So, remember that time I smeared avocado on my face? Eating it also happens to be pretty good for your skin.
Tuesday night, I spoke about nutrition for healthy skin at a super-fun fitness event in New Jersey, put together by a consultant from Rodan & Fields, who talked about some of their awesome products. Participants were also treated to healthy snacks and a free kickboxing class.
Here’s a little cheat sheet version of what I covered at the event. Here’s how to nourish your skin from the inside out!
Eat a Balanced Diet: Consume regular, balanced meals and snacks including: fruits and veggies along with lean sources of protein, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy fats.
Eat the Rainbow: Pigments in fruits and vegetables such as the beta-carotene that gives carrots their brilliant orange color can also make your skin glow.
Pay Attention to Antioxidants: Antioxidants are substances that may prevent or delay cell damage caused by free radicals. Popular sources include: fruits, vegetables, red wine (and champagne!), dark chocolate, coffee, and tea.
Choose Supplements Carefully: Aim to get your vitamins and minerals from food first and use supplements to fill in any gaps (for example, iron and vitamin B12 for vegans). A few exceptions: many of us, especially in the northern states (especially in winter), would benefit from a vitamin D supplement. You might want to consider fish oil as well.
Use Sugar Sparingly: Inflammation caused by rapid sugar breakdown leads to sagging, wrinkles, and exacerbation of conditions like rosacea and acne. Sugar also deactivates the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes. Save the sweet stuff for special occasions and check labels for hidden sources in processed foods.
Drink Plenty of Water: Hydrated skin is happy skin. Aim for 8 cups a day to get your glow on. Your needs may be more or less, depending on age, activity level, and other factors.
Go Easy on Alcohol: To avoid wrinkles and blotchy, tired-looking skin, stick to one drink per day for women or two for men.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight has been linked to inflammation and related skin problems like acne, sweating, and impaired wound healing. Being underweight can cause skin dryness and a pallid appearance.
Get Enough Sleep: Aside from keeping “hunger hormones” leptin and ghrelin in check, sleep gives the body a chance to repair and regenerate tissue. Also, when we’re tired, we’re more prone to stress, another known skin irritant.
Know Your Triggers: Keep a food journal and note skin’s appearance before and after eating to help you identify problem-foods if you suspect something is causing a reaction.
Don’t Smoke: All the antioxidants in the world won’t offset damage caused by the free radicals introduced to your body when you light up.
Are there any particular foods you try to include—or avoid—to keep your skin healthy?
I never thought it would happen, but I finally have to deal with dry skin. From a distance, age 27 always sounded too young—but my mother has dry skin! I still listen to Bright Eyes when no one’s around! And then I recently remembered that, well, my mom had me when she was 26, so maybe it’s not so ridiculous. So it goes.
After making sure I was eating enough healthy fats and drinking enough water, I even cracked open a few Chinese medicine textbooks (long story, but working for a wonderful acupuncturist is basically what led me to go back to school to become an RD) to see if there were certain nourishing foods to include on my shopping list to address what I had going on or whether I was neglecting a certain flavor (sweet/sour/bitter/etc) I might benefit from using more. Say what you will about Eastern medicine, but I think a balance of east-west is a very sane way to take care of ourselves.
Anyway, though I can’t say the yin-nourishing, “sweet” foods (like brown rice, cabbage, white mushrooms, and other things I swapped in for other foods) hurt, I wanted some quicker results (God bless America). A little “It’s okay…” blurb from Glamour magazine about using half the avocado for a face mask and eating the other half reminded me that nature really does provide some of the best beauty treatments around—f*** wandering the aisles of Duane Reade and emerging $40 poorer with an assortment of stuff that doesn’t work!
This face masks costs around 55 cents and made my skin feel amazing. It’s even better if you listen to whatever your guilty-pleasure music is because that’s, like, what girls do when we’re wearing face masks or something…Or you could just work on your super-nerdy stats assignment, like I did.
- 1/2 a ripe avocado
- ~2 tbsp honey
- Mash avocado in a bowl or other container. Stir in honey.
- Spread on face. Leave for 10-15 minutes.
- Wipe off mask with a damp washcloth and rinse.
What’s your favorite at-home beauty ritual?
This Monday marked the start of my “professional development” rotation. I actually feel really lucky to have this rotation last—I have some coffee dates and networking events planned, but perhaps more importantly, I’m hoping it will help me ease into the great unknown of post-internship land. Going from having a set schedule (even one that changes every three weeks) to not really having a schedule scares me a little.
Because my schedule is more flexible for the next few weeks, I woke up without an alarm Monday, which was so nice! I was still feeling a little wiped from my weekend cold, but well enough to haul it out to New Jersey for a doctor’s appointment (another month, another suspicious mole to cut off). My mom was working from home, so we were able to have lunch first, which was great!
I didn’t stick around too long after my appointment, but I had a nice visit. Luckily, the removal of the aforementioned suspiciousness was quick and relatively painless, though I’m now sporting an attractive little bandaid on my neck. Oh well. I’ve dealt with worse—aka this summer, when I spent three weeks with stitches in my chest and no painkillers.
Anyway. I didn’t even mind the traffic on the way home, since it gave me a chance to just relax and listen to music. I even made it home in time to make a “real” dinner. It was the first night in a while I actually felt hungry enough to eat something other than soup, so that was kind of a relief. Here’s the rest of what I ate Monday…
Breakfast: Chocolate oatmeal with egg whites—and pumpkin cooked in—topped with pumpkin-and-chocolate PB2…mousse? I never know what to call it…
Lunch: Steak salad with my mom.
Snack: (unpictured) clementine and later, kombucha while cooking
Dinner: Brown basmati rice (with curry powder & raisins cooked in), baked tofu, and lots of veggies, avocado on top
Snack: Plain yogurt with berries and cereal—nothing new
And then I peaced out with some NyQuil and slept for 10 hours. It was glorious. I woke up feeling 99.999% back to normal. And by normal, I mean pre-staff relief normal!
Do you lose your appetite when you’re sick? What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?
I spend a considerable amount of my free time exploring over boroughs of New York, but sometimes I like a good refresher on Manhattan neighborhoods I no longer frequent. Case in point: last night, I went to Fish in the West Village for dinner. It’s the kind of place I’d probably go to on the regular if I lived near by. It was hard to beat the Red White & Blue special—6 blue point oysters or clams plus a PBR or house red/white for eight bucks. Everyone at the table ordered some variation on that to start.
For my main dish, I ordered blackened catfish, which came with hushpuppies and collard greens. Another winner.
Back to the oysters, though—I can’t believe I didn’t eat oysters until this year. Glad I gave those another shot! Think of all that zinc I’d been missing out on!
Normally, this is where I’d mention the supposed aphrodisiac effect of oysters, but it’s really hard to feel sexy when you’ve got stitches and a bunch of gauze on your chest and the whole operation is basically one big bruise. Better than full-fledged skin cancer, I suppose, but goodness. I can’t wait until this is in the past tense.
But back to Fish—definitely a fun place to stop in for dinner if you’re in the neighborhood. I’ve definitely filed it in the back of my mind for when I start up my second-to-last graduate course this fall not too far away. That’s right: Monday nights will belong to Vitamins & Minerals. At least until 7:30…
Have you had any good restaurant meals lately?