steak frites with red wine!!! Yes, please. And I encourage a pleasure meal once a week! It's for the soul.
Kick-start your day with Dana's energy-boosting beauty smoothie. This one's a gamechanger.