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Interview

Words of Wisdom with Dana James

Through close study of food, metabolism, emotion and feeling, James takes the phrase “food for thought” to a whole new level.

Nutritional spirit guide, food whisperer, and body-soul guru– Dana James is a functional medicine practitioner and cognitive behavioral therapist whose interdisciplinary approach to nutrition is revolutionizing bodies and minds from New York to Los Angeles. From developing a raw, organic, vegan protein powder called Beauti-fuel to writing a book called The Archetype Diet, James has dedicated her life and career to helping women understand the unique connections between their body types and personality types. Through close study of food, metabolism, emotion and feeling, James takes the phrase “food for thought” to a whole new level.

Life is stressful enough on its own– there is no need to stress so much about food, too! James is here to support you and help you find the food support system that best suits your mind-body continuum. Read below to find some of James’s best tips, snacks, recipes, and routines for a nutritional lifestyle that best fit your archetype.

We are becoming more educated, yet we tend to forget the basics! What is your 101 on healthy eating rules:
  • For a young active woman:
    • More cardio equals more carbs. Don’t skip the starchy carbs if you’re active. If you’re not active, then limit them to about 1/4 cup per meal.
  • For a more mature woman:
    • You need more plant-based fats and more antioxidants for balanced hormones and ageless skin. Think avocado, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and olive oil. Take time to prioritize yourself, including what you eat. Often, women have spent so much time caring for others that they forget how to prioritize themselves; it’s time to reclaim that!
Some foods are trending – such as avocado, matcha, kombucha, goji berries and chia seeds. What are your favorites? What are the ones you consider to just be fads?

These are all real foods that can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet. I wouldn’t classify them as trends, rather selected foods that are rich in certain nutrients. For instance, avocado is rich in oleic acid, which helps protect the DNA from free-radical damage. Matcha has 10 times more antioxidant capacity than regular green tea, and goji berries are the richest dietary source of vitamin C. However, it’s more important to eat a variety of foods (and thus nutrients) than focusing on one specific food. Avocado is nutrient-dense, but so too are other fats like pistachios, olive oil and pumpkin seeds.

It’s more important to eat a variety of foods (and thus nutrients) than focusing on one specific food.

A good day starts with a good breakfast. What do you like to eat in the morning?

Either a chia seed pudding with fresh berries, celery juice, or two organic eggs with sautéed vegetables. My choice is based on how hungry I feel and whether I want something sweet or savory. Occasionally, I’ll have a slice of organic sourdough toast with tahini topped with cinnamon. That tends to be more on the weekends than during the week, which is when I am more regimented about what I eat.

Dairy is part of our everyday life, whether we drink milk, have a slice of cheese or snack on some yogurt. What is your take on dairy? What are your favorite alternatives?

If you’re going to consume dairy, make sure it’s organic or from Europe, where growth hormones are disallowed by the EU. And don’t overdo it. Fruit and vegetables are superior snacks to yogurt and cheese.

You travel frequently between LA and NY. What are your wellness tips for smooth flights and to combat jet lag?

Chlorophyll! I add it to my water and drink it religiously throughout the flight. It helps to increase oxygen, which is lower when flying. I also take medicinal mushrooms to bolster my immune system. I always travel with de Mamiel Altitude oil and an Evian water atomizer. I often take a hydrating mask on the plane too. The flight attendants think it’s great that I am comfortable enough to put a mask on!

What are your go-to snacks for the plane or any on-the-go travel? When you stay in a hotel, what snacks, teas or healthy bars do you usually bring with you?

I don’t believe in packaged food for snacks and I feel that most people grossly overeat them. They are fearful they will be hungry and overpack, and thus overeat. As I’m bicoastal, most of my flights are six hours+ long, so I normally pack a meal versus a snack, which I’ll pick up before I leave my home/office. It’s typically a salad, unless I’m taking a morning flight, in which case I’ll hard-boil organic eggs and top them with turmeric and sea salt. If I have cucumbers and tomatoes, I’ll add that to the mix. If I need a snack, I’ll take portable fruits like oranges and raspberries in a container. I rarely travel with nuts, as I overeat them. I think snack bars are a marketing gimmick and you should stay away from them unless you are on a 5-hour hike without food! I do love tea though, and will often be sipping a chamomile, lavender or rose tea. If I forget to bring them, I’ll sip on hot water with lemon.

What are your words of wisdom on sugar intake and how to keep it all balanced?

Allow yourself one sweet treat once per week, like the most decadent vanilla ice cream (real or vegan) or a rich chocolate cake, but skip the treats the rest of the time. Replace the little morsels of sweets that you treat yourself to daily with one bigger indulgence, as it will feel more opulent.

Any go-to websites or apps that you like to use and recommend for wise tips?

I ask my clients to record their meals on an app called YouAte. It’s a photography app and I can quickly see if they are following their meal plan or cheating (provided they are photographing it!). It doesn’t count calories or carbs, and visually shows you exactly what you are eating. It’s immediate feedback for you. If you notice that you are reaching for a sweet treat at 4 p.m. everyday, then it’s time to change it to a calming tea and a piece of fruit, or half an avocado.

Replace the little morsels of sweets that you treat yourself to daily with one bigger indulgence, as it will feel more opulent.

Fitness and exercise are obviously important to a healthy body and lifestyle, but what do you recommend for rest and relaxation? Any rituals for unwinding?

Many! I’m more focused on relaxation today than excessive active movement. My ritual starts as soon as I finish seeing clients. I’ll rebound on a mini-trampoline for ten minutes to clear my assertive work energy. I then do some foam rolling and pilates movements. If I’m in LA and finish early, I’ll take a sunset beach walk (I’m about a seven-minute walk from the beach). I also love soaking in a bath with essential oils, such as rose or vetiver. I see an energy healer for reiki weekly. I spend time in nature as much as I can. On Saturdays, I plan a no-commitment day where I don’t book anything for the day. I, like many other women, need space to feel rested and rejuvenated. The difference is that I plan for it and don’t leave it to chance! I get eight hours of sleep most nights. I meditate almost daily and I don’t spend much time on social media! My goal was to balance all aspects of myself – the working woman, the lover, the creative, the nurturer and myself as a woman. This was the basis of my book, The Archetype Diet – how to actually do it!

Teresa Deely

Teresa Deely is a junior at Columbia University majoring in English and Creative Writing. As President of the Columbia University Glee Club, she loves to sing, make music, and celebrate multiple modes of artistic expression. She believes that one’s skin is yet another canvas and vehicle for art, and has loved styling her hair and applying makeup from a young age. While she has spent most of her time in educating youth and leading enrichment programs for children, she is highly motivated in discovering new ways to care for herself and sharing them with others.

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