With Dana James, it’s less about what you’re eating and more about why. The triple-certified nutritionist blends nutrition with physiology and psychology so that you can, in her words, “let life distract you, not food.”
Most people consult a nutritionist for a meal plan or revamping of their diet.
Chez Dana James, however, it’s less about what you’re eating and more about why. The triple-certified nutritionist blends nutrition with physiology and psychology so that you can, in her words, “let life distract you, not food.” Warning: James’ recipes are so beautiful and delicious they may be just a wee bit distracting.
Don’t be intimidated by the many letters after her name – MS, CDN, CNS, BANT, AADP to be precise – James is known for her hands-on, personalized approach to wellness, treating every patient differently and combining western technology with a more Eastern approach.
James openly discusses her own issues with food and self-esteem and uses the knowledge gained on this journey to relate to her patients on a deep level.
James spends her time between her practices in Los Angeles and New York City with the occasional jaunt to an exotic locale. And just in time for summer vacation, James also recently launched her very own raw, organic, vegan and sugar (and stevia) -free protein powder, Beauti-fuel that does everything its name suggests.
BWB’s Food and Wellness contributor Rebecca Leffler caught up with the bi-coastal beauty to talk about food, femininity and, since it’s summer, adding a bit of fun to your personal menu !
BWB: Where did your own wellness journey begin?
I had terrible insecurity issues as a teenager. I thought I was unattractive and fat. I was neither. But my mind was hijacked by these perceptions. I’d be out at dinner with friends and rather than being fully present, I’d be fixated on making sure my belly wasn’t poking out of my dress. The thoughts were pervasive but undetectable by others. I was suffering in my own silence. I unconsciously chose nutrition because I was seeking answers for myself. I also thought it would be easy because I’d read every diet book out there! Boy, was I wrong.
Once I started studying, I realized that I knew nothing about the body, just someone’s sell job that pried on the insecurities of “not thin enough.” When I understood the biochemical pathways that lead to weight loss (it’s complex), I was able to restore peace in my mind and have the freedom to eat foods that nourished my body and balanced my brain chemistry.
By understanding how the body and mind works, I can quickly assess where the potential imbalances are.
BWB: Tell us a bit about your training as a triple-certified nutritionist. What did that entail and how does that help you to stand out among today’s sea of “health coaches”?
I was trained in nutrition biochemistry and cognitive behavioral therapy. It was an intense four-year program. Most health coaching programs are 10 weekends or less. The depth of knowledge is very different BUT health coaches do a really wonderful job at inspiring people to eat beautifully. My clients come to me for complex issues that they can’t seem to resolve through diet alone.
For instance, if someone is experiencing digestive distress, it may be diet, a microbial issue, food sensitivities, nutrient deficiencies, enzyme insufficiency or the inability to express emotions. By understanding how the body and mind works, I can quickly assess where the potential imbalances are, and if I can’t, I have a plethora of functional medicine test to investigate the symptoms further.
BWB: What does a typical work day look like for you?
My consulting days are long. I start at 8am and finish at 8pm but I always take a two hour lunch break. I encourage my clients to prioritize their meals and it would be a tragedy if I wasn’t following my own advice. I use that break to either get in some movement for the day or enjoy lunch at a restaurant close to my office.
My writing days, start with meditation, coffee and a green juice and then I ease into creative space.
BWB: We looooove labels here in the USA – how would you describe your way of eating?
High Vibration Nutrition. I focus less on the macro/micronutrient composition of food and more on the resonance of food.
If you are feel stagnant and stuck, then skew your food choices towards more feminine foods like green salads with a lemon vinaigrette. If you’re feeling scattered and spacey, then you’d select more masculine and grounding foods, like a beet salad.
BWB: Do you have a favorite food or go-to recipe that you couldn’t live without?
Yes, my beet and cherry smoothie. And I just realized the red smoothie recipe from your book “Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic” was the inspiration for this!
Take two tablespoons about Beauti-fuel protein powder with 10oz of almond milk, one cup of frozen cherries and 1/2 raw beet and blend for 60 seconds. Then pour into a glass and enjoy!
The earthiness of the beet offsets the sweetness of the cherries while the Beauti-fuel contains pea protein to decrease the appetite and restore gut microflora.
I do The Class with Taryn Toomey. It feels like Jane Fonda aerobics merged with Kundalini yoga and taught by a beautiful blonde goddess!
BWB: Other than feeding your body with amazingly healthy and delicious foods, what do you do to nourish your body and your life?
…What’s your favorite exercise?
Tayrn Toomey’s The Class. It feels like Jane Fonda aerobics merged with Kundalini yoga and taught by a beautiful blonde goddess!
…your favorite way to unwind after a tough day?
I take a bath with jasmine oil and allow the water to wash away the negativity of the day. Then I slip into a silk robe and make myself a Tulsi sweet rose tea. If I’m feeling extra worked up, I take a supplement called Calm PRT which helps to decrease adrenaline levels, then I may journal or do some Kundalini kriyas.
BWB: What is your definition of “sexy”? What makes you feel sexy?
A woman that indulges in the sensual pleasures of life and a man that encourages her to do so!
BWB: If you could host your dream dinner. Who would you invite (dead or alive) and what would you serve?
My friends are the coolest people in the world. Just them with good bottles of wine!
BWB: You’re now an inspiration to … well pretty much anyone wanting to turn her passion into a career. Who inspires YOU?
Many women inspire me for different reasons. When I need a beauty fix, I turn to the great film star beauties of the 1950’s.
When I need a spiritual infusion, I take Guru Jagat’s kundalini classes either in LA or on RaMa TV.
When I need someone to energetically rebalance me, I turn to Alex Defacio, at Greenstar Wellness.
When I’m struggling with some deeply ingrained behavioral patterns, I turn to self-love guru, Christine Arylo.
We all need teachers, guides and mentors, and the best evolve with you.
BWB: Are there any foods or ingredients that you’ve recently discovered that you’re now into?
Pearl Powder from MoonJuice. It’s crushed pearls and acts as a skin beautifying cell rebuilder. I add it to my smoothies.
When I’m in LA, my first stop is Café Gratitude and when I’m in New York, it’s Gingersnap’s Organic.
BWB: You travel so much – what are your favorite travel tips for feeling good even when on a long trip?
Pack a picnic! Even if you’re flying in first class, your food will be better than what’s served on board.
I start with a green juice in the taxi, then calibrate the timing of my meals to the destination. I don’t pack snacks. Most people grossly over-pack snacks and end up consuming an entire day’s worth of calories while siting on their butt!
When I land at my destination, I seek out a big, bold green salad with avocado, pumpkin seeds and squash.
When I’m in LA, my first stop is Café Gratitude and when I’m in New York, it’s Gingersnap’s Organic.
BWB: What are your essential items to carry…
…in your handbag?
– my laptop, iPad, a good book, wrap and lip balm.
When I travel from LA to NY, my last stop is to see Sadie Adams from who gives me a stem-cell facial before I get on the plane. It’s a leave-on mask, and while my skin looks a little yellow during flight, for the next week, I’ve got a miraculous glow!
…in your suitcase?
I pack light. I’m a carry-on girl only.
BWB: What was your last travel destination?
Tulum! I try to get there four times per year. My friend owns, Shambala Petite Hotel, which has a yoga studio right on the beach. It feels like my second home.
Every trip has its memorable moments because we are present when we travel. We’re more absorbed in the beauty that surrounds us.
BWB: What has been your most memorable trip?
Every trip has its memorable moments because we are present when we travel. We’re more absorbed in the beauty that surrounds us. But 15 years ago, I took a 9-month sabbatical and travelled throughout Asia. I took a camera, a sense of adventure and good man to carry my bags :). My memories are captured on slide film and when I want to immerse myself in the headiness of Asia and I pull them out and transport myself back in time.
BWB: Right now, you’re living between Malibu and NYC. What do you miss about Malibu when you’re in NYC? And vice versa?
I feel like I live a bi-polar life. New York is intense and very connected. Malibu is soft and calming. Personally, I love the duality of both.
BWB: What differences do you see in the approach to wellness on both coasts?
In New York, you have juice stores on every corner. In L.A., you have spiritual sangats.
New Yorkers turn to the physical body for wellness while Angelinos turn to spiritual enlightenment.
For complete wellness, you want both – green juices, vitamins, movement, meditation, connection and spiritual development.
BWB: You’re glowing on the outside too– any secret natural beauty tips to share? What is your beauty regimen? Are there any products you recommend?
Yes, fall in love! And that requires space. As New Yorkers, we tend to be so busy with work that we leave little time for ourselves, let alone someone else. Be a little idle, be a little soft, let someone else in.
Your skin will be luminescent!
In the interim, take my Collagen Activator. It activates the collagen structures in the skin, hair and eyelashes for firm ageless skin and thicker hair and longer lashes!
BWB: What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure”?
Sleeping in and luxuriating in the glow of the morning sun.
Beauti-Fuel is a high vibrational raw, organic vegan protein powder infused with beautifying super-foods such as camu camu, cordyceps and acai.
BWB: You recently launched your own protein powder – Beauti-Fuel. Can you tell us more about that?
Oh yes! I am very excited by this protein powder. I created it because I was recommending smoothies to my clients but there wasn’t a protein powder on the market I wanted to drink! This is a high vibrational raw, organic vegan protein powder infused with beautifying super-foods such as camu camu, cordyceps and acai. It contains no stevia or sugar and is naturally sweetened with lucuma and vanilla bean. Best of all, it tastes really good!
BWB: What are your exciting plans ahead this year?
I’m writing my first book where I’ve developed five archetypes of women based on how they perceive their worth. These thought patterns change their eating behavior and ultimately their body shape. The book is designed to restore harmony to a woman’s body and her mind.
Rebecca Leffler is a writer, journalist and wellness consultant. She is the author of best-selling French book Green, Glam & Gourmande and follow-up title Green, Glam & Happy. Her book “Très green, très clean, très chic: Eat (and live!) the new French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season” was released in 2015. Follow Rebecca at Lafleurparisny.com.